Tuesday, February 23, 2010

God’s Omniscience, Our Worship

by Andy Muxlow

Isn’t it fascinating to think about the all-knowing nature of our God?  Our eternal God spoke the heavens into place. His perfect design of creation was not studied or learned; he knows everything (Isaiah 40:13-14). There is nothing that God ever improved upon knowing.  He never needs an advanced study of any subject, any place or anyone.  Our time in history is called “the Information Age,” and God does not even need to process it; He, by nature, already knows it.  It’s an interesting concept, but God does not discover anything.  I wonder what He thinks when mankind finally makes a scientific discovery. For instance, the telescope that can see the galaxies but never see an end to space.  Although unbelievers continue to suppress the truth, we have the privilege of worshiping and marveling at our Creator and His amazing design.

Not only does God know everything in our world; He actually knows you.  In a very real sense, He knows you better than you do. He knows the real you. First Samuel 16:7 says, “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”  If you’re like me, there have been times that I am so thankful that despite man’s criticism in certain times of my life, God knows my heart.  And then there are other times that man’s praise of my actions is my shallow reward in full because God knew my wrongful heart motives. You see, God is as concerned with the why of what we do as He is with the what. He knows our thoughts even before we act or speak. Psalm 139:4 says, “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold oh LORD, you know it altogether.” 

The truth of God’s omniscience should not raise questions about why we pray, but rather drive us to pray. In Psalm 19:12, David prays, “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.”  Who else is worthy of our praises and cares than the God who has infinite knowledge and unwavering, undersierved love for us through Christ?
Read the entire post

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Worship Throughout the Week

by Ken Harvey

What does true worship look like?  How do you know that you are worshiping God?  If you were asked these questions, how would you respond?  We need to periodically ask ourselves these questions to constantly check our motives and to make sure that we have a proper understanding of foundational truths.

When approaching our time of corporate worship, do not slip into the danger of thinking that worship takes place only when you are singing. Understand that worship, that is your spiritual service, is living a transformed and holy life (Romans 12:1-2; Psalms 51:17). Every obedient action and thought that is observed in faith and with joy is an act of praise to God. This thought elevates mundane tasks, whether at home or at work, to acts of worship (Colossians 3:17). On Sunday mornings in particular, we can additionally worship God through singing, corporate prayer, giving, fellowship and intently listening to the Word preached. All of these actions can be an act of worship if you (1) observe them with joyful obedience and (2) believe that they are acceptable only by grace and through faith in the work of Christ.

In fact, it is dangerous to think that worship takes place only on a Sunday morning. Worship on Sunday morning is an overflow of your worship throughout the week. “What we love most will determine what we genuinely worship” (Worship Matters, p. 25). We cannot expect our hearts to be pure and focused every Sunday if throughout the week we have actively pursued loving ourselves and loving the world. True worship simply will not take place. It is also crucial to worship throughout the week because singing devoid of a holy life is hypocrisy and offensive to God. Listen to one criticism the LORD gives in the Old Testament: “This people draw near with their mouth; and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me” (Is. 29.13a). While we are commanded to gather together (Hebrews 10:24-25), let us not think that attendance trumps obedience (1 Samuel 15:22). This week, do everything as an act of worship.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Read the entire post

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Singing Is a Form of Christian Ministry

by Ken Harvey

Last Sunday, we were instructed from several passages concerning how we ought to speak to one another.  We are to put away falsehood and speak truth (Eph. 4:25) and to let no corrupting talk come out of our mouths but only such as is good for building up (4:29).   Proper speech to each other is an example of Christian ministry.  We can also consider passages like Hebrews 3:13: “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”  Notice the sense of urgency.  We all need this type of encouragement.

Over the last few days, I found myself considering one additional passage on this topic:  “but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (Eph 5:18b-19).  We need to encourage others and be encouraged by others by praising God through song.  When I am given the opportunity to lead the congregation through singing, I have been thoroughly encouraged to hear and see other believers praise God.  Seeing others hold fast to their confession of faith and verbalize their commitment to God strengthens my devotion to God.   Thank you for your focus on God during our time of corporate worship.  

While I commend your focus, I will encourage you to guard your hearts.  Unfortunately, today, worship through singing is often thought of as merely a personal and private event.  We can approach this time with the thought: what can I get out of worship?  While we do benefit from worship, we need to also think: how do others benefit from my worship? 

Not only are we to encourage others and be encouraged by others through our singing but we are to sing to the Lord with all of our heart.  We are singing to Him!  In fact, everything we do and think is before our omniscient and omnipresent God. He places high value on our worship through singing; in fact, he demands purity in our worship.  During our short time of corporate singing, focus your heart on Him and remember that we can approach our God only through our reliance on Christ.  He is our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ.  Worship Him and be encouraged by each other’s devotion.
Read the entire post

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Haitian Tragedy, Eternal Perspective

by Garth Gaddy

What would Jesus say if asked about the devastation in Haiti? What if He were asked if they sinned too much or worse than other people or countries? Luke records Jesus handling this very topic.

In Luke 13:1-5 Jesus commented on two accounts of people dying: one at the hands of Pilate and the other in an accident at the wall of Jerusalem. In both cases people were killed and Jesus asked if the dead were “worse sinners” than others in the area. In both cases He answered no and followed up with “...but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Jesus focused on the need for repentance (of all sinners) and that there will be final judgment of unrepentant sinners.

An interesting thing to notice here is that Jesus asked a question keying in on our flesh’s tendency to compare ourselves to others and identify those whose sin we may see as “worse.” Jesus even went one step further in the Galilean example, connecting “worse” sin to their suffering. After dispelling this notion, He immediately shifted to the eternal reality of all people. All people sin; death is inevitable for all; repent or you will perish.

As we ponder the loss of life in Haiti, we should look both inward and outward. We should look inward as believers recognizing that apart from Christ’s work, our sin results in our being doomed to Hell. This should result in our humility and thankfulness. We should also look outward as we consider the state of unbelievers and their need for the Gospel. Our lives are a mist and death is inevitable. Whether by natural causes, car accident or earthquake, we all die in God’s timing. This reality should result in compassion for unbelievers and a compulsion to spread the Gospel.

What would Jesus say about the devastation in Haiti? They sin and so do you. Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Our response should be a Gospel response because only the Gospel has the power to save and change lives.
Read the entire post