Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Does History Repeat Itself?

~ Around and Around We Go! ~    

There is a portrayal of a circular cycle which has been around for many decades.  It indicates that mankind never really learns from past mistakes—we repeat the same mistakes over and over again.  A careful evaluation of the Biblical narrative and of secular history reveals much support for this simple circular pattern. 

This historical pattern is as follows…  

1.  from Bondage to SPIRITUAL FAITH

2.  from Spiritual Faith to COURAGE

3.  from Courage to FREEDOM

4.  from Freedom to ABUNDANCE

5.  from Abundance to SELFISHNESS

6.  from Selfishness to APATHY

7.  from Apathy to DEPENDENCY

8.  from Dependency to BONDAGE
Questions (and Answers) for Contemplation… 

Q.  Assuming this is an accurate historical reality, where would you place your nation on this circle today?

A.  “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). 

Q.  Assuming this cycle also applies to individuals, where would you place yourself on this circle today? 

A.  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Do You Know These Things?

~ John Tells Us of What We Should Be Sure ~  

We live in a time when there are so many questions asked, so many opinions expressed. Some declare that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Even some Christians fall for some “ism” or false doctrine. It is important to note how positive and confidently John, the beloved disciple, wrote concerning his knowledge of our Savior. 

We know that we know Him – 1 John 2:3 – “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.”

We know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him – 1 John 3:2 – “we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”  

We know that we have moved from death unto life – 1 John 3:14 – “We know that we have passed from death to life”

We know we are loved and we know what true love really is – 1 John 3:16 – “We know love, because He laid down His life for us.” 

We know that He abides in us by the Spirit which He has given to us – 1 John 3:24 – “By this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”

We know the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error – 1 John 4:6 – “By this we know the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error.” 

We know that we dwell in Him, and He in us – 1 John 4:13 – “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”

We know that we love the children of God – 1 John 5:2 – “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.” 

We know that we will receive divine answers to our prayers  – 1 John 5:14-15 – “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”  

We know that that whosoever is born of God does not continue in sin – 1 John 3:9 and 5:18 – “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.” 

We know that we belong to God – 1 John 5:19 – “We know that we are of God.” 

We know that the Son of God has come – 1 John 5:20 – “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding.” 

We know Him Who is true – 1 John 5:20 – “We may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ.” 

We know that we are of the truth – 1 John 3:19 – “This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence.”

MEDITATE:  Spend an hour or more this week contemplating the knowledge we find in the First Epistle of John. 

As a Christian you know the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life – John 14:6 – “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ ” 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Spiritual 7-Up

~ 7 Admonitions ~
Wake Up ~ First thing in the morning recognize that “Today is the day the Lord hath made, be glad and rejoice in it” (Psalms 118:24). Decide to have a good day and to seek opportunities to be a blessing to someone else. “Let us not be weary in doing good; for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good...” (Galatians 6:9-10).    

Lift Up ~ Pray to your heavenly Father early in the day before things become hectic. Continue to communicate with Him constantly throughout the day. “Do not worry about stuff, instead pray about all aspects of your life” (Philippians 4:6).    

Dress Up ~ As a child of God your Father looks at you and sees a robe of righteousness placed over you as a result of His Son’s work at Calvary. Seek to live the part! You cannot change God’s character but be careful not to damage His reputation. Put on a smile—it is a great way to improve your looks. Keep your desires in check—because “the Lord looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7). Be in His Word, pray, and seek to please Him, and He will put the proper desires in your heart (Psalm 37:4).

Stand Up ~ Know what you believe and be willing to speak out. Be a witness for Him and what you believe. “You must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it” (1 Peter 3:15).

Shut Up ~ You do not need to speak all that you think. “He who guards his lips guards his soul” (Proverbs 13:3). Do you seek opportunities to encourage? “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive” (Colossians 4:6). Gracious means giving credit beyond what is deserved. 

Look Up ~ When I was a young Christian a dear older saint would often say to me as we parted, “I’ll see you here, there, or in the air.” Do you live with the expectancy of Christ’s imminent return? “Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:8).

Reach Up ~ Are you growing in the knowledge of God? Are you fully utilizing the natural talents and spiritual gifts He has given you? Reach up for something more noble. Paul said, “I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me”(Philippians 4:13). If you are a Christian, so can you! 

SUMMARY:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Live your life so that when you meet your Savior face to face He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord” (cf. Matthew 25:21, 23). 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


~ Perhaps the Most Misunderstood Term in Christianity Today ~  

Terminology is important. Words have meaning. Within churches during the late 1980s and the 1990s, there was a trend which greatly narrowed and restricted the understanding of worship. As a result, for many Christians today the true meaning of worship has been lost. This phenomena has crept into Christian circles in very subtle ways. A key example is the designation of the Minister of Music as the “Worship Pastor.” Another example is the term “worship teams.”

One of the tragic results of this careless use of the term worship is that many Christians, especially new ones, believe that worship is a synonym for singing! Although group singing can be worshipful, worship is not group singing. It never has been, according to the Word of God.

What Worship Is ~ Worship is the bowing down of our hearts, our spirits, and sometimes our bodies in recognition of the greatness of our God. Simply stated, worship is recognizing His worth. With that in mind, much of the singing in our churches today does not qualify as worship—but thankfully some is a form of worship.

In the purest sense, praise occurs when we lift Him up, and worship occurs when we bow down (literally or figuratively) as we understand His grandeur and majesty. For some situations praise is a form of worship. In Nehemiah 8 the people raised their hands in praise and worship and then bowed their faces to the ground in worship (verse 6). 

Worship should characterize both our individual lives and our time together as a local church. Following are some examples of areas of potential worship in a church gathering.

Music ~ As we have commented already, it is possible to worship in singing but singing is not necessarily worship. For example, consider some of the praise choruses, or worse, the many congregation-centered or self-centered choruses which are sung in churches today (Ephesians 5:19).

Prayer ~ Prayer that recognizes God for who He is—His worth (Matthew 4:10), or prayer which acknowledges His mighty acts can be worship (Psalm 100:4). Me-centered or congregation-centered prayer is not worship. 

The Word ~ Reading of the Word of God can be (and should be) worshipful. We find an example in Nehemiah’s day where the people stood when the Scripture was read (Nehemiah 8:5). Today this is rare—but it is quite common for congregations to stand during songs (nothing wrong with that—but interestingly we do not find examples of that in Scripture).

Preaching ~ This is, or should be, very closely aligned with the Word of God. Preaching which is not based on Scripture is oratory rather than preaching. A good preacher, sensitive to the Spirit of God, will use the Word as a sword to afflict the comfortable and as living water to comfort the afflicted. Word-centered preaching is often a form of worship.

Communion ~ “As often as you do this you remember Me” (1 Corinthians 11:26). The purpose of the Lord’s Supper is to focus on God and His great sacrifice in sending His Son to pay for our sins. As we focus on the Cross and the greatness of the plan of salvation, we worship our Savior. 

Giving ~ “But this I say, he who sows little will reap little; and he who sows abundantly will reap abundantly. Every man should give according to his heart; not grudgingly or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). When giving is done out of gratitude for God and His work on our behalf, it is a form of worship. 

Announcements ~ This one is more subtle. But some announcements properly done bring praise and or worship to God as they direct our attention to Him and His infinite worth.    

Conclusion ~ It is our responsibility to be in an attitude of worship in everything we do whether we are driving to church, teaching a Sunday School class, fellowshipping with other Christians, singing, listening to a sermon, witnessing to those we work with, reading our Bibles, praying, or having a time of recreation. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17). Solitary worship can happen anywhere at any time such as while driving.

Worship is a win-win. Worship is not only pleasing to God but brings us into a state of greater intimacy with God. 

ADDITIONAL COMMENT:  There is much information regarding intimacy with God and how to increase it in the book Thy Will Be Done On Earth (see the TWBDOE tab at the top of this page for more information).