The Futility of Idols – Psalm 135:15-18

When People Worship Idols, They Become Like Them

15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
16 They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
17 They have ears, but cannot hear,
nor is there breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them.

Metal Monstrosities

In the time when the Psalms were written, people trusted in metal idols.  Even today, people trust in idols.  These idols were about as effective as the golden calf that Aaron created when Moses lingered on the mountain with God.  They are worthless.  God abhors idols in our lives.

But it is not only the metal monstrosities that He hates.  We are so sinful, we invent new ways to sin.  We are not content with metal idols – we need more subtle idols that no one can steal.  We set up our jobs as idols, placing work before God, family, and the work of the brethren.  We worship movie stars, music stars, politicians, rich people, anyone that appears to have more than we do, and appeals to our inner desire to be publicly recognized and adored.  We even worship ourselves.  And when people aren’t enough, we worship the sun, the moon, the stars, the Earth, creatures on, in, and above the Earth, and every other conceivable thing in the universe.  Some even worship Satan, demons, angels, and (other real or imaginary) beings outside the physical universe.

We worship that which we desire to become, or which we believe will give us what we want.  We were created to be image-bearers, and worship is a key part of image-bearing.  It is an acknowledgement of the superiority of someone or something over us, and our desire to be like it or be in fear of it.

Handcrafted Horrors

The fact that the idols made by the hands of men at the time this Psalm was written is intriguing.  Isaiah had this to say about idols:

9 All who make idols are nothing,
and the things they treasure are worthless.
Those who would speak up for them are blind;
they are ignorant, to their own shame.
10 Who shapes a god and casts an idol,
which can profit nothing?
11 People who do that will be put to shame;
such craftsmen are only human beings.
Let them all come together and take their stand;
they will be brought down to terror and shame.

12 The blacksmith takes a tool
and works with it in the coals;
he shapes an idol with hammers,
he forges it with the might of his arm.
He gets hungry and loses his strength;
he drinks no water and grows faint.
13 The carpenter measures with a line
and makes an outline with a marker;
he roughs it out with chisels
and marks it with compasses.
He shapes it in human form,
human form in all its glory,
that it may dwell in a shrine.
14 He cut down cedars,
or perhaps took a cypress or oak.
He let it grow among the trees of the forest,
or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.
15 It is used as fuel for burning;
some of it he takes and warms himself,
he kindles a fire and bakes bread.
But he also fashions a god and worships it;
he makes an idol and bows down to it.
16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire;
over it he prepares his meal,
he roasts his meat and eats his fill.
He also warms himself and says,
“Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.”
17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol;
he bows down to it and worships.
He prays to it and says,
“Save me! You are my god!”
18 They know nothing, they understand nothing;
their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see,
and their minds closed so they cannot understand.
19 No one stops to think,
no one has the knowledge or understanding to say,
“Half of it I used for fuel;
I even baked bread over its coals,
I roasted meat and I ate.
Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left?
Shall I bow down to a block of wood?”
20 Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him;
he cannot save himself, or say,
“Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

Mute Mouths

The Psalmist recognizes the futility in idols. First, they cannot talk.  How can an inanimate object give counsel, impart wisdom, console, cheer on, or otherwise communicate with a human being?  For that very reason, idols are worthless.  Because we recognize that, we make other people idols, or idolize ourselves.  Being created to be social creatures, we seek to communicate with ourselves and who/what we worship.

Unseeing Uselessness

Idols cannot see.  If they cannot see, how then are they able to look upon our plights to offer anything to us?  Mute, sightless idols are worthless and useless.  Even people who can see and talk cannot provide what we need – relationship with the one who created us and the universe around us.  We seek out these things because God has placed in our hearts the desire to seek Him out in relationship.  God, by His very trinitarian nature, implies unity in relationship.  As image-bearers of God, we share that same nature, or a desire to be a part of that nature.

Craftsman Changed

When people create idols, they become like them – worthless and useless as image-bearers of God.  By creating the very things that rob people of true worship and place false images of their creator in the hands of men, they lead people away from God rather than to God, which is our primary responsibility as image-bearers of God.

Treasonous Trust

When we trust in idols, we reject the One who created us, and like the idols that we trust in, we too become worthless as image-bearers of God.

This is what happens when we refuse to use our eyes to see and our ears to hear by not seeking the One who gave us both:

Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.

Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?

as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day.”

But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do our eyes see and do our ears hear?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have graciously given me life, and mercifully have given me this day.  Rouse me out of my spiritual stupor, and grant me keen awareness of those things that I have been ignorant of until now.  Strengthen my body and my mind for the rigors of spiritual battle today.  Help me to keep my sword sharp, and my armor well-tended.  Help me to recognize when that which You have provided and is good has become an idol in my life.  Give me the ability to place everything in its proper place, so that I will not be deceived by the lie.  Help me to retrain my brain so that it desires what You desire and not what the world, the flesh, and the devil want me to desire.  Please give me eyes that see and ears that hear, that I may worship You will all of my heart, mind, soul and strength.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Legalism and God – Galatians 2:4-5

Do Not Allow Anyone To Enslave You And Take Away Your Freedom In Christ

4 This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

Fake Followers

Do not be deceived:  not everyone who calls themselves a “Christian” is a disciple of Christ.  Many people labor under the false moniker of Christianity and in doing so, lead people astray or into bondage.

I was one of them.

I came out of the Mormon church.  Not understanding that being a disciple of Christ involved relationship with our Creator, I believed I was a Christian because I believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.   So do the demons, and they shudder at the thought.  I thought that was all that was required to be a Christian.  It wasn’t until God confronted me with a final warning to turn to Him and follow His Son that I actually became a Christian.  I did not just need to acknowledge that Jesus Christ was His Son, I needed to become a disciple of Christ to be a Christian.  I had to acknowledge that Jesus Christ was LORD – and accept the relationship and the responsibilities that accompany that profession.

I did great damage to the cause and name of Christ, living a life that was not only indistinguishable from the rest of the world, but in many respects, even worst that than most people.  Anyone who looked at my life as I “proudly” declared myself to be a “Christian” would have immediately rejected Christ out of hand because my example was so bad.  I didn’t understand that when I claimed the name of Christ, and then lived a terrible life, I was bringing shame upon the One whose name – His character – I was made to show to the world as an image-bearer.

There are many false followers of Christ.  Every one of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and each one of us will continue to struggle in one way or another with sin.  We must remember that we will never be perfect image-bearers of Christ in this life.  But let us not dishonor God intentionally, and if you are watching us, please be aware that we are flawed because of the curse of sin, and will not ever perfectly follow Christ [in this life].  That being said, be wary of those who don’t even have the appearance of discipleship in their lives.  And extend grace to those who are earnestly following the One True God, even and especially as we stumble in our failures while we seek to walk righteously before our God.

Subversive Spies

Those who are steeped in legalism become spies for the enemy.  They seek out those who don’t follow the same onerous, “You must do this exactly right or you aren’t a Christian” man-made rules that place a burden upon the shoulders of men and women.  They seek to impose their pious righteousness upon others to make sure they are doing everything exactly right.  They hate the freedom that God has granted the disciples of Christ, and spy them out in the hopes of winning them over to “their side”.  But remember this:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Encroaching Enslavement

When we begin to believe the lies that surround legalism, we become sucked into believing a lie, and we become enslaved in bondage.  Bondage in this sense is the feeling of oppression that comes over us as we desperately attempt to do whatever we need to do in order to ensure that we are fulfilling a specific aspect of the law so that we don’t sin against God.

The following is a worldly example that is meant to show the danger of this.  Some people believe the myth that if they step on a crack in pavement, it will somehow bring them bad luck.  People who accept this as truth will go to great lengths to avoid stepping on cracks and so avoid the pain and suffering that “bad luck” brings them.  As disciples of Christ know, God is sovereign, and there is no such thing as “luck”.  However, once we submit to this “rule”, our lives become burdened with an unnecessary rule that is supposed to help us, but rather complicates our life, makes us miserable and fearful, and generally causes us to miss out on the freedom and joy of walking freely where we would like to walk.

Foundational Freedom

Christ died to set the prisoners free.  We were once slaves (prisoners) to sin. The interesting part is that human beings have been, and always will be, slaves to someone or something.  Sin has enslaved us to do the will of Satan.  When we are free, we then choose who or what will then be our target of worship.

The act of worship is what makes us slaves.  Whether we worship God as His bond-slaves, worship our jobs, worship our “idols” (sports stars, TV stars, film stars, leaders of the world, etc.), worship the created things (sun, moon, stars, Gaia, animals, insects, birds, fish, rocks, trees, etc.), even worship ourselves, we will worship something or someone.  And when we worship, we will follow the rules that we believe are given to us by the very person(s) or thing(s) who/that we worship, thus putting us into a form of bondage if we do not worship God.

And though God has given us freedom to worship Him in truth and righteousness, we need to be careful about what we do with that freedom:

23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say-but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”-but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God- 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

Standing Strong

When faced with legalism, it is the right and duty of every disciple to stand strong and remember that Christ died for you on the cross so that you could be free from such bondage.  Stand strong against such people, and prayerfully consider your response to them, because they truly believe in their hearts that they are correct, not realizing the bondage they have placed themselves in.  If you are strong and mature, gently guide them through the scriptures and help them to see the freedom that they have in Christ.  If you are younger in your faith, or don’t know the scriptures well enough, find shelter with another body of believers who are not steeped in legalism, or you yourself may find that you have become their prey.

Guarding the Gospel

And in all things, guard the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with fervency steeped in love, grace, and gentleness.  Do not allow others to besmirch the name of Christ who claim to be His followers, but gently guide them to the truth.  And if they refuse, understand that a seed has been planted, and God may want another to come and water it, and another to come to harvest it.  Do your part, and guard the gospel:

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I live part (or all) of my life in legalism?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have freed us from the bondage of sin so that we can worship and obey You in freedom.  Help me, Father, to walk in the freedom that was purchased with the tortured, shed blood of Christ.  Help me to walk in a way that honors and glorifies Your name.  Grant me the strength to go on when I am weak, and help me to study so that I would be an approved worker, handling the word correctly in truth.  Give me boldness before those who unknowingly oppose You in legalism, and guard my heart when I engage others that I will not be misled by smooth talk or intellectually compelling arguments.  Instead, help me Father that in all things Your word would be the defining word of truth in deciding what is right and what is wrong.  Give me discernment as I encounter these difficulties, and help me to rightly judge them and obey Your word in freedom.  This I ask in the name of Your Most Holy and Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


This post has been edited for clarity and spelling errors.

Unity in Worship – 1 Timothy 2:3-10

Let Us All Lift Hands Together In Holy Worship

3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

Everyone Everywhere

Paul points out God’s desire to see everyone come to a saving knowledge of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Peter confirms this as well:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

This is the intent of His heart; it doesn’t mean that everyone will:

1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

Jesus later goes on to explain that the soil is the condition of the hearts of people, and the seed is the word of God.  Jesus does say elsewhere that He will draw all people to Himself:

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

The call to salvation is for everyone.  Any and all may come who hear its call and obey its message.  Let no one say that there is anything too difficult for God to forgive;  He has already dealt with that two thousand years ago on the cross at Calvary.

Only One

Paul goes on to remind us that there is only One God and One mediator: His Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.  There is complete unity in the Trinity, and we are reminded that our focus and attention should be upon the one and only God.  When we do this, we are setting aside our personal differences, and joining together in a pursuit that ensures that we are unifying under One God and One mediator:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

In this simple call, Jesus urges all to unify under Him, for He is THE only way to the Father.  And, because He has triumphed successfully over death and hell through His perfect life and death, He holds the keys to the death and hell.  And He has been crowned King of kings and Lord of lords.  Let us bow down in worship to the only one who is worthy – The Lord God Almighty.

Paul now goes on to address men and women to urge them in unified worship.  Each are given instructions on how to put aside their individual tendencies towards division and come together in unified holy worship.

Holy Hands

Paul first addresses men.  They are to lift holy hands without disputing or anger.  Men have a tendency to establish a pecking order of importance among themselves.  They tend to have their own personal goals and desire power in leadership and ranking.  Paul provides simple correction in this area, telling men to fight these urges and to come together with hands lifted high without anger or argument.  When men can set aside these things, they can powerfully join together in unity and accomplish great things.  Working together as a team rather than having contests establishing who is most important brings God the greatest glory.

Appropriate Attire

Paul then goes on to address the women.  It is no surprise that women have a tendency to establish their own pecking order by vying to be the most beautiful woman in the room.  Women dress up for women more so than men.  Paul urges women to adorn themselves with good deeds and appropriate attire.  This changes the way they view themselves and other women, and encourages them to focus on worship rather than on their own external appearance.

It is interesting to note that this was going on two thousand years ago in Middle Eastern culture – it is not a recent phenomenon nor does it have its origins in the modern Western culture of decadence.  And it still goes on today.  The entertainment industry and gossip magazines tout who wears what clothing and ranks people according to their appearance.  God does not judge by appearance, but rather by the heart:

1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

4 Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”

5 Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I seeking unity with others?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have sacrificed Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, so that we could be reunited with You.  Give me the strength and desire to put aside any and all personal desire to be recognized so that I may, in unity, worship You with my whole heart.  Grant me the strength to put down my sinful desires and to desire that which Your heart longs.  Keep me from pride, and help me to be humble and yielded to You.  Father, give Your people a desire to be unified in worship, in each other, and in You.  Help us to overcome our natural desires so that we can be the people You desire us to be.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Help from God – Psalm 70:1-5

God Is Close To The Poor And Needy

1 Hasten, O God, to save me;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.

2 May those who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
3 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
turn back because of their shame.
4 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The Lord is great!”

5 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Lord, do not delay.

Speedy Save

Most of us, when faced with an issue, generally cry out, “save me now!”, rather than “It’s OK, Lord. I’ll be fine.  When you have the time, would you please take a look at my situation?  I’ve got all the time in the world…”  When we are in need, our need is usually immediate.  Even David, in his prayers to God in the Psalms, cries out for immediate aid from His Creator.  It is perfectly OK to cry out for immediate assistance. God knows that we are but a mist, here today and gone tomorrow.  Be authentic with God; let Him know just how desperate You are for His help.  God already knows, and appreciates the honesty.

Request Redress

God has said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.”  Each of us has, in our hearts, a great desire to see justice fulfilled.  Most of us want to see it fall upon others rather than upon us.  We seek to have any and all slights and wrongdoings righted immediately.  Yet God is full of mercy and grace.  He sent His one and only Son to die for us on the cross while we were yet His enemies.  How much more, then should we desire mercy and grace for others?

And yet, here David cries out for his enemies to be put in shame and confusion, and to be turned back in disgrace.  David understood that his cause was just, and he greatly desired to see justice, as well as mete it out.  It is OK to desire justice and to ask God for it.  When we are yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit, we are doubly troubled when injustice comes upon us.  This is both a test to grow in patience, mercy and grace, as well as an opportunity to grow in the desire to see justice from the perspective of a holy and just God.

Promptly Praise

In everything, we are to give praise.  David reminds us here that we are to rejoice in God, and to praise Him who saves us from our troubles.  Praise for Almighty God should always be on our lips.  Even Job, stripped of his wealth, health, and everything he held dear, upon hearing of the loss, put on the ashes of grieving, but immediately praised and worshiped God, the one who provided him with all that he had and all that he was.  We must always remember that the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away – blessed be the name of the Lord.

Declare your Desperation

It takes humility to come ask for help from anyone.  It is no different with God.  David declares his dependence upon and need for help from the One who provides for him and can help him in every situation.  David declared his desperation for God’s help by rightly declaring that he is poor and needy:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
3 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.”

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do we declare our unconditional dependence upon Almighty God to Him in humility and with regularity?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You and You alone are able to deliver me from my troubles.  I declare my complete and total dependence upon You, for You are the one who created me and provide all things for me.  It is You, O Lord, that deliver me out of my sins and from all of my troubles.  It is You, Lord God, who are able to overcome the impossible and bring glory to Your name in the most difficult of circumstances.  Remember me this day, Father; act divinely on behalf of Your servant.  Grant me to victory from my enemies.  Put them to shame, Lord God, who seek my ruination when I have done nothing wrong.  Deliver me from their clutches, and reveal to the world Your mighty Right Hand when You deliver me so that the world may praise and glorify Your name.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Lift Praise to God – Psalm 68:32-36

Sing Praise To His Holy Name

32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth,
sing praise to the Lord,
33 to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,
who thunders with mighty voice.
34 Proclaim the power of God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
whose power is in the heavens.
35 You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.

Praise be to God!

Sing a Song

Has your cup been filled with joy?  Has the Almighty fulfilled your needs?  Has He shown His sovereignty and vanquished your enemies?  Sing praise to the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!  God loves to hear our praise and worship.  He enjoys seeing us in worshipful adoration of Him, for He is worthy of all praise and glory and honor.  Let us remember to give to God that which He is owed.  Let our hearts be filled with contentment, and may that manifest itself in the form of worship and singing.

Glorify God

We must glorify God as His witnesses.  If we do not, surely the rocks and stones will cry out in praise to God and glorify His name.  We have been created to worship.  Let us remember our callings and bring to God that which He and He alone truly deserves.  We spend so much time petitioning God for what we need and desire that we sometimes fail to remember to praise and glorify His name.  The  provision of God becomes our focus rather than the Glorious One who has graciously provided for our needs.  To forget God after He has provided is to almost take Him for granted.  Let us make sure that the One who has died for our sins is magnified and glorified.

Proclaim His Power

When we proclaim the power of God to the world, He is uplifted before men so that they will hear of His great and mighty deeds.  How else will the lost know about God unless we tell them?  God has seen fit to make some exceptions to reach people beyond the reach of our voice, especially in areas that are heavily influenced and dominated by Islam.  God has seen fit to reveal Himself to them in their dreams and through visions.

This is both a recrimination towards His disciples who won’t face death to proclaim His name, as well as to show us that God is very interested in bringing knowledge of Himself to them, just as He did with Nineveh.  He revealed Himself through the prophet Jonah to a people who could not tell their right hand from their left.  His words, not mine.  God is revealing Himself in a display of mighty power and compassion, mercy, and grace, to a people who have dedicated their lives to the eradication of  His children.  Just like He did with Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul.

Praise your Provider

Our hearts should reach out in praise to our provider and savior.  It is the hallmark characteristic of a person who is grateful and content.  In Western Culture, it is difficult for us to acknowledge that we would need the assistance of anyone else to help us.  We are taught by culture that to seek help is a sign of weakness.  This is then exploited by the weak to overpower the strong – displaying the absolute need each and every one of us has for our savior’s help in order to discredit us for our failure to be the rugged individualists and self-sufficient people that our culture demands us to be.

The truly grateful person will ignore the call of culture to show gratitude for the one who provides assistance to You.  This attitude of the heart – the desire to praise God – is one that all of the Old Testament heroes of the faith displayed in the private and public lives.  Let us emulate them and praise God for all that He has done and is doing.  Remember – the story isn’t over yet.  And once we get to Heaven and we are in His presence for all eternity, we will have the wonderful opportunity to do what we have practiced here on Earth through trial and joyous times – praising the One who lifted our heads out of the mire, washed us off, and called us His own.  May all praise and honor and glory and power and dominion and strength be unto the Lord God Almighty!

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I praising God the way that He deserves?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown me in Your word just how much You love me, in that Your Son Jesus Christ died for me while I was yet a sinner.  Give me a heart of gratitude that I may worship You as You deserve, and praise Your holy name in private and public, that all may know of Your righteousness, compassion, mercy, grace, justice and holiness.  Help me in my time of struggle to lift You up with songs and prayer.  Guard my heart against any root of bitterness that tries to take hold in the grievous trials that I endure.  Keep my eyes fixed upon You, that Your glory and peace would calm my heart, and that I would praise and worship You continually.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Thirsting for God – Psalm 63:1-5

My Soul Thirsts For You In a Dry And Parched Land

1 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

Serious Searching

David wrote this Psalm in response to his time in the desert of Judah.  David, a man after God’s own heart, earnestly sought God out day and night.  He spent his time desiring to be with God.  And his time in the desert of Judah was no exception.  We can learn from David’s example here and elsewhere the depths to which he longed to be in the presence and have fellowship with God.

Truly Thirsting

David’s soul was thirsting for God.  David has documented elsewhere in the Psalms that one day in the courts of God is better than a thousand elsewhere.  He also compared his thirst for God to that of the parched deer:

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

David’s soul longed to be in the presence of God.  At that time, the presence of God was physically in the tabernacle tent.  But now, thanks to the finished work of Christ, we are the tabernacle, the Holy of Holies, the naos of God.  We have been given full access to the throne room of God.  No longer must we thirst for the presence of God and access to Him; we have the Living God as a down-deposit within us, and complete and unfettered access to Him whose David’s soul so greatly longed for.

Desiccated Desert

And while David mentions the physical desert that he was required to traverse in the exile imposed by Saul, we can have our own “desert experiences” when God seems far away, and our trials and circumstances threaten to overcome us and overwhelm us.  When faced with crushing pressures and difficulties, the child of God merely needs to go to their inner closet – their place alone in their mind away from the influences of the word, the flesh and the devil – and seek God, who is right there beside us.

Deserts tend to make us weary and thirsty, depriving us of much-needed water.  Deserts can seem like the source of living water has been cut off.  But the word of the living God is able to bring forth the living water in our souls and remind us to seek Him who is the source rather than focusing on the ones responsible for trying to seize it from us.

Longing for Love

David remembers that God’s love is better than life.  The feeling of being loved in the midst of our circumstances helps us to regroup and focus on the giver of peace rather than the destroyer of contentment.  When we focus on and long for the love of God, the pain and pressures of the moment can be drowned out in the peace that surpasses understanding.  For there is no fear in perfect love.  David remembered this and greatly sought and cherished the love of God.

Practicing Praise

It is interesting to note that David said he would praise God as long as he lived.  David praised God whether he felt like it or not.  It was a discipline in his life.  Regardless of the circumstances that David found himself in, David’s heart was set on praising and glorifying God.  David had good company in this endeavor, as Job, bereft of his children, his belongings, and his health, praised and worshiped God.  He understood his place in all things, and God’s place in all things, and acted accordingly.

Willful Worship

David discipline in his spiritual life didn’t stop at just praise.  He worshiped God regardless of his circumstances, recognizing and glorifying God for who He is.  This discipline is also shown in David’s life when he fasted and prayed for a week for his firstborn child with Bathsheba, whose life God took as a result of his sin.  The Bible records what David did after learning of his child’s death:

19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked.

“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”

20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.

Singularly Satisfied

David reflects in this Psalm that being in the presence of God is as refreshing to his spirit as food and drink is to his flesh.  He comments that with singing lips he will praise God.  David’s life was an intentional, continual effort to praise, worship, and glorify God.  And David, like all men, had his moments of weakness where he experienced epic fails in his life and lapses of judgement in his character.  But in all things, David’s heart was continually turning towards God.  May we be able to say the same about ours.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  What is my first response to difficulty in my life?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown us Yourself through Your Son, Jesus Christ, for whoever has seen the Son has seen the Father.  Help us to remember those who have gone before us, that we may remember Your goodness and grace, Your mercy and your holiness, everything being displayed in perfect unity and balance.  Help me Father to have a heart that praises You, worships You, and seeks You especially when the most difficult of circumstances arise.  Show me the way everlasting, and help me to walk alongside You as the world increasingly threatens to destroy me because of You.  Strengthen my spirit as it is crushed by hatred and evil, and may the experiences that occur refine me that I may show love and kindness to even the cruelest of people.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Worshiping God – Deuteronomy 13:1-5

Worship God And No One Nor Anything Else

1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. 5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.

False Foreknowledge

Not every sign and wonder comes from God.  In the time of the end, Satan will try to deceive with false signs and wonders.  It should not surprise us to know that Satan tries to copy what God does in order to try to get people to worship him.  God specifically tells us that He allows this in order to test us.

Troubling Test

It is troubling to think that God would allow false signs and wonders to appear, for we associate these things with the working of the Lord God Almighty.  But God wants to show us where we are.  He already knows the condition of our hearts, but we often don’t know because we are busy, or compromised in some way.  Think about poor Aaron just after Moses had gone up the mountain to speak with God.  The people demanded that he create a God for them that they could worship.  Moses had been gone for so long (a month can seem like an eternity…), they thought he was dead.  Aaron capitulated, and made them the golden calf.

God tests us in many ways.  He allows difficult circumstances to occur in our lives so that we will make a choice – hold fast to what God has said, or react to the pressures around us and do what is expedient.  We may fail these tests, but we must constantly strive to hold fast to the word of the living God.

Chase Christ

God tells us that we must follow Him and not other Gods.  Only the Lord God Almighty is worthy of our praise.  Satan seeks this worship for himself, and will do anything that God permits him to do to try to convince us to either worship him or someone/something other than God.  We must be vigilant in this, because we were created to worship, and we will worship someone or something.

Obedience to God is crucial to the life of the disciple of Christ.  Without obedience, we will be easily caught up on sin and have our lives, careers, and reputations harmed by the pitfalls that Satan plans for us to encounter.  It is bad enough to be persecuted for following Christ in faith.  It is far worse when those who are respected and looked up to fall from public trust due to moral failure.

Sovereign Sentence

God does not take kindly to those who claim to speak for Him and do not.  God has authorized and issued the sentence for all who would dare invoke His name without His permission.  They are to be put to death.  While this may seem harsh, it is a just penalty for trying to lead others down a path of unrighteousness.  Jesus declared,

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Exterminate Evil

It is only through obedience that we are able to exterminate evil from our presence.  We must say no to sin and temptation in order to overcome.  Otherwise, we will become victims of the snares that have been placed before us.  If we allow evil in our midst – to permit the active participation of people who claim to be disciples of Christ (colloquially but only anecdotally now called Christians) within the church, we will allow leaven into the dough.  And once leaven enters the dough, it will leaven the whole lump.  The Corinthian church did this, and tolerated an evil that even those who did not know Christ would not tolerate – incest.

Without holiness, it will be impossible to see God.  Evil must be removed from our presence.  We need to retrain our desires using the word of God so that we will desire righteousness instead.  Evil cannot be tolerated.  God will not allow it.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I permit evil to live and thrive in my life?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are holy, holy, holy.  You cannot tolerate evil, and have repeatedly told us in Your holy word to rid ourselves of it.  Sin crouches at our door and seeks to devour us.  Keep me safe today, and help me to avoid the pitfalls and traps that have been placed before me.  Rescue me when my adversaries seek to box me in to finish me off.  Help me to overcome all of the attacks and pull of sin and evil that I may follow You in righteousness and holiness.  Give me the wisdom and discernment to recognize when others are trying to lead me away from You to follow false gods.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Promise of God – Psalm 100

God’s Love Endures Forever

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Wonderful Worship

One of the best opportunities that God has given us is to worship Him.  Human beings were made to worship.  We will always worship something or someone, whether it is God, ourselves, someone else, or something else.  There is a deep cry within the human heart to worship, and we will worship whether we realize it or not.

God has made us, and we can worship Him in song and praise.  It is only natural that we seek to give Him praise since He is the author of all good things.  Before Adam sinned, God declared that all He had made was good.  We should be grateful for that in song and praise.

Additionally, since God has redeemed us as His people, we can rejoice that we have fellowship with the one who created us.  Jesus has won back what Adam has lost, and in that, we can as children go before His throne with our petitions and praise.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to praise the One who has released us from prison and will gather us home with Him.  We can even reach out to God as Paul and Silas did after being stripped of their clothing and being severely beaten with rods and flogged.  Let nothing interfere with your praise of Almighty God.

God is Good

Regardless of the circumstances going on in the world, God is good.  Many times we question that when terrible circumstances such as loss, injustice, pain, and suffering occur.  However painful these are, they are merely the cost and effects of sin.  Yet still, God is good.  He is unable to be anything else but good.  His character endures forever, for God does not change like we do.  And when devastating circumstances appear in our lives, we can be assured that God has not changed, but merely is allowing us to develop perseverance.  And may it have its effect, that we would be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Lasting Love

God’s love never fails, for God is love.  When we feel abandoned or afraid, we can remember that God is love.  When great and wonderful things are happening in our lives, let us remember that God is love.  For this is immutable – God loved so much He gave his only Son, and that since we have believed upon Him, we have eternal life.  We have been given this promise, and can rejoice in the one who made it for He is faithful.

Forever Faithful

In a world that is giving itself over to moral relativism and secular humanism, we can rejoice that God is faithful.  Every promise He has ever made God will fulfill.  We live such short lives that many times we don’t see the fruit of the promises that God has made.  But even in that, we can look back and see that God is faithfully keeping His promises, just as He promised, at the appointed time that He promised (when provided).  His faithfulness should bolster our faith in Him and give us reason to trust Him through all of the difficulties in life.  Let us remember God’s faithfulness as we go out into the world today and see so many people show their faithlessness in broken promises and outright evil.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Is my heart full of praise and worship for God when I am enduring crushing trials?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I praise and worship You for You are worthy of it and so much more.  May my heart cry out to You for You are good regardless of my circumstances.  In all things, may You be glorified and Your holy name praised.  Help me to praise You when I am downtrodden and it feels like You have forsaken me, for You have promised to never do that.  Help me to patiently wait for You and Your deliverance from my circumstances, for You are always faithful.  Strengthen me in my weakness.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Humbled by God – Jonah 1:17

It Is A Terrible Thing To Fall Into The Hands Of The Living God

Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Angry Answer

Jonah was faced with, in his mind, an impossible situation:  Preach destruction to a people that he wanted God to destroy, knowing that God would show them mercy.  Rather than proceeding with God’s plan, Jonah fled in the hopes that he would not be embarrassed should God relent of his stated position to destroy Nineveh, also greatly desiring the destruction of his enemies.

The sailors who drew lots to determine who was responsible for their difficulties determined it was Jonah.  When confronted with his disobedience by the sailors, Jonah does something odd.  Rather than repent, or tell them to take him to a port near Nineveh, he instructs them to throw him overboard!  He would rather die, drowning in the water, than be responsible for the Ninevites repenting to the Lord.

Powerful Provision

God calmed the storm immediately after Jonah was thrown overboard.  Not only did God relent against the ship and crew, they began to fear God and worship Him.  God, rather than destroying Jonah, wanted to bring about some character refinement in him, and instead of letting him drown, sent a fish to swallow him.

God often wants to do more with us and through us that we would like.  We sometime fight Him kicking and screaming, because our flesh interferes with our obedience.  And, as in the case of Jonah, it was so much so that he forgot to take into account the lives that were with Him, to the point that he probably didn’t really care if the sailors died with him.  But even in that, God provided for both the sailors’ safety, and for the safety of Jonah.  We can be assured that God will provide for us in our time of need.

Contemplative Confinement

Imaging the stench of being in the belly of a fish for three days and nights.  Jonah was so angry and distraught with what God was asking him to do, that it took him THREE DAYS AND NIGHTS before he could bring himself to repent.  How much anger would that take?  It must have been something very powerful to compel Jonah to wait so long in such a difficult situation.

Most likely, a root of bitterness had taken great hold in Jonah’s heart towards the Ninevites.  God will often use a situation where we are called to be compassionate towards, and reach out to, our enemies to remove a root of bitterness that grown within us.  Jonah’s root was very well entrenched.  How many of us would have waited THREE DAYS AND NIGHTS to finally surrender to God?  Most of us would probably, in that miserable condition, have surrendered in the first few minutes.

Regardless of the situation that we find ourselves in, God will use the perfect situation to humble us in our pride, anger, bitterness, or whatever situation that we have that causes us to act contrary to the will of the Living God.  For it is only God who is able to get us to see ourselves for who we really are, and to provide opportunity for reflection and repentance.  We can only hope it won’t take being in the belly of a fish to do it.

Awesome Acknowledgement

And out of these trials comes a greater understanding and acknowledgement of the character and nature of God.  Jonah’s prayer to God shows that He yields to God’s sovereign rule in his life:

1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 He said:

“In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
3 You hurled me into the depths,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
4 I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
5 The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.

7 “When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.

8 “Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.'”

When we come out of the other side of our humbling, we will praise, honor, and glorify God in Heaven for who He is and for our salvation through the difficulty.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  What does it take from God to help us to change our minds and humble ourselves before Him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are able to humble the proud and bring low all who resist You.  You are full of mercy and grace, patiently dealing with me in Your own way.  Help me to not resist Your discipline, Lord, but rather to embrace it and be changed by it so that You would be glorified.  Help me to remove all resistance to You in my heart, that You would have unfettered access to the deepest, darkest regions of my soul, places where even I dare not visit.  Shed Your perfect light in all of the areas of darkness, and redeem what was lost by me through sin and pride.  Show me what You desire of me that I may do it, and do it with a cheerful heart, knowing that it is Your will.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Worshiping God – Psalm 51:17

Worship God in Truth and in Spirit

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

Spiritually Spent

The attitude of our heart is very important in Worship.  Worship is not only about praise, but also about humility in brokenness.  When we go to worship God, we need to do so in truth and in spirit.  Worship originates from our desire to commune with God on His terms.  David shows us that we should come to God with a spirit of contrition when approaching Him after we have sinned.

When our hearts are not right, our worship isn’t right either.  Even when we overcome great odds, and we are at a spiritual peak, we need to be careful that we approach God with humility and reverence.  But David was in a spiritually dark place.  He had molested Bathsheba; he tried to get Uriah, her husband, to have relations with her, so that her pregnancy with David’s son would be covered up; and when Godly Uriah did not follow David’s instructions, David had him murdered at the hands of his enemy.  Yet David was a man after God’s own heart.  He always came back to God.

Hygienic Hands

In Psalm 24, David notes that clean hands are required to come before God.  His hands were covered in the blood of murder and molestation.  David realized that he wouldn’t be able to worship God correctly until he had been cleansed of his unrighteousness.  In our modern society, grace appears to be emphasized over holiness, rather than in balance with it.  Perhaps if more time was spent policing our behavior than leaning on God’s grace when we mess up, we might have a better handle on the holiness of God.  And while God is merciful and graceful, we are told that we shouldn’t sin to bring more grace to bear upon us.

Healthy Heart

David also noted that we need a pure heart.  When we humble our hearts toward God, He will lift us up.  He will restore the joy of our salvation.  He will tenderly bring us back into right relationship with Himself.  And He will draw close to us.  It is then that we can properly worship God in Truth and in Spirit.

A Qualifying Question

So let’s ask ourselves a question:  When I come before the Lord to worship, am I coming with clean hands and a pure and humble heart?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, forgive me of my sins.  It is in brokenness of spirit that I come before You.  You are Holy, Holy, Holy, and cannot stand sin and unrighteousness.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.  Renew a steadfast spirit within me, that I will shun evil and love Your commands.  Help me to overcome my sin nature that I may greatly desire righteousness and truth.  I fail all the time, Lord God, but You are faithful to forgive and seek to restore me.  Help me to be more mindful of my actions, thoughts, and speech, that I would live in the positional righteousness that You have provided for me.  Show me my sin, for it blinds me to it.  Help me to overcome it, for I am more than a conqueror in Christ.  This I ask in the precious name and blood of my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Worshiping God – Deuteronomy 6:5

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Worship comes from the heart.  The Bible says in Matthew 15:18-19,

18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

God said,

“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

Our biggest issue is that we have a heart problem.  When our hearts become hardened by sin, we turn away from what is right.  Jesus said that we are to worship in Spirit and truth.  But when our hearts are hardened, we cannot do that.  When we are saved, God takes care of this issue:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

It is up to us to make sure that we don’t harden our hearts after we have been given this precious gift.  But even if we do, God is faithful to forgive us when we come to Him in repentance.  When we come in repentance, we can ask that God give us clean hands and a pure heart.  When we cry out for a pure heart, we should also ask for a spirit that is wholly dedicated towards God.  With clean hands, a pure heart, and a right Spirit, we can confidently approach God in worship.

Worship Him today as you were intended to.  Let nothing come between you and God.  And God will richly reward you with Himself.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are holy, and cannot be in the presence of evil.  Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned against You and You alone.  Give me clean hands and a pure heart that I may worship You in truth and Spirit.  Wash me clean with the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to turn from sin and turn towards You.  Prepare my heart as You did when I first came to know You.  Soften it from the hardness of sin, and may my entire being rejoice in Your presence.  Strengthen me this day, and help me to resist that which so easily ensnares me.  Help me to offer up my life as a living sacrifice to You so that it will bless You.  May all praise, glory, honor, strength, and dominion be Yours forever and ever.  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Worshipping God – Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The imperative command, “Be still!”, is very interesting.  It is translated in Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible as “Desist!” Another good way to translate this is “Cease striving!”

How often we strive!  As we go about our daily lives, we take our eyes off of God and try to do things our own way.  God offers us this wonderful place of refuge in Himself, yet we keep trying to change our circumstances ourselves.  We do not avail ourselves of our fortress, our hiding place, our place of rest.  Instead, we worry, we scheme, we fret; we forget that it is God who is sovereign.  When we cease striving, and (experientially) know that the LORD is God, we are able to properly put everything back into perspective.

We then can relax a bit, knowing that the Lord is taking care of our circumstances.  When we step back and do this, we are also better able to properly worship our loving Father.  We get to see with greater clarity the ways in which He works.  We see our prayers being answered, and know for sure that it was God – because we stopped trying to do it ourselves.  It isn’t until we cease striving that God is able to fully manifest Himself in our circumstances and bring the greatest glory to Himself.  Then will we be able to say that God is our refuge.

What issue has you frazzled today?  What deep and abiding pain just won’t go away?  Take God’s advice:  Cease striving, and know that He is God.  Let him enter into your circumstances in a greater capacity, and allow Him to reveal Himself to you in a deeper, more intimate way.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I come before you today to praise You and worship You as Almighty God.  Too often in this life do I try to do things when You earnestly seek to show me new facets of Yourself – if I would only stop and let You.  Guide me, comfort me, and show me how to step back from these issues so that You would be glorified.  Help me to find rest in You as You work these things out.  This I ask in the name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Worhiping God – Exodus 20:4-6

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

We were made to worship.

Everyone worships – regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, background, or any other qualifier – our Creator made us to worship Him and Him alone.  He so rightly desires and is worthy of worship, He built it into us.  And we WILL worship something or someone – God, Satan, ourselves, animals, stars, the Moon, the Sun, the creation, someone else, or something else.  We cannot help but worship.

As we prepare our hearts for worship on the Lord’s Day, ask yourself this question:  “Do I have any idols in my life?”  From the scripture above, it would appear that idols are something that we make.  But perhaps it is better to label, as an idol, anything that you place more value on (desire) than worshiping God.  We often think of worship as gathering with other Christians to corporately worship God, or praising Almighty God in prayer and song wherever we are when we do it.

But Paul, possibly in light of Jesus’ definition of worship, saw something different.  He expands our understanding of worship just as Jesus expanded our understanding of murder , adultery, and divorce.

In Romans 12:1-2, Paul writes:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Oh, there is so much packed into those two sentences!   But here is the key to worship:  Worship is about EVERYTHING we do, say, and think.  It is not just when we pause to remember God (who He is and what He has done and will do); it is the outpouring of our souls in every waking moment to a glorious and beautiful Creator.

Let’s ask ourselves again:  “Do I have ANY idols in my life?”  The question should be expanded by asking, “Is there anything in my life that I have not dedicated to God and, even in the enjoyment of it, acknowledge Him by engaging in the practice of recognizing its proper place in life to ensure that God ALWAYS has first priority in everything?”

Here is a list of common idols that we may or may not see in our lives:

Everything we think, everything we do, and everything we say is an expression of worship.  So, who/what are we really worshiping?

A short prayer of preparation:

Merciful Father, your mercies renew every morning.  You are full of grace and beckon us to come to you with contrite hearts, for you have said that blessed are those that mourn.  Search my heart, O God, test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offense in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  You and You alone can see my hidden faults, for sin blinds me to them.  Show me the idols in my life, Lord God.  Where they exist, You cannot rule and reign.  Remove them from me – remove even the desire for them from my heart, that with clean hands and a pure heart I can come before You in joyful worship.  Guide me in the ways I should go.  This I ask in the precious name of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

A Calling of God – 1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

What a high calling!  To carry the requests of the people to Almighty God!  A great privilege indeed.  Oh, the needs are great in this wicked generation. What deep and soul-piercing burden has God placed on your heart to deliver to Him in His Throne Room?

Whatever your burden, bring it to God, who has the power to move Heaven and Earth to bring glory to His name.  Have you ever considered that the rainbow, God’s everlasting covenant with the Earth (Genesis 9:13), required Him to utterly change the very fabric of nature, to alter the laws of physics, to make the sign of His covenant (Genesis 9:12-16)?  What will He then do for you, His royal priesthood, out of love, mercy, and grace, to bring Glory to His name?

A short prayer of preparation:

Gracious Father in Heaven, forgive me my many faults.  Cleanse me of all unrighteousness, that with clean hands and a pure heart, I may bring my petitions and praises to you in full confidence of your ability and willingness to answer.  I an grateful that Your Holy Word tells us that you have already prepared an answer.  Grant your servant favor this day, as I bring these requests to You, for there is no request too small that You are unwilling to answer.  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Worshiping God – Psalm 84:10

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. (NIV)

The sons of Korah had it right when they declared that being in the presence of God was far more desirable than being somewhere else.  In His presence, we experience koinonia, or what we call fellowship, with Him.  We bask in His peace, comfort, strength, and quench our thirsty souls with His living water.  We praise and worship Him not just with our words but with our entire being.

Are we of the same mind?  If we place ourselves in the following circumstances, can we say the same?

  • Watching my child score the winning point(s) for their sports team
  • Riding my motorcycle on the open road on a crisp Fall morning with the sun shining brightly and the leaves of the trees in a full riot of color
  • Watching my favorite sports team with my friends triumph in their final match-up
  • Eating my favorite meal at my favorite restaurant with my best friend

The temporal pleasures of this world are wonderful to enjoy; let us now enjoy the eternal pleasures by worshiping our Lord and Savior in truth and spirit.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father, you are so gracious to us.  Your mercies renew every morning.  You knit us in our mother’s wombs, even though You knew everything we would think, say, and do – even before You created the universe.  May we now seek You with all our our heart, mind, soul, and strength.  For those that cannot meet with us today, visit them in a mighty way.  Tend to their needs and desires, and surround them with Your peace and presence.  You are so good to your people!  May we pour out our praise and worship to You this day.  You are all-mighty God, and deserve this and so much more.  Give us traveling mercies as we assemble together this day, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?