Tag Archives: worth

Nuggets of Hope 5 – Purchased by God



In our world, we all need it, and can’t live without it. We use money to purchase many of our daily needs. In fact, the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis is one of the big concerns that many people have.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am offering these brief daily reflections to inspire hope in God’s people as we think about different aspects of His purposes and plans for us.

Today I want to consider a powerful truth. God has placed a value on your life.

In addressing a moral issue that was plaguing the community of believers in Corinth, the Apostle Paul wrote these powerful, hope-giving words (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit,
who is in you, whom you have received from God?
You are not your own; 
you were bought at a price.
Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Money is how most of us assign value to things. We say something is valuable if it costs a lot of money. But God didn’t use money to purchase us. He used something of far greater value – the life of a person. And not just any person. He purchased us with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

This means that we are of great value to God. You don’t pay a high price for something that is unimportant to you. The more you pay for something, the more you value it. God paid the highest possible price to redeem us from sin and eternal destruction. He paid the life of His own beloved Son. He did this because He loves us and wants us to be with him forever.

As God’s purchased possession, we are secure in Him. In the midst of all the shakings and uncertainties of the time we are in, those who belong to Jesus and have surrendered our lives to Him can know with confidence that we are loved, chosen by God to inherit a Kingdom that cannot be shaken.

Being purchased with the blood of Christ also means that we do not belong to ourselves. When you buy something, you have a purpose in mind. God redeemed us from the empty way of life of the lost world around us so that we could live in a different way.  How we walk through this time, or any time, is of great importance. We are called to purity, to hope, to love.  We’re called to think of others and not just ourselves. Fear can make us stupid, but the love and sanctifying power of Jesus enables us to live by a different standard. Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

My granddaughter Madison loves to sing This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. We have a light within us that is placed there by God. We are His purchased possession. We are of high value, and secure in Him. Let’s shine for Him today.



Why we worship

A few months ago, I began to get that restless feeling in my spirit that I have come to recognize as preparation for a significant change – usually a new ministry assignment. As I talked with Marion and sought to discern the Lord’s leading, we eventually realized that we were being reassigned to a little neighbourhood church here in Vanier known as The Village.

The Village is pastored by a wonderful couple who live just one block from our house, and our initial assignment was simply to come alongside them and provide friendship, encouragement and prayer support. However, as this relationship has developed, Marion and I have also been invited to assist in strengthening the Village’s ministry of sung worship.

This is an excellent fit for us on a musical level. As a worship leader my style is very simple and unsophisticated. I play my acoustic guitar and sing. No band; no lights; no smoke machines; no mosh pit; no screaming fans; no gear beyond a very basic sound system with a microphone and a pickup to amplify my guitar. Not that I’m against any of that other stuff, but for me they have never seemed necessary (although I have to admit, having a bass player would be a great blessing). I’ve always led worship in very small settings – small groups and home churches. The Village is not a home church, but it is a very simple church, so a simple approach to sung worship fits right in.

As for Marion, the simplicity of the musical culture at the Village has provided a perfect context for the djembe (African hand drum) that I gave her a few years ago, and it has been a delight to see her gaining confidence as a hand drummer. Acoustic guitar and djembe make a very good combo, and her playing helps to keep me anchored with a solid rhythmic base that adds some punch to our musical offering.

The simplicity of music and worship at this new place of assignment is also a good fit on another level. It is a constant reminder that worship is not a show, but an offering of love.

I’ve had seven years to re-learn this lesson. From the spring of 2006 until this recent shift to The Village, Marion and I had been part of two mid-size churches. Both these churches were blessed with plenty of talented musicians, and despite my love for worshipping the Lord in song, I knew that the Holy Spirit was restraining me from joining the praise and worship team at either church. At the time, I didn’t think of it as a sabbatical, but I now realize that the time span of seven years was no accident.

The lack of involvement in worship ministry was a big change for me, as prior to this I had been the main worship leader as well as the pastor and teacher in our house church for many years. But with the subtle pressure of the Holy Spirit keeping me from joining the public worship ministry of either City Church or All Nations, I played my guitar and sang my songs of worship in my basement, in my small group, at prayer meetings with a handful of intercessors. It felt strange at first to be restricted to using my gift in such a limited way, but I knew that God was pruning me, testing my heart to see if I would still choose to be a worshipper when He was the only one watching or listening.

About two years into this seven-year sabbatical, I was introduced to the worship coming out of International House of Prayer in Kansas City, and spent many hours letting my heart be changed  in the fragrant atmosphere of devotion that flows from the IHOP Global Prayer Room.

Now that I am stepping back into a more public role as a worship leader at The Village, I am constantly reminded that this is a priestly function. When I am leading worship, I am not serving myself or my own need for attention. My entire focus needs to be on helping the people of God to be true worshippers who bring a pleasing offering to God. To do this, I need to first of all be a true worshipper myself. And so, I have been asking myself some old questions, and finding that the answers to those questions – though I have known them for many years – are reaching my heart in a fresh way.

Why worship? What is the point? Why does God value worship? Specifically, why do we worship with songs?

Those are very big questions, and a single blog post is far too short for adequate answers, but here are a few thoughts.

We don’t worship to entertain God, to impress him. Though the simple worship songs offered by a tiny church in Vanier may seem unimpressive even by human standards, the best worship band on earth pales in comparison to the worship offered in the heavens. Nothing we bring could ever compete with the sights, sounds and smells of the worship in the heavenly throne room. And so, humility is called for. We need to get over ourselves. Even with the most skilled singers and musicians, the latest and most anointed songs, a world-class sound system, lights, smoke, and thousands of people – we’re not that impressive. Beloved, yes – amazing, yes – but only because we are the handiwork of an amazing God. He is the one who is truly impressive.

Nor do we worship to make God like us, or to convince him of how devoted we are. God has no illusions about us, and His love for us isn’t dependent on how well we sing our songs or play our instruments. Our hearts are transparent to Him – he sees right through to the core of who we are. He sees our love for Him and our sincere desire to please him, but he also sees our fears, our pride, our judgments, our preoccupation with ourselves, and much else besides. Nothing we do in worship can change that, nor should we even try. After all, God hates pretense. His favour is attracted only by a broken and contrite heart with no deceit.

So why do we worship?

God is worthy
First, we worship because God is worthy. He is before all things, all things come from Him, and everything exists for His pleasure and glory. Any created thing that we consider to be beautiful or good or true is only good because it comes from His hand. True worship is not about us but about God. It is a declaration of His supreme worth, a declaration that He is the reason why we live. In the words of the apostle Paul, in Him we live and move and have our being.

But God is not only worthy of praise because He created us. He is worthy of praise because of His self-giving, sacrificial love. We bow in wonder before the One who took on human form and allowed himself to be broken and crushed on the cross. We are in awe of the One who took away our guilt, washed us clean and gave us a new heart so that we could stand before Him without fear in His presence as beloved sons and daughters. We are amazed at the prospect of sharing in resurrection life with Him forever in His Kingdom that will have no end.

And so we worship not only because God is worthy. We worship God because we love Him. His amazing generosity towards us causes love to flow from our hearts in response. We love because He first loved us. Love for God is the first and greatest commandment.

Now, if we are honest, we would have to admit that we don’t always feel love towards God. Although we have passed from death to life and from darkness to light, our minds and hearts are still in the process of being renewed, and much of our life in this age is still preoccupied with our own concerns. It’s only by the Holy Spirit’s power that we are able to love God at all.

Invited into intimacy
God is better to us than we know. He is fully aware that we are not capable of loving him with our whole being. And that is precisely why He has given us the Holy Spirit, and commanded us to worship him with songs. When we sing songs of praise and thanks and adoration towards God, the Holy Spirit takes our own words and uses them to change our hearts, and we find that our thoughts towards God begin to line up with the words we are singing. The Holy Spirit reminds us of how much He loves us, and our hearts begin to engage with God’s heart, and we find that we are once again in awe of His goodness.

And so, although worship is first of all for God – it is a way of honouring Him and expressing His worth – it is also very much for us. It is a gift that God in His mercy has given us so that we can draw near to Him and our hearts can be transformed in His presence.

One of the most wonderful truths about God’s character is that He delights in our love for Him. The King sees us, He is moved by our love for Him, He invites us into His chambers. This intimacy with the Holy God is one of the amazing paradoxes of worship. Though the Lord is on high, yet he looks with affectionate love on those who humble themselves and seek Him with sincerity.

Why do we worship? Because God has commanded it; because He is worthy; but also because He loves us, and we are invited into intimacy with Him. What an amazing privilege, to come into the experienced presence of the King of Kings for an advance taste of the glories that will be ours forever when His Kingdom comes fully on earth as it is in heaven.

And so, as a worship leader, I want to be careful to keep my focus on Jesus; to remember His goodness and mercy and His supreme worth; and to remember the price He paid and the value He sets on the precious ones whom it is my privilege to lead into His presence every time I offer my songs of worship before God’s throne in the presence of His people. What an amazing and humbling privilege. To God be the glory.



My six month old granddaughter Sophie wants to be noticed!  That’s not unique to her, of course.  One of the longings of every human heart is the desire for significance.   We desire not just to be significant but to be recognized as being significant.   From the time that a child first develops a sense of her own identity, she wants to be noticed, to be recognized, to be valued.  We all want to make an impact on those around us; we all want our life to count for something.

Some over-zealous Christians see this desire for significance as inherently sinful, a form of pride.  But when we look at the Genesis account we see that God made the first human couple in his image and assigned them responsibility for the entire earth.  That sounds like significance to me!  Further, Psalm 8 tells us that God has made us only a little lower than the angels.  No, the desire for significance is not evil.  Like the other built-in longings of the human heart, the desire to be significant is God-given.  It’s when we try to fulfill this desire outside of a trusting relationship with the living God that we get into trouble.

Lucifer was an angel, beautiful and powerful.   Not content with being on God’s team, he became proud because of his beauty and wanted to be the supreme ruler.  He was cast out of heaven and lost his authority.  Furious that God had given authority over the earth to man and not to him, he decided to try to establish a realm for himself on earth by deceiving God’s new creature, man.  Not surprisingly, he tempted Eve by promising her what he had wanted for himself – the prospect of being as smart and powerful as God.  The only catch was that to get this prize, Adam and Eve would have to disobey God’s clear instruction, thus breaching the intimate fellowship with God that had been their life up til that moment.  He knew that if Adam and Eve took the bait, humans would be easy targets for him to manipulate, and as long as he could manipulate humans he would have a measure of influence through them.

What got Lucifer into trouble?  He wasn’t content with his God-given identity.  He had already been given significant gifts – power, beauty, authority, and a place in the heavenly council – but he wanted more.  He knew God’s power but he didn’t know his heart.  Lucifer was the archetypal orphan – never content, never at peace, always scheming, always having a point to prove.  He wouldn’t rest until he was the ruler of the whole of creation.  Blinded by his lust for power, he only succeeded in ensuring a miserable future for himself and all those who believed his lies.

Jesus was God’s only-begotten son, every bit as beautiful and powerful as Lucifer, but with a different spirit.   He willing accepted his Father’s invitation to come to earth and bring salvation to the human race, knowing the decision would be painful and costly.  In the beautiful account of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, there is a very significant statement which is a key to understanding how Jesus saw himself.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  (John 13:3-5)

Jesus knew who he was, where he had come from and where he was going.  He knew he had a secure place in his Father’s affections and a crucial part to play in fulfilling his Father’s purposes.   It’s no accident that when Satan attempted to divert Jesus from his mission, he did it by attacking his sense of identity, by saying “If you are the Son of God, prove it”.  But Jesus, unlike Lucifer, didn’t have a point to prove.  He already knew he was the Father’s beloved Son and he needed nothing more.  He would not act independently or get ahead of his Father’s plan, but would do only what he saw his Father doing.

As I look back on my life I realize how much I have been driven by the need to be assured of my own worth.   If you’re honest, you’ll probably admit that the same is true of you.   As long as I am trying to fulfill that longing for significance outside of God’s freely-given and unearned acceptance in Christ, my efforts only serve to block the flow of God’s grace and mercy, because even when I am doing good things I am doing them as much for myself as for others or for God’s pleasure.  But when I get the truth in focus – that I am accepted as God’s son and heir because of what Jesus has done for me, that I am significant and dearly loved by my Father, that He has given me a unique set of gifts and abilities, that He has valuable and fulfilling work for me to do in His Kingdom – then I can enter into rest and become fruitful by allowing His grace to work in me.

Over to you …