Tuesday

www.bible.com/72/psa.47.1.hcsb

Nothing special today. Tuesday is like a part of the night sky that is unremarkable, no stars or constellations. You pass over it because it is part of the whole, but you don’t celebrate it. It’s not the back to work day, or hump day, or any of the days leading to the weekend. It’s just there.

Funny thing though. When the Hubble Telescope pointed its great lenses to the darkest part of the night sky, it saw amazing collections of stars and distant galaxies. There were whole worlds of wonder along that vector that scientists are still poring over.

Tuesday is a day that the Lord has made, woken you up into it, and reintroduced you back into the world. Today is just as good a day to sing and celebrate the resurrection as any other day. Let not the joy of Sunday wear off but continue to feed the fire of joy and worship throughout the week.

God bless you today, even if it’s a Tuesday.

Easter Monday

www.bible.com/72/psa.22.31.hcsb

Though not a day we celebrate, on some calendars you will find today labeled as Easter Monday because it follows Easter. Today’s selection comes from Psalm 22, the first verse of which is quoted by Jesus in the cross. (Just consider that in the midst of his final hours, Jesus is quoting texts of ancient literature. That’s my Jesus!) He most likely makes this reference because Psalm 22:2 accurately reflects exactly how he’s feeling. He feels forsaken by God and afflicted, just as Isaiah 53 predicted.

But Psalm 22 takes a journey of its own. From the first verse to the last, the Psalm goes from lament to praise. The Psalmist laments his condition, in many ways prefiguring Christ’s own suffering. But then he speaks of the presence of the Lord, the worship in His holy Temple, and that at the last, generations will speak of the Lord’s praise and deliverance.

And here we are, the generations to be born are reading this blog today. They are reading about what the Lord has done in raising s dead man to life. Despite all the arguments that it can’t be done, today we serve a risen Savior. Sure I apprehend these things by faith, but faith based on evidence. There is more evidence for Jesus than for Socrates.

Let us tell today about the risen Savior. It may be Monday, but Jesus is still just as risen as He was yesterday. Let us celebrate His resurrection everyday.

God bless!

A Day to Rejoice

www.bible.com/72/psa.2.11.hcsb

Want to send this out to everyone today I hope you have had a great day of worship and refreshment in the Lord’s house with the Lord’s people. If not, why not try to find a place before the day’s over.

We serve a wonderful and powerful God. He alone deserves our time, our worship and our awe. And I am getting old enough that few things awe me anymore. I’ve seen spectacle and amazing. Now I just feel jaded. It’s a “been there, done that” kind of feeling. That’s one reason I keep turning back to God, because He never fails to amaze me. Taking five minutes just to understand how awesome this universe is, from galactic clusters to quanta. Every day can be filled with wonder at a God who is infinitely creative.

So let us serve Him, with praise and worship, awe and wonder, for He alone is worthy of our praise.

God bless you today.

The Song Goes On

www.bible.com/72/col.3.16.hcsb

Ever had a song stuck in your head that just won’t go away? Yeah, me too. Those songs have catchy tunes and easy to remember lyrics. Well, guess what God has planned for us to do with the word of truth? Put it to music of course. Words and tunes come together to make it easier to remember (the alphabet song, anyone?) and be able to remember it much later. My wife tells me she could have a masters in late 80’s song lyrics. That’s how our memories work. So God has already put into place the directive to put these truths to music so that in times it struggle, we could remember.

Remember that while you worship this morning. God bless!

Drawing to God

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“Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord, to thy precious bleeding side.”

So the words of that precious hymn roll through my mind this morning after reading this passage. I noticed as I looked down to the shareable pics that Youversion presented me with, that all of them dropped the last half of the verse. I suppose it is more comfortable to see God as one of invitation only without preparation on our part.

It leads some to believe that God accepts you just as you are. That you don’t really need to change, but just believe and arrive in God’s presence as a dignitary of some kind, and it is you gracing God with your dignified presence.

I know this is unpopular to say, but we are sinners. He is perfect and righteous, blameless and holy. Something we don’t talk about much in Christian circles any more is holiness. It seems that modern Christians are all about grace and love and peace, but ignore God’s demands on personal holiness. “Be holy as I am holy.” This is what the whole verse more striking. Certainly we want to draw near to God, but rarely do we hear there is a dress code to visit the Almighty. This isn’t about wearing a tie to church, but about appearing before Him wearing be garments of righteousness provided by Jesus Christ. Jesus tells a parable about a man thrown out of a wedding banquet because he is not wearing the wedding garment. He is thrown out because he was not prepared for the occasion.

Now, I don’t think we need to employ the holiness police at the church door. That’s not what this is about. This is about preparing the heart when we intend to enter the Lord’s presence, either by public worship or private prayer. Hands are cleansed with water. Hearts are cleansed by the blood of Christ. There is an “holy attire” when entering the Lord’s presence and we need to prepare for it.

For today and everyday, cleanse your hands and purify your heart. You are in the Lord’s presence.

God bless you today!

Incomparable

bible.com/72/isa.25.1.hcsb

Who else could do the things our God can do? Who else can rightly be called “God” than the One who made the heavens and the earth by his mighty power and outstretched hand? There is no one else, and thus we have no One else to thank but Him. God is the proper object of our worship and praise today. We were made to praise Him and without Him as our object, our praise feels hollow and worthless. Praising men for their great deeds is good, but praising God is better. Praising a child is good, but praising God, Who gives us all from the liberality of His hands in abundance is far better.

Worship is a natural part of our being, whether we choose to acknowledge God. We will naturally praise someone or something. We will give our allegiance to sports teams, athletes, great thinkers and minds, family, friends, those whom we admire. And we will do it without even thinking about it, because it is an instinctual as breathing. Giving your time and attention to any object or person can be moved into the realm of worship.

We worship an invisible God, whose worship and praise must be intentional. He is made evident by the creation we see around us. We are witness to His majesty through His creative acts, and He draws us to Himself by the awe we feel in His works. Worship of God is deliberate. It is something we may fall into, but to worship a God we cannot see requires our intention and concentration. It is so much easier to worship things we can see. God forces us to engage both heart and mind in worshipping Him, our spirit and our will.

So let us engage the Lord with thankfulness for His marvelous works, His blessings innumerable, and the joys He has graced us with in this life. If you have family, be thankful for that. If you have a home, food on the table, children who say “I love you”, a wife who is still a woman worthy of the descriptor “beautiful”, a good job that pays for your needs, you already have numerous reasons to be thankful.

Celebrate and enjoy this holiday in thankfulness and worship. God bless you today.

Calling Out Sin

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February is the month we honor presidents, among other things. But the recent batch of presidents we’ve been witness to has been a bit lacking. When you read about the early men who held this post, you wonder where men like that have gone to. Where are the honorable men who sough to defend the honor of this country and the sacredness of freedom? When you think about it, those men began to disappear when we stopped talking about sin.

We turn to look at the sins that we commit, and how we can deal with them as Christians. God did not leave us orphans. He intends to be with us every step of the way.

Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you.  (Heb 13:5)

So it’s time for a personal inventory. Sin is the very power of Satan over our lives. As long as we resist confessing sin, we resist the will of God in our lives.

  • Check your worship
    • Does God have your attention when you worship?
    • Does your prayer life and Bible study reflect God’s hold on your life?
    • Does your church attendance reflect your commitment to the Kingdom?
    • Are there any areas of your worship you need to improve?

     

  • Check your witness
    • Does your walk match your talk?
    • Does anyone else know you are a Christian?
    • Do God’s values show clearly in your conversation and friendships?
    • Do you have strong Christian friends that help hold you accountable to your Christian commitment?

These questions are designed merely to get you thinking more in depth about your faith in Christ. I want to encourage you to find a deeper path this month as we learn how to put aside the sins that so easily entangle us (Heb 12:1) and learn to take a closer walk with Christ.

The Master’s School of Prayer

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One of our great and sacred privileges as Christians is that we can pray to God directly, without having a priest to mediate for us. We already have a high priest, Jesus Christ, whose blood opens the way for us unto God, a way through the Holy of Holies so that we can boldly enter the throne room of God and speak to Him. “Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.” (Heb 4:16) We don’t take this privilege lightly, for many of us know exactly how important this is, and know right away that we don’t know enough about it to do it the right way. We are afraid we will do it wrong, and thus our spiritual lips are silent, for fear we might offend God trying to do the right thing.

However, using that logic, we undoubtedly were offended when our children first started to talk to us, and used sounds and parts of words, rather than fully conjugated verbs and proper nouns. Surely our children were afraid to speak in our presence because of our insistence on the proper declension of pronouns and the proper use of adverbs and adjectives. OF COURSE NOT! We were delighted that our children began to speak at all! We wanted them to speak, even to use “dada” and “mama” to get our attention. We craved to hear their voice.

So it is with God. God does not expect us to pray like the prophets or the apostles, because we are neither. We are His children, and He yearns to hear us speak His name in prayer. He yearns to hear the voice He made speak back to Him in worship.

And prayer is exactly that: it is a time of worship where we speak back to God. Prayer is our opportunity to speak to the One who made us.We are turn to the Master Teacher to teach us what prayer is all about. We not only look at the prayers He suggested to us as a model, but also the prayers He offered as examples of what our prayers should be like.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
(Mat 6:5-15)

What is Worship?

IMG20057It seems we’ve argued for decades about the nature of worship. From the revival tunes of the 19th century to the Jesus Movement in the 1960’s, to the wave of Contemporary Christian music that still permeates much of Christian worship today.  But all of this is about music, time signatures and instrumentation.  And while these things have a psychological effect that can lead us to worship (such as the hypnotic effect of a steady drum beat), these are no substitute for true worship.

So what is real worship. I can tell you that that real worship doesn’t depend on music. In fact, music can interrupt authentic worship. I can remember many times of sitting quietly and worshipping in the presence of God during Communion, that is, until the music starting playing. Then it distracted me with half-remembered words of the hymn it was repeating.

There is this verse of Scripture which points to worship music, and points to what Christian music ought to accomplish:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
(Col 3:16)

Do you ever wonder why the Psalmist never recorded the music to the Psalms? Certainly if God thought certain tunes were worthy to use in worship, couldn’t He have found a way to help us record notes? And yet, the only thing we have in our Bibles are the lyrics to the Psalms, and certain notations where titles of long-forgotten tunes are recorded. And yet don’t we often quote the Psalms for their content? “The Lord is my Shepherd”, “Be still and know that I am God”. As Colossians suggests, the most important part of worship music, or music that helps us worship, is the lyrics, the words which are intended to teach truth.

When I was in school, I was told that the best way to learn certain facts, like the states and capitals, or the Books of the New Testament, was to put them to music. I learned my alphabet this way, and I sure you did too. I still know the alphabet song, and remembering the tune also helps me remember exactly what order the letters are. Music was designed to help you remember. That’s why we are better at remembering the songs we loved in high school than the facts of US History.

So Colossians recommends, use music as a tool for helping teach Scripture. Music will help you remember. This is also why church music needs to be sing-able as well as memorable. I have sung a few new Church hits recently, but if you tested me, I wouldn’t be able to reproduce them, because they aren’t really that easy to sing. But I can pick up my guitar and belt out “Amazing Grace” or “The Old Rugged Cross” no problem. Worship music is an easy first step to apply when trying to get into worship.

And important second step is to use that music to teach truth, which I really don’t see much of in modern worship music. I see a lot of choruses, repeating the same phrases over and over, but often find these choruses theologically bland. “I Love Jesus” times 20. Am I trying to convince myself that I love Him? Does He really want me to say that? Would my wife want me repeating that same phrase 20 times in a single setting? Why not tell Jesus 20 different reasons that I love Him? He died for me. He set me free. He paid the price. He sacrificed. I mean, just going through all the different reasons I love Him would be a proper theological exercise and spiritual reflection than repeating the same phrase ad nauseum. I feel we often run afoul of Jesus’ warning about vain babbling.

The third step to worship is that inner reflection, that personal response to the truth of Scripture. Than can be through a song, a hymn, or a spiritual song, but it can also be through verbal praises (“Hallelujah!”) or physical praises (lifting hands) or in prayer, (“Thank you Jesus for saving me and making me whole”) or just a worship perspective, seeing your position in God’s love and enjoying that. It might mean sitting down and writing a journal entry or a blog post. Worship is the moving of the heart toward God. It is emotional, involving the heart. It is relational, involving the spirit. It is motivational, involving the will. It is intellectual, involving the truths impacted into your mind. It is physical, requiring changes of posture or position.

The point of this post is this: Don’t rely solely on worship music to worship. Music is a part of worship, but only a part. It is a tool to help move you into worship. Don’t let your worship be just about the tool.