“Come let us shout joyfully to the LORD, Shout triumphantly to the rock of our salvation! Let us enter his presence with thanksgiving; let us shout triumphantly to Him in song.”
(Psalm 95:1-2 CSB)
These opening verses from Psalm 95 often find their way into the “Worship Set” of many churches, and for good reason! The whole Psalm is a call to worship for the people of God, reminding us that God is our provider, our savior, our creator. A few verses have even been used as the text for worship songs throughout the recent history of song writing.
“Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For His is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the sheep under His care.” (Psalm 95:6-7)
Our right and proper response to God is that we worship Him. It frequently amazes me that people who claim to follow God often seem to resist taking the time in their days to acknowledge that God is worthy of worship, much less actually worship Him.
I shouldn’t be surprised, though. Especially if I read the whole Psalm.
Beginning in verse 8, the Psalmist warns the people of God against ignoring His worship. The psalmist references a story we can find back in Exodus 17 where, yet again, the wandering Israelites were grumbling and expressing a lack of faith in God. In response, God provided water from a stone!
There are often times where we find our honest worship inhibited by our lack of faith, particularly in the area of provision. God is calling us through this Psalm to not be like the Israelites. We need to worship Him, remembering that He is the God who is King over all, the creator and perfecter of our faith, our Savior and provider. That doesn’t mean there are times we won’t wonder where His provision will come from, but we need to trust that His word is true when He says that He is Jehovah Jireh, “The LORD will provide!”
For His Glory,
Particularly since becoming a pastor, 2 Timothy has become a precious book to me as Paul’s words to his “Spiritual Son” serve as an encouragement and challenge as we go through life in a world that has become increasingly hostile to the Gospel.
In the first century, believers underwent incredible persecution in Rome. Ancient historians describe brutal and horrific acts under the rule of Emperor Nero. It is with these events surely in mind that Paul reminds Timothy to “Hold Fast” to what he had been taught, not only by Paul but by his Mother and Grandmother. He is further encouraged to not be ashamed to share the Gospel, for as believers we do not have a “spirit of fear and timidity.” That encouragement to Timothy is as valid today as it was then.
The persecution that the American believer faces is not physically equivalent to the terror of the first century, but I can’t help but wonder if many believers are questioning their faith in the face of cultural and societal persecution. In the “land of opportunity,” many who identify as Christians are questioning whether holding to the faith – with its practices and beliefs – is worth the potential missed opportunities and exclusion from “normal” society. And to be sure, if the believer holds to the traditional doctrines of the faith that is a very real possibility. Many of the cultural shifts that have occurred with violent and intense rapidity stand in direct opposition to the Gospel, and there is an active intentionality behind many of these cultural and societal influencers to remove the Christian from any kind of influence and to call what we believe outdated and irrelevant.
A few weeks ago on Worship Matters, we looked at Romans 12:1-2 as it pertained to our imitation of what we worship. Even as Paul wrote, he understood that being imitators of Christ meant we would look different than the world. How we worship, how we speak, how we believe reflects the nature of the God we follow. I encourage you, brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, to hold fast to what you know to be true. The world is doing everything it can to dissuade you from the truth… seek GOD’s truth in His word. Do not have fear, for God has given us a spirit of power, love, and sound judgment. (2 Timothy 1:7, CSB)
For His Glory,
How do we Love?
Tomorrow is Valentines day. If they haven’t already, untold numbers are thumbing through cards that they hope will express love for their significant other in a way that is authentic and not trite. Aboutflowers.com predicts somewhere around 250 million Roses will be bought and given tomorrow. The National Retail Federation estimates that in 2020, people will spend an average of $196, with total spending for the holiday to exceed $27 billion. Restaurants will be bustling, soft lighting will abound, and Americans from coast to coast will want to communicate on this day they LOVE one another.
When we as believers look at how to express love, however, we should notice something very different than those statistics imply. Though God’s love is evident in nearly every page of the Bible, we don’t see chocolates or jewelry or flowers as the way God displayed His love. No, brothers and sisters, God displayed His love in a far more demonstrative way!
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” (1 John 3:16a, NIV)
Jesus didn’t display His love for us in mere gifts or words, He displayed it by sacrificing His life in our place... restoring our relationship to God. Paying the price for our Sin. Buying us back as His own. This is the picture we are to have for one another! John continues in that verse:
“And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
This Valentine’s Day, let us go beyond heart-shaped chocolate boxes and Roses (though don’t forget them!) and look for ways we can love our significant others, our spouses, our Children, our brothers and sisters in Christ, in a way that not only shows them we love them… JESUS loves them!
For His Glory,
What We Worship
I recently read this quote from Tony Reinke, author of 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You:
“The object of our worship is the object of our imitation.” (p.111)
I was struck by how closely that quote follows the scripture that you now find on the banner at the top of “Worship Notes.” Romans 12:1-2 reminds us that we are to be conformed to the image of Christ, not transformed by the world around us. So often, however, we allow the culture, entertainment, and general media around us to subtly shift the way we think, dress, behave, talk, and even believe. It occurs in some of the most simplest of ways… and is often so gradual that we barely recognize the changes that are occurring. The psalmist wrote this in Psalm 19:14
“May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (NIV)
Many in Christian circles tend to gloss over the word “Meditation” given how secular culture has used it, but here we are reminded that our intentional mental foci should be things that are pleasing (or acceptable) to God. While it may not be readily visible, what we spend our physical and mental energy on is what we tend to imitate. Which brings us back to our opening quote:
“The object of our worship is the object of our imitation.”
It is easy for us as followers of Christ to think of “Worship” as limited to the realm of music or specific actions we take as we gather as a Church. What Paul wrote, what the Psalmist wrote, what Reinke wrote reminds us that our worship is defined by what we dwell on, by what we imitate. Reinke could have easily switched the sentence around: what we imitate is what we are worshipping.
What are you worshipping? What parts of your life have, on close examination, become more like the world than like Christ? What have you been meditating on that brings Glory to God, or what have you been dwelling on that does not bring your heart closer to Jesus?
Take a moment today as we near the end of the week to think on how we can be transformed into imitators of Christ as our true worship!
For His Glory,
Zach Kellner is the Associate Pastor of Worship at FEFC