My husband recently incorporated Star Wars into a sermon and was quite proud of himself for it. Today, I’m going to try to match him by using one of my favorite movies as the basis for this devotional.
I don’t have a great analogy to connect “The Princess Bride” (which is also a great book) to a spiritual concept. Rather, I want to borrow a key phrase from this beloved fairy tale film. Do you remember the farm boy, Wesley, at the beginning of the movie and his response to Buttercup’s every whim? Remember when he came back to her as the Dread Pirate Roberts and the moment she realized it was really Wesley as he went tumbling down the giant hill yelling those cherished words: “As you wish.” What an awesome scene! If somehow you’ve managed to not see the movie, don’t worry; this message is still for you.
Maybe you can already see where I’m going with this. Those three little words, “As you wish” should be the believer's response to every command of God. Let’s look at five people from the bible who essentially said “as you wish” to God.
In the movie I’ve referenced, the male leading character answers every request of his love interest with the phrase “as you wish.” His humble obedience was a direct response to his unfailing love for her. Likewise, we should consistently affirm our love for God by blindly, completely, enthusiastically, reverently, and selflessly obeying his direction. Our obedience to God must be driven by our love for Him, with no thought for what we will gain.
Sometimes I have a feeling of anticipation, as if I am waiting on God to give a command to which I can respond, “As you wish.” I’ve said to Him, “Show me what you want me to do, Lord! I’ll do it!” But, I need to stop and look at the instructions He has already given to all of us and evaluate how I am responding to those. I need to make sure I am saying “as you wish” in regards to what the Word says to do. Am I saying, "As you wish, Lord" to the commands to love God with all my heart, to love my neighbor, to forgive, and to not worry? I fall short often, but I pray that whether the task seems big or small, whether it comes directly from scripture or from the prompting of the Holy Spirit, that I will continually learn to obey.
I leave you with a challenge! Read Romans 12:9-18, and after every sentence that contains a command whisper, “As you wish, Lord. As you wish.” Then go live out that promise.
I really enjoy writing these messages and sharing them, and I would love to have this blog reach a lot more people! Will you help me? Please consider sharing on social media, or via email, or just by telling your friends. To be notified of new blog posts, please subscribe. Thank you!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
The Bible makes it pretty clear: God wants us to sing. The canon of scripture includes an entire book of songs, mostly written by the person God described as “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22). God wants us to sing.
Psalms 95:1 and 95:2 says, “O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.” Most church services utilize music in one way or another.
Music is referenced all through the bible; not just in Psalms. It’s exciting to read how the Israelites, immediately after being brought through the Red Sea, broke out into singing (and dancing! Exodus 15). There are examples in the Bible of congregations of people singing and there are examples of people appointed as singers in service to the Lord. When music is used in true worship, it has the power to move the heart of God.
Some people say music is just used “to stir up emotion” (that’s a common argument against certain styles of music in church), but let me share with you an example from scripture that makes the importance of music in worship pretty clear! In 2 Chronicles, Chapter 5, we read about the dedication of the temple built by Solomon. Verses 13 and 14 say, “It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.” Wow!! It was the praises lifted up through music that ushered in the presence of God.
As a singer, I have some personal “rules” to make my sure my ministry has the correct motives. I sing for these three reasons:
1. To worship and give praise to God
2. To share the Word of God through music
3. To edify the body of Christ
Usually, these three purposes are achieved together, but if a song doesn’t do at least one of these things, then I shouldn’t sing it. And I think the same standards should be applied to all music within the church.
Using music to praise God and to worship Him is an obvious purpose. That’s the common theme throughout the Psalms. There are also examples of music being used to share God’s word. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Teaching and admonishing come through songs based on the Word.
Then we have the concept of “edifying”. 1 Corinthians 14:26 says, “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.” Here we have an instruction from Paul that there should be order in a church service (order meaning, not everybody trying to do whatever they feel like) and that the ministrations, including the music, should edify the body.
Let’s talk about this word “edify”. Edifying the body doesn’t mean just making people feel happy. Edifying the body means drawing people into sincere worship or encouraging them in some way in their walk with the Lord.
When the three motives listed above are the primary concern of musicians, then the music can be a powerful complement to the worship service, regardless of the level of talent or the style of music. (Obviously, we all have different gifts and not everybody is meant to stand up and give a solo, but I have been very blessed by some off-key singers before, because they were being obedient and singing for the glory of God.)
Speaking of styles of music, let me say this: God owns every beat, every rhythm, every note, every chord, every chord progression, every melody, every harmony, every key, every instrument; and they all can be used for His glory IF the music exalts Him, promotes the gospel, or edifies the body of Christ. That being said, in a worship service it is also important to maintain a tone of reverence. Balancing pure motives and musical style preferences with a reverent attitude is important.
For musicians who minister outside of their home church, I think it is important to be respectful of a congregations’ over-all style of worship. My roots are in Southern Gospel and the Broadman Hymnal, but I also sing and write Praise and Worship music and songs some might consider “contemporary”. If I’m going to a church with a more “contemporary” style of worship, I might sing all of the above styles of music because no one is going to be offended by a hymn. But, if I’m going to a very traditional church, I’m going to be mindful about avoiding the use of soundtracks with a more contemporary sound, UNLESS I hear from the Lord that He wants me sing a specific song.
I believe the three rules I've listed for using music in worship are important litmus tests, because so many other facets of music in worship are just matters of personal preference. I love to clap my hands when I sing with the choir or congregation (and sometimes slap my hymn book as an instrument!), and while there’s definitely a biblical basis for that, nowhere is it written that a person HAS to do that as part of their worship. That’s an area where we have some liberty with our worship.
Whether the style is traditional or contemporary, our motives must be kept in check. I’ve been in “contemporary” services where the Lord fellowshipped with His people through their offering of music. I’ve also been in contemporary services where the band seemed more interested in laying down the bass than leading the congregation to worship. I’ve heard and sung songs by Bill and Gloria Gaither in services where the presence of the Lord was so sweet and so real, but then I’ve also heard those same-type songs performed in what felt like just an entertainment act. While we should enjoy church, and we should enjoy music in church, when we set aside time to worship, a mood of reverence should be maintained, and the intent of our musical worship should be above reproach.
Let me leave you with a beautiful example of the use of music in worship: Our Lord sang. I am grateful that a friend recently pointed out to me the verse in Matthew that refers to Jesus singing. What a beautiful thought! Speaking about the Last Supper, the Bible says, “And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.” (Matthew 26:30) Jesus concluded His time of fellowship with His disciples with a song. Meditate on that.
Thank you for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please post your comments below.
I am very excited about this topic! This is a simple and to-the-point article, but I believe it will be meaningful for someone. There’s a lot of scripture contained here, so please stick with me. There’s an important message at the end!
Have you ever heard of a “life verse”? The term refers to a verse that holds special meaning for a person or a verse they rely on regularly to guide their life. While not directly a scriptural concept, it makes sense that believers claim specific verses in such a way, as scripture is the most direct method God uses to speak to His people. One danger of the “life verse” concept, is that it can become a cliché, almost akin to a person’s birthstone or astrological sign. But, for true believers, having a life verse, and especially being able to communicate “why” it is meaningful, is a good way to share their faith. (Read more ideas about how to use scripture in my article "Rightly Divided".)
In truth, the whole of scripture is “life” verses, in that it leads us on the path of eternal life. In John 6:68, Simon Peter said to Jesus, “to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”
While there are many more that I love, I claim these four as “mine”:
In the book of Deuteronomy, God gave instruction for how the eventual kings of Israel should handle the Words of God. (Israel was not supposed to have a king other than God, but God knew the people would insist on having one “like as all the nations” that were around them- Deuteronomy 17:15.)
Deuteronomy 17:18-20 says, "And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.”
While we have certain verses to help carry us through this life, the Word itself is the very essence of life, and our reliance on it, and faith in it, can dictate the outcome of every situation.
Going beyond the idea of a “life verse”, I want to share with you the portion of scripture that is quite literally my “life chapter”. In my teenage years and early twenties, I suffered with severe depression and anxiety. (I’ve been free from it for so long it is almost hard to remember- praise God!). There were days when, overcome with a constant, unexplainable grief, thoughts of suicide invaded in my brain. While He didn’t heal me right away, one day the Lord practically handed me Psalm 116, to sustain me until the time He would heal me. I claim this as my life chapter, because I believe God used it to spare my life. If you find yourself in a dark place, please let the words of Psalm 116 help put you on a different course, so you too can “walk before the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 116:9).
I'd love to hear your life verse (or chapter)! Please leave a comment below, and if you enjoyed this article, please share it. Thanks!
The title of this article is not mine, but rather the title and main idea of a book by Reverend Dr. Samuel Valentine Cole, who was the first president of Wheaton College in Massachusetts. This book has had such an impact on me that it would be selfish to not try to expose others to the literary masterpiece.
I was first introduced to Cole's work when I heard one of his poems quoted in a sermon on the radio. Captivated by the lyric from "Hammer an Anvil", that poem became the foundation for my song, "The Word Will Stand" (listen here). Through researching to learn more about the author of the poem that inspired me so, I found "The Life That Counts", which was published in 1905. I strongly believe this 124-page book should be required reading in every school in this country, and beyond.
It was the title, which speaks to my personal aspiration, and Cole's eloquent language that initially compelled me. But, very early in my reading, I was captivated by the genius of the content and the purposefulness of the message. Reminiscent of the writings of C.S. Lewis, the lessons in "The Life That Counts" are most certainly biblical, but they are also profoundly philosophical.
It is difficult to assess how much praise should be awarded a man for such an accomplishment as "The Life That Counts", since reason suggests there is much more of the divine in its wisdom than of the natural. While it almost feels irreverent to me to pick apart the work in order to present some nuggets to you here, my goal is to summarize this inspired book in such a way that encourages others to read it.
As I tried to go to sleep the other night, somewhere amid the rambling, disjointed thoughts flooding my sleepy brain, I recognized the words of one of my favorite verses of scripture. I didn't consciously think about Romans 8:28, but it was suddenly just there in my mind: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."
The familiar words had barely finished processing in my mind when they were followed with a simple question- "Do you know?"
I can't tell you if it was me asking the question or if it was the Holy Spirit, but I pray He will help me to seek out the answer and define it in the next few lines.
Let me start by working backwards through the verse. I know that I am "called according to His purpose" because I'm saved. If you are saved, you have been purposefully called by God. I know that I am of "them that love God". Although not always put into action the way it should be, I have no doubts about my love for Him. That brings me to the first part of the verse, and I have to ask myself again, "Do I really know that all things work together for good?"
I feel confident in saying the answer to my question is "yes". I do know that all things work together for good, meaning I believe it with certainty. The real question is, "Am I living like I know it?"
The phrase "all things" in this verse could mean literally everything- from my walk to the mailbox to a serious illness. While I believe the verse is true for "all" circumstances, Paul was writing specifically about persecution. With that context in mind, I felt the need to examine how I view difficulties in my life.
Knowing that all things work together for good doesn't mean we never hurt or have concern about the difficult times in life. Our state of salvation doesn't preclude us from the effects of living in a fallen world. Bad things will happen (although I believe we are guarded by His sovereign grace from many bad circumstances). The beauty of knowing "all things work together for good" is summed up in one word: hope. We have hope that beauty will be born of brokenness, that silver linings will surface through stress. And we can learn to even be excited when something bad happens, anticipating the good that will come from it. Sometimes, we may not see the good, but by faith we know it is there, because God's promises are true.
Thankfully, I haven't experienced very many situations in my life that have tested my faith or challenged my belief that something good would be the result. But I think the lesson for me in my reflections on Romans 8:28 is to be more mindful of opportunities to praise God in all situations. It's not about learning to see the glass as half full instead of half empty. I'm sure there are plenty of atheist optimists. It's about knowing that God is intentionally acting and working things out in all situations, and about being able to praise Him whether we see the good or not.
Let me leave you with a real-life example of Romans 8:28. A small, country church, where my husband has ministered several times, was recently vandalized. On Easter Sunday morning, our friends there, Terry and Ellen, found a swastika spray-painted on the front door. Now, of course, that was not a good thing. How could it be? However, the deputy that responded to the call did a wonderful thing- he painted over the vandalism for them. Our friends were deeply moved by the kind act of the deputy, and Ellen took to Facebook to publicly praise the officer. More than one news station saw the post, and subsequently did interviews with Ellen and the officer, which were aired on multiple stations. Because Ellen knew God was in control of the situation, she was able to focus on the deputy's good deed, instead of focusing on the wrong done to them. God even worked it out so the uplifting story would be shared on the news to be an encouragement to many, many people. The fun part is, God may not be finished working the events "together for good". Perhaps the best is yet to come from this story.
Have you been going through a trial? Are you facing adversity now? Perhaps the best is yet to come from your story, too.
Click the following link to see one of the news stories about the church vandalism and the officer's kind deed.
The book of Acts in the New Testament chronicles the actions of some of Christ's apostles, carried out through the power of the Holy Spirit, during a time immediately following Christ's ascension. This book essentially outlines the birth of the church, but in some places, it reads more like an adventure novel than historical reference.
God used the eighth chapter of this book to speak to me recently, and I’ve spent several days trying to understand exactly how to share and explain what I felt the Lord say to me through this passage.
First, let me outline some of the events that take place in Acts Chapter 8. We see Saul making “havock of the church" and believers fleeing from persecution. God used their persecution for good because the scattering of Christians meant the spread of the gospel. This by itself was a blessing to read, because I am awed by the courage of the early believers. They certainly experienced something real to make them flee one place for preaching, only to continue preaching somewhere else. They could have gone into hiding- kept quiet, kept safe. But the Holy Spirit urged them on and they obeyed.
One of those brave believers was a deacon named Philip. He traveled to Samaria and preached there (even a sorcerer was converted under his ministry!), until he received a new assignment directly from the Lord. Verse 27 says, “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.”
So, Philip obeyed, and when he reached the road to Gaza he saw a man from Ethiopia sitting in a chariot, and he heard the man reading aloud from the book of Isaiah. This man was a eunuch, and he was a man of great authority who served as treasurer for the Queen of Ethiopia. Philip asked the man if he understood what he was reading and then proceeded to reveal Christ to the man through the Old Testament scriptures. The man believed Philip's words and was saved.
One remarkable thing about this story is how much God loved this man from Ethiopia, that he sent the good news of Jesus directly to him. The man already knew of God, but he had not experienced the gift of redemption. And so it is with all believers, because the Holy Spirit has called to us specifically, personally.
It is also exciting to think how this one encounter helped to spread the gospel into other parts of the world, as the Ethiopian man most certainly went home and told everyone what had happened to him. God’s plan was not only to save the man that Philip met on the road to Gaza, but the generations of people after him that would choose to believe.
The Bible indicates that Philip was traveling in the man’s chariot with him when they came to a body of water. They stopped and Philip baptized the man. And this is the part that really jumped out at me. Verses 39 and 40 say, “And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.”
Azotus is the modern-day city of Ashdod, which is probably about an hour-long walk away from where Philip had been. The text describes that the Holy Spirit supernaturally transported Philip to another city! Philip teleported! That might not be the right terminology from a spiritual standpoint, but I think that’s the best word in our natural vocabulary to describe it.
The scripture doesn’t tell us the reason Philip was caught away, but it does tell me this: God can move me where He wants me to be, when He wants me to be there, by any means He chooses- when I seek to follow HIS will.
I’ve had a few dreams in my life; one of the biggest was to become a mother. Before I was married, I was concerned that the dream of a family wouldn’t happen “soon enough” and I would “run out of time”. As it turns out, my husband and I were married only six months after he proposed, and seven months after the wedding we found out our first child was on the way. In a relatively brief span of time I had gone from being single, to being married and expecting a child. Now I have three wonderful children! Some days I’m amazed by where I am on life’s journey.
Lately I’ve been thinking about the future and what new dreams may come to fruition. Reading the story of how Philip was “caught away” gave me these three ideas:
How exciting it is to serve a God that can do what many say is impossible! He loves us and will accomplish His will through those that allow themselves to be used.
You never know when you might find yourself saying, “How did I wind up here?”, and thanking the Lord for His help along the journey.
What does it mean to bless someone? When you bless someone, it means you are speaking good things into existence in their lives. Did you realize you have that kind of power? The bible says in Proverbs 18:21 that “life and death are in the power of the tongue”. We bless people by claiming a promise from the Bible for them, and God works through that.
In the Old Testament, God gave the priests of Israel a specific blessing He wanted them to use to bless the people:
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”’ “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.” Numbers 6:23-27
Even though this blessing was for Israel, the Bible teaches us that through Jesus, we are adopted into the family of God and all the promises that God gave to Israel are for us, too. So we can use this same blessing for others.
Most weekdays, before we head out to face the world, I try to speak something like this for each of my three kids: “The Lord bless you and keep you and give you a good day, in Jesus’ name.” (My nine-year-old says, “It helps!”)
Speaking blessing is a lot like praying. But, instead of asking God for something, we are claiming something He already promised us. A blessing has to line up with the Bible. We know God is not a magic genie that grants wishes, so I wouldn’t say to someone, “May the Lord give you a million dollars.” The Bible doesn’t promise us a million dollars! But it does promise good things like “peace” when we need it. So, I could say, “May the Lord give you peace” and that is a blessing that God will honor and work through, because He’s already promised it.
At the close of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he wrote: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” He was blessing them with that statement.
Some blessings are very simple. We often say “God bless you”, especially at church. Sometimes it can even become habit, and we say it without actually thinking about what it means. But, any time we use the name of God, we should use it purposefully, with intention. Think about what you’re saying next time, and really mean it! “God bless you!!” I think when we have faith that God will actually bless someone, meaning He will help them and give them what they need, those three words can be very powerful!
Practice speaking blessings to someone in your life today.
Have you ever been reading the scriptures and a verse, or even just a couple words, really stands out? Like it leaps off the page (or screen) and says, “Hey! Look at me! You need to get this!”
It’s so interesting to me how a verse of scripture that I’ve read or heard so many times before can suddenly take on a new meaning or importance. I attribute this to the work of the Holy Spirit. How humbling it is to realize that as we read the Word, we have a partner, a helper, a translator, that guides us through that sometimes daunting undertaking, when we truly seek understanding, and whispers insight that our natural, earthly minds might not be able to glean otherwise.
I’m so slack in my reading. I hate to admit it. I’m very inconsistent in my study and I’m constantly aware of my need to dedicate more time to the Word. Especially now as we have entered Holy Week, I’m trying to commit to regular Bible reading, and I decided to start again at the beginning of the New Testament.
So, sitting at my desk at work, I took a moment to read (www.blueletterbible.org is my go-to online Bible), and I came to Matthew Chapter 4, which starts out right after Jesus has been baptized. The first verse says this:
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.”
Okay. This is a very familiar story. I know this one. I can probably just skim it since I’ve read it so many
times before, and I know I’ve heard it preached at least half a dozen times. Jesus went out into the
desert and Satan came trying to tempt him to sin. But, wait a minute…..
What did that say? He went to the wilderness TO BE tempted? Why have those two words never seemed so important before? Jesus went to the wilderness with the specific purpose of being tempted! He didn’t go there to meditate and happened to be tempted while he was there. He wasn’t going just to fast and pray then Satan suddenly showed up. He went there TO BE TEMPTED! This has probably always been an obvious point to most people, but to me it felt like a revelation. I really had to stop and take it in for a while. The Lord of all creation, in an earthly body, subjected himself to real temptation. This is so difficult to grasp! I want to rationalize that this time of testing Jesus endured really wasn’t much of a test, because Jesus is divine and holy. He has all the power in the universe, so resisting the devil must have been an effortless task. Right? Not quite.
While on this earth, Jesus was 100% God and 100% man at the same time. I know the math doesn’t work, but it’s still true. His temptation in the wilderness was a deliberate surrendering of His divinity, just like He did on the cross when He became sin for us. He supernaturally slipped on the mantle of natural flesh, so he could relate to me and you in our struggles with temptation.
The Holy Spirit explained it for us, through the writing of the Apostle Paul in the book of Hebrews (2:18): “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” The ESV says it this way, “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
There is so much to learn from the story of the temptation of Christ. We could talk about the example of how to withstand temptation by being spiritually prepared through prayer and fasting. We could talk about the example of fighting the devil through the power of the Word. Those are great, important take-aways! And I haven’t even talked about the physical and spiritual intensity of the test He endured! (For more study on those points, check out the Study Guide by David Guzik: https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_Mat/Mat_4.cfm?a=933001)
But what the Holy Spirit wanted to impress upon me, during this specific reading, was that Christ was tempted purposefully and willingly, and that He did it for me. The temptation of Christ was part of the redemptive plan, just as was the work on the cross. I still can’t fully explain “why” he had to be tempted, since I believe His sacrifice on the cross would have been just as complete without His temptation. But I believe it was a selfless act of love toward mankind. He wanted to know His creation so intimately that He became flesh and endured the feelings of temptation as a man.
"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15
If anybody has some insight to share on this topic, I’d love for you to leave a comment!
About the Blog
Thank you for visiting my blog. I share devotional articles and musings about life, parenting, and the writing journey, as well as important news about my books. I hope you find something of interest here!