Saturday, January 10, 2015

Worship is a Mind-Set

Worship is your faithful and sacrificial response to the revelation of God of himself in Christ, and it pleases the Father. It all begins with God and what he reveals of himself to you, when he pleases. This pleases him when you trust him of what he reveals! This is worship, you trusting what God reveals.

Jesus lived his life this way, in a daily worship-walk of faith. He said in John 8:28-29 that he always did what pleased the Father, always. Every thought and activity was an offering of worship to the Father because his ear was exclusively tuned to the voice of the Father, the word of God.

The Apostle Paul said in Romans 8:5-8 that the mind that is set on the Spirit is a mind of life and peace. But the mind that is set on the flesh is a life and mind of death and is hostile to God for it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot and can never please the Father.

The daily choice belongs to you. Which direction will you choose to walk in, in Spirit and in Truth, or in the world, flesh, and devil? The choice is an informed choice based upon what is revealed, either by God, or by the world, flesh, devil. Make no mistake, the world, flesh, devil also reveals. The difference is that God reveals truth while the world, flesh, devil reveals lies. The lie appears to be right, but never is. Once revealed, you choose which you will set your mind on and study, or you will choose which one to reject. The mind can only "set" on one or the other, not both. To attempt to entertain both is to choose the world, flesh, devil.

When the Chinese began building the Great China Wall (around 200 BC) it was to protect their country from the invading hordes from the north. They built a wall which ended up being 13,000+ miles long, 20-30 feet wide, 30-50 feet high, and yet their enemies were still getting through. By chance they discovered the problem; the gatekeepers were being bribed!

The world, flesh, and devil are constantly attempting to bribe the gatekeeper of your life, your mind, with a lie. The only solution is to keep your mind set on the Spirit and the Truth, in other words, set on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart and in God's word; on your knees and in the word! One of the best ways to do this is is to begin your day (for some this is late at night, for others early in the mornings) in God's word in prayer. Presenting yourself before God in his word, in prayer, feeds your mind the truth. This is the best guard against the lie, knowing the truth. Taking a verse from your daily worship-study with you (memory work) in order to meditate on it, fuels the worship engine of your heart throughout the day and keeps your mind-set on Christ. Everything you do will please the Father.

No matter what field God has called you to work in, whether it is school, home, business, medicine, law, construction, technology, or church, the mind-set on Christ in Spirit and Truth will produce the fruit that pleases the Father. And regardless of the field, the mind-set on world, flesh, devil will produce nothing but thorny weeds.

Friday, January 9, 2015

What Pleases the Father?

The foundation of sacrifice in the Old Testament and the New is the seriousness of sin and the solution of God for it, which is sacrifice. The first sacrifice in the Bible was by God on behalf of Adam and Eve. In Genesis 3:21 it states that God provided for Adam and Eve animal skins for clothing. Innocent animals died at the hand of God to cover the shame and sin of Adam and Eve. With this sacrifice, Adam and Eve learned from God his solution for sin if they desired to stay in relationship with him. They in turn taught their sons this practice. Sacrifice pleases God because it was his will and creation. But not all sacrifice.

In Genesis 4:1-7 Cain and Abel brought their sacrifices before The Lord. Both grain and livestock sacrifices were legitimate but in 4:4-5 it says that God had regard for Abel's sacrifice but had no regard for Cain's.

 The Hebrew word for "had regard" means to gaze upon and look at something with amazement, joy, and pleasure. When that word carries a negative prefix (no regard) it means blindness. Somehow Cain knew that something was missing from his sacrifice, that God was blind to it, and even after God spoke to him about the problem, he refused to follow God's instruction (had no regard for what God said) and took matters into his own hands and we know the rest of the story.

So what was it that pleased the Father with Abel's sacrifice and was missing from Cain's? The answer is found in Hebrews 11:4-6. Abel sacrificed by faith in what God said, believing that this was something that God desired according to his instructions. Cain just sacrificed. Same activity, but totally different motive and purpose. God could see Abel's faith in his sacrifice but could not see any in Cain's. Hebrews 11:6 states it clearly, a verse many of us have in our hearts, "And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."

This is the same thing that God is seeking to see today. Sacrifice and worship are still inseparable, but not just any sacrifice. The sacrifice that the Father is looking for is the kind that pleases him, and there is only one kind that pleases him, the sacrifice by faith in him, faith in what he has said. And he has said it all and eternally in his Son, Jesus Christ. This faith pleases him because he sees himself in it, his word in our lives, his creation in a person! Jesus Christ in you, with you, living his life through you, as you, before the Father and the watching world!

When Jesus told the woman at the well that the hour had come for true worship to be in him, in spirit and in truth, that this was what the Father was seeking, she believed him and became a true worshiper. And as a result, became obedient from her heart! Hallelujah! This is true worship.

Think on that today. More tomorrow.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Part 4, Ture Worship

In the upper room, on the night that Jesus was betrayed, with the pieces of the Passover meal on the table, Jesus created a new model for worship for the new covenant in himself. In the Old Testament, God gave the nation of Israel the model for worship in Exodus 19-20 after he had delivered them out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt on their way to the Promised Land. That covenant and worship was based upon sacrifice conducted by the Aaron, the high priest, and his sons. The nation of Israel had to first learn the system, the model, then do it in order to come before God and worship. In the upper room Jesus taught his disciples the new model for the new covenant, fulfilling the old. First they needed to learn it, then they would do it. But what would they be doing once they learned it?

The Apostle Paul gives one of the clearest presentations of this new form of worship for the followers of Christ in Romans 6. In that chapter he states that we must first "know" something (6:3-11). Paul uses three different words for "know" in that passage, each one with a greater depth of knowledge (6:3, 6, 11). In other words, as you begin to study and explore the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, you begin to understand with greater and greater depth that you died with him, were buried with him, and rose with him. His sacrifice was for you but not without you!

This mind-blowing truth sets you freer and freer from the power of sin as you daily present yourself before God just as the Old Testament worshippers would present the prescribed sacrifices to the high priest at the altar before the Tabernacle and later the Temple.

The word "present" is the Greek word, paristemi, and was used to describe the position of a servant, standing beside his/her master, ready to serve. This position was at the right elbow of the master, just behind the master, ready to hear the next command in order to quickly obey. It was also used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament of worshippers standing before God with their sacrifices.

Paul uses this word "present" five times in Romans 6 (6:13, 16, 19, and again in 12:1) to describe the position of one who has learned to worship according to God's word. This is what a true worshipper does each day after learning the new model and way to worship the Father in spirit and in truth. As a living sacrifice (12:1-2) in Christ, you stand before the Father in Christ, as his servant, ready to obey his word. Jesus taught this in the upper room in John 13-16, then did it himself in his prayer in John 17 and work of salvation in John 18-20.

Summary: The new worship model is found in Christ, the once-for-all sacrifice for you (but not without you). Faith immerses you in this truth and you rise to worship the Father in the spirit and in this truth by first, learning it and studying it, then doing it by presenting yourself in Christ before the Father each day. Each day, and throughout the day, becomes an experience of worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth. Hallelujah!

Spend some time today in Romans 6 and 12:1-2 in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to teach you what Jesus said when he said, "...the hour is now here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him." John 4:23

Tomorrow, you will see how this pleases the Father. Stay tuned...to the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Part 3, True Worship

Worship is the faithful and sacrificial response to the gracious revelation of God in Christ. Jesus fulfilled worship and so it is only in him that we truly worship. He is the complete revelation of the Father, in Spirit and in Truth.

When you turn away from the world, the flesh, and the devil with the trusting-turn, because of this revelation, you have begun your walk of worship towards knowing Jesus Christ in order to worship him. Like the wise men in Matthew 2:2, you can also truely say, "I am here to worship him." But like the wise men, you also are on a learning curve. They needed more information. They came to Jerusalem, but did not find the new-born King. When worship is your purpose for being here, you are in a constant state of learning; learning more and more about the one you worship, The Lord Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, many have dropped out of the school of worship in order to pursue other amusements that appeal more to the flesh.

Back to the upper room. When Jesus took the bread and the wine and created the new model for worship, he was teaching. John's account brings this out with clarity. John devotes a fourth of his account of the gospel to the upper room teaching on the Holy Spirit and worship. It was around that table with the pieces of the Passover, the bread and the wine that Jesus gave new meaning to, that became their classroom.

Some of you may recoil by my next statement, but consider this: true worship is about you and what you are receiving from The Lord in the way of knowledge. I use the word "knowledge" in the Hebrew definition of the word "yada" which means an intimate, interactive, creative relationship. In the Old Testament, when you "knew" something or someone, you and it or they were personally involved with each other and something new was the result. "Adam knew his wife, Eve, and she gave birth to a son."

If you are not learning and knowing Jesus Christ more and more, you are not yet to the place of worship. He is that place, and in him you learn and something new is created in your life, HIS LIFE! And HIS LIFE gives the Father great pleasure. This is true worship.

More on this tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Communion, the Model For Worship; Part 2

There are five accounts in the New Testament of the Lord's Supper in the upper room, Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, John 13-17, and the earliest, 1 Corinthians 11. All five give us a model for becoming those who worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

When Jesus took the bread and wine of the Passover celebration and created the foundation of true worship, he defined true worship as a faithful and sacrificial response to the word and work of God, to the revelation of God, of himself in Christ. Response is a key word because worship begins with God's activity, his work, which always follows his word. First he says it, then he does it. This is one of the ways of God. He is faithful to his own word, always. He defines faithful. He is faithful. He speaks, then does what he said. In creation, he said, "Let there be light..." then he did it, "and there was light."

God's word and work reveal his nature and character. As Jesus stood before his disciples in the upper room with the pieces of the Passover on the table, he spoke the New Creation into being with the bread and the wine, then went out and did it. By his sacrifice on the cross, Jesus paid in full the penalty for your sins and opened the way back into perfect fellowship and communion with the Father. This is true worship.

True worship is a faithful and sacrificial response to his words and work of salvation and the new creation. True worship celebrates who he is according to what he has said and has done, because it reveals who he is. He is faithful and mighty to save!

Trusting Christ is a sacrifice because he calls you away from the world, the flesh, and the devil. As you trust him, you turn away from the world, just as the Israelites did from Egypt, in order to follow him. This turning-trust is your first act of worship and is based upon his faithful sacrifice for you. The result of this true worship is communion with God, fellowship in Christ.

Then, there is more, tomorrow.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Communion; The Model Worship

When Jesus gave His disciples what we call the Lord's Supper, or Communion, he was giving them a new model for worship, just as he did with the model prayer. The old covenant had a prescribed way to worship which Jesus fulfilled. The new covenant likewise has a new way to worship which Jesus modeled and taught his followers in the upper room that Passover Eve.

It was out of the Passover meal that Jesus formed the new pattern. The Passover was the first corporate worship experience the nation of Israel was given. Before it, individuals worshipped God with sacrifice, but now God was creating a nation for himself, from which all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Their first activity as a nation of God and for God was worship, according to his word. Jesus, the promised offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was now on the scene and the new covenant was now inaugurated.

With the new covenant being created, a new worship was also begun, in line with old, but new. Like the old, it would be based on the ground of redemption. The old was established with the blood of a lamb which believers applied to their door posts, according to God's Word. The sacrificial death and flesh (the lamb was eaten) of that lamb liberated the believers from the bondage of slavery and led them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Hallelujah!

The new covenant worship is also based upon the blood of the Lamb, the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his blood that we are set free from the penalty of our sins and the power of sin. But we do not leave a land, we leave a bloodline, the bloodline of Adam, to a new humanity, to Christ Jesus, the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). And like the old, we too eat the Lamb, we receive Jesus Christ. His life becomes your new life, and you are born from above, like him. It is in him that you now walk toward the Promised Land, the resurrection.

Like the old, all of this is by faith in what God has said. The slaves in Egypt heard the word of God, believed, and obeyed. The slaves of sin hear the gospel, believe, and receive Christ. The old covenant worship was by faith in what God had said and the new covenant worship is by faith in what Christ has said. God the Son has given us the foundation upon which all new covenant worship rests. It rests upon him and his death and resurrection from the dead. Our response, the first act of worship, is to believe.

More on this tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

For Those Who Have Had A Tough Year

For many, 2014 has been a tough year. A few years ago, I came across a quote by Andrew Murray that I have found helpful to those who are in a hard place. Andrew Murray was a pastor/missionary in South Africa in the late 1800s. He was a prolific writer on the exchanged Life and prayer.

Here is the quote:
"God brought me here, it is by His will that I am in this difficult place. In that fact I will rest. He will keep me here in His love and give me grace to behave as His child. He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn and working in me the grace He means to bestow. In His good time He can bring me out again; how and when, He knows. Until then....

I am here by God's appointment, in His keeping, under His training, for His time."