“Our blessed Lord reveals himself to his people more in the valleys, in the shades, in the deeps, than he does anywhere else. He has a way and an art of showing himself to his children at midnight, making the darkness light by his presence.” ~ Charles Spurgeon
Picture this: You’ve worked 50 hours this week; you’re stressed to the hilt. You hop on a plane to a deserted beach where you can don beach wear and lay out on the beach for hours without interruption. There’s a cool breeze, only the sound of sea gulls and the ocean. Are you there?
Well, that’s what Sunday school was like today – refreshing. Pastor Adam took us to Psalm 50 written by Asaph, one of the men back in Bible times that were in charge of the worship service. He gives us an excellent listing of what true worship is. Churches today have lost their zeal, a passion for God that they once had. They’ve turned into social clubs that offer their own form of praise and worship contrary to what God tells us in His Word. It’s not enough to just say they’re social clubs and we need to change to gain God’s blessings. We need to know what true worship is. We certainly don’t want to eliminate fellowshipping with God’s people, but that’s not why we go to church, though it makes it very enjoyable to be around and interact with fellow believers.
(vs. 1-4) “The mighty God, even the LORD, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.” Our God calls to His world from morning to night shining on us with His perfect beauty, full of might and majesty. He alone will judge our worship, whether it bring Him glory or fall short of what He has deemed right and good. We need to be in awe of His deity, for He is the ever present, almighty God. True worship springs from our respect and fear of our awesome God.
(vs 5-6) “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.” Those of us who are saved have an obligation to worship our living God for He judges in truth those of us who claim to be of God. Only God can judge our worship to be acceptable.
The first sacrifice, Cain’s offering from the garden, was not accepted because it did not meet God’s requirements of true, pure worship. Our worship will displease God and lose for us His bountiful blessings of God if we do not have the right attitude of reverence in our offering. Gen. 4:3-5 “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”
(vs. 7-15) “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me. I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” God won’t ask more than we are able to give; He’s more concerned about our heart condition and thoughts of Him. If we are genuine and desire to worship Him correctly, He’ll accept our worship and bless us through it. We have no right to offer what WE think is acceptable, especially since He outlines in His Word what exactly we must do. Here is the list of what true, pure worship is. Anything less is rejected:
1. Thanksgiving for all He does – longsuffering, goodness, blessings, direction, etc.
2. Faithfulness in our daily living
3. God centeredness in our thoughts and actions
4. Giving God the glory in our thoughts and actions
(vs. 16-19) “But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother’s son. ” Here we learn how NOT to be. God contrasts true worship with the actions of wicked who have no desire to worship Him. Here’s the rest of our list of how to worship God we glean from reading the list of the ways of the wicked.
5. Declare God’s statutes – declare who He is and what He requires for salvation
6. Love His Instruction – love obeying Him and listening to His direction
7. Spend your time with others who love Him, be loyal and love truth
(21-23) “These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.” We will experience God’s blessing in our churches and personal life if we worship Him according to His direction. This is missing in many churches, and perhaps is the reason many are no longer in existence. Unfortunately ministries have become idols. We lift up the ministry, or our church agendas, above the needs of the people and even God Himself. What are we doing? Isn’t it all about Christ? Only a return to true worship and the acknowledgment of the awesomeness of God will bring our churches back to a place where we are pleasing God. Only then will be experience the blessings of God in our churches and personal life. How does your worship line up?
I ran across the Redland Baptist Church web site as I was searching the Internet for sermons on gossip for my posting below. Check out Pastor Mark Adam’s sermon on suffering here.
Sermon by Mark Adams, Redland Baptist Church, 1997
Scripture: James 3:1-12
Washington Irving said, “A sharp tongue is the only edge tool that grows keener with constant use.“
1. Perhaps the most common way in which the tongue hurts is when it is used for gossip.
GOSSIP is saying negative things about a person when they are not present. It can also involve the telling of a truth that does not need to be told for the purpose of hurting someone. Sometimes gossip involves simply asking questions like, “Is George faithful to his wife?” Sometimes we gossip by saying nothing when we hear things that we know are not true and say nothing to correct them. We also promote gossip by simply listening to it. Remember, there can be no gossip if there are no listening ears. Why is Gossip so destructive? It spreads uncontrollably and warps the truth.
2. The tongue can do damage through slander.
This is defined as saying negative things about someone else in their presence. The word “SLANDER” literally means “ripping of flesh”. When applied to speech it is a put down–intentionally hurting someone with the words you say about them.
3. The tongue can do damage through lies and exaggerations.
A local church body cannot be healthy if lying is a common practice within its membership. Ephesians 4:25 – “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” If your body worked in this deceitful way, it wouldn’t be long before it was no longer functioning. And the same is true of the church. When we don’t put away truthless-ness, people become afraid to reach out; they don’t know whom to trust.
4. The tongue can do damage through grumbling and complaining.
Even when we try to resist being influenced by such negativism, we find some of it rubbing off. This passing around of the poison of pessimism happens every day, and it steals our joy. (Philippians 2:14-15; Luke 6:45)
This sermon was edited for brevity. You can read the original sermon in its entirety here.
“Reveal not every secret you have to a friend, for how can you tell but that friend may hereafter become an enemy. And bring not all mischief you are able to upon an enemy, for he may one day become your friend.“ – Saadi (1184 – 1291)
Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth’s rite of passage?
His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone no matter what happens. Once he survives the night, he is considered a MAN.
He cannot tell the other boys of this experience because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. He knows wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blows and shakes the trees nearby, but he must sit stoically, never removing the blindfold. It is the only way he can become a man in the eyes of his tribe.
After a horrific night, the sun finally appears and he is allowed to remove his blindfold. Only then does he discover that his father was sitting on the stump next to him. The father watches the entire night, protecting his son from harm.
We need to realize that as believers, like that boy, we are never alone. “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” II Corinthians 5:7
I’ve given a lot of thought this past year about “performance based Christianity.” You know, the thought that how I present myself, whether it be in how I dress, what I do, or what I say, makes me more spiritual. Through reasoning, we would say, “Of course not.” But do we really believe that? Do our actions bely the fact that we have a right perspective on this issue? Our walk doesn’t make us more spiritual, but our spiritual maturity, or basically, how we love God, does dictate our walk. It may reflect who we are, but it isn’t WHO WE ARE.
I asked my son a couple of days ago, “When you look into the mirror, are you seeing yourself?” Of course he said, “Yes.” But then I corrected him. I told him it was not him, but only a reflection of himself.
In Sunday school this last week we discussed the Law again and it’s function in our lives. The point was made that the Law is like a photograph. We can look at it, cherish it, even be in awe of how good a likeness it is. But no matter how good or lifelike it is, it still cannot replace the real thing – that person who means so much to us. So, a photo is good; it points to the one we love, but will never comfort us or keep us warm at night. Like the mirror, it is only a reflection of the real thing.
It is unfortunate, like many New Testament saints, that we cling to the Law as if it were our salvation, forgetting it is only there to reflect our depravity. Why would any of us want to cling to a picture when we can have the real thing? Christ is our salvation, the Law is only a tool. To cling to our keeping of the Law, or in this case, our standards, as a means of spiritual maturity, we cling to something that is insufficient. We need to cling to Christ, not to the tool that pointed us to Christ.
Galatians 4:4-11 “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”
Christ came to fulfil the Law and satisfied all the requirements under the Law. Since we are known of God, we no longer need to look to the Law which binds us. Rather, we need to look to Christ who sets us free. Like the author of these verses, we wonder if those who hold to the Law truly know Christ, for why would anyone want the Law when they have Him?
I will continue to keep my standards high, not because I hope people will regard me as spiritually mature, but because I want to point others to the Savior. I don’t want to point to myself, but to Him. Those who maintain their standards to gain respect and admiration are misusing the Law just like some NT saints did and are not honoring Christ. We need to remember, it’s not about us.
I bet Ralph Waldo Emerson didn’t know he was describing blogging when he said, “A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud.”
“Thank You,” to my friends and family for considering my “thinking out loud” to be interesting enough to read. You put the float in my boat.
But just as quickly that joy faded and a painful dart hit my heart. These are my friends who I miss dearly that I used to see every day. We’ve shared so much but all of a sudden I can’t share in their life like I used to. That’s how life is sometimes. We love, we enjoy, we cherish, and then they’re gone out of our lives as quickly as they came in.
Where would we be without those who so impact our lives and change us? God has been good to place people in our lives that enlarge our hearts and give us such cherished memories.
I look forward to heaven where we’ll never have to say goodbye. I miss you Jamie.