Monday, October 31 2016
Why do we do the things that we do in church?
Is it necessary to be loud when we worship?
That stuff is not necessary!
That was for them back in the Bible times.
These are all things that I have heard or have been asked concerning worship. When people ask me about our church, I will tell them that we have demonstrative worship according to the Bible. We can see in Acts 2 that the church was accused of being drunk. Psalms 150 tells us that we should use musical instruments to worship, as well as, worship with our voices. It is in Psalms 47, the the Psalmist wrote, "O clap your hands, all he people." So why in the world, do we lift our hands?
One reason, we lift up our hands is out of obedience and because it blesses the Lord. It has always amazed me that we can bless the Lord. We think of blessings as a check in the mail, but this is speaking of kneeling and praising God.
Psalm 134:2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord .
Lifting our hands in the church is a form of sacrifice. We often hear of the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15) or even thanksgiving (Psalm 116:17). Lifting our hands in worship is also a sacrifice.
Psalm 141:2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
The church does not sacrifice to God to somehow gain His attention, but we sacrifice to draw us closer to Him. It changes us not God.
The lifting of hands in prayer was spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah in the days of the destruction of Jerusalem. In Lamentations, the city was destroyed. It was a time of desperation and need. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, instructed the inhabitants to...
Lamentations 2:19 Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street.
Judah was destroyed and their hope was in God Almighty. They had been warned that their disobedience and sin would cause destruction (Lamentations 2:17) and repentance that would bring restoration. Lifting of the hands was part of their repentance prayer.
 Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord .
 Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.
 We have transgressed and have rebelled: thou hast not pardoned.
The Psalmist spoke of raising his hands to God in prayer in Psalm 143:6:
Psalm 143:6 I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.
In commenting on this scripture, CH Spurgeon wrote, "He was eager for his God. His thoughts of God kindled in him burning desires, and these led to energetic expressions of his inward longings. As a prisoner whose feet are bound extends his hands in supplication when there is hope of liberty, so does David."
In writing to Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes:
1 Timothy 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
The Apostle was instructing men telling them to lift holy hands. The holy is referring to the ritual cleansing described in Exodus:
Exodus 30:19-21 KJV
 For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat:
 When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the Lord :
 So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.
The raising of hands was a normal part of worship in the New Testmanent church. It is difficult to worship when we are not right with God. Our desire should be right with God (and others) when we worship. Our prayers can be hindered when things are not good in our marriage so the Apostle was instructing Timothy to approach God without any baggage.
The lifting of hands is a Biblical truth that cannot be ignored or discarded by the traditions of men. When we lift our hands, we are drawn closer to God through out obedience while blessing God Almighty. It is also part of repenting and worship. You may not be comfortable with it, but the blessings of God await us as we step out of our comfort zone. I encourage you to make lifting of your hands part of your personal prayer time, as well as, in the sanctuary.
Monday, October 24 2016
The short answer to my question asked in the title is "no". Since this is a blog, I will give further explanantion. I am not writing this about a certain book or author, but I am speaking (well, actually writing) to an overall principle. We need to be aware of what we place into our minds and spirits despite the genre.
When you enter a Christian bookstore, if you are like me, I am in sensory overload. I love books. I love the way they feel and even smell (if you get close enough). Reading on my iPad is ok, but there is something about a book. As I scan the titles of the books, I will pull a couple off the shelves, read the cover and even flip through its pages, Through the years, I have found books (never read them) that are doctrinally unsound, I have found books based on humanism.
We cannot pull ourselves us by our own bootstrap. It is not in us to live a blessed life without the Holy Ghost. Yes, we may have some good times, but the Bible is very clear that we bring nothing to the table.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
The scriptures that speak of mankind as sinners are not there to make us feel bad, but to help us understand the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. They were written to reveal to us that there is something greater than the human spirit to deliver us from the problems of this life.
The Bible is also very clear that if we plant wheat that we will not harvest corn. In the 21st century, that means garbage in, garbage out or good things in, good things out. We need to be careful what we read, watch or listen to. It matters. Here are a few scriptures:
Psalm 101:3 I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me
Galatian 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Reading is greatly influential in how we live our lives. It has been said that, "Leaders are readers". It is because the power of reading that what we read matters. If we begin to read books on Satan, we will find him. If we read books on humanism, we will become humanistic. We must be careful in choosing our books and what influences are minds. We may feel that because we purchased it at a store with a Christian theme that it must be Christian. The Apostle Paul, in his writings, warned us of a time when we need to be aware of false teachers:
2 Timothy 4
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
2 Timothy 3
3 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
There is a saying, "Eat the meant and spit out the bones." There may be some validity to that statement, but there are also enough books to read that you should not have to decipher what is meat and what will cause you to choke. I did not write this to say every book, movie or podcast is bad and you will go to hell. I wrote this blog to help us all be aware of what we take in will cause us to move in a direction that is toward Jesus or away from Him.
Monday, October 17 2016
In the age of information, there are churches on television and streaming online. Like a sporting event, you are able to sit in your pajamas and watch "church" from the comforts of your home. So...how important is church attendance?
The easy answer is "very important" and it is a commandment. It was the writer of Hebrews that penned:
Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is ; but exhorting one another : and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Like any good discussion, I will give you more reasons. Here are three things that happen when you "go to church" or gather as the body of Christ. This is not a comprehensive list, but it should be enough.
1. God will be in the midst
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
If God is going to be there, I want to be there. When God arrives so do all the things that God brings with Him including healing, deliverance and blessings.
2. We become part of the body of Christ
1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
When we attend a church service faithfully and follow the plan of salvation, we become a part of something bigger than ourselves. We become a member of the greatest movement to ever exist on the face of the Earth.
3. Unity happens
Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
When the church comes together in unity, the amazing happens. On the day of Pentecost, 3000 were added to the church, but it started with 120 focused on the things of God. When the church becomes focused, we will see the revival that is preached about in the Bible.
If you need physical, emotional or mental healing, the church is where you want to be. If you need deliverance or a blessing, the church is where you want to be. We are not perfect creatures and the church is full of hypocrites and sinners, but it is a place of refuge where we can lay the bad things of life at the altar. We all must make the journey to the altar and find find Jesus...He is our only hope!
Monday, October 03 2016
The Apostle Paul writing to the church at Galatia penned:
Galatians 2:8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
The Amplified version states:
Galatians 2:8 For He Who motivated and fitted Peter and worked effectively through him for the mission to the circumcised, motivated and fitted me and worked through me also for the mission to the Gentiles.
A mission is, "A task or job that someone is given to do"
To remain focus many organizations have created mission statements. A mission statement is a statement which is used to communicate the purpose of an organization. The following are mission statements of some well known organizations:
The mission of the United States Navy is to maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.
Founded in 2004, Facebook's mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what's going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.
To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.
The church is an organization with the greatest, most impactful mission in history. It was founded in 33 AD with the purpose to reach a lost world. A world that has been cursed by sin and bound by the evil influences of the Satanic kingdom.
Ours is not an easy mission. It is a mission that takes preparation and precaution. It is not an impossible mission. It is a mission that was ordained by God.
The Apostle Paul writing to the church at Ephesus writes:
Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places .
The mission is not one that should bring fear. Once again, the Apostle Paul writing his son in the gospel writes:
2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
So why, should you join a mission that fights devils?
A mission that takes sacrifice and faithfulness.
A mission with little fleshly satisfaction, but tremendous eternal reward.
Because there is life and life more abundantly.
Because there is joy unspeakable.
Because their is Godly strength.
Because the God, the one asking us to take the mission, loves us.
Looking beyond our own blessings, we take the mission because:
Someone, somewhere is contemplating suicide.
Because the alcoholic is tired of living in a stupor and needs hope
Because the drug attic is one needle away from dying
Because that couple is a month from divorce
Because that loner is being bullied
Because this world has lost their way and needs salvation.
So the questions is, what can you do as an individual to fulfill the mission of the church?
1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Many of us do this. We can like the rich young ruler saying that he has done this from his youth. But are we as an individual fulfilling the Great Commission...our real mission!
 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
When was the last time you invited someone to church?
Or taught a Bible study?
Do we cringe when all the seats in our car are not filled on the way to church on Sunday morning?
Is there something in us that greaves when someone we know passes and we can't think of the time we told them about Jesus.
Are we satisfied that someone else is telling others about Jesus?
When was the last seed card you passed out or are they on your dresser or in your glove compartment?
Zig Ziglar, the great American motivational speaker, said, "Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission."
I want a sense of mission and urgency because Jesus is returning soon. There are many people that do not know the love of Jesus Christ.
When I look in the mirror, can I say that I am doing everything that I can do to make a difference. Have we lost our mission as a church or as an individual? Is there more that we can do? Is there someone that you can teach a Bible study or invite to church?