Tag Archives: worship

Worshipping false idols

Habakkuk 2:18  What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols!

As we look through the Old Testament of the Bible and see many examples of idol worship, it’s easy to arrogantly think that we’ve come so far from that way of life.  It seems so silly that someone would fashion an idol out of wood or bronze and then worship something that they had just created.  We know in our minds that God is the one worthy of worship as the Creator, but still we do worship the created.

Don’t think that this is true today?  How about extreme environmentalism where man worships the earth, which God created?  Or how about trusting in money to get you everything you want from position to health to security?  Some of us even worship our own children, building our entire lives around their little needs and wants.  We do worship idols that aren’t worthy of our full devotion.  There’s nothing wrong with taking care of the earth, earning money, or loving your children.  All of those are good things.  But when they are the main focus of our lives, they are our gods.

Habakkuk rightly points out the absurdity of putting our trust in and directing our worship towards idols we’ve created and expecting them to better our lives somehow.  Only God Himself is worthy to be praised and He deserves our full attention and devotion.

Resolved: To go to my Lord in good times

53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. – Jonathan Edwards

Are you like me? Do you ever realize that you’re going to God when things are tough but not spending much time with Him when things are going well? I’m not proud of those times, but I also know I’m not alone in doing that.

If I’m completely honest, a lot of times in my life have been that way. Hard times have a way of bringing us to our knees like nothing else. When there’s nothing else and no one else to turn to, we always know we have Jesus as a backup. But He’s so much more than that.

Ephesians 3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The love God has shown me and you through Jesus should make us bow down on our knees often, praising Him and giving Him thanks for everything He’s done. If He dwells in our hearts, we should all the more approach Him in love, not just when we need something. Will you resolve with me to spend more time in worship and stop waiting until things are bad to reach out to the Lord?

The Rock

1 Corinthians 10:4  and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

Every bit of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, points us to Jesus.  The foreshadowing given, the pictures painted, all are for the glory of God and to teach us about His character. The Old Testament and the Law set up the coming Christ and His fulfillment of the Law.  Study of God’s Word can teach us lessons we never realized could be learned from these stories.

Paul shows us, in His letter to the church in Corinth, that the story of Moses in the wilderness with the children of Israel is more than just a story.  The rock that Moses struck (Exodus 17:6) was more than just a rock, and this was more than just God showing His power.  This, like so many other biblical illustrations, points us to Jesus, who is The Rock.  In Him we find living water, water better than that which flowed to the thirsty people of Israel.

But this is also an illustration of what happens when we corrupt what is of God and celebrate it as man’s own (Numbers 20:10-11). The story of Moses striking the rock when God told him only to speak to it is a look at how we can be so quick to disobey God and make an idol out of our own achievements.  Moses knew that once he had make water come from a rock by striking it with his stick, so when God told him to speak to the rock, Moses disobeyed and tried to repeat his previous feat.  Moses took what was good and corrupted it.  You know the rest of the story, he didn’t get to enter into the promised land with his people.  Even with a great man like Moses, God didn’t tolerate idolatry.

Jesus is the true Rock, He is the source of all things good.  Because we’ve experienced His goodness in the past, we can be too quick to assume that we had something to do with the blessings and try to get the same results in our own strength.  This is idolatry, making ourselves into our own gods.  There is only one Rock that has the water of life, and it’s Jesus.

 

Worthy to be praised

Psalm 145:3  Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.

Nobody’s perfect, right?  Nobody is truly worthy of being praised.  Well, not exactly.  There is only one who is worthy of all honor we could possibly ever give Him and then infinitely more.  The God of the universe, our Father, is worthy to be praised.

It’s not all about what He does for us – for that we give Him thanks.  No, what we praise Him for is simply who He is.  Just His character alone makes Him worthy of worship.  So who is He?

He’s the beginning of all things, the eternal Creator, the sovereign and omniscient Lord who calls, commissions, protects, and provides.  He’s omnipotent and omnipresent, the first among equals in the Trinity, knowable and yet unknowable, a place to find refuge and comfort.

He’s our portion, our treasure, our Father who adopts us into His family, so good and great and just that He disciplines us for our own sake.  He makes no mistakes, shapes all things and brings all things to completion.  He’s a holy judge who is patient and rules out of love.  He is awesome.  And He is worthy of all praise and honor and glory – forever and ever.

The true family of God

Ephesians 5:19-21 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,  giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,  submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

When God’s family comes together there’s a celebration. Because of all that the Father has done for us in Jesus Christ, there’s a lot to be thankful for, a lot of reasons to sing, so much to be thankful for.

How do you approach the weekly gathering of believers? Do you look at Sunday morning as a time to be solemn and quiet? Do you view it as a personal time of reflection? Those things have their place, but truly the gathering of the saints is a family reunion every time it happens.

The purpose of getting together with others who follow the Lord is to encourage each other, to build each other up, and to praise God in community with one another. We use our gifts to serve each other, put each other first, and honor Christ by doing so. Don’t be afraid to sing, don’t keep to yourself, don’t make it all about you. Sing, serve, encourage, and enjoy.

Godless: Part I

Romans 1:18-23 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”

The world has no excuse. The evidence of God’s divinity and His eternal glory surround us in all of creation. It cries out from every corner of the earth and as this verse says, “it has been made plain to us.” So why doesn’t the world recognize God for who He is and come to repentance to be made right with Him? This is the first of a four part devotion I’m writing entitled “Godless” in which we will dive in to Romans 1:18-32.

The world just doesn’t seem right does it? The more I mature in my faith, the more this becomes apparent. I don’t know about you, but many times I feel like a foreigner in a strange land. Why is this? The Bible says in Romans 8:23 that “we believers also groan” and that “we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.”

As a believer in the Gospel of Christ, we have had our sins forgiven and our names written in the Lambs Book of Life, but we have to live out our salvation here on earth. We long to leave this earthly shell, to be released from our flesh, and join our Father in Heaven. We long to leave this world that is so selfish and eaten up with greed, envy, and ambition. A world that covets every kind of evil and harbors such atrocities that it makes our hearts sink. It’s easy to see why we would want to leave this world, but while we are here, we do have a mission.

We have to carry the good news of the Gospel into this dark, godless place we call the earth. A place where men and women, through the darkness of their hearts, have replaced divinity with obscenity. They have traded immortality for mortality and worship things that will pass away. And why do they seek such things? Because, like everyone of us at one point in our life, we let our pride rule us.

I love how verse 22 says “Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” Everyone wants to be right. Everyone wants to be in control. We don’t want to be made to feel like we’re wrong or that we need to do anything to be made right. It’s the fruit of pride, the original sin. This is why the Gospel at first offends us and stings us at our core. No one in this world is without sin and we all at one time were ungodly, unrighteous, suppressors of the truth.

Once we accepted Christ as our savior and our relationship with our Father in Heaven was restored, we started to filter things through God’s perspective. For example, do you ever notice that the more you get to know God and His truth, the more foolish the wise and influential people of the world become? But to those who hearts are dark, we are the fools, following ancients myths and senseless traditions. So why do we even try? How can these people be even be reached?

They all worship something. Whether it’s fame, power, money, religion tailored to their lifestyle, or their own wisdom, they all bow down to something. They are trying to fill a hole that can only be filled by the love of Christ. They busily look inward for an answer that they will never find. The hope lies in the fact that God has made Himself plain to them and His divine attributes can be clearly perceived. What you need to do now is offend them. Offend them with the Gospel that ultimately has the power to save them. Rattle their world and challenge everything they know about life. Let the light of Christ that fills you shine into their darkness.

Living stones

1 Peter 2:5  you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Where does God dwell?  Is He confined to the walls of a church?  Limited to operating on Sunday mornings?  Or is God’s house a spiritual one, made of living stones?

In the Old Testament, the Lord had the people of Israel construct a temple, that He might dwell among them there (see Exodus).  For generations, the tradition was that the temple was God’s dwelling place.  Jesus came and turned everything upside down.  On several occasions, Jesus made reference to destroying the temple and rebuilding it.  He did this to illustrate how He would be killed and rise from the dead.

He, the stone that the builders (religious leaders) rejected, became the cornerstone (foundation) to the Church.  Now we are the living stones that make up the Church, it’s no longer about a building, but a people.  The church is alive and continuously growing and being built up.  Each Christian is part of the priesthood and through their lives offering up spiritual sacrifices.  We have direct access to God.

We are the Church, the body of Christ.  We will bring about His kingdom, regardless of building or location.

Spiritual Disciplines – Worship

John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

What is worship?  Is it simply a time of singing on Sunday morning?  Does it always involve music?Can one worship on their own, outside of church?

To be sure, God requires our worship (Matthew 4:10).  He wants our full devotion, our admiration, our time.  We all worship something.  We worship wherever we spend a significant amount of time, money, or affection.  Anything can easily become an idol, but God is clear that we are to worship Him alone (Exodus 20:3).

So how are we to worship the Lord?  We are to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength (Mark 12:30 and parallels).  In other words, we’re to love God with everything we have.  We must give Him priority in our time, our finances, our relationships, our activities, our thoughts, our affections, and so on.

Worship is required on more than just Sunday morning.  It is a full time task for the disciple.  To worship God is to focus on Him and to acknowledge His worth, to honor Him.  God is spirit, and we must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Worship in spirit takes place from the inside out. It is sincere, not done for show.  To worship in truth is to praise God for who He truly is, not as how we might like Him to be.

God is Always There, Are You?

I have to admit that I find it hard some days but then I really have nobody to blame but myself. I just, well, I let it slip away and honestly I don’t know why. It’s not like I have a terrifically good reason as to why or what for.

It’s no excuse but sometimes, despite our best intentions, it’s just hard, isn’t it? I mean we want to take the time out of every day to dedicate ourselves and re-dedicate ourselves to God, to study our Bible, to pray a little more fervently and to just commit ourselves to the love and the hope that our blessed Savior has to offer. The thing is though that sometimes it just doesn’t seem to work out that way and before we know it the time is short before it just disappears.

I guess, perhaps, a part of me finds it too easy. Maybe, in the back of my mind, a part of me knows that God, He’s always going to be there, waiting for me. It makes it easy to neglect Him, to put Him aside when I have other things I want to do or need to do, figuring I can always come back to him later when I have more time.

As disciples, given to Christ, we’re all a little guilty of that now and then. We step away, knowing we can always step back when we need to, like the Prodigal Son, who goes on his own way, only to return home in his hour of deepest need to find his loving father waiting there for him. (Luke 11:15-32) Even if our story or what calls us back isn’t nearly as dramatic as his, it’s still a little bit funny how often we can find it so simple to be like him, doing as we will just because we can.

Yet, the simple truth is that though God will always be waiting for us, though He will always come searching for us as a Shepherd searches for his lost sheep, (Matthew 18:12-14) the longer we let it go, the longer we let ourselves slip or the further we let ourselves wander, the harder we find it to come back to Him. After all, one of the analogies often used in the Word of God to describe our life of faith relates to trees and to crops. The problem is that, if it is not nurtured, it does not grow, if it is not cared for, it withers, eventually dying that slow death that comes from going too long without being tended to.

Our faith, our hope in Christ, it needs to grows daily, it needs to grow with the careful love and the tender affections of hearts that are given to the Lord in the wonders that it brings, remembering that it offers to us all that we need to grow and to live and to find peace. (James 1:5, 2 Timothy 3:16) It is, after all, a blessed hope to all those who trust in it, and look to the Lord as their strength in a world where our endurance is tried day by day, by and by, giving freely and wondrously to us in all God’s love. It teaches us how to love our fellow man, how to live during those deeper crisis’ to our spirit, how to abide with courage in our times of deepest need and longing.

Challenge yourself today to spend a little more time with God, even if you think you have a good relationship with Him, even if you spend some time growing with Him and in Him each day. Spend a little more time learning at the feet of Christ and meditating on the lessons of that He offers to grow in the blessings of the Spirit. Even if you take a little time out of each of your days to do that already, take a even a few minutes more, reminding yourself there is always something else to learn.

Challenge yourself today to imitate Christ a little stronger, a little more. Show a little extra love to those in need, to those who struggle and search, and be a bit more in the lives of those around you. Change the world one life at a time, one day at a time by offering that healing power of the Spirit that mends the wounded spirit and the broken heart. Draw nearer to God by drawing nearer to those around you, by being more in their lives. You’ll be amazed the good that it can and will do.

Don’t stray or wait too long, and never think to yourself you are doing enough, figuring God will always be there. He may but you may not. Take the time, and never let it slip away from you, because, unto you, rich blessings and wondrous hope waits, for every step you make in faith, for every step you make nearer to your Lord.

Wounded Yet Not Slain

There’s an old poem, I think it was by John Dryden, that I’ve heard used, recited over and over at the end of a hard fought battle, at the end of a loss that has one damaged and hurt, that left them wondering and in pain. It goes a little something like, “I am sore wounded, but I am not slain, I’ll lay me down to bleed a while, then I’ll rise to fight again.”

I always liked that verse. In a life that is filled with trials, where triumph and victories are never quite assured to us, where they are never really promised to us, something about it always spoke to me. It always seemed to say that whatever life throws, whatever challenges it may have, it may damage us a little, but in the end, we are not dead until that moment when we are put in the ground or our ashes are spread around us. In a sense it becomes a question of how much fight is left within us when the moments of adversity hit.

After all, as Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

This is something that our Heavenly Father, looking down on the lives of His precious children, understands all too well about this world, isn’t it?

It begs the question, what struggles are leaving you wounded in your daily life? What challenges are you facing? What is leaving you wounded amidst the hardships that you face? Does it seem like it is just too much for you to face? Is it seeming like it is more than you can handle as you lay to bleed, lacerated by the deeper perils of this world?

As disciples of Christ it seems like they are there, lurking around every corner: temptations, trials, tribulations that push on us with a force that bears down on us with a crippling weight. As we struggle not to be crushed, there are moments when we wonder if we can even go on. After all, everything seems to be changing around us and we can’t see the world in the same way again.

It’s in these moments when we need to draw on the comfort and the assurances of a God who loves us. After all, He isn’t just a distant figure who tells us that, “since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 11:1) No, He goes further than that, reminding us that, through Christ, all things are possible for us regardless of whatever challenges may be there. (Philippians 4:13) We just need to lay our burdens at the feet of our blessed Savior to find the miracles of hope, (Matthew 11:29-30) that hope that abides in faith to give us the perseverance to go on day by day.

Perhaps it may seem like it is too much. Perhaps, left wounded and bleeding, we can’t help but weep, wondering to ourselves how we can go on. We are not alone in those moments though, we never have been, regardless of how it may feel. Even as our troubles mount and we feel at times like nobody could ever understand what  we are going through, the truth is that God has, through the lives of His saints, seen it all. Job, David, Paul, Stephen, and countless others, even our Savior, Christ Jesus, have faced the deepest and most powerful of pains, and found their comfort in God to move forward even when it seemed as if all had been lost and the burdens  were too much for them. As the Apostle Paul put it, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

As the world wounds you, dear disciples, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, find a place of quiet rest and lay down in the peaceful mediation of the Lord, remembering the words of David, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:1-4) Faith, and a deeper understanding of it, a deeper trust in it, will let you abide in hope in the wonders of God’s blessed love and comfort, healing even the deepest of hurts and the most painful of scars, so that, with endurance, you shall have the chance to rise again.

Take that promise, take that love, and let it guide you in the wonders of the miracles that it offers you. In this world, with all of its battles, it is the surest weapon you have to protect you, the surest of medicines to heal you.