Please listen to the music player on the right hand column or search through the resources and links.

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.