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Posts Tagged ‘Worship’

Real Solutions

May 11th, 2011

1 Samuel 7:2-14

  • This is a story of dramatic heart change of a community – Israel decided to pursue God wholeheartedly.
  • Israel had wandered so far from God that they had lost their most sacred object – the Ark of the Covenant. It was like a symbol of the covenant between them and God – but even though they had kept the Ark, they hadn’t kept their commitment and promise.
  • Something happened in Israel – heart change and repentance back to God. This was not only unusual but it was impossible, a miracle. The human heart doesn’t choose God in and of its own accord.
  • This was a different sorrow to mere outward, religious sorrow. 2 Corinthians 7 – godly grief vs. worldly sorrow. Worldly sorrow is selfish grief – being sorry about the consequences vs. sorry about grieving God. Psalm 51 – David acknowledged he sinned against God and God alone.
  • We may not have murdered or committed adultery like David did, but our hearts are still the same. God wants an inner purity at the deepest level – our desires and the way we function deep down should line up with God – we need to rediscover the holiness and purity of God. And we need to realise this is not for misery but for our joy – it is the way to true joy.
  • Samuel exhorts Israel to turn their hearts to the Lord. We don’t turn to outward religion or rules, but direct our hearts to the love of God in repentance. Not trying to do god things or negotiate a deal but trusting in the promise of God that He will receive us by turning to Him. Not a burdensome thing.
  • God is the only one who can truly love us and make us truly happy – we come back to Him in order to return to joy and happiness. Psalm 16:11. We sin because we’re not enjoying God enough!
  • We go further than a mere feeling of sorrow & repentance – we also come under the instruction, input and help of people who are godly and wise, and get them involved. We come to God but also to God’s people – we walk in the light by being transparent with people in our life (not everyone obviously) or healing won’t truly happen. You won’t win fighting sin on your own.
  • Don’t let pride get in the way, or even a false sense of humility (i.e. not wanting to burden others).
  • Conviction of sin can fade if left alone.
  • “Sin” is not a popular term in our day and age. Don’t dress it up guilt and push it away – call it what it is and you will probably end up finding the relief you need.
  • The repentance of Israel started off so well, but then the Philistines decided to come against them. Often the steps of obedience and repentance we take lead to trouble! When you start to take God seriously, trials often come. What’s being tested is who you trust.
  • Israel got scared – but it is an improvement as at least their fear drove them to God (v.8). Who/what do you turn to in times of trouble? Where do you go for comfort? Drink, girlfriend/boyfriend, movies, food, sex?
  • Israel didn’t turn back to their idols in trouble, but God – shows true repentance. And they found peace, deliverance and victory. They found it in the place of prayer – Philippians 4:6-7.

What’s The Real Problem?

April 21st, 2011

1 Samuel 4

  • This is a tragic story of Israel’s defeat. It was a case of bad leadership, bad decisions and bad results. They made it worse for themselves.
  • This was before Samuel was judging Israel.
  • Israel were upset – they knew that it wasn’t right that the Philistines were defeating them – they were given this land by God. They asked “why is this happening?” At least they asked the question and wondered why this was happening – could there have been a wrong turn? Some people don’t even ask why it has gone wrong or try analysing it, wondering if they have made a mistake – asking why their marriage/finances/children/work situation is failing.
  • Asking why is one thing, getting the right answer is another thing – and we don’t like the right, honest answers. But when you get the right diagnosis, you can find the right cure.
  • We are “compulsive misinterpreters”.
  • The Bible goes much deeper than we do – it looks at our hearts, the core of who we are – and this is where the real cause of our problems is to be found.
  • It’s not that what has happened to us isn’t real or doesn’t count – but the heart is at the core.
  • Prov. 4:23 – guard your heart above all else, for out of it flows the wellspring of life.
  • If we don’t love the God of the Bible with everything then we will reap mess and error in our life and in the world.
  • The Israelites, rather than looking at their own hearts, just go for a “plaster” option – the centre of it all, Shiloh, becomes corrupt and no one does anything.
  • They go for a religious option – very different to real worship. They took the Ark of the Covenant with them into battle, using it like a religious, superstitious trick, believing the box will save them (as opposed to God).
  • Religion is deceptive because it looks like the real thing but it lacks God and worshipful hearts. Even secular people can be religious – morality. We major on minors and neglect loving God and people.
  • Phineas’ wife – “the glory has gone” – true but also half-wrong. The glory had left decades ago but no one had noticed or cared.
  • We often equate our bad circumstances with the glory being gone – the things we truly care about being gone from our lives. We have all exchanged the glory of God for a lie – for ourselves and for created things.
  • What is at the Shiloh, the centre of your life? What is your glory?
  • We were made for God – we need to get the glory back.
  • The whole story of the Bible is the glory of God returning to our lives and to this world.
  • We think we will work for it but this is not the case. The glory returns to us in the most extraordinary way – God became one of us and displayed His glory through sheer mercy and grace by His cross.
  • God wants the world to know His glory through the grace of His Son – and that is the only way we will know it.
  • Ephesians 1:6.
  • It’s not by trying harder – it’s understanding and knowing the grace of God. It’s so joy- and peace-giving that you would gladly give up anything for it.
Author: Categories: What Kind of King? Tags: , , ,

The Sin of Doing Nothing

March 27th, 2011

1 Samuel 2:12-36

  • This time we are looking at Eli.
  • There seem to be 2 ways of living here – Eli’s way or his son’s way – but both, we will find out, got it wrong.
  • The sons are flagrantly wicked – they are greedy bullies who take things and women for their own gratification. This is not unusual in our day.
  • Eli seems the polar opposite – the “nice” guy, the “good” guy. He is effectively in charge of Israel – the closest to a king in that day.
  • When God sends a rebuke, He sends it not to the 2 sons but to Eli – because Eli is responsible and held responsible. A shocking speech is delivered to Eli – fierce prophetic judgement. But why? Eli didn’t do anything! That is exactly why – he did nothing and that is what he is rebuked for.
  • If we’re not in the camp of the 2 sons we think we are “good”, because we’re not doing anything.
  • We think there are 2 ways of living – the “wicked” way or the “good” religious way. We think we can placate God through religious acts – but we can’t.
  • There is the sin of commission but also the sin of omission – not doing the right thing. Eli’s failure is omission.
  • But didn’t Eli try to sort his sons out? The hint is in the language he uses – he only really cares about people’s opinions, about the public reputation of him and his family rather than the honour of God.
  • We often do the same to keep our conscience clear – we speak out against bad things and show off our disapproval. But there is a huge difference between disapproving or complaining about something and actually doing something about it.
  • “Tear your hearts and not your clothes” was a familiar saying of the prophets.
  • Eli’s story is a massive warning to us.
  • Eli is so different to Christlike people of the Bible, e.g. Job. Job 1:15 – Job wants to honour God in every way he can.
  • V.29 – Eli is probably in on the deal of the stolen meat – it’s inconvenient for him to change things because there is gain for him in it. Similarly, we let things persist that shouldn’t because we gain from them.
  • V.29 – God asks Eli why he honours his sons about Him.
  • There is something at the root of all of our decisions.
  • It is possible to dishonour God through respectable, religious ways – like Eli did.
  • Many things we put before God sound right and respectable.
  • If you make anyone else into a god – such as your kids – and put them first above God, you will actually harm them. God needs to be first always.
  • Sometimes we disobey God because we’re frightened of hurting other people – but we’re trying to play God.
  • Kids, marriage, etc can all take us away from putting God first. The idol of popularity can also squeeze honouring God out of the picture.
  • Eli probably wanted his sons to like him and so put them first – ironically though, they don’t like him and don’t listen to him.
  • We are made to show the world what God is like – to be His representatives.
  • What is happening on your watch, under your radar? In other words, what are you allowing to happen?
  • Matt. 10:34-39 – Jesus is kind enough to show us that anything else we put in the place of God will harm and destroy us.
  • Worship is like petrol – you wouldn’t give it to your kids, but only your car. Similarly, you need to give worship to the right source – God.
  • To dishonour God is a dangerous thing – there is nothing worse than God dishonouring you, giving up on you and not speaking to you. You could even be saved and yet still dishonour God for years.
  • How do we honour God? It is neither the evil or the religious way.
  • Only one person truly has honoured God – Jesus. It comes from the heart – loving righteousness and doing the right thing, utterly focused on honouring God above all else.
  • This is a gift given to us by Jesus – we cannot do it ourselves. This is the third way to live – coming to Jesus and receiving His grace to live.
  • Jesus died and rose again for us to give us a new life and new heart that loves righteousness. We partner with Him – He is a loving Master who helps at every stage and transforms us by His power.

Hebrews 10:19-25 – The Call to Worship

August 29th, 2010

Worship is not just a part of our church meeting, but the whole of our life. Sometimes the word used for “worship” in the Bible (e.g. Philippians 2) refers to “lifestyle” – how we live our life. It is the life of obedience to God, of bowing down to Him.

However, in looking at corporate worship – what happens when we meet together as the church to worship God? Often we get so locked into our own musical style, but we need to not be so narrow-focused – we need to look at what the Word of God defines corporate worship as and how we can express it. We should have an expectation to meet with God.

There is a concern that there is a greater focus on worshipping God with our minds, and less on heart (will & affections), strength (physical actions), and soul (emotions & desires). The word Jesus uses to describe worshipping the Father in Spirit and in truth is to “kiss” – we come to an intimacy with God, to embrace Him with passion. God made us for relationship – to dwell with us. Sin separated us but the cross reconciles us.

We are now the temple, the dwelling place of God – the holy place that is flooded with God’s presence.

Five reasons/exhortations to worship:

1. The worshipper’s invitation
i. With confidence: Jesus is our High Priest who identified with us and opened the way to heaven, which gives us confidence to approach God. God wants us to cry out to Him.
ii. To enter the holy place: God wants to take us beyond intellectual truth and to experience the presence of God. He wants to lift our expectations. We don’t stop short at the outer court; we come right in with joy, enthusiasm and exaltation.
iii. By the blood of Jesus: we cannot come into God’s presence without the shedding of blood to atone for our sin. We testify together what the Word says the blood of Jesus does for us; we live in victory.
iv. By the new and living way: worship needs to be fresh and not always predictable, while at the same time preserving structure. We need to have bigger expectations of what will happen within that structure.
v. Through Christ our High Priest: our worship needs to be Trinitarian – to the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit. Jesus makes our worship acceptable to God. We worship in the Spirit. God is a worshipping God – each member living to worship each other. God sings and spins around with delirious delight over us! We get to join in with His celebration.
vi. With a true, sincere heart.
vii. By faith: in full assurance of faith. Faith grows when we declare truth together.

2. The worshipper’s hope
• We sing songs about our prophetic direction – where we are going as the church and what our mission is.

3. The worshipper’s motivation
• We stir each other up to love and to do good works.

4. The worshipper’s commitment
• We should not and cannot neglect meeting together – it is vital.

5. Worshippers fellowship in the gospel
• Worship goes hand-in-hand with evangelism and spreading the gospel.
• We will naturally witness  to others if worship is our lifestyle.
• Our times of corporate worship can be the times where unbelievers meet God and find saving faith.

Romans 12:1-10 Gifts & Ministries of the Holy Spirit Part II

April 27th, 2009

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The book of Romans is the closest we get in the Bible to a single explanation of God’s plan of salvation. It starts in chapter 1 with dark comments on the way things went wrong for the human race. Having been made to worship God, men and women turned instead to the worship of created things. The result was foolishness and darkness (Romans 1:21-23).

Well, chapters 2-11 explain how God wins. Through the work of his son Jesus, God has brought a new ‘race’ into existence. And you can tell by the way they worship. You see the book of Romans, when it gets through describing God’s plan, and moves on to the life of those who are rescued by God, automatically starts with worship (Romans 12:1).

Renewed to Worship

The point? Those who belong to Jesus have their minds renewed (Romans 12:2) so they can offer worship, which is ‘reasonable’ (the meaning of the word in Romans 12:1, which is commonly translated ‘spiritual’). Reasonable worship is the opposite of the futility and foolishness of the idolatry of chapter 1.

So Romans, amongst other things, is about God fixing broken worshippers and, by the Holy Spirit, giving them the right mind.

Renewed to Serve

This book then goes on to talk about how these new people, with new minds, treat one another. In these verses we are told how they need to use the gifts God graciously gives to them ‘according the measure of faith assigned’ (Romans 12:3). God has not brought into existence a random bunch of disconnected superheroes and a few nobodies. He has placed us in a body – a body in which everybody plays a part, in which everybody is needed.

This means the end of individual pride and selfish ambition. That is like a cancer in this body. Members which function without the ‘renewed mind’ agenda are dangerous and need correcting. They are ‘conforming to this world’ (Romans 12:2). The antidote is to serve according to the grace and faith that God uniquely gives. This means God’s strength, not our selfishness, is the driving factor.

We’re then given some examples of how different gifts serve the body

  • Prophecy
  • Service
  • Teaching
  • Exhorting
  • Contributing (giving)
  • Leadership
  • Mercy

Renewed to Judge Rightly

Without the goal in mind being the good of the whole body, and without the energy coming from the Holy Spirit, our ‘service’ becomes self-aggrandizing. If we ‘outdo one another’ it should be in ‘showing honour’ (Romans 12:10).

To avoid missing the point we need the sober judgement, which comes from the gospel – a gospel view of ourselves.

This means reflecting on how all that we have (our salvation, our faith, our gifting) is a gift from God – therefore it is nothing we can boast in (1 Corinthians 4:7). We mustn’t idolize our own gifting or we’ll lose perspective and react fearfully or proudly whenever our false self worth is threatened.

To think soberly about oneself is to remember one is nothing special and one has no better thing than Jesus, with whom we must be completely satisfied, however well our gift is received!

We must also avoid idolizing other people’s gifts, to the point where we wish we were someone else and, instead of practicing our own measure of faith, submit to unbelief.

The main gift of the Holy Spirit is a renewed mind. With that in place everything else falls into place.

The final thing we need to do is settle with the fact that God has put us in a body. The best way to discover our gifts is to find out what it is we do which truly builds up other members. Then we can go crazy playing to our strengths. But this is humbling as we need to start accepting the evaluation of the people around us.

That can hurt but the gospel helps us to remember we are nothing special in ourselves – but loved as the most treasured possessions of almighty God! This means we can afford to get our ‘spiritual gifts ego’ jilted from time to time.