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?



 
Providence
 “Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass? (Job 38:25-27)


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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.

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?

Faith That Can Withstand Anything

November 30, 2010

Life's difficulties test the mettle of our faith, which can either unravel or turn into refined gold. For Mary Rowlandson, it was the latter.


They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated - the world was not worthy of them. Hebrews 11:37-38

We've all seen enough westerns to know that back when this country was being "tamed," the natives had other ideas, becoming a constant source of danger and terror to anyone who dared make a home among them.

In 1675 some settlers in Lancaster Pennsylvania felt the full wrath from a small army of Indians. It was as harrowing an event as has ever been experienced anywhere, and Mary Rowlandson lived through a nightmarish capture, later publishing her experience in a book titled THE SOVEREIGNTY AND GOODNESS OF GOD.

Here's how it all began:

On the tenth of February 1675, came the Indians with great numbers upon Lancaster: their first coming was about sunrising; hearing the noise of some guns, we looked out; several houses were burning, and the smoke ascending to heaven.

There were five persons taken in one house; the father, and the mother and a sucking child, they knocked on the head; the other two they took and carried away alive. There were two others, who being out of their garrison upon some occasion were set upon; one was knocked on the head, the other escaped; another there was who running along was shot and wounded, and fell down; he begged of them his life, promising them money (as they told me) but they would not hearken to him but knocked him in head, and stripped him naked, and split open his bowels.

Another, seeing many of the Indians about his barn, ventured and went out, but was quickly shot down. There were three others belonging to the same garrison who were killed; the Indians getting up upon the roof of the barn, had advantage to shoot down upon them over their fortification. Thus these murderous wretches went on, burning, and destroying before them.

It gets worse. Mary and her six year old daughter named Sarah, both with bullet wounds, were captured and taken away. Given nothing but water for a week, the child died in her arms. The full account can be read here:

http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/lavender/rownarr.html

Many thousands of prisoners in hundreds of wars have had similar tragic tales to tell. What makes Mary's story unique is the way in which her faith in a sovereign God carried her through the entire experience. She seems unable to ever question God. There is no "Why God? How could you do this to me?" She concludes with this "take-away."

Before I knew what affliction meant, I was ready sometimes to wish for it. When I lived in prosperity, having the comforts of the world about me, my relations by me, my heart cheerful, and taking little care for anything, and yet seeing many, whom I preferred before myself, under many trials and afflictions, in sickness, weakness, poverty, losses, crosses, and cares of the world, I should be sometimes jealous least I should have my portion in this life, and that Scripture would come to my mind, "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every Son whom he receiveth" (Hebrews 12.6).

But now I see the Lord had His time to scourge and chasten me. The portion of some is to have their afflictions by drops, now one drop and then another; but the dregs of the cup, the wine of astonishment, like a sweeping rain that leaveth no food, did the Lord prepare to be my portion.

Affliction I wanted, and affliction I had, full measure (I thought), pressed down and running over. Yet I see, when God calls a person to anything, and through never so many difficulties, yet He is fully able to carry them through and make them see, and say they have been gainers thereby. And I hope I can say in some measure, as David did, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted."

The Lord hath showed me the vanity of these outward things. That they are the vanity of vanities, and vexation of spirit, that they are but a shadow, a blast, a bubble, and things of no continuance.

That we must rely on God Himself, and our whole dependance must be upon Him. If trouble from smaller matters begin to arise in me, I have something at hand to check myself with, and say, why am I troubled?

It was but the other day that if I had had the world, I would have given it for my freedom, or to have been a servant to a Christian. I have learned to look beyond present and smaller troubles, and to be quieted under them. As Moses said, "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord" (Exodus 14.13).

Truly, this world was not worthy.






Your Lap and God's Blessing

May 13, 2010

Everything we do on earth is carefully monitored by our heavenly Father. That can be scary, or wonderful. It all depends.


Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38

During the time that Elisha was prophet, an unnamed woman took a liking to his ministry, and after talking it over with her husband, she had a room constructed on the roof especially for him, so that whenever he was "in town" he could come and relax.

Her generosity got the best of her, and the room had all the conveniences of a Days Inn - you know, not the Ritz Carlton, but it had a bed, a table, a chair and a lamp (had wifi been around then, that would have no doubt been included).

The man of God was impressed, and sat her down one day, and said, "So I really appreciate what you have done. Now, what can I do for you? You want me to speak to the king? I have pull, you know." She deferred, basically saying, "I'm doing just fine."

Elisha and his servant Gehazai conferred together. "Surely we can do something for her," they thought. Gehazai pointed out that they had no children, and that her husband was old. "Great idea," Elisha exclaimed. "Go call her!" And as the woman stood in the doorway, Elisha announced to her, "At this time next year, you will be holding your firstborn!"

She was shocked. The pain of thinking she would never be a mother was just below the surface and she blurted out, "Don't mislead your servant, O man of God!"

The prophet wasn't kidding. A boy was born in due time, and you can just imagine her joy. With no ulterior motive, she had blessed the man of God with a kindness, and now God had blessed her womb. Her lap was getting full. Blessing #1.

Tragically, one day the boy complained of a headache, and died in his mother's arms. She went up on the roof, entered the man of God's room, and laid her lifeless child on Elisha's bed. Without informing her husband of the crisis, she saddled a donkey a servant brought her, and the two of them sped of (if a donkey can speed off!) to find Elisha on Mount Carmel.

He spotted her in the distance as she approached, and sent Gehazai to inquire of her, suspecting that something had gone terribly wrong. Ignoring Gehazai, she headed straight for Elisha, and fell at his feet in bitter distress.

"Did I ask you for a son, my lord?" she said. "Didn't I tell you, 'Don't raise my hopes'?"

The fastest solution seemed to rush Gehazi off with Elisha's staff. He ran ahead, went up on the roof to that now very familiar room, and laid the staff on the boy's face. Nothing. There was no sound or response.

So Gehazi went back to meet Elisha and told him, "The boy has not awakened."

When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch. He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the LORD. Then he got on the bed and lay upon the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands.

As he stretched himself out upon him, the boy's body grew warm. Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out upon him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.

Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, "Call the Shunammite." And he did. When she came, he said, "Take your son." She came in, fell at his feet and bowed to the ground. Then she took her son and went out.

Blessing #2. Her lap is overflowing with the kindness of God. But that is not all. God pours out blessing on us, far more than we deserve.

The next blessing came as Elisha warned the woman of a coming seven year famine.

"Go away with your family and stay for a while wherever you can, because the LORD has decreed a famine in the land that will last seven years."

The woman proceeded to do as the man of God said. She and her family went away and stayed in the land of the Philistines seven years.

Blessing #3. A heads-up on a coming crisis, allowing her and her family to avoid starvation. Her lap now has barely any room left!

At the end of the seven years she came back from the land of the Philistines and went to the king to beg for her house and land. The king was talking to Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, and had said, "Tell me about all the great things Elisha has done."

Just as Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, the woman whose son Elisha had brought back to life came to beg the king for her house and land.

Gehazi said, "This is the woman, my lord the king, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life." The king asked the woman about it, and she told him. Then he assigned an official to her case and said to him, "Give back everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now."

Blessing #4 - God watched out over her property, and made sure that she was not taken advantage of, and that she suffered no loss.

The takeaway? We can't outgive God. Our acts of kindness, no matter how risky or random or even reckless they may seem at the moment, will not go unnoticed by our heavenly Father.

And consider yourself "warned" - you better make some room on your lap, because God is about to show some kindnesses of his own.






Remember To Remember
November 20, 2008
Psalm 107 ends with the command to "consider the love of the Lord." Our memory is a powerful tool God has given us - with it we recall his faithfulness, which serves to give us the confidence that our faithful God will continue to be just that - faithful.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep
November 3, 2008
One never knows what a day might hold. So to safely get through a day is a mercy of God, and He deserves our thanks. John Baillie gives us a helpful example from his prayer life.

The Falling Leaf And God's Sovereignty
October 16, 2008
So just how much does God know beforehand? And just what is determined and orchestrated? Is He ever surprised?

Nothing Is Impossible With God
October 5, 2008
Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Ephesians 6:19

Everybody Praise
July 7, 2008
Every living soul belongs to me. Ezekiel 18:4





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