Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends-18

     Luke 2:49 indicates Jesus had unusual spiritual sensitivity. Does it mean He knew then He was the Messiah? Maybe and maybe not.
     But it does mean He understood that God had a specific, personal claim on his life to one degree or another.
     And what did He do about it? He went home and correctly played his proper role as a family member (Luke 2:51-52). He continued to do so for the next eighteen years (John 2:3-10).
     My first and greatest opportunity to behave in a Christ-like manner is at home with my family. If I don't follow his example there I won't follow it anywhere. 




     Genesis 4:26 states the people began to "call on the name of the LORD".
     Do I call on his name in surrender as often as I do in request? Do I call on his name asking that He change me as often as I ask him to change others?




     In my efforts to please my Father I need to emphasize relationships more than rules. I must not allow myself to settle for reasonable success in the "Thou shalt not" category of Christian living, while ignoring the "cup of cold water" part.




     Joshua 24:15 says "Choose you this day whom you will serve". I think we are also asked each day to decide who we will "worship."  This will be determined and demonstrated by which TV shows we watch, what internet images we download, which magazines we read, how we spend our money, which gossip we listen to, what attitudes we reinforce, which priorities we develop and what parts of our culture we embrace.    

The Great He Is

At the burning bush Moses asked God to identify Himself. God replied, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14) In that same verse he directed Moses to tell the Hebrew people the “I AM” sent him. Our assignment as God’s children and servants is to tell people HE IS!

HE IS the truth.
HE IS the one who forgives sin.
HE IS the only path to eternal life in heaven.
HE IS the wisdom we need to succeed in this life.
HE IS  the final victor in the battle between good and evil.
HE IS the creator and sustainer of the universe.
HE IS  the one who gives us joy and peace.
HE IS our protector from temptation.
HE IS our refuge. 

HE IS
and it is our privilege to tell everyone we meet!

The Outward Joy of Worship

My relationship with Jesus gives me daily strength that may or may not be accompanied by a feeling of euphoria. My relationship with Jesus gives me joy and peace that may or may not be accompanied by the need to sing and shout. My relationship with Jesus gives me confidence and a sense of security that may or may not be accompanied by a mountain-top sense of revival and rapture.

Corporate worship should lead me to new heights of spiritual excitement, but it should also reinforce my existing levels of spiritual belief. It is not a wasted worship experience that says “You are on the right track. You are headed in the right direction. Keep fighting the fight. Stay on course.”

Should I ever become satisfied with the level of my devotion to Jesus? Of course not! But is it wrong for me to be pleased that I am growing in Him? I don’t thing so.

I don’t feel a time of corporate worship must be deemed a failure if I am not transported to the throne of God and emotionally thrilled by the activities that transpire there. If I approach Him in my own quiet way, if I take joy in my time with my brothers and sisters, if the Holy Spirit reinforces my devotion and submission to Him I will feel my time has been well-spent.

There are times of corporate high, holy excitement. The valleys are endurable only because of the mountain tops. But it may be unrealistic to think that every Christian can attain a mountaintop every Sunday morning. And undue efforts to attain such worship levels may prevent other desirable worship experiences.

My Worship Relationship with Jesus

I worship God on the basis of my relationship with Him. I recognize Him as “high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1) but I also enter into his presence “boldly” (Hebrews 4:16.) Such confident worship is available only to God’s children.

It is only because of my relationship with Him that I am allowed to approach Him at all, except to say “Please forgive me. I am a sinner.” I am his child (Romans 8:16.) This father-son relationship between us gives me access to Him, no matter what my failures or shortcomings might be.

So when I worship Him I recognize that his power, knowledge, majesty and holiness are far beyond my understanding. BUT I also know that his fatherhood provides love, mercy and protection that will never end.

If I knew God only as a stranger I would have to worship Him only in fear and trembling, resembling Isaiah’s “Woe is me” (Isaiah 6:5.) But I know Him as my Father, so my fear and trembling are accompanied with a confident “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15.)

Nothing can change this relationship. It is secure for all eternity.

My Sunday Responsibility

As a Christian, what is my responsibility toward the Sunday morning worship time? What does God expect of me concerning that one hour of “holy huddle” each week?

It begins with prayers on Monday morning. I need to set aside time each weekday to pray for the pastor and each person who will have a leadership roll during the next worship service.

Then I am to ask God if He wants me to invite anyone to attend the next service with me. Do I know anyone who needs what He will provide then?

I should also begin to pray for myself that I will learn what God wants to teach me during that time. I need to give the Holy Spirit permission to start preparing my mind and will to receive His message.

Throughout the week I should plan my weekend so that nothing interferes with my attendance at God’s house. It is my responsibility to control my time to guarantee I will be in my place.

On Sunday morning I must get out of bed early enough to be on time without any hassle, rush or last-minute confusion. The self-discipline of time control is vital.

When I arrive at the worship site I need to focus on God. I must yield my will to Him so I can be taught and molded. The actions of the pastor and worship leader should be secondary to my understanding of God’s word and will. The Holy Spirit will speak to me during the worship time if I want Him to and if I block out distractions.

Throughout the worship time I should be in prayer for others. I should be asking the Father to lead the pastor to say only the things He wants said, praying that all of us hear clearly and correctly.

Lastly I am to continue praying for myself that God’s message will produce His desired results in my life during the coming week. Then, with gratitude for the opportunity to worship and for those who have helped me do so, I must remember the Golden Rule as I drive out of a crowded and confused parking lot.

Worshipping Jesus

Having a close, personal relationship with Jesus allows me to hear and respond to music that only He and I can hear. When I hear it I smile and others don’t know why. I move in rhythms and steps they do not understand.  I find satisfaction from dancing enthusiastically when others have not been aware there was any music for us to dance to.

Others may find my behavior a little strange, but Jesus and I don’t care. No one benefits when they criticize me for engaging in our fellowship dance. For some reason they seem to feel that “different” is wrong and praise dancing is somehow irreverent. I never want to disturb the worship of others, but I also never want to avoid Spirit-led activity.

Sometimes our relationship results in praise words rather than worship dancing. At such times I tend to sing too loud and ignore the worship leader on the platform. I may be the only one in the crowd that starts singing another verse when he is finished. I may get carried away and sing the song the way we used to sing it sixty years ago. Sometimes I forget I am not the only person in the room.

But Jesus and I don’t care. I think unison in worship is overrated, anyway.

Psalm 100

What Blocks Your View Of God

The children of Israel were not allowed to see the full glory and majesty of God when Moses went onto the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. This was for their protection and safety.

But God has no wish or reason to shield Himself from his children today. He wants us to understand as much about Him as our minds will allow.

And this is also our desire. We have a deep longing to get a clear, focused view of his goodness, power, majesty and love. This longing to know Him is partly why we go to church. After all, where better to find the heart and mind of God than in his house? But unfortunately there are things in many churches that serve to block, rather than clarify our view of Him.

All too often, the pastor himself is the obstructing figure. His charisma, reputation, preaching style and leadership make him so imposing that we cannot see beyond him to God. He casts such a spell that God seems almost secondary.

In other situations denominational matters keep us from our quest. Requirements for lock-step worship styles, demands for participation in programs and loudly announced disagreements with other groups create a cloud that prevents us from seeing God.

Sometimes activity becomes a hindrance. Social service projects, political activism, food and clothing distribution, church beautification and fund raising for missions block our view. Good things all, they become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

As God’s children, we are the church. We constitute the group of born-again believers who form a local congregation. If we cannot easily and consistently find God when we attend services together, we must allow the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts and minds. Are there problems within us that are blocking our view?

Then, with the wisdom offered us in James 1:5, we can help our church become a place where God is visible to all.