And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Friday, January 30, 2009

What Worship Do You Offer

What worship do you offer?

As our church has been reading through the Bible in a year, I find myself pondering the minute details of scripture. A pattern emerges to my sight of the constraints of worship. This then coincides with a common wondering of my heart as to why the church lacks power today. Maybe its because we don’t worship properly? Worship is to be done through all our acts as unto the Lord, but that communion with God we call “the worship service” is seemingly more about us than God.

Today I was prompted to look at the story of Cain and Able worshiping God. It is found in Genesis 4: 1-7. In the past I had had it explained to me that the problem was that one offered vegetables and the other blood. This has a connotation to it, but as I looked at the text I saw that God reveal to us some evidence that it wasn’t the sacrifice itself that was rejected, but the offerer.

Both men offered what came from their livelihood. And we know in the later chapters of the Bible that there are offerings of first fruits. These being acceptable. However, blood was required for the sin offering. All offering were a foreshadowing of the Christ who was to come. But here they are different in these regards. It says Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground, a simple portion of what he had. Able however brought the firstborn, he brought the best and the first. Think of it, here is the first of what he got from his hard labors. And he chose to give it to God. I wonder what joy he had in his heart of thankfulness and awe of God that made it better to give unto God this treasure than to keep it for himself. He did not sniff at the things of God, nor did he sniff at God. He wanted the best possible offering for His Lord.

We see evidence of what God saw in the next few verses. God had regard for Able and his offering. Wow, when was the last time that I could say that God was truly pleased with what I offered Him. That would incorporate my offering, my attitude in giving it, my attitude afterwards, my heart, my soul, my mind, my strength, my whole self. How do I know by the evidence of God and not man made fabrication that my worship was acceptable to God?

We see that God had no regard for Cain. Cain saw it too. He did not seek God in this failure, he simply got angry, his face fell, and eventually it festered, even after God warning him, into murder.

God gives us and Cain a clue. “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” So somewhere it was not about what was offered, but the heart with which it was offered. Notice again it was simply fruits of the ground. The text does make distinction between the two offerings. Cain’s seems to simply be just whatever he had on hand. It wasn’t special. It was not reflective of who God is, but rather a expression of how he regarded God. We need to pay special attention to this in our own lives.

This of course prompts me to think through aspects of worship and my heart.

• How do we treat worship of God, not just our tithe?
• In worship, or Bible study, do you expect to meet with God?
• Do we take special care to have our hearts enamored with God before the worship time?
• Why am I even at church? Is it my job or my treasure to serve God?
• Why do I sing the chosen songs? Have I looked to see if they are focused on me and my abilities or upon the majesty of God?
• Must I always sing happy songs, or am I brought low as the Psalmist is by the recognition of unworthiness and despair?
• In worship do I look to be entertained?
• Do I disdain parts of worship because they do not appeal to me?
• Am I more concerned about who is there or about if God is there?
• Have I taken time the night before to cleanse my heart in repentance?
• Do I live during the week with my self preservation in mind or knowing that I will face God on Sunday?
• Am I even thrilled to be in God’s house?
• Do I dress as if God matters, or am I comfortable to head to my next “adventure” afterwards?
• What are the plans for my day before and afterwards? Do they incorporate a reflection and commitment as to whatever God may bring to us that day?
• Am I only concerned with worship on Sunday, or do I look to abide soli Deo Gloria all week?
• Do I look to rest in God? Is it Sunday or a Sabbath? Is it a break in my time before doing other things or is worship what I have longed for all week?
• Am I growing? Do I find God more awesome every week, yes every week?
• Am I giving of myself? What sins are fleeting away?
• Is scripture a beheld treasure of mind and heart?
• Is it all about God?
• Have I met with God? Not a pastor or friends, but have I met God?
• Emotional work up or worship in Spirit and in truth?
• Intellectual framework of theological exercises, or passionate love of God that shows emotions in spirit and in truth?
• Morality and law or Grace and covenant?
• Do I cherish the covenant?
• Do I cherish my baptism?
• Do I long for the Table of the Lord?
• How do I handle criticism of others?
• Have I loved my enemy?
• Where have my eyes been?
• Has my mind been renewed to the glories of God?
• Has my life this week been God and….?
• How have I regarded others? Do I celebrate when they excel me?
• Have I come to Him as a little child?
• Am I trusting in riches?
• Is anyone in need and I turned them down?
• Do I give others partially what they need, holding back for myself.
• Have I celebrated the cross by sharing Christ this week with someone?
• What has entertained me?
• Have I made the most of my time or put God off?
• Am I ever aware that the days are evil and that I must abide in Christ seeking wisdom to overcome it all?
• Do I know the will of the Lord or am I often baffled?
• What am I drunk with? It may not be wine but whining. It may be home improvement projects. It may be my stock portfolio. Maybe its success or being the best.
• Am I filled with the Spirit? How often, how deep?
• How deep is my understanding of the scriptures? How long has it been this way? When was the last time I had a spiritual growth spurt?
• Do I greet others with Psalms, Hymns, Spiritual songs? Do I gossip and complain?
• Do I come to the alter and know that I need to make things right with a person?
• How did I treat my wife this week? Did I love her as Christ loves the Church?
• How did I myself submit to authority this week? Did disdain them? Did I slander? Did I speed past posted speed limits or break other “minor” laws?
Did I pass the test of abiding in Christ according to the sermon that was preached the week before?
• Have I loved God so much that I have trained up my children this past week, or ever? In my rising up and lying down, in the path that I go am I taking my children to the depths and heights of knowing God?
• Have I lied or bore false witness?
• How is my regard for the name of God? It is Holy unto me?
• Do I have a low view of sin?

Now this list is certainly not exhaustive. Nor is it to be a legalistic mold of laws for us to be conformed to. True it’s a list of things that need to be in our lives, but the heart, the substance of who we are must change by God first. Here we find grace. Let us live by the grace of God and offer acceptable worship from the heart in Spirit and in truth.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Quotes to Ponder

The Bible was written in tears and to tears it will yield its best treasure. God has nothing to say to the frivolous man” A W Tozer

“Before a man tears down a fence he ought to pause long enough to discover why it was put there in the first place” G K Chesterson.

It is hardly a matter of wonder that the country that gave us instant tea and instant coffee should be the one to give us instant Christianity, A w Tozer.

Sin is what you do when your heart is not satisfied with God. John Piper

“We haven’t had a television for 35 years. We get so bored in our household that sometimes we go out and … do something.” Gregg Harris

To sit back for the sake of peace and allow the enemy to carry off the sacred vessels from the temple is never the part of a true man of God. A W Tozer

My goal in life is to give the world a right opinion of God." John Wesley

He is no fool who gives up what he can not keep to gain that which he can not lose. Jim Elliot.

Our Christian living is lamed by our sub-Christian thinking about living. John Piper

Gratitude was never designed as the primary motivation for radical Christian obedience, perhaps this is one reason so many efforts at holiness abort. Could it be that gratitude for bygone grace has been pressed to serve for the power of holiness, which only faith in future grace was designed to perform? John Piper

Raking is easy, but all you get is leaves. Digging is hard, but you might find diamonds” Piper

God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him. John Piper

Bonhoeffer said “That is what we mean by cheap grace, the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and whom sin departs.” “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow upon ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, Grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
I feel I must go on, he also said, “Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows Him.” “Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.” “Above all it is costly because it cost God the life of His Son: “Ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheep for us. Above all it is grace because God did not reckon His Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered Him up for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God.”

AY were we to lean upon man, we should surely be confounded; but, in leaning upon the living God alone, we are BEYOND disappointment, and BEYOND being forsaken because of death, or want of means, or want of love, or because of the claims of other work. How precious to have learned in any measure to stand with God alone in the world, and yet to be happy, and to know that surely no good thing shall be withheld from us whilst we walk uprightly!@
George Mueller AAnswers to Prayer@

AGod=s power is boundless. And we, on our part, have only to get into a right relationship with Him, and we shall see His power being demonstrated in our hearts and lives and service, and His victorious life will fill us and overflow through us to others. And that is revival in its essence. If, however, we are to come into this right relationship with Him, the first thing we must learn is that our wills must be broken to His will.@ Roy Hession The Calvary Road

"Until a humility which will rest in nothing less than the end and death of self; which gives up all the honor of men as Jesus did, to seek the honor that comes from God alone; which absolutely makes and counts itself nothing, that God may be all, that the Lord alone may be exalted, - until such a humility be what we seek in Christ above our chief joy, and welcome at any price, there is very little hope of a religion that will conquer the world."

APrayer is something deeper than words. It is present in the soul before it has been formulated in words. And it abides in the soul after the last words of prayer have passed over our lips.@ O. Hallesby

"God always keeps the minds of children open with wonder, with open-eyed expectancy for Him to come in where He likes." Oswald Chambers If Ye Shall Ask

Thomas Watson, the Puritan writer said, "Faith is to prayer what the feather is to the arrow; it feathers the arrow of prayer, and makes it fly swifter, and pierce the throne of grace."

"If God already knows what we want and, more importantly, knows what we need, why tell Him? Because our relationship with the Father is a personal one. Even the poor human parent wants the child to open up his heart without fear or scruples, though most of what is told is already well known. Does not the good husband express his love to his wife, in spite of the fact that she already knows it and has heard the same avowal before? This is not silly; it is merely part of what it means to live on the truly personal level. A Elton Trueblood, A Place To Stand

"Everyday Christianity cannot be practiced unless we incessantly receive into our lives that supply of spiritual power which is necessary in order to preserve within us that spirit which is willing to deny self, to serve others, to endure wrong and to let others have the last word." O. Hallesby, "Prayer"

Charles G. Trumbull's book called Victory in Christ. "If any of you are making the mistake of trying to live the victorious life, you are cheating yourself out of it, for the victory you get by trying for it is a counterfeit victory. You must substitute another word; not try but trust, and you cannot try and trust at the same time. Trying is what we do, and trusting is what we let the Lord do."

Roy Hession's book called "When They Saw Him."
"Sometimes is is asked what we mean by brokenness. Brokenness is not easy to define bu can be clearly seen in the reactions of Jesus, especially as He approached the cross and in His crucifixion. I think it can be applied personally in this way: When to do the will of God means that even my Christian brethren will not understand, and I remember that "neither did His brethren believe in Him." and I bow my head to obey and accept the misunderstanding, this is brokenness. When I am misrepresented or deliberately misinterpreted, and I remember that Jesus was falsely accused but He "held His peace," and I bow my head to accept the accusation without trying to justify myself, this is brokenness. When another is preferred before me and I am deliberately passed over, and I remember that they cried "Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas," and I bow my head and accept rejection, this is brokenness. When my plans are brushed aside and I see the work of years brought to ruins by the ambitions of others, and I remember that Jesus allowd them to "lead Him away to crucify Him" and He accepted that place of failure, and I bow my head and accept the injustice without bitterness, this is brokenness. When in order to be right with my God is is necessary to take the hjumbling path of confession and restitution, and I remember that Jesus "made Himself of no reputation" and "hymbled Himself ... unto death, even death on a cross," and I bow my head and am ready to accept the shame of exposure, this is brokenness. When others take unfair advantage of my being a Christian and treat my belongings as public property, and I remember "they stripped Him" and "parted His garments, casting lots," and I bow my head and accept "joyfully the spoiling of my goods" for His sake, this is brokenness. When one acts towards me in an unforgivable way, and I remember that when He was crucified Jesus prayed "Father forgive them; for they know not what they do." and I bow my head and accept any behavior towards me as premitted by my loving Father, this is brokenness. When people expect the impossible of me and more than time or human strength can give
"Prayer is the privilege of sons, and the test of sonship. It would seem as if God divided all men into the simple classification of those who pray and those who do not. It is a very simple test, but it is decisive, and divisive." Samuel Chadwick 'The Path of Prayer'
"We need a new intense and radical commitment to prayer, leaders who know and prove the power of prayer, congregations growing ever more mighty in prayer. We need prevailing leadership to mold a new generation of prayer warriors." Wesley L. Duewel 'Mighty Prevailing Prayer'

AIn private prayer the soul stands naked and alone in the presence of God. Thought is personal, prayer is original, motive is challenged. Private prayer disciplines personality. Who can measure the influence of an hour a day spent alone with God?@ God Listens to the Crying Heart in the Secret Place by Samuel Chadwick

"It is in the secret place we learn that silence is the best speech and listening is the best part of praying. Those who speak are heard, and those who listen hear."

"If God already knows what we want and, more importantly, knows what we need, why tell Him? Because our relationship with the Father is a personal one. Even the poor human parent wants the child to open up his heart without fear or scruples, though most of what is told is already well known. Does not the good husband express his love to his wife, in spite of the fact that she already knows it and has heard the same avowal before? This is not silly; it is merely part of what it means to live on the truly personal level. A Elton Trueblood, A Place To Stand
"There is no power like that of prevailing prayer-- of Abraham pleading for Sodom, Jacob wrestling in the stillness of the night, Moses standing in the breach, Hannah intoxicated with sorrow, David heartbroken with remorse and grief, Jesus in sweat of blood. Add to this list from the records of the church your personal observation and experience, and always there is the cost of passion unto blood. Such prayer prevails. It turns ordinary mortals into men of power. It brings power. It brings fire. It brings rain. It brings life. It brings God. Samuel Chadwick "The Path of Prayer"

ANever disobey the drawing of the Spirit to prayer. It is a special call of God to the individual who is conscious of it. God sees some peril, or great need, in the life or service of one of His own. He chooses some other child to cry to Him concerning it. Tremendous issues may hang upon obedience to that call to prayer.@ James H. McConkey APrayer@

AI poured out my soul before God, and arose from my knees in peace, because the trouble that was in the soul was in believing prayer cast upon God, and thus I was kept in peace.@ - George Mueller AAnswers to Prayer.@

AMany Christians have no real peace of heart, in spite of the fact that the Lord Jesus came to bring peace. Here again is where the limiting of God is seen. Because these Christians have no real peace themselves, they cannot be the blessing they ought to be. Because God is limited for them, He is limited through them. The finest advertisement God has is a life which is full of peace despite the presence of sorrow, suffering, or want.@ John Hunter ALimiting God@

AThough a man should have all knowledge about prayer, and though he understand all mysteries about prayer, unless he prays, he will never learn to pray.@ Samuel Chadwick God Listens to the Crying Heart in the Secret Place

by O. Hallesby from his book called 'The Christian Life in Light of the Cross'

"He who cannot cast his burden upon the Lord must bear it himself."

"Whoever will not take time for prayer may as well give up all hope of obtaining the fullness of power God has for him. It is 'they that wait upon the Lord' who 'shall renew their strength.'" R.A. Torrey "How to Obtain Fullness of Power"

"It has often been said that prayer is the greatest force in the universe. This is no exaggeration. It will bear constant repetition. In this atomic age when forces are being released that stagger the thought and imagination of man, it is well to remember that prayer transcends all other forces." -- F. J. Huegel

"It was a master-stroke of the devil to get the church and the ministry to lay aside the mighty weapon of prayer. He does not mind at all if the church expands her organizations and her deftly contrived machinery for the conquest of the world for Christ, if she will only give up praying. He laughs softly, as he looks at the church of today, and says under his breath: "you can have your Sunday schools, your social organizations, your grand choirs, and even your revival efforts, as long as you do not bring the power of Almighty God into them by earnest, persistent, and believing prayer." R. A. Torrey, "How to Obtain Fullness of Power"

"All of God's omnipotent sufficiency in His saving and delivering and keeping power for men is in Christ. Christ is more than a promise: He is a fact, the eternal Rock of Ages upon whom we may rest everything. God's grace is Christ; and the grace of God in Jesus Christ is sufficient. Are we thanking and praising Him for this?" Charles G. Trumbull, Victory in Christ

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Why do I blog, and why do we want people to read our blogs....

Alas, I can not speak for others, but I have compiled ten reasons why I think I blog. I say think because the time I have spent thinking this through has led me to deeper thinking about blogging and my self and ministry. So, hopefully this will encourage you to blog too.

10. It helps to bring together rambling thoughts that have occurred through the week
9. Helpfulness, just wanting to have a place of help I can refer people to after we have had a conversation on a matter.
8. It forces the mind to think, to organize, and expound.
7. A means of displaying pictures.
6. It is my one stop check for other blogs that I read, Blubrs listed on the right.
5. By blogging I can become a better communicator.
4. Pride, I admit there is vanity in it.
3. Entertainment.
2. Writing is exercise for the soul, it is a walk through the lands of the heart.
1. Soli Deo Gloria.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Priorities in 09

SO far it is the 14th day of 2009. I have been busy relaxing. That is right, relaxing to the Glory of God. As part of seeking God I have found that to persevere I need to have adequate rest. The way I have afforded such a luxury into my schedule is as follows...

First I assessed what is of value according to God.

Second I realize out of 1 Corinthians 10:13 that God gives us nothing we can't handle without Him, and He has a light yoke. So If I have the too busy syndrome, I must be adding to my schedule what should not be there.

, I have changed my schedule to be priority prioritized rather than goal driven. Some things will just have to wait till I have had time with God. Some days I find I need time with God in the morning, again after running around, and before bed.

Then again, some things are just going to have to be let go altogether. The world has so many distractions that I can't do it all. My time is going to be spent laying up treasures in Heaven and abstaining from futile endeavors. Mind you I will still pause for a good movie with the family, and may play one or two rounds of golf. But the striving to make my house magazine perfect on a dinner napkin budget will just have to go. All in all I am finding the balance of work and relaxation, with ample time for others, all this makes me readily more able to persevere.

Simply put. I am finding much more time for all that is required of me, and the joy that goes with it, when I simply take each day to the presence and glory of God.