January 7, 2018 Worship or Fear, we have a Choice

Matthew 6:25-34

At the beginning of the New Year we are looking at the four foundational pillars of our church, which are Worship, Word, Mission/ Evangelism and Compassion. This week we will be turning our attention to Worship by looking at Mathew 6 and verses 25-34. Not normally a scripture portion that is associated with worship.

What is Worship?  Is worship singing? Is it a church service? Do we only worship on a Sunday morning?  The word Worship comes from an old English word which is made up of two words, Worth and Ship. We worship what we give value to and what we dwell on. It is not just singing, or meditating, although that is a large part of worship. We worship what we give value to, the way we use our money, in the way we work, the way we share the Gospel with others and how we spend our free time. When we understand worship, we understand that we worship God with our very lives.

Frequently we hear the question, “how did you like worship today?” If you think about it, that is an absurd question as it reveals that the true nature of our desire to come to a church gathering is not to worship God, but rather to worship our own desires and our own preferences.

One of the ways that a lack of worship manifests itself is in fear and anxiety, this is especially true at the beginning of the New Year as the global future looks more and more unstable.

We don’t have a fear problem, we have a belief in God problem. And I contend that We don’t have a fear problem, we have a worship problem. If we really knew God, and that begins by daily reading His word and daily talking with him in prayer, we would find that our fears would melt away.

In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus has just been teaching his disciples about the importance of not storing up for themselves riches on the earth, but rather store up for themselves riches in heaven. Jesus taught things that were counter culture in the first century and even more so today. Jesus makes it very plain in verse 24, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Jesus makes it very clear, that if we focus on the things around us, if we focus on building our own little kingdom here on this earth we cannot serve God. You may say that saving money for a rainy day is simply prudent, but how much of our saving is based on the fear of the unknown, which in turn is based on the fear that God really cannot take care of His children.

Jesus continued in verse 25, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”

Notice that Jesus doesn’t try to encourage them to try not to worry, rather he forcefully tells them not to worry at all. It is a sin to worry, because when we worry, we show that we doubt the power of God over our circumstances. When we worry, we take God off the throne in our lives and we pay lip service to the all-powerful God, but do not believe it.

Putting God first is a constant struggle as we are so overwhelmed with information and entertainment in our day.

Think of how God feels when we carry around useless burdens which do nothing but weigh us down. Like a good parent God doesn’t want His children to struggle with things that He could help them with. God is our heavenly Father, the all-knowing Father who owns everything and lavishes his love on us. Jesus continues in verse 26 to say that Our Heavenly Father is committed to caring for His creation, why would we think that He is not able to care for us His children?

In verse 32, Jesus said, “your Heavenly Father knows you need all these things.” God is not unaware of your need to pay your mortgage, your health issues, your children’s education, or your ailing parent. God knows everything about your life.

“No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today, that the weight is more than a man can bear.” — Gordon MacDonald

If worrying is a sin, how do we practically stop worrying? Jesus makes this clear in verse 33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Worship is focusing on the Kingdom of Heaven, worship is focusing on the God who created the universe (see Psalm 145:13-16). Worship is about taking our eyes off our small world and focusing on the Kingdom of God

(see Philippians 4:6-7). That is living by the Spirit, God designed us to live by the Spirit in Christ and when we do that our very lives are consumed by worship. Being led by the Holy Spirit we are directed into His presence where our fears melt away.

We can worry, or we can worship, it is a choice we make and a decision we will live by. Worshipping God is always the best option, one that produces life. Anything in our lives that is more important than God, that causes us to take our eyes off God is and idol. Fear and worry are idols. Which altar are you worshipping at?

When we truly worship God, and get a glimpse of His glory on the throne, all the problems and the concerns of life will melt away. As the song by Helen Lemmel goes,

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace”

Thanksgiving part 2 – November 19, 2017

Recalling the history of the early Pilgrims, Governor William Bradford wrote concerning their faith, “God gave them health and strength in a good measure; and shewed them by experience ye truth of the word.” And he quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word, that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

Thanksgiving is all about God, and recognizing who He is and all the blessings He has freely given us. In a world that has all but pushed God away in every sphere of society it is amazing that we still celebrate Thanksgiving, because how can we celebrate this holiday if we don’t acknowledge our Lord and Creator.

Thanksgiving is such a great holiday, but it is not an end in itself; thanksgiving must lead us into something. Thanksgiving should lead to something that is infinitely more significant.

In Luke 17 we read about a man that was truly thankful. This account from the life of Jesus took place while he was on his way to Jerusalem, on the way he encounters ten men with leprosy. At that time and according to the Law of Moses, people with leprosy had to wear torn clothing and live on their own outside of the city, waiting for their probable death.

They had nothing to lose and they cried out to Jesus, calling him Master, recognizing that Jesus was the messiah. Sadly, it is often only those who are desperate who recognize their need for Jesus.

Jesus heard their cry for help and in response he told them to go and show themselves to the priests. The implication was clear to the lepers, according to the law, people with a skin disease had to be examined by a priest, who would determine whether they were clean allowing them to be re-integrated into society.

They hurried away to do just this, and Luke 17:14 says, “as they went, they were cleansed”. They didn’t go and sit back under the tree and wait for their symptoms to disappear. The Bible is clear that they were healed when they went in faith. Can you imagine their emotional roller-coaster they must have gone through? They started walking and after one mile they still were sick, maybe after two miles, they still saw no sign of relief. Every step was a step in faith and as they continued in faith they were healed. We are not told when the healing took place, but they were healed as they walked in faith. Faith in the healing power of Jesus often requires us to obey before we see the full evidence of God’s work within us

From the account in Luke’s Gospel it seems that all ten are healed, but only one man, a Samaritan comes back praising God (Luke 17:15-16).

The people of Samaria were of mixed Israelite and foreign descent, so the Jewish people did not accept them as part of the Jewish community. The Samaritans were despised by Jews for both ethnic and religious reasons; there was mutual hatred by the Samaritans toward Jews.

We don’t know the nationalities of the other nine, but the response Jesus gave in verse 18 seems to indicate that the other nine were Jews. This Samaritan fell at the feet of Jesus and worshipped loudly. He recognized and glorified God, and this is the key, his thanksgiving led to Worship. Worship is a natural response of a heart filled with gratitude.

It would have been logical for him to have followed the other men and gone to the temple, but he first came to the Lord Jesus with his sacrifice of praise. The law required that after being inspected by the priests at the temple, one would have to offer a sacrifice to God. But this Samaritan didn’t even get to the temple, he turned around and ran to Jesus, this pleased the Lord more than all the sacrifices the other men offered, even though they were obeying the Law. And instead of going to the priest, the Samaritan became a priest, and he built his altar at the feet of Jesus.

If you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are a royal priesthood with a purpose. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Looking at our last verse, I saw something that I had never discovered before in this passage, in verse 19 Jesus said to the Samaritan man, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

At first glance, this seems to tell us that the faith of this man is the reason for his physical healing, and yes to a certain extent it is. But the word used in the Greek to indicate being made well comes from the root word “sozo”.

What Jesus really said to the man was, “your faith has saved you”

This man was grateful, and he knew the reason for his healing, he immediately came to Jesus and worshipped him.

Dante Rossetti once said; “The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful, and has nobody to thank”.

The essence of Thanksgiving is that it is an act of worship. True worship flows from gratitude which comes from our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Are you worshipping God today? Is your worship coming from a heart of gratitude?

Sermon September 17, 2017 – Jeremiah part 3

Jeremiah 17:1-10

The nation of Judah had drifted far from God, worshipping idols and ignoring the covenant and the law that God gave Moses on mount Sinai. Their sin was deep rooted, it wasn’t simply a fleeting failure. Jeremiah uses the picture of an engraving tool in verse 1, the sins were indelibly marked in their culture. This has been the condition of man since Adam’s sin in Genesis 3. Sin is not a matter of mere actions, sin is a matter of the heart, and all of us are desperately sinful in our nature.

The Greek definition for sin is to miss the mark, to miss the standard for which we were created. We as human beings, like no other creature, were created in the image of God, and as such we were created to glorify Him by our worship, and our enjoyment of Him forever.

This is the mark we have missed, we worship, money, sex, fame, various forms of entertainment and objects of our own creation just to name a few idols.  We are no different to the nation of Judah, we have missed the mark, we are sinners. In verse 3 and 4, God says that because of their sins, he will punish them and give away all their treasures and wealth as plunder to their enemies. Even though God spoke so directly through the prophet Jeremiah, the people ignored the message and treated Jeremiah like the enemy.

The irony is that God tells them that he will enslave them in a land they do not know, but the reality is that they were already slaves. When we are living in willful sin, we are enslaved by that sin. Sin itself is slavery, because we are separated from the joy of knowing the pleasure and the grace of God in our lives.

The Lord continues in verse 5, “This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.”

Where do you place your trust? Do you trust in your retirement fund? Your paycheck? Your savings? Your inheritance? Perhaps you trust in a person to take care of you? The truth is that no matter what we trust in, if it is not God, the Bible says we are under a curse.

The converse of verses 5 and 6 are verses 7 and 8 said. Verse 7 says, “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” Do you want to experience God’s blessing? Trust Him!

In verse 8 we read that the person who trusts in the Lord will receive a promised blessing from the Lord, they will have no fear, no worries, and they never fail to bear fruit.

As we look at ourselves, how do we really know if we trust the Lord? We can easily fool our neighbor, our pastor, even our spouse, but God knows our heart (see Jeremiah 17:10).

Just like God knew the hearts of the people of Judah, he knows our hearts today. As a result of their sin, God punished the nation of Judah, the attack from the north came and most of them were taken into captivity. It was a terrible and dark time for the nation. The captivity in Babylon was relatively short, only 70 years, but the nation was destroyed and would never be the same again.

The punishment for sin was severe, and God still punishes sin today, we don’t like to talk about it, but He does, God loves us too much to leave our sins unpunished.

But there is good news, as we look at Jeremiah 31:31-34. This prophecy in Jeremiah 31 talks about a time far in the future for those living in the 6th Century BC, Jeremiah was prophesying about the new covenant, he was pointing to our time, this day and age.

Obviously, we still struggle with sin and the world is in a desperate state because of our rejection of God. Our problem with sin is far worse than we could ever imagine. Our sinful self is so wicked that we don’t even have the desire to know God, let alone want to come near to Him. Our hearts are inscribed with sin, we cannot erase it, it is impossible for us to change our hearts.

But here is the Incredibly Good News, God made a New Covenant with mankind. Jeremiah was prophesying about The Gospel, Jesus, the son of God, coming to earth as a child, living amongst men, and then giving his life as the ultimate and perfect sacrifice in order to save us from our desperately wicked state. We sometimes take the Gospel for granted, we gloss over it every time we celebrate communion together. But this is incredible news in Isaiah 9:2 we read, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;”

Of all the 1366 verses in the book of Jeremiah, chapter 31 and verse 33 is the pinnacle of his revelation from God.

Notice the contrast between chapter 17, where our hearts are engraved with sin, and the New Covenant in chapter 31, God promises to write a new law on our hearts. It takes a miracle to remove engraving, we cannot do it, but because of what Jesus did on the cross, by submitting our lives to his glorious gift of salvation, we get new hearts. We get the very presence of the living God living inside of us by the Holy Spirit. This is what Jesus spoke about in Luke 22:20

The Old Covenant was important to reveal to mankind that we are desperately sinful and cannot begin to fulfill the holy requirements of God. But God created us with the capacity and the need for a relationship with Him, not simply to follow a set of blind rules.

This is where the church has missed the point I believe. In our desire to make “good Christians”, we have created rules and structures, and our efforts have resulted in legalism. The truth is that:

Rules without a Relationship is Bondage.

I am not advocating for the erasing of all rules, that is anarchy, but if we are content to follow the rules without a relationship with our Heavenly Father, in a sense we are still living under the Old Covenant.

Are you still living under the Old covenant, trying to be good enough for God? That is impossible, that is why Jesus came to save us, that is why we have the Gospel!

The 4 Pillars of the Church – Part II – February 19, 2017

Nehemiah 8:1-12

A fairly common statement that can be heard in Christian circles after a Sunday morning, goes something like this; “I didn’t get anything out of the service today”. However, we should always come into a worship service with an expectation to encounter the presence of the Lord. Looking at Nehemiah chapter 8 I want to draw five principles that will guarantee that we will always experience a special touch from the Lord every time we meet together.

Worship is more than singing, worship must become a lifestyle for us. We worship what we give value to, we worship by the way we use our money, the way we work, the way we share the Gospel with others and we worship in the way we spend our free time. When we understand worship, we begin to understand that we worship God with our very lives.

Looking at Nehemiah chapter 8 we see the following 5 principles of developing a lifestyle of worship:

Prepare to Worship: The event described in this chapter took place during a two day festival called the feast of trumpets, it was a holy day and to be treated like the Sabbath (see Leviticus 23).  All the people had gathered at the water gate and if we look back a few verses the gathering of people was approximately forty-five thousand thousand. This wasn’t some random gathering, this was a planned event. A platform had been built for Ezra to stand on, and he read from sunrise until noon, which means that all the people had to assemble before sunrise. This took a lot of work and coordinating, there was preparation involved that probably took days before this event.

We need to remember that worship is primarily spiritual, thus we need to look for spiritual solutions to the desire for more effective worship. Before we enter into a worship service we need to prepare our own hearts to worship the Lord. There is much that could be said on this, but just one practical piece, how can you spend Saturday night watching r rated movies and then expect to experience the presence of God on a Sunday morning, our hearts need to be prepared. A very practical step would be to get up early on a Sunday morning and spend time with the Lord, repenting of your sins, praying for the blood of Jesus to cleanse you of your sins. This will require discipline and maybe an adjustment in your schedule, but it all boils down to what we value the most, what do we give value to, what do we worship?

As we need to approach the throne of grace in worship, we need to be seeking personal holiness in our lives (see Hebrews 12:14).

Engage with the Word: As Ezra climbs into the makeshift pulpit, and opened the book, all the people stood up. The people actively engaged in the reading of the Book of the Law. There was not a passive sitting down and expecting Ezra to keep them alert. The people arose and engaged with the word of God, they remained standing all morning, as Ezra read and the Levites went amongst the people explaining the law to them.

Our worship should be response to the word of God. A number of times I have heard the statement made that the singing prepares us for the message, and if the singing is bad, then we don’t get anything out of the message. But throughout scripture we have examples that would suggest we have it the wrong way around. Our worship needs to be in response to the word.

Focus on Heaven:  Before Ezra begins to read he focuses the attention of the people on God, (see verse 6) The people prepared themselves, then they engaged with the Word and thirdly they focused on Heaven. They focused on the object of their worship.

Worship is a time when we take our eyes off of ourselves and our small world and focus on the Glory and majesty of the creator of the universe. Everything in our worship services, should be to draw our attention towards God and to cause people to think about Him. Worship is to be about Him and his majesty and greatness.

Give of Yourself: As the people were hearing the Word of the Law being read, they began to weep and mourn as they became aware of how far they had drifted from God’s original intent for the nation. This wasn’t a little crying or sadness, there was a grief that came over the people that affected everyone, so much so, that the priests had to calm them down as we read in the following verses. The people gave of themselves in repentance and grief.

Worship is activity and requires us to give of ourselves. Not only must we actively engage in worship, but we must also give of ourselves, worship is a sacrifice to God (see Romans 12:1)

Worship is a sacrifice as we declare that we give our all to God in worship. And here is the amazingly powerful truth, our worship literally becomes an incense in the presence of the Lord. David understood this in Psalm 141:2.

When you are tempted not to give of yourself in worship, remember that worship is a privilege we have because of the cross of Jesus Christ, because of what Jesus did on the cross, our sacrifice of praise literally becomes incense in the presence of the all holy God!

Leave Celebrating: After the people had repented and grieved, they all went away rejoicing (see v12). Nehemiah understood the value of the truth that the Joy of the Lord is our strength, and that the people needed to be strong and joyful as they left to go to their homes.

The final principle in worship is how we leave the house of worship. We should leave celebrating because we have just encountered a fresh touch from the Lord, our sins have been forgiven and we are free. As we leave our worship service, our conversation needs to be permeated with the very real fact that we encountered the living God in worship.

Worship is more than an event or a gathering, worship is a lifestyle and not an event. The truth is that If you don’t worship outside the church, you will never worship in the church. If you don’t worship God during the week, don’t expect to come to church on a Sunday and ask the worship leader to lead you into worship.

Worship styles come and go, throughout the History of the church, the music style and the instruments used have been constantly changing. The style of worship today is different from fifty years ago, and it was different fifty years before that. Worship styles may change, but worship itself must never change.

If we become so attached to a particular style, if a particular style of worship becomes our preference and we feel that it is the only way to worship, then we have missed the point of worship. Neither contemporary, traditional or blended are the right way to worship, because worship is a matter of the heart. (read John 4:23)

Worship – Part 3 September 18, 2016

worship-pt-3-title-2Psalm 8

I recently read an article written by an atheist scientist who was proposing a radical end to life as we know it. His premise is that the earth will not be able to sustain the population within the next 30 years.

We have probably all heard this kind of argument.  Everywhere we hear the news that man is the problem. I want to make the Biblical case today to prove that man is not the problem, there is another cause driving mankind to destruction.

Reading Psalm 8 we will see that this particular Psalm speaks directly to us today in the 21st century and the moral challenges we face as a society.

This Psalm is known as one of the nature Psalms, David praises God’s greatness as he views all of creation. God’s glory is revealed in majesty throughout the universe. But David continues in this Psalm to state that mankind is the pinnacle and crowning glory of God’s creation, this is where the Bible clearly differs from those who view mankind as the problem on the earth.

David “bookends” this Psalm with the same magnificent line of praise; “O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is your name in all the earth!” The Lord’s name is majestic, and the attributes of God are part of His name (see Exodus 34). It is the name of God that carries power, majesty, glory and justice. In our generation it seems we have forgotten the third commandment (see Exodus 20:7). Oh that we would get back to the reverence and awe of the name of God in our society.

The second verse of Psalm 8, doesn’t seem to fit in the Psalm. David is writes about the vast universe, all the animals and the creatures of the sea; and then we have this verse about infants and nursing babies. The weakest and most dependent of society. It is through the weakest of the weak that God shows His power and majesty. Satan has convinced humanity that the unborn child is a mere piece of tissue, a collection of cells, but not a human being. If you ever needed another reason why abortion is evil, just read the rest of this verse; “to make the enemy and the revengeful cease”. Satan is determined to kill as many babies as possible through abortion, because each of them is a threat to him.

David continues by looking at the awesome vastness of God’s creation, he looked up at the stars and saw how small and seemingly insignificant man is. And then he begins to ask God, “what is man that you care for him?”

This is where the psalm begins to offend the post-modern mind, verse 5 says; “yet you have made him a little lower than God, and you crowned him with glory and majesty!”

Post-modern thought hates the truth of the Bible that says that mankind is the pinnacle of God’s creation. But the Bible clearly teaches that man is created in the image of God (see Genesis 1:26). Modern teaching has reduced mankind to an animal and rejected God completely, as a result the world is in chaos. The created order of God is out of alignment and sin reigns. This is all as a result of sin. When Adam sinned, he relinquished his authority over the created order and became a slave to sin. In the world today, we don’t have a mankind problem, we have a sin problem!

But that is not the end of the story! God sent his son, Jesus to come to the earth as a poor defenseless baby, weak and vulnerable. As Jesus lived among us, he exercised dominion over creation. He calmed the seas and the storms, he commanded fish and wild animals to obey him. No human has ever had such dominion over nature. Jesus was fully God and fully man, and he demonstrated to us all what it means to take dominion over creation. Jesus was God in the flesh, visiting his creation and by his death and resurrection he purchased the salvation for all who call on his name (See Hebrews 2:9).

Praise God for the cross, praise God for the Gospel message, the good news of salvation that is only through Jesus Christ our Lord.

There you have the truth. We have looked at eight short verses in Psalm 8 and I have made three points that are considered offensive to the thinking of post-modern man;

  1. Abortion is wrong and contrary to the will of God
  2. Mankind is the pinnacle of God’s creation, created in His image
  3. Salvation is only available through Jesus Christ.

And as we continue along the path of humanism, these statements will only become more and more offensive to the world around us. But the truth is that the Kingdom of God is not like the kingdom that is currently reigning in the world. The kingdom of God takes everything and turns it upside down.

In the kingdom of God:

  • The weak become strong.
  • The poor become rich.
  • The unborn are immeasurably valuable.
  • The last shall be first.
  • Humility and meekness is power.
  • By dying to ourselves we gain eternal life.
  • By the cross, we have freedom.

These are a few of the attributes of the kingdom of God, and our response can only be; “O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

The truth is that we only begin to worship when we realize our absolute dependence on God.

We are only able to Worship God with the breath he gives us in the first place. We are only able to worship God because he places the desire for worship in our hearts.

Worship is not about having the right sound or the right songs, it is about a personal heart posture before the Lord. Remember Moses when God proclaimed his name; he simply bowed down and worshipped (Exodus 34:8). We need to live a lifestyle of worship. Worshiping God when we drive to work, worshiping God when we are resting at home, worshiping God as we go about our daily tasks. Worship is from the heart first and foremost and it all stems from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

As we meditate on that we have to simply fall to our knees and say, Father, what is mankind that you are mindful of them? Who am I that you are care for me?

Worship – part 2 September 11, 2016

worship-pt-2-title-2

This past Sunday we remembered the tragic events of 9/11/2001. It is a sad reality of our world today that sometimes it takes a disaster for us to realize what is really important and valuable to us.

Imagine that you were told that your house is about to be sucked into a sinkhole and you have two hours to get your most valuable belongings out of the house. What would you find that is your most precious possession? Assuming all people and animals were safe, some people might grab their passports, personal documents or maybe a family Bible.

In an instant our lives could be changed and we are forced to think hard about what is most important to us. In this series on worship we discovered that we worship what we give value to. We are by nature worshipers, we all give value to different things, and when we give priority to anything above God, we are worshiping that thing and that is the definition of idol worship.

King David the King of Israel was known as the man after God’s own heart (see Acts 13:22). As we know David wasn’t perfect, but he had his priorities right. David found his satisfaction in God, he was a true worshiper of God.

Looking at David’s Psalm 16, we find some of his secrets to true worship. This Psalm is a beautiful picture of someone who has a warm and close relationship with God

This Psalm can be divided into 4 sections.

Verses 1-2  In the first section, David sets the correct perspective. The Hebrew word for God used here is “strong one”. David declares that God is well able to protect and keep him. David declares that God is his highest treasure, his primary joy and delight.

Verses 3-4  Then in the next two verses, David turns his attention to the people around him and divides them into two classes. The first are the saints in the land, the followers of the one true God. David loves to be in fellowship with them. The second group are those who have other things in their life more important than God. Who value other things more than God. David says he will not participate in their worship. David loves the fellowship of those who put God first, but will not even name the names of the idols that people worship.

Verses 5-6  The next two verses begin with the line; “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;” As David looks at his life he sees how God has blessed him, and he is able to say; “God you are all I need” David understood that all things come from God and that God is enough. By saying that you are my cup, David is saying that God satisfies, invigorates and refreshes him. Remember what Jesus said in John 4:13-14. Is Jesus your cup? Do you still look to other things to refresh you? If you do, you will always be thirsty again.

Verses 7-8  In these verses David takes a more introspective tone, as he praises God for counseling him.  When all the noise is gone, and he is alone with his thoughts, he praises God because he knows without a doubt that God is always with him and he will not be shaken. In the 21st century, where man has rejected God, one of the greatest fear of man is silence and being alone with one’s thoughts, it should not be this way.

Verses 9-11  In these last three verses David looks forward; he has reflected on the past, praised God for the present and now he looks ahead, and he looks to the future with joy and peace. If you are anxious about the future, and many in our nation are, it is vital to spend time in prayer alone with God’s word. As you do, you get God’s perspective on your life, and like David, you can rest secure.

The final verse is a triumphant declaration; David knows that while he is still alive, he can experience the joy of the Lord by coming into his presence, and for eternity he is going to experience the pleasures of the goodness of God.

As we see from this Psalm, God is everything to David. He looks to the past, his present situation and the future and boldly states that God is enough.

As you look at your life, can you make the same statement? Is God more important to you than anything else? Worship has to be completely God-centered. The danger is that we as a culture are so performance oriented, that we define worship in terms of songs and practices, things that we do. Our focus shifts away from God as the center and we focus on things like singing quality, instruments or worship leaders. And little by little our attention goes away from the Lord and our absolute dependence on him, and we begin to focus on the quality of our worship performances. That is idolatry.

In Exodus 34, we have an example of pure worship, as Moses is alone with God. God speaks to Moses and proclaims His name; the majestic, all consuming name of God. Moses’ response is to fall to his face and worship God. (Exodus 34:8). That is Worship, when nothing else matters and we are consumed by the presence of God.

When worship becomes more about us and our preferences then it is no longer worship at all. Worship has to be all about God and Him alone.

King David lived a lifestyle of worship, he lived everyday glorifying God through his life.

“God is most Glorified when we are most satisfied in him”

John Piper

How about you? Are you able to look at your life and give glory to God because you are satisfied that He is all you need?

Worship – Part 1; September 4, 2016

Worship pt 1 Title.2

John 4:4-26

Through my mission’s travels, I have experienced many different styles and experiences of worship. Some worship style involves really loud music, some no instruments at all and others include a lot of dancing. From a western church background, sometimes it can be unnerving and unusual, but still the same it is worship to God, and we can enter into worship along with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

It is God’s plan that worship to Him will be lifted up from all corners of the earth, in all languages, and in many different styles. God is bringing about the completion of the Great Commission in order that the world will worship Him. What we are seeing is a beautiful tapestry of praise to God, across the nations, all for the Glory of God.

The well noted quote from John Piper reads; “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church, Worship is. Missions exist because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate and not man.”

As we begin this series, we need to ask the question; what is worship?

Recently I was emailed the results of a survey that was taken amongst people looking for a new church to attend. Amazingly 74% of the respondents say they look for “style of service”. What does that mean? We use terms like; contemporary, traditional, seeker friendly, attractional and even orthodox. Obviously two of the major “style” considerations are preaching and singing. Does the preacher wear jeans or a suit? Does the preacher use relevant applications to the text? Does he use the text at all? Do we sing from hymnals or screens? Is there a choir, band, orchestra, and in many large churches today, you have to have laser lights and smoke machines?

Sadly; what it shows is that the worship service seems to be more about our preferences than what it really is about – worshipping God

Worship is by definition what we give worth to. We are all by nature worshippers, we all give value to something. We give value to many things; bank accounts, houses, land, family and much more. All of these things are not bad, but when we give these things more value than we give to our Heavenly Father, then we are guilty of idolatry.

Take some time to think about that, what would someone who knows you well say that you give worth to?

What would an outside observer of our church say that we give worth to?

The essence of the Christian life is giving worth to God above everything else. God is to be valued and worshipped above all else in our lives.

Jesus broke so many structures when he came to live here on earth. By his death on the cross and his resurrection he removed the Old Testament methods and rituals of worship. The veil to the Holy of Holies was torn and all people now have access to God through Jesus the spotless Lamb of God. Jesus spoke about this shift that was to come in the account of the woman at the well that we read in John 4:4-26.

Jesus was explaining to this woman that a new era of worship was being ushered in. In the Old Testament we know that there were strict instructions given in the Law that Moses received from God about the style and the format of worship. But as we read the New Testament, you will notice that there is a remarkable lack of instruction and format prescribed for the worship service of the church. In fact, the translated Hebrew word for worship is virtually absent from the New Testament. Why is that? The New Testament church that began in Jerusalem did not have a set of rules or Order of Service that we are instructed to follow.

The key to answering that question is in what Jesus said to this woman, in verses 23 and 24; “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Remember the words of Jesus in Mark 11:17; when he is chasing away the temple traders; “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations”, quoting the prophet Isaiah.

Jesus was turning the focus and attention away from the outward acts of the Jewish sacrificial system and directing their focus towards a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. Worship doesn’t have to have a building or a temple and a series of sacrifices, it has to have faith in the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

True worship takes place within; the Bible says that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). We do not go to worship, but we are to live lives that are constantly worshipping God. That means that worship must be happening before we go to church on a Sunday morning.

 Sometimes we go about our day to day lives, we get so busy running the rat race, we drift further and further in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Our lives grow cold to the things of the Spirit, then we come to church expecting to experience God and it feels dull and lifeless. My friends, the problem is not the church, the problem is that we are not worshipping God every day. The experience of the heart is the indispensable essence of worship.

Vaughan Roberts wrote; “Are you gripped by the mercy of God? If not, you will never worship Him. An understanding of God’s mercy to us is the fuel that energizes and empowers our worship in all parts of life.”

It is all about a relationship with God that fuels our worship, that relationship is only available through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ the risen lord.

Do you know and worship God this way?

Lessons from the life of King David part 3 April 17, 2016

2 Samuel 6

King David 3 Title.2-01 Shortly after establishing his palace in Jerusalem, David decided to retrieve the Ark of the Lord and bring it to Jerusalem. The ark was the most sacred symbol that Israel had, it was the presence of God.

An illustration of the Ark of the Covenant(istock/thinkstock)

Amongst other items it contained the stone tablets of the law that Moses received on mt Sinai. It represented the promises and the blessing of God. The Ark had been separated from the tabernacle and the place of worship for 100 years, it had been captured by the Philistines, and after being moved around it ended up at a place called Kiriath-Jearim. ark-mapDavid had established Jerusalem as the political capital of the nation, but now he wanted it to be the religious capital, he would do this by building a tabernacle and setting the Ark of the Covenant in it on mt Zion.

In his eagerness to retrieve the ark of God, David made a big mistake and it cost young Uzzah his life. David did not ask God what he should do, he asked his military leaders and advisers. His actions were brash and impulsive and it had consequences.

God had given strict instructions for the moving of the Ark, it was to be carried by the priests by putting poles through the rings on the sides of the ark. David reasoned that the 10 miles to Jerusalem were too far to carry the ark so he had the ark put on a new cart. The oxen stumbled and young Uzzah reached out to stabilize it, but Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah and he died. This reaction by God offends us, it doesn’t seem fair. David was angry, but note the Bible doesn’t say that he was angry at God. After a time of reflection Verse 9 tells us that David was afraid of God (Proverbs 9:10).

He realized his mistake, and realized that he had acted out of his own desires and not according to the will of God. With our post-modern reasoning, we struggle to see why God would kill someone for attempting to save the ark from falling. But it serves as a reminder to us, just as it was a reminder to David, God is an all Holy God. He sets up boundaries for our own good. If we try to do things our own way, we are going to face disaster. Because God set the rules for how the ark is to be transported, if he did not punish Uzzah, He would not be true to himself (note Hebrews 12:28).

The Bible is our instruction manual. If we decide to do things our own way and try to bend the rules, we will suffer the consequences. Follow the plan, follow the map that God has for us, it is for our own good.

In fear David decides to leave the ark at the house of Obed Edom a Gittite. But after three months of blessing, David hears that Obed is getting blessed and he wants that for the Jerusalem. It is obvious in the three months of reflection that David has repented and done some research, because this time as we read in 1 Chronicles, he gathers 862 priests and Levites who have been consecrated before the Lord, rather than his army and he instructs them to carry the ark in the appropriate way. Notice their caution, they take 6 steps and stop, and when all seems good, David sacrifices a bull and a fattened calf. How different to the 1st attempt.

Then the party began. David took off his royal robe as king and put on a priestly garment. David dances before the Lord with all his might, the word used for dancing here only appears here in the Bible and describes a whirling or a spinning dancing. David must have literally been giddy with joy. He probably spun and stumbled, laughed and continued. He danced with total abandon, he was not concerned with public opinion, he was worshipping the Lord the holy God of Israel.

http://www.biblicalartist.net/Davidarkfr38%20(2).jpg

True worship comes out of a heart of humility. David humbled himself in the eyes of man in order to see God.

People look for an outward appearance but God looks at our hearts, what is your heart posture before the Lord?

As they brought the ark into Jerusalem David offered more sacrifices to God and then blessed everyone with cakes of raisins and dates, a loaf of bread and then sends them home so that they can celebrate together as families. This was a day to remember and David wanted to ensure that they told this story to each other at home around a meal.

David also goes to his home, and he is probably still dancing a bit, he is full of joy and excitement, but he is in for a shock. His wife is there to meet him at the door…..

Michal despises David. In her eyes, he is the enemy of her late father Saul. Theirs was not healthy marriage, David won her as a battle prize, even though Michal loved David initially, she was not a good partner for him.

As David grew in favor and fame in the land, Michal began to hate him. She did not have any understanding of his love for God and his worship. She wanted David to act like her father did, but David had the heart of a worshipper, he Loved God with all his heart and soul and all his strength.

David understood that he was king only because of God’s blessings. He was not going to allow pride a foothold in his life. He intentionally humbled himself in order to bring Glory to God.

But Michal didn’t understand, she despised David.

When true worship arises, it provokes. True worship provokes, because the observer is convicted of their own lack of worship. This is not about worship style or music style, this is about worship, true worship before an all holy God. Whenever someone has an encounter of the living God, and their lives are transformed, they get a glimpse of the Glory and beauty of the all Holy Creator, and their lives are radically changed. But, this leads to a lifestyle of worship. This lifestyle provokes their friends and family. It makes them uncomfortable because they know that they are supposed to worship God, but they are not willing to humble themselves before God. So what do you do when you don’t want to humble yourself? You act like Michal and try to bring the worshipper down, slander and criticize. True worship will always provoke.

We have the misconception that worship is only singing, but it is so much more than that. Worship is not entertainment, or a style of music or even a particular instrument. We don’t come to be entertained, we come to put God first.

True worship is a lifestyle. We worship God by placing Him first, by loving him with all our heart and soul and strength. We worship God by living sacrificially, by giving sacrificially, by not caring what other people think of us.

Let us live lives of worship that provoke others to want to know the reason for our joy and love.

True worship of God provokes, does your life provoke others to want to know Jesus?

He is Alive – Resurrection Sunday March 27 2016

Easter Slide Title.2

Matthew 28:1-10

Have you ever been witness to a very important event? Something that when you saw it unfold, you somehow knew that this was history being made. For many of us in America the closest we came to this was witnessing the events of 9/11 unfold on our TV screens.

The course of history changes in a moment. Sometimes we can see the change coming like a building storm, and sometimes history changes in a moment of terror or a natural disaster.

For the disciples that first Easter morning started out as another sad day, just like the day before. They probably woke up and then as the fog of the night cleared their minds, they were faced with the reality that Jesus was dead.  Their Rabbi and master was dead, and they had left everything for him, what would they do now?

And as they slowly begin to wake up on that first day of the week, another earthquake occurs. Can you imagine their fear and anxiety?

Mary Magdelene and Mary the mother of Joses, who we read about in Matthew 26, were boldly walking to the tomb early in the morning. Unlike the rest of the disciples, they wanted to see Jesus’ body one last time. When they saw the angel, they were scared, but the angel quickly calms their fears and tells them not to be afraid, but to come and see the empty tomb.

The angel gives them instructions, and the Bible tells us that they left the tomb quickly “with fear and great joy” (v8). What a strange combination of emotions, but their faith overcame their fear. They had faith that Jesus was alive, their faith that took them to the open tomb that morning. The other disciples who were overcome with fear and anguish had missed out, but the Lord rewarded the faith of the two women.

But as they hurry back to the other disciples, Jesus met them on the way. They see the risen Lord, what a reward for their faith. Imagine being the first person in recorded history to see Jesus in his resurrected form.

As they see him and hear his voice. Jesus simply greets them, and that one word must have brought immeasurable peace to them. They heard the voice of the risen Lord. It was a familiar voice. It was the same voice that called them out of darkness into light.

As soon as they heard his voice, they came to him and clasped his feet and worshipped him. These two women were the first to see the resurrected Lord, and their immediate response was to fall down and worship him.

Note also that they clasped his feet, they weren’t gripping a ghost, or a mere apparition.

Then Jesus begins to speak to them and immediately calms their fears. Then he begins to give them instructions, he gives them the responsibility of spreading the word. Don’t miss this, God is a missionary God, he uses people to spread the good news. We know Matthew 28 for the Great Commission which Jesus gives his disciples just 8 verses later on in this chapter. But this is the first commissioning. Jesus takes these two women, women of faith and he commissions them with the Good news that he is alive

We read in verse 11, that the women went on their way, they obeyed Jesus.

So we have a progression;

  • They saw Jesus
  • They heard his voice
  • They worshipped him
  • They obeyed him.

This is also a description of what takes place when we meet Jesus the risen Lord.

Firstly we see Jesus by seeing his body. People see Jesus by encountering the true church of Jesus Christ, people who have died to themselves and are living wholeheartedly for the Glory of Jesus Christ. The question we need to ask ourselves, are we representing Jesus in such a way that when people look at us they see Jesus?

Secondly, as we encounter Jesus, we hear his voice by the Holy Spirit and we respond to him. The first response is to declare him as Lord, to recognize that Jesus is the Son of God.

Thirdly, the natural response to making Jesus Lord of our lives, is to worship him. Just like those ladies on the first resurrection Sunday, we will fall at his feet and worship him. We worship by singing praises, we worship by reading and meditating on his word, we worship by giving to his work and we worship by giving our time to serve him. Are you worshipping him today?

Finally after we have encountered the risen Lord, and heard his voice, out of a lifestyle of worship will come a response of obedience to his call. Jesus is calling each and every one of us to obey him. Some are called to a life of being a marketplace missionary, others are called to being an evangelist in their neighborhood introducing people to Jesus the risen Lord, others are called to being a missionary in a foreign country and some are called to train up children in the ways of the Lord, raising up the next generation of followers of Jesus.

Do you know what Jesus is telling you to do? If not, maybe you need to return to the place of true worship, not simply singing songs. Falling on your face before him and gripping his feet in desperation.

If you don’t know what it is to truly worship him, the risen Lord, then maybe you haven’t heard his voice. Maybe you need to see Jesus. Maybe you encountered Jesus a long time ago, but your relationship with him has grown cold. Come back to him today, listen to his voice, he is calling you, bow down and worship him.

Jesus is alive. Our human response is the same as the two women, we are afraid, and it seems overwhelming, but Jesus goes on to give a promise (Matthew 28:20b).

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, we have nothing to hold on to. The Bible is an empty document and cannot be the living word of God. The bodily resurrection of Jesus is what determines our salvation, it is our hope of glory. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know that he has conquered death and that by placing our trust and faith in him we are assured of salvation and eternal life. Because of the resurrection, all the promises of God’s word are true! And we can stand on those promises.