Tag Archives: sacrifice

Worshiping God Together

Nehemiah 8:10 “This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

May I recommend that you read the entire book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament of the Bible, and especially chew on chapter 8. The context of the verse quoted above is instructive! The people of Israel had been hearing the Law of God read aloud to them and a group of them called the Levites also explained what they were hearing. These people had been reunited in Jerusalem and the surrounding area after long years of captivity away and were only re-discovering God’s Word. They were astounded and awed. His Word resonated in their hearts and minds and later in the book you will read that they vowed to follow the law and be blessed by God.

Chapter 8 gives us a nice pattern for meeting together to meet with God and give Him our complete attention.  There are five specific steps included, whcih we can easily follow in our church meetings today. The guidelines are simple! God always makes things simple to understand, even how we can have unity and worship Him!

1. A time of praise. The people stood, with their hands lifted, offering praise to God. The book doesn’t say that they sang, but as singers were an integral segment of Temple staff, singing and music could certainly be included.

2. There was a time of worship. The people bowed low to the ground and offered their complete selves to God in worship. There was no lolling around in easy chairs presuming equality living room time with God for this kind of serious worship. Purposeful reverence required involvement of body, mind and spirit all reverently bowed before the Lord their God.  More than likely, the people were also dressed in their very best garments. God deserves our first and best of everything.

3. Next came a time of preaching. The Levites, God’s appointed priests to the people explained the Word of God.

4. Following the preaching came a time of repenting. The Word of God entered into the hearts of the people and revealed what they needed to do to be right with God and they did this immediately.

5. Finally, a time of celebration. The people were told to feast and share what they had with people who did not have anything prepared. This precedent deserves much meditation by all believers!  Today, as Christ commanded we remember Him,  we would most certainly include the Lord’s supper, or communion following the time of repentance. Many millions of people in the world come to communion unprepared. They do not understand any of the Lord’s commandments regarding the bread and the cup, and so they take it unworthily, thus sinning against the Lord.  All you who do know what the Lord has said and follow Him in truth have the right and the obligation to prepare others.  Recommended reading further on this:

I John 5:13-21, 2 John

Being prepared to celebrate Christ and being forgiven of sin means that you must know and receive the truth that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, that he came to earth to die for the sins of all, and that he rose from the dead.  Review the pattern given to us in Nehemiah, practice it for yourself, and you will find that the Lord will raise you up to bring others in!

God bless you with His mighty joy as you worship God today.

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OMG and Relationship With God

How do we know we have fellowship with God? When do we know we are okay with him and not off on the sidelines somehere?  When can we be sure and more sure of God’s active power and glory in our lives?

Everyone wants a relationship with God. He is real, he is the creator, and he made us in his image so that whether we admit it or not, we want to know him.  You have heard the expression, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”  If you will look around you and listen, you will always hear people who never give God any credit saying, “Oh, God!” as the first thing out of their mouths when trouble strikes. Maybe you are one of those people.

Do you flippantly write and text “OMG” all over the place? Do you know that God hears that and takes it with its full meaning, that you are either calling him or blaspheming him? God is real, and he knows even how many hairs are on your head. Think of this: suppose your name is John. Suddenly there is a whole culture of people using your name as an expletive or slang expression. You can hear each one, everytime it happens. Millions of people saying or texting, “Oh My John” millions of times a day. Yet they aren’t paying any attention to YOU, the person they are using to express whatever it is they are expressing. You can’t really help them, and most of the time, it’s meaningless anyway. Yet you keep hearing it and hearing it and hearing it. Do you have a relationship with these people? No.

Now think how God feels. He wants a relationship with everyone. He wants to be a loving Father to each and every person on the planet.  His name comes up continuously, yet he is not given any opportunity to respond.

Praise God, he can also read our hearts, and not just our text messages. He can pour his own Spirit into our hearts and help us and comfort us and draw us into relationship with him.

I John 1:6-7 says that we are lying if we say we have a relationship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness. Think of this: anyone who is expressing an opinion and says “OMG” is claiming a relationship with God. Otherwise, how could you say God shares your opinion? Yet God says that when you keep going in spiritual darkness, you are lying about that relationship.

Most people who go on in spiritual darkness do so because they think God will make them stop doing some of the things they like to do. Well, that is true. However, God also shows you a better way, and then those things you thought were so important no longer matter.

Doing things that hurt your body, or hurt other people, or are just plain immoral or selfish (and don’t say it’s relative, because in your heart you know better) are things that keep you in spiritual darkness. Your Father God wants to deliver you from darkness and give you a path of light to walk in. God never lies, so you can always have fellowship with him in that manner. I John 1:7, those who are truly lving in the light of God’s presence also have fellowship with each other. Ahhh. So there we find we can have true relationships with other people, too.

How do we get into relationship with God? Through Jesus Christ his Son.

For God SO LOVED THE WORLD that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes in him will not die but have everlasting life. By agreeing with God and confessing out loud that you have been walking in darkness and that Jesus came to die for you as a sacrifice for your sin, you enter into a right and perfect relationship with God. You can call on him in truth. He loves you and will always hear you, and when your body wears out and dies, he takes you to heaven to always be with him.

Jesus says, “I AM the way, the truth and the life . . . . no one comes to the Father by through Me.”

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Grief and God

Every person experiences  separation from a loved one by circumstances, trouble, or death. It is going to happen to you if it hasn’t happened. When the pain of loss strikes, we react. It is what we do, and we cannot avoid the trauma of grief.

Grieving can be constructive or destructive. The first time it happens, most of us don’t fully understand how we are being affected. We say and do things we would not normally do, and we are unaware of the difference. At some later date, we look back and realize we were not in touch with the real world during that initial time of grief. If we have stuffed our pain deep inside somewhere to keep up appearances as normal, we are only fooling ourselves.  It will not go away by itself.

The purpose of pain is not from God. It is a result of sin in the world, and because we are born into the corrupt world, we cannot avoid grief and pain.

However, God certainly can use our trouble to our advantage. First of all, he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to be the sacrifice to pay for the sin debt loaded upon us. Sin leads to death, always, but by accepting Jesus as the One who paid that debt for us, we are totally saved from paying ourselves, and we go to be with God when we die instead of being eternally separated from him. Sin separates us from God, so God uses pain and trouble and grief to show us the results of sin and bring us to himself and save us.

God never wastes anything.

When grieving goes on and on, we become radically different from the persons we were before the loss that causes the grief. There are times when grief has become a habit and a comfort zone. We can’t move forward until we are willing to risk letting go of the grief. Sometimes grief paralyzes us; we go on as usual, but numb in our souls, and eventually, months or years later,  it has to come out. Many undiagnosed illnesses are probably a result of grief paralysis. These are examples of what may happen, but for sure, a grieving person’s character changes over time.

We can choose to let God make changes. People say “time heals” but that isn’t actually true. It is God who heals. As we pass through our life, we learn and grow and do new things, and God uses these new experinces to help us heal up.  He brings out his purpose of conforming us to Christ when we let him handle our grief instead of stowing it away as a personal possession or tyring to ignore it.

God is in the resurrection business. In John chapter 11, you can read the account of Lazarus’ death and how Jesus came to his tomb and raised him from the dead. Jesus did not come when first called when Lazarus was sick, so Lazarus died. Jesus remained away because he had a reason – to raise Lazarus from death and everyone saw God’s glory. In the time between the death and Jesus’ arrival, Lazarus’ sister Mary got herself in to a state and railed at Jesus when he did get there: “If you had been here, my brother would not have died!” Jesus did not get angry with her for that. He groaned in spirit and wept with her. Then he set about changing the situation. In this case, he called Lazarus back to life. In your case, if you have been grieving too long and cannot get out, he will restore you to life.

So much more could be said about how God handles grief. The only thing we need to remember , though, is to give it to him to handle! Man’s methods are partial and destructive, while God’s methods are always complete and constructive. Here is a prayer to get you started, please say it out loud:

Father, I ask you to take this burden of suffering I have been carrying. It belongs to you now and I never want to carry it again. If I try to pick it up again, please remind me that it is yours, not mine. I understand that Jesus paid for all that I carry on the cross and that is why it is yours and not mine. I ask for your peace that passes all understanding now to be rooted and grounded in me. Thank you for your love and compassion and mercy. In Jesus’ Name.

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The Voice of God

Psalm 29 describes what can happen when God’s voice sounds over creation.  His voice echoes thunderously over the sea. His voice splits trees and mountains skip out of the way, His voice strikes with lightning bolts and makes the desert shake and quake. His voice twists mighty trees and strips entire forests bare.

You can see that King David, as he wrote this Psalm, is comparing hearing the voice of God to the power in lightning, raging seas, earthquakes,  and tornadoes. The voice of God is filled with power and majesty and greater than all these events put together. Think of the power of a tsunami. Everything in its path is washed out in the moment of its arrival, and nothing escapes. God’s voice is even greater.

Because God can speak and everything he made by his word can also be unmade,  consider his awesome mercy to us. Jesus Christ the only begotten son of God  is the word of God come to live with us and save us from the wrath of God. Jesus paid for out sin that separated us from God with his own body, giving himself up to death in the ultimate sacrifice. Then he rose from the dead even defeating death itself and to all who believe he offers his eternal life with him.

He puts his own spirit in us so that we can hear God right inside us and there is as much power in his still, small voice as there is in the sound that makes mountains leap aside.

He chooses us and teaches us to hear his voice and speak what we hear to the dying world so that all might be saved.

Do you desire the power and majesty of almighty God in your life? Begin to seek him in his written word, trust him to teach you, and signs and wonders shall follow. Give him honor for his glory and strength.

God rules over the floodwaters, and he rules over you. He is king forever. He gives his people strength, and he blesses them with peace. (Ps. 29:10-11)

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Above All Powers

God is above all creation, visible and invisible.

He created us for Himself, and what He is willing to share with us is more than we can think, describe, or even imagine. 

Because we cannot obey or do what God wants by our own volition, which is the perfect way to live, God the Father sent God the Son to pay the penalty for our sin. The result is to be restored to knowing what God wants and receive His blessing and eternal life with Him. To receive this, we need only to confess our desire turn away from the sin we know controls us and accept what Christ, the Son of God, has done to save us.

We cannot know know all the ways and thoughts of God, but He has given us this one Way which opens up the gate to new life.  Everyone wants to know God. So He opened up the Way in Jesus Christ, His Son. Our new life in Him is spiritual, for we receive it by faith, not by sight. However, all of this new life is made known in us by the mighty power of God in us that manifests in our physical life and brings glory to Him.

While we live life in the physical, we may still sin against God, even though we know Him and love Him in our hearts. Our desire may be to obey Him, but until we accept that every minute detail of life must be placed on the altar before God, we will still be confused and do what is against Him. Very often, we accept the wickedness of man ahead of the righteousness of God and go with people instead of the Everlasting One who save us.

How do we do this wrong? Any time we defend what we know is a lie, or not God’s will, we participate in that lie.  An example is something we know that we know from reading God’s Word that God hates, such as pride. Yet there may be someone in this world, or even passed away from this world whom we defend as righteous when that person is not speaking truth and we know it. Then we are cut off from God. Isaiah 59 says He hears us, but there is nothing He can do for us until we repent and put Him above all. First. 

We can never assume that someone’s so-called right motives make it right to defend a certain position. Only God knows what is right and what is wrong. Therefore, He must judge, and not we ourselves. We must seek Him in every thought: what is your justice in this matter, Lord?

In the end, God will prevail. Let us seek Him first and obey Him and never look at another point of view. Let us embrace Him in peace.

In Jesus’ Name.

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Is Jesus Your King?

When you are walking through trouble, is Jesus your King?

Do you run to the Throne Room to seek an audience with Him? Lay yourself on the altar where He is worshiped there and expect only that which He bestows? No hidden hopes or agenda, and no withholding from Him a secret anger that He is going to fail you?

What about the times when you are glad and restored and happy and full of zest? Do you still seek the King? Is Jesus the one who gave you your joy or do you take credit for your own achievement?

Lord, I just saw you, extending your sceptor to everyone who reads this. You are smiling . . . you know exactly where we are and what we’re thinking. That is such a relief! I am touching the knob of your sceptor now, and you are drawing me into yourself. We are all here! Thank you, Jesus.

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Poetry and Worship – Communion

My home is at your table, Lord,

     Where I shall surrender with joy

         in remembrance of your love for me.

I turn away, yes, I turn away

     From all sin and destruction to my soul

        To be your worshiper in spirit and in truth.

 

Renew my mind, Lord.

     I surrender every thought to you

        in obedience to your living Word.

Come, Holy Spirit; come and fill me now.

     I will open my mouth to sing praise to God,

        To be your worshiper in spirit and in truth.

 

     Worthy is the Lamb of God, 

     For my sickness beaten; for my sin crucified;

     His body broken; His blood poured out:

                                     Remember . . . . Remember.

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