Here I Am to Worship

Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things (Revelation 22:8).

When John fell to the ground to “worship” the angel, he certainly wasn’t singing, dancing, or waving his arms in the air (Revelation 22:8), yet most church people associate this as worship. Music and singing don’t define Christian worship.

Abraham took his son Isaac to Mount Moriah to “worship” by offering Isaac as a human sacrifice to God (Gen 22:5).

Moses demanded that Egypt’s king release the Jews from slavery to “worship” in the wilderness (Ex 4:23).

When the wise men found the Baby Jesus and fell down and “worshiped” Him, giving their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Mt 2:11).

While on trial, Paul testified to Governor Felix that he “worshiped” the God of his fathers (Acts 24:14). This word for worship means to perform the tasks of a servant or the duties of a priest. It’s the same word in Romans 12:1-2 translated as service.

Biblical worship is so much more than singing songs. Worship is expressed in our attitude in the service of God’s glory, created and driven by the Spirit working in the regenerated heart, formed and reformed by the Scriptures. In the Bible preaching (Rom 1:9), prayer (Lk 2:37), financial giving (1 Cor 16:2), and the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:18-20) are all expressions of worship.

Too often our worship of God is according to what makes us feel good or what satisfies our traditions. That makes our worship false and our concept of worship backward. Godly worship isn’t about our experiences or feelings, but what God receives as we serve Him in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:24).

Today whatever you do, do all to the glory of God and thereby worship Him (1 Corinthians 10:31).

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You Proclaim Jesus

How does the local church proclaim the gospel? Do we hand out tracts? Hold tent meetings with rousing music and celebrities? What direction does the Scripture give?

Every local church is called to proclaim the gospel of Jesus in two unique ways.

First, the pastor is to preach the Word (2 Tim 4:2). If he preaches properly, every sermon makes Jesus and His sacrificial act to redeem sinners the central focus of attention. Though we mentally assent to this, Jesus is often only tacked on at the end of the sermon. Rather than Christ being the whole cloth, He becomes a button sewn on at the last moment.

Second, consider this: For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26).

Each time a congregation partakes of the Lord’s Supper, Christ’s death, resurrection, and Second Coming is proclaimed by the whole church. The Lord’s Supper, along with the preaching of the Word, is the local church’s public proclamation of Christ Jesus.

The Lord’s Table reminds believers of who Jesus is, what He did at the cross, that He is is alive and ministering to His people, and that He is returning one day, all in fulfillment of Scripture. Every time the church takes the Lord’s Supper it’s evangelizing!

While the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is only for those who have been born again, the message is for everyone to hear and receive. Communion calls God’s people to remember their Lord, live repentantly, and enjoy fellowship with Him at His table. Communion also calls the unsaved to find fellowship with God through faith in Christ’s sacrificial death.

Proclaim Jesus

How does the local church proclaim the gospel? Do we hand out tracts? Hold tent meetings with rousing music and celebrities? What direction does the Scripture give?

Every local church is called to proclaim the gospel of Jesus in two unique ways.

First, the pastor is to preach the Word (2 Tim 4:2). If he preaches properly, every sermon makes Jesus and His sacrificial act to redeem sinners the central focus of attention. Though we mentally assent to this, Jesus is often only tacked on at the end of the sermon. Rather than Christ being the whole cloth, He becomes a button sewn on at the last moment.

Second, consider this: For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26).

Each time a congregation partakes of the Lord’s Supper, Christ’s death, resurrection, and Second Coming is proclaimed by the whole church. The Lord’s Supper, along with the preaching of the Word, is the local church’s public proclamation of Christ Jesus.

The Lord’s Table reminds believers of who Jesus is, what He did at the cross, that He is is alive and ministering to His people, and that He is returning one day, all in fulfillment of Scripture. Every time the church takes the Lord’s Supper it’s evangelizing!

While the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is only for those who have been born again, the message is for everyone to hear and receive. Communion calls God’s people to remember their Lord, live repentantly, and enjoy fellowship with Him at His table. Communion also calls the unsaved to find fellowship with God through faith in Christ’s sacrificial death.

Transfigured

After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, brought them up on a high mountain by themselves, and was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as the light (Matthew 17:1-2).

For 33 years, everyone only saw a man, until Jesus gave three of His disciples a small glimpse of His eternal glory.

The word transfigured comes from the Greek word metamorphosis, meaning to be changed from the inside out. Rather than a heavenly light shining upon Jesus, a bit of the glory from within Jesus and which belonged to Him from eternity was visible.

No one can free himself from himself, so we turn to outward pressures. We yearn for someone or something like a Marine Corps drill instructor to force us into a desired behavior. Weakness of spirit and character demands that someone control us by commands like: Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle (Colossians 2:21). We beg to be under the conforming thumb of a slave master with rules, regulations, pressure, fear of punishment, or promises of reward as a way to control our actions and thoughts.

God transforms from the inside; only He can change the inside of a person. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind … (Romans 12:2). The word transformed is the word metamorphosis or transfigured used in Matthew 17:2. God’s transformation of the sinner isn’t by outward pressure, but by an inward changing of the mind and heart.

The unconverted heart of man is corrupted incurably by sin; it can’t be mended or repaired, it must be made wholly new. A new heart comes only by a new birth, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:23). From a new heart God transfigures us, transforming the way we think, talk, and act. From within He changes our goals, morals, and desires, fitting us for Heaven rather than this fallen world.

The Spirit of God works through the Scriptures transforming us from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18), internally and not by slavery to an outside influence.

As the free children of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we don’t know all of what we’ll be like in the end, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him (1 John 3:2).

Don’t Run Like Rosie

Everyone who competes for the prize is self-controlled in all things. They do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown (1 Corinthians 9:25)

Rosie Ruiz was the female winner of the Boston Marathon, finishing in 2 hours, 31 minutes and 56 seconds. It was the 3rd fastest marathon time in history.

Eight days later, on April 29, 1980, her title and reward were stripped from her. It was found that though she began the race with the other athletes, Rosie took a subway through the city and re-entered the race only half-a mile from the finish line. Officials also learned that she’d done the same in the New York Marathon a few month before.

A long-distance runner knows the importance of planning and running his race according to the rules. Before he even takes the first step, he’s planned out how to cross the finish line.

If a marathon runner gives up or gives out before the last mile, what good have the previous 25 miles been? Anyone can start a race, but only training and planning prepare him to finish. Neither cheaters nor those who almost cross the finish line win a prize. Any impostor can start a race, but only a true athlete will finish it.

As a Christian, you are already running the race of life, and I trust you are running in such a way that you will be victorious. Scripture encourages us: Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it (1 Corinthians 9:24).

To win the prize, you need to run to the very end. You have to plan your race today for when your breath becomes short, the path becomes difficult, pain rips through your lungs and legs, and you’re tempted to cheat. No runner regrets finishing too strong, but you will regret finishing weak.

It’s good to remember that you’re not competing against anyone else, but against the world, the flesh, and the devil which are attempting to thwart your progress.

Don’t Despair Over Trials and Difficulties

A few years ago my wife took up crocheting. Each night after dinner we talk or watch a movie and she spends those 3 or 4 hours before bedtime making hats, blankets, and scarves. She gives these away to friends and family, asking in return only a donation for our Bible school in Kenya.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that she can be working feverishly on a project, stop and look back through her stitches and notice a flaw either in the yarn or in her work. The only way to fix the problem is to undue everything made after that stitch. Sometimes it means pulling apart most of the blanket to get at the problem spot.

Often God has to work something out of us through trials before He can work something new into us.

The Apostle Peter wrote in the Bible:

For this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue add knowledge, to knowledge add self-control, to self-control add perseverance, to perseverance add godliness, to godliness add brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness add love. For if these things are yours and abound in you, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:5-9).

Don’t despair over trials and difficulties God brings into your day. Consider instead what He may be working out of your life so that He may work in the virtues of Christlikeness.

We Need This Reminder

Before ascending into Heaven, Jesus told Peter news that went in one ear and out the other, but later it had to be constant in his thoughts. “… when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This Jesus spoke, signifying by what death Peter would glorify God (John 21:18-19).

As Peter wrote his second epistle, he knew that his death was at hand.

If you knew you were going to die one week from today, what would you want people to remember about you? What you look like? A certain life-achievement? Something about your character? Maybe just that you loved.

In his last letter, Peter used words like remember, reminder, or don’t forget 10 different times (2 Peter 1:9, 12, 13, 15, 19; 3:1, 2, 5, 8, 17)!

What did Peter want his readers, like you and me, to remember? That he was an apostle or fisherman? Perhaps that he saw Christ transfigured? His grizzly bearded face or aged rough hands? That he was the first to understand who Jesus really was? Maybe his betrayal of the Lord? The text of his sermon the Day of Pentecost?

Nope. Unlike us, Peter didn’t want to be remembered at all. He wanted the truth that he knew, lived, and taught to be remembered. Like any good pastor, Peter kept teaching and reviewing the same truths again and again, continually repeating the same doctrinal themes. There was nothing new to tell; just the old, old story of Jesus.

The pastor who doesn’t remind his congregation of the basic truths of the gospel in every sermon he preaches, is a complete failure.

Before Jesus was crucified, He also had a message of remembrance for us.

This is My body which is broken for you … This cup is the new covenant in My blood … do this in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes (1 Corinthians 11:24, 25, 26)

We are prone to obsessing over ourselves and the things in our lives we think are important. Really, when we die, we should want the faith we held in Christ to be remembered; and until then, we need to remember Jesus and His work. We remember and proclaim Him each time we partake of the Lord’s Supper. How very often we need this reminder!

The Curse of Prosperity

Before God brought the people of Israel into the land of promise, He gave them a warning through Moses. He was taking them into a land that flowed with milk and honey. There would be prosperity of food, houses, health and wealth so that they would lack nothing (Deuteronomy 8:9).

Isn’t this the dream of so many people? Most people mistakenly think that the life of material prosperity is the definition of the “American Dream.” The American Dream isn’t prosperity served on a silver platter, but the opportunity to work for all these things that Israel was actually going to receive from God.

So where’s the danger? How can prosperity be a curse? Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God … when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 8:11 -14).

For the Jews, prosperity became a curse because they forgot God and that He is the provider of all things.

Prosperity creates pride. It lifts up the heart of human achievement and self-sufficiency, robbing God of the thanks due Him.

Prosperity concocts ways to get more and keep it. The prosperous become self-reliant rather than trusting in God’s provision of daily bread.

Prosperity causes worry. Those who have little have little worries, but the more you have, the more you have to worry over; there is little peace for those with much.

Prosperity conceives a sinful attachment to this short-lived life and its things, turning the heart from hope in Heaven’s eternal bliss.

Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content (1 Timothy 6:6-8).

Poem: The Prayer of Cyrus Brown

 

 

 

 

“The proper way for a man to pray,”
Said Deacon Lemuel Keyes,
“And the only proper attitude
Is down upon his knees.”

“No, I should say the way to pray,”
Said Rev. Doctor Wise,
“Is standing straight with outstretched arms
And rapt and upturned eyes.”

“Oh, no; no, no,” said Elder Slow,
“Such posture is too proud:
A man should pray with eyes fast closed
And head contritely bowed.”

“It seems to me his hands should be
Austerely clasped in front.
With both thumbs pointing toward the ground,”
Said Rev. Doctor Blunt.

“Las’ year I fell in Hodgkin’s well
Head first,” said Cyrus Brown,
“With both my heels a-stickin’ up,
My head a-pinting down;

“An’ I made a prayer right then an’ there–
Best prayer I ever said,
The prayingest prayer I ever prayed,
A-standing on my head.”

– by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)

The proper method for prayer – and every other spiritual discipline – is the way God prescribes in His holy Word; not by what is popular, makes me feel good, or is my tradition or culture. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24).

An Easier Way

JB Chapman was a great American preacher of yesteryear. One day, while traveling through the state of Georgia, he arrived at a fork in the road in a small town.

One sign read, “Macon 68 miles.” The sign on the other road read, “Macon 58 miles.” Confused, he hesitated, and then decided to drive along the shorter of the two roads.

A few minutes down the road, he turned the car around and went back to the small grocery store and gas station at the fork in the road. Can you tell me, he asked the store owner, which road I should take to get to Macon?

The longer road is paved, said the businessman.

Chapman realized that his question hadn’t really been answered, so he asked another way. Do you think it’s better to take that way, even if it is longer

Without hesitation the man replied, I think so.

We’re always challenged to take short cuts in life, from a test in school, a family relationship, a business deal, or taking a parking space at the grocery store. We are prone to taking the path of least resistance, the more appealing pathway, the shortest route.

King Solomon knew something about taking the easy path in life. He wrote to his own son these wise words:  There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof is destruction (Proverbs 14:12).

The shortest, easiest, most appealing way is seldom the best way. Sometimes the right thing is the most difficult pathway, but it’s the way that God does His best work in shaping our character and revealing Himself to us.