407 - When it Comes to Worship We’re Clueless

June 15, 2017

One of the pressing questions today, as we take an honest look at the church, is what does worship look like?  Is it what we see manifested on Sunday mornings?  Is it music, a light show, an engaging speaker telling interesting and affirming stories?  Or is it something more?

The greatest verse regarding the mechanics of true worship is found in the book of Romans.  Consider the following:

Romans 12:1-2 - I beseech (parakaléō – to beg, exhort, desire, call for, encourage) you (personal) therefore (based on what was previously written), brethren (to believers), by the mercies (compassion and pity one shows for the suffering of others) of God, that you (personal) present (to place, offer) your (personal) bodies (whole person) a living (constant, enduring) sacrifice (offering, something slaughtered on the altar of God), holy (hágios - set apart, sanctified, consecrated, devoted, sharing in God’s purity and abstaining from earth's defilement), acceptable (good, well-pleasing, that which God wills and recognizes) to (whom) God, which is your (personal) reasonable (implies intelligent meditation and reflection as pertaining to the soul) service (voluntary worship or service which conforms to human reason).  And (you) do not be conformed (syschēmatizō - to fashion alike, to conform to the same pattern outwardly) to this world (generation, culture, referring to an age or time in contrast to kósmos), but (you) be transformed (metamorphóō - to transfigure, to change one’s form) by the renewing (a qualitative renewal, a restoration or renovation which makes a person different than in the past) of your mind (intelligent understanding, perception), that you (personal) may prove (try, test, discern, distinguish, to determine whether a thing is worthy or not) what is that good (excellent, best, distinguished) and acceptable (good, well-pleasing, that which God wills and recognizes), and perfect (complete, having achieved its goal and purpose, full, wanting for nothing) will (desire, God’s gracious disposition done out of His own good pleasure) of God.

Take a few minutes and reflect on these two verses.  Have you done this?  Do you worship Him this way?  Is it even close?  If not, then keep listening.

The following is a study on Romans 12:1-2.

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406 - Remember When?

June 6, 2017

Over and over again we see the commands in Scripture to "remember" something.  Often we are to remember the commands of God (Num. 15:39-40).  Other times we are to remember what God has done for us (Deut. 5:15).  Then God Himself is said to remember His covenant with us and all living creatures (Gen. 9:15) or to not remember our sins anymore (Heb. 8:12).  Jesus told His disciples to "remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:32) and in the Revelation the church at Ephesus is commanded to "remember therefore from where you have fallen" (Rev. 2:5).  We see sinful man asking God to "remember me when You come into Your kingdom" (Luke 23:42) and the Lord asking us to "do this in remembrance of Me" (1 Cor. 11:24).  And we are told, not to "keep" the Sabbath as a command, but to "remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Ex. 20:8).   Why?  Because remembering who we are and what God has done for us will bring a desire to "keep" His command and make His day holy.

But did you know that one of the key prerequisites of true worship is the ability to remember who God is and what He has done for us?  Remembrance brings past realities into the present.  It makes yesterday alive today.  And it gives us courage to face tomorrow, no matter what, come what may.

Do You Remember?

Let me ask you a couple of questions:

What do you forget in the dark that you remember in the light?
What about the Lord’s Word and character do you fail to remember daily?
How has He shown Himself faithful to you?
Do you remember?

If you want to discover more about true worship through remembering, then keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:23-24.

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404 - Do You Enjoy God?

May 28, 2017

When it comes to worship, some of the most profound words are those of Jesus to the Samarian woman He met at Jacob's well in the city of Sychar (John 4:5).  It was here that Jesus gave us clear instructions on the type of worship the Father seeks.

John 4:23-24 - “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true (one who cannot lie, real, genuine, sincere) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit (human) and truth (reality, the essence of a matter); for the Father is seeking (to look for, search, strive to find) such to worship (to kiss, adore, fall or prostrate before, pay reverence) Him.  God is Spirit (Holy Spirit), and those who worship Him must (what must be done from duty) worship in spirit (human) and truth.”

Which, as usual, raises a few questions.

What is worship?
What’s the difference between worship and true worship?
What is true worship like internally?
What is true worship like externally? And what does true worship look like today?

One last thought, in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the first question goes like this:

Question:  What is the chief end of man?
Answer:  The chief end of man is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.

Did you catch that?  We glorify by enjoying Him forever.  So, do you enjoy God?  Do you love your time with Him?  Is that time the highlight of your day?  Do you know how to worship Him in spirit and truth?  If not, then keep listening.

The following is a study on John 4:23-34.

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392 - The 240 Hour Prayer (and Fasting) Meeting

March 23, 2017

When the 120 met together after the ascension of Jesus, there were some logistics we often overlook when considering their 240 hour prayer meeting (Acts 1:14).  For example:

What about food?
Did they go home to eat several times a day?
Did someone have food catered in to them?
Did they go to Wal-Mart or McDonald’s daily?
Did their family drop off lunch bags each day?
Or did they go on an extended fast?
And if so, what was that like?

I believe it was a time of prayer and fasting— and not just prayer alone.  After all, that's what Jesus expected them to do (Matt. 6:16-18).   Which raises one last question: What can fasting do for me today?  Or, why should I fast since fasting seems to be passe in the church today?  Consider the following:

Fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament eras.
Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the “first love” for your Lord and result in a more intimate relationship with Christ.
Fasting is a biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God.
Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life.
Fasting will encourage the Holy Spirit to quicken the Word of God in your heart and His truth will become more meaningful to you.
Fasting can transform your prayer life into a richer and more personal experience.
Fasting can result in a dynamic personal revival in your own life and make you a channel of revival to others.
In summary, fasting opens up your spirit in ways that are hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it.

Have you ever considered adding fasting to your prayer life?  You should.  You really should.

The following is a study on Acts 1:12-14.

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382 - How the Holy Spirit Expresses Himself

January 9, 2017

When we have the desire to know more about the gifts given each of us by the Holy Spirit, and our responsibility in exercising those gifts, we are faced with a couple of questions.  Especially when we see that the purpose of those gifts is to give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to manifest or express Himself to others.  Consider the following:

1 Corinthians 12:7 - But the manifestation (expression) of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.

How does the Holy Spirit manifest or express Himself in the world today?
Does the Holy Spirit give His gifts to everyone that belongs to Christ?
Does that include you?
What gift or gifts has He given you?
And why did He give you His gifts?
So He could express Himself to others through each of us.

Do you realize the reason the Holy Spirit gives us His gifts is to manifest Himself to others through us?  Let that sink in for a moment.

According to 1 Corinthians 12:7, all the gifts that follow (word of wisdom and knowledge, faith, healings, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, and tongues) are all given so He can use these gifts to express Himself through us to others.  

Do you know what that means?  Can you see the implications of that verse and what it means for you and me and the church today?  If not, then keep listening.

The following is a study on 1 Corinthians 12:9.

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380 - Fear is Not Your Friend

January 2, 2017

When we read the reason God gave each of us spiritual gifts, we find they are an expression or representation of the Holy Spirit to a lost world in dire need of Him.  Think about it, the Holy Spirit lives in each of us as a deposit or guarantee of our future inheritance in Him (Eph. 1:14).  In essence, no Holy Spirit, no salvation.  And because the Holy Spirit now lives in each of us, He also graciously gives us certain gifts that come from Him.  Some of these gifts we readily embrace.  Others we feel less than excited about.  But  regardless of our personal feelings about what the Holy Spirit has blessed us with, we are given these gifts for the benefit of others.  They are to be used for others as a clear expression of Him who now lives in us.

Consider the following:

1 Corinthians 12:7 – But the manifestation (expression, to make visible or observable) of the Spirit (Holy Spirit) is given (to bestow, to give freely of one’s own accord and with goodwill) to each one (to each and every one separately and individually) for the profit (benefit, advantage, usefulness, help, to bring together for the benefit of another) of all.

Does this also apply to the "gifts of healings" and the "working of miracles" in the verses that follow?  What about tongues and the interpretation of tongues?  How about the gift of discerning of spirits?   Now it gets a little squirrely, doesn’t it?   Do you have questions about these gifts?  Are you wondering how your experience lines up with the Scriptural teaching about spiritual gifts?  Do you feel confused and somewhat in the dark when it comes to these controversial gifts?  Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  Most of the church feels the same way.  Want some answers?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on 1 Corinthians 12:9-10.

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379 - The Cost of Christmas

December 25, 2016

When we think of the cost of Christmas, most of us think about how much it is going to cost us and how long before we pay our credit cards off.  But that’s the horizontal cost.  The cost of presents that feel good for the moment but have very little lasting value.

There’s also a vertical cost to Christmas.  And that cost was paid by the Son of God who “emptied Himself and took on the form of a slave” (Phi.2:7), the lowest of men.

What did Christmas cost Jesus?  You’d be shocked, surprised and humbled to know.  He exchanged the praise and adoration of angels for the spittle of men.

Want to find out more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Philippians 2:5-8.

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373 - The Love of Women and the Apathy of Men

November 15, 2016

This truth is never more apparent than at the crucifixion of Jesus. There, at the foot of His cross, standing faithful with their Lord, we find several women and only one disciple, the one characterized as the disciple "whom Jesus loved" (John 13:23). We see Mary the mother of Jesus, and her sister, Salome, the mother of James and John and the wife of Zebedee. We see Mary the wife of Clopas who, along with Mary Magdalene, kept vigil at the tomb (Matt. 27:61) and was one of the women who tried to persuade the disciples that Jesus was alive (Luke 24:10). We also see a larger group of women, possibly as many as a dozen, standing together "at a distance" from the cross (Luke 23:49).

But what we don't see are the bold, self-confident men who pledged their very lives to Christ just a few hours earlier. Nowhere is Peter, the "even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" (Matt. 26:35) disciple. Andrew, James, Matthew and the others disciples are conspicuously absent. AWOL. Scattered like dry leaves in an October wind.

The men are gone. These bastions of courage and determination fled like frightened children while the women stood faithful with their Lord to the end. Why was that? What was it about the quality of love and devotion found in these women that propelled them to such courage when the men, who should lead in that area, drifted off into the landscape? What does this show us about true faith and devotion? What does this show us about the love of women and the apparent apathy of men? And how can that change our lives today?

If you would like to explore this further, then keep listening.

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365 - Revival, God’s Way

September 27, 2016
One of the greatest needs in the life of the believer today is revival.  Revival is defined as "a restoration of life, consciousness, vigor, or strength. It is an awakening to something previously dormant.  It is an improvement in the condition or strength of something or someone."  Spurgeon said revival means "to live again, to receive again a life which has almost expired; to rekindle into a flame the vital spark which was nearly extinguished."

But how does revival come about?
What does true revival look like?
How does it change the person being revived?
Are there stages or steps to revival?
And how can we have revival now, today, in our lives and in the church?

Are you interested in finding out more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on revival.

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348 - Did You Worship Last Sunday?

May 25, 2016
We've worked real hard to redefine what worship means today?  And, in doing so, we've made it more about music or style or a feel-good experience than what it has historically meant in the past.  But what does "worship" really mean?

According to Webster's Dictionary (1828) worship means:  "To honor with extravagant love and extreme submission.  It means to declare or attribute dignity and worth.  Worship is to show profound reverence and adoration."

And this has nothing to do with a style of music or what I've seen in church most of my life.  Which brings us to the question:  Did you worship last Sunday?  Did you honor your Lord with extravagant love and extreme submission?  Did you boldly declare His dignity and worth among the congregation?  Did you show, by your very actions, your profound reverence and adoration for the Lord last Sunday?  And if you did, what was that like?

And if you didn't, or if you're not sure, then keep listening.

The following is a study on True Worship.

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