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.

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)

 

The Greatest

Mark 9:33 Then they came to Capernaum. When He was in the house, He asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, because on the way they had been arguing with one another about who was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, He called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.

Philippians 2:5-7, “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.   Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave…” (Bible quotes from HCSB)

Three Crosses and Silhoutted Person in Prayer at Sunrise

I am a follower of Jesus Christ because He has purchased me (bought my freedom) out of the slave market of sin.  As my Master, Jesus compels me into His service; I am not compelled by force or by threats of violence, but by the power of His love (1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Cor. 5:14-15).  As my Lord, Jesus commands me to take on His posture (“the form of a slave”) and become a servant (a slave) to others.

I was reminded of the above after reading Mark chapter 9 this morning for my devotions.  I took note that as Jesus walked down the road to Capernaum with his disciples (Wow!  Wouldn’t you give anything to walk the road with Jesus?), His disciples were engaged in a “Who’s going to be the big man on campus” debate.  Later, Jesus instructed His disciples (and us) to consider that greatness is not seen in how much status you have in the eyes of others.  Jesus taught His disciples that greatness in God’s kingdom is seen in how much you serve.  For when we take on the posture of slaves and serve one another, we take on the image of Jesus; and isn’t Jesus, truly, the greatest person of all.

Let’s be honest: we do not like being servants, and we especially do not like being called slaves.  However, Michael Card reminds us  (A Better Freedom) that the, “choice is not between slavery and freedom. The choice has always only been… whose slave will you be?”  Michael Card continues, “As Jesus had offered wisdom through foolishness, maturity through childlikeness, and wealth through poverty,”  Jesus’ followers understand that the only way to a “better freedom” is  to be found in slavery to Christ.

Card continues:

“In order to become rich you must become poor, (Lk. 12:33) in order to become mature you must rediscover your own childlikeness, (Mk. 9:36) in order to become wise you must embrace the foolishness of the gospel. (I Cor. 3:18) In Jesus, life comes through death (Jn. 5:24) and the only true freedom comes from slavery to Him. (I Cor. 7:22) He came to turn the world upside down, to shatter all our definitions and images, and to fulfill them. The fundamental mysteries of following Jesus are always rooted in paradox.”

“These are the harsh realities of faith in Jesus and if we are to be followers of him, in the truest biblical sense, we must give ourselves to understanding them.” (Michael Card, A Better Freedom)

http://www.amazon.com/Better-Freedom-Finding-Slaves-Christ/dp/0830837140/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1462463648&sr=8-1&keywords=a+better+freedom

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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Bad Medicine?

alcohol hook them while they are young

Proverbs 23:29 ¶ Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30 Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine. 31 Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly; 32 At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange things, And your heart will utter perverse things. 34 Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying:
35 “They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?” (NKJV)

Although the Bible does not explicitly say, “Thou shall not drink adult beverages,” it makes it very clear that we should be very, very careful how we use this freedom of choice. Personally, I believe that while living in a culture where 10 thousand persons a year are killed drunk drivers, and where thousands upon thousands of others are seriously hurt or maimed by the same, where the misuse of alcohol is directly responsible for the neglect of children, and the abuse of both moms and dads, that using alcoholic beverages is not a smart way to use my Christian liberty.

As a Bible believing Christian, I would rather use the liberty that God has given me to engage in activities that build up and encourage others, and activities that promote life and peace.  As it is written:

Romans 14:16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.
19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. 21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.


Anger Management?

self control

Proverbs 16:32 ¶ He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,

And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

There is a legitimate time and place for anger.  One day when Jesus walked into the temple and saw that men had turned God’s house into a crooked mall he got angry.

Mark 11:5 So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.
16 And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. 17 Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.'”

Why was Jesus angry?  Let me suggest that one aspect of his anger was his seeing how the poor and needy were being treated in God’s house.  Take a look at the parallel passage found in Matthew 21:12-14, and observe that after Jesus kicked the religious merchants out of the temple, the Bible says, “Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.”  It seems from this text that the blind and the lame (a generic description of the poor and needy in Jesus’ day) who could not afford to buy the stuff that was being sold in God’s house were not welcomed inside.  Jesus hated seeing people treated poorly, and we should too.  We should hate the things that God hates, and when we see the weak being hurt or discriminated against, we should be moved to passionately do something about it.  This kind of anger is OK with God.  Being angry when we see God’s truth being distorted, or Christianity being prostituted and merchandised is also OK with God.

  • Psalm 119:104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.
  • Psalm 119:113 ¶ SAMEK. I hate the double-minded, But I love Your law.
  • Psalm 119:163 ¶ I hate and abhor lying, But I love Your law.
  • Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate.
  • Proverbs 31:8 Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die. 9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, And plead the cause of the poor and needy.
  • Isaiah 61:8 “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offering; I will direct their work in truth, And will make with them an everlasting covenant.

However, let’s be honest and confess that most of the things that make us angry have nothing to do with God, righteousness, truth, or standing up for others.  Most of the things that make us angry are the (real or imagined) intrusions on our sense of personal entitlement.  Here is a list of a few suggested entitlements:

  1. I am entitled not to wait behind people in the check-out line that try to save money by using coupons.
  2. I entitled to cut a line to ask the customer service person a question that the person I have cut off had to wait in line to ask.
  3. I am entitled not to be skipped in line.
  4. I am entitled to leave for an appointment five minutes later than I should have, therefore:
  5. I am entitled to drive 15 miles an hour faster than everyone else on the road so I won’t be late for the above appointment.
  6. I am entitled to come home to a clean house, have my dinner waiting,  have the kids homework already done, sit on the couch and watch football (Monday, Thursday, Saturday Afternoon, and Sunday … but only during the regular season, then I an entitled to watch the playoffs too.).
  7. I am entitled to having a great night with my wife after cashing in on all of my entitlements listed in number 4.
  8. I am entitled to my wife taking aspirin for her headache at least two hours before I get home.
  9. I am entitled to everyone knowing that my opinion is the only one that is right and valid.
  10. I am entitled to criticize others and pointing out their mistakes.
  11. I am entitled not to be criticized.
  12. I am entitled to be listened to at all times.
  13. I am not entitled not to listen to others.
  14. I am entitled to more entitlements.

The point is: When our personal list of entitlements is threatened or violated by others we get angry.  However, the scripture says to those that are followers of Jesus, “you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus” (Ephesians 4:20-21).  Therefore, the LORD instructs his followers to:

  • put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, (Ephesians 4:22)
  • be renewed in the spirit of your mind, (Ephesians 4:23)
  • put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)
  • put away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,”(Ephesians 4:25)
  • “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26,27)

One aspect of self control is the ability to check our attitude and emotions before reacting.   Thus, the hot buttons that trigger anger inside of us are either removed completely or insulated under a deep layer of what the Bible calls “Long-suffering.”  From whence does self-control come, and where may we find the covering of longsuffering?

Let me suggest that as followers of Jesus fellowship with the LORD, and walk with Him by faith, God transforms them through the power of the Word (The Bible) and by the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Our faith in Christ is what makes it possible for the, “old things [to] “pass away, [and] all things [to] become new”.  Yes, the “old things” that have passed away includes our list of personal entitlements, and with them the triggers that cause us to exhibit ungodly anger.

God wants followers of Jesus, not just to become better individuals, but expressions of the life of His Son in the world. When Jesus’ life is being expressed through his followers, it looks like:

people genuinely loving others …

folk filled with joy …

people at peace …

with their hot buttons insulated by layers of longsuffering ,,,

a spiritual community where random acts of kindness are the norm …

enjoying an atmosphere goodness, …

faithfulness, …

gentleness, and …

self-control. (see Galatians 5:22-24)

Furthermore, when the life of Jesus is being expressed through his followers, “those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”:

they live in the Spirit, …

they walk in the Spirit …

they are not conceited …

they do they provoke one another ..,

nor do they envy one another. (See Galatians 5:24-26)

When the life of Jesus is being expressed through His followers, their anger is not under management, it is managed.

 Anger

TruthCasting – Do You Know Who You Are

It was the best of times,and it was the worst of times. It was best because I was privileged by the LORD to serve Him as the pastor of FBC Hackensack. What wonderful memories I will carry into eternity because of the good fellowship I had, and friends that I made at FBC. It was the worst of times because I only regret not humbling myself enough before the LORD and allowing Him to use me to do more.  Click the TruthCasting link below to hear a sermon that I preached at FBC on 08/14/2011.  Enjoy.

TruthCasting.preach-ie