Worship With An Undivided Heart

How many times have you gone to do something and as you were going you remembered that you needed to do something else? So you turned away to do that thing on the way to do the first thing and as you were going to do the second thing you remembered a third thing you needed to do, which you did. By then you forgot what you were going to do at first and then, well, it’s kind of confusing, isn’t it?

That’s why Internet is such a rabbit hole. We start looking for one thing and there are so many colorful butterflies flittering off in all directions–that we’re like the cowboy who jumped on his horse and rode off in all directions chasing them.

Hang on to that thought.

A United Heart?

This morning I read something in the Bible and I thought, “What in the world does that mean?”

“… unite my heart to fear your name.” (Psalms 86:11b—ESV) “Unite my heart,” what’s that about? Is my heart broken into pieces?

I think the NIV makes it clearer: “…give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” When my heart is dispersed in ten different directions, like I when I can’t remember what I was going to do at first, I don’t fear the Lord like I should. I don’t respect Him.

He’s not first in my life as He should be.

A divided heart loves the Lord but loves several other things as much as it loves God.

Loving Good Things

And they’re not necessarily sin. Lots of things vie for mastery in my heart: the Lord, family, work, sports, cookies, ice cream, money, church, people’s opinion of me, politics, television, Internet, etc. You add your own. It could be a person.

None of these is sin, unless they swell and take that central place that belongs to the Lord Jesus. But when that happens or when all of these things have equal value with the Lord in the way we spend our time and resources, we begin to lose respect for the Lord Jesus.

God-respect keeps our life centered. We desperately need it.

How Do You Know?

How do you know your heart is divided? When my grandson Matthew was little we played hide and seek. He ran to his room and hid. He was afraid I wouldn’t find him so once or twice I hear a “Woo, hoo,” coming from behind the door. In verse 12, God gives us a “woo hoo” to let us know the answer to my question. “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.” (Ps. 86:12 PDV 2017)

When you’re not thankful, you’re feeling entitled and you’re not getting everything you think is due you, you get mad about it. You’re probably suffering from a heart divided among lots of things. When real worship is hard for us, our heart is probably divided. Worship acknowledges that God is first and most important and that we’re not the center of the universe.

And, as I said, when you don’t respect the Lord as you should, your heart is probably divided.

How Do You Get Jesus Back At the Center?


The Ephesus church was full of hard-working, clean-living Christians. It’s just that their fervent love for the Lord Jesus had hardened into religion and they were in danger of losing their relationship with God.

They thought they could replace tears of love and commitment with doing a bunch of stuff and judging those who didn’t live up to standard.

Put yourself before the Lord. Is your heart divided? You love the Lord Jesus but you’re not passionate about serving Him. You’re passionate about politics. You’re passionate about Bluebell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream and good restaurants. You’re passionate about your family. A person. Or your job. Or the Green Bay Packers. (Notice I didn’t say the Dallas Cowboys.)

All that is good but anything that keeps Jesus from being first in your life is an idol. Nothing claims equal billing with Him. God says to this Ephesian church that outwardly seems to have it all together, “But you walked away from your first love—why? What’s going on with you, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen? A Lucifer fall!

“Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I’m well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle.” (Revelation 2:4, 5 The Message).

Is your heart united or divided?

Hmmm … “Whoever defends himself will have himself for his defense, and he will have no other; but let him come defenseless before the Lord and he will have for his defender no less than God Himself.” (A. W. Tozer, the Pursuit of God)

David Porter combines 50 years of ministry in North America and Europe with a humorously serious outlook on life. His passion is a spirituality that acts in daily life. You can subscribe to this blog or make a comment by sending an e-mail to davidscoffeestains@gmail.com

Worship Blasts You Into a New Dimension

A friend, pastor Mike Howell, wrote something on Facebook this week that could have come straight from my own heart, “From the day I was saved at the age of six, God’s goodness has been with me. In my family, in the churches I have served, in every season God has been good. This song reflects my life story.

“And all my life You have been faithful And all my life You have been so, so good With every breath that I am able Oh, I’m gonna sing of the goodness of God”*

A prayer of mine lately is, “God give me a worshipping heart. Give me a thankful heart, a praising heart. Help me into your intimate presence, into your holy of holies.”

It’s Not Always Easy

Can I be honest with you? It’s not always easy to come into His presence. Now, for you theologians, I know God is everywhere and He’s in us, too. Yes! I agree. But, on my part, when I tumble out of bed in the morning, slurp a little coffee and attempt to praise and worship the King of kings the way He deserves to be worshipped, well my emotions, feelings, and droopy eyelids usually conspire against me.

Looking at Psalms 100, it seems like there is a pattern for approaching the Lord. It’s almost like a three-stage rocket blasting into space. We start out by thanking Him (accompanied by songs and yelps of joy). We praise Him for Who He is. Then we enter an intimate place of worship and communion with our Maker/Shepherd, who “owns” us and takes care of the intimate details of our lives.

–Thankfulness sees things as they are—we are humongous beneficiaries. It takes away entitlement and makes us genuinely grateful for God’s blessings.

Thanksgiving, praise and worship get our priorities straight. He’s God, not us. He’s the Maker/Owner, not us. He’s the provider, not us. This quickens our faith and dampens our pride.

In Romans chapter 1 men start to go off the rails when,”… although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.” (Rom 1:21, 22 NKJV)

An unthankful heart is a tasty treat for pride and anger. If you’re not grateful you open the door wide to all kinds of sins (read the list after Romans 1:22 to know what ungratefulness opens the door to). So … –Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, –And into His courts with praise. –Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

Universal Principle?

Many of these “truths” work even for an unbeliever, to a point. A generous person is blessed. And studies have shown that thankful people are happier. Alex Lieberman, of the Founder’s Journal podcast, says,

“And while I was a skeptic…gratitude has been the greatest key to happiness and fulfillment… Gratitude is a mindset and it is a choice. It’s a choice to appreciate all that we receive, whether tangible or intangible, and whether in control or out of our control. It’s also a choice to acknowledge all of the goodness in our lives …gratitude changes how we see the world and how we see the world impacts our experience throughout life.”

That’s great. The only question I have is, “If you don’t acknowledge God, who are you grateful to?” Luck? Yourself? A great, cosmic, something-or-other?

I’m so thankful for Eternal God who made me, who reconciled me in His Son Jesus, who watches over me like a shepherd guards his sheep. A thankful person doesn’t think the world owes him. She’s so glad for all she receives. She considers each day a gift from God and treasures the people who populate her life. It makes her sing.

Thankfullness seems to be the first step in entering God’s presence. This launches the “rocket’s” second stage—praise.

–Praise sees God as He is—good, love, hope, peace, Savior, Redeemer, Lord and a million more things. When we see Him as He is, our faith blasts off. If I were to tell you that I was going to pay all your debts, you’d probably grin and say, “Thanks for the thought David, but your resources and my debts aren’t in the same bracket.

If Bill Gates honestly said he was going to pay your debts? Well, that’s a different thing. You evaluate our financial worth and get your hopes built up based on that. Praise estimates God at His true value and that causes hope to spring up within us and shout.

“Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (Ps. 100:3, NKJV)

Praise Launches Stage Three

Praise propels us into worship and adoration.

–Worship experiences God in the Holy of holies. Worship spends time with God up close and personal. That’s when we realize, “For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.” (Ps. 100:5) Thanksgiving, praise and worship are the natural result of our life with Him.

*The Goodness of God–Jen Johnson, Brian Johnson, Ed Cash, Jason Ingram, and Ben Fielding. Bethel music

Are You Always Underfoot? (Under Jesus’ Feet?)

Recently during my personal time with the Lord in the morning, I’ve been stuck on Lazarus, Mary and Martha (John 11 & 12). So this Coffee Stain is a bit different.

Jerusalem was on fire, burning with the idea that the Messiah had arrived. They’re looking for Jesus to parade into town during the Passover season, thump the Romans and set up a Davidic kingdom in Jerusalem.

Jesus would have had several million hits on You Tube from the crowd with their fickle praise during this time. The fire didn’t burn very deeply for most of them, though. The “hosannas” quickly turned into “crucify Him!” a few days later.

A few days before the Passover celebration Jesus shows up again at Lazarus’ house. These friends knew the price of identifying with the Lord. Jesus picture would have been in the Post Office: “Wanted Dead Or Alive.” Continue reading

Break Out of Your Prison of Feelings

The prisoner sat slumped on the side of his bed in a corner of his cell. I say cell, but no one else saw any bars. They were there, though.

Many times he awoke and thought the hated walls had collapsed. He would jump to his feet and try to run only to crash once again against a wall of … of … something, falling back to the floor in despair. Then he saw him most clearly—the jailer–huge, hideous, grinning viciously at his desperate efforts.

Someone had to come with the key because he couldn’t get out on his own.

Prison of Praiselessness

That’s the way David felt in Psalms 142, “Set me free from my prison that I may praise your name.” (v. 7, NIV).
Continue reading

Saying « Amen » to the Devil

The way I imagine it:

Judas saw her first.

What was Mary up to anyway ? Judas had never liked her much. She was too … what? Emotional? Yeah, but it was more than that. She didn’t have any common sense, he thought. She was too “spiritual” for his taste.

Mary slipped behind Jesus, there where he was lounging at the low table with others and she broke the neck off the alabaster bottle that she held. A beautiful smell floated out of the vase and touched everyone in the room.

Jesus looked back over his shoulder to see what was happening.

Judas lounged with the other disciples at their table. Suddenly a sour look possessed his face. Why, that was nard! What was that silly woman doing now?

Mary took the open box and began to pour it on Jesus head. She then poured the other part on his feet and began to wipe the Master’s feet with her hair.

People looked on in wonder. Judas looked on in disgust. Already his brain calculated the cost. “I can’t understand this woman,” he muttered to himself. “Think what she could have bought with the sale of that perfume. That was probably a good part of her savings. What an airhead!”

Then, “Boy, if she had given the price of that to us, I could have used a part of it to finish paying off that field I purchased.” Judas kept the money for Jesus’ team and his fingers had been getting stickier and stickier lately.

His irritation bubbled over. “What in the world are you doing woman!” he cried out. “You could have sold that perfume for nearly a year’s wages. Think how many poor people we could have helped with that money! What good does it do to waste it like that?”

“Yeah,” echoed Simon the Canaanite. “The poor people!” Bartholomew and James Alphaeson shook their heads in indignant agreement. Others also seemed upset at Mary’s act.

Jesus sat up. He addressed Judas directly.

“Leave her alone!” Jesus commanded. “Why are you hurting her? She’s done a beautiful thing to me. You’ve always got the poor with you, but not me. She’s sensed what is coming and she’s embalmed my body before it enters the tomb.”

It was true. Even after all the suffering he would endure the next few hours, the soldiers who bent close to his hair still would smell this wonderful perfume.

“I’m going to tell you something,” Jesus continued. “Everywhere in the world where this gospel is preached, they’ll talk about what this woman has done today.”

Judas stared at the Master defiantly. The air was electric and confused. Something snapped in the disciple as he broke off eye contact and frowned furiously at the floor.

John had seemed to catch the beauty of the moment and though he understood what Judas was saying about the poor, he couldn’t help but feel the wonder of worship that Mary had expressed towards the Master.

Judas’ outburst had nearly spoiled the moment. The music started again and people turned back to their conversations, but at first they were stilted and difficult.

The angry disciple listened to the other disciples gossip about what just happened for a few minutes, most of them agreeing with him. But then he could take it no more.  A heavy, beautiful odor of perfume reminded him of why he was angry.

“Excuse me!” he said to Simon the leper as he strode past. “I need to get some air.”

Think about it:

Judas calculated the value (Mk. 14:5); the Bible just said it was very expensive (v. 3), but Judas had already calculated its value at a year’s wages. Materialism evaluates things by their monetary value and not their underlying value.

Satan entered Judas. This seemed to be the happening that finally opened his heart completely to the enemy. Others agreed but Judas let down the barrier of resistance.

Greed  understands neither worship nor generosity.

Money to help the poor never lacks—neither the opportunity to worship the Lord with our goods.

Lots of disciples said “amen” to the devil! Jesus had once said to his disciples that one of them was a devil, speaking of Judas. When this “devil” criticized Mary several of the disciples raised their voices in agreement. We need to make sure that we don’t say, “Amen!” to the devil.