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?



 
Hell
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me...’ (Matthew 25:41-43)


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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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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.

Making Sense Of It All
January 30, 2012
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?

Holding On To Air

May 3, 2010

Arthur Sulzberger Jr. can't be faulted for hypocrisy. He is a true believer. But in what, exactly?


Susan E. Tifft and her husband Alex S. Jones have written a biography on the family that has controlled the New York Times for more than 100 years.  Titled THE TRUST, this book contains a quote from the current publisher, one Arthur Ochs "Pinch" Sulzberger Jr.

 He describes his personal faith this way: “I have The New York Times. That’s my religion. That’s what I believe in, and it’s a hell of a thing to hold on to.”

Jesus described two roads. The one you don't want to be on - the broad one - leads to destruction, he said. That's the one most people travel on. The other choice, the alternative, is the narrow road. It leads to life, and sadly, Jesus says, only a few find that road.

David wrote in Psalm 20....

Some trust in chariots and some in horses (the broad road), but we trust in the name of the Lord our God (the narrow road). Psalms 20:7

The result?

They (those people who choose the broad road) are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. Psalm 20:8

Moses put it this way.

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. Deuteronomy 30:19






And They All Lived Happily Ever After

July 11, 2008

The music swells, the couple embraces, THE END appear on the screen, and we go home smiling. Real life is murkier, and the Bible is no different, presenting real characters railing at God, or loving Him, or both. As to the final outcome - God only knows.


Amy Carmichael was a remarkable woman who beautifully ministered in India to children at the turn of the 20th century, rescuing them from the clutches of temple worship and unthinkable evil. 

She tells of a young Muslim girl she had heard of who wanted to become a Christian, but the parents forbid her.  Well, the story made it back to England, with the hope that it would protray the very real difficulty of converting from Islam to Christ.

Apparently, the story was not playing so well, being sad and all, and so the request was made for permission to alter the ending, and have the little girl convert to Christ. "Is it right to invent a happy ending?" the supporters wanted to know. It boggles the mind.

Nobody likes a sad ending. The Bible ends on the most positive of notes imaginable. It doesn't get any better than eternal life with God.  But on the way there is a whole lot of misery getting from the Fall of Adam to the New Jerusalem. It's full of mess.

The building of God's kingdom is a story of some who say "yes" to God with lots of smooth sailing.  Others  sign on to the faith, falter, and then, seeing the error of their ways, they recover.  Others simply say "no thank you" to the prospect of living lives that were devoted to God's purposes.

Reading the Bible leaves us feeling slightly uncomfortable, doesn't it? Moses' brother Aaron had two sons as priests. They did not regard God's rules laid down for sacrifice, ended up dying before the Lord. Leviticus 10:2   How do you make that ending happy? We are left feeling sober, in awe of a holy God who takes His holiness seriously.
 
And what of Korah, who dared to challenge the leadership of Moses? The ground opened up and swallowed him and his whole household. Numbers 16:31-33  Achan had a similar fate, after keeping some plunder for himself. He was stoned and burned. Joshua 7:25

Eli, elderly and apparently quite overweight, heard the news that his two sons had been killed in battle and the ark of God had been captured. He fell backward off his chair, breaking his neck in the fall.  1 Samuel 4:18 We are appropriately horrified, and fall silent before a God who knows every heart, and who never acts unjustly.

Saul committed suicide, after so much promise. 1 Samuel 31:5 David's son Absolom got his hair caught in a tree and hung there, till Joab ran him through with three javelins. 2 Samuel 18:14 Ahithophel, finding he was no longer the king's "go-to" guy for wise counsel, hung himself.  2 Samuel 17:23

Had enough gore? Need I go into the New Testament, starting with, say, John the Baptist? What's my point?  Simply this - that the Bible doesn't bat an eye when it comes to being truthful about the lives of people. There is no whitewashing, no glossing over the story to protect reputations.  The choices we make have real consequences as to how our lives turn out, and that is drama of the most dramatic sort.

Who said, "Life is a stage, and we are its actors?" Shakespeare?  At any rate, our lives are soap operas, with some lives ending quietly, and others in flames, or the opposite with their faith going down in flames. Others go in a flaming chariot.

Hebrews 11 tells us that women received back their dead, raised to life again. The perfect ending. But then the second half of the verse jerks our emotions the other way - others were tortured and refused to be released....We don't understand why Peter died being hung upside down, and John lived till old age exiled on Patmos.

This much we know, God is a God of mercy. Happy ending or sad ending, joy or sorrow, we will all stand before the judgment seat, where our lives will be replayed scene by scene before a holy God. And if we are trusting in the righteousness of Christ, and living lives that are given to Him and His kingdom, then whether we live or die, whether we are burned at the stake, or caught up in the air, we will have the ultimate happy ending - spending eternity with God in absolute delight and wonder.

P.S. Amy Carmichael had a difficult ending to her life.  For the last 20 years of her life, she ministered from a bed, suffering in pain from a crushed spine as a result of falling into a hole.  But from that bed she wrote among other works ROSE FROM BRIAR, and testified that suffering would not have the last word. I guess you might even call that a happy ending after all.










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