Give “Him” His Due – Worship God

Luke 4:6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 “Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”
Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.
On May 27, 2009, the world’s largest worship venue opened in Arlington, TX. With close to 30,000 parking spaces, the ability to hold 110,000 people, a state-of-the-art sound system, and a gigantic center-hung, high-definition television screen that measures 160 X 72 feet, it is the perfect location to gather, sing, shout, cry, clap, and feel the energy that occurs when that many souls come together with the same hope in mind.
What church does this massive edifice belong to? It must be the Baptist or charismatics, right? Who else has that kind of coin?  No, the owner of this 1.33 billion monster in Arlington is none other than Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys. And all year long, whether for a concert, motocross event, tractor pull, or football game, men and women flood into the stadium ready to support and cheer on their favorite team, band, or player. They’ve come for one reason and one reason alone. They have come to …. rejoice.
Rejoice is a simple yet serious word, meaning to celebrate, cheer, exult, or delight in. One synonym for rejoice is worship, and we were each created by God to do so, hardwired by our Creator for it. And thus, even those men and women who don’t enjoy worshiping their Maker can sometimes be seen with their bodies painted in team colors, becoming emotionally affected for hours, sometimes days, bu how the game went on a particular Saturday, or Sunday, or Monday night, or Thursday night. They’re ready for worship any day of the week—morning, noon, of evening. But their hearts are yielded to lesser things.
Because we humans are worshipers, we are “Rejoicers”. It’s what we do. Every single person, whether religious or irreligious, actively worships. They have identified something bigger than themselves that they believe is worthy of their money, time, and the meditations of their hearts. In many ways, they have offered themselves as sacrifices to that “something,” whatever it is. It comes naturally to them. Easily. Enjoyably.
But in our sinfulness, this tendency to worship things other than God is an exercise in disappointment. It offers us nothing but temporary satisfaction while simultaneously bringing God’s judgment upon us (Eccl. 11:9). Since we are worshipers by God’s design, the problem is not that we rejoice but rather that we rejoice wrongly. (taken from Creature of The Word–The Jesus-Centered Church)
Why waste your life praising that which is not worthy of your praise. If you must worship something, and you must worship something, then worship Him Who’s worth is immeasurable, Who’s beauty is immutable, Who’s glory is indescribable! (PEW)
Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 29:2 Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
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Are You on the Candy Diet?

candy     Ever heard of the “Candy Diet?”  Take a look below at what a proponent of the Candy Diet said about it:

“The Candy Diet is great. Everyone knows that diet is all about moderation. Here’s how you moderate: Don’t eat anything but candy. It’s all about caloric intake, and whether you intake calories of candy or healthy proportions from the five food groups, one plus one equals two; calories are calories, they all add up to the same number. Besides, the FDA pyramid is just a government conspiracy so don’t feel badly about straying from it.”

Will eating candy give you the necessary calories that you need to feel “full” and satisfy your cravings for food?  Yes, and if losing weight is your goal, following the Candy Diet help you lose weight.

However, if the question is will the candy diet give you the essential nutrients that your body needs to be healthy and productive?  The answer is, “No.”   The candy diet cannot provide your muscles with the proteins they need, your bones with the calcium they need, your digestive system with the fiber and enzymes it needs, and your cells with the vitamins and minerals they need to be healthy.  Again, the candy diet may allow you to lose weight (and losing weight may make you feel good and even look good for a while), but given enough time the candy diet will hurt you.  Our physical bodies were not designed to thrive on candy.

Likewise, our spiritual bodies are not designed to thrive on religious candy.

  • “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Mark 4:4)

  • ” Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.                       (1 Peter 2:1-3) 

What followers of Jesus need for spiritual health is not religious candy, but “The bread of Life, and the “pure mild of the Word.”  Let me suggest that one of the greatest dangers to our spiritual growth is the danger of substituting religious candy for these two essential ingredients.  Let me explain.

God uses his Word to nourish, transform, equip for service, and to lead His. On the other hand, religious candy, more often than not, does the complete opposite.  So, what is religious candy?

Let me suggest that religious candy can be found in many of the religious cliches and sayings that have become part of our popular Christian culture today.  Religious candy can also be found in the misquoted and taken out of context Bible verses that are served to God’s people from our pulpits today.  And, just as the candy diet can make people feel good for a moment, religious candy may make us feel good for a moment.  Nevertheless, just like the candy diet, dieting on religious candy cannot provide us what we needed for balanced, healthy spiritual growth.  Let me suggest that Christians that diet on religious candy will never obtain the strength to “be steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58), and in the end it will hurt you.

Below is a short list of some religious candies that you may have heard (or perhaps even said) yourself:

  • God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.  (Is  this a cliche?  Look at Romans 11:22 for an answer)
  • No weapon fashioned against you shall prosper. (Does this mean that the next time I am stuck up – Yes, I have been robbed at gunpoint twice – I should expect the gun to jam or the bullet to pass through my body leaving me unharmed?  Take a look at Hebrews 11:36-38)
  • God wants you to be head and not the tail- take a look at 2 Cor. 8:1 and 2, and note that 1)  God bestowed upon the the churches in Macedonia His amazing grace, and 2) they were subjected to “a great trial of affliction”, and deep poverty.”  Also note that the Macedonians experienced tremendous joy in the midst of their poverty and suffering.

Furthermore, let me suggest that one of the most faith destroying cliches (candies) ever uttered, and unfortunately believed by many Christians, is the one that says, “The safest place in the world to be is in the center of God’s will.”  Don’t get me wrong, being in the center of God’s will is always the absolute best place for our lives, but it may not be the safest place to be at all times.  When Jesus commanded his apostles to go into all of the world and make disciples of every nation, He knew that they had some rough, even dangerous times ahead of them.  And because Jesus knew what was coming, he assured the apostles (and us) that in whatever circumstance we may find ourselves in, his empowering presence will be there too.  Jesus said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen” (Matthew 28:20).

Take a look below and then ask yourself, “Is the center of God’s will really the safest place in the world?”

  • Jesus was at the center of God’s will and he ended up mocked, beaten, and crucified. (see Matthew 27)
  • Paul was at the center of God’s will,  and according to church history he was beheaded. (See also 2 Cor. 11:23-28)
  • Jeremiah was at the center of God’s will, and he was thrown into a pit and left to die. (Jeremiah 37:1-16)
  • The prophet Zechariah was at the center of God’s will, and he was murdered in house of God.  (Matthew 23:35)

There are many examples of men and women in the Bible who were in the center of God’s will for their lives, and yet suffered.

“Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented–of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.”          (Hebrews 11:36-38)

The problem with the candy cliche that says “the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will” is that it gives the false impression that God’s perfect will for His people is to always be safe and comfortable as they journey from here to eternity.  This kind of thinking is diametrically different from the truth, “As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” (Romans 8:36).  The truth is that followers of Jesus have been, and are being slaughtered for their faith in Christ.

Christians killed

 “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”          (2 Timothy 3:12)

Let me suggest that God’s perfect will for Christians is that they bring Him glory  by living lives that bear the image of Jesus.  The question is, “How do we do this?”  I think that the Bible answers this question very concisely, saying:

 ¶ Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. (Philippians 2:14-16)

Consider this: if bringing glory to God means putting to death my selfishness, experiencing danger instead of safety, hardship instead of plenty, and suffering persecution instead of enjoying pleasure, popularity, and praise then amen.  For it is also written:

 “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)

Considering the above, I like what Erwin. McManus (An Unstoppable Force: Daring to Become the Christian God Had in Mind) wrote,

“The truth of the matter is that the center of God’s will is not a safe place but the most dangerous place in the world! God fears nothing and no one! God moves with intentionally and with power. …. “Following Jesus is a dangerous undertaking. He was willing to die on our behalf. The Father was not only willing to let him die on our behalf, but He commanded it. The only way that I could truly follow God was to die to myself and to live for Him. Only dead men can follow the God of the Cross.”

Finally, I love what the Spirit said to us through the apostle Paul in Galatians 2:20, telling us that the life we lead as followers of Jesus cannot be called the “Candy Life”, however, it is rightly called the “Crucified Life”.

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

 

He was cru·ci·fy·ed for our sins,

cru·ci·fy ˈkro͞osəˌfī/ verb past tense: crucified; past participle: crucified 1. – to put (someone) to death by nailing or binding them to a cross, especially as an ancient punishment. For as…

Source: He was cru·ci·fy·ed for our sins,

The Game Changing Gospel

Three Crosses and Silhoutted Person in Prayer at Sunrise

Through the gospel God exerts his power to transform lives and change cultures. I am of the opinion that the church does not need another summit or conference on racial reconciliation or multi-culturalism; what’s needed today are preachers who will prophetically proclaim the gospel.  When the gospel is preached to people whom the Holy Spirit has prepared to receive it, they receive it, and they demonstrate their faith in the gospel by walking in “newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)  Let me suggest that anything short of this (changing or accommodating our music styles, or creating night club like atmospheres in our sanctuaries, etc.) will not bring the needed flame of radical revival, but will produce a mere reshuffling of the same old deck of lukewarm cards.

I love this section from George and Woodward’s book, The Mark of Jesus. Using an example from the history of the church, George and Woodward challenge us to consider afresh the power of the gospel to change our lives. They write:

The Testimony of Justin Martyr

Justin Martyr effectively depicted and defended the lifestyle of Christians. In his First Apology (c. A.D. 155), Justin challenged Emperor Antonius Pius to take a good, hard look at the way Christians lived. Justin apparently did not fear that an investigation by the emperor would find the Christians to be hypocrites: “It is for us, therefore, to offer to all the opportunity of inspecting our life and teachings, lest we ourselves should bear the blame for what those who do not really know about us do in their ignorance.” Then, in a marvelous passage, Justin described how the power of the Gospel had transformed Christians at the very core of their aspirations and desires:

Those who once rejoiced in fornication now delight in continence alone; those who made use of magic arts have dedicated themselves to the good and unbegotten God; we who once took pleasure in the means of increasing our wealth and property now bring what we have into a common fund and share with everyone in need; we who hated and killed one another would not associate with men of different tribes because of [their different] customs, now after the manifestation of Christ live together and pray for our enemies and try to persuade those who unjustly hate us, so that they, living according to the fair command of Christ may share with us the good hope of receiving the same things [that we will] from God, the master of all.

According to Justin Martyr, Christians turned their backs on sexual immorality, on the making of money as a life avocation, and on yielding to racism. Rather, they shared their goods even with those whom they had formerly disdained for racial reasons—those who belonged to other tribes. Many Christians were living in unity and were intent on seeing their non-Christian neighbors come to Christ. They prayed for their enemies with the hope that they might likewise become followers of the true God. They believed that only those persons were worthy to be called Christians who actually obeyed their Lord’s teachings.

As for those persons who did not obey Christ’s teachings (hypocrites), Justin Martyr offered little comfort: “Those who are found not living as he taught should know that they are not really Christians, even if his teachings are on their lips, for he said that not those who merely profess but those who also do the works will be saved. For he said this: ‘Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.’”Justin Martyr, therefore, viewed “apologetics”(the defense of the faith) in a somewhat different fashion than we often do, if we limit its scope to the presentation of the “theistic proofs”or historical arguments for the resurrection of Christ. Certainly Martyr made the case for fulfilled prophecies in Scripture, the reality of Christ’s miracles, and the truthfulness of the resurrection. But Martyr was not hesitant also to make the point that many of the Christians he knew obeyed Christ’s teachings. This would mean that any hypocrisy charge regarding them would not stick. He wrote: “Many men and women now in their sixties and seventies who have been disciples of Christ from childhood have preserved their purity: and I am proud that I could point to such people in every nation.”

Justin Martyr’s presentation of how Christians actually lived out their faith received confirmation of sorts from a surprising quarter. Pagan critics, while condemning Christianity as an irrational faith that attracted the weak-minded, on occasion paid backhanded tributes to the Christians by describing them as those who kept their word and shared their goods with each other. Undoubtedly, the early church had its hypocrites who by no means followed Christ in the way Justin Martyr indicated. At the end of the second century, Tertullian complained that he knew Christians, including members of the clergy, who ran after money and church offices rather than seeking to follow Christ’s teachings. For many early Christians, not following Christ’s teachings indicated a person was worse than a hypocrite; the person was a “non-Christian.

How to kill a giant

I needed to re-read this today. Thanks Lord for the reminder of your empowering grace.

A View From PEW

david-versus-goliath

1 Samuel 17:33, 37 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine {Goliath} to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” …… David said, “The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Humanly speaking, Saul spoke the truth when he said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine.”  Take a quick look at David’s resume below and see if you don’t agree with Sauls words

  • David was merely a youth (a lad) when Saul shared his assessment of David’s chance of success against Goliath.
  • David was not even the choicest of his own fathers children.
  • David was a shepherd to this point of his career, and unskilled in war.

Goliath…

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Many Voices to Chose From, but only One Voice Has the Truth

criticism png

Proverbs 3:1 ¶ My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands;
2 For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you.

Many of our struggles in life come upon us because we listen to the multitude of negative voices that bombard us daily. Below is a list of just a few of the many voices that speak to us every day.

  • We hear the voice of fear
  • We hear the voice of failure
  • We hear the voice of defeat
  • We hear the voice of rejection
  • We hear the voice of incompetence
  • We hear the voice of criticism
  • We hear the voice of slander
  • The voice of guilt
  • We hear the voice that says we are not loved

Sometimes these voices are rooted in our past circumstances. Sometimes these voices are fixed in our present circumstances. No matter where these voices come from, they are not the voice of the Spirit of God. For:

  • God says “fear not”, for I have not given you the spirit of fear, but of “power, love, and soundness of mind.” (Isaiah 41:10; 2 Timothy 1:7)
  • God says we are not failures because “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6)
  • God says we are not defeated, because in Christ “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
  • God says we are not rejected. Quite the contrary, we’ve been 1) adopted as sons to Himself, 2) according to His will, and 3) for His glory. Simply put, God has “made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:5,6,7)
  • God says we are not incompetent because we “are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” (Colossians 2:10; see also I Corinthians 12)
  • Regarding criticism, God says “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” (Romans 8:33)
  • And when haters slander us and try to bring us down to their level with hurtful words, God says “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11,12)
  • God speaks to us with the voice of forgivenesssaying it is I, “Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:3-5; see also 1 John 1:9)

In essence, God says we are His “beloved”.

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” (1 John 3:1,2)

What God says of His children defines them for both time and for eternity. By faith believe what God says, and by faith live your life accordingly. Of the thousands of voices that are in the world today, voices that cry out for our attention, only One voice says authoritatively, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11)  When this voice speaks, it speaks the truth with power.  This is the voice of freedom.  This is the voice of God. (John 8:32)

I love these words from Eben Otuteye, that I have shared below:

Affirm and meditate on the life of God in you. Meditate on your oneness with God. If you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior then God has put His spirit in you and His spirit has merged with your spirit. Therefore deep at the spiritual level you are one with God. (You may be wondering “if I am one with God how come I am not perfect and I still have these wacky beliefs, behaviors and attitudes?” The answer is that it is your mind and your body that are in the way but God can fix that).

Recognize, acknowledge and thank God that the best and the greatest thing that can ever happen to a human being has happened to you. You have the best and the greatest thing that a person can ever have: you have the life of God in you.

God, by His Holy Spirit dwells inside of you and is always with you and He fully fills your whole being. He is Emmanuel, the Lord with us. He is Jehovah Shammah – The Lord is there; the ever present One. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ and Christ is in you and you are in Christ. Your spirit is fused and merged with the Spirit of God and you are one with God. (John 17:23; 2 Peter 1:1-7)

Meditate on and thank God for the fact that He has put His life in you, which means that you are one with perfect love; you are one with all power; you are one with all wisdom; you are one with all knowledge; you are one with every good thing. You are one with the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God. Nothing can ever overcome or defeat you because the omnipotent power of God is working in you, through you, and for you. The omnipotent power of God, combined with His wisdom, lovingkindness, and faithfulness towards you, makes you always a winner and an overcomer. Nothing can separate you from the love of God and nothing can separate you from the power of God. That makes you more than a conqueror in all things.

You are a child of God and whatever is born of God overcomes the world. Whatever is born of God overcomes all circumstances and situations. Since you are merged with God and you are one with God, that means whatever comes against you has to contend with God. Whatever comes against you needs to overcome God in order to be able to overcome you. There is nothing that can overcome or defeat the power of God. Therefore, nothing can overcome or defeat you. The power of God working in you and for you guarantees that you will win in every situation and over anything. Meditate on this.

2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

delight

Sometimes, God says no

God Cares

Proverbs 24:5 A wise man is strong, Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength;

Proverbs 24:10 ¶ If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small.

A wise person knows that his strength is in Christ, and not in his flesh.  A wise person knows that they cannot live a godly life through their own self-effort, but through the power of Christ alone.

Three times the apostle Paul prayed and asked God to remove from his life what he called “a thorn in the flesh” (Take a look at the context of Paul’s prayer in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, and note that Paul was being demonized – “the messenger of Satan” was a demon), and three times God answered Paul’s prayer.  Note, however, that the way God answered Paul was not the way that most of us consider answered prayer.

God answered Paul’s prayer by choosing not to remove the “thorn” from Paul’s life. Although God did not answer Paul by giving him relief from the tormenting demon, what He did give him was much better. God gave Paul His personal assurance that by His empowering presence, and through His amazing grace, he would make it.

God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” As a result Paul boasted, not in his healing and deliverance, but in his weakness. Paul said, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

God’s presence and His grace are more than enough to see us through any situation. Boasting about God’s empowering presence and grace is true wisdom, and the key that unlocks the door to abundant living.  As it is written:

Jeremiah 9:23 ¶ Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.