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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Worship: Transcendent of time and culture

In every culture of every age there has always been worship.  Worship may seemingly be omnipresent, but the Bible tells us that the One, true and living Lord God is omnipresent and there is no place on this earth for man to hide from God.  2 Chronicles 16:9 starts by saying “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth,…  This verse describes for us the omnipresence of the Lord in anthropomorphic language, or the assigning of human characteristics to an attribute of God.  No one can be sure of whether or not our Lord has eyes, but this description certainly gives us good perspective of the Lord’s omnipresence.  God is the all powerful creator of this earth!  There is no need for the Lord to travel to Italy or Alaska.  The Lord, not only, sees everything, but is everywhere.  
Another passage regarding the omnipresence of God is found in the Psalms and is helpful for us to be able to relate a little more to the concept of God’s omnipresence.   Psalm 139:7-10: 

“Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if                                                                                                              I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”

God is omnipresent, and in a similar way, worship is also omnipresent, in the sense that anywhere on earth that a person goes, they can find some sort of worship.  It seems that you cannot get away from worship. In whatever country one finds them self, there is worship.  Music has a role in the worship of just about every religion, and whether the worship is towards God or demons.  Every culture has some form of music.  In some cultures, it could be simply beating on rocks and in others it could be the high-energy rock shows that seem to overcome that society. 
Let’s just narrow this down to today’s culture and look at a company that has made it their business to provide music everywhere we go.  Muzack is a company that started in the 30’s and their main goal was for everyone to be able to hear music, whether it be while they were shopping or at an amusement park, Muzack wanted people to hear their “product”.  From the start in the 30’s, Muzack and their researches develop music “environments”.  They realized the power and influence of music and have sold these musical environments to 470,000 businesses across the USA and businesses in 40 different foreign countries.  These music environments are created to target businesses that want to increase their employee’s motivation, concentration, and even lower their blood pressure, simply by the music. 
 Today’s technology enables everyone to have their music at their fingertips.  The first thing people do when they go for a walk or bike ride or even snowboarding, is put in the ear buds and turn the music on.  Music has a tremendous influence and it is so common and accessible to have music with you today that we seem to be forgetting how powerful a tool it is and that it’s being used by the devil to put believers in a complacent state in their walk with the Lord. 

Hebrews 5:9 “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”

One of the many things about God that can be learned from this verse is that God surpasses time.  God is the author of our eternal salvation and so, God is eternal and everlasting.  God is the creator of the whole heavenly and earthly realms and He is the same God gave Moses the Ten commandments, the same God that Daniel referred to as “The Most High God”, the same God that the Lord Jesus spoke of while he was on earth and the same God will be the judge of our lives on that final day in the future.  It’s plain to see that God is transcendent of time and in a similar way, music is also transcendent of time.  Ezekiel 26 and Isaiah 14 both contain the record of the fall of Lucifer and God says that one of the things that fell with Lucifer was his music.  Music was in heaven at the beginning and music was also involved when Moses came down after receiving the Ten Commandments.  There was music in Daniel’s day, Jesus and his disciples sang hymns and there will also be singing in eternity.  Music was in the very beginning and music will be present for eternity. 
In a closer more personal way in our lives, music is transcendent of time, in that, certain songs will bring back memories of childhood or an event from our past.  It seems only natural that we relate music to memories or important milestones through our life.  In that sense, music is powerful enough to bring us back to that time period in our lives, before we knew Christ as our savior or perhaps music was involved in our accepting Christ as our savior.  Most of what has happened in our past should be forgotten, and in Philippians chapter 3 beginning in verse 13b, Paul tells us that his goal was “…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”   Believers need to press toward the prize, and most of our memories, whether good or bad, do not have any effect on the present.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Beauty in Worship

Psalm 29:2 “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.”

Along with worshipping the Lord in Spirit and in truth, the Lord commands worship to be done in the beauty of holiness.  Earlier it was mentioned that Holy means to set apart and in any case of the Christian walk, believers need to set things apart unto the Lord.  This verse also tells us that there is a certain beauty to holiness.  The Lord is beautiful because of his holiness.  Most likely, there have been times in your life when you felt that something was harming you.  Whether it was a bad eating habit or TV, etc, and after realizing that something is harmful to your life, when that is taken away, there is a feeling of relief.  It’s a struggle at first to refrain from those harmful things, but after a little while, it becomes easier.  All believers need to refrain from certain things in their daily life and believers sometimes know in certain cases that separation will be good in the long run.  The apostle Paul uses the analogy of running a race in 1 Corinthians chapter 9.  Someone who is training to run the Boston marathon isn’t going to have cheesecake every night before bed.  That is probably the worst thing they can do for their body.  That person needs to, in a sense, be holy unto their training.  This needs to be expanded to every area of our life, because the Lord is the sustainer of all life and is worthy of our holiness towards him.  It’s amazing to even think that fallen humans can be holy to the Lord, since believers are fallen and sinful and all our righteousness’ are as filthy rags, according to Isaiah 64:6.  In some cases, we may think that it is impossible to give this area or that up to the Lord, but the scriptures remind us that the Lord does not command the impossible when He commands his children to be holy.  Philippians 4:13 promises us that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”     
Believers also need to make sure their worship is beautiful.  What is meant by this is that worship to the Lord needs to be beautiful because everything about the Lord is beautiful.  When worship is conducted in a way that is not beautiful, that diminishes the testimony of who God is and the way that He is to be approached.  Let’s think of a simple analogy and for the sake of this analogy, we’ll say that worship is likened to water.  Water can be poured into a glass and it takes the shape of that glass.  Water can also be poured into ice trays, frozen and turned into a solid.  Finally, water can be put over a heat source and turned into a gas.  All these are forms of the same substance.  Different situations demand the different forms of water.  Worship has not changed and therefore cannot take various forms like water can and there is one manual for worship and that is in the Bible.  It is saddening to know that believers and churches are trying to change the form of worship to suit the wants of the fallen, human nature.  God put forth in His Word how He is to be worshipped and there is no other form that He will accept.  Proverbs 15:8a tells us that “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD:…” It is my prayer that my worship is acceptable to the Lord.  Comparing this verse with Jeremiah 17:9, where the heart id desperately wicked, it is a very dangerous thing to approach the Almighty in a casual way.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Spiritual and Truthful worship

John 424 “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

I asked a good friend of mine what the most literal translation of John 4:24 was from the original Greek.  The most literal rendering of John 4:24 is as follows: "God is a spirit and the ones who are continually worshipping him must (it is necessary) continually worship in spirit and truth."  God is Spirit and therefore it is necessary for the worship of the believer to be in spirit and truth. 
Our God is a great God and is more than worthy of the worship that man can give.  Certainly the high priests understood that the offerings were to be the best of the cattle in the land and the way that the offering was to be conducted was certainly to be presented the best that they knew how, however, the Old Testament priests did not have John 4:24.  The Lord Jesus revealed this verse to us, so the worship that we bring to the Lord not only needs to be our best, but also needs to be yielded to the Holy Spirit and contain as much truth as possible, and not just our worship, our whole life needs to be yielded to the Holy Spirit and contain as much truth as possible.  Obviously, we are human and have that fleshly nature in us until we see Christ, but until then the Lord demands our reverent worship towards Him and our life and bodies to be yielded to Him.  If we are God’s children, then we need to have a distinction in the way we live and in every facet of life.  Our behavior needs to be different than the world’s behavior, our language needs to be different from the world’s language, the way we dress, the way we treat people and even the music we choose to listen to needs to be distinct from the world’s music.   Being different from the world is a testimony in itself for the Lord and the children of God should be willing to be different and distinct.  The worship that a true believer offers to God should be the closest in which a fallen human can portray the worship that will be experienced in eternity.   John 4:24 tells believers that worship to the Lord needs to be spiritual and truthful.  Worship that is not spiritual or truthful is not really worship at all, though it might feel like it or look like it.  There are requirements in the Bible of how the worship of God’s children needs to be done.  Any other ingredient added to, or detracted from God’s recipe for worship towards a Holy God, will only deplete that worship.   

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Holy Life

 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

The Bible tells us that the sacrifice that we present to the Lord needs to be our whole life, which also needs to be holy and acceptable.  Earlier in chapter 6, believers are told that each member of our body needs to be yielded as a sacrifice to our Lord and Savior. Hebrew 13:15 says “…let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.  Every facet of our life; behavior, speech, dress, attitudes, even our music needs to be yielded to the Lord when worshipping the Lord.  Music has such a powerful influence on people that it needs to be brought before the Lord so that the Lord is really our influence and motivation.  Romans chapter 6 was mentioned because we’re encouraged to present every member of our body to the Lord and our ears are the way in which music gets to our brain and in turn influences our thought patterns.  The way the high priests worshipped in the Old Testament was very particular and the Lord made it very particular.  In this age, the Lord commands us to worship him with our whole life, body and every part of our body. 
Another key to this verse is that the believer’s life needs to be a sacrifice for and to the Lord.  Most everybody that goes to church, no matter what denomination, worships on Sunday.  This is the day that has been set aside for worship.  People that go to church, whether saved or unsaved, most always go on Sunday.  There is no mandate for this in the Bible and in fact the only mandate in the Bible was directed to the Jews to worship on the Sabbath day, which is actually Saturday.  The point is that there is no specific day mandated in the Bible that is to be set aside for worship.  Romans 12:1 tells us that our life is to be set aside for the service of the Lord.  Believers should be yielding the time they have in this life to the Lord, according to God’s Word.  

To the melody of “God is so Good”

A Holy Life, A Holy Life, A Holy Life
Christ has given me.
He sets me free, He sets me free, He sets me free,
Unto Him all praise.
I will rejoice, I will rejoice, I will rejoice,
And be glad in Him.
Forever more, Forever more, Forever more
In Him to dwell.