Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ritual Prayer

Daniel prayed to Jehovah.

   “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and forever, Amen.”
    It is right to make a ritual-habit of prayer.  The Four Gospels show Jesus praying regularly.  The Book of Psalms was used as a prayer-guide by the early church.  Christians pray in faith-believing, to a loving God who hears our prayers.
   “Remember, O Lord Jesus Christ, our God, Your mercies and loving kindness, which have been from everlasting.  You became the Son of Man to endure crucifixion and death for the salvation of all who rightly believe in You.  Heal the schisms of the churches; quench the ragings of the heathens, undo and root out the false, and confirm us by the Power of Your Spirit.  Amen.”
   "It shall come to pass That before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear.”  Isaiah 65:24

    “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. 11 Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. 12 And they went before the king, and spoke concerning the king's decree: "Have you not signed a decree that every man who petitions any god or man within thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?" The king answered and said, "The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter." 13 So they answered and said before the king, "That Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, does not show due regard for you, O king, or for the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day." 14 And the king, when he heard these words, was greatly displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him. 15 Then these men approached the king, and said to the king, "Know, O king, that it is the law of the Medes and Persians that no decree or statute which the king establishes may be changed." 16 So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, "Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you." 17 Then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed.”  Dan 6:10-17 (NKJV)

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”  Deut 6:4-5 (NKJV)  [Mark 12:28-31]
“And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land of which the Lord swore to your fathers, 19 to cast out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has spoken. 20 "When your son asks you in time to come, saying, 'What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which the Lord our God has commanded you?' 21 then you shall say to your son: 'We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; 22 and the Lord showed signs and wonders before our eyes, great and severe, against Egypt, Pharaoh, and all his household. 23 Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. 24 And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. 25 Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.”  Deut 6:18-25 (NKJV)

    “Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth." Rev 5:8-10 (NKJV)
  
    "Rain down, you heavens, from above, And let the skies pour down righteousness; Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation, And let righteousness spring up together. I, the Lord, have created it.”  Isaiah 45:8 (NKJV)


“Oh that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! That they were engraved on a rock With an iron pen and lead, forever!  For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;  And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”  Job 19:23-27 (NKJV)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

HOLY FIRE FROM GOD

Holy Fire In The Fireplace
    “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.  But he who endures to the end shall be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”  Matt 24:12-14
    “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.”  Ex 13:21
    The One Spiritual Church is the FIREPLACE in which the Holy Fire of The Holy Spirit burns.  Compare the Burning Bush. Exodus 3:2-6; Mount Horeb, Deuteronomy 4:15.  “And the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire.” Deut 4:12
    “And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?"  Luke 24:32
    1. God must be in some sense like man if the two are to relate.
     In biblical language, man is made in the image of God.
    “For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying: "What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him?  You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands.”  Hebrews 2:5-7
    a) Of course, that image has been distorted by sin, but we should be able to understand something of God from our knowledge of man. The characteristics of man necessary for relationship include abilities to love and hate, moral consciousness, emotion and language, and all of these are seen as reflections of corresponding characteristics of God. The Christian God is a personal God.
    2.  The essence of God includes relationship. How can this be, if God is one, and yet existed before He had created anyone to relate to? Solomon said the ways of God are past finding out.  Campbell spoke of Jehovah the Father, Jehovah the Son, Jehovah the Holy Spirit – emphasizing the Godhead.  The Greeks had a word for it: perichoresis.  From eternity God has internally related, loved, communicated with Himself.  Remember: He is GOD.  This is certainly a mystery, which the Christian describes in terms of the Trinity - Father, Son, Holy Spirit.  Col. 2:9.
    The Bible speaks of Jesus Christ as one with God, as existing from eternity, and as active in creation; and it speaks of the Holy Spirit as existing with and being of one nature with the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. To say that the three are one accurately summarizes the biblical material, but brings problems in itself.  Other writers have discussed these: here, we note only the insight it gives to the eternal love, communication and relationship in God.  Note 2 Cor. 13:14.  “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.”
    3.  God is the One who is revealed in history. Thus we can see what God is like from what He has done. He is more often described as the God of Israel or the Father of Jesus Christ than in terms of His characteristics, so we can expect to understand Him best through accounts of His actions and through personal experience of His actions towards us. Thus it will often be more appropriate to describe God as One who DOES something rather than One who IS something. Supremely, God is a God who Creates, who Loves, and who Saves. He is also a God who judges and destroys wickedness.
    a) The supreme revelation of God in history is in Jesus Christ. ‘No man has ever seen God; the Only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known’ (Jn. 1: 18).
    “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  John 1:16-17
    b) The question, ‘What is God like?’ is ultimately to be answered through a study of the person of Jesus Christ in the New Testament records.  We have the Four Gospels.
    “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”  Col 1:15-16
    “...who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”  Heb 1:3
    “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  2 Cor 3:17-18

    “The victory is ours, and the battle is the Lord’s.  He packs a stronger punch then you ever could.  One of my favorite expressions is, "The victory is ours, and the battle is the Lord’s." There have been many trials in my life, as there are in all of our lives. Jesus said that in the world we would have tribulation, but His exhortation was to be of good cheer, for He has overcome the world. James tells us to count it all joy when we have trials because these trials will form patience and other character traits of God in us.”  Linda Sommer   

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

I AM THE CHURCH

I Am The Church    [adapted from Dave Mason]
    I am the Church Triumphant - People redeemed by the Lamb of God.  [Col. 2:13-15.]  (“God made you alive with Christ.”)
    Jesus said: “I will build My church...I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.”  [Matt. 16:18-19.]
    “For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.”  Col 1:13-14 (NLT)
    “And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”  Matt 8:11
    “After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands.  And they were shouting with a mighty shout, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!”  Rev 7:9-10 (NLT)
 
    I am the Stone which Daniel saw, cut out without hands, filling the whole world.  I am the Kingdom which can never be destroyed.  I was born in the streets of Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost spoken about in Acts 2.

    I am millions (and billions) of believers living and dying faithfully for the sake of Christ Jesus over the past 2,000 years.  I am also the men and women of faith who will live in the future before our Lord Comes Again.  [Rev. 7:9-17.]

    I am Peter, Barnabas, and Paul.  I am Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Phoebe, Lois and Eunice.  I was there in a room in Jerusalem as tongues of fire landed on the 120 disciples.  I spoke in languages never learned.  3,000 people “obeyed the gospel” that day, responding to the message of hope & salvation which Peter preached.  Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled.  God’s New Covenant is now in effect!

    I am the souls of those persecuted, crucified, burned at the stake, imprisoned, beaten, and tortured.  I am the souls of those under the altar who had been killed for the faith, shouting out to the Lord: “Almighty Lord, faithful and true!” [Rev. 6:9-11.]

    I met in the Temple at Jerusalem for a while, growing to be 100,000 or more.  Many beautiful buildings have housed me and my people.  I am a kingdom not made with hands.  I am a kingdom not of this world.  I am the first fruits of the glory to come in Eternity.

    I am a Bible study in a home in the remotest jungle of Africa.  I am a group meeting in a Chinese prison.  I am 10,000 people lifting up their voices to God in a rented football stadium.  I am Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, and I am a teacher helping a child to draw a picture of the prodigal son.  I am a preacher comforting a family at a graveside.  I am a helper delivering the Lord’s Supper to a homebound person.

    I am the women’s class, the senior citizens, and I am the family who learns a new language to go to a foreign country to preach Christ.  I am a group of teenagers helping a neighbor.  I am 50 people meeting in a steelworker’s building.  1 am 250 people constructing a new church-building.  I am 450 people stepping out in faith to buy land with the dream of reaching their community with the gospel of Christ Jesus.

    I am a clerk in a supermarket, a nurse in the ER, out on the highway directing traffic, a teacher in the public schools, a lawyer, a judge, a steelworker, many things.  But I am a pilgrim journeying on my way to Heaven.  [Hebrews 11:13.]

    I am the church - the Body of Christ founded upon the Rock which is Jesus The Truth.  I am being renewed every day even as my outward body is perishing.  My light and momentary troubles are achieving an eternal glory that outweighs them all.  I keep my eyes on the unseen, not on the visible.  This world is temporary, but our God is Eternal.  [Col. 3:10.]

    I am all those called together from the world.  I am Jew, Greek, man, woman, slave, freeman, from every nation in the world, and I speak a babble of languages.  Yet I am One in Christ.  I am all of us who have been baptized into the One Body by the same Holy Spirit.  [1 Cor. 12:13]

    I am a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a unique and distinct group of people faithfully following Jesus the Master.  I am blood-bought, baptized, Spirit-filled, cross-carrying, message-proclaiming, hope-giving, regenerated and renewed people-of-God.  [1 Peter 2:9-10.]

        May I remain faithful until He Comes Again.  Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess: Jesus Is Lord!  To Him be the honor and glory and power both now and forevermore!!! 
                I am the church.  [Rev. 19:1-10.]  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

New life and new bodies

I WOULD NOT HAVE YOU IGNORANT
    “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”  1 Thess 4:13-14 (KJV)
    What Paul had said about a life that pleases God likely has something to do with their misunderstanding of Christ’s Coming.  Some part of the preaching of the Gospel had been twisted into a reason why they should not live a quiet and active life.  And why they were sorrowful about those Christians who had died.  Their sadness had its roots in their belief that the dead would not share in Christ’s Heavenly Kingdom.  Paul’s reasoning is this: We believe that Christ raised from the dead.  Therefore we believe the dead will be raised through Christ when He Comes.
    1. The Lord’s Coming
    “We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.”  1 Thess 4:15-18 (NLT)
    a) Personal existence continues after death.   “Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."  Luke 23:42-43 (NKJV)
    b) Those who have died await the resurrection.  “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.”  1 Cor 15:22-23 (NKJV)
    c) Paul does not prohibit grief (cp. John 16:6,20; Phil 2:27) but calls Christian mourners to abandon the kind of grief typical of those who have no hope in God.  “For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.” Phil 2:27 (NKJV)
    2. Our faith in Christ.
    a) The central Christian faith, that Jesus died and was raised to life again, is the foundation for hope in the face of death, guaranteed by the resurrection of Christ.
    “Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."  Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"  She said to Him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world."  John 11:24-27 (NKJV)
    “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” 1 Cor 15:20-22 (NKJV)
    b) God will bring back refers to the resurrection of believers.
    “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”  Matt 24:31 (NKJV)
    “This strong hope characterized the outlook of the early Christians. They were able to endure their suffering because their eyes were fixed on what lay beyond this life (2 Cor 4:16-18; Heb 12:2). They expected Jesus to return and resurrect their bodies. They looked forward to living with him forever (1 Pet 1:3-6, 23). Jesus' own bodily resurrection was the foundation of their Christian faith (15:12-20; Acts 4:33; see also 2 Cor 4:14).
The resurrection body will be fundamentally different from the body we experience in this life, with all its limitations and failings. Our resurrected bodies will be glorious, strong, immortal, and spiritual, like Christ's own resurrection body (1 Cor 15:35-58).”  —NLT Study Bible
    “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”  1 Cor 15:50-52 (NKJV)
                c) And so we will always be with the Lord.  The Lord’s Church does not terminate, but is united to Christ as a bride to her husband.  The Heavenly Wedding Feast continues forever without end.  Revelation 19:5-9

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

SUFFERING

Don’t waste your pain.
    "These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble.  They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.  And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.”  John 16:1-3 (NKJV)
    “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."  John 16:33 (NKJV)
    “God never promised He would prevent every difficulty, but He promised He would use every difficulty.  (1 Cor 10:13)”  Osteen
    “Don’t just go through it – grow through it.”  Osteen
    “The Gospel without Hope is not the Gospel.”  Wright
    “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”  1 Cor 13:13 (KJV)
    1. Paul speaks of his experiences.
    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  2 Cor 1:3-4 (NKJV)
    “The source of afflictions is the sin of humanity.  The purpose of afflictions, if we use them properly, may be our comfort and salvation, as the Father Himself preserves us through them.  The means of facing our afflictions is a hope in God, which allows us to enter into the afflictions of others in actual, experiential knowledge.  In this case, this means people empathizing with their apostle’s trials.  The communion of the saints, spiritual solidarity, is to begin now in the pains of this life.  The godly suffer, in part, so that having experienced God’s comfort they in turn can comfort others.”  Wallerstedt
    2. Paul’s qualifications.
    “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ?--I speak as a fool--I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.”  2 Cor 11:22-23 (NKJV)
    “Using his opponents’ level of argument, Paul lists his Jewish and Christian credentials.  If genealogy means anything, which it does to the Jews, Paul has it.  If Christian experience means anything, no one can compare with him: his sufferings; his compassionate, involved concern for his people, even his bizzare adventures.”  Wallerstedt
     “I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds. For what is it in which you were inferior to other churches, except that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong!”  2 Cor 12:11-13 (NKJV)
    3. The Joy set before Jesus.
    “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Heb 12:1-2 (NKJV)
    “The cloud of witnesses includes not only the OT saints mentioned in Hebrews 11, but also the saints and martyrs of the Lord in all ages.  If they made it, so can we.  We persevere by 1) getting rid of sin, the weight which keeps us from heeding the truth.  2) setting as our destination the heavenly City, running the race of faith.  3) Keeping our attention focused on Jesus Christ our Lord and King.  This race is not a sprint but a marathon of endurance: It does not end until we fully enter the age to come (1 Cor. 9:24-27).”  Wallerstedt
    "These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  John 14:25-27 (NKJV)


Friday, May 19, 2017

WORSHIP

 Standard 1991                                                                                                

PUT WORSHIP IN THE WORSHIP SERVICE
Rhoderick D. Ice

        "Would you buy hair-restorer from a baldheaded barber?"  Dr. Flavil Yeakley is an expert on Church Growth.  A few years ago he surveyed a typical Church of Christ in my area.  He found: only 53% believed they were saved; 2% actually believed they were lost; the rest really did not know whether they were saved or lost.  This was among active members.  How can someone who has no assurance of his/her own salvation reach out with Christ to the unsaved???
        When both the tabernacle and the temple were built, the glory of the Lord filled them (Exodus 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:10-11).  Ditto the Jerusalem church at Pentecost (Acts 2).  Should not we expect such to be true today when we are in harmony with the Lord???  How would this "glory" express itself?
        The story is told of a minister who visited one of the more exuberant churches.  He went home and arranged the Sunday service to attempt to capture this ebullience.  They failed.  He returned to videotape the exuberant service.  This time they sang the same songs, prayed the exact words, and he preached the exact sermon.  But they could not "fake" the "verve."  It is impossible to share what is not "real" to the one trying to share.
        Some seem to be rediscovering the Holy Spirit.  Paul wrote: "Do not put out the Spirit's fire" (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:19).  "He [The Spirit] will be with you forever" (cf. John 14:16-17).  Joel spoke of both men and women, both young and old, being touched by The Spirit (cf. Acts 2). Christians are to be "filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18).  We are to "pray[ing] in the Holy Spirit" (Jude 20)   We have accepted His blood - but have we accepted His Spirit?  Paul warns about "form" without "power" (2 Timothy 3:5).  The Pharisees studied the Scriptures intently as they searched for eternal life.  Yet they missed the most important point - JESUS (John 5:38-40).  It would be tragic to read "letter" but miss "Spirit" (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:6-18).  It is by the power of The Spirit that we worship God.
        The "worship service  is the correct place to begin evangelism.  The "warmth" of worship helps to create the desire to share this great gift from God.  In personal life, praise generates worship.  Praise is thanking God, expressing our love, gratitude, appreciation.  Worship involves personal communication with God, centering on His person.  In worship we enter God's presence.
        "Revitalize the worship by practicing the presence of God."  Jesus said HE was right there when "two or three are gathered together in My name" (Matthew 18:20).  Do we think Jesus as we worship?  If we could see Him with our eyes, would it make a difference in HOW we worship?
        God wishes to meet with us and move among us, interacting with and transforming His People.  He does not give us a Bible quiz on Sunday, so that He can bless us the following week.  We focus so much on evangelism, that worship seems an optional activity.  Compare Revelation ch 4.  "You art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created."
        Worship in living color!  Jesus thrilled with joy through the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:21).  Paul commanded: "Rejoice always!"  We may worship acceptably, yet be denying ourselves a blessing we should receive.  It is the difference between black-and-white and color.  The black-and-white is accurate and satisfactory.  But color adds a valuable dimension.  Preaching the word is essential.  But we need the joyful participation of the congregation!  We need Holy Joy!
        First century worship certainly compared to the "pre-game rally."  Their Lord - and ours - has risen from the dead.  The Lord's Supper proclaims His death until He comes [again].  This is the Gospel message.  Historical, factual, real.  How can we not praise Him who made all this possible?
        If I were the devil: I would try to steal away all the praise, honor and joy from the worship of God.  I would emphasize duty and encourage form without power (2 Timothy 3:5).  If I were the devil I would try to see that worship was lifeless and spiritless [Spiritless], and that any who questioned this procedure were immediately "suspect" of abandoning the faith.    
        This from Logan Fox, former missionary to Japan and Family Counselor.  Apply this to the meaning of worship.  "I am now convinced that the church is failing in its mission of 'healing' because we have failed to heed Jesus' words: 'Judge not.'  We have relied on the power of social disapproval in trying to change people's behavior, rather than relying on the power of acceptance and love.  In this, we have shown that we trust the power of world more than the spiritual power of love and holiness."

        STRUCTURING WORSHIP.  Four types of structure may be seen in worship among the Churches in our religious world.  Each of these has some truth.  Each may relate in part to the worship we see in the New Testament Church. Notice that the New Testament carefully avoids giving a detailed description of a typical worship service.  Rather we deduce elements and patterns of what they must have done from things which are said.  The synagogue must have served as a model.  Yet certainly there were some differences in "worship" between Jews and Gentiles.  Even today among us, the basic elements are the same, but are worked out in individual ways as the result of many cultural factors and other such things.  We speak to God from the fullness of our heart, in the language of our own idiom.

        The Lecture Approach.  This has become our traditional form.  Bible study is the emphasis.  Worship is expressed in "classroom terms."  The sermon is the center and focus.  Worshipers are passive except for the few who serve.

        The Evangelism Approach.  This grows out of the "Workshop Movement." Worship is viewed in the context of "soul winning."  It is, to some degree, the re-creation of the "Gospel Tent."  The invitation becomes the center of focus.  The entire "sermon" may be a prolonged invitation to sinners to come forward to give themselves to Christ ["obey the Gospel"].  Other matters equally weighty are sometimes overlooked.  One such Evangelistic Church was said to keep only eight of every hundred baptized.

        The Self-Help Approach.  We may see this extreme in certain TV preachers. Worship is seen as individual-centered.  Each is encouraged to seek personal worth and success.  Some would say that this is the "ME generation in church clothes."  Yet notice how Jesus emphasized wholeness and self-help.  Healing of lives is as needed as salvation from sins.  Note Hebrews 6:1-3.

        The Entertainment and Numbers Approach.  The extreme of this is seen in some TV Evangelists.  Worship is structured as a TV Extravaganza.  There is a stage, with performers presenting a package to the audience.  This grows out of contemporary American culture, and we all understand this approach.

        How To Reach The Masses!  Paul "met people where they were" (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).  He could be a "Jew," a "Gentile," a "vegetarian," and any other of the myriad forms which human culture takes.  Paul could "relate" to Onesimus, the runaway slave; "relate" to the very strict Pharisees; and preach to  Greek Philosophers on Mars Hill.  But in every case Paul's motive was to elevate Christ and His Gospel!

        WHAT KIND OF GOD?  What kind of God would demand worship from His creation?  As well ask: "What kind of father/mother would expect love and honor from his/her children?"  It is the normal order of things.  God loves us!  He gave us the gift of life & being.  We in turn were created to love Him and praise Him.  This basic idea of praise and honor is brought out in many ways throughout the Scriptures.  Psalms and Revelation stand out in giving form and language to our worship.
       
        SHAKE THE WORLD!  When the saints of old prayed, the house was shaken (Acts 4:31).  Faith is the victory - but faith certainly must find expression. Let's put worship back into the worship service.  Let's praise and honor God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and The Holy Spirit.  [Some may argue that everything is to be directed toward God the Father.  But we worship one God, not three: Father-Son-Holy Spirit.]  Let praise and joy fulfill the role which God intended for them!
        Then a voice came from the throne, saying, "Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!" (Revelation 19:5  NKJV).

        "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
        For His mercy endures forever,
        Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
        Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
        And gathered out of the lands,
        From the east and from the west,
        From the north and from the south."
        (Psalm 107:1-3  NKJV)



Monday, March 13, 2017

We always need God's Power

We Always Need God’s Power
    Storms down trees and power lines in northeast to be followed by snow!  Our nation runs on power.  So does the church.
    “The sufferings brought by the heat, or cold, or any other inconvenience, the heavy weight of grief or sorrow, may be considered as the eternal decrees of Providence which sends suffering for your own good and proportions it to your strength. In this way, God’s fatherly love and tenderness for you will become evident. It is apparent in the opportunities that He gives you to serve Him in the way that is most pleasing to Him.”  Lorenzo

    1. The world runs on POWER.
    Some like the JWs teach that the Holy Spirit is “just a power like electricity.”  The recent power outage shows us how much we NEED the POWER.  The same is true in the church.
    “...having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”  2 Tim 3:5
    The form and power of  godliness are a package deal.  We normally do not have form of godliness without the power.  Outward forms may be carried on doctrinally but be without power or conviction.  As faith without works is a form without substance, just so is religion without power.  This is a stern warning to us who are committed to proper form. 
    “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not despise prophecies.  Test all things; hold fast what is good.  Abstain from every form of evil.”  1 Thess 5:16-22
    God The Holy Spirit is to be actively present in the life of the church.  Note Stephen.  "You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.”  Acts 7:51 

    2. Spiritual power is God’s Promise.
    Campbell spoke of: Jehovah the Father, Jehovah the Son, Jehovah the Holy Spirit.  God is One, a united one (echad).  [The Christian System]
    “And while more than 150 specific works of the Holy Spirit are mentioned in the NT, let’s not forget that without the Spirit there could be no Bible - OT or NT.  Kendall declares that the greatest work is the Bible itself, having inspired those who wrote it (2 Peter 1:20-21).”  J.Taylor

It is the Spirit’s Bible.
Copyright every word.
Only His thoughts are uttered.
Only His voice is heard.

    “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high."  Luke 24:49
    “For thine is the kingdom, and the POWER, and the glory forever.  Amen.”  Matt. 6:13

    3. Spirit Power For Christian Living.
    Note Paul.  “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”  Romans 8:26-27
    Therefore, honor The Spirit by asking Him (God) to help you fall out of (worldly) fear and into love with Him.  He is your Comforter/Helper, Guide, Enabler, Renewer, Refresher.
    “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.”  1 John 4:17-19
    “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord--that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”  James 5:10-11
    “While I may stand at the coffin of my first wife and doubt the love of God, it is impossible for me to do so when I’m kneeling at the foot of the cross.”  J.M.Hicks
    “Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints.” Psalms 116:15
     “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

2 Peter 1:2-4 (NKJV)