Tag Archives: worship

Don’t Worship the Faucet!

03faucet-running-water-lgnShortly after World War I, Lawrence of Arabia took several of his greatest men to visit Paris.    When they were about to leave the grand hotel at which they were staying, Lawrence found his men attempting to pull the faucets out of the wall!  Lawrence was confused and asked what the men were doing.  The men responded: “If we could bring these faucets back to our desert land, we could have all the water we desire!”  These men clearly had an appreciation for water, but they had an unhealthy and illogical appreciation for the means by which it was transferred – the conduit if you will.

Many Christians know they have access to the “water” Christ offers (see John 4), but many of us seem to make a much bigger deal about the conduit(s) through which the water comes.  In other words, we tend to worship the faucet!  We rave about our church; we gush about our pastor; we are quick to tell what a talented, wonderful worship leader we have.  But Jesus – the one who gives the church significance, the one who the pastor and worship leader are there to serve, the cornerstone on which “Christianity” is built – we don’t make nearly as big of a deal about him!

To The Church

Most Christians love and appreciate the local assembly of believers in which God has placed them.  Scripturally, they should.  In fact, Christ loved the church so much that He died for it! (Ephesians 5:25)  But I believe far too many believers have an unhealthy, illogical, and unscriptural appreciation for the church.  How?  By worshipping it and loving it more than they love Christ.  Christians must realize that Jesus is Christ is the water, and the church is only the faucet.  The faucet is important, but, without the water, is meaningless.

When you last walked through the front doors of your church, what was your primary purpose?  Connecting with friends?  Christian fellowship?  These can be by-products of church attendance, but neither should be our purpose.

When you were talking to a friend, co-worker, or first-time visitor and explaining how great your church was, did you emphasize the groups, clubs, and activities offered to children?  Or did you emphasize Christ?  Youth groups are great avenues to reach the next generation; children’s clubs can be used to effectively teach boys and girls about the things of God.  But in the list you rattle off when touting what makes your church different or noteworthy, where do spirit-filled worship and Christ-exalting preaching rank?  Are you worshipping the faucet?

To Church Leadership

The culture in which we live encourages idolization of athletes, movie stars, singers – well, everyone really.  Unintentionally, some church members idolize their pastor and put him in a place that should be reserved only for Jesus Christ.  Unfortunately (and I hope unintentionally!), some leaders encourage this unscriptural practice by their words and actions.  The Jehovah God of the Bible is a jealous God – one who does not share the glory only he deserves. (Exodus 20:5)

A pastor or staff member placing himself in Christ’s rightful place or a congregant doing so of their own volition is a practice that can only end in disappointment and defeat for all involved.  And no matter the cause, we must remember that our ultimate affection should be reserved only for Christ himself.  To use the words of John the Baptist in John 3, the pastor and staff should strive to be a “friend of the bridegroom.”  Jesus alone is the bridegroom.  He is the water; they are but a faucet.

Christian: before you next enter the sanctuary, consciously acknowledge to God why you are there.  Spend a few moments in prayer asking the Lord to use the singing, giving, and preaching to reveal himself to you.

Pastor, staff, and Sunday School teacher: before you mount the pulpit or begin that next lesson, make sure you understand who the listeners should be talking about when you finish.  Better yet, as you prepare, ask the Lord to reveal exactly how you can emphasize Christ in your lesson or sermon.  Get out of the way, and give people the water!

 

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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Who Would Carry You?

It is a sad commentary on Christianity that so many Christians stand opposed to their brothers and sisters in the faith. We have lost sight of the power God has given over our friends. We have allowed the world, flesh, and devil to keep our eyes focused on ourselves and we miss an opportunity to be a blessing.

In Matthew, Mark, and Luke we find a retelling of mighty faith that impressed Jesus. We find a man who was afflicted with palsy. We are not told the severity of his case, but in many cases a person has no ability to move. They are, in effect, paralyzed.

Jesus had come to Capernaum, and there was a great crowd of people who came to hear him. There were so many people there that the doors and windows were packed with people. The crowd pressed to hear Jesus. Into this crowd we see four men carrying a paralyzed man on a cot. We do not know the distance they had traveled, but they were there on a mission: to get the paralyzed man to Jesus.

We know that they tried to get into the house every possible way. They could not get through the door or windows. In desperation, they went to the roof and cut away a hole and lowered this man down.

Can you imagine the dust and debris that rained upon those in the house? This paralyzed man had just made a dramatic entrance. He now laid at the foot of Jesus. In the retelling of the event in four Gospels, we find the same response from Jesus: “When He saw their faith…” Not the faith of the crowd. Not the faith of the religious leaders present. Not the faith of the paralyzed man. When He saw ‘their faith’ He said, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”

Let me stop and say that nowhere in the Bible do I see that my faith in Christ is enough to get someone else to Heaven; however, we cannot overlook the power of the faith in Christ that these four men exercised. The Bible speaks as to the rarity of these men.

Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?  Proverbs 20:6

I think that many times we think that our Christian life is one we must walk alone. We do our best to be a man of faith. We are able to accomplish some things for God, but for some reason we just cannot seem to get where God wants us to be. I believe the key is having friends of faith. A paralyzed man was healed because he had friends of faith. He could not go to Christ. Upon meeting Christ he could probably not speak. The one thing that he had in his favor was four friends of faith. Four friends who did not give up when the task seemed impossible. Four friends who did not quit, in spite of the stare of their peers. For friends who made quite a racket getting their friend to Jesus.

I believe to have friends of faith that we must be a friend of faith.

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.  Proverbs 18:24

We have many brothers in Christ, but how few friends of faith. I think that this verse may be applying to those friends.

As Christians I think you would agree that we have an obligation to be a man of faith. I think that, that goes further. I believe God would have us be a friend of faith. We should be someone who takes their faith in God and uses it to help others. Do you have a friend that you are there for? Are you willing to take up their cot, and help them in their faith? We all struggle at times in our life, but what would God allow with four friends of faith working with you? How much stronger would our marriages, homes, and churches be if they were filled with men who had four friends of faith? I fear we are in a place where we do not know.

We have not, because we have asked not. 

The power of four friend’s faith was enough for Christ to heal him enough so that withered limbs received strength and he walked. What is God waiting to do for us, but for the lack of friends of faith? Who will carry you?

Article by David Wagner

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A New Perspective on God’s Sovereign Immutability

Our Traditional Understanding

Our basis for this doctrine is Malachi 3:6 which states: “For I am the LORD, I change not;”  And our traditional understanding of God’s sovereign immutability is based on history.  We look at what God did in the past – how He forgave David and Peter, how He overcame incredible odds for the children of Israel in Egypt and for Daniel, how He was faithful for Job, Joseph, Jeremiah, and John – and we relate this to the present.  We believe that if God made a conditional promise and we meet the condition, then we can be assured of the promise.  We believe that every truth, Old Testament and New, is still just as true today.

This traditional understanding is by no means wrong.  In fact, it is THE bedrock principle of the Christian faith.  For, if God could change, none of His promises would mean anything!  As Charles H. Spurgeon put it, God does not change in at least six ways: 1) in His essence, 2) in His attributes, 3) in His plans, 4) in His promises, 5) in His threatening, or 6) in the objects of His love.  These principles are important.  But I have realized this truth is bigger, deeper, and more amazing than this.

A New Perspective

Bible doctrines are much like a globe.  When you change your vantage point, the globe obviously does not change, but you see something different.  Similarly, as I have grown older – as I have encountered peaks and valleys – I have seen new facets of many biblical gems.  Some recent challenges my friends have faced have made me reconsider all that immutability truly means.  I have seen a pastor friend lose his father to suicide; I have seen a young lady whose husband served on a church staff deal with the death of that husband in a car accident; and I witnessed a youth pastor friend lose a four-month-old son to heart failure a few days ago.

In talking to these people, in watching the way they relied on God’s grace, in trying my best to be a help and a comfort, I realized something.  The God we serve is absolutely and unquestionably the same today as He was before all three of these events.  The “new perspective” on God’s immutability that I have seen is more “personal” than “historical.”  It is this:

In each of our lives, no matter what happens, the great God we serve deserves our worship because He has not and will not change!

I believe this aspect of God’s sovereign immutability is exemplified in Job 1:21b: “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

He Is Not More Worthy of Praise When Things Go Right

When you have an answer to prayer, when you get that promotion, or when you see God work in a special way in the life of a loved one, you may feel like worshipping Him more than before.  This, however, does not mean He is more worthy of your worship.  Why?  Because if He were “more worthy” afterward, it would mean He was “less worthy” before!  As coarse as this might seem, the simple fact that I had something great happen to me has no impact on the greatness, righteousness, or love of God.  So I must endeavor to serve Him faithfully because of who He is, not what He gives.

He Is Not Less Worthy of Praise When Things Go Wrong

The opposite is just as true.  If you lose your job, God is no less Jehovah-Jireh – the LORD who provides.  If your loved one receives devastating news from the doctor, God is no less Jehovah-Rapha – the LORD who heals.  If life has you confounded and afraid, God is still Jehovah-Shalom – the LORD our peace.  And if your faith waivers or if you fall into sin, God is still Jehovah-Tsidkenu – the LORD our righteousness!

As I stopped to consider the “events” I noted above, and as I attempted to reconcile them with my understanding of God . . . something in my mind changed.  But NOTHING about God changed!  He is still just as good; He is still just as worthy; He is still just as holy.  He is still God!

 

 

 

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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The Cause & Effect of True Worship

Worship today has become many things. How can a person know if what they are doing is true worship? I would like you to look with me at John 12:1-3. We have here all the elements of true worship.

Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. John 12:1-3

First of all we see Martha, and she is busy about preparing the meal. No doubt this was an important task. If no one prepared the meal than no meal would have been served. However service is not worship. During our service for God we are busy, hurried, and usually a bit stressed. We serve God to edify the brethren, and reach the lost. Service is a necessary part of our Christian life, but it is not worship.

Secondly we see Lazarus who had many things to be thankful for. He is at the table with Jesus. The table is were we communicate with Jesus. I am talking about personal prayer and Bible reading. These are important things for how can we give that which we have not received. It is impossible to serve Jesus without first spending time with Him. However our personal walk with God is not worship. It is needful, but does not constatue worship.

Last of all we have Mary. She is engaging in true worship. The first clue that we have is that her worship is directed towards Jesus. She is not standing like Martha, or sitting lie Lazarus. She is at the feet of the one for whom she is worshiping. According to tradition of the time Jesus would have had His feet washed when He entered into the house. Still we find her worship is at his feet. She is not there to be seen of others, or to have others see her. She is at his feet to humble herself. There can be no true worship without humbling yourself. Worship is not what you get, but what you give.

The gift of worship for Mary was a very expensive oil. Her true worship cost her something. Worship is all about giving something precious to the person being worshiped. Pagans sacrificed their children in order to worship their gods. Thankfully God does not want any part of that. We have gotten away from the idea of worship costing us. In the Old Testament sacrifices were made up of things that carried a cost. Since we can not wash Jesus feet with oil today what can we do? We must humble ourselves. We must give the living sacrifice as spoken of in Romans 12. We present Jesus with our hearts. Our heart is

deceitful and wicked as Jeremiah tells us. It is our heart however that He wants. We worship by humbling ourselves, and offering Jesus our hearts.

The effect of the worship was instantaneous. The whole room was full of the oder. Not everyone was pleased, but everyone noticed that Jesus had been worshiped. The effect of worship benefited Mary longer than it benefited Jesus. He would leave the house and walk in dusty streets, and she would bind back up her hair. The oder of the oil must have stayed with her for weeks.

While Jesus hung on the cross for her sins the effects of her worship were still on her.

True worship has a lasting effect. If its over before you get home from Church it probably was not worship. If you felt good, but He was not involved than it probably was not worship. If you watched others, but did not participate for you it was not worship.

As for the long term effect of true worship. Worship causes us to long to sit at the table like Lazarus. Our time with God a precious part of our day. Sitting at the table causes us to raise and serve. Our service not out of duty, but as a lasting effect of worship.

The next time you go to “worship” make sure you are prepared. The more you humble yourself, and give the more you will receive. Do not miss out on the blessing of true worship.

Article by David Wagner

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Getting Ready for Worship

It never fails; Sunday mornings always seem to follow a similar routine. We forgot to set the alarm, I can’t find any matching socks, what my wife planned to wear isn’t clean, my daughter can’t find her shoes, and the list goes on and on. What starts out as an eventful morning of chaos often ends with the lingering of frustration, aggravation and annoyance. Is it ever like this in your household too?

Chaos is part of life. Going back to Genesis 3 we can see how chaos became part of the natural order of life. When God created the world everything was perfect, but sin entered into the world and chaos began. After Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden death ensued. Chaos brings death.

According to the second law of thermodynamics, energy burns out; and left unaided, it produces not a greater amount of energy but less. In a sense nothing is getting better, but worse. This is why clothes fade, metal rusts, and Sunday mornings in my home are destined to be chaotic if left unaided. Yes, chaos brings death.

If worship can be defined as loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and spirit, then chaos has a way of deteriorating anything that is good. That is why these little issues have the likelihood of ruining our worship. Simply put, when my morning starts out this way my mind becomes distracted as frustration and anger crowds my heart. I tend to lose focus of God and when my heart should be turned toward Him but isn’t, the result is often less than pleasing to God. What I end up bringing to God in worship is far less than what it could have been because I wasn’t ready for worship.

Getting ready for worship involves so much more than dressing ourselves and making it to church on time. What good is it to prepare ourselves on the outside only to ignore what should be taking place on the inside? Jesus had some harsh words for the Pharisees of his day who did exactly that. He said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt. 23:27-28).

So as not to provoke the Lord to anger, I have determined a few practical steps that can be taken to get ready for worship.

Prepare yourself spiritually.
I wonder how eager you are on a typical Sunday morning to get up and go to church? Do you lie in bed wishing you could stay longer or do you hop right out eager to meet with God’s saints in praise of the King?

Okay, so maybe it is a struggle to get out of bed any morning but I think you get the idea. Many people make the Lord’s day a holiday rather than a holy day (I stole that phrase from someone recently) and would prefer to go fishing or shopping. It isn’t that they don’t want to get up; it’s that they don’t want to get up and go to church. It’s a problem of the spirit.

David said, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD’” (Ps. 122:1). You can practically feel his excitement. If you lack the same then perhaps your heart needs tending to. I fear that one of the most overlooked aspects of worship is preparing the heart to worship God.

If you or your family are not already in the routine of preparing yourselves spiritually for worship by praying and spending time together in the Word you would be quite surprised at how much this can change your attitude. Set some time aside Saturday night and ask the Lord to prepare your hearts to bring him worship. And on Sunday mornings, sometime before leaving the driveway, pray together and ask God to bless your worship; that it might be pleasing and honorable to him.

Prepare yourself mentally.
The Apostle Paul said, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom. 12:1). Our motivation to worship God should be found in His mercies which are everlasting.

Our manner of worship should be to present ourselves as living and holy sacrifices. In baseball when a batter gives up a hit to advance another player on base it is called a sacrifice. He gets that it’s not about him but the bigger picture – winning the game! Likewise, to present yourself as an acceptable worshiper means to surrender what is important to you and focus on the bigger picture – which is God.

Though Sunday falls at the beginning of the week, it often feels like the end of the week – a long week, perhaps. If you find that life has been dragging you down or your mind is crowded with worry and stress, give it up to God. Again, pray that God would clear your mind and heart and help to put him at the number one position. Only then can you really be mentally prepared to worship the King.

Prepare yourself physically.
I chose this section last because it is often the one we focus on the most. Why do we spend so much time cleaning up the outside when we should be more concerned with the heart, which is what God sees? The physical should be the easiest to manage, and should require the least of our effort and a minimal amount of time. I have included some quick tips to help make this possible:

  • Set a reminder to go off every Saturday to help you set your alarm clock.
  • Give yourself plenty of time of time to have a shower, eat breakfast and get dressed.
  • Choose what you will wear the night before and if you have little ones, go ahead and set out their clothing for the next day to ease preparation time.
  • Make sure Bibles and other materials are in a proper place to eliminate time searching.
  • Are there any others you could add to this list?

Jesus said to the woman at the well, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (Jn. 4:23). When you get ready for worship each day/week, where do you spend the most time preparing – is it the physical? If so, look for ways that you can worship God in spirit and truth, and when you find what works best for you, share it here so that others might benefit from your findings.

Article by Michael Waits

@michaelwaits

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