Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category
True praise doesn’t flow just when everything is going the way we think it should go. Often we are all guilty of praising God when times are good but do you praise God even when times are hard? Do you praise God when life seems to be coming against you from every side? True praise flows at all times and not just when we feel like praising God.
James 1:2-4 reminds me of that fact. Trials come (v.2) but God allows trails to come to test our faith and to produce steadfastness (v.3). Steadfastness in turn leads to us being perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (v.4). How can this be? Because praise breaks us into the presence of God and we realize that He is faithful and He is sufficient no matter what we face. We choose to see God in our trials and we learn to praise Him in the midst of them and this leads us to see the sovereignty of God and trust completely in Him. Verse 4 is not speaking about money or about sinlessness. That is not even James’ point here. He is speaking about a trust in God that does not waver in the midst of trials (v.6). A trust in God that leads to us standing firm in our faith in the wisdom of God and the power of God (v.5).
Trails are not fun. They often hurt. But God is faithful and we can praise Him in the midst of the storms of life. Praise has a way of focusing on what really matters and that is God Himself (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). God is our delight. God is our reward. To be with Jesus is our aim (Philippians 1:20-21). Praise has a way of showing us that this world and its pains are insignificant to the reality and glory of heaven (Revelation 21:1-4). Come what may: cancer, debt, loss of freedoms, corruption of our bodies and decay, etc. – we can trust God and praise Him. He is good. He is faithful. He is sovereign.
In Ephesians 1:16 Paul the Apostle states that he prays for the Ephesians and he states that he prays for four things specifically for them:
1. The Father would give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.
2. Their eyes would be enlightened to know the hope to which they were called.
3. What are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.
4. The immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe that He demonstrated in Christ.
I want to focus specifically upon number 3. I believe that all four of these things that Paul prayed flow directly from knowing God. The deeper we go in a our understanding of the Word of God, the more we will know God. The heart of the disciple of Jesus is not to just knowledge about God or facts about Christianity but to actually know God. Bear in mind that Jesus said that He will cast away those who never knew Him in Matthew 7:21-23. Only those who know God will seek to obey God. Obedience flows from knowing and loving God (John 14:15) and not blind submission to His laws.
When we begin to understand our God, the greatness of His salvation, the depth of His love for us (1 John 4:10), the greatness of the cross in light of our utter sinfulness (Ephesians 2:6) – we begin to see the glorious inheritance we have in Christ. We see just what it is that He did in securing our eternal salvation. All the glory, all the honor, all the praise goes to Jesus alone when we begin to see the biblical teaching about our God. We recognize that we don’t deserve this salvation. We recognize that we didn’t earn this salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7). We recognize that what we deserve is His just wrath against our sins (Romans 1:18-32; 3:10-18). We see that we deserve to be cast into hell (Matthew 25:46). We did not love God. We did not seek God. He came seeking us (John 10:14-17). Jesus came to bear our sins and die in our place (Isaiah 53:4-6). We see that Jesus doesn’t deserve our punishment for He was perfect in word, thought, and deed (1 Peter 2:22) yet He took our place (1 Peter 2:24).
All of this, this understanding of our sins, the wrath of God against sin, the depth of Christ’s love on the cross – all of this leads us to worshiping this great and mighty God! We see how wonderful He is. We see how great is His love for us (Romans 5:8-9). We see His mercy (James 2:13). We see His grace (Romans 3:22-25). We see His power given to us in His Son (John 1:12-13). We see the fact that the reason for rejoicing is because our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Luke 10:19-20). We rejoice that the wrath of God is complete in His Son (John 19:30).
What a glorious inheritance we have in Christ! What joy comes when we see that our sins are forgiven because of the work of Christ (Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:7)! To know that Christ is our salvation, our sanctification, our glorification (1 Corinthians 1:30). To know that He came to die for us (John 3:16)! This all leads to worship of this great God. How can it not? Let us bow down and give Him the highest praise!
I have a passion to see souls saved. I admit this. This comes from my understanding of the Great Commission that Jesus gave His Church in Matthew 28:19-20, to go and make disciples of all the nations. My desire and prayer to God is that this would be fulfilled, that people would repent of their sins and come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet I can be guilty of making the gospel sound all about our sins forgiven without realizing that the gospel is not just about our sins being forgiven through the precious blood of Christ shed on the cross (Matthew 26:28) but the gospel, at its center, is about God. “That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Through the gospel we get to know God. I was praying just this morning and was praying for the reality of the priesthood of the saints to be preached among the people of God (1 Peter 2:5). As I pondered this thought about the priesthood, the thought occurred to me about how much we don’t appreciate the work of Christ in regard to Him making us priests unto God. Through Christ, I can come into the presence of God Almighty and worship and adore Him and communicate with Him as Adam and Eve did before the Fall (Hebrews 4:14-16). Because of Christ, I have no fear of judgment as I come before the Father in worship and praise and prayer (Romans 5:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10). Because of Christ, I have a high priest before the throne of God who protects me from the lies of Satan and who delivers me from the penalty and power of sin (Hebrews 9:14, 24). Because of Christ, I have fellowship with all who are born again (Ephesians 2:18-19). Because of Christ, my salvation is secure (Romans 8:38-39; Philippians 1:6). Because of Christ, I no longer fear condemnation (Romans 8:1-4).
All of this is from God who gave us His Son (John 3:16; 1 John 4:10). Forgiveness is ours in Christ (Ephesians 1:7). We even can confess our sins directly to Christ and not through a man on earth (1 John 1:9). Through Christ, I do not earn God’s salvation nor His forgiveness because they are all mine in His Son (Ephesians 2:8-9; cf. Acts 13:38-39). We are saved by grace through Christ alone (Acts 15:9).
What blessings then we have in Christ. The gospel is focused completely on Christ. He is the focus of the gospel. Because Jesus is God (John 1:1; Philippians 2:6) and Jesus is the main focus of gospel, God is the very center of the gospel. In fact, all three members of the Triune God are involved in our salvation from the Father who gave His Son to the Son accomplishing the work of the Father to the Spirit executing the work of Christ for our salvation. All of this, this salvation, this reconciliation, is from God alone. God is the focus. God is our delight. God is our salvation.
Let us then worship and adore our God! Let us praise Him for His great salvation! Let us rejoice in Him who washed all our sins away through the blood of the Lamb (John 1:29). Let us come boldly into His presence knowing that He longs for us and He alone is worthy to be praised.
ON THE WORSHIP OF GOD IN GENERAL
I. The first part of our duty to God and Christ was, the true meaning concerning God and Christ, or true faith in God and Christ; the second part is, the right worship to be rendered to both of them.
II. This part receives various appellations. Among the Hebrews, it is called h r w k [ and µ y h w l a t a d y the honour or worship, and the fear of God. Among the Greek, it is called Eusebeia piety; Qesebeia godliness, or a worshipping of God; Qrhskeia religion; Latreia service rendered to God; Douleia religious homage; Qerapeia divine worship; Timh honour; Fobov fear; Agaph tou Qeou the love of God. Among the Romans it is called, pietas, cultus or cultura dei, veneratio, honos, observantia.
III. It may be generally defined to be an observance which must be yielded to God and Christ from a true faith, a good conscience, and from charity unfeigned, according to the will of God which has been manifested and made known to us, to the glory of both of them, to the salvation of the worshiper, and the edification of others.
IV. We express the genus by the word “observance,” because it contains the express intention of our mind and of our will to God and to his will, which intention partly inspires life into this portion of our duty towards God.
V. The object is the same as that of the whole of religion, and of the first part of it, which is faith; and this object is God and Christ, in which the same formal reasons come under consideration, as those which we explained when treating generally on religion.
VI. In the efficient or the worshiper, whom we declare to be a Christian man, we require true faith in God and Christ, a good conscience, as having been sanctified and purified through faith by the blood and Spirit of Christ, and a sincere charity; for, without these, no worship which is rendered to God can be grateful and acceptable to him.
VII. The matter is, those particular acts in which the worship of God consists; but the very will and command of God gives form to it; for it is not the will of God to be worshipped at the option of a creature, but according to the pleasure and prescript of his own will.
VIII. The principle end is, the glory of God and Christ. The less principal is the salvation of the worshiper, and the edification of others, both that they may be won over to Christ, and that, having been brought to Christ, they may the more increase and grow in devotedness.
IX. The form is the observance itself, which is framed from the suitable agreement of all these things to the dignity, excellence and merits of the object that is to be worshipped — from such a disposition of the worshiper according to such prescript, and from the intention of this end. If one of these be wanting the observance is vitiated, and is, therefore, displeasing to God.
X. Yet the worship which is prescribed by God must not, on this account, be omitted, though the man, to whom it is prescribed, cannot yet perform it, from such a mind, to this end.
I am amazed at how the gospel is carrying me through this trial of losing my mother to cancer. I am finding strength from the Lord and finding that the gospel is giving me comfort, hope, and victory over all the lies of the enemy and the flesh. There is no denying that my heart is breaking for my mama. I will miss her deeply but I will rejoice that she is in the presence of the Lord and that she is no longer suffering from the effects of sin. Victory will be her’s in Christ Jesus (John 11:25-26).
This all comes from the gospel. The gospel carries us through trials. The gospel gives us the power to help us overcome (1 John 5:1-4). The gospel produces in us that calm assurance that God is sovereignly in control and that He is more than faithful to us by giving us His Son and by giving us His grace and mercy in our redemption. The gospel reveals to me that we live in a sinful, fallen world that is doomed by sin (Romans 8:20-22). The fall of man into sin brought death and destruction (Romans 5:12). The fall is the reason that my mama has cancer. She is fallen and so are you and I. In reality, the gospel shows me that we deserve the wrath of God but we receive His mercy through the cross (Romans 5:8-9). Apart from Christ, we deserve the just dues for our sin which is eternal death (Romans 6:23). My mama is experiencing the Fall as she suffers in her last days. She is a child of Adam and the wages of sin is death but praise God that He has saved her from spiritual death through the giving of His Son and by saving her by His grace (John 1:12-13; 5:24-25).
So the gospel reveals to me 1) the reason for my mama’s suffering (sin and the fall), 2) the faithfulness of God in the giving of His Son for our eternal salvation (John 3:16), and 3) that our salvation is not based on our goodness but upon the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus is our salvation! He is the captain of our souls!
My mother, I believe, has placed her total faith in Jesus to save her and to take her to glory when she dies. Jesus is our reward and our delight (Hebrews 11:6). He is our rock of refuge (Proverbs 18:10) and He is our strength and our song and He has become our salvation (Psalm 118:14). Jesus is the reason that heaven is glorious! Forever and ever and ever we get the pleasure of worshiping He who died for our sins and was raised from the dead for our justification (Romans 4:24-25; Revelation 5:9-10). We will worship Jesus for all time and eternity but still never cease to tell of His wonder and His glory.
What a wonderful Savior is our King! Jesus Christ is the gospel. He fully reveals God to us since He is God (John 1:1; Colossians 1:15-20) and Jesus is worthy to be praised for saving us because He is our salvation through His own blood (Ephesians 1:7). There is none as worthy as Jesus is worthy and no Savior but Him alone (John 14:6). Let us rejoice in Him knowing that He is our salvation and He is the gospel.
In the previous post I pointed out that the early Pentecostal movement was marked by prayer and intercession for the lost. Both arts are lacking in my estimation in the Church today. How many of us are known for being prayer warriors in the kingdom? How many nights have we gone to sleep only to not have sought God at all that day? We need to study the words of Jesus who taught us in Matthew 6:5 that He expected His disciples to pray. Prayer is not a meaningless religious ritual. Prayer is the child of God communicating with their Father. Prayer touches the very heart and throne of Almighty God (Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4). Prayer can move mountains when mixed with faith in the power of God (Mark 11:22-24). Prayer in the name of Jesus glorifies God and is mighty (John 14:12-14; James 5:16-18). Yet so few pray. So few churches pray. Pentecost was born in prayer (Acts 1:14) yet where are those seeking God earnestly like that today for a mighty revival in our land? Where are those who would labor before the Lord in unceasing cries (1 Thessalonians 5:17) until He moves in power?
Continuing my look at the early Pentecostal movement, I also notice the following:
3. Passion for Souls.
From the beginning of the Pentecostal movement, a passion for souls flowed through the people. People gave up everything (which wasn’t much) to go to the foreign fields because they believed the promise of Acts 1:8 and wanted to take the gospel to all nations in the power of the Spirit. They also believed the Word in Acts 14:3, that God would grant signs and wonders to testify to His Word (Hebrews 2:4). The early Pentecostals were marked with a zeal to carry the gospel into all nations. They believed the revival at Azusa Street in Los Angeles prepared the Church for worldwide evangelism and for all to share in the blessing of Christ (Acts 2:38-39).
Whether you agree with Pentecostal theology is again not the point here. Yet none of us would disagree that the Church should be hungry to see souls saved. It was the passion of Jesus Himself (John 4:35-36). Jesus said that He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). That would be all of us (Romans 3:23)! The purpose and passion of Jesus was to do the work that His Father sent Him to do (John 4:34). The work of God would be the giving of His Son (John 3:16; 5:24-25; 6:29). None of us, whether Pentecostal or not, should disagree that souls are a passion and priority to God (Matthew 28:19-20). People matter to Him. Our passion should be to take the gospel into all nations. Every person needs to hear the gospel. Every person needs Jesus Christ. Let us not sit back while people die and go to hell. Let us pray earnestly for souls and let us do all that we can with our time and money to further the kingdom of Christ. He didn’t die for a club. He died for His Church (Acts 20:28). He died to bring people to salvation through His blood (Matthew 26:28). Let us labor for souls!
4. Worship of a Living God.
The early Pentecostals met in shacks and sawdust floors. They had nothing of the world. Yet they praised God like few others. They were even given the nickname “holy rollers” because of the excess in their singing and worship. While the evangelical church was marked by deadness and dryness, the early Pentecostals were singing, lifting their hands in worship to God, and praying with fervency. When they came together in the meeting place, they knew that God was alive and real. He would come as His people worshiped and adored Him.
My daddy was saved in 1952 at Tremont Avenue Church of God in Greenville, SC. In those days, Tremont was the largest Church of God in the world. They averaged over 3000 just for Sunday School! My daddy told me stories of how they would pray and how all the people would sing with all their hearts when they sang from the old red back hymnal. My daddy learned not just the songs in the hymnal but the page numbers themselves. They song leader would say, “Turn to page 38″ and before he could announce the title my daddy would already know what song it was. What drew my daddy to Jesus at Tremont was their passion for God. He had been raised in a Baptist church though they went only now and then. He said that he had never witnessed such passion as he saw at Tremont Avenue Church of God. The preaching, the worship, the prayer meetings, the Bible studies, the evangelistic meetings, everything sought to bring pleasure and glory to God. Everyone was expected to join in and praise God. Few could sit by and not be caught up in the singing and preaching. My daddy left the church in 1970 when he moved away from the city.
I love to worship God. I know that worship is not confined to a type of singing or a song or a style. Worship involves our entire life! We can claim to be worshiping God but our hearts can be far from Him as Jesus said of the Jews in Mark 7:6-7. I want my worship to exalt God in all that I say or do (Colossians 3:17). Paul said to do everything for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Are we doing that? Do we worship God with our time? Our money? Our family? Our marriage? Our prayer lives? Our Bible studies? Our evangelism? Our jobs? What we watch on television or movies? Do we honor God with our lips but our hearts are far from Him? Do we exalt Jesus in word only?
When we do meet, is our meetings excited about the Lord? Do we serve a living and real God? Do people have the freedom to lift their hands in worship to God and not feel embarrassed or ashamed (1 Timothy 2:8)? Are people free to be like David and dance before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:14) or are you like Michal and despise those who worship God like that (2 Samuel 6:16)? Be careful not to be like Michal and become barren (2 Samuel 6:23) because of your lack of worship. Rather, worship as Jesus said, in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23).