Have you noticed that the fear industry is booming at the moment? These are good days for things like suspicion, cynicism and gloom. They prey on people’s worst instincts, creating an atmosphere that is thick with the toxicity of distrust. It’s contagion blows into key aspects of society including politics, media and education, and it spreads confusion over a hurting nation. Church is not exempt from it. If you are the type of person whose disposition leans more towards negativism, then the sinister climate that hangs overhead will simply encourage unbelief.
Personally though, I’m resisting it. In fact, I find myself battling to protect against a pessimistic default. It could be the easiest thing for me to slip into a downward spiral of doom and despair. That’s why I choose my friends very carefully. It is never helpful to keep company with a vibe that panders to the prevailing culture and rolls with it’s hateful jibes. Better to acquaint with faith than fear.
Fear feeds negative culture and starves faith of it’s vitality. Religion loves fear because it provides an opportunity to manipulate and control people. That’s why Jesus reserved his most ferocious words for the religious establishment of his day. They thrived off the power that fear afforded them, playing on people’s anxieties with subtle yet brutal precision. The Pharisees hatred of Jesus was venomous because Jesus exposed their hypocritical legalism and preached a message of freedom instead. His word hasn’t changed. But neither has the spirit of religion.
When we understand the difference between religion and relationship, it changes everything. One controls you. The other empowers you. One holds you back. The other releases you into your God given potential. One leads to hate while the other to love. Interestingly, Jesus was never into religion. His message was totally relational. He came to set us free from the grip of fear, and into the loving embrace of God’s amazing grace.
In his letter to Timothy, Paul says ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear’ (2 Timothy 1:7). This verse is a massive statement. It tells us something about the culture that God wants us to carry in our everyday lives, and which changes the atmosphere around us. It is FearLESS, not fearful. It is FaithFUL, not faithless. The threat of fear can only be expelled by the power of love. That’s why the bible teaches us that ‘love drives out fear‘ (1 John 4:18).
The latest Hillsong Worship album is out and it is an ABSOLUTE blinder. You just have to get it. Hillsong are world renowned for their music which is continually fresh, innovative and relevant. This album is no different. The music is inspiring and captivating, the lyrics real, encouraging and uplifting, and the vibe is positive and modern. In a few sentences I’m going to explore the message from each song and what understanding we can get from them. Below is a video of of one of the songs.
‘Behold’ was a key song at Hillsong Conference 2016. A personal favourite, it shows a heart that gets an understanding of the vast length, breadth and depth of God’s love for us. A heart that realises God’s Heart for us is that we have relationship with Him. That’s why He sent Jesus to die for us. That’s why we have the Holy Spirit to be our companion. We realise this and our soul sings, how great Your love is!
‘Love so great’ is an expression of how great God is. It understands that our incomparable God shows us great love and therefore we give Him all the praise.
‘Look to the Son’ again is an expression of God’s love. When we look to the Son, we see His love and we sing His praises forever.
I love the fact the album opens up declaring God’s great love for us! And let’s us know that when we understand God’s love, all we can do is praise Him! He deserves it! In the times we live in, it is easy to take our eyes off of God and get overwhelmed by the world around us. But let us behold God, set our eyes on Him, we will see His unmatched love for us and we will sing His praises because we have a hope!
‘Crowns’ declares that hope that we have. “My wealth is in the Cross.” Jesus’ death on the Cross gives us a certain hope. When we accept Him, nothing compares to the great wealth we have in Salvation. It is the greatest thing to have. Our focus changes to a Kingdom driven focus, because nothing is worth this wealth we have.
‘What a beautiful Name’ is a declaration of the power in the Name of Jesus! This is the Name we can place all our hope in! Jesus has brought Heaven down to us, and in paying that price, death could not hold Him, He has no rival, no equal, the Kingdom, the glory, the Name above all names! And this is the Name we can declare over any situation in our lives! What an incredible hope!
‘Your Word’ carries on this theme. His Word will not be shaken and can never fail! We can stand on His word! It is a firm foundation! A solid base, and unwavering hope.
There is strong message of hope, an assurance we can have in God and in His power. There is no need for us to be weary or beat down. Let’s clasp unto the hope we have! Christ in us the hope of Glory!
‘Let There Be Light’ is the title song of the album. It’s a call for God to have His way in our lives as we surrender ourselves to His light. There is freedom in total surrender to Christ. When we open our hearts to Him, he can give us new perspective, purify our hearts, give us good news, comfort, mend our broken hearts, release us from bondage, restore us unto Him, it’s endless! The freedom we get when we accept His light, it’s boundless! This theme of freedom carries on in In Control. We can come come to God in total surrender, through all of life’s storms and we can put all of our trust in Him. When we hit our low points, it’s time to remind ourselves, God is all we want and need, put our trust in Him, and He will calm our seas and give us rest. He is in control, and we can be free from anxiety and worry.
‘Grace to grace’ is an expression of the freedom we have because of the cross. Jesus’ death has paid the price for us. We are God’s children. The price Jesus paid on the cross means our chains are gone, our debt is paid, death has no right over us and we are liberated in His grace!
The message of freedom is strong and is so relevant to us! We do not have to be held by our past, by our present or by our future, we can be totally free in allowing God work in our hearts, by accepting His guidance and living in His grace! The plans He has for us are for good and not evil, to give us a future and a hope!
‘Elohim’ talks about the assurance we can have in God. His promises will never fail, as long as life remains, He is faithful. We are sure of this because God is patient and kind. We can rely on the promise that His righteous love outlasts generations, and He will always be with us.
‘I will boast in Christ’ encourages us to not forget the promise we have from the cross. The promise He won for us when He paid the highest ransom. We have a promise that the Blood of Jesus washes us and makes us whole. We can rely on this promise and we can boast because of it! We can go through life with our head held high! As it is reminds of the promise of Heaven! It is our resting place, our home and we can look forward to it. What a great promise! What a great hope!
The album ends on a strong note with the assurance of the promises we have in God, in the Cross and in Heaven! It’s a great album a great worship experience! We’ll definately be singing loads of these at the Junction Church Leicester & Loughborough.