Sunday, August 26, 2012

Better Worship

Better Worship
August 27, 2012
Psalm 29:2  "Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness."

What do you think of when you hear the word "worship?"  Today, it is most commonly referred to as singing songs in church.  While this is certainly a part of worship and it can be manifested in this way, it is not the definition of worship.  Worship is defined as giving awe, honor, and praise toward something, often serving or following that which is worshiped.  As Christians, we are taught that the only thing we should be worshiping is the One True God.  While this is correct, it doesn't answer the reasons why we should worship or how we should worship.

The Bible says that the Lord is a Jealous God.  It even goes so far as to declare that as His actual name, Jealous.  He gets jealous when we worship other things, anything other than Himself.  This gives light into why we were created.  We were created to worship and fellowship with Him alone.  The Lord desires this and it is sweetness to Him when we do it on our own accord.  It is cherished because we also have the ability to resist worshiping Him.  We have a choice and when we chose correctly, it brings great honor to Him.  Laying down our resistance to bring Him honor is what actually defines worship in our lives today.

When you look up the word for "worship" in the Bible, it is most often coupled with the words "bow" or "bowed down."  The earliest forms of worship recorded in the Bible were of individuals kneeling to the ground, fallen prostrate with arms stretched forward.  It is a somewhat humiliating position, requiring the abasement of self.  But this act was carried on through the entirety of the Bible, falling prostrate in reverence, honor, and praise toward the Lord.  It was then accompanied by the people confessing with their lips or verbally ascribing glory and honor to the Lord.  Often, out of the overflow of their hearts, this turned into song.  For some reason, we have kept the song tradition, but not the humble position of falling prostrate to the Lord.

While the Lord does not require the outward manifestations of worship with your face in the dirt, He says that we should worship Him "in spirit and in truth."  This is in reference to our hearts fallen prostrate to Him and done with sincerity while deleting the ritual.  Today, our worship is an embarrassment because we seldom lend our hearts to falling prostrate unto Him.  We sing out of tradition but we don't truly ascribe glory and honor to Him, with our lips or otherwise.

Scripture says that if we do not ascribe glory and honor to Him, then the rocks will have to do it.  Why?  Because the Bible tells us that worship is actually owed to God; it is due Him; it is what He deserves.  If you cannot come to this same agreement, then the Lord has no use for you.  That's right, if you cannot worship God in your heart and with sincerity, then He will dispose of you and make the rocks perform this duty.  Worship is what He wants and desires, even to the point of destroying you if you worship something other than Him.  These aren't my words; they come straight from Scripture.

As practice, go into a closed room and fall on your knees, stretch your arms forward falling face to the ground.  It is almost impossible to do without feeling humbled.  In this position, it is far easier to confess with your lips the sincerity of your heart in ascribing glory and honor to Him, the One who deserves our worship.  Now do this with your heart on a daily basis; you owe it to Him.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Gen 24:26, Ex 23:24-26, Deut 5:9, Deut 8:19, Deut 12, Ps 19:1-4, Ps 95:6, Ps 99, Is 13:9, Matt 15:7-11, Luke 37-40

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Preachers of Righteousness

Preachers of Righteousness
August 20, 2012
2 Peter 5  ". . . if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others . . ."

When you think of the final times, the last days, and the end of the world, you hardly think of a flood and a boat.  The two are not things you might associate with the other.  But there is a fantastic parallel between Noah's Ark with the soon coming of the Lord.  When the Lord first appeared to Noah, before He gave the instructions for the Ark, He told Noah that He was going to soon destroy the world and everyone in it.  This warning was a promise; it was going to happen.  The Lord wanted to save Noah and his family, hence the instructions for the Ark.  But there is another interesting thing that Noah did before entering the Ark.  He warned the inhabitants of the earth what was going to happen.

In the full account of Noah and the Ark, found in Genesis, there isn't a storyline of Noah preaching to the earth's inhabitants.  But the Apostle Peter, thousands of years later, referred to Noah as a "Preacher of Righteousness."  It took 100 years for the completion of Noah's Ark; it is understood that for those 100 years Noah clearly communicated what he was doing and why, that people should live a right life before the Lord brought final destruction.  Noah wanted everyone to be saved even though he KNEW there wasn't any chance the Lord would allow a place for them in the Ark.  Noah preached righteousness to the perishing.  They weren't going to make it, yet Noah had hope for them, for their souls.  He preached to them before the Ark was being built and he preached to them for 100 years while he was building the Ark.  He wanted them to be saved; he wanted them to change their ways.  Destruction was coming since destruction was promised.

While there is no flood coming, there is a final day when this earth will be destroyed and all the inhabitants in it.  There is an opportunity to be saved, just like in Noah's Ark, but salvation won't come from a boat.  It only comes through the Lordship of Jesus in our lives.  Everyone on this earth has an opportunity to be saved from the final destruction; it is not for a select few on an Ark.  We have an opportunity, an obligation to warn the inhabitants of the earth about the coming destruction.  We, like Noah, are to be preachers of righteousness.  If people get right with the Lord, then they can be saved either in death or in the last days of this earth.  But they cannot be saved if they do not know about it.  They must be made aware of their own sin and the pending doom if they do not repent of that sin.  They must be made aware of the salvation they can have through the Lord Jesus Christ.

While I don't know when the end is coming, I do know that it will happen.  And just like you've been given the chance to repent of your sins, it is your duty to make sure others have this same opportunity.  Your life should represent Noah's, that it might mimic that of a Preacher of Righteousness.  Even if your personality isn't demonstrative in public, it is still a lifestyle for you to live in front of others, ceasing opportunities to communicate the salvation you have received from the coming destruction.  Warn those around you that the end is near because if they have not received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, they WILL be destroyed.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Gen 6-8,  John 12:48, 2 Tim 3:1, 1 Peter 4:7, 2 Peter 2:4-10

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Promise and Promiser

Promise and Promiser
August 13, 2012

Genesis 22:2   "Then God said, 'Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah.  Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering  on a mountain I will show you.'"

Way back in the earliest times of the Bible, a person's wealth was not nearly as important as having children, family, and heirs.  Children were seen as a huge blessing, not just physically, but also as a status symbol.  And if a person had more children, he was more likely to have money, since the children counted as free labor toward the family's prosperity.  They were also the ones depended upon to look after the aged.  When the father of the family died, all the possessions and wealth passed on to the younger generations.  Without heirs, wealth was useless, since there wouldn't be anyone to receive it once the patriarch died.  Children were critical to life and survival back then.

Abraham understood the importance of children in his time.  Recall that Abraham was one of the first true servants of the Lord, before most of the Biblical events took place and even before Moses received the Ten Commandments.  Abraham didn't even have a written word to help him understand the Lord Almighty, just his daily walk with God.  Abraham desperately longed for children but his wife was barren and well advanced in her years, far beyond childbearing years.  They prayed desperately for a child but none was given.  Finally, the Lord promised a child to them, a blessed heir who could carry on the family name and wealth.  Abraham and his wife were thrilled to welcome their first child, a son.  But the Lord asked Abraham to do something peculiar, to sacrifice his child, his promised child.  Abraham agreed, figuring the Lord was in control; Abraham wanted to honor the Promiser.

Abraham valued the relationship with the Promiser far more than he valued the Promise.  The Promise, in this case the most valuable thing on the face of the planet to Abraham, was nothing in comparison to who it was that made the promise--God.  Abraham had his priorities straight.  Despite finally receiving from the Lord that which he longed for his whole life, Abraham was still willing to give it all up for his Lord.  He was willing to give it all back to his God, if the Lord required it, since the Promiser was more important than the Promise.

We've all been given gifts and promises from the Lord, valuable things that we cherish in this world.  There are even things you'd die without, emotionally, if they were taken away from you.  But this is an opportunity to realize that none of it is as important as your relationship with the Lord, the One who has given everything to you, even those things for which you've waited your entire life.  Are you willing to give those things up if the Lord asked it of you?  How about your children or spouse; do you hold them so closely that they are more important to you than your relationship with the Lord?  What about your health or career?  If taken from you would you gladly count them as loss if it meant keeping a right relationship with the Promiser?  What is more important to you, the Promise or the Promiser?  If you are waiting on God for something, a promise yet fulfilled, realize that HE is still far more valuable.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Gen 17-22, Matt 10:37, Phil 3:8, Heb 11:17-19, James 2:21

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Robbing Yourself

Robbing Yourself 
August 6, 2012
Malachi 3:8  "'Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?' 'In tithes and offerings.'"

The earth is the Lord's and everything in it.  This principle is found in Psalm 24:1.  King David declared that everything in the world belongs to God.  It is His, all of it.  We like to think that our money is ours, but it's not.  We like to think that our time is ours, but it's not.  We like to think that our possessions are ours, but they are not.  All of these things are the Lord's, even the items titled in your name.  This might frustrate you if you've work hard to obtain anything in life, but you have only toiled because the Lord allowed you to work hard--for Him.  While the Lord is not a tyrannizer in His dealings with us, He wants us to understand and have the right perspective on "things."

The Children of God were not bringing their tithes and special offerings to the house of the Lord and God said they were stealing from Him.  He said the tenth and the offerings belonged to Him, and the Israelites could hang on to the rest.  He said they were robbing Him.  It was His, not theirs to keep.  These tithes and offerings were technically stolen money if bound by their own purse strings.  When you have stolen goods in your home, the police have the right to take those stolen goods away and then prosecute you for thievery.  The Lord has the same principles in His kingdom with His stolen money.  If you steal from the Lord, He WILL prosecute you.  But the contrary is true as well.  The Lord said if you bring your tithes and offerings to the church, then He will honor you by pouring out blessings upon you.  It is interesting that the Lord would want to bless us for doing our duty, but He does.

Now consider this argument for a moment.  If we do not bring our tithe to the Lord, then we are stealing from Him.  But if we bring our tithe to the Lord, then he will pour out blessings upon us.  So, it would stand to reason that if we do not bring our tithes and offerings to the Lord, then we are robbing ourselves of our own blessing.  Why in the world would I want to keep the Lord's blessings away from my life?  Anything He has to give will be far better than anything I could ever work for.  When we get to Heaven, I'm sure we will be frustrated to see the blessings the Lord wanted to give to us while we were on this earth but our actions would not allow it.  I'm embarrassed to think of all the things I could have had from the Lord yet failed to receive because of my actions.

But this doesn't apply to just our finances, it applies to our time and other possessions as well.  If the earth is the Lord's and everything in it, then it is all fair game for Him to use if He needs it--to help those who are, for whatever reason, helpless.  If you've ever tallied up all that you've given to the Lord and considered what you could have if you kept it, I would suggest to you that you could have NOTHING as an option in return, even salvation.  You've already received salvation from your sins and from eternity in Hell, what more do you and I actually deserve?  It is an honor to give back to the Lord that which is already His, even if He never rewards us with an extra blessing.  Check your house; you might have some stolen items in there.  Look in your wallet first.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Psalm 24:1, Mal 3, Luke 6:38