Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I was giving some thought to praising God and what that means and how we do it. Psalm 100:4 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” There is a difference between praise and worship.
Praise is defined as honor rendered because of excellence or worth; joyful tribute of gratitude. (http://www.hydroponicsearch.com/spelling/simplesearch.php )
Worship is defined as adoration, acts of reverence (http://www.hydroponicsearch.com/spelling/simplesearch.php)
I kind of think of it as praise being the words we use to glorify God and worship being the condition of my heart while I am offering praise.
In church it can be easy to get distracted while we are singing. When that happens, we are singing praise songs (words) but our hearts are not worshipping. For us to be truly worshipping, we must be focused on what the words mean.
When we worship, we receive blessings. Probably the best blessing is that of a close relationship with God. When we worship him with our whole mind and heart, we draw close to him. When we draw close to Him, He draws close to us. (James 4:8) We surrender our will to His. We ask Him to speak to us. Then we have truly entered into worship.
We should praise Him and thank him in good times and in bad. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) We should seek first His kingdom. (Matthew 6:33) We should delight ourselves in the Lord and He will give us the desires of our heart. (Psalm 37:4) What does it mean to delight in the Lord – I think it means to spend time with God. Spend time praising Him and everything else will work out. (Romans 8:28)
So, spend time with Him. Delight in Him. Trust in Him. Honor God with everything you do. Focus on Him when singing praise songs and truly worship Him.
James 4:8 “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 18 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Sunday, February 22, 2009
I read a blog recently that said that the key to success in most things you’ll attempt is “showing up.” I think that can apply to the Christian life. Every day. Every week. Every month. Every year. Show up. Make yourself available to whatever God leads you to do. Show up every day ready to study His Word. Show up every day ready to share your faith with others. Show up every day with faith believing God.
Colossians 2:6 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I got to be a referee today between two staff members that I manage. There was a problem – I saw it as minor. It was a simple misunderstanding and we should have been able to resolve it easily. One person came into the meeting and started by verbally attacking the other. Of course the second person yelled back. I tried the best I could to just calm everyone down. It didn’t matter whose fault it was – and I didn’t think it was anyone’s fault, just a situation that occurred. The only thing I wanted was to talk and come up with a solution. What does blame and anger really solve? Neither one intentionally set out to hurt the other. It was all a matter of timing, circumstances, and a lack of knowledge about the situation.
James 1:19 -20 says “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
Try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Look at the situation the way he does. Listen to each other – really listen and think first. Then formulate something worthwhile to say. If it isn’t going to help the situation, then stay quiet.
I think it is OK to get angry – Jesus got angry. Remember when he overturned the money changers tables in the tabernacle. (Matthew 21:12-13) It is how we handle our anger that matters. Sometimes it is our anger that handles us – it controls us and gets us into trouble.
Ephesians 4:26 says “In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” and then it goes on in verse 29 and says “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” This was not what happened in my meeting. Once the yelling started, it went on back and forth for close to 30 minutes. Nothing was accomplished by the yelling. The problem wasn’t solved and no one felt better.
Paul goes on in that same chapter to say, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” If anyone had a right to be mad, it would have been Jesus. After all, why was he crucified – for our sin. He didn’t deserve it. He hadn’t done anything wrong. He never put the blame on us. He never attacked us. All he did was love us so much, he died for us.
Proverbs 29:11 “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I am in my third week of bronchitis. It has really exhausted me. So the only thing that came to mind today was endurance. Soon I will be well and this will all be forgotten.
Hebrews 12:1-3 came to mind.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Endurance, perseverance, that’s what I am in need of right now.
Romans 5:1-5 is another Scripture to consider
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
Suffering => Perseverance => character => hope
And finally Isaiah 40: 29-31
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
I need that strength today!
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
1. What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.
2. Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
3. Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he'll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.
You can play it here:
Have you ever thought about the words to this song? I’ve had it in my head today.
What a friend we have in Jesus! Think about what that means.
He knows all my faults and yet he accepts me as I am. He sees all my weaknesses, but he never gives up on me. I can trust him to lead and guide me.
With Him I can share all my thoughts, feelings, frustrations, fears, sorrows, and joys. I can confide in Him my deepest needs. He always understands.
He even knows the things that are on my heart that I haven’t been able to tell him. When I am sad, He shares my grief. When I’m exhausted at the end of the day, He holds me up.
He tells me everything I need to know in His Word. He shares His thoughts and dreams. He shares His plans. He shares about His joy and His sufferings. He lets me know that He loves me and that is why He died for me.
My friend, Jesus, is wise, patient, loving, kind, faithful, considerate, unchanging, dependable, strong, loyal, true, and pure. He meets all my needs.
Is he your friend, too? He wants to be.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about and writing about things like righteousness, integrity, respect, etc… I’ve looked at the lack of ethics in our children. Now the breaking news stories across the country have to do with two individuals that President Obama chose to help run our country who have to withdraw their names because things they’ve done in their lives have disqualified them from being considered.
Former Senator Tom Daschle requested to withdraw his name from the nomination for Secretary of Health and Human Services. This is in response to the media’s publication of his failure to pay $146,000 in back taxes.
Nancy Killefer has withdrawn herself from consideration as Barack Obama’s “chief performance officer” over her failure to pay taxes.
I was tempted to go on a political rant but I am trying hard to hold that in check.
The thing I was thinking about today comes from 1 Corinthians 9:24 -27.
I was an athlete through high school and college. Then I got old(er) and moved into coaching. That was a lot of fun but different than actually competing. As the coach, you can guide and direct and encourage but the actual results lie with the athlete. There are some principles from athletics and this passage of Scripture that tie into the current political situation.
Paul starts out by telling us some obvious things. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?” Running and winning are therefore not the same thing. In any race, there are going to be those who win and those who lose. You don’t get the prize for showing up. You have to actually finish the race to get the prize. You can be the best through the first 99% of the race but if you don’t finish, it means nothing.
When Paul talks about “Run in such a way as to get the prize,” he means that how you run is important. If you intercept a pass in the basketball court and shoot in the wrong goal, you don't further your chances to win. (One of my players actually scored in the wrong goal once!) There is a right way and a wrong way to run.
The next passage says “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.” Here Paul is talking about self-control and discipline. These are huge principles in athletics. On the basketball court, it may mean taking some pushes under the basket without retaliation. In wrestling, it may mean dieting to make a weight class. Runners can’t “pig out” before a big race. And the list could go on. Our Christian life is the same way. There are certain things we may have to give up if we are going to win the race God has set for us. It also means disciplining yourself to do some things. Winning a race takes a great deal of positive effort. It takes devotion. It is hard work. It is not always fun. It might mean turning off the TV and getting out your Bible or going to a Bible Study. (Oh, no – Did I say turn off the TV!)
Paul talks about motivation in, “They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” What you do or don’t do today counts for all eternity. You don’t get a “do over” in life. Once a day or an opportunity is past you, you can’t get it back.
The last point Paul makes is that of disqualification. “I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” One of the hardest things would be to train or practice for a long period in time and then not get to compete because you broke a rule. There are rules that have to be followed in any competition or race and the spiritual race is no exception. Don’t take shortcuts – stay the course. I have known some people who have been disqualified from the race. They may have had amazing gifts and talents. But somehow, somewhere, they broke a small rule, then another, and then another. Pretty soon, they weren’t in the race. Sin is always a disqualifier.
Do you think these politicians thought their past would catch up with them? Do you think they thought it would cost them these amazing opportunities? Do you think they intended to get disqualified?
We all have a calling to run the race - the race of life. We need to run it with self control, with motivation, and according to God’s rules. There is a prize at the end that is worth winning - eternal life in heaven. Don’t disqualify yourself, Stay the course and win the prize.
1 Corinthians 9: 24 -27
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.
No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
Monday, February 2, 2009
Sorry for the lack of new information. I’ve been working on this post for a couple of days and I’ve been sick for almost a week.
Is it Biblical to respect all authorities? Should the authority have to earn that respect or does the fact that they are in a position of authority automatically mean you should respect them?
God has placed a lot of people in my life that have authority positions. There are my bosses (I think I have at least four), my pastors, my parents, government officials, and then just in general – people who are older than I am. (I was brought up to respect my elders.) As I respect them, I, in turn, am showing respect to God. They don’t have to earn the respect, they just automatically get it.
Coming under authority and showing respect isn’t always easy. Nobody wants to be told what to do or how to do it. We criticize anyone that makes a decision that we don’t agree with. It’s not right. It’s not fair. And, most of all, it’s not good for me. It is the way our country operates though. We have taken freedom of speech to such an unbelievable extent that we think it is OK to openly criticize our leaders, our country, and our values. We don’t seem to see anything wrong with complaining and whining.
Christians are expected to respect God and his choices. He expects that we will respect the people that he has placed in authority over us. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with all their decisions and choices. It does mean you have to show respect for the position and the person who is in that position.
Since we don’t always want to respect authority, is there a good way to accomplish this hard task. How do you submit to and show respect to an authority. Especially, how do you do that when you disagree with them. And, how do you keep a good attitude while you are doing it?
We should start by reading the Word and learning what God’s Word says about respecting authority. Find out how important it is to God. Take a look at how much value He places on your willingness and your attitude in this area.
Next, pray for those in authority over you. Ask God to be with them and guide them. Ask God to give wisdom to help them make good decisions. Ask God to show you how you can be a blessing to them.
Set an example to other believers. Show them what submitting to authority is suppose to be like. Don’t participate in gossiping or complaining about those in authority. Keep your words and your tone of voice respectful.
Recognize ahead of time that you are not going to like every decision they are going to make. Remember that the decisions they make affect more than just you. They are accountable to think about all the people who are under them.
Treat others the way you would like to be treated. If you were in that position, what would you want others to say to you and about you. Put yourself in their shoes – as much as you can. It is usually impossible to really understand all that influences a decision that someone else makes.
Remember that as a Christian, you are called to a higher standard than the rest of the world. God has allowed that person to be in that position. For that reason alone, they deserve our respect. You do not get to choose whether you should submit, just whether you will be obedient.
Have a great week!
Here are a few verses that tie into what we’ve just looked at.
Leviticus 19:3 “Each of you must respect his mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths.”
I Peter 2 :17-18 “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.”
Romans 13:1-3 “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.”