Why we Worship

PSALM 47

Clap your hands, all peoples!
  Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared,
  a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
  and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
  the pride of Jacob whom he loves.

God has gone up with a shout,
  the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
  Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
  sing praises with a psalm!

Why Sing?

God reigns over the nations;
  God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather
  as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
  he is highly exalted!


Why Scripture?



 
Approachability
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith...Hebrews 10:19-21


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Self-sufficient humanism. Paul saw it coming – “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

Imago Dei
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So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

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The bible gives us several reasons, but according to Jeremy Taylor, a deceitful heart is at the root of prayerlessness.

It's Not Rocket Science
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To keep in step with the Spirit should be our daily quest. And if we are successful at that, all of life falls into place.

Theological Steak
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These words by P. T. Forsythe on the magnificence of Christ's work are to theology what Ruth's Chris is to a good steak.

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What we have in Christ will take all eternity to describe. But for one segment of one sermon, a great preacher made a mighty attempt.

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Where are things headed? Is there rhyme and reason to the endless cycle of summer, fall, winter and spring? Is there a plan in place, or is randomness the explanation?

Oh My God, What Have We Done?

May 31, 2009

Poets often see things as they are before the "general public" - you and me. Their insight into faith matters needs to be considered, and perhaps on occasion could even serve as a wakeup call.


This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it.' Jeremiah 6:16

Thomas Hardy, the English poet who is best known for his novels, considered poetry his first love. He had early exposure to the church of England, and then was influenced by the Baptists, choosing ultimately to reject both influences.

But as you will see in his poem GOD'S FUNERAL, he lis unable to shrug off the loss of God without a last and lingering look over his shoulder, leaving an unmistakable mist of regret and fear pervading the work.

God is now for Hardy the....

Mangled.....Monarch of our fashioning,
Who quavered, sank; and now has ceased to be.


So, now that we have "gotten rid" of God, what do we do?

'And who or what shall fill his place?
Whither will wanderers turn distracted eyes
For some fixed star to stimulate their pace
Towards the goal of their enterprise?'...


Hardy get it - there is no longer any fixed center. Everything is up for grabs.

Some in the background then I saw,
Sweet women, youths, men, all incredulous,
Who chimed as one: 'This is figure is of straw,
This requiem mockery! Still he lives to us!'


Is this a reference to believers who hold to a risen Christ, against all odds, in every age?

I could not prop their faith: and yet
Many I had known: with all I sympathized;
And though struck speechless, I did not forget
That what was mourned for, I, too, once had prized.

Still, how to bear such loss I deemed
The insistent question for each animate mind.....


Hardy refuses to gloss over the influence of a culture that chooses to live as though there were no God.

And gazing, to my growing sight there seemed
A pale yet positive gleam low down behind.....

Hope springs eternal. "It's not so bad," says the crowd. "We'll be allright. You'll see."

Whereof, to lift the general night,
A certain few who stood aloof had said,
'See you upon the horizon that small light --
Swelling somewhat?' Each mourner shook his head.


This world needs light. And so alternative sources are sought after. The search is ongoing to find an appropriate substitute for the unsubstitutable.

And they composed a crowd of whom
Some were right good, and many nigh the best....
Thus dazed and puzzled 'twixt the gleam and gloom
Mechanically I followed with the rest.


Hardy is unable to fight the gravitational pull of the spirit of the age. He gives up without putting up much of a fight.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) in his poem DOVER BEACH, addresses the disappearance of faith, using the metaphor of ocean waves that crash on the sand, as they wet the sand, and then receed back to where they came from.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.


Yet my people have forgotten me; they burn incense to worthless idols, which made them stumble in their ways and in the ancient paths. They made them walk in bypaths and on roads not built up. Jeremiah 18:15




 





Deserted, maybe. Forsaken, never!

February 24, 2009

Our walk with God has its high points, and its low ones. We have times when God seems intensely near, and other times when it seems our cry is ignored, and God is nowhere to be seen. Or so it seems. Bottom line - it is all for our good.


Enoch walked with God, then he was no more, because God took him away. Genesis 5:24

"There is an inner sanctuary of communion, where all else disappears from sight, and the believer shut in with God gazes upon His lovliness, and appropriates Him, as though nothing outside of Him nothing mattered or existed."

"These may be fugative moments, and they may be rare in our experience, but we surely must know them, if God's fruitbearing for us is to be reality in our lives."

THE WONDERFUL TREE in a sermon by Geerhardus Vos


Once you have tasted of these kind of moments as described above, there is no turning back. Nothing else is a sweet or satisfying. But these encounters cannot be contrived or manufactured.

Listen to John Newton refuse to settle for distance from God, but rather seeks for communion and renewal.

How tedious and tasteless the hours
When Jesus I no longer see;
Sweet prospects, sweet birds and sweet flowers,
Have all lost their sweetness to me;
The midsummer sun shines but dim,
The fields strive in vain to look gay.
But when I am happy in Him,
December’s as pleasant as May.

His Name yields the richest perfume,
And sweeter than music His voice;
His presence disperses my gloom,
And makes all within me rejoice.
I should, were He always thus nigh,
Have nothing to wish or to fear;
No mortal as happy as I,
My summer would last all the year.

Content with beholding His face,
My all to His pleasure resigned,
No changes of season or place
Would make any change in my mind:
While blessed with a sense of His love,
A palace a toy would appear;
All prisons would palaces prove,
If Jesus would dwell with me there.

Dear Lord, if indeed I am Thine,
If Thou art my sun and my song,
Say, why do I languish and pine?
And why are my winters so long?
O drive these dark clouds from the sky,
Thy soul cheering presence restore;
Or take me to Thee up on high,
Where winter and clouds are no more.


Those that have had a sweet communion with God, when they have lost it, do count every day ten thousand till they have recovered it again; and when Christ leaves his spouse, he forsakes her not altogether, but leaves something on the heart that maketh her to long after him.

He absents himself that he may enlarge the desires of the soul, and after the soul hath him again, it will not let him go. He comes for our good, and leaves us for our good. We should therefore judge rightly of our estates, and not think we are forsaken of God when we are in a desertion.

Richard Sibbes DIVINE MEDITATIONS





If I Should Die Before I Wake
November 5, 2008
We all know we should pray. And for most of us, we get around to it eventually, mainly in emergencies. What can we learn from a man of prayer? And how might we end the day before God on our knees? What might that prayer sound like?

Tears In A Bottle
October 21, 2008
You list my tears on your scroll. Psalm 56:8 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. Isaiah 42:3

Never Lose The Wonder
October 16, 2008
Part of the effects of the Fall is that we get bored. And when the truly valuable loses its luster, we start exploring options. If the subject is grace and we get bored - then the loss is truly great. The appropriate response to grace is wonder.

Peas In a Praying Pod
October 11, 2008
God invented prayer, and recruits men and women to prevail with Him in it. Some take that challenge seriously, and mountains get moved as a result.

Why Worship?
September 28, 2008
“If you don’t worship, you’ll shrink.” Words of wisdom from the psychologist in Peter Shaffer’s play "Equus."

"Adam, Where Are You?"
September 28, 2008
The greatest tragedy in the world today is that God has made man in His image and made him...to play the harp of worship before the face of God day and night, but he has failed God and dropped his harp. It lies voiceless at man's feet. Tozer





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