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Archive for August, 2008

WISE – Worship

Partake – Words In Scripture Explored – Worship

What is worship?

I wonder what you think worship is? Is your view of worship, too small? Worship is giving God alone (Psalm 19v2), glory due His name in the beauty of His holiness (1 Chronicles 16v29), with reverence. This is where through the use of the mind and the senses, honour and respect are directed towards God, “in spirit and in truth” (John 4v24)! Worshipping in Spirit involves the whole person – mind, body and will. Worshipping in truth means that all true worship reflects God’s character. The Christian Church has 2000 years of worship resources, all of which can be used in modern Church services, and not just the latest songs! Worship in a church service should be an intimate, dynamic and holy encounter with God.

Why worship?

Firstly God commands it, as 1 Chronicles 16v29 reminds us “Give to the Lord the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his presence. Worship the Lord in all his holy splendour”. God deserves worshipping for He alone personifies goodness (Psalm 100vv4-5), mercy (Exodus 4v31), holiness (Psalm 99v5,9) and power (Revelation 4v11). God is to be worshipped in obedience to Him as creator (Revelation 4v11), Saviour and Lord (Habakkuk 3v18). Worship brings exuberant satisfaction (Romans 12v2; Colossians 3v24). When was the last time you had worship like that!!

Worship is obedience and submission

And of course worshipping with others in a church is worship! But it is only part of worship, and certainly not the full meaning of worship! Does that surprise you? Worship is not just on the Sunday, or individual acts during the rest of the week! Worship, in the wider biblical sense of the word, for the Christian is to be an active dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ and seeking a life of total obedience and submission to Him. True worship of the living God involves total obedience to His ways and not just singing songs. For the ancient Israelites, sacrifices were an innate part of their life and worship structure. Yet as Samuel said: “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15v22) What he is saying is that God prefers life obedience rather than acts of worship. Obedience and submission to God is true worship of Him! By seeking to obey Him and submit your life to Him, that is true worship of Him. Worship is to be to God alone! Yet sometimes preachers and other church leaders are raised to an unhealthy status of reverence that is unbiblical. It is as if they are being worshipped, rather than God, to whom you are exhorted to obey and submit to. So go! Go obey and submit your life to God and make your whole life as an act of worship to Him!

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WISE – God of Judgment

Partake – Words in Scripture Explored – God of Judgment

We all have at some point liked to think of God as being all love and never judging. People say “It will be alright in the end, because the love of God conquers all.” Well, remember also, that love involves judging! God is the judge of all the earth, the writer of Hebrews reminds us (Hebrews 12v23)! This judgment has several aspects to it:

Unbiased

God shows no favouritism (Romans 2v11). God is eternally just and righteous. It is a reflection of His mercy, that nobody can claim God is unfair.

Unavoidable

Jesus Christ will judge the whole world with justice (Acts 17v31). People are destined to die once and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9v27). What is common to all people, is a universal sinfulness (Romans 2v1). What is in the murderer or the thief is in all people, everywhere and of all time. That is sin and it must be judged. Judgement will be before the Great White Throne of Judgment (Revelation 20v11-15).

Universal

Judgement covers both unbelievers and believers!

Judgment of unbelievers – Those who do not profess Jesus, as God, will be judged according to their sinfulness. They are already guilty, because they didn’t take up the offer during their earthly life. These people will be cast into the lake of fire with satan and his angels (Revelation 20v15; Matthew 25v41). This punishment is eternal (Matthew 25v46).

Judgment of Christian Disciples – And that is not all! Those who are believers, Christian disciples, and are actively engaged in a relationship with Jesus Christ, will also be judged! Does that surprise you? While these people have accepted God’s free offer and are declared righteous by faith, they will be judged according to the things they have done with, and in, their faith. Belief and faith is to be supported by good works (Galatians 5v6; James 2v18).

As a Christian Disciple, you will not be judged for sin – this has been judged (Isaiah 53v4-6; 1 Peter 2v24), and you have salvation on that basis! This judgment is not for your salvation but for your crown! As a Christian Disciple, you will be asked to give an account of yourself (Romans 14v10), and you will be judged according to what you have done (2 Corinthians 5v10). The quality of your work will be tested (1 Corinthians 3v11-15) and your motives exposed – either you did things for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 4v4-5) or you did them for your own glory.

As a Christian Disciple, you will give account of the opportunities and abilities entrusted to you (Matthew 25v14-30). Rewards may be gained or lost (1 Corinthians 3v14-15). These rewards are described as an incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9v25); a crown of glory (1 Peter 5v4); crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4v8); crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2v19) and the crown of life (James 1v12)

So, go this day. Go this week! Go tell somebody of the crown waiting for them, if only they are willing to enter into a living and dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ! Remember – do all you do, for God’s glory and not your own!

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WISE – Salvation

Partake – Words In Scripture Explored – Salvation

Salvation! What is it?

Salvation means a rescue or having been saved! As humans, from the time we are born, we inherit a sinful nature and are alienated from God. But God has seen fit to offer a way back into relationship with Him, so that we may no longer be alienated from Him! This offer of relationship is a result of Jesus, who was both fully God and fully man, dying on the cross.

Who decides who is saved?

The question “Who decides the saved?” has been asked for centuries!! There are two extremist views – one view says, “God has decided who is saved and nothing can be done about it.” The other view says that God will grant salvation to all.

But we need to see these two views in the balance of Scripture. Firstly God does choose individuals to fulfil His purposes (Romans 9) and He chooses those who are, or will be, saved (John 15v16). These chosen ones are called the elect. However, it is also His will that all people should be saved (1 Timothy 2v3-4) and that nobody should perish (2 Peter 3v9).

So in reading those two statements, we must accept both these Scriptural statements as equally and absolutely true. When we use words about God with a time element such as ‘chose’, ‘elect’, we need to consider God’s infinite time framework, timelessness, and not in our human finite time framework. So God offers salvation to all, and leaves the responsibility to take up the offer with humans.

Saved from and saved to?

As a Christian you are now saved from everlasting alienation from Him, for that’s what Hell is. As a Christian you are saved to an everlasting relationship with Him, for that’s what Heaven is. Salvation is for all people of all time and of every nation. As a Christian, you have accepted the offer.

Salvation! What do you do with it?

Now you are to do what Paul suggests in Philippians 2v12-13: “Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” So now you live to please God alone and not your self.

Go this week and tell somebody this Good News of salvation that God offers, and continue to show the transforming power of God in your life. For as one of the early church fathers Irenaeus said, “To follow Jesus is to participate in salvation.”

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POD – Psalm 14

Psalm 14

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14:1 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt.
They have done abominable works.
There is none who does good.
14:2 Yahweh looked down from heaven on the children of men,
to see if there were any who understood,
who sought after God.
14:3 They have all gone aside.
They have together become corrupt.
There is none who does good, no, not one.
14:4 Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge,
who eat up my people as they eat bread,
and don’t call on Yahweh?
14:5 There they were in great fear,
for God is in the generation of the righteous.
14:6 You frustrate the plan of the poor,
because Yahweh is his refuge.
14:7 Oh that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!
When Yahweh restores the fortunes of his people,
then Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

WISE – God of Love

Partake – Words In Scripture Explored – A God Of Love

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We live in a world that is in love with love. Love, according to some people, is what makes the world go around. In the Bible, God’s love is revealed. The Apostle John in 1 John 4 does not simply say that God loves, but rather that God is love. Remember that God is the Holy Trinity, three persons in one. The Trinity is a living, vibrant community of love, and every activity of the Trinity, is an expression of love. God loves because that is His very nature.

Throughout the Bible, God’s love is described as an unfailing, everlasting, intimate, sacrificial, unbreakable, conquering, immeasurable and all-knowing. How is God’s love seen? It is seen in two ways.

Firstly, it is shown supremely in that He has given His Son to be the Saviour of the world, so that if a person takes up that opportunity, they can know and enjoy God in a personal relationship. God had only one Son, Jesus Christ, and He sent Him on a rescue mission to seek the lost and to reconcile people to God. This is love in action. The lover dying for the ones He loves.

Secondly, God’s love is shown when Christians love. As a Christian, you are a child of God, so you should want to be like your Heavenly Father, by showing the world your love for others and your transformed character. The Christian Church should be a community of love, for this is how the world sees God

If people see Christians that are not loving and kind, rightly or wrongly, the whole Church is branded as a bunch of fakes and hypocrites. Worse still, God is seen at best as nothing more than a distant uncaring irrelevant figure. The love between Christians is seen as a visible showing of the invisible God. The very character of the church should always be to reflect God in all aspects. The ultimate example of showing people God, is for you as a Christian, to love and be love. People should be seeing God’s love, through your love. For as Jesus said, “All men will know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another” (John 13:35).

His love releases us from the things that entangle our daily walk with Him. The more you hold onto His love, the more you will desire it and the more it will be revealed in your daily life. Your love in action today, reflects God’s love in action on the cross. Go and love – to the glory of God! Maranatha!

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POD – Psalm 16

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Psalm 16

1 Preserve me, God, for in you do I take refuge.
2 My soul, you have said to Yahweh, “You are my Lord.
Apart from you I have no good thing.”
3 As for the saints who are in the earth,
they are the excellent ones in whom is all my delight.
4 Their sorrows shall be multiplied who give gifts to another god.
Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,
nor take their names on my lips.
5 Yahweh assigned my portion and my cup.
You made my lot secure.
6 The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places.
Yes, I have a good inheritance.
7 I will bless Yahweh, who has given me counsel.
Yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons.
8 I have set Yahweh always before me.
Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoices.
My body shall also dwell in safety.
10 For you will not leave my soul in Sheol,
neither will you allow your holy one to see corruption.
11 You will show me the path of life.
In your presence is fullness of joy.
In your right hand there are pleasures forevermore

Wise – Sacrifice

Partake – Words In Scripture Explored – Sacrifice

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In the Old Testament, the people of Israel were to make sacrificial offerings to God, in order to worship and have fellowship with Him. For without sacrifice, nobody could enter God’s presence! But what does all this have to do with us in the 21st century.

In the book of Leviticus, God commanded that the cleansing of a defiled house required sprinkling with a mixture of blood and ‘living’ water, the bird having been slain over the water (Leviticus 14v51). Elsewhere we read of the ‘water of cleansing’ (Numbers 19), which is also called ‘living water’. This was water that had been sprinkled with the ashes of a young cow, and was kept aside for purification by sprinkling those who had touched a dead body. In both cases, this water had been cleansed by the shedding of blood and sacrifice. The cleansing was to be through the blood of sacrifice, applied through the sprinkled water. For there is no cleansing without the shedding of blood.

At the time of Ezekiel, Israel was in exile due to their sin and idolatry. They needed to be cleansed before being allowed back into their own country. Ezekiel 36v24-25 tell us that “God will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your filthiness, and from all your idols.” This pointed forward to One, the Messiah, who would be slain as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.

This One, was Jesus Christ who died for sin, the just for the unjust (1 Peter 3v18 ). That is how God is both the Just and the Justifier of sinners. That is why if Jesus was not simultaneously fully God and fully human, His death on the cross would not be the full substitutionary sacrifice that was necessary to deal with the permanent consequences of sin! This substitution was the sin offering sacrifice, required so that Jesus as the Lamb of God could take away the sins of the world (John 1v29). Jesus became sin for people (2 Corinthians 5v21) and it was His blood as the lamb without spot or blemish (1Peter 1:18-19) that permanently fulfils God’s righteous requirements.

If you are a follower of Jesus, you are no longer defiled and you have no need to make sacrifices to God, in order to enter His presence, worship Him or have fellowship with Him. Jesus, who is your living water and your sacrificial lamb, gives you permanent access to God.  You may no longer be called to make sacrifices, but you are called to be a sacrifice. You are to be a living sacrifice that continually offers sacrifices of praise to God! You do this, through a whole life totally devoted to God, doing good and sharing (Hebrews 13v15-16)! By doing this, you help Jesus’ church revolutionise the world! May it be so. Thank you.

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