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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Angels worshipped God INTELLIGENTLY and ACCEPTABLY...

...and so should we.

This material is borrowed from messages given at the worship services of Salem Bible Church on January 24, 1999 by Pastor James Delaney

Notice also in Revelation 5:8, these angels joined in the song of redemption. They had to learn redemption by watching the church and observing God’s plan unfolding. Notice as they sang their, doctrine was pure. They sang about redemption. They learned these truths, but they learned them accurately. They worshipped the Son of God intelligently. They all said Amen to the great song of redemption. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 14:15, that if we are going to pray, we should pray with the understanding. Do not just babble on. Do not just recite little clichés that we have heard. Pray with the understanding. Paul says if we are going to sing, sing with the understanding. If we are going to worship God it has to be with the understanding. The Lord Jesus told us that He loves worshippers. He seeks worshippers. He seeks men and women and children that will worship Him in spirit, with great enthusiasm and excitement over God and in truth – those whose worship lines up with the Word of God. I suppose it is possible to go off on a tangent and have our worship become doctrinally sound, but nothing more than cold, dead orthodoxy. It is also possible to have our worship go into another direction and to be all human emotion and enthusiasm and no doctrine. The Lord Jesus said, here is how I want to be worshipped, "in spirit and in truth" (Jn. 4:24). There has to be both: a heart that is, on the one hand, on fire for God and enthusiastic for the things of God, and also on the other hand, a heart that is controlled by the Holy Spirit and bound by the Word of God. When that takes place, God is delighted with our worship.

As one reads through the Scriptures, it becomes obvious that it is possible to worship God and yet have Him be displeased with our worship. It is possible to worship God unacceptably. (Gen.4:3-4) It is possible to worship God ignorantly. (Acts 17:22-23) It is possible to worship God in vain. (Matt.15:9) It is possible to worship God and in fact, nauseate Him! (Isa.1:11-15) It is possible to worship God and actually anger God! Uzziah was smitten with leprosy for attempting to offer a sacrifice to God (II Chron.26:16-20) Nadab & Abihu were burned with fire for offering strange fire (Lev.10:1-2) It is possible to worship God and actually be despising God! (Mal.1:6-10) It is possible to worship God hypocritically. (Matt.15:7-8) It is possible to worship God half-heartedly. (Jer.3:10) It is possible to worship Godcontrary to His Word. (Lev.10:1-2) It is possible to worship God & be weary of it. (Mal.1:13)

What God wants is worship from the heart. Worship is a very simple thing. It comes from a heart that is in tune with God, a heart that loves God, a heart that is in harmony with God and His Word, and a heart that is bowed down before Him in reverence and humility. It is something I cannot give to you. The choir is not going to make you excited about God. This is the individual responsibility of each and every one of us. I am responsible for my heart. I am responsible to stir up my heart every single day in the things of God so that I do not get drawn away by the things of the world. That is the responsibility of all of us. We need to be provoking one another and encouraging one another. The whole world is designed to drag us away from heavenly, spiritual things. But when our hearts are right, God delights in our worship. Is not that exciting? The Creator us the universe can be pleased by a little hunk of clay and dust like me and you! And He delights in it. And there is nothing more thrilling than knowing God and worshipping Him - HIS WAY.

Angels worshipped God in Unity...

...and so should we.

This material is borrowed from messages given at the worship services of Salem Bible Church on January 24, 1999 by Pastor James Delaney

Another thing about angels’ worship can be seen in Revelation 5:11. "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands." That is a lot of angels! But, they praised God with one voice. Voice is in the singular. What we see here is that angelic praise and worship is in unison. They praise God in harmony. There was no chaos. There was no disorder there. When they praised the Lord, it was with one voice, one united voice. "Worthy is the Lamb," and it was the same song on every single heart of each one of those angels. They were in perfect agreement that the Son was worthy to be praised. That is what worship ought to be about here too. When the angels worshipped God there was no rivalry among them. There were no feuds. There was no strife. There was no politicking for position. There was perfect unity, perfect harmony. They praised God with one voice. There was no room for discord in Heaven. As we gather together to worship, we need to leave all the baggage that does not belong here, outside. We need to come here as like-minded believers to worship God with one united voice. "Worthy is the Lamb!"

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Angels Worship with Enthusiasm...

...and so should we

This material is borrowed from messages given at the worship services of Salem Bible Church on January 24, 1999 by Pastor James Delaney

Another way the angels praise the Lord was with great enthusiasm. In Revelation 5:12, notice that the angel, in Heaven, (this is good worship – worship that is pleasing to the Lord) were saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb." They did not mumble. They were not falling asleep. They were excited… thrilled! What we see here are angels around the throne of God with great enthusiasm for God, and no one else – just God. Being right there in His presence thrilled them and it caused them to have zeal and enthusiasm in their worship. You know, when we sing, it is right for us to be enthusiastic. It is right for us to have some zeal and life and emotion and feeling as we sing these songs. How can we possibly mumble the words, "How great Thou art?" We noted earlier, when the angels of God were watching God create the universe (in Job 38) it says they shouted loudly. They shouted out for joy. Read Psalm 150 sometime. It is a great psalm of praise where they praised God with a loud voice. They praised Him with sounding cymbals. They praised Him with great enthusiasm. The whole psalm is about zeal and excitement for God. That is basically the main gist of that psalm. That is the way the book of Psalms ends, on a loud and wonderful note of praise and worship for the Lord. Enthusiasm – it is not something the church leaders are responsible to orchestrate. Enthusiasm for God has to come from the heart. It is not something that we can whip up. It is not something that we can manufacture. It is not created by choreographers. It has to be found in our hearts, even before we arrive at church, or it is not going to happen. The excitement and the enthusiasm we see when God is worshipped in the Scriptures, is a heart that loves God and wants to offer that love, praise, worship, and adoration to HIM. That is really what worship is all about. We come to offer unto God our praise. It is not the preacher’s responsibility to stir people up and to try to conjure up a man-made enthusiasm. A worship service is not a pep rally. It is not that we are to try to stir up excitement if it is not in the heart already. Enthusiasm for God is not going to be produced by loud amplifiers or purple microphones or swaying in the isles or by turning on strobe lights. It really does not help a bit. Those external things can create a sense of excitement, but not excitement for God.

The Bible says that it is our responsibility to enter into HIS courts with praise and worship and enthusiasm in our hearts already. Psalm 100:1-4 says, "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." Notice verse four, "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name." Notice how the psalmist tells his readers to come to worship God. When they came into the courts to worship God, they were to come with that praise in their hearts already. They were to come into the courts, the place they were to worship, already prepared for worship. They were to have a heart full of thanksgiving already when they got there. It was not something to be whipped up at the service. They were to enter into His courts with praise and worship, and thanksgiving and excitement and enthusiasm for God.

We often hear the illustration that we come to church to get our ‘batteries charged’ once a week. I do not like that illustration. If I am reading Psalm 100 right, the psalmist expected the worshipers to come with their batteries already charged up. They were expected to spend all week loving God and serving God and worshipping God, honoring Him in their day to day life. When they got together for corporate worship this was to be an exciting, thrilling time for them… the climax of a week already spent praising God!

Psalm 96:8 says, "Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts." Notice again, when the worshippers came into the courts of the Lord they were to have something with them. They were to come with the offering already. They were to come prepared to offer and to worship unto God. They were not to come lifeless, with an empty heart, and with no zeal for God. They were to come there ready to worship. Keep that in mind as we look at Hebrews 13:15 which states, "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name." Here we discover from the book of Hebrews that we as Christians, as we gather together to worship, we are also to bring an offering unto God. We do not bring an animal and sprinkle the blood. But we are still required, (every one of us - not just the pastor or the choir members or the song leader), to come into His courts already with an offering. Our offering, we are told here in verse 15, is a sacrifice of praise. This is what we offer to God. We come here with a heart full of thanksgiving and excitement and enthusiasm and praise. We say, God, this is for You. The worshipper is expected to bring his offering when he comes. It is not the responsibility of the church or the church leaders to make worship exciting. Worship by its very nature, (if we know Who God is), is already exciting. We can worship in a grass hut. We can worship in a cave. We can worship in a glass cathedral. The external environment does not make a bit of difference. It is God! HE is what worship is all about. And, God is exciting!!! Just think about whose presence we are coming into. We are coming before God! In a very real sense, the local Church is the habitation of God through the Spirit. (Eph. 2:22)

Now, we do not see God, but if we think, if we meditate on what we are really doing here, instead of drifting off, it is exciting to come into the habitation of God! Genuine excitement over God must be brought to the place of worship. I cannot make you excited over God. The preaching of the Word is not going to do it. Preaching is to point us in the right direction. But, if our hearts have been weaned away from the things of God all week long and we have been just feasting on the things of the world, spiritually, we are going to be "out of it" when we come here to worship. We are not coming prepared. Only YOU can do that. Only you can prepare your heart for worship. It is not the pastor’s job. It is not the choir director’s job. It is not the choir’s job to stir us up and create some kind of external excitement. They do that at political rallies. They do that at football games. But, that is not what church is all about. We are to come here all prepared to worship God. That is why we have been encouraging people since we first opened the doors here, that five minutes before the service starts, let us keep it hushed and sit down so that we can open our Bible and meditate and think about God – prepared to praise.

There really is not anything boring about true worship. I know that some Christians are bored when the rest of the Body is worshipping. But, that is not the fault of the worship style or format. That is not the fault of the Body. Bringing in a celebrity or rock band will not enhance real zeal in worship. The problem is that the heart of one member is not rightly related to the Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other reason. God is exciting. Coming into His presence is an exciting thing. David wrote, "In thy presence is fullness of joy" (Ps. 16:11). The only time worship is boring is when our heart is not right and when our focus is not on the Lord. If you want to put your focus on the preacher, it will be boring. If you want to put your focus on God, He is thrilling. There is a big difference. God’s Word is not boring. It does not mean that the message or the way it is delivered is exciting. But, the Bible truth itself is not boring. It is exciting. It is fascinating. It is thrilling and it will thrill our hearts the rest of our days, if our heart is right. As we sing these great hymns of the faith, they do not need to be spiced up with electric guitars. Some of the godliest men that have ever lived have penned the words of some of those hymns. Men who have been through great experiences with God have written out of sound doctrine and a love for God, something so much deeper than the trash and the silliness that is being promoted today. These songs, the great hymns of the faith, can excite us if we love the God we are singing about. The answer is not to bring in a big band. It is not to get Michael Jordan to come here and say a few nice things about Jesus. We do not need a nationally known speaker. We are not here to create excitement. We are not here to create hype over God the way the world does. It just is not the church or the church leader’s responsibility to try to make worship exciting. We would miss the whole point. It is all about God and nothing else. God, (if we know Him as we should), is thrilling. Real excitement, and real joy, and real enthusiasm come out of a heart that is sold out for Christ. It is a heart that is sold out and loves God. The excitement and joy in worship come from a heart that is in tune with God. If our heart is in tune with the world, if our heart is in tune with something else, then the new song of God is going to sound a little drab.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:31-33, "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband." Paul is saying here that there is something that we can learn from a husband and wife relationship that is to be a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the Church. Christ loved the Church and He gave Himself for the Church. When two people love each other, what really matters is being together. It does not matter where you are. Two people that really love each other can have a thrilling time at McDonalds. You do not have to be at the Tavern on the Green, if you really love each other. "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith" (Prov. 15:17). Two people in love can have a thrilling, exciting time just being together. They do not need all kinds of gimmicks. They do not need all kinds of external trappings. They do not have to be in Disneyland. They do not need to have all kinds of loud noises around them to get them stirred up. They love each other. That love is where the excitement comes from.

When it comes to worship, Paul says, there ought to be that same kind of intensity between the Church and Christ. We do not need all these gimmicks. Christ is what worship is all about. If we love the Lord with all our heart, we can worship God in a grass hut and it is thrilling! Believers can enjoy God just as much even if they are meeting together in a cold shack in Albania, listening to a foreign missionary butcher their language and stumble through his message. But they are getting truth from God’s Word and it can excite their hearts and souls and turn them on fire for God – if their heart is right. You see it really is not the preacher. It is not the choir. It isn’t the choreography. It is not the building. It is not some famous guest speaker that comes in or pretty flowers that make a worship service heavenly. It is Christ and nothing else. If we love Him, we will love to worship Him. If our worship is boring and drab there is something wrong with our heart. Maybe it is interrupting our schedule. Maybe it is a weariness. But, worship ought to be about God. And you know God is still pretty exciting. When our hearts are flooded and filled with the things of the world, there is not much room for God there. God is not going to be as exciting, the spiritual life is not going to be as thrilling as it used to be when I first got saved. Back then, every little morsel was new and sweet and exciting. And we loved God with all our heart and were thankful to Him. Everything was just bubbling over with excitement. Now that we have been saved a while, well, maybe… has God changed? I don’t think so. "For I am the LORD, I change not" (Mal. 3:6). What did change? If God is not exciting to us any more, if the Bible does not thrill our hearts like it used to, if worship does not thrill our soul, then our hearts have changed. It is not the responsibility of the church leaders to rearrange the way we "do worship." It is the responsibility of each of us to rearrange the priorities of our hearts. Maybe our hearts need to be shaken up a little bit. Make Christ the center of our lives – then we can enter into these gates with thanksgiving, then we can enter these gates with an offering unto God. The Lord will be delighted in that kind of worship. And then even a formerly boring little church which meets in a grass hut (with no celebrities; no big bands; no gimmicks; no exciting programs) will be a thrilling place to be. Why? It is thrilling because we are in a room full of people that all love God.

It does not matter if the preacher’s sermon is thoroughly mediocre, or if the choir goes a little sour, their only job is to point men to Christ. That is all the pastor is here for. That is all that the choir is here for. That is all the song leader is here for. If we look to HIM, our heart will be excited.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Angels Worship with a single eye...

...and so should we.

This material is borrowed from messages given at the worship services of Salem Bible Church on January 24, 1999 by Pastor James Delaney

There is something else instructive about these angels. In Revelation 4:10 it says they, "worship him that liveth for ever and ever." In Revelation 5:12 they chant, "Worthy is the Lamb." What we see as the angels worship God in Heaven is that everything is directed to God. God is the center of it all. They worship God with a single eye, completely focused upon Him and nothing else. These angels were not interested in seeing what the angel next to them was wearing. These angels did not come before the throne of God to chat about the imperfections of some other angel. They were not there to glory in how well they sang or praised God. They were not there to show off their talents or their beautiful wings. They were there for one reason. Their focus was entirely on God. Their focus was not on the other worshippers but on God. They had a single eye in their worship. It is unthinkable to imagine worship in Heaven being designed to be entertaining to the worshipper. Could you imagine chanting holy, holy, holy, for just one 24 hour period, day and night? Angels do it unceasingly – holy, holy, holy, day and night, year after year, after year. Try it for a day. Do you think you would be bored? Be honest. Would you be bored if you had to chant, Holy, Holy, Holy for 24 hours? We would not be bored if we were right in God’s presence… not if we were standing in the presence of Almighty God! We would be so thrilled to see Him, to be there. That is exactly what the angels are doing in Heaven. They are not bored in God’s presence! There is not a thought of being bored. They do not have meetings of angels to get together to try to spice up the worship service because it is boring to them. There is no thought of that whatsoever. When men attempts to spice up the worship service, who are they really trying to please? Are we trying to please men or God? Be honest.

None of these angels ever came into God’s presence to worship in order to be ministered to. That is not why they came to worship. Worship at its essence is to sacrifice – giving to God, giving praise and ascribing glory unto Him. I could not imagine one of the angels standing before the throne of God and leaving disappointed. Oh, I have been here for nine days now, and nobody shook my hand. Or, nobody paid any attention to me. Unthinkable, when you come to worship God! Such thoughts indicate that the focus has shifted from God to self. We could learn from the holy angels!

Now, one of the benefits of worshipping God with all our heart and all our might is a complete, inner satisfaction. There is something entirely fulfilling about being in God’s presence and worshipping Him. Nothing in the world could ever match this sense of satisfaction that is ours when we come before the Bread of Life with open hearts. But, if we come to worship God in order to get a good feeling, we are going to walk away very disappointed, because the whole purpose and emphasis is wrong. Worship is not about getting. It is not about feeling good. It is not about being ministered unto. Worship is about praising God, and giving to Him. When the focus is on man and on self, it is wrong! We ought to come to give praise, not to get praise.

This seems to be a perennial problem - worship degenerates into entertainment for men. It happened in Israel many years ago. Isaiah had to deal with this issue.  In Isaiah 58:13-14, God said to the Jewish people, "If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it." Do you see what had happened in Israel? The Sabbath for the Jew was the day of worship. They were to put aside all other affairs and to set aside this day to worship God. What happened in Israel’s history? They got tired of that. It was too inconvenient. It was wearisome. It became a burden for them. They began to change things and began to spice up the Sabbath a little bit to make it more convenient, to make it more satisfying for themselves. And it says they started doing their own pleasure. They wanted to do their own thing on the Sabbath. They wanted to follow their own ways. Oh, all these rituals and ceremonies, and sacrifices, why kill all these good animals? God said, if you will turn your foot around from your ways, from pleasing yourself on the worship day, doing your own thing on the worship day, and call it holy and recognize that it is My time, not your time, God said then "I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth." The Sabbath day had degenerated into a time to please men.

There are so many changes taking place in the area of worship today – some good, some terribly wrong. When angels worshipped God, they had an eye for God and nothing else. They did it with a single mind and a single eye. And all the attention was on God – pleasing Him, focusing on Him, exalting Him, giving Him the preeminence. Worship was all about God. We seem to have missed that today. Today it seems that it is designed to cater to men, to please men, entertain and amuse men. All the attention is on men. There was a time in Heaven when that happened, too. There were some angels in Heaven who decided that they wanted the attention on themselves. It was headed by Lucifer. He said, I am pretty wise too. I am a beautiful being too. How come nobody is paying any attention to me up here, and everybody is worshipping God? That attitude was instantly cast out of Heaven. It was despicable to God that Lucifer wanted attention for himself. He still seeks worshippers and followers for himself today. When the focus shifts from Creator to creature, God is robbed of the worship and attention He deserves.

We can learn a lot about worship from the angels. Our position as Christians is in the heavenlies. We are seated in the heavenlies. Our worship ought to be heavenly also. This is an issue that is going to cause many problems for us in the coming years as we are forced to deal with this tidal wave of change sweeping across the country. Change is not always good. Some change is good, but not all. When we see changes in the way men worship and approach God today, it ought to be based on astudy of the Scriptures. What we are seeing instead in a change in the way that God is worshipped based on a study of the television talk shows, the foot ball stadium, Hollywood and the entertainment world. That is no way to approach God.

It says in II Kings 16:10-13, "And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and" and guess what? He "saw an altar that was at Damascus," (a really nice altar), "and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar." He sent a blueprint down "and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof. And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus: so Urijah the priest made it against king Ahaz came from Damascus. And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar: and the king approached to the altar, and offered thereon. And he burnt his burnt offering and his meat offering, and poured his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings, upon the altar." He thought he was really worshipping God, but it made the Lord sick! Here was a king, who had already been given a pattern from God, handed to Moses and recorded in the Bible as to how the altars were to be constructed and exactly howGod was to be worshipped through the priesthood. Where did this king get the idea to change the way God was to be approached and worshipped? He saw the world doing it. He looked at the way the pagans in Assyria were worshipping God and he liked their style. It was an attractive altar. So, he sent the blueprints down and had one built in Israel. Why don’t we worship God on this? This was so much nicer. It is so much more appealing. It is a beautiful altar. Let us worship God on this. He did not get that pattern from studying the Scriptures. The book of Exodus was explicitly clear on how that altar was to be constructed. This king got his style of worshipfrom copying the way the world worships. And it was wrong! We are never going to change the tidal wave of change in worship that crossing the country. But by God’s grace we can stem the tide right here in our little Body! We are going to look like an insignificant, out dated, old relic to some. So be it. It does not matter what others say about us. What matter is that we keep God in the center of our worship, that we not come here to please me or you. We ought to be invisible. We ought to be looking up to God, bowing our hearts in humility and reverence and awe before Him, worshipping Him in accordance with what the Scriptures say. There is only one way to worship God – it is God’s way. He does not accept alternative styles of worship. He does not accept alternative doctrines. When it comes to knowing God in a saving way, Jesus said the very same thing, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (Jn. 14:6). There is only one way to be saved. There is only one way to approach the true and living God. We need to follow the principles in God’s Word.

If you are not born again… you need to believe on Christ and be born again today! God is a particular God. There is only ONE way to approach Him. He accepts no other ways. (cf. John 3:3-7)

We see, in Revelation chapters four and five, living creatures called beasts. They are the same as theliving creatures of the book of Ezekiel. These are angelic beings seen around the throne of God who join in with the twenty-four elders, picturing the Church. They worship God (Rev. 4:9-11) as the Creator. They are praising God because He created all things. They were created by Him and they were created for Him. Every single thing that exists in the created universe, everything that our eye can see, was created for God. He made it for himself. They angels know that. They worship Him for that.

What we want to see here is that angels worship God with praise and thanksgiving for Who He is. He is the Creator and they know it. We learn from the book of Job that on the first day of creation they were there shouting for joy when God created the foundation of the Earth. They were only moments old themselves when they began to sing and praise God for His work of creation. Although they were not part of God’s plan of redemption, it says in Revelation 5:9-10, "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." Here we have the great song of redemption which is being sung by those who have been redeemed - human beings that have been redeemed out of every tongue, every kindred, every tribe. Depending on what the pronoun is here, (they) it appears that the angels join in with them, although they have never experienced redemption. There has never been any blood shed by the Lord to pay for the sins of fallen angels. There is no redemption for fallen angels. Yet we see them joining in when the Body of Christ is around the throne praising God as their Redeemer. Whether they sing the song of redemption or not, at least as the Church is singing about their redemption John says, "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain" (Rev. 5:11-12). The Lord Jesus took on a human body to die for mankind. He was slain for us. The angels know nothing of that, yet they learn through the Church "the manifold wisdom of God" (Eph. 3:10). Peter tells us that the angels through out the ages have been desiring to look into these things, about "the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow" (I Pet. 1:11). We see in Revelation chapter five, they finally understand it. It clicks and they now understand that the exalted, resurrected, and glorified Lord Jesus (the God-Man!) is the One they worship now, and will forever and ever! They ascribe worthiness unto Him. "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain" (Rev. 5:12). So they join in on this song of praise to God as the Redeemer of mankind. Angels love to worship God.

In I Peter 2, there is a fantastic passage where Peter lists our responsibilities as believers. This is one of the reasons why God chose us before the foundation of the Earth. He did not save me or choose me just to give me a ticket to Heaven. Peter writes in I Peter 2:9, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people;" (and here is why God chose us and made us priests unto Himself, made us unique people), "that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light." God saved usthat we might praise Him. God saved us, He drew us out of the darkness, He placed us in the light, so that our whole life would radiate with praise and thanksgiving and worship to God. That is why He saved us.

I think that as Christians we grossly underestimate the value of praise and worship in our day to day lives. We need, as Bible believing Christians, to praise God more and more. But, how do we do that? How can we incorporate more praise into our worship service? Well, in some streams of Christianity today worship seems to be confused with action. Men attempt to stir up emotions to the point where men seem unable to constrain themselves. Often they explode into an emotional experience, wave their arms, shout out, shake their bodies, or let out the excitement in one way or another… as a volcano lets off steam! Yet, as I read in I Corinthians 14:32, when Paul was telling the church of Corinth how to worship, he said, "the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets." His point was that it is good to praise God. It is good to express praise and adoration and worship and thanksgiving, but when we do it, our spirits need to be controlled. That is a sign of the Holy Spirit. The spirits of the prophets are subject unto the prophet. It is not that our inner man is to blow up whenever we feel like it. The fruit of the Spirit is temperance – self control. Our worship must incorporate both temperance and joy from the Holy Spirit. The filling and fruit of the Spirit, will give us perfect self control by God’s power, and also a joyous expression of praise and worship and adoration. We do not want to stifle worship. We do not want to stifle praise. We do not want to quench the Holy Spirit. We ought to be expressing that. Singing is not just a filler for our worship time. We gather here and sing praises unto the Lord. It is not just a time to daydream. I want to share a little confession. Because I have been thinking about this in preparing this study, as it was time to sing, (since I knew what I was going to preach on), I was extra conscious of the words and the meaning of the songs of praise. Hence, the singing was a special delight to me tonight. The words of those hymns were so clear and so encouraging. I have to confess that it not always that clear when I sing. The words are great, but I do not always appreciate the greatness of them. I often slack off and my mind gets lazy and sluggish. But when I concentrated, when I really thought about it, these are wonderful old hymns of the faith in which we can express emotions to God – How Great Thou Art!

Testimonies – they are another great way to express our worship, our praise and our admiration for God for how He works in our lives. Angels worshipped God and they praised Him and thanked Him. And we ought to do the same.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Angels Worship Unceasingly…

...and so should we

This material is borrowed from messages given at the worship services of Salem Bible Church on January 24, 1999 by Pastor James Delaney.

In Revelation chapter four we find another characteristic of angelic worship. Revelation 4:8 says, "they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty." Here we see that the angels round about God’s throne never stop. Their worship is with a sense of awe and of wonder and it is also unceasing. They never stop worshipping God day and night before His throne, chanting holy, holy, holy.

Worship is something that ought to characterize our whole lives, not just on Sunday morning, not just when we get together, but the sense of humility before our Creator ought to follow us around everywhere we go. It says in the gospels that it was the custom of our Lord on the Sabbath day to worship God. (Lk. 4:16) He made it His habit. He made it His custom. What we are seeing today is a change in the way worship is taking place.

We see in I Kings 12:28, a time when the nation was divided into northern and southern potions of the kingdom. There we read, "Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." Notice what the king is doing here. The nation was divided, so he told his people in the north, Oh, it is so far to go to Jerusalem. It will be so inconvenient for you to go way down there to worship God in the TempleWhy do we not worship right up here?There were three annual feasts in Israel in which every single male of a certain age group was to go to Jerusalem and worship. Rest assured that was very inconvenient for all those families. They did not just hop into an air-conditioned bus. They had to go by foot or on a donkey. They had a long way to go and some of them lived on the fringes of the land of Israel. Three times a year God had commanded them to interrupt whatever they were doing and come down and worship God. Looking at I Kings 12:27, why did this king want to make worship more convenient for his people? The king said, "If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, evenunto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah." Do you see what this apostate king of Israel was thinking? He was afraid that if these people went way down to Jerusalem, (that long inconvenient journey to worship the Lord), then maybe they would turn back to God’s appointed king. Maybe they would turn back to the old system of worship and he would be out. Maybe it would stir up a real love for God in their hearts. If the people turned back to worship the Lord that would mean disaster for the north. So, he devised a system of worship in the north that would be easier. It would be much more convenient. It would not interfere with their busy schedules and their lives. We see the very same spirit in our churches across the country today, exemplified in changing the worship service from Sunday to Thursday, (why interrupt our weekend?), canceling evening services, doing away with prayer meeting, casual kinds of services, dressing down, changing the times of services so that they will not conflict with all our pleasure and all of our fun, and bringing in the easy listening music. The trend is to make worship more comfortable, casual, easy and convenient. It is a new kind of worship geared to please those that are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. It has caught on as wild fire.

I would like to suggest that worship that is based on the convenience of the worshipper is missing the most essential ingredient in worship – and that is sacrifice. Open up your Bible. The very first time worship is ever mentioned in the Bible is when Abraham offered up his son as a sacrifice to God. That is worship. The first occurrence is sort of a foundation for the theme throughout the rest of the Bible. Worship, if it is anything at all, is offering something to God. It is giving up for God. It is sacrificing for Him.

In II Samuel 24, a plague had struck the nation Israel because of David’s sin. He desperately wanted to stop that plague. Therefore, David decided to offer a sacrifice. One of the farmers said, King David, I will give you my land, my animals, and all you need to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. David said, No way. I will not offer to God anything that does not cost me something. David understood rightly that worship, if it is worship as all, has to involve sacrifice. (II Sam. 24:21-25)

In Malachi 1:13, God is rebuking the priests and the way the system of worship had degenerated in Israel. He said, "Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD." Notice here that not all worship is accepted by God. God is telling the priests, that although they are sincere, and although they are working hard, and although they are worshipping God, and although they are worshipping the true and living God, He would not accept their worship. It was because of the attitude of heart of the worshippers. Notice, in verse 13, how He describes the attitude of the people in their worship: "a weariness is it!" All of these sacrifices, all on these animals, all of this blood shed, all of these trips we have to take to Jerusalem, it is such a burden, so wearisome! In Malachi 1:7 God rebukes them, "Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible." They were offering sacrifices that were polluted. They were offering in Malachi 1:8 "the blind… and… the lame and sick" animals instead of the animals without blemish. And God said they had removed the essence of true worship, namely, sacrifice. God was not going to accept their worship. Ultimately they came to the place (Mal. 1:13) where they said it is too much. It is so inconvenient. It interrupts my schedule too much. It is cramping my lifestyle.

I wonder, is worship wearisome to us? Is it a burden? It is a nuisance to have to get out of bed on a Sunday morning? Is it a nuisance to have to come to prayer meeting and pray? Is it burdensome to us to have to worship before God and to have to put God first? If it is, the problem is our hearts. Our attitude in worship is really a reflection of our attitude toward God. To lovers of pleasure, worship is weariness. To lovers of pleasure, worship is a burden; it is an interruption. But to lovers of God, it is delight! The angels loved worshipping God. Godly men and women in the Bible loved to worship the Lord. They came into His presence with singing and joy in their hearts. There was no thought of it as being burdensome. In Israel, families had to rearrange their whole schedule to get their family all the way down to Jerusalem. They had to rearrange everything and put all their plans and activities on hold in order to get to Jerusalem for the feast days. And they were willing to do so. We read the accounts in the secular writings of the Jews, and in the Psalms, that they came singing. It was a festive occasion. They came singing and praising God all the way there. They were willing to sacrifice to worship God.

In our country today there is a big push to make worship casual, convenient, easy, user friendly, and sacrifice free! (And pleasing to or ears) The very heart of worship has been surgically removed today. Worship has become little more than a religious entertainment center. This is part of the spiritual battle we are involved in today. These trends are all around us in Christendom. It is sapping the life out of real worship. The enthusiasm and excitement that we see in worship today is more closely related to fun and entertainment than it is to God. Instead of being amazed at the Savior, they are being amused by the latest gimmick. By God’s grace we must stand opposed to that. We must be willing to be different from the world and even different from other churches who seem to be following the world. We are going to encourage folks to come out to worship God, not to hear a famous singer… not to hear a famous basketball player or see a light show or some other thing, but to open up the Bible and to bow our hearts before the true and living God, and stand in awe of His person – because He is here. We need to adjust our lives and schedules to revolve around Him, not to adjust the worship of God to fit into our busy schedules.

Maybe some find morning worship, evening worship, prayer meeting, our quiet times to be burdensome. But if we love God it is a delight. I have found it to be so. We have had some young people in this church that have known nothing other than Wednesday night as a time for prayer meeting. They have grown up that way. Some of them as toddlers have come into prayer meeting and they slept through the whole thing. They did not get anything out of the prayer meeting but this: they grew up knowing that prayer is important to mom and dad. Worshipping God is important to mom and dad. It says in Revelation 4, that the angels worshipped God day and night chanting holy, holy, holy. They were not looking for a more convenient method. They did not grow weary in their worship. It was not a burden. It was their eternal delight to stand before the God they love and bow before Him in worship and adoration!

(Emphasis mine)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Angels worship in Wonder, Awe, and Fear

...and so should we

This material is borrowed from messages given at the worship services of Salem Bible Church on January 24, 1999 by Pastor James Delaney.

The writer of Hebrews (in chapter twelve), exhorts his readers to serve (and that word for serve is for priestly worship) with reverence and godly fear. That is what we see in the Scriptures when believing men gather to worship the Lord. It was with a sense of reverence. And to take that one step further, it was with a sense of awe and fear.

Job tells us in Job 38, that when God created the heavens and the earth, the angels were there. On the very first day of creation the angels were there and it says that "the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job 38:7) at the creation that came from God’s spoken Word. So, here we have a picture of angels standing in absolute awe and wonder and amazement at what they saw before their eyes. They were just recently created and suddenly they are seeing God put together the Earth, the Sun, the Moon and the stars and a vast universe. They stood there and observed, and their breath was taken away from them. They could do nothing but shout for joy. They watched God create and they did so in wonder and awe. They sang with hearts full of worship, and that worship was characterized by a sense of awe and wonder at the majesty of God.

The angel had a sense of wonder and awe at the mighty works of God. In Isaiah 9:6 we read of the Son of God: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful." The very first characteristic that Isaiah gives us of this God/Man child that was to be born into the world is that He is full of wonder. It is an interesting word that is used here. In Genesis 18:14 it is used in the sentence "Is any thing too hard for the LORD?" Literally it means: is anything too wonderful for the Lord? The term wonderful means something that is beyond our capability of totally grasping. It is something that is extraordinary, that fills us with marvel and awe and wonder. The very first description of the Son is that He is full of wonder. That ought to characterize our worship.

The Angel of the Lord appeared in the book of Judges unto Manoah and his wife. Manoah said to the Angel of the Lord, "What is thy name?" (Jud. 13:17). He sensed that he had seen God, and he said, what is your name? And the Angel said, "Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?" (Jud. 13:18). That word for secret is wonderful. It is the name of God. And everything about God and His name is full of wonder. It is beyond our complete comprehension. If we could understand everything there is to know about God, He would be pretty small.

Angels stood in awe and wonder when Jesus was born. They stood in wonder and awe when He rose from the dead. And angels attended Him in wonder and awe as He ascended into Heaven. As He was seated at the right hand of God, angels worshipped the Son. They stand in awe of God’s plan. As we come together for worship there ought to be a sense of awe and wonder in our worship too. There should be a sense of humility because we do not know everything there is to know about God. He is much bigger than we are. There ought to be a sense of mystery where we come together to worship God. Oh, we can know what is revealed about Him, but we are going to be learning about God forever and ever. We do not know it all. When we lose our sense of wonder and awe in our worship there can be only one reason. It is because of diminished view of Who God is. If we have the right concept of God, (that He is infinite in His understanding, He is omnipotent, He is everywhere, He is Almighty God), then we are going to stand in awe and wonder before our Creator. The angels have never lost the wonder of it all. And, we need to pray that by God’s grace, we will never lose the wonder of it all. When that happens, our concept of God is diminishing, and self is exalted. At times, in our pride, we think we have God all figured out.

If astronomers can stand in awe of the stars, should we not stand in awe of the God that made them? If scientists and physicians stand in wonder and awe at the marvels of the human body, should not we stand in awe of the God that created the human body? Good grief, we stand in awe of a computer! What about God? There ought to be that sense of wonder and of awe, when we come into His presence to worship

Friday, June 9, 2017

Exclusivity of Biblical Worship

For a scuba diver, it's critical to have certain equipment.  For instance,  an oxygen tank, a face mask and a wetsuit.  The roles of each piece contributes to the big picture of having the most beneficial time on your dive.  A person can not go on a scuba dive with only some of these things, or none at all, or even similar looking equipment.  This person needs this equipment and it needs to be working properly.  The oxygen tank needs to have oxygen in it, not helium or any other gas, the facemask needs to be made for diving and can't be sunglasses, although they both protect the eyes.  The wetsuit keeps the diver warm.  A tuxedo would not serve much purpose in the water.  Also, because all this is critical, a person can't go on a scuba dive with just an oxygen tank, or just the mask or just the  wetsuit or 2 out of the 3.  All the pieces fit together and contribute to provide the most beneficial experience of scuba diving. 
Let's think of this equipment as some of the vital elements of worship.   Let's think of the O2 tank as the spirit, the facemask as truth and the wetsuit as holiness.  No illustration will ever be enough to fully understand the whole of worship, but, Lordwilling, this will facilitate a start to understanding the exclusivity of worship, which is exclusive to God and God alone and what He has said in His Word.  On the other hand, worship is excluding of everything that is worldly.  Worldly likenesses such as an imitation of worldly concerts, worldly atmospheres and worldly emotionalism.  Back to our diving illustration.  Some of the vital elements found in Biblical worship are the spirit, the truth and holiness of God.  Biblical worship is not worship that is acceptable to God unless it is accompanied by spirit, truth and holiness.  Some think that if there is truth in the lyrics, then it is acceptable to God.  Not unless that truth is clothed in the beauty of holiness will God regard it.  The other side is also true.  Worship will not be acceptable if there is holiness, but no truth.  In the Greek, the terms "spirit" and "truth" are interchangeable and there can not be one without the other.  What is the truth that needs to be in worship?  God's truth.  The truth of the gospel, the truth of who He is and His character and as much truth about God and His Word that His children can obtain.  Without God's truth, our worship offering to God will not matter and will not draw us closer to Him. 
Worship to God also needs to be holy.  Holy unto God and completely apart from worldly likenesses.  Without holiness, the worship we offer may as well be like going scuba diving without a wetsuit, not acceptable and also detrimental to one's own walk with the Lord.  The Lord seeks worshippers......true worshippers. 

There's another dynamic in this illustration that is helpful.  Divers need to know what depths their oxygen tank can handle.  If they are only going 30 feet deep, a tank thickness of .5 inches may be ok, but if they are going 60 feet deep, their tank may need to 1.5 inches thick.  For every 10 meters of depth, there is an additional 14 pounds of pressure on your body and your equipment.  Pressure all around and a diver needs to be sure that his/her equipment can handle it and not cave under that pressure.  It would be deathly if the oxygen tank were to collapse under pressure and the diver wasn't prepared for it.  The more a believer studies God's Word results in a more solid understanding of His truth.  Obviously, we will never fully understand the whole of the Bible until Glory, but, like Paul wrote in Philippians 3:14, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Angels Worship with Reverence

...and so should we

This material is borrowed from messages given at the worship services of Salem Bible Church on January 24, 1999 by Pastor James Delaney.

Also in Isaiah chapter 6, we see that Angels worship not only with a sense of humility, but also with a deep sense of reverence.  They chanted before God's throne (in Isaiah 6 and later on in Revelation 4),  "Holy, holy, holy, (Isa. 6:3).  You see, holiness is the preeminent characteristic of God. It, above all others, is to be accentuated in our worship. God is faithful. He is just. He is kind. He is compassionate. But the angels are not standing before the Lord, and praising him for his wisdom or compassion. They stand before his throne day and night saying, "Holy, holy, holy".  His Holiness incorporates all these other attributes. So whatever we do in our worship time it should enhance our appreciation of God's holiness and our reverence for him. Anything that diminishes or detracts from this sense of awe before his holiness ought to be removed entirely from our worship.  That is one of the reasons you will never see Rock N' Roll music in Salem Bible Church.   Music, more than anything, creates a sense of atmosphere. The atmosphere that we want before our infinitely holy God is not the sensual type of music of the world, but rather that which is pleasing in God's sight. Good music is joyous. It is thrilling and exciting, but it also ought to be reverent.  It ought to be an appropriate form of worship for the Lord.

We are a little handicapped in this building because our assembly room is our hallway Grand Central Station all the rest.  But by God's grace with our building program we are going to put up an assembly room where we go to worship, where we go to quiet our hearts, and to prepare our hearts to worship and living God.  As the Angels worshipped before God's throne and chanted holy, holy, holy, there was no one snapping bubble gum in the background or sipping on a cup of coffee.  There was no one telling jokes or chatting about the Super Bowl in the background.  When they went into God's presence was to worship Him. It is our responsibility, as we gather together as God's people, to bring with us a sense of reverence for God. Really does not matter what the size or the shape of the building is.  There could be sense of worship when believers gather together to worship in a grass hut in a jungle.  The important element in worship acknowledging WHO God is, that He is Holy.  It is important that we bow before Him and express our appreciation, and that we demonstrate a genuine sense of reverence before him. He is worthy.

When a visitor comes here, he may not understand our doctrinal position.  You may not have a clue as to what we believe. But I hope and pray that he can sense the spirit of worship here-- that we honor God, that we want to worship Him our whole heart.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

THE ANGELS WORSHIP WITH SHAMEFACEDNESS

...and so should we

This material is borrowed from messages given at the worship services of Salem Bible Church on January 24, 1999 by Pastor James Delaney.

How do angels worship God? We have a picture of that in Isaiah chapter 6. We actually have quite a few pictures of angels worshipping before the throne of God in Heaven. In verse 2, it is interesting to observe the wings of these angels, the Seraphim. With two wings they covered their face. It is a concept that the New Testament speaks of as shamefacedness.  When the angels stood before the throne of God they took two wings to cover their face. It was not because they were sinners. These were holy angels, elect angels.  These were angels that loved and served God. There was not a trace of sin in them, yet, there was still this sense of utter humility before God Almighty so first of all, angels worshipped God in humility.

In the book of Nehemiah, the people were gathered together to hear the scriptures. As Nehemiah stood up to preach, the people worshipped, bowing
their faces to the ground.  This is a concept that we see in the Bible over and over again. The very essence of worship is bowing down before the Creator.  It involves two things. When we bow ourselves down as creatures, we are lifting Him up in our hearts.  That is what worship is all about. It is about exalting God and humbling ourselves.  Bowing down is the natural response of a creature that senses the presence of God. Our English word for worship comes from an Old English word that means worth-ship. It is attributing worth to God. It is exalting God for Who He is.  That is exactly how we see God worshipped in the scriptures. Blessed is God.  The Angels ascribe blessedness, majesty, and glory to God because of who God is.  These are His attributes, His characteristics. As God's worth is considered, it is humbling to mere creatures.  The creature is abased and the Creator is exalted.  As soon as we pause to think and meditate on the majesty of almighty God, we are humbled.  It exalts the Lord. When Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up, he said "Woe is me!" (Isa. 6:5) He said he was undone and so are all creatures who come into the presence of an infinitely holy God.

In Genesis 17, when the Lord himself appeared unto Abraham, Abraham fell on his face before God. The book of Ezekiel begins with the same picture. When is Ezekiel got a glimpse of the throne of God in Heaven, (chapter 1) he fell on his face. Again in Ezekiel chapter 3, he got another glimpse of the throne of God and he fell on his face.  When Job finally understood who he was dealing with, he said, "Wherefore I abhore myself" (Job 42:6)  He had to rejoice in the almighty character of the Lord.  When Daniel, (Daniel chapter 10)  got a glimpse of God, his strength left him.  His strength just failed him. It was as if the wind was knocked out of him. Matthew 17 says when the disciples were on the Mt. of transfiguration they heard a voice, the voice of almighty God. The text says they fell on their face before him. What else can you do in the presence of God? In the very closing book of the bible, in Revelation chapter one, there is that vision of the risen, glorified, Lord Jesus Christ. And when John saw Christ, he fell down as a dead man before Him!

In the scriptures, God is worshipped with a sense of humility. It is a sense of unworthiness of even being in his presence. Keep in mind, this concept of shamefacedness, or bowing down before the Creator is not a response to a COMMAND.  It is not the physical bowing down God commands us to do.  It is not a ritual like genuflecting and nor is it a learned or a cultural response that varies from place to place. Worship at its very essence is the creature bowing before the Creator.  Whether we bow physically or in our hearts in the presence of almighty God. That is how the angels worshipped the Lord.

I can remember a few years back standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon. It was so big that it just took my breath away. In New England the roads are so crooked that you can only see a few feet in front of you.  There you could see what looked like forever and I felt so puny.  If we feel so small before a little crack in the Earth, how much more humbling is it to stand before the creator of the universe? When David looked up into the heavens and saw how vast they were, he saw only a tiny fraction of their true size. He had no idea how many more stars and galaxies there were that his eyes could not see. But what he could see, humbled him. He said, "What is man?" (Ps. 8:4) It took his breath away. When he saw how immense the creation was, he thought how immense the Creator must be. You see, there is a tendency before God's presence to be shamefaced, to be humbled before him. This overwhelming sense of humility before God is not necessarily based on the guilt of sin because the angels were holy angels.  There was no sin in them whatsoever. Yet they were still humbled in God's sight.  Yes, it was true of Isaiah, that in part, shrinking away from God had to do with the fact that he was a sinner. He said, "I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips." (Isa. 6:5)

When Peter got a glimpse of Jesus in the boat, he said, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord." (Lk. 5:8) but when we see the angels standing before God in humility, with shamefacedness,  there is not a trace of the guilt of sin. The contrast is the infinite Holiness of almighty God, and a puny creature who is able to reflect just a tiny bit of that glory.  As majestic as we might envision the angels to be, they see themselves as quite small before God. True worship has to take place in an atmosphere of humility.  That is why there is no room for 1 ounce of showmanship in worshipping the living God.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

How The Angels Worship (Intro.)

This material is borrowed from messages given at the worship services of Salem Bible Church on January 24, 1999 by Pastor James Delaney.

PASSAGE FOR MEDITATION

Isaiah 6: 1-2 "In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly."

In studying Hebrews chapter 1, 1 of the arguments the author used to demonstrate the superiority of Christ is the fact that the angels worship the Son of God.  If the angels worship Him, obviously He is a superior Person to th angels.  As I considered that, it made me a little curious how the angels worship.  Therefore, I'd like to look at the scriptures and see what the Bible says about how God is worshipped in the angelic realm.  There is SO much change in the air in America today and around the world as to how God ought to be worshipped.  I think it would be instructional and wise for us to look into the Bible to see how God is worshipped in Heaven.  We can learn a lot from the angels.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Comfortable or Uncomfortable?

It is certainly true that a lot of times, Christians are very comfortable resting in Christ, spending time in prayer, or in the work of the ministry.  In fact, we're told to rest and trust in Christ in everything.  However, there are a few aspects about worship that can be very UNcomfortable.

All throughout scripture, we can see that there is the element of sacrifice that is involved in worship.  I'm sure Abraham was not comfortable on his way to sacrifice his son. Sacrifice, is just that.  It can be painful for a person to sacrifice their things, because we've worked hard in getting the things we want or have such a strong attachment to those things thus making it difficult.  Sacrifice is uncomfortable.

Anytime a person is faced with the choice of humbling themselves or doing what they think is best so that they are comfortable, 99% of the time being comfortable takes priority over humbling ourselves.  One example that comes to my mind right away is King Nebuchadnezzar.  He didn't humble himself, so he was humbled by the Lord.  The essence of humility is to forsake all of OUR wants and desires and if we choose that, humility can become very uncomfortable.

Standing up for Christ is uncomfortable.  It's getting more and more difficult to share the unashamed truth of God with the world.  Christians are labeled as bigots, hypocrites, arrogant, or anything else.  Making a stand for Christ means that a Christian might be the only one making that stand.  Remember Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego?  They were the only ones that were standing up for Christ and His truth.  In Acts 16, Paul and Silas spoke up to share God's truth.  I can't imagine how uncomfortable it was for them, shackled in the dungeon, cold, and naked.  I'm sure, like many of us, they would have much rather curled up in a ball.  God saved them and also Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego. 

False worship often imitates true worship in many elements, but true worship should never imitate the elements of the world.  It seems like worship services in Christian churches are imitation of secular rock concerts.  The lyrics of the songs might contain the truth of God's Word, but that's it.  The lights, smokey atmosphere,  loud amplified speakers, and screaching guitars are there for performance purposes and are so loud that they take away the concept of reverence for God.  In every worship account or passage, according to what God has said and what is acceptable, is a strong element of reverence to God.  The element of reverence is a core characteristic of true worship. 

Isaiah 55:8 teaches believers that God's ways and thoughts are not the ways and the thoughts of any believer.  True worship is not characteristic of anything that a Christian thinks it should be like, but only characteristic of what God's Word mandates.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD."

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Music, emotions, and worship

Can music ("christian music") change our emotions?  Perhaps our view of God? 

Instrumental music has just as much of an effect on the listeners as does songs that have lyrics.  This can be proven with a simple and fun experiment.  The very familiar tune and very patriotic tune of the 1812 overture is always played on the 4th of July, and usually always has the same reaction, especially in children, who are most likely marching to that familiar beat towards the end. 

Instrumental music effects the emotions too.  Listening to a resounding rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" would spark patriotism in any American and should also cause feelings of nationalism and the sense of American pride.  In the same way, listening to Beethoven's 5th symphony sparks different emotions then listening to "Flight of the Bumblebee" or any other instrumental.  In most instances, the composers had those emotions in mind when they composed that piece and those emotions have been assigned to that piece of music.  A simple example of the emotions that could be conveyed by certain instruments follows.

- The throb of low drums remembers the pounding stampede of a herd, the rumble of thunder, a shaking earthquake, aggression or anticipating potential danger.
- The oboe or cello is the mournful crying of a grown adult.
- The violin, the cries or playfulness of a child.
- The breathiness of a wooden flute, may recall the whispering of a loved one's sweet nothings in your ear, or simply the light-laden joy from childhood, bringing happiness and fond memories outdoors.
- The gentle shaking of percussion, remembers the wind through leaves, signifying calmness and serenity.

Instrumentals of all genres, have emotions already assigned.  The composer(s) of the music already had which emotions they wanted the listeners to feel in mind and therefore controls the way they want the listeners to feel in that moment.  One aspect of biblical worship is self control, which would include awareness over how we're made to feel and having control oher how we feel.  Since certain music makes us feel a certain way, and if we use that music in our worship to the Almighty, eventually our feelings towards God will change.  The emotional message in the music we choose in our worship should match the message in the lyrics, which will shape the way we view the person of God. 

Yes, there is great emotion in worship, but it needs to be appropriate and point to who God is.

Conduct your own little experiment and pay attention to how just music makes you feel.  How should we feel towards God? Does that music promote the appropriate feeling?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Call to Reverent Worship

Sadly, there are many today to whom the idea of reverence in worship sounds too old fashioned,  so out of step with the times, and at odds with contemporary worship trends.  Indeed, many believers seem to be strangers to the fundamental truths that form the basis for our worship.   The New Testament teaching concerning worship, the Lord's supper, and the person of Christ no longer seem to hold their interest.   These do not seem to be popular.   We are a spiritually carefree generation.  Unfortunately,  the broad road has always been more appealing than the narrow way.  But the apostle Paul's exhortation must not go unnoticed, "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Jesus Christ, and have no confidence in the flesh."  (Phil. 3:3)  Therefore, let us draw near unto Him, who in mercy, first drew near unto us and humbly bow our hearts as worshippers in His holy presence.  May out reverent worship once again shine bright as the hallmark of our devotion to Christ. 

David Dunlap, Bible & Life, March 2003

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

TRUE Reverence

It was not always this way.  In earlier days the assemblies were for men of God whose passion to worship the Son of God was unrivaled.  The believers in the Lord Jesus Christ might have gathered in a grange hall or a refurbished building, but the gathering place was not as important as the gathering Center,  the Lord Jesus Christ.  The hymns were sung heartily.  Worship was mingled with tenderness and devotion by men of God who know the Word of God.  There was a beauty of holiness that attracted all true saints of God.  The holiness and reverence that characterized the meeting were evident to all.  Concerning the character of those meetings, one writes, "I sometimes smile when I hear ministers state the assumption that a new type of building will create a worship atmosphere.  In my late adolescence I occasionally worshipped with God-fearing believers, meeting in the barest halls, adorned only with signs carrying Scripture verses, they had the most worshipful services I have ever attended.  Greeting, giggling, whispering, and coughing were all hushed by the miracle drug: REVERENCE.  Children were quieted people tiptoed to their places in the circle to sit with bowed heads or read their Bibles.  The keen anticipation of the movement of the Spirit of God in the assembly was evident in the singing of a hymn or the reading of the Scripture.  These moments of deep reverence sharply contrasts with the hubbub of many services today."  Reverence is not something we can bring to God or create in ourselves, but rather, it is a spiritual grace we receive when we begin to see God as He truly is.  Reverence acknowledges in our hearts the glory of God as presented in the Scriptures, and then yields to God His rightful place in our lives.  Reverent worshippers acknowledge their unworthiness and, in godly fear, bow before an awesome and holy God.  Concerning this source of holy reverence, the Swiss reformer John Calvin writes, "Reverence is that dread and amazement with which holy men were struck and overwhelmed whenever they beheld the presence of God...Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their own insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God."  Just a sudden glimpse of the holiness of God will change us forever.  As Isaiah is thrust into the presence of God and the seraphim cry out, "Holy, Holy, Holy", the prophet confesses, "Woe is me! For I am undone." Isaiah, the righteous prophet, in one brief moment, is exposed and broken under the gaze of the Almighty.  In an instant he is measured by the ultimate standard of holiness; he is weighed in the balance and found wanting.  The holiness of God has seized his heart, soul, and mind.  He cannot forget what he has seen. Boredom, casualness, and lukewarmness about the things of God are gone forever.  "Mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts" (Isa. 6:5)

David Dunlap, Bible & Life, March 2003

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The NEED for Reverent Worship

Many are concerned that today there is too much shallowness in our worship of God.  Irreverence in worship is now becoming all too common in modern churches.  Unfortunately, New Testament assemblies are not immune to this affliction.   Increasingly, believers are sashaying into worship meetings 10-15 minutes late without the slightest hint of embarrassment.  The retelling of personal anecdotes, the singing of favorite hymns (singing without conviction), and nonchalance have replaced holy and reverent worship.  Psalm 111:9 exhorts, "Holy and reverend is His Name."  Hearts full of Christ have now given way to hearts full of competing interests.  Many still attend times of worship, but have lost their first love.  The stirring hymns of the faith are sometimes still sung, but rarely with passion and conviction.  Gripping passages of Scripture about Christ and the cross are still read, but with little apparent devotion or heart-felt affection.  Eloquent prayers of praise and worship ring hollow.

David Dunlap, Bible & Life, March 2003

The need for true and sincere worship is leaving the church, and in a lot of churches has already left, being replaced with the superficial ritual of routine.  Of course, God's Word will never return void, but the receptiveness and sensitivity of God's Word is decreasing every day. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Biblical standard for Reverent Worship

All too frequently churchgoers gather to worship God, but have never had a fresh vision of God's holiness.  Nice songs are sung, religious thoughts are offered to God, and well-crafted words are uttered, but all this falls far short of true worship.  This worship may be more psychological and fleshy than spiritual.  This kind of worship bears no resemblance to the worship we find in Scripture.  The psalmist writes, "He is to be feared above all gods...splendor and majesty are before Him, strength and beauty are in His sanctuary...O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before Him all the earth."  (Ps. 92:4-6, 9) Godly fear, majesty, the beauty of holiness, and splendor and majesty were ready themes in the hearts of the worshippers of old.  How this should challenge our hearts!! There are many who study theology, but where are those who study to be worshippers of God?  Where are the churches today whose passion is to "worship God in spirit and in truth"?  Where are the books exhorting, teaching, and equipping this generation to worship God?  A.W. Tozer exhorted the fundamentalist-Bible-believing church prior to his death in 1951, "Many of our popular songs and choruses in praise of Christ are hollow and unconvincing.  Some are even shocking in their amorous endearment, and strike a reverent soul as being a kind of flattery offered to One with whom neither composer nor singer is acquainted.  The whole thing is in the mood of a love ditty, the only difference being the substitution of the name of Christ for that of the earthly lover. How different and how utterly wonderful are the emotions aroused by true Spirit-incited love for Christ. Such love may rise to a degree of adoration almost beyond the power of the heart to endure, yet at the same time it will be serious, elevated, chaste, and reverent. Christ can never be known without a sense of awe and fear accompanying the knowledge.  He is the fairest among ten thousand, but also the Lord high and mighty. He is the friend of sinners, but also the terror of devils.  He is meek and lowly in heart, but He is also the Lord and Christ who will surely come to be the judge of all men. No one who knows Him intimately can ever be flippant in His presenceIf Bible Christianity is to survive the present world upheaval, we shall need to recapture the spirit of worship.  May God raise up such an army of worshippers, those who long to reverently remember Him who first remembered us on Calvary's cross.  Might God raise up tender-hearted worshippers; but more than this, may He raise up those whose passion and aim is to equip others to worship God. 

-David Dunlap, Bible &Life, March 2003

Emphasis was added. 

How true this is and a challenge for God's children and a prayer that true worship will return to our churches.  To learn more about Biblical worship, study God's Word, look through the other posts on this blog, or order your copy of my book, Pleasing or Deceiving: A Dangerous Compromise.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Traditional or "Traditional" music

Written by Steve Hafler

Having lived in Africa for more than a decade, the term “traditional music” strikes me a bit sideways.  Traditional music in sub-Saharan Africa includes indigenous music as well as dance. Singing in Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Madagascar, and their border countries is emphasized and is often accompanied by rattles, shakers, the mbira (thumb piano), the xylophone, various drums covered with either parchment or animal skin, and a wide variety of flutes made of bamboo. The African instrumentalist has also made great use of the guitar.  This only scratches the surface of the amazing instrumental selection to be found across Africa.  Worshipful expression is also seen in hand clapping, animated body gestures which communicate aspects of the song, and foot shuffling.  These are as common throughout Africa when the church gathers for worship as piano and organ are for westerners.  How do you navigate your way through the deep tradition of indigenous cultures, the wide selection of instruments including an assortment of drums, the associations they have to animistic ceremonies, and the use of clapping and shuffling when singing hymns?

In listening to and answering questions about church music both in Africa and now in America, I am perplexed by the conspicuous absence of any clear argumentation from God’s Word.  I will keep saying that “God’s Word is sufficient for contemporary issues” (music, modesty, alcohol, worship, homosexuality, and other issues that demand our attention).  God, and what He has revealed in His Word, are enough.  “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3).

The arguments I often hear are people’s opinions unsubstantiated by the rightly applied truth of God’s Word.  We need the Word of God on this matter – God’s Word accurately exegeted and rightly applied. Our children need to see an authority higher than our opinions and preferences or they will make decisions using the same insufficient and errant measure (their opinions and their preferences). There is a better way!  The danger we create is the perception that the Scriptures have no answers for contemporary issues. Is this really what we want to communicate to the next generation?  Absolutely NOT!  What should we proclaim by our life and lifestyle choices? –  “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

What we will soon realize is that God wants us to praise, He wants us to sing, and He desires a song from His children. Silence is not an option – so we better grapple with the Scriptures to know what and how to sing.

The texts of Psalm 33:1-5; Ephesians 5:19; and Colossians 3:19 make clear that praise to God is not only acceptable but divinely mandated when believers gather to worship.

Part of authentic worship to God, therefore, involves the corporate singing of praises by His people. We often dichotomize our life.  What Christians believe and what they do often stand in sharp contrast.  Where there should be consistency, there is conflict and contradiction.  When I preach on Sunday it is my hope that the content of the sermon will be applied to the following week’s choices and relationships, but I realize this is not always the case.  This glaring inconsistency is also seen in the area of music.  It is rare that people apply theological truth to this area of their life. Applications are subjective but we must let Scripture guide our applications as we live in a post post-modern 2012.

So let’s begin with a few presuppositions:
(the outline and content below were taken from Wayne; Grudem, Elliot (2009-03-10). Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know (Kindle Locations 78-79). Zondervan. Kindle Edition).

Authority: The Scripture is authoritative because it is God’s breathed-out words. All the words in the Bible, therefore, are God’s words.  "The words in the Bible are God’s words. Therefore, to disbelieve or disobey them is to disbelieve or disobey God himself” (Wayne Grudem).  We must not create a false tension between the written Word of God – the Bible and the Word become flesh – Jesus (1 Thessalonians 2:13; John 1:14).  It is a gross error to say I follow Jesus but I do not adhere to the Bible.  Since the Scriptures are God’s Words they are authoritative for faith and practice (both narrowly and broadly).  Whatever the Bible affirms, we accept as true. No human opinion, preference, church creed, or tradition can supersede or equal the Bible (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

Necessity:  It is necessary to read the Bible or have someone tell us what God’s written Word says if we are going to know God personally, have our sins forgiven in the Person and Work of Christ, and know with certainty why God has created us and what God wants us to do (Rom. 10:14,17; 2 Tim. 3:15).  Necessity also means that the Bible is our only source for clear, definite, and accurate statements about God and how to become a Christian, live as a Christian, and grow as a Christian.

Clarity:  God has revealed Himself through His Word in such a way that everything necessary is clearly communicated and able to be understood (Ps. 19:7; Ps. 119:130; 1 Cor. 2:14).

Sufficiency:  Those alive during the Old Testament period didn’t have access to God’s complete revelation as we do. (the New Testament)  They did have access to all of God’s Words intended and sufficient for them during their lives.  “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!” (Ps. 119:1).  The Bible gives us instructions that equip us for “every good work” that God wants us to do. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)  This is what it means to say that Scripture is “sufficient.” It is enough.  Therefore, we should be content with what God has given us – it’s enough. God has revealed exactly what He knows is right for us.  It is sad to realize that many differences in church history that have divided people and churches are issues that the Bible places very little emphasis on.  We must be careful not to impose man-made rules on other Christians.  There are issues and situations for which God has not provided the exact direction that we sometimes would prefer, but since Scripture is sufficient, we must be sure we don’t add or subtract based on our predetermined belief system.

An argument often just thrown out is that “traditional” songs are superior to “contemporary” songs.  Really?  Why?  The argument itself is fractured since we first need to define our terms.  People mean different things by the words “contemporary” and “traditional.”  The very music being argued for by proponents of this group also sprang out of a modern culture.  The older hymns we sing were all contemporary at some point. I am not sure the Christians in the 1800′s restricted their hymnology to the 1600′s.  Even if there was a small enclave who held on to the “traditional” music of their day that does not by default mean the believers who chose to sing the hymnody we treasure today (modern to them) were wrong for using it for worship (with the organ and piano this may have seemed over the edge).

In a recent video forwarded to me a man said, “and the music at ___________ [Baptist] brought tears to my eyes cause it brought it back to home like we grew up.” I found this disturbing!  Sentimentality is not our authority and will prove an untrustworthy benchmark.  Watching Rudolph at Christmas causes me to think and feel of home like we grew up. ”Refusal to change” can not become our authority or we might as well become the Amish of fundamentalism (which hyper-fundamentalism is verging towards as it departs from historic fundamentalism). Our children will see it for what it is and depart in search for authentic Christianity.  I won’t blame them for “looking” either. We need in place the presuppositions that God’s Word is authoritative, necessary, clear, and sufficient.

Each individual assembly will need to make some very difficult decisions.  Many will remain in a vacuum caught in time because that is “safest.”  I will argue, however, that incorporating well written, singable, and doctrinally orthodox modern hymns after evaluating them through the grid of Scripture in light of our present culture is not questionable, it’s not unsafe, it’s not even the dreaded “slippery slope.”
It will be helpful to understand that the church I have been given the privilege of pastoring is not trying to be like anyone else’s church or Bible college.  We don’t spend a lot of time trying to be “like” or “unlike” this or that church.  We still sing Amazing Grace even though the Mormon temple around the corner from our church building sings that hymn.  We are an autonomous assembly of believers with God-ordained leadership.  We consider it our duty to shepherd in such a way as to avoid being “conformed to this world” (Romans 12:1-2) while at the same time encouraging “growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus” (2 Peter 3:18).  We are not trying to be like the world and we are trying to be like Christ. Our mission is to love God, love our neighbor as ourself, and take this Gospel to the world.  What fuels our pastoral decisions is higher than simply trying to be like or unlike other churches (this guide will ultimately break-down at some point and will prove unreliable).  Our benchmark is the authoritative Word of God.  My desire is that each generation of Christians know the Word and understand personally how to exegete it for matters of faith and practice regardless of cultural norms or sentimental traditions of the past.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

20 ways to be pleasing and acceptable in your worship

1)  SEEK TO PLEASE GOD

(2 Corinthians 5:9) Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.

2) SEEK TO GLORIFY GOD

(1 Corinthians 10:31) Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

3)  BY HIS ENABLEMENT

(John 15:5) I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
(Eph. 5:18)  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.
(Heb. 13:15)  By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
(1 Peter 4:11)  If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

4)  BE SCRIPTURAL

(Col. 3:16)  Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

5) BE SUBMISSIVE/YIELDED/SACRIFICIAL

(Rom. 12:1-2)   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.
2. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
(Heb. 13:15-16) By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. note
16  But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
(2 Sam. 24:24)  ...neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing...

6)  BE HUMBLE

(1 Peter 5:5)  Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

7)  WITH THANKFULNESS

(Col. 3:15,17)  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
17. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
(Eph. 5:20)  Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

8)  WITH GRACE

(Col. 3:16) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Compare "grace" in Col. 4:6)
(Heb. 12:28) Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

9)  IN THE FEAR OF GOD

(Eph. 5:21)  Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
(Heb. 12:28) Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

10)  BE COOPERATIVE

(Phil. 2:13-14) For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings.

11)  BE ENTHUSIASTIC FROM THE HEART

(Col. 3:23) And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.
(Eph. 6:6) Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.
(Eph. 5:19)  Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.
(Col. 3:16) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

12)  NOT MEN-PLEASERS

(Gal. 1:10)  For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

13)  NOT IN THE FLESH

(Rom. 8:8)  So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

14)  IN THE NAME OF THE LORD

(Col. 3:17)  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

15)  DECENTLY AND IN ORDER

(1 Cor. 14:33)  For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
(1 Cor. 14:40)  Let all things be done decently and in order.

16)  TEXTS AND MUSIC TESTED AND PROVEN

(1 Thess. 5:21)  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
(Eph. 5:10)  Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

17)  THOUGHTFULLY/INTELLIGENTLY

(1 Cor. 14:15)  What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding [literally the mind] also.

18)  BY FAITH

(Heb. 11:6) But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

19)  NOT A STUMBLING BLOCK TO OTHERS

(Rom. 14:13)  Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.
(1 Cor. 8:9) But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

20)  UNTO EDIFICATION OF THE ASSEMBLY

1 Cor. 14:12) Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
(1 cor. 14:26) How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Compromising Situation

Picture this.  A little 5 year old girl how loves her mom and wants to make her happy. While outside playing on a warm and sunny spring day, sees some beautiful roses and decides to go over and pick them to give to her mom, simply because she wanted to express her love for her mother.   I don't know a mother that wouldn't be pleased that her daughter picked her some flowers just because she loved her.  However, these roses are a beautiful expression from her daughter.......they were not from their own garden.  Although mom is pleased and thankful for these roses, her daughter needs to understand that she stole them from the neighbors garden.  Obviously the mom has no choice but to explain to her daughter that even though these roses are a beautiful expression of love and admiration, it's not the right way to express it.  If things go unexplained, their could be consequences both from the neighbors and the mother, and there will definitely be consequences in that the little girl will continue thinking it's a perfectly acceptable thing to do, when it's not.

There are 2 types of ignorance that result from this.  If the property rules and overall apropiateness of that situation is not addressed by anyone, neither the mother nor the neighbors, and the little girl continues picking roses, then that is true ignorance where she does not know nor understand the wrong she's doing.  On the other hand if the mother or the neighbors explain to her and make sure she understands the wrongful behavior, yet she STILL picks the roses, that is called WILLFUL ignorance and she is choosing to ignore the right only to continue in that wrong.

This is very similar to Christian worship in that the Bible clearly tells the believer how to express their love and devotion in worship to the Lord and also what the improper ways of worship are.  Unfortunately, all are sinners and fall short of our callings in the Christian life.  James 1:5 is one of my favorite verses that encourages a believer to seek wisdom from God and assures the believer that God grants discernment when sincerely sought after.  There are so many examples in Scripture of right worship, wrong worship, and all the different aspects of worship that God has revealed for believers to explore and practice in their personal worship and cooperate worship and it's the responsibility of all believers to "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15. 

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