ON PURPOSE – Worship

Matt 22 37,8

 

The rest of this week we are talking about living life ON PURPOSE – the way God intended.  Choosing God-given targets (not the fake worldly targets that keep popping up in our way), and then pursuing those goals with everything we have – both individually, as well as with the church body.

 

If you took the opportunity to read the passages at the end of yesterday’s post (Matthew 22:36-40, Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 2:41-47), you read the Great Commandment(s), the Great Commission, and a brief description of the Early Church – great reading for sure.   In Rick Warren’s book, Purpose Driven Church, he recounts the work done at his church to create and live by a great purpose statement.  After much study of God’s Word they boiled it down to this slogan: “A Great Commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission will grow a Great Church.” (p. 103).

 

Today let’s dive into just the first part of the Great Commandment passage.  A Pharisee tested Jesus, asking him what is the greatest commandment?  Jesus replied – quoting Deuteronomy: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt 22:37-38).  And, so living our life to love God should be our first and greatest priority.  What does this look like?  When we love something/someone we revere it and hold it up.  We spend time with what we love.  We seek out ways to honor those people and things we love.  We put up on a pedestal those we love – and in God’s case – he fully deserves this and much more.  We call this WORSHIP!

 

Worship is defined as, “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity”.  I like that the definition includes not just feeling it – but showing it.  Our church worship services ought to be great places for us to be active, engaged, thoughtful, giving, speaking, singing participants in worship.  But, if that is the only time we are worshipping we are falling far short of our God-given purpose of worship.

 

Many examples of worship can be found throughout the book of Psalms.  Go ahead, pick a chapter or two and look for instances of worship – as well as why God is worthy to be worshipped.  Just a few examples are: “I will PRAISE you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will TELL of all your wonders.” (Psalm 9:1), “OFFER right sacrifices…” (Psalm 4:5), “WAIT for the Lord…” (Psalm 27:14).  “I PRAY to you, O LORD” (Psalm 69: 13).  “I will PRAISE God’s name in SONG and GLORIFY him with THANKSGIVING.” (Psalm 69:30).

 

This is all well and fine when we FEEL like praising God – when the sun is shining and we are on top of His world.  But, what about those days when the clouds are out and we are discouraged or feel God is silent or playing hide and seek with us.  Our feelings don’t change the first and greatest commandment – to LOVE God.  Our circumstances don’t change our first and greatest priority – to WORSHIP God.

 

Psalm 13 is a perfect example for us when we are stuck in the cloudy day mentality.  David feels forgotten by God, he is wrestling with dark thoughts and a heavy heart, he feels he has been trampled down by his enemies/life.  Yet, he ends the short Psalm with this: “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13:5-6).   God is worthy of our worship – all the time …. And all the time – God is worthy of our worship.

 

How will you WORSHIP Him today?

 

Blessings,

Marcia Railton

 

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Where Do You Worship – Part 2

 

 

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In Romans 12:1 we are told to sacrifice our bodies, a living sacrifice. This is our reasonable (or true and proper) “service”. Service is also translated correctly worship. So, a Sunday Service is a time of worship. However, in verse 2 Paul tells us how to do the sacrifice.

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When we change our minds to obey God, leaving worldly things and performing God’s will, it’s worship. So, the place of worship is in our own bodies. Many people have been misled into believing that you must be in a particular place to worship. It’s better said you must be in a particular frame of mind to worship.

-Larry Rankin

 

Where Do You Worship?

WORSHIP

I have been asked many times during my trips if we have to worship in the chapel. Or, which chapel is the right place to worship. The word they use in the Philippines came from the Spanish priests. “Simbahan”. “Simba” means worship and “han” means place. So naturally they assume the building is the place to worship. Read Genesis 22:1-12 and notice in many translations verse 5 says Abraham worshipped on Mount Moriah.

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And what did he do there? Sacrifice. This makes us think of sacrifice as worship. In fact what we sacrifice for God is our worship to him. It’s that we should worship God as we love God. With all of our being and available resources.

-Larry Rankin

 

SACRIFICE

True Worship

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Matthew 15

In a confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees over traditions that the Pharisees held to, Jesus quotes a passage from Isaiah 29: “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.” (Matthew 15:8,9 NASB) This is critical for understanding what it truly means to worship God our Father. We cannot merely offer “lip-service” to our God, but need to be truly devoted to Him with our whole hearts.

How many times have we gone into church on Sunday morning, sang songs about God and Jesus, listened to a sermon, and then went home as if nothing has really happened? We have all done this at some point, and we pretend like we have truly been worshipping God by doing this; unfortunately, this is not what God desires. In Deuteronomy 6:4-5, we see what God truly wants: “Hear, O Israel! YHWH is our God, YHWH is one! You shall love YHWH your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Jesus himself quoted this passage when someone asked him what the greatest commandment is in Mark 10:29-30. We can see that God does not just want us to say we love Him; He wants us to honestly have a deep relationship with Him as a father. The challenge for us this week is to not merely go to church because we are expected to go every week; let’s go to church because we honestly want to develop a deeper relationship with our God and His Son, Jesus.

-Talon Paul

Talon Paul is a pastor at the Maple Grove Community Church in Kokomo, IN. He is married to Rebbecca Massie from Ohio, and is originally from Oregon, IL. He has a deep love for God, his church, wrestling, and Pokemon Go.

Responding to the Glory of God

 

Ezekiel 43-44

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Sunday, April 2

How should we respond to God’s glory?

To be able to answer this question, we should know what God’s glory is. A simple definition is His character, holiness, and excellence revealed. It is the essence of God on display.

In today’s passage, we read about Ezekiel experiencing God’s glory in a vision. He hears the voice of the LORD (Yahweh), which sounds like “the roar of rushing waters,” sees the land “radiant with his glory,” and witnesses the glory of Yahweh filling the temple (Ezek. 43:1-6).

You and I will likely never get the opportunity to receive a vision from the Almighty in which we can see His glory in such an amazing fashion. But God has revealed aspects of His character, holiness, and excellence to us in several ways. In these we can experience the glory of God and respond to it.

God has revealed Himself through His creation. This idea is called Natural Revelation. Romans 1:20 says “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” When one looks at nature it is difficult, at least for me, to believe that everything seen came about by chance and was not designed by an intelligent being. While Natural Revelation doesn’t tell us much about who God is, it does show a great deal about what He is capable of and how great He is.

God has also revealed Himself through the scriptures. What Natural Revelation leaves out about who God is, the Bible fills in much more. The writers of each book in the Bible were inspired by God through His holy spirit. They rely stories of the wonderful things He has done and inform readers of what He can do, and some even reveal what He will do in the future. The Bible offers a large portrait of the greatness and goodness of God, but doesn’t give a complete picture. Not until we dwell with Him in His kingdom will we experience the full weight of His glory.

God has revealed Himself through His son. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree is an expression often used to illustrate how a son is very much like his father, this could be said of Jesus. But more accurately it would be said that the apple doesn’t fall from the tree at all, it is essentially still part of the tree. Jesus is the exact representation of His father. If we want to get a better picture or understanding of God, the best thing we can do is to simply read the Gospels that tell of Jesus. The character of Christ is the character of God. The attributes Jesus exhibits are the same of his father. The glory of God is seen in His son.

The question still remains, how are we to respond to God’s glory?

I think our response should be twofold.

(1) We should be reverent. God is not like us. He is perfect. He is holy. He has great power. He created the world in which we live and, when we messed it us, had a way to make it right again. So, he deserves to be praised. He is entitled (it is his right) to be worshiped. This reverence we have for God should lead to not just passive adoration, but active glorification. We can stand in church and say God is great, but if we think this to be a great truth, it should move us to give our lives to him and serve him everyday of our lives.

(2) We should be repentant. When I say God is holy this means two things: he is set apart and he is pure. We, as human being who engage in sin, are not pure and we tend to act the same as everyone else, making us not set apart. That being said, we are called to be holy as God is holy. The first step towards holiness is repentance. We must forsake our sin and choose Jesus instead. He is the only one who can make us holy.

As you read our passage for today, as you go outdoors and see the beauty that is nature, and when you read about Jesus in the gospels, think about how you should respond. After all, you’re experiencing God’s glory.

-Joel Fletcher

Joel Fletcher is a former student of ABC. He currently lives in Minnesota with his wonderful wife Stephanie. He likes to read boring non-fiction books, watch boring baseball, and hang out with his NON-BORING wife in his free time. He is planning on teaching a class at FUEL this year (its topic will not be boring).

In His Sanctuary

 

 

 
Ezekiel 40-42

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Saturday, April 1

Confession time: It is really easy for me to skim over these chapters filled with rich detail and precise measurements of the ideal temple. However, I am trying my best to pull some application out of this beautifully described temple.

I do not believe that God would give Ezekiel this vision for no reason. Perhaps God gave Ezekiel this vision to make a point about how God wants the people in exile to live. As a child I can remember being told not to run in the sanctuary. So, instead we learned to play tag, fast-walk edition. I can remember my parents telling me that we did not want to run in God’s house.

Whether it be a sanctuary in our modern-day church, or a temple during the times of Ezekiel, The Holy Spirit dwells in these places of worship. Perhaps God shares vivid imagery of this temple to express how badly he wants to dwell with the Israelites again. God awaits the reconstruction of the temple because he wants to live among the people. God yearns to spend time with us! However, like my parents had to tell me to stop running in the sanctuary, sometimes we need to be disciplined to put us in our place. God had to discipline his chosen people in hopes that they would turn away from their sin and follow the desires of God. In order to change their ways of idolatry and sin, drastic changes were necessary.

Phew! Aside from the description of the breathtaking temple, we have some application!

I pray God blesses you as you continue your daily walk with Him!

-Amber McClain

No Other

Isaiah 45-47

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Sunday, February 19

So I just want to begin by prefacing a little bit about my goal for this week. As mentioned in the little introduction of myself (found below), I have a major passion for music. I truly feel God’s presence the most when I can be lost in music and praise to him. Some of you may feel this way too which is cool, and if you don’t that is totally fine too. However, every single time I read my Bible, or listen to a pastor speak, different songs ALWAYS come to mind, seriously. So this week as I read and write devotions for you all, I will also include a song or two or three, that came to my mind as I read the passage for the day. Hopefully those songs that I send can speak in some way as well.

Let’s begin! There are a lot of things that go on in these 3 chapters in Isaiah and each have a slightly different theme. Chapter 45 is talking about what God has promised to do for his anointed one, Cyrus, simply because God knows him and has always known him. God tells Cyrus that he will use him to show others all about God, and his power. God says, there is no one else, none like him. God is all powerful and amazing. If I had to pick one small passage out of this whole chapter to be my favorite (of the chapter) it would be Isaiah 45:2-6

“I will go before, and make the rough places smooth. I will break the doors of brass in pieces, and cut apart the bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that you know that it is I, Yahweh, who calls you by your name, even the God of Israel. For Jacob My servant’s sake, and Israel my chosen, I have called you by your name. I have surnamed you, though you have not known me. I am Yahweh, and there is none else. Besides me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not known me; that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me. I am Yahweh and there is no one else.”

Even though these are all things promised to Cyrus, we have the same hope. God knew us before we knew him, he has always known us and has plans for us, and he will do what he can to help us when we seek him and we seek his guidance, because he has already done those things for us. His son already died to save us, to make a way to find a relationship with God, it has already been done, so what are you waiting for? Ask God for his guidance, and trust that he will break the doors of brass in pieces, he will strengthen you so others can know him. Have trust in Yahweh.

Now Isaiah 46 continues with the theme of God being the only God, the only one. There is none beside him. Others like Bel and Nebo bow to idols and they have nothing to show for it. They are weary and stooped and tired, they do not find spiritual renewal in their idols, because that can only come from God. God, Yahweh, loves us and he is the beginning and the end, and in Isaiah 46:13 he promises Israel that he will deliver them soon. “I bring near my righteousness, it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not wait; and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel, My glory.”

Isaiah 47 takes a much darker tone as the daughter of Babylon is called out for the error of her ways. This chapter is very much a warning to us, as it was to her as well. She had said that she does not fear widowhood or the possibility of losing children because no one sees what she does. She trusts in her wickedness, she is deceived by the manipulation and perversion of her knowledge. This chapter says that since she has trusted in her wickedness desolation and evil will come upon her. It later says in verse 15 “Thus shall the things be to you in which you have laboured: for those who have trafficked with you from your youth shall wander each one to his place; there shall be none to save you.” Even though this chapter is very dark and can seem scary, there is hope that wasn’t mentioned. Yes there are no people who have the power to save us from our sins, but God can! When we accept that Jesus his Son died for our sins, even though he was perfect and blameless, and we commit our lives to God and promise to glorify him in what we do and we work towards that we can be saved from our wickedness, we can be delivered. This chapter is a warning to us, and we should heed it. We are blessed to be given this book with such clear warnings, that can encourage us to seek God’s heart rather than the desires of sins.

Today’s songs are: “YHWH Saves”- by Aaron Winner, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIFUi_qa6k8

“Come Now Is the Time to Worship” by Craig and Dean Phillips https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPWq8eM4lu8


“All the Poor and Powerless” by All Sons and Daughters https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieOL4X3nk2c

-Jana Swanson
Synopsis of Jana: Hey everyone! My name is Jana Swanson and I am a junior at Ball State University in Muncie IN. A few fun facts about me: My favorite color is green, although purple is a close second, I have been to Midwest Family camp 20 times, I am an avid Jesus lover, blogger, and college student. I have a passion for music- at many camps you may find me helping with worship, or singing with friends, or singing kids to sleep. I also have a passion for helping people. If you have any questions for me at all about anything feel free to email me at jmswanson97@gmail.com Thanks for reading the Bible with us this year, and I pray that my words can comfort you or reach you in some way.
(photo credit: http://www.christianwallpapersfree.com/2016/02/isaiah-45-2-bible-verse-wallpaper.html)