A MEMBER OF THE HEAVENLY CHOIR

People have an innate need to worship or hold in reverence something in their life. As with all aspects of life there is good and bad involved and unfortunately many choose to go the wrong direction. Included among the many are Christians who are given over to a ‘fleshly mind’ (Colossions 2:18) placing matters of this world above that of God’s Kingdom.

Wrong objects of human worship include worship of other gods (small g) rather than the One True God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Exodus 34:14). This can include any number of demons (Deuteronomy 32:17) and creatures (Romans 1:25) that roam the world in search of souls to destroy. Some of those are images such as Daniel addresses in Daniel 3:5-18 and that people fall down to or set on various types of alters. Examples include non Christian beliefs such as budhist or figures seen in mayan temples. Finally in the area of wrongful worship we see many who worship their fellow man as Peter experienced and corrected in Acts 10:25-26. We see this every day in what we call hero worship or ‘buttering up’ someone who can help us improve our position in this life. Sadly this maya well lead many into final judgment (Revelation 13:4-13) as they will be easily led to the anti-christ in the end days.

Worship done correctly is to be of Christ done by men (John 9:30-38) and women as seen in the example recorded in Matthew 15:25. If we as believers do truly desire to be obedient to God’s Word and become His Disciples in this day and age we need to commit now to join the Angels of Heaven (Hebrews 1:6) and become now and forever more A MEMBER OF THE HEAVENLY CHOIR.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Worship of our Wonderful Lord and Savior is to be the work of a Christian life.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Matthew 28:17 “the Disciples worship Christ as we should today”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I worship You and You alone.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  Do you worship the Lord only?
  2.  What images of false gods do people make?
  3.  What creatures and demons roam the world?
  4.  How does one distinguish between ‘other gods’ and the One True God?

WHEN COMPLETE SURRENDER OCCURS

Times for revival (a renewed zeal to obey God) have come and gone over the years. I believe today the call for another revival is necessary especially across Europe and North America of which I am most familiar. The problem is the conditions have to be just right where revival happens.

It can only be accomplished through a Triune God and His life giving Word (Psalm 119:25). As ‘the Word’ is shared with others one sentence and one person at a time it asks of us to meet certain conditions beginning with humility. As 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us we need to turn from our wicked ways in order that God would hear us which is a large order for a society that seemingly has no foundational source by which to measure good and evil.

If there are those who in humility and prayer admit they need God in their lives then revival can take place. The atmosphere will be one of brokenness and it is here where Christ draws near (Psalm 34:18). Once broken we need to remove the iniquity (sin) in our hearts through confession (Psalm 66:18) and in the sorrow we are to feel repentant (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Sadly for many this is where it ends. What is needed in addition is the repentant need to turn away from their sin (2 Timothy 2:19) in order for “the Lord to know those who are His”. This completes what is necessary for the beginning of a revival one life at a time. Be it a few or many revival begins WHEN COMPLETE SURRENDER OCCURS.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Revival spiritually enriches all who are broken and repentant.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 119:25 “Revival is accomplished by God’s Word”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord  bring revival to our land.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are the wicked ways society needs to turn from?
  2. By what source does society define what is wicked (evil) or good?
  3. What all does revival do for a person?
  4. Have you been broken and completely surrendered to our Lord and Savior?

 

THE TIME MAY BE NEAR!

There is an old saying that “to whom much has been given much is expected”. No greater gift exists than eternal life and so for us God has great expectations. Certainly when He witnesses our breaking of His laws (sins of commission) that would disappoint or even anger Him. Equally so would be sins of omission.

Such sins included the neglect of circumcision most especially for the Jewish newborn. This act abolished by the Gospel still was and is in many locations carried out for expected health reasons and the spiritual significance of regeneration.

More importantly was the sin of our omitting to tithe. To this day by our not giving at least a tenth of our income (money, growth in possessions such as livestock, etc.) we are in effect robbing God as shared in Malachi 3:6-12. Today that continues as we often give (if at all) from what we have left over and almost never from the value of our estates we build up by God’s grace.

A final sin of omission to note is Christians neglecting to come together to worship (Hebrews 10:25). At times of worship creative excuses for why we are absent are many yet if Christ were present (which He is) the church’s would be full.

These sins of omission as are those of commission, must be carefully monitored in our lives. As Christians it is our moral duty to live a righteous life. If we do not we would be well advised to heed the words of the prophet Jeremiah recorded in Jeremiah 42:1-22. In our time we have been witness to events that have warned us. May we not be caught sleeping like the disciples at Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46) but be ever watchful as Christ’s own words tell us in Matthew 24:42. THE TIME MAY BE NEAR!

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Whether by omission or commission sins are always obstacles to our growing in righteousness.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Hebrews 10:25 “A sin of omission is not gathering to worship”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen me to obey Thy will.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are additional sins by omission?
  2. How much do you tithe?
  3. What excuses do we make for not worshiping?
  4. Are you striving toward a righteous life?

KNEEL DOWN!!

One of my favorite paintings is the one of Christ kneeling in prayer by a rock in the Garden of Gethsemane. That memory is recorded in Luke 22:41. It is important for us to understand the need to kneel as I believe it goes hand in hand with God’s blessing. In fact the Hebrew word for blessing comes from the word which means ‘to kneel’.

Christianity adopted the practice of kneeling in prayer from Judaism. Today not only do few people pray as we once did but kneeling is rarely seen unless at the communion rail in church.

Judaism speaks the words “we bend the knee” in the words of what they call their Aleinu or synagogue prayer spoken at Rosh Hoshanah and Yom-Kippur. Otherwise kneeling is felt to be a Christian tradition. Truth is that it comes out of the historic Judaic culture such as shared in Psalm 95:6 and other passages as well.

To kneel is to worship and careful we must be before we kneel as it must be before the one and only true God and Lord of us all. I have often wondered if modern day terrorists don’t have this in mind forcing captives to kneel before ending the captives lives. Emblematic of their kneeling before the false god to which the terrorists pledge their allegiance.

Kneeling in prayer is certainly important. Paul before leaving Ephesus ended his worship experience with his fellow believers on his knees (Acts 20:36). Knowing all this I believe it is now time we all KNEEL DOWN!!

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Our King Jehovah needs to see our knee bowed in prayer.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Luke 22:41 “Christ our example”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I kneel before You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Have you ever knelt in prayer and why or why not?
  2. Would you kneel before a terrorist voluntarily knowing its symbolism?
  3. Is kneeling important to true worship and why or why not?
  4. Will you kneel today in prayer?

 

WHO OR WHAT DO YOU WORSHIP?

Paying reverence to anyone or anything before God is idolatry. Since the time of Noah it has been one of the seven great sins pointed out to us by God. Therefore taking some time to understand it would be advisable.

In our present society showing reverence other than for God is clearly evident. One example of this are the long lines to hear a fellow human being perform or to catch a glimpse of them in their daily life. Simple enjoyment of their skills is one thing but many carry their adulation much much further. This is just one small example of the many ways that we find ways to place someone or something on a higher plain than our worship of the one true God.

Anything which pushes God out of our life where He should be first and foremost or diminishes his influence is idolatry. In fact idolatry has a demonic basis (1 Corinthians 10:19-21) and we need to be very careful to what we pay homage to. We who are created in God’s image need to understand we must keep our thoughts, words and deeds on that which points to Him (1 Corinthians 6:15-18). This even when we find ways to entertain ourselves.

The danger is that when God is absent in life we become enslaved (Galatians 4:8-9) to that which pulls us away from Him. If our lives continue in this manner God will give us over to our sins. For those who may for the first time or perhaps return to a saving faith there are methods to remove this sense of idolatry from our lives. God made it clear in Isaiah 44:6 that their be no other Gods so it is important we remove any semblance of idolatry from our lives. This can be done in many ways (logic, denunciation,etc.) but best is by new birth. As God promised to restore Israel so He will restore us to Himself. The question now is WHO OR WHAT DO WE WORSHIP?

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Idolatry is part of mans imperfection that destroys his possible spiritual inheritance.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Isaiah 44:6 “one God”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I worship You alone.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  What are examples of misplaced reverence in our society?
  2. How is God growing ever more absent in peoples lives?
  3. How do we understand Christ Jesus to be God?
  4. What one way can we remove any idolatry in our lives?

SPIRITUALLY UPLIFTING

Spiritual music is a blessing that almost defies description. When your entire body, soul and spirit unite in singing praise to God it truly moves one to tears as at that moment you feel the presence of God most closely or so it is for me.

Hymnody and the singing of praise and worship music has been around since creation in one form or another. They have been sung after great deliverances, victories, answers to prayer and simply to praise our Lord and Savior.

Much of Scripture are words of hymns including one well known as the ‘love chapter’ recorded in 1 Corinthians 13. These hymns, as are all spiritual songs, have the primary purpose of worshiping God. This was understood by David as noted in 2 Chronicles 23:18. One specific example is how important the singing of hymns are following sacramental gatherings such as noted in Matthew 26:30 where a hymn was sung after the Lord’s Supper the night Christ was taken captive before His crucifixion and resurrection experience began.

Hymns truly uplift me especially when I sing with the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:15). To sing in any other fashion seems less than inspiring to me and others around me but I can’t imagine how it must sound to God. If we don’t do so now in our practice of hymn or praise singing then I believe it is time to begin to unite our voices singing to our God in a way that is truly SPIRITUALLY UPLIFTING.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Hymns help human nature uplift itself from hopelessness to hope.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 2 Chronicles 23:18 “purpose of hymnody”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I praise You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What types of spiritual music are there?
  2. Which is most spiritually uplifting to you?
  3. How does your spirit feel when in the midst of spiritually uplifting music?
  4. When do you most enjoy singing?

 

 

FALSE GODS WE FOLLOW

Mankind since the beginning of time have followed false gods setting aside the one true God. We seem enamored by the idea of higher power such as Greek gods (ex. Zeus) or any other number of gods such as baal . As interesting as they may be to read about and study in literature they most often have evil connected with them. One of those evils is immorality such as given in the example of Israel in Numbers 25:1-9. Here harlotry (prostitution) worshiped like a god came to a quick end unlike today where we flaunt it openly.

Another false god is one who would attract us to mediums or any who say they can read your future. We may think of it as harmless fun but the one true God certainly does not (Leviticus 20:6). Our future can easily be seen if we look into Scripture rather than a crystal ball.

False gods inevitably are prideful and lead followers into becoming so as well (2 Kings 18:28-35). Lucifer was cast down to earth (and one day into Hades) because of pride and any god or action we put our  trust in other than the One Almighty God of Scripture will be treated accordingly.

Sadly, for taking the stand against what God finds evil will bring us persecution as it did the prophets in 1 Kings 19:1 but we know something greater awaits us. That which we would not receive if WE FOLLOW FALSE GODS.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: False gods prevent glorifying the One True God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Numbers 25:1-9 “immorality of false gods”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord keep false gods far from my front door.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What is a ‘false god’?
  2. Are there any false gods you are following?
  3. What false gods do we encourage in our society?
  4. What is the relationship between false gods and prideful behavior?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DOING RIGHT BY GOD

The last person anyone should want to desert is God yet many do knowingly and unknowingly. Today I would like to share a few ways that is being done. The first of these is made mention of in 1 Kings 11 where property and power was lost to those who worshiped the false god, ashteroth. Today there are many who have abandoned our one true God and a price is being paid. We see this in a society that is rapidly going backward such as explained in Jeremiah 15:6 where we see the prophet Jeremiah show God’s growing weary and his response.

The danger in the time of Jeremiah as it is now is people wanting to go their own way to gods that can’t fulfill their needs (Jeremiah 2:13). If only they weren’t blind to that truth. This is seen in the ingratitude shown by those who follow idols (Jeremiah 2:5-12) and even Christians who often are not as thankful as we should be.

A time will come when a people, nation and even world will be confused and ashamed for our arrogance (Jeremiah 17:13). God’s power and wrath will come against us. This unless we follow the example of Ezra 8:22 and fast while praying to God for His forgiveness and return into our lives. Only then will we once more be DOING RIGHT BY GOD.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Forsaking our one true God to follow false gods is the height of foolishness.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Ezra 8:22-23 “returning to God”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord remain at my side.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What false gods/idols does mankind worship today?
  2. In what ways are these false gods unable to meet mankind’s needs?
  3. Is there confusion and shame today for our abandoning God?
  4. How is this shame shown?

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT!

As I write this I have within the last few hours returned from a praise and worship performance by a Christian band known as Casting Crowns. Their music and more importantly the words to the songs on several occasions brought me to my feet and my arms raised in praise. Some would consider the event simply as good entertainment but for most present in the hall it was much more. It was an opportunity to connect with God.

Entertainment is an enjoyable occasion that in Scripture was more limited and intentional than what we have allowed it to become today. For example special times were when a child was weaned from their mother (Genesis 21:8) or at the time of another major life event which was marriage (Matthew 22:52). Scripture speaks as well of the importance of celebrating times when major agreements are signed, a leader of a nation is enthroned and when a loved one returns to Christ as explained in the parable recorded in Luke 15:23-25. That to me is what made last evenings Praise and Worship event so meaningful. It was a call not only to worship but also a call for those with doubt or question to return to the alter of our Lord and Savior.

These special events all have the same features beyond the accustomed feasting. First of all someone has to be in charge (John 2:8) of the many who are needed (John 2:5) to make the even successful. Naturally invitations need to be sent (Luke 14:16), preparation’s made (Matthew 22:4) and time allowed for music and dance (Luke 15:25). When all is ready and the entertainment event is done for the right reason you may even experience something unusual like ‘the presence of angels’ (Hebrews 13:2). Now THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Great entertainment occurs when there is enthusiasm and enjoyment for the Eternal.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Hebrews 13:2 “unusual feature of great entertainment”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for the enjoyment of life.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What do you find most entertaining in life?
  2. Do you recall the major events in your life and how they were carried out?
  3. How do or can you bring God into your special life moments?
  4. Describe an ‘enjoyable occasion’?

THE PURPOSE OF THANKSGIVING!

Writing this we are celebrating the day of Thanksgiving. If asked many would describe it with words such as: turkey, pilgrims, parade, football, etc. Certainly those are all elements of how some celebrate the day but the true meaning is much deeper.

For me Thanksgiving is a day of worship beyond the normal. It is an expression of thanks that is deeply seated in our heart which needs to be shown by the overpowering love we have for our Lord. It is perhaps better expressed as reverence which is a feeling of deep respect, love, awe and esteem.

Certainly we know how to express this. Take for example how some display it for a sports team. They cheer for hours at a time, wearing clothing proclaiming their heroes. They acquire huge collections of memorabilia reminding them often of these ‘heroes’. When near them it is easy to discuss stories about these heroes.

Compare that with the reverence or worship we have for our true hero. Our Creator God. For many worship is short and routine often reserved in nature. Collections in our home may be a Bible and perhaps a cross hung on the wall. Clothing if any likely might be a small cross wore as a necklace or earring. Finally we seldom discuss our Christian faith as we have been told it along with politics are too controversial.

Certainly worship does not mean we have to act as crazed sports fans. It can be anything from quiet time in the privacy of a room or it might be more charismatic. However you worship or express thanks this day and always it should be as Matt Redman once said: “never a performance (but rather) an overflowing (of love) from the heart”. This is THE PURPOSE OF THANKSGIVING.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Worship is our witness to our God of many wonders.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 95:6 “How we are to give thanks”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for Your many blessings.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How do you spend Thanksgiving?
  2. Does your home show more evidence of a love for a sports team or God?
  3. How do you show other people your faith?
  4. How do you personally show reverence for our Lord?

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