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Archive for June, 2013

worship

Satan wants to keep you from worshipping the One he hates. He wants to keep you from doing the right thing, whether that is spending time alone with the Lord in Scripture and prayer, attending and participating in public worship services, or any other thing that will draw you closer to the Lord. Here, courtesy of Thomas Brooks, are eight ways Satan will keep you from worship.

Here’s how I would encourage you to use the list. Think of the times that you decide to stay in bed instead of getting up to read the Bible; think of the times you scrapped family worship for no good reason; think of the times you stayed home from church instead of going to worship. Think of those things, and see which of these temptations is the one Satan brings to you.

1He makes the world look beautiful, attractive and desirable. Many people profess Christ and see him as desirable for a time. For a while they enjoy private and public worship and do it all with enthusiasm. But before long Satan presents to them worldly things and makes those look more beautiful and desirable than Christ, and many souls are drawn away. “Where one thousand are destroyed by the world’s frowns, ten thousand are destroyed by the world’s smiles.”

2He makes you aware of the fact that those who worship the Lord have often faced danger, loss and suffering. There are many men who would obey the Lord and worship him, except that they fear the consequences. Satan loves to present the high cost of obedience. This was the case for many in Jesus day: “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue” (John 12:42).

3He gives you an awareness of the difficulty of worshipping well. Satan will whisper, “It is difficult to pray well, it is hard to spend time with the Lord and to persevere until he speaks to you through his Word, it isn’t worth the effort of going to church and being warm and friendly and engaging with other Christians.” Whatever God tells you to do, Satan will present it to you as a great burden or as something you do poorly, and in this way he will keep you from it.

4He leads you to wrongly understand the implications of the gospel. Christ has done everything for you and given everything you need in his death and resurrection. There is nothing left for you to do but rejoice in Christ and to serve him out of the joy of salvation. But Satan will lead you to make wrong inferences from what Christ has done, encouraging you, for example, to believe Christ has freed you from the need or desire to spend time with him or to gather with other Christians. He will allow you to see the gospel, but do all he can to make you understand it all wrong.

5He shows you how many of those who follow Christ with obedience are poor and despised. Satan will ensure you see that those who are most interested in worshipping God are the poorest and most despised of all. You can see echoes of this in John 7: “The Pharisees answered them, ‘Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed’.”

6He shows you that the majority of the people in the world, along with the great and mighty of the world, do not worship the Lord. Satan will ask, “Don’t you see that the great, the rich, the honorable, the intellectual elite, the wise, the most honored, and the sheer majority of people do not trouble themselves with worshipping the Lord? You would be much better off to be like them. After all, why would you think that you, of all people, have this figured out?” To have success here he will intentionally draw your attention away from Exodus 23:2 and many similar passages: “You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice.”

7He fills your mind with unimportant and distracting thoughts while you are attempting to worship. He afflicts you with so much distraction and futility that you are tempted to say, “I have no desire to hear from the Lord in his Word, no desire to speak to him in prayer, no desire to spend time with other Christians in worship services.” He crowds out the very thought of worship by the sheer weight of lesser concerns.

8He encourages you to take comfort in past performances of your religious duties and in that way he convinces you to stop trying. He reminds you that in the past you read so much and prayed so much and spent so much time in worship. And having reminded you, he convinces you that you have earned the right to coast for a while. “You already know this. You’ve already done this. You’ve already prayed this. You’ve been to better worship services than this.” And through it all he inclines you to rest from worship.

Source: Tim Challies (www.challies.com)

 

(THE VIDEO BELOW IS AN ADVERTISEMENT AND IS IN NO WAY CONNECTED WITH THE CONTENT OF THIS BLOG OR GCC@B)

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lies

 

LIE: This is such a minor, insignificant sin! It’s not really a big deal in God’s eyes.

TRUTH: Every sin is a horribly offensive to God. Sin is the sum of all evils, the opposite of all that is good, holy, and beautiful. Even the smallest of my sins required the death of the Son of God. There is no such thing as a minor sin. Every sin is cosmic treason.

LIE: I’ll give into sin this one time, then I’ll be done with it. I just need to get it out of my system.

TRUTH: Every time I give into a sin it becomes more difficult to break the power of that sin. Sin has a way of sinking it’s barbed hooks deep into my heart. I can’t simply sin and then walk away from it unscathed. The more I give in to sin, the more entangled I become. Sin always leaves scars.

LIE: This sin is part of who I am. I’ve always struggled this way and I always will sin this way.

TRUTH: Sin does not define my identity! I am a new creation in Christ. Christ has set me free from the enslaving power of sin. I absolutely do not have to obey the sinful passions that surge through me. I may have always struggled this way, but my past does not define my future.

LIE: I need to give in to this sin in order to be happy.

TRUTH: Sin never provides true happiness. It promises sweetness, yet ultimately delivers a payload of destruction, dissastisfaction, ruined relationships, and hardness of heart.

LIE: God wants me to be happy, therefore it’s okay for me to give in to sin.

TRUTH: God does want me to be happy. However, my happiness will only rise as high as my holiness. Sin ultimately erodes and destroys true holiness and true happiness.

 

 

Source:  Stephen Altrogge (www.theblazingcenter.com)

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Romans 8 Reminders

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This past Sunday at the GCC@B, we were pointed to a pattern found in Romans 8 that should inform us on how to walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. So as a recap from Sunday, here are the 5 truths we must always be reminded of in order to walk according to the Spirit:

 

1. As we see in verses 1-8, we are to be reminded that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. We are justified by grace through faith in what Christ has accomplished on the cross for us.

 

2. As seen in verses 9-11, we are to be reminded that we are utterly dependent upon the empowering work of the Spirit of God to walk in humble obedience before the Lord. We can do nothing without His grace and His divine, resurrection power.

 

3. As we see in verses 12-17, we are to be reminded of our new heart’s identity. We have been adopted into the family of God, and we are now children of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.

 

4. As seen in verses 18-30, we are to be reminded that we are waiting anxiously for the redemption of our bodies and our future glorification, which has been guaranteed to us, because God has predestined us for that inheritance.

 

5. As shown in verses 31-39, we are to be reminded of the price that has already been paid for our redemption. Therefore, as we meditate upon the cross and we see the supreme demonstration of God’s love that was shown through the crucifixion of His Son on our behalf, we know that there is absolutely nothing that can ever separate us from the infinite love of our Father.

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 “If the Father was pleased to make a gift of certain sinners to His most blessed Son, you may rest assured that the Son will neither despise nor deny His Father’s gracious generosity. [There is] the certainty of ultimate and absolute salvation for those who come to the Son… Their life in Christ is eternal and irrevocable because that is the will of the Father; a will or a purpose that the whole of Christ’s person and work was designed to secure, a will or purpose that shall ultimately be (Psm. 115:3; 135:6; Dan. 4:34-35; Eph. 1:11; Ac. 4:28). What did Jesus come to do? He came to do the Father’s will (Jn. 6:38). What is the Father’s will? The Father’s will is that all those He has given to the Son be fully and finally saved (Jn. 6:39). Oh, what a glorious thought it is!”

If a true believer could fully and finally fall away, what it would mean for God the Son?

  1. Christ will have failed in the purpose for which He died (Jn. 6:37-40; 10:14-18, 27-30).
  2. Christ will have failed in the purpose for which He was raised (Rom. 4:24-25).
  3. Christ will have failed in the purpose for which He now intercedes in the presence of the Father (Rom. 8:31-34; 1 Jn. 2:1-2; Heb. 7:25).
  4. Christ will fail to accomplish the goal for which He is to return to this earth (Jn. 6:40b).
  5. Christ will prove to have been a liar (Jn. 6:37; 10:27-28).

If a true believer could fully and finally fall away, what it would mean for God the Holy Spirit?

  1. The Holy Spirit will have failed in his work of sealing (2 Cor. 1:21-22; Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30).
  2. The Holy Spirit will have failed in his ministry as a pledge of the future consummation of our redemption (2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5).
  3. The Spirit will have failed in his ministry as firstfruits (Rom. 8:23).

 –Sam Storms  (A Defense of the Perseverance of the Saints – Part II, November 6, 2006, www.enjoyinggodministries.com.)

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The Primacy of the Word in Worship

worship-ministry-wordle-brown-600x400

 

 

The Word of God is of supreme importance in the life of the Christian, containing as it does God’s revelation of his Person, his will and his ways. The Word needs to be pored over, ingested into one’s mind and heart, meditated on, and acted upon. It is a unique and precious repository of spiritual truth and guidance and encouragement. There is no aspect of the life of the church or of the individual believer that should not be tied to a scriptural mooring and infused with biblical substance (2 Tim 3:16-17). The Bible is indeed 
”a lamp unto my feet, and a light 
unto my path” (Ps 119:105).

When Christians gather for
 corporate worship, it is logical that 
the Word of God should play a 
central and dominant role. For 
since worship involves focusing our
 thoughts and hearts and voices on 
the praise of God, in response to
 his self-revelation and his gracious
 saving initiative, we of course need
 that view of God which the Word gives us if our worship is to be “in truth” (John 4:23-24). Our worship can only duly honor God if it accurately reflects what he reveals about himself in his Word.

 

The Word Neglected

That said, the astounding observation has been made as to how little use is made of Scripture in the worship services of most evangelical churches. The irony of course is that those who claim most strongly to stand on the Bible have so little of it in their worship. While the sermon of course takes a prominent role in our services, even preaching consists mostly of talking about the Scriptures (often after reading just a very few verses). It must be said that liturgical groups (whether on the more liberal or the more conservative end of the spectrum theologically) have probably ten times as much actual Scripture in their services (because it is built into their liturgies) as most evangelical free churches!

In too many of our churches the entire first part of the service consists just of music, and no Scripture is read at all. This author has experienced this often in both traditional and contemporary services: the problem is pervasive. It would seem crucially important for people in a service, believers and unbelievers, to hear (and/or see printed in a bulletin or flashed on a screen) verses of Scripture chosen to give a clear signal that: “We have come to worship God. The Word is how we know about God, and therefore it is the foundation for all that we do here and for our understanding of why we have come together.” Without hearing such a declaration, worshipers make the faulty assumption (consciously or unconsciously) that we invite ourselves into God’s presence, when in actuality it is only by virtue of his invitation (and his opening the way through the work of Christ) that we may come before him at all.

As James White puts it, “the first step toward making our worship more biblical is in giving the reading of God’s Word a central role in Christian worship on any occasion” (“Making Our Worship More Biblical,” Perkins Journal 34:38). We simply cannot overstate the importance of Scripture for our worship. By all means, let us be as creative as possible in building in Scripture (verses on banners or projected onto a screen as people enter, verses on the bulletin cover, readers’ theater, children reciting verses, original Scripture songs, etc), but let us make sure that the primacy of the Word in worship is obvious throughout the entire service—not just during the sermon. As White adds: Scripture is read, not just for a sermon text, but to hear what word God addresses to the gathered congregation. Preaching usually builds on that but Scripture is read for its own sake as God’s Word . . . . It needs to be communicated to all that the centrality of Scripture stems from its functions as proclamation of God’s Word to the gathered people (38).

In Scripture we find the prerequisites for worship, the invitation to worship, the authority for worship, the material for worship, the regulation of our worship, the message of worship, and the end to which worship should lead.

 

The Word and the Prerequisites for Worship.

The Word of God helps to bring us to the point where our approach to God in worship is possible: it teaches us that we are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1); it reveals that God has provided for redemption, forgiveness, and eternal life through the work of Jesus Christ; and it presents the opportunity to come by faith into a right relationship with the Father. “The washing of water with the Word” (Ephesians 5:26) provides the spiritual cleanliness which God requires for us to be able to enter confidently into his presence (Ps 15:1-2; Heb 10:19-22; 12:18-24).

 

The Word as the Inviter to Worship.

God has done everything to make our approach in worship possible, and in his Word he extends the invitation (yea, command) to draw near. The Old Testament book of worship, the Psalter, is replete with calls to “praise the Lord!” (Hebrew: hallelujah). As the Danish hymn (text by Thomas Kingo, 1634-1703), puts it: We come, invited by your Word, To kneel before your altar, Lord.

 

The Word as the Authority for Worship.

The fact of the matter is that every aspect of the service should serve to reflect and honor the Word of God. The sermon (and the preacher) must be subservient to the Word: the Word must guide and control the preacher’s thoughts and words if the sermon is to communicate God’s message and not just the ideas of man. But also the music must be subservient to the Word: the texts must reflect and express biblical truth, and the music itself must be a suitable medium to carry the text; the musician(s) must also be subservient to the Word in terms of motivation and execution of the music. In addition, prayers and readings must be consistent with biblical teaching, if not actually taken from Scripture. As John MacArthur has put it, “If we are to worship in truth and the Word of God is truth, we must worship out of our understanding of the Word of God” (The Ultimate Priority, 122-23).

 

The Word as the Material for Worship.

Gary Furr and Milburn Price have suggested a number of ways in which the revelation of the Word can be communicated in the service, besides the ser- mon: Scripture readings of all sorts, music (setting Scripture texts, and also faithfully presenting scrip- tural truth in paraphrased or freely composed form), symbols (fish, cross, stained glass, etc.), carefully used drama (The Dialogue of Worship, 8- 15). When Scripture and scriptural truth are perva- sive in the service, then the acts of response will properly be understood as response to God’s self- revelation through His Word.

 

The Word as the Regulator of Worship.

Worship must be guided and channeled by truth, i.e. be in accordance with what God has revealed about Himself and His ways (and, as John 4:25-26 shows, must be through the Son, the Messiah, who is the truth [John 15:6]). As Furr and Price state: “This is the perfect blend: emotion regulated by understanding, enthusiasm directed by the Word of God” (125).

 

The Word and the Message of Worship.

Preaching is part of worship, and leads to worship. Indeed, John Piper calls preaching “expository exultation” and adds: “The all-pervasive, all- important, all-surpassing reality in every text is God. Whether he is commanding or warning or promising or teaching he is there. And where he is, he is always supreme. And where he is supreme he will be worshiped” (“Preaching as Worship”).

 

The Word and the End of Worship.

The Word should rightly be exalted in our worship (because it is the Word of God), but not as an end in itself. For the ultimate goal of worship (as of the church and of our lives as believers) is to display and pro- claim and magnify the glory of God. The glory of God will be well served in our worship as the Word speaks of the wonders of his person and his ways through reading, preaching, praying, singing, meditating, and practicing ordinances which are infused with and reflective of scriptural truth. The Word will enable us to obey its own command to “praise him according to his excellent greatness” (Ps 150:2).

 

 

Source: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgcworship/

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A Testimony of His Grace

i-am-not-ashamed

 

It was cold the day the Lord saved my soul. It was January 17th, and the year was 2005. At 20 years old, my life was about as self-centered as humanly possible. I was in my second year of college, living on my own and working a small part-time job. Living mostly on college loan money, I made just enough to party on the weekends, and that was my existence. Notice that I do not say life, because I now realize that I was not truly living at all; but I won’t get ahead of myself.

 

To say the least, self-fulfillment had begun to take over my being. I was stealing from my boss, my friends, and even my own Grandmother. Lying… well, that was just part of who I was. If I needed to get out of a self-induced dilemma, I would simply tell a few “barely” false truths and “fix” the situation. Desiring to please every ounce of me, lust had begun to consume my every ambition. Selfishness reared its ugly head in the form of idolatry, covetousness, and fornication. I woke up every day for me, my heart pounded for me, and I breathed for me. As I submerged myself in the temporary pleasures of this world, I became insensitive to the consequences of my actions. Time after time my flesh would be fulfilled momentarily, and after only a short period, the numbness would wear off, and I would be left searching for the next passion that would satisfy my unquenchable thirst for self-gratification.

 

And my belief in God? Well, I believed in a Creator, but the god I believed in was not much different than me. Sure, He was bigger, stronger and wiser than me but only to the extent that I was comfortable with. Mixing those thoughts with the clichés so commonly associated with the God of the Bible, and I had officially created a deity that suited me just fine. I found out later by reading the 50th Psalm that I was not the first human being to do that exact same thing.

 

A small church up a dirt road, commonly referred to as “Slusher Holler”, was basically the only background I had concerning the things of God. Since neither of my parents were Christians, my Grandmother is the person I can credit for exposing me to Christianity. I can still remember the sound of her voice as she taught me my first prayer: “As I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take…” Even at only four years old, those words somehow seemed to latch themselves onto my permanent memory bank, and I never forgot them. Along with that prayer, I was also taught about God’s forgiveness and His faithfulness to forgive the sins of His people. Needless to say, like a child clinging to a security blanket, I repeated those words every night, even into my late teenage years.

 

When I was nine years old I went to an altar. A preacher had preached a very typical message with a gospel presentation and invited everyone to receive salvation. The altar was lined with people, and I decided to step forward. Once I knelt at the altar, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do next. I was always told that if I believed in the Lord with all my heart, God would save me. So, as I knelt there that night, I began focusing all my energy on believing. I mustered up all the belief I could, yet nothing seemed to happen. The only other thing I knew about the altar was that people cried. With that knowledge in hand, I began my attempt at shedding tears. Although I knew that pretending to cry was misleading, the pressure to please people overwhelmed my motivation.

 

Once I got up from the place of my false conversion, my well-meaning Grandmother was there to embrace and congratulate me. Although I knew deep down inside that something wasn’t right, I enjoyed the attention. The years that followed were filled with confusion and uncertainty, but I never stopped believing in God. Instead, I continued to consider the reality of His existence while progressing deeper and deeper into sin. That was the path I followed until I was 20 years old.

 

Then, all of a sudden, God changed everything. In hindsight, I recognize the situations and circumstances God used to draw me to Himself. The night before it happened was like many others. I spent the night partying with friends. My motives were purely selfish, and my intentions had nothing to do with the Lord. Early into the morning, however, the living God began a work in me. At an exact moment in time, God began convicting my heart in a way He had never done before, and I instantly began to fear the wrath of God. It became evident to me that my thoughts, motives, and actions were disgusting in His sight, and I felt the weight of His anger.

 

After several minutes of wrestling with my thoughts and emotions, I began to scream to the heavens for His mercy. I had never felt such an immense burden and guilt and shame. There were times when I had disappointed and angered people, but that was nothing compared to this. The immensity of becoming the target of God’s fierce fury caused terror to take over my being.

 

Then, in the blink of an eye, my whole life changed. All of the sudden, the holy passion of God’s anger was replaced with a feeling of peace. The guilt, the shame, the heaviness, and the terror all disappeared. I truly felt a newness come over me. It was as though the filthiness had been washed away, and I had been cleansed. From a Biblical perspective, the word “purify” comes to mind, and that is exactly how I felt… purified.

 

What followed that encounter was a change of my desires. I began to deeply desire God’s Word, and I wanted to know everything about this God who changed me and showed me mercy. My priorities were immediately shifted from self-glorification and self-gratification to bringing glory to God and pleasing Him with my life. I cannot stress enough how grateful I am for the grace He has shown me. I now serve a beautiful God and Savior in Jesus Christ, and I will forever praise His glorious grace!

 

By: Kevin Hay

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