Praise and Worship is an integral part in the Christian life. It’s as important as breathing and eating. What is Praise and Worship? There are many definitions, but I like to define it as this:
Praise is expressing thankfulness and gratitude for something done. For example, you give praise to a baby for taking a first step; you praise a toddler for cleaning their room; you praise a child for doing well in school; you praise a teen for making their first score or graduating; you praise the Lord for salvation or may even praise him for deliverance. Praise is given when something has been done.
Worship is expressing love and adoration for who a person is. Some worship their children because they are your children. Some worship their spouses because they are important in their lives. Some worship a great sports player, or president, or rich man, or, as sad as this may seem, worship a car or house or even an event. We should worship God for who he is and what he is, and how he is.
So what do you mean by freestyle Worship? Let me see if I can bring this home.
When I think of freestyle, I’m often taken back to the days when rappers would get together and the dj would just put a beat on and the rappers would do they thing. No rehearsal, no pre-written material, just straight off the cuff, out of the heart, off the top of they head rappin’. These sessions would go on for hours as these guys and gals would just use their art to flow. Topics from who is the best to social injustice and education, these lyricist would flow. Almost like the jazz musicians in what is termed a session. Just like anyone who enjoys hiphop music or a jazz person would love to sit at a session, God enjoys our freestyle worship. No premeditated time, no rehearsed dance or routine; just plain ol’ worship from the heart. That I just got to dance kind of worship. That just gotta cry and love on Him kind of worship. God truly enjoys those. In fact, I’m of the inclination, that Our Lord and Savior desires that more than any other type of worship.
Now, im not saying that God doesn’t enjoy corporate worship; in fact, the word says that He inhabits the praises of his people. Now imagine, freestyle worship amongst the congregation of his people. we have all experienced it. God moves in on a service. Its starts, maybe with one person or a group of people; who have tapped into the spirit and the next thing you know, the whole church is ignited. It’s not corporate worship, but every individual praising God in their heavenly language, not caring who is around or what others might say. Some dance and jump, others run. Some are crying, while others are maybe laid prostrate on the floor. To the outside, it may look like chaos, but to God, its like having his children rejoice at his coming home.
I was going to approach this so differently when I first began this study. I was going to talk about the different levels of worship like the many different levels of freestyle rappers. But there are different levels but different depths.
The Novice – the novice rapper is the beginner. When he has it written down, he can flow, probably with the best of them, but off the cuff will be harder. He doesn’t have that experience yet. He hasn’t known how to flow with the crowd or the music. He may be used to a certain beat or rhythm and hasn’t mastered just going with the flow. His style may be monochromatic, which means he only raps one style. That could be staccato hard or super fast. Maybe its slow and deliberate or just simply speaking in rhythm. Doesn’t mean they are any less talented. The can come up with some pretty good rhymes but it takes more thought and practice. The same is with a worshipper. New to kingdom, one doesn’t have much to worship for or know how much to worship for. They are thankful cause they know God as their savior and or deliverer. So their worship is centered around that experience. They understand the lifting of hands, the shedding of tears, and may have a little jump. Some may even just go all out wild, their depth of worship is centered around salvation. And believe me, sometimes us experienced saints need to go back to that moment and worship God for that.
Sophomore/junior - this rapper has been on the circuit for a while, has been making a name for themselves based on the proficiency of their rhyming. Been on a few bigger star cuts and albums, headlined a tour or two. They are not so dependent on the pen and pad to come up with a flow. They have mastered their original style and have experimented and accomplished different styles of rapping. They can hang in freestyle. Less crowd hype and more lyrical art crafting. Less “yes y’alls” and “everybody screams” and more rhyming with purpose and content. Same is with the worshipper. They have experienced God on a deeper level. They have come to know more about the creator of this universe and his ability and so they praise and worshipper with a deeper understanding. Its moving beyond thank you for salvation to recognizing God as a provider, a healer, a way maker and deliverer. They worship Him beyond his sacrifice. They worship him on a level that takes on worshipping beyond the traditional. They understand the climbing moment of the movement of God, they are stepping closer to beginning a freestyle worship rather than jumping in after everyone else has.
The senior/experienced – This rapper is probably known as an icon in the hiphop community. Names like Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, LL Cool J, Chuck D, or even Krs-one are among this list of experienced rappers. These artist have somewhat mastered the art of lyrical mechanics. They can flow with any beat and rap on any topic from the top of their head. The can rap any style and some have even created unique styles. The worshiper in this category is similar in that their relationship and experience with God makes them experienced. They are freestyle worshiper starters. They worship from the abundance of the heart and are highly in tuned with the move of the spirit. These are pioneers of free worship. In fact, most times, they don’t even need to be in a structured place to worship. They worship simply because they need to worship.
Every believer has freestyle worship in them. The bible says from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. What it means is that from the abundance of what is in a person, he will act. it will be the fruit he produces. Every born again person has been implanted with the seed of worship. God wants that fruit from us. But not because we have been packed in a neat box, but wants to walk the orchard himself and be able to pick that fruit straight from the tree. Freestyle. That worship because I love him. not for what he has done. Not for what he has said. But simply for Who he is. He is a father who loves it most and is moved greatly when his children, from out of nowhere, with no push, no organized setting, no practice; simply just express our love for Him. Freestyle Worship. I pray this encourages someone to never hold back but go forth in Worship. Whenever, wherever, HOWEVER. Amen.
In my devotions and continued prep to do a bible study on the Book of Matthew, i noticed another thought provoking discovery; at least to me it is. Through out main stream Christianity, and especially, among the Catholic believers, Mary is the main focus when it comes to the birth of Jesus Christ. Mary should be revered, Gabriel greeted her with :Blessed art thou among women.: (Luke 1:28) However, in Matthew 1:18-25, there is a wonderful biography of the man whom God thought very highly of to be the earthly father to his only Son.
In all my year's in church, i rarely, if ever, have heard a preaching or teaching of this particular man of God. There is not much mentioned about Joseph in the Gospels. I had speculated that maybe Joseph died sometime during the ministry of Christ. What is said about Joseph i believe is worth mentioning.
In just the brief encounter with Joseph in the scriptures, there are a few things about this man i noticed:
1 - Joseph was a kind and caring man who was more concerned with grace and mercy than judgement. (Matthew 1:18-19)
2 - Joseph obviously had a prayerful relationship with God and was an obedient man. (Matthew 1:20-24)
3 - Joseph was a temperate man possessing control of himself. (Matthew 1:25)
I'm sure there is much more to Joseph, in the scriptures, than what i have mentioned, but He had to have been quite a man to be trusted as the earthly father figure to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. What a man and example for us fathers for Father's Day.
I know it’s been a while, but I’m going to continue my study and devotions of the Book of Matthew. We are in Chapter 5 and I pray for the Lord to keep me hungry for his word. I, also, ask for your prayers. A lot has happened, as always, but I ask that you keep me in your prayers and that, specifically, ask that the embers of the Holy Spirit re-ignite His fire in my soul.
When looking at the “Sermon on the Mount” or what is commonly known as the “Be- Attitudes”, Matthew 5, I have to repeat what my teachers and pastors have shown me and then expound upon it. Matthew 5:1-2 will be the foundation scripture for this writing. The Word of the Lord says, “And seeing the multitudes, he (Jesus) went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth and taught them, saying,” I want to stop there. There are a few things I want to bring out of these two verses. I want to illuminate some facts about this teaching and what our Lord did. One fact I want to point out is that Jesus didn’t TEACH the multitude. Second Fact, His disciples followed him to a secluded area, and third fact, “when he was set” then he taught. Matthew 5:1-2 lays out the foundation of discipleship and begins the basic training of good Christian living and behavior. Another interesting fact about these two verses is that is shows a clear difference between Sunday Morning Worship and bible studies.
Jesus didn’t teach the multitude but his disciples. He didn’t teach these basic instructions of Holy living abroad, but held an intimate class session to teach. The scripture says he saw the multitude but decided to go to higher ground to teach. He understood that in depth teaching is not for the masses. Not everyone receives the in depth teaching. That is quite evident during the mid-week bible classes. Jesus didn’t teach where he was but went to higher ground. I began meditating on the various times Jesus spoke to the multitude and when he spoke with his disciples. Jesus did speak in parables and that to the masses at times, but mostly he spoke them to his disciples. He warned the masses and taught in synagogues, however, a majority of his teaching came when he was secluded with his disciples and on higher ground. Sunday worship has its place. It’s a time of refreshing, renewal, worship, giving thanks, testifying and admonishing of the saints. It’s a place of gaining strength from one another, fellowship and prayer. Sunday morning is a time to have the spiritual man fed by the shepherd of the church. However, just as Christ went to a higher place to teach, we need to go to a “higher place” to be taught. Sunday morning will not adequately give you the instructions of discipleship. Sunday Morning is not the place to ask questions and have them answered. BIBLE STUDY is for that. Jesus went to a higher place to teach and his disciples followed. We, as disciples of Jesus Christ, must be willing to go higher to learn from God. Going higher means going the extra mile or going the extra day to gain. It means sacrificing our own agenda and comfort to gain a higher education. We do it for a worldly degree which will not gain us salvation nor keep us saved, so why not for the word of God which also gives life. It’s not easy to get higher but definitely rewarding.
Another noticeable point in these two verses is the point that Jesus didn’t speak till he was set. When meditation on these scriptures, God asked me if I had a “set place” to be taught? I pondered this question. Do I have a “set place” to be taught? He may have meant do I have a home church or study group I regularly attend to be taught in discipleship. I also believe he meant do I have a place in my set for the Lord to teach me; to hear from God. It wasn’t until Jesus was set and his disciples came to him that he began to teach. It wasn’t until then that he opened his mouth and taught (verse 2). In order to hear from God, we have to set Christ or rather have a place set for Christ to teach us. A place in our spirit to hear what God has for us, a place in our spirit to be corrected, instructed, given good doctrine unto righteousness. A place to hear from God, a place where we are not prideful, mighty in our own conceit, angry, vengeful, hurt or just plain too busy, a “set” place to have our lives spoken into. A place where we haven’t heard it all, seen it all, done it all. Then we wonder why we haven’t heard from the Lord.
I encourage you, my beloved, let us be Disciples of Christ and not just Christians. Let us be studious saints and not just church goers. Let us climb the mountain of faith after Christ. Let us set a place for him to teach us and that we may hear from the very mouth of God. Sunday Morning worship is good and necessary, but making disciples is Christ’s mandate (Matthew 28:19-20) If we are to go teach all nations and teach them to observe, then we must first be taught ourselves. If you are not going to a bible study at your local church, GO!!!
We have been dealing with relationships in these studies, and the third highest on the list was Trust. What an interesting word. It’s one of the hardest things to have in a relationship. With so many of us having done things out of God’s order, we have opened ourselves up to being hurt. We place our trust in someone either at the wrong time; in the wrong circumstance; in the wrong place; they were the wrong person; and we just simply weren’t ready. In either case, our trust was betrayed. So now we want in on another relationship, yet the one thing everyone mentioned is the one thing they don’t want to give. I hear the excuses that I have been hurt before. Yet we sleep with them. I trusted a person and they betrayed me, so I’m cautious; and they live with you. Hello!!! If you feel you are strong enough to enter into a relationship, then trust must be there. And if it isn’t, let the other off the hook before you end up hurting them. If you just met them, and moved them in, and now you feel you have to look in their cell phone, then end the relationship. You are checking because you don’t trust. You haven’t trusted since you met. Continued not to trust when you moved them in, and now you looking for a reason to validate your distrust. Get out of the relationship. If you look for dirt, you will find it. Why? Because you won’t be satisfied till you do. And if you have to look for dirt, just do both a favor and end it. As a man, who was on the opposite end of a dirt digger, it hurts to have to live and be with someone who doesn’t trust you. I pray at the end of this study, we all will have a better concept of trust and how it should work in a relationship.
Trust: assured reliance on the character of an individual
When talking of one’s character, we are addressing the reputation and or the moral excellence and firmness of a person; or the lack there of. We are talking about one’s habits and traits. We are talking about their actions accompanied by their behavior. In laymen’s term, how do they act? What are they known for? Sometimes the problem we end up having is we get together and start a relationship with someone with no good character. I always hear, “I want a bad boy,” or “I want a thug”. They want hard rock abs, driving a Bugatti, with sagging jeans and a blunt between their lips. Then out of the same mouth comes complaints and baby daddy drama. On the flip side, we want a big booty, pretty face, nice rack, and don’t say no. When you get with people who have no type of good reputation, then you can and should expect to develop trust issues. Character is not defined on the outside but on the inside. It may manifest itself outwardly, and if so, you should know what is inside. And stop trying to play God. you are not going to change them.
This is not rocket science. If the person you are with is not doing morally well, then you know they are not of a good reputation. If he has four other baby mommas, why do you insist on being number 5? If you know he smacks his women around, why do you want to step in the “ring” with them? If she has been with all your homies, what makes you think she will be faithful to you? If she left a good man for you, what makes a dog like you think she will stay? Here is a good question I had once, if you left a good, God fearing man for a dog, and he flirts and gets other women’s number, don’t you think that he doesn’t consider you faithful because you left a good man for a dog. Character, people, speaks volumes when it comes to trust. Your actions speak to your character.
Matthew 7:16-20 says Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
We may want to blame it on environment. They grew up in the hood, they didn’t have a father or mother, they lacked education. These are all excuses that add some validity to their character, but then again, some come from the hood to have great character. It’s not the environment that defiles a man. It’s not surroundings that promote bad character. It’s a factor, but not the basis. Jesus tells us that it comes from within.
Mark 7:20-23 and he (Jesus Christ) said, That which cometh out of a man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
Character, whether it is good or bad, is a result of choices. We choose how we want to live and how we want to present ourselves. A “hood rat”, “THOT”, or Ghetto; gangsta, NI**a, balla,; all these names we associate to people, are results of the character displayed. Its these very same character names that promote distrust. I once told a girl from a club, when I used to bounce, that good guys always win out. She said no they don’t. she said they don’t get the girl, the money or any “na-na” at night. I let her laugh and then said, No we don’t get the girl, we find the woman. No we don’t get a lot of money, but we have enough to support ourselves and our woman in a decent place. and believe it or not, we don’t just get Na- NA at night. We get it in the day, afternoon and weekends. Another thing, she never has to worry who else’s NA-NA I’m getting. She never has to worry if im taking food or money from her kids because I am at work, not sitting home trying to get to the next level in Mine Craft. May not have much, but we have each other.
Proverbs 19:1 Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.
In relationships, we sometimes say it’s hard to trust because you can’t help who you fall in love with. Well, I will say I disagree. Sometimes, we become infatuated with the lean abs, the bank roll, the hour glass figure and the pretty eyes. But, when we input character, sometimes all that changes; and then you blatantly choose the questionable character because it pleases your flesh. God desires the best for us. That also includes a relationship with Him. His character is flawless. What is God known for? Endless mercies (Psalms 103:8; 118:1,29, 136:1) just name a few scriptures. What are his traits? His traits are truth and Justice; Mercy and Grace. He neither sleeps nor slumbers.
Our study will be in Matthew chapter 3. Here we see the ministry of John the Baptist, cousin to Jesus Christ, and later the beginning of Jesus' ministry beginning with His baptism. in this study, i would like to bring focus on something that has been confirmed in my spirit by two other people i don't know. God tends to do that. If He is leading you in a particular path, He will confirm His word by two or three witnesses.
Lets look at Matthew 3:5-9, "then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father; for i say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." My focus verse is verse 8, :Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.
God has placed in my spirit a need to address this in my own life and to share with all saints. We have all been "Born again." we have gone through the process of repentance and asking the Lord into our hearts and been baptized as the scriptures say. but how many of us remember showing the fruits of repentance. im not saying we are not saved, i am wanting to bring focus on saving a lost soul. John says something here that is profound and i believe something we ought to take into consideration when dealing with the lost. He says bring forth fruit of repentance. i began to ask, how quickly does fruit grow? What does it take for fruit to grow? in other words, when a person goes to the altar and starts dedicating his life to Christ, how fast are we, the church, expecting to see fruit. i know that we don't plant an apple tree and then expect fruit the next day. i know it takes time, even a season for that fruit to grow. in that time, the farmer does things to and around that tree to ensure that the best fruit can be produced by that tree. I believe that is what God is telling me. Not just for me, but as a minister, how i should assist the new born believer.
I heard a preaching on the woman with the issue of blood and something about the scripture intrigued me. it says that she heard that Jesus was in town. She said within her self if i may but touch the hem of his garment...
My thoughts said, she must have been around good witnesses of the Lord to have developed such faith that she believed in His healing virtue. It is evident in the fact that she went broke going to doctors and physicians and grew worse. Something somebody said about this Jesus cultivated the soil of her heart to have faith to come to Him. Then i thought about what John the Baptist said and i wondered if I, a minister, am cultivating the soil of hearts to have faith to go to Jesus? Have i tilled the ground of sinners hearts, to prepare the seed of faith? Have i done enough to help this soul prepare to produce fruit of repentance?
Its not enough for us to see the altars full of crying people, we need to then take these young trees and begin the process of helping them produce fruits meet for repentance. to help them assist in the life changing process of living for God. a young tree that is planted in the orchard is just not left alone. some are given a standard, which is the stick they are tied to to help them grow straight. We are NOT the standard, the Word of God is, but we are the tie that binds the tree to that standard. We assist in the tree growing straight. How? By our witness, and through fellowship and through bible studies and charity. Our job is not done after leading them to the altar, but has just begun. The world is relentless in its pursuit of us, we ought to be just as relentless in our pursuit of lost souls. We are the workers. The husbandman isn't out there in the fields pruning, watering, and tilling; the workers are. In order for fruits of repentance to grow, we, the church, have to cultivate the soil for proper growth.
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