Worship

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October 19

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021

I think one of the hardest things to do is to deflect praise from oneself to where it belongs. In the past we had a boxer (Cassius Clay, aka Muhammed Ali) proclaim early in his career that he was the greatest. Sportscasters are known to choose a GOAT (Greatest Of All Time).  Recently, a football player announced that he was “the greatest.” I was so disgusted by this shameless self-promotion just from a headline, I couldn’t tell you who it was, what team he played for, or what position he played.

How different from these words:

“Praise the LORD! Praise Him, you servants of the LORD, Praise the name of the LORD. Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time on and forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised. The LORD is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens.” (Ps.113:1-4)

Or these:

Not to us, LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth.” (115:1)

What a difference-taking credit or giving credit. The psalmist is unequivocal in his stand: the name of the Lord is to be praised. I don’t, you don’t, deserve any praise. It all goes to Him. Deflect it there.

“Father, You are worthy of my praise. May I never gather praise or seek praise for myself. May I always deflect it to You.”

All Scripture is from the NASB2020 edition.

October 7

Thursday, October 7th, 2021

One of our culture’s big battles these  days is what is called “Deconstruction.” Perhaps it would be more accurate to say it is one of Christian culture’s big battles since the non-believing world could care less about the reality of God and His existence…except maybe to pooh-pooh it.

What is sad is that in both cases is that the denial of God’s power is at stake. The unbeliever denies His existence or involvement in our daily lives. “God? Who’s God?” The one who is deconstructing is also denying the reality of God and His power in his/her daily life.

I read an interesting story recently. Atheistic communism proclaims there is no God. When Leonid Brezhnev died (the Soviet dictator who embodied Marxist unbelief), VP H.W.Bush was our representative. He reported that just before the casket was closed, his widow reached in and made the sign of the cross on his chest. Evidently, she hoped that what her husband had denied was somehow true. Perhaps before he died, she was privy to something no one else was? Who am I to say?

David said it well: “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ His only Son. I believe in His death and bodily resurrection. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the 3rd Person of the Trinity (who is not a force but a Person, hence “the” Holy Spirit). I believe Jesus will return to take us home.

Do you?

“Father, You are I Am. You are the Creator of the ends of earth and there is no one like You. May you be praised and recognized for Who You are.”

September 28

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

I was reading about the familiar story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. Recap: Jesus was a guest in their house. Martha and Mary were hostesses and as such had preparation duties to perform. Well, maybe Martha. Not Mary. Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him speak. Martha? She got more and more frazzled AND irritated. She even told Jesus her frustration. Unfortunately for her, Jesus commended Mary because “she chose the good part.” In other words, she chose the more important thing at the time: sit and listen to Jesus.

I thought about that in comparison to me. I know things clamor for my attention. I woke up this morning with things on my mind of what I needed to do today-some before I even get to the office. I tend to be pretty rigid about my morning schedule-get up, shower (that’s a good thing), then getting to the office as close to 5:00 as possible. One thing stands in between the shower and the office: my Encounter Time (ET).

It’s not a legalistic thing; it’s a life-saving thing. I have my ET to save me. It draws me to Jesus. I spend time with Him. I could find other things to do for this hour span. Sleep an extra hour. Work at the office. Work out at home, especially in the winter. But I have come to look at my ET as my lifeblood. I have mine in the morning because 1) I am fresher; 2) Less interruptions; 3) I need to start my day out right; 4) I know the distractions that will come later in the day.

I need to be in God’s Presence. I do not speak in hyperbole when I say, “I NEED THIS TIME!” Skipping this time is not a good thing for me! I’ve tried it before and the results were not pretty.

This is not a guilt trip for you. This is an “encouragement trip.” 🙂  Find the time that works best for you and fits your lifestyle. The important thing is to have that private meeting with God.

“Father, I need that time with You. May it always be one I look forward to and relish and draw strength from.”

September 23

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

Confession right up front. They say it is good for the soul. 🙂   A good chunk of today’s devotion is going to be snippets from Bob Goff (#265-p.314).  It so impacted me that I want to share some of it with you. Just know that any quoted section is from the devotion.

As a pastor, I struggle with something-something which involves me and others. Ready?

Taking credit. Liking the accolades. Relishing the pats-on-the-back.

Have you ever seen The Incredibles? Yeah, I know it is an animated “child’s” movie, but Pixar did a wonderful job with it (and its sequel). Mr. Incredible wanted a cape with his new uniform. His “strange” designer says, “No capes” and proceeds to show him why. To borrow from yesterday’s devotion (September 22), God doesn’t need superheroes with capes. He doesn’t need me or you seeking attention. (Implied is a cape would do that).

“Jesus was introducing us to another way to change the world-one that doesn’t require any marketing taglines, self-promotion, or capes.  He wanted to show us that all those things meant to draw attention to ourselves can actually trip us up.” Bob goes on to write: “God always seems to more interested in working through those who don’t need any affirmation outside of His. Perhaps it’s because He wants us to point people toward Him, not ourselves.”

Have you ever seen a team with potential implode because they have one (or several) who sought the glory for themselves? I could care less about “thug ball” i.e. basketball these days, but two of the games greatest players were two of the least selfish-Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. All-Stars. MVP’s. Hall of Famer’s. They were known as much for their passing ability, their selflessness, and their desire to include everyone as they were for their scoring ability.

They didn’t toot their own horn. They didn’t need to. Neither do we as Christ-followers. To quote Mr. Goff again: “We don’t have to impress to earn the right be on God’s team.”

No matter what we do-preach, teach, sing, play an instrument-whatever it is we are not asked to impress or take credit. Colossians 3:17 says, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (NASB2020)

“Father, may I lift You up, giving You praise and glory and not seek it for myself. I’m not worthy of that. You are.”

September 7

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

I read a quote recently. The story said Corrie Ten Boom, the Nazi death camp survivor who spent her life speaking about the love of God, His grace, and forgiveness, used it a lot. It is attributed to Martin Luther:

I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.

WOW! I once read The Hiding Place, Corrie’s story. She lost a lot. Her family, her home, her possessions, her sister, Betsy, in the Nazi camp. She lost years of her life to hateful and bigoted people, i.e. animals. The fact that she could quote this and believe it is even more amazing.

I’m reminded of the Scripture in Mark 8:36-37: “For what does it benefit a person to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what could a person give in exchange for his soul?” (NASB2020)

All we have will waste away. Jesus said that in Mt. 6:19-21. (Go ahead and take the time to read it). I can either hold on here and store things here or I can set my heart and my affections on things above. Nothing can steal that inheritance. It is kept in His hand in heaven for safe keeping. (See I Peter 1:4)

“Father, help me to remember to hold things loosely and grab on to You tightly.”

September 3

Friday, September 3rd, 2021

I’ve been reading a book entitled Expository Apologetics (EA) by Voddie Baucham, Jr. My estimation of him sky-rocketed first when I heard him on a podcast with Alisa Childers where they discussed his book Faultlines as well Critical Race Theory, BLM, and other subjects.  I listened to it twice so that should tell you what I thought of that interview. I just finished reading Faultlines, which took my admiration into the stratosphere. He is intelligent, witty, insightful, and unapologetic about his stand for the gospel. And, one more thing: he comes at it from a black perspective (not that makes any difference to me). You need to read his book!!

Anyway, in EA he wrote something that struck me, even in my afternoon semi-comatose mind. 🙂 I want to share it with you after I say this: I have often heard it said, “We become what we worship.” I wish I could remember who said that.

Voddie wrote this:

“God created us to be image bearers; we are made in His image to reflect His glory. When we turn that worship in another direction, we do not cease to be what we were created to be; we simply pervert the reflection. As we worship, we are conformed to the image of the one or ones to whom we give our allegiance, adoration, obeisance, time, talent, and treasure.” (p.54)

What we give our worship and attention to is what we become. I don’t need to say much more except “Choose Wisely.”

“Father, You and You alone are worthy of my worship. Help me to keep my eyes on you and not on other things, people, or events.”

September 2

Thursday, September 2nd, 2021

As I mentioned at the end of yesterday’s devotion, the devotion was too long to have it as one. So I made the decision after writing it to split it into two.  This is a continuation of yesterday’s devotion.

As we talk about increasing versus decreasing our faith; as we talk about just “going through” versus “growing through” something, I’d like to focus on a very familiar passage of Scripture.  I know these verses can be overused (often consigned to “Jesus junk”), or even misused (especially by charlatans), but please read these verses S-L-O-W-L-Y and meditate on them as you read:

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NASB2020)

People latch onto that prosperity word and name-it and claim-it and think God is obligated to give material prosperity. But do you see the latter part? “You will call.” “You will seek.” “You will find.”

God wants us to pursue Him. Sort of like what is said of David: “He is a man after my own heart.”  David pursued God with a passion. Sure, he stumbled, but his passionate God-heart always brought him back to the heart of worship. Instead of expecting God to drop things in our lap because we think (or someone has told us) He is obligated to do so, let’s throw that junk aside and have a heart that pursues Him.

If I remember correctly, did Someone not say, “If you seek you will find”?

“Father, may my heart run after you with an undeniable passion.”

Late addition: after reading Psalms today I feel I need to add something to this devotion. In my morning reading today, I read the following words: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?”  Psalm 42:1-2 (NASB2020) The picture of the tired, desperately thirsty deer running from his “hunter” who finally reaches water where he can refresh his spirit, is one that should picture me, you.  We are being pursued every day by forces designed to take us down and out, to capture or “kill” us. We MUST find our rest, our refreshment in the Father.

August 31

Tuesday, August 31st, 2021

Have you ever wanted to be somebody else or maybe sort of like them? 

I have given that some thought:

  • Growing up I was a baseball fanatic. I wanted to be like certain players. I devoured how certain players played or batted. Their mannerisms. I read a lot about Christian ballplayers.
  • When I played basketball I had my favorite players I followed and wanted to be like. I copied their shot, their mannerisms at the free throw line, etc.
  • As I developed as a pastor/preacher, I wanted to be a pray-er like men I read about; a preacher/teacher like G. Campbell Morgan. Then it was Chuck Swindoll, John MacArthur or Charles Stanley.
  • A leader like so-and-so.

The verdict is in. Utter and complete failure. Like bomb. I tried to trade who I was for who I wanted to be. It doesn’t work that way. I am me. God created me to be me. No one else.

What got me thinking of this are the words I read from Bob Goff:

God’s never looked in your mirror and wished He saw someone else.  (#243-p.290)

Whenever I stopped trying to be like someone else (except Jesus), I found peace and contentment in my skin. God never, EVER, wanted me to be or be like someone else. Only what He created me to be.

I’m content.

“Father, thank you for making me to be me and to glorify you in the process.”

August 23

Monday, August 23rd, 2021

This past weekend Jo and I made a quick trip to Ohio on Friday to watch our grandson, Braden, play his first game as a Freshman in high school. We came back Saturday after the game. Driving 4-41/2 hours one way gives one a lot of time to think. Lately, the church family has been hit hard with “stuff.”

  • It started with me getting hit broadside on June 3rd and still working through several ETAs for the necessary part.
  • One of our ladies was heading to Indy for a quilting show and a semi sideswiped her.
  • One of our young men was hit head on. His ankle is broke significantly and may require further surgery.
  • Another had a car pull out in front of him on the way to a wedding. He and his fiance were shook up but the car is toast.
  • One young lady was rear-ended as she was turning into the church lot this past Saturday. She has a concussion and will be very, very sore.
  • One young lady’s 90+ y/o grandmother got COVID and they still don’t know how. She is, at least, able to get up and not lay around.
  • The church secretary’s father had a massive brain bleed on Thursday and was in a coma.  Yesterday afternoon he went to be with Jesus.
  • A 13 y/o has been placed in a center to get help with his anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
  • Our youth pastor, Ryan, is slowly watching his father waste away from cancer.

There are more, but you get the picture. As I thought about all of the “stuff” hitting us, I refused to have a pity party. I thought of Daniel and I thought of something I read this past week:

God is still God even when we don’t understand His ways.

The nonbeliever cannot sync with the idea of trials and suffering and a good God.  But the follower of Jesus can. We must choose to worship God and to trust His goodness, sovereignty, and power. We remind the world around us that we are in the hands of the One who controls it all. God is still God; I am still me; and He is still in charge.

And I must also say that I am not leaving out the idea this is a Satanic attack on our church fellowship. Add to the above the masks, the fear people have, the political sides being taken on social media and yeah…I am a firm believer this could very well be a Satanic attack.

“Father, I don’t understand but I’m certainly not going to blame You. You have been, are now, and always will be in charge.”

{Quote from The Daniel Dilemma by Chris Hodges, page 91}

August 20

Friday, August 20th, 2021

The reality of life is sometimes a kick in the pants.

As I wrote yesterday about the death of a friend, the truth is that death has perfect odds- 1 out of 1. No one escapes it. Unless you are Enoch or Elijah, death visits us all.

EXCEPT…

Except if Jesus returns before I die. Honest confession here: I  have never been one to spend time worrying about signs, signs of the times, pouring over Revelation and Daniel and trying to figure things out, nor reading books on the Second Coming (SC)  I have just always accepted it at face value. It was going to happen.

How? No clue. Except there will be a shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God.

Where? I understand Jesus will “set down” at Mt. Moriah, the same place where He left. Sorry Islam. You lose.

Why? Because He seen enough. And it is time.

When? NO CLUE. Call me naive but wouldn’t it be better to just be ready for whenever that day may come (or your death) than to worry about when?

The older I get the closer it gets. Death or the SC. Both sound good to me. No regrets with either. Part of me wants to be alive when Jesus comes. To see it. To marvel. To worship. Then again, if I’m already in heaven, I’ll have a front row seat.

“Even so, come Lord Jesus. Perhaps today!!”