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?



 
Singing


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Imago Dei
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Why Can't I Pray?
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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.

Describing the Indescribable
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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.

Making Sense Of It All
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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?

Micaiah and P. T. Forsythe

March 23, 2009

Sometimes as Christians we have to say things that no one wants to hear. And it is at times like that when our mettle is proved. Rarely are we warned ahead of time. Are we ready to stand? The proof is in the pudding.


Peter flunked his test miserably, though warned by Jesus himself. Innocently warming his hands on a cold winter night, a young girl got him to deny Christ. But he repented, was forgiven, and soared when tested from that time on. 

Remember Micaiah, that mysterious prophet who appears only once in the Old Testament? When the kingdom was divided between north and south, the king of Israel decided to retake some lost land, and see if he could get Jehoshapht, the southern king, to join forces.

Jehoshapht was leaning towards co-operating, but listened to his gut (the Holy Spirit??) suggesting that they should inquire of the Lord. Suddenly 400 of Israel's "finest" prophets stood in front of him, saying the politically correct thing that their boss, the king of Israel, wanted them to say.

"Go," they answered, "for the Lord will give it into the king's hand." 1 Kings 22:6

In a very telling response that called into question the godly character of the 400 prophets in front of him, Jehoshaphat asked, "Is there not a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?

Ouch. The king of the north responded, obviously irritated, "yeah, there is one fellow, but I don't like him. He never prophesies anything good about me, only bad. His name is Micaiah.

Jehoshaphat insisted, and the despised prophet was sent for. The messenger who was sent for him told him on the way, in effect, "Look, for once, just fit in. Everybody has already agreed that we should go and get the land back, and that victory is assured. Please, I'm begging you, for your own sake, go with the flow."

The scene that followed is both hilarious and stunning, climaxing with the high priest Kenaanah slapping Micaiah around. It turns into sort of a "Oh, yeah? We'll see!" senario. Micaiah refused to let the situation intimate him, and predicted disaster, refusing to wilt under pressure. He did God proud. And ignoring sound advice, the king of Israel died in battle.

At the turn of the 20th Century, P. T. Forsythe was a theologian and pastor in demand on both sides of the Atlantic. Over several decades of ministry he had "jettisoned much he had valued in scholarship and biblical criticism in order to safeguard passionately the very core of the Gospel - the holiness of God, the sin of man, and the supreme value of the cross."

(Extracted from Memoir by his daughter in THE WORK OF CHRIST. She saw her father as a modern day Amos, with a vision of the Cross.)

What Forsythe was attempting to passionately safeguard was the atoning work of the Cross. Recent scholarship had chipped away at the view that a holy God was reconciling a lost mankind to himself by pouring out his wrath on his Son, who had agreed to pay the penalty in our place. "Conventional wisdom"  determined that it was time to move on from such archaic beliefs.

In  1899, he gave an address at the second decennial International Congregations Council, on the theme of "The Evangelical Principle of Authority, and began with a shocker of a first sentence.

"The Cross is the final seat of authority, not only for the Church, but for all human society." This was his Micaiah moment. His daughter says that it created such a fervor the the vast audience was at first silent, but then almost spontaneously turned its long applause into the singing of the hymn (which Forsythe suggested) "In The Cross Of Christ I Glory."

Wouldn't you have loved to have been there? Surely all of heaven sang along. And if you listened closely, heaven's applause was mixed in with earthly applause, as the atoning work of our Gracious God was lifted up and exalted.

In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.

When the woes of life o’ertake me,
Hopes deceive, and fears annoy,
Never shall the cross forsake me,
Lo! it glows with peace and joy.

When the sun of bliss is beaming
Light and love upon my way,
From the cross the radiance streaming
Adds more luster to the day.

Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,
By the cross are sanctified;
Peace is there that knows no measure,
Joys that through all time abide.

In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.






The Ultimate No-Brainer

November 24, 2008

I'll do it myself. Where does that come from, anyway? We're born with it. But seeing God as the One we turn to instead of "the arm of flesh" is the key to living life well. God is in control, so let Him lead. He's really good at it.


Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7

God helps those who helps themselves? Not exactly. The opposite is more accurate. God helps those who call on Him. Consider the following example from 2 Chronicles 20.

King Jehoshaphat found himself being threatened by some powerful enemies.

He was informed:"A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in En Gedi.

Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.


Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard and said:
      
"O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you."

"O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?"

"They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, 'If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.'

"But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them."

"See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. O our God, will you not judge them?"

"For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you."

All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD. Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel...a Levite and descendant of Asaph....

He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army."

"FOR THE BATTLE IS NOT YOURS, BUT GOD'S."

 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel."

"You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.' "

Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with very loud voice.

Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said,

"Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful."

After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

"Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever."

As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.

The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped.

So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value - more than they could take away.

There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, where they praised the LORD. This is why it is called the Valley of Beracah to this day.

Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the LORD had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the LORD with harps and lutes and trumpets.

The fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.





What Happens When We Sing?
October 22, 2008
Sing to make Satan angry. He has vexed the saints, let us vex him! C. H. Spurgeon





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