Monday, 25 June 2018

True Worship or False?

What are you reading at the moment that is helping you in your journey to a closer relationship with God?  For me I am currently reading "Man's Purpose" by AW Tozer.  That man does not mince words let me tell you. 

I have found his forthrightness very much like a bucket of cold water thrown in your face.  Its very refreshing! 😊

Tozer says that our prime reason for being, is to worship God.  And through this book he is trying to get across exactly how one does this.  I have been praying and asking the Lord to quicken my mind so that I can understand and absorb all that he has to say.  I want to know all I can about worshiping God so that I do it in a manner that is acceptable to Him. 

I was struggling with something that Tozer had said.  Not so much that it was not understandable.  Just in that what he said made me feel that nothing I do is satisfactory worship for God.  And while I believe my acceptability comes from a place of God's righteousness and grace and mercy, and nothing of my own, I felt Tozer was expressing an impossibility of my being able to worship God in such a manner as I thought to be acceptable.  He was eliminating all the ways I thought I was worshiping God.

He states the only way to worship God is in (1) spirit, and (2) in truth.  (John 4 vs 24)

I can understand this just fine.  God is spirit and we can worship Him anywhere.  Its not about where, a building, a place.  We can worship God anywhere because He is in us.  It is not about physical sacrificing and outward show.  It is about our hearts and souls seeking to worship God.  Worshiping God in truth, means to acknowledge the truth of Who He is.  He is Lord, Saviour, Creator.  There is no way to God but through belief in His Son, belief in His death and resurrection.  This is the truth of God.  We can only truly worship God if we believe the truth of Who He is. 

Tozer went on to say that much of today's "worship" of God, in church and among us as Christians is NOT true worship.  Its more about us, and entertainment, etc.  And while I do see this, and believe this to be true in many circumstances, I felt as if Tozer is saying that when I go to church and sing our praise and worship songs, that I am not worshiping, or at least, not in a way acceptable to God.


I went to bed that night confused and worried about my ability to worship God in a way that is acceptable to Him.  Then, in the morning I got up, fed the dogs, made my cuppa and headed for my bible for a quiet time.  And.... the next chapter to read was Isaiah 66.  The last chapter of Isaiah. 

The heading in my bible reads:  True Worship and False

And I smiled.  God has a way of letting you know He knows what you are doing.  He knows that you want to learn.  He knows you want clarity.  He knows what you are thinking!  Yes, He knows! 

The next verses really sum Worship, acceptable or not:
Isaiah 66 vs 1 - 2(*red italic notes are mine)
(1)  Thus says the Lord:  "Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool.  Where is the house that you will build Me?  And where is the place of My rest? (God does not need a building, a place to be worshiped. earth and heaven are His footstool)
(2)  For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist," says the Lord.  "But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my Word.

The true worship that God accepts is from a contrite heart, a broken heart, a humble spirit.  One who looks to God for salvation and who fears Him as Lord and Saviour.  Who respects His word.  Thus, to truly worship God, in spirit and in truth, we must be humble, contrite, and fear Him, as in: respect and honour Him as Lord of all.

What then is false worship, unacceptable to God?
Isaiah 66 vs 3 - 4:    
(3)  "He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man;  he who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog's neck;  he who offers a grain offering, as if he offers swine's blood;  he who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol.  Just as they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations, (people doing outward shows of worship with no desire to change their hearts and actions)
(4)  So will I choose their delusions, and bring their fears on them, because, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not hear;  but they did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight."

False worship comes from external show, self-reliance and pride. This "worship" is not acceptable in God's eyes.  God was not happy with those who outwardly showed worship by sacrifice, but continued in sin and their own pleasures.  Their hearts were not right before Him.

So, I feel the Lord as allayed my fears and reminded me its about my heart.  Its about the intent of my heart.  When I praise and worship God in church, in my home, in my car, my intention is to love God, to worship Him in spirit and in truth.  I do not do it for anyone else, I do not do it to show anyone else anything else.  It is me, worshiping Him.  And I believe that when I do worship God in this manner, He accepts it. 

I do however pray that God show me where I fail, how I can improve, and where I need to change so that my worship remains acceptable in His sight.

Let me know your thoughts.

God bless
Tracy

 

My ABIDE scripture this week is:
John 4 vs 24:  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

James - Digging Deeper 4

James 1 vs 13 - 15: (13) Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. (14) But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. (15) Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

(Note:  EH = Everett Hill - Exploring the Elements of an Authentic Christian Lifestyle
           MH = Matthew Henry)

EH Notes:
  • We will be tempted, its when not if.
  • God allows temptation and difficulties for our growth and strength of character. We need these so that we can stand against, and withstand the wiles of the devil.
  • Don’t be discouraged by temptation, but don’t underestimate it either.
  • When tempted, do as Jesus did, use God’s word, as it’s alive and powerful, and will protect you.
  • Do not panic, or fear the temptation, but look to God, as His word says He will give you a way out of temptation. 
  • The temptation can’t harm us, unless we let it – its very much our choice to pick it up or not.
  • When we stand firm on God’s word (thus we need to know God’s word) no temptation will overpower us. Its power is our choice. Choose God’s way in faith 

EH then goes on to discuss IF/WHEN we do fall into temptation and sin
  • He explains that God’s forgiveness is there
  • Not accepting His forgiveness is at its core, disobedience. (← is this not profound?)
  • We tend to not ask forgiveness because we feel shame, we deserve the consequences, we feel we need to earn the forgiveness - when all along, God is extending forgiveness with no strings attached. It doesn’t fit our thinking because we know we fell, thus we need to suffer in it, but God restores because He extends grace and mercy, and doesn’t want us to suffer needlessly.
  • Also, the price He paid to save us from those failings, we need to honour His sacrifice by accepting His forgiveness, repenting and walking in the right way.



Life Application notes:
God doesn’t tempt people, He tests them. He does allow Satan to tempt people, however, in order to refine their faith and to help them grow in their dependence on Christ. We can resist the temptation to sin by turning to God for strength and choosing to obey His word.

When having fallen to temptation don’t blame others, situations, worldly ease etc. The Christian accepts responsibility for his or her wrongs, confesses them, and asks God’s forgiveness.


Matthew Henry notes:

MH lays the blame firmly at the feet of man for responding to temptation and completely refutes anyone trying to turn blame onto God.
  • “Our first father Adam, tells God, the woman thou gavest me tempted me, thereby, in effect, throwing blame upon God for giving him the tempter. Let no man speak thus!”
  • “It is very bad to sin, but is much worse, when we have done amiss, to charge it upon God, and say it was owing to Him.”
  • “Afflictions, as sent by God, are designed to draw out our graces, but not our corruptions.” (I love love love this statement)
  • “Stop the beginnings of sin therefore, or else all the evils it produces must be wholly charged upon us.”


My thoughts: Therefore, don’t pick up the temptation, because if you do, the resultant sin and consequences is all on you.  Its all about choices in the moment of temptation!

EH notes that temptation in of itself has no power over us, but if we act on it, we give it power to plant seed and grow to full blown sin.

To summarise:
  • Temptation is a given
  • It has no power over us, except that which we allow
  • God allows temptation and trial to strengthen us
  • Its all about choices
  • If/when we fall, the buck stops with us, its on us, our choice, take responsibility
  • If/when we fall, God is ready to forgive
  • Not accepting God’s forgiveness is pride and disobedience
  • Accepting His forgiveness immediately restores your relationship with Him

I hope you are as encouraged as I am that temptation is not to feared as much as we do fear it!  God has given us a way out, no matter how far along in our faith walk we are.  

God bless
Tracy



My ABIDE scripture for this week is:
1 Corith 10 vs 13:  No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Monday, 11 June 2018

The more you ABIDE, the more you WANT to ABIDE!

My One Word for this year is ABIDE (See post HERE).  My goal therefore for this year was to spend more time in the Word, dig deeper, know more, get closer to the Lord, invest more time, heart and mind to getting closer to my Lord and Saviour, Jesus.  I am finding in doing so, I just want more!  More of the Word.  More knowledge.  More understanding.  More history.  I want more of Jesus!

My ladies bible study (God's Girls) are currently digging deeper into the book of James.  We are loving it!  I love how I am looking up things I never considered before.  Who is this person in scripture?  Where do they come from?  What part do they play?  What happened to them?  Google is marvellous for some of those questions.  I just want to pick everyone's brain about what they know.
I also find I am not just taking what someone says at face value!  I am checking what they say for myself, in the Word!

I am going through 1 John at the moment in my quiet time and there are so many references to ABIDE.  They are all so encouraging and uplifting.  John is writing to Christians and encouraging them to not be influenced by false teachers and teachings.  If we ABIDE in God and in His word we will be able to prevent ourselves from being waylaid and deceived, and.... we begin to understand His love for us.


1 John 2 v 24:  Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning.  If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.   

If God's word, the truth, is in us, then God is in us and abides in us.  Thus we have His protection and His love in us.

1 John 2 vs 26 - 27: (26) These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. (27) But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

Because we abide in Christ and thus Him in us, we will not be deceived by false teachers.  Our consciences will be on high alert!

1 John 2 v 28:  And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.

We will recognise Jesus when He appears!  Does that not give you peace?!  It makes me feel confident that if someone comes claiming to be Christ, we will know the truth and not be fooled!

1 John 3 v 6:  Whoever abides in Him does not sin.

This means that if we abide in Christ and in His word, we will recognise sin and steer clear.  We will not be able to sin on purpose.  We will not be able to stomach hurting Jesus or the Holy Spirit on purpose.  Abiding in Christ protects us from sin.

The "LOVE" connection!

1 John 4 vs 12(b) - 13:  If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.  (13) By this we know that we abide in Him, and He is us, because he has given us of His Spirit. 

1 John 4 vs 15 - 16:  (15) Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  (16) And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

If we have love in us for our fellow man, then God abides in us.  If not, we need to abide more!  Spend more time in His word until we start to love people the way God wants us to.  And we are only able to love the way God wants us to, if we are able to confess Jesus as the Son of God, and we believe in Him.  When we understand God's love for us, and the love He wants us to extend, we are starting to abide in Him and Him in us.

This is a place, a way of being, that we should desire with all our hearts.  Let us ABIDE in Him daily, now and always.

God bless
Tracy


My ABIDE scripture today is:
1 John 3 v 16:  By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.  And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  

Monday, 4 June 2018

James - Digging Deeper 3

NOTE: Where I have quoted from the James study "Exploring the Elements of an authentic Christian Lifestyle" I have added (EH) for the writer Everett Hill

James 1 vs 9 – 12: (9)Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, (10) but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. (11) For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. (12) Blessed is the man who endures temptations; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Rich and poor – it’s the attitude in your wealth!

When your heart is right with God and your walk daily is about “winning the race”, pushing through and persevering to the end, then:
  • Being poor is not something to be ashamed of. In fact, the poor are to glory in the fact that riches/or lack thereof, are not an issue. 
  • Riches – “God’s riches” are to be desired and in being “poor” worldly riches should not blind you to God’s plan for your life.  As we are all human, we know that these right attitudes are to be aimed for, not necessarily a given!

James writes to the ‘poor’ and the ‘rich’ Christian from an eternal viewpoint (EH). Obviously in this life we need money to survive, buy food, have shelter, etc, but James is saying the poor man is actually blessed to not have the stresses of worldly wealth.

If our lives, filled with difficulty though they are, are only a fraction of our total existence, the rest of our existence must matter the most, right?! (EH)




When James addresses the wealthy Christian he is pointing out a number of things:
  • Don’t trust in your wealth, its fleeting 
  • Your wealth/money is meaningless to God 
  • Your wealth is temporary and you and it will fade away 

I think he makes the point that “having” actually makes you “poorer” because instead of relying on Christ, you rely on yourself and your wealth instead of building your heart and soul for your future in eternity, your focus is on building your wealth on earth. The wealthy have a huge potential to miss the boat. James is saying if you realise your wealth is as nothing to God, then you are truly wealthy and your riches are in Him alone and eternal. James encourages the poor to glory in not being wealthy, and the wealthy to be humble in their wealth because it’s not theirs to keep and is from the Lord for His glory not theirs.

  • We are being encouraged to keep away from the love of money, whether we have it or not! 
  • We are to put Christ ahead of wealth or the lack thereof!   Don’t let it be an idol! 
  • James takes wealth out of the equation, thus all are equal before Christ, now, make Christ your focus and live from that perspective, not from the perspective of having or not having…. 

Matthew Henry says: Both these are allowed to rejoice… If we do not rejoice in Him always, it is our own fault. Those of low degree may rejoice, if they are exalted to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom of God; and the rich may rejoice in humbling providences, as they produce a lowly and humbling disposition of mind, which is highly valuable in the sight of God.


Verse 12: 
 When James commends steadfastness under trial, the word “trial” that he uses can be translated as “temptation”, or a test of one’s integrity (EH). In the amplified bible it says: Blessed is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive the victor’s crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.

Matthew Henry says: It is not the man who suffers only that is blessed, but he who endures, who with patience and constancy goes through all difficulties in the way of his duty.

I think James is saying: “Stand…. Stand firm… don’t give in, don’t give up… push through, because you love God! AND because you love God more than you love man’s approval and immediate satisfaction, your hope and reward is in eternity where God will reward your perseverance with the crown of life.”

Matthew Henry says: We only bear the cross for a while, but we shall wear the crown to eternity.

What is the crown of life?
  • It is the title of our reward for persevering (EH) 
  • It alludes to the glory, honour, and power found within the life of Christ that is given to us as a reward for believing AND acting on that belief (EH) 
In the end our joy is made complete by our glorious dependence in Christ and the reward is eternal life with Him (EH).

A final thought from Matthew Henry: The crown of life is promised not only to great and eminent saints, but to all those who have the love of God reigning in their hearts. Every soul that truly loves God shall have its trials in this world fully recompensed in that world above where love is made perfect.

I am finding that digging deeper is an awesome activity and gets the brain and heart engaged and sharpened for God's use when He chooses 😉

God bless
Tracy




My ABIDE scripture for this post is:  
Isaiah 40 vs 8:  The grass withers the flower fades,  but the Word of our God stands forever.




See also in this series:
Coming soon:
James - Digging Deeper 4

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...