Sunday morning I introduced a new worship song in our church service, "We Are An Offering." Actually it isn't new; it has been around for about 40 years, but it is new to me and most of the congregation.
Romans 12:1 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
An offering is a sacrifice and throughout the pages of Old Testament scripture, sacrificial blood offerings were regular and continuous acts of the worship God required from His people.
How do you define worship? It's really not about your Sunday morning pre-message entertainment.
The word “worship” (in one of its most commonly used forms) means to bow down and obey. Or to rephrase that, it means to submit to the lordship of God and do what He commands.
We’re all familiar with the account of Cain and Abel, and that story is instructional for us. Abel’s worship was in submission to God’s lordship and obedience to His command and God was pleased with his offering.
But Cain offered a strange sacrifice; the first fruits of his produce. I’m sure that he thought it was a generous sacrifice. It was pleasing to look at and good to eat. But it wasn’t what God required. He required blood; something had to die.
And that’s the way it was until the crucifixion of Christ. He was the perfect sacrifice; the spotless Lamb of God and His shed blood was all-sufficient to atone for our sin. From the cross He cried, "It is finished!" His sacrifice was once for all.
So now, on this side of the cross, God wants living sacrifices. But there are still lots of people like Cain, who think they can please God with their own strange fire and well-intended sacrifices. They try to worship Him with things that are beautiful in their own eyes, or pleasing in their own ears. They have an appearance of godliness but their worship lacks what God requires; submission to His lordship and obedience to His commands.
God wants us to submit ourselves to Him in love. He wants us to serve Him willingly, with the kind of obedience that comes from our hearts. He wants our lives because Christ gave His life for us.
So, as the song goes,
“We lift our voices, we lift our hands,
We lift our lives up to Him; we are an offering.
All that we have, all that we are,
All that we hope to be, we give to Him.”
(Listen to it here and then try it - I'm sure you will find this an appropriate tool for your worship service)
I stumbled onto this stupid "christian" meme today, that someone posted on Facebook. These things are the "information superhighway's" version of bumper stickers like "Honk if you love Jesus" or "Jesus Is My Co-pilot." Most of them are doctrinally weak at best. This one falls into the category of HERESY.
It implies that men can attain salvation by keeping the law. But they would be wrong.
Sure, Noah heard from God and fear gripped him. And it was out of that fear that he obeyed God's command. But the verdict was already pronounce, ALL men were sinners, including Noah (you can read it in Genesis). We're all like that; every one of us. We obey laws because we fear the consequences of breaking them.
The Truth is, salvation is NOT achievable by obeying God's commands (keeping the law). Salvation is obtained ONLY by God's Grace ALONE through the FAITH that He gives us to believe. And then, a believer has a new heart and a free-will to turn away from sin and worship God in humble submission and loving obedience.
The Providence of God is a concept that modern Christianity has lost. When was the last time you heard your pastor preach about it? When was the last time you heard anyone recognize God's providence?
We give lip service to God's sovereignty. We allow Him to be the ruler of the universe but we fail to acknowledge that He holds all things together. He controls all things. He orders all things. He ordains all things. Nothing ever occurs to Him and nothing ever thwarts His plans. That is Providence.
Do you know that your days are numbered? That doesn't mean, just because God has foreknowledge of the future, that He knows when you will die. It means that He has made an appointment for you to inhale your last breath on the pages of His unchangeable calendar.
Eric Landry has explained the Providence of God as follows: "Because God sustains the universe's moment by moment existence, nothing comes about independently of His will. He governs all creatures, and events so that they accomplish what He intends, either by their acting freely (as through human choice) or contingently (as when something happens that did not have to happen) or necessarily (as with the law of gravity). "Thus God, in ways beyond our understanding, works in and through everything to bring about His good purposes."
"There are two facts that make evangelism easier for me: 1) God is
sovereign. 2) The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are
perishing. Because of these two things, I can relax and present the (Gospel) message.
Only God can change someone's mind to believe a foolish sounding message. There
truly is NO pressure on the evangelist who keeps those two facts in mind."
Stan is a friend and someday he will be famous. That's why I am quoting his brilliant observation here on my blog.
Years ago, a woman I knew thought she could successfully convince me regarding her perverted brand ofChristianity; specifically, her belief that ALL true, born again Christians must speak in tongues.
One day during our debate on the subject of spiritual gifts, I stated that it is the Holy Spirit who gifts each believer individually, severally, and uniquely, for service, to which she responded with this inane analogy:“Well, I believe the Holy Spirit is like a chocolate chip cookie.When you bake cookies, you mix the flour, sugar, chocolate chips, eggs, salt, and et al. all together.So when you eat your fill of the cookies, you have all the ingredients.And when a believer is filled with the spirit, he has all of the ingredients (meaning spiritual gifts).”
Well, guess what? I have been filled many times, with chocolate chip cookies and I have never spoken in tongues. Why? Because, (pay close attention now) The Holy Spirit IS NOT A CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE.
The use of stupid analogies often results in heretical doctrines.
I don’t understand the doctrine of the Trinity, I cannot comprehend a triune God nor can I explain Him.But I do know that stupid analogies always fail and are heretical. God is NOT like an egg, water, a man, pie, a triangle, a three-leafed clover, or Pla-doh. Furthermore, there are lots of nominal Christians who reject the doctrine of the Trinity simply because they think these analogies don't make sense. And they are right. There are no analogies that can explain the Trinity and we have no right to try to invent such nonsense. Nor do we have the right to disbelieve the doctrine of a triune God; JUST BECAUSE WE DON'T UNDERSTAND THE TRINITY IS NO REASON TO DISBELIEVE IT.
Deuteronomy 29:29 tells us, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever.”
And this is one of those secret things.The tri-unity of God is a doctrine of special (biblical) revelation but He has NOT revealed how that can be or how we can understand it.Ours is just to take Him at His Word and believe it.No analogy can explain the Trinity because there is nothing in all of God's creation like Him.He is holy; there is none like Him.
“God Said It, I Believe It and That Settles It For Me,” was a song that was popularized in the 1970s.At first glance, it sounds good but the obvious error in the song is the phrase, “I believe it.”That seems to imply that the veracity of the declared Word of God is dependent on my belief.The better lyric would be, “God Said It and That Settles It Whether I Believe It Or Not.”
So, regarding the doctrine of the Trinity (and all other doctrines of God as He has revealed Himself in scripture), our belief (or even our understanding) is irrelevant. There are a lot of things about Him that I don't understand; I can't comprehend eternity apart from and unaffected by time. Nor can I understand how God can exist apart from His created universe and yet inhabit His creation. Nevertheless, God’s Word is true even if no one understands it or believes it.We are not privileged to a complete understanding.All we can know about Him is what He has revealed to us in His Word.That’s it!That settles it! That’s all! End of discussion! I do find it interesting and ironic, that so many people believe so much about God that is not true (or not revealed in scripture) and yet stumble over things (like the triunity of God) that are clearly revealed.
I believe in the doctrine of the Trinity because the plain sense of Scripture, clearly and undeniably, reveals that He is One God eternally coexistent in three distinct persons. “He Is that He Is” regardless of our beliefs or finite comprehension.When our analogies are heretical, our beliefs are heretical.
Worthy of Worship A contemporary worship hymn (1988) by Dr. Terry York
To worship means "to give reverential honor." The word also implies bowing down in obedience with awe. We worship God because He is worthy.How is He worthy?
The hymn writer, in three short verses, lists, at least, ten reasons why God deserves our worship:
1.He is Our Creator—
Psalm 100:3 “Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”
Revelation 4:11 "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”
2.He is Our Savior—
Luke 2:11 "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
2 Peter 3:18 "but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.To Him be the glory both now and forever.”
3.He is Our Sustainer—
Psalm 3:5 "I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.”
4.He is Our Almighty Father—
2 Corinthians 6:18 "I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.”
1 John 3:1 "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
5.He is Our Master and Lord—
Psalm 145:3 "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable."
Romans 10:9"If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
Philippians 2:9-11"Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
6.He is King of all kings—
1 Chronicles 16:25 "For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised;
He is also to be feared above all gods."
1 Timothy 6:15-16 "…He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.”
Revelation 19:16 "And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."
7.He is Our Redeemer—
Romans 3:23-24"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."
1 John 4:10"In this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
8.He is Our Wonderful Counselor—
Isaiah 9:6b "And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
9.He is Our Comforter—
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
10.He is Our Friend—
Exodus 33:11 "So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend."
John 15:15“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends…”
This is a great worship song. It is a simple yet beautiful musical composition, it is easy to sing, and it is abundant with sound biblical doctrine. HE IS WORTHY OF OUR WORSHIP
I am a simple man. I am not trained or experienced in leading my congregation in singing. It is not my gift. But I serve in the position of song leader because there is no one else to do it.
The position of song leader is mine, not to grasp firmly but to hold carefully in trust with open hands; any man whom God sends our way and is qualified, willing, and available, may assume this responsibility from me without objection. In the meantime, I take this ministry seriously.
I have assembled this job description to remind me of my ministry responsibilities according to my understanding of scripture.
MY JOB DESCRIPTION
• Sing songs people know. The important thing is that people sing songs of praises and thanksgiving to God; that is a scriptural commandment. It is hard to do when they don’t know the songs. If you introduce new songs, do it sparingly and then repeat them several times over a few weeks until they become familiar. • Sing them in comfortable keys. Your job is not to show off your vocal range (or vocal gymnastics). If it is too high, too low, or in challenging intervals, your congregation will not sing. • Sing to celebrate the power, glory, and salvation of God. There are good personal and relational songs of testimony or sentiments that may be appropriate in certain situations but, for the most part, worship is NOT about how warm and fuzzy you feel; it is about bowing down in humble awe of the power and glory of God. Sing His praises, sing about His attributes and sing about His mercy and grace. • Serve your people. This might seem like a no-brainer but legitimate service is providing people with what they need; not what they want. • Saturate them with the Word of God. Support your song choices with biblical references to God’s Word. He has assembled your congregation in your presence for only a few minutes each week and they don’t need junk food. They need spiritual meat and music can be a useful vehicle to deliver it to them. Make sure that your song choices are substantive and rich in scripture. • Don’t sing songs with humanistic philosophies or heretical theology. I once read a comment that asked, “If your music doesn’t preach, why sing it?” The fact of the matter is that ALL music preaches. The problem is that so many Christians learn so much false doctrine from spiritually anemic, or downright stupid, popular contemporary music in church and on Christian radio. It takes wisdom and discernment to examine all the lyrics in light of Scripture. If necessary, you may have to make some corrective changes to the lyrics or throw them out entirely. Just do it because you are no less accountable than is your pastor when it comes to preaching or teaching false doctrine. • Don’t draw attention to yourself. It’s not about you (or your “worship team”). Someone has suggested that, if worship teams were required to sing from behind a curtain, there would be no more worship teams. Entertainment is not worship and the musical portion of your ministry is not your turn to perform. And no one wants to hear your overly dramatic, rehearsed praises and prayers. Do not use your music ministry as your outlet for creativity at the expense of the centrality of the Gospel. I once had a pastor who had a small plaque on his pulpit, engrave with these words, “Sirs, we would see Jesus.” It was fixed there to remind him (and anyone else he allowed to share his pulpit) that his responsibility was always and only to point men to Jesus.
The current sermon series in our church, for a few weeks, centers on ecclesiology, (the doctrine of the Church) and, more specifically, the biblical justification for the organized membership in a local assembly.
So, in considering appropriate music for our congregational singing, I selected “Bind Us Together, Lord,” for yesterday’s service.
This is one of those newer choruses that has made is way into popular use in evangelical churches over the past 50 years.It is a simple song with an easy, melody that is often used for closing a service.
Here are the lyrics:
Bind us together, Lord; Bind us together,
With cords, that cannot be broken.
Bind us together, Lord; Bind us together, Lord;
Bind us together with Love.
There is only One God,
There is only One King,
There is only One Body;
That is why we can sing, bind us together…(and the chorus repeats).
Now, I am well aware of the spiritual dangers of luring congregations into mindless emotionalism with meaningless repetitious music, so I try to focus our thoughts on the substance of the text.I am reminded of Paul’s words of caution, to the errant church at Corinth, when he said, "What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also." 1 Cor. 14:15
So, in order to sing this song with understanding, I prefaced our singing by setting these words in their scriptural contexts as follows:
There are at least two New Testament references to support these lyrics.
"Therefore, as theelect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another.If anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection." Col. 3:12-14
And Paul, speaking to the church, says, "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is One Body and One Spirit, just as you were called in One hope of your calling; One Lord, One faith, One baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in (you) all." Ephesians 4:3-6
These verses are clear imperatives, that we are to work hard to keep ourselves bound together in unity. But I wondered about the specific nature of the prayer of this song;Is there any stronger, scriptural anchor, for this concept that God should have an active part in binding us or keeping us together?
YES! There is.It’s in the instructions He gave Moses for the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness, found in the book of the Exodus.
"And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle."
The boards were to be made of Acacia wood, an earthly and corruptible material.They were stood upright, each on its own foundations of silver, which symbolizes redemption.They were overlaid (or clad) with gold, representing purity, holiness, and deity.
Do you get the picture here?The boards represent us in Christ, God’s elect, the Church.We were corruptible, taken out of the earth and covered in the righteousness of Christ.
The boards were stood side by side to hold up the tabernacle where God would meet with His people.They were held together by bars that were overlaid with gold, and there was One Bar (also made from acacia wood and covered with gold) that ran continuously right through the middle of each board, representing Christ in us.
There is no question about the symbolism here.It is by God’s design and instructions that His Church is to be bound together for His abode.
This "bond of peace" is similar to another word we often use – fellowship.Fellowship is not something we enjoy by virtue of our common, corruptible nature.We are not held together by social events or eating with friends after church.It is not found in our common interests like sports, activities, age groups, or friendships.Our fellowship is in what we possess by virtue of our election.It is each of us bound together eternally in Christ and Him in us.
YES, there is only One God; One King, and One Body.We are in Christ and He is in us, holding us up and holding us together. And that, is why we can sing, Bind Us Together.
For our use last Sunday, I linked this song to another favorite old hymn with a compatible message, “Blest Be The Tie That Binds.” The two are written in the same key so the transition, from the contemporary to the traditional, was seamless and natural as we moved directly to these lyrics;
I bought one of these for myself before Christmas. I haven't done any framing for well over 30 years but I just couldn't pass this up at under 8 bucks. Since the People's Republik of Kalifornia has not yet banned hammers (which are used for more murders than are guns) this hammer provides amazing self-protection.
It features a dimpled grip so it won't slip out of your hands when you are swinging it at an attacker. Also, the head has a very deep and sharp waffled surface (think about a meat cleaver only much sharper and heavier at 22 oz.) The claws are wickedly sharp. But one of the unique features is a magnetized nail starter. When I was framing, there was no such device built into our hammers. We used to try to wedge a 16d nail in the claws so that we could extend our reach to start a nail up high. This one is equipped with a magnetized slot that fits a 16d nail that projects well beyond the claws.
Do you know how much damage you could do to an attacker's forehead with a 16d nail delivered by your swing with 22 oz. hammer on an 18 inch handle? Hammer slings with belt loops are also available for quick access and easy draws in emergencies.
As far as I know, Kalifornia has not yet outlawed the open carrying of hammers.
Once again, UNDER $8.OO AT HOME DEPOT. HUSKY TOOLS COME WITH A LIFETIME, UNCONDITIONAL GUARANTEE.
At the end of our deacon meeting last month, one of the men reminisced about the days we used to sing the Doxology in the church.“We should sing that once in a while,” he said.
That got my attention because I am the person who selects all the music and leads our congregational singing every Sunday.We haven’t sung that for a long time; in fact I don’t remember singing it at all for probably well over 30 years.
So what happened?I don’t know.When I was growing up, the Doxology was standard fare for the closing of our services.We sang it often and without the aid of hymnbooks (you know, those dusty, antiquated things we used to read before Power Point projections) because we all had the words memorized.
Well, that has been on my mind since that meeting.I realized then, that I have two daughters who may not even know the song.Furthermore, I have eight grandchildren who have never heard it.
That is a shame, not just because of the song’s antiquity or tradition but because it is truly a great hymn of grateful praise, which is appropriate whenever the people of God meet together. I don't want to lose it; I want my grandchildren to learn and love the Doxology.
So I have been thinking about how to reintroduce it into our worship times.One strategic challenge with the Doxology is its brevity; one very short verse and it is over.It seems awkward to weave that into a triad of purposefully selected songs to support the sermon.
This Sunday we will close our service with “Doxology,” but we will link it to another brief song of thankful praise, “We Give Thee But Thine Own.”The two songs are written in the same key and can move seamlessly, from one to the other without the need of a transitional interlude. And the texts are complimentary:
"MEET" is NOT a noun. God did not create a Helpmeet for Adam. He didn't even create a Helpmate for Adam. Your wife is not your meet. She might be your mate and she might be your helper but that has nothing to do with what the text says. It says, "God made a help meet for him (Adam)."
The word, as used there, is an archaic adjective. That's because it comes from the King James version which is archaic. If you are a KJV ONLY, Christian, then you don't know what archaic words mean so you have to invent new definitions. That gets confusing. Other newer translations are more helpful. The word means suitable, fitting, or proper.
If you look at the passage in its context you will note that God, after He created all animal life, brought the animals (both male and female) before Adam to see what he would name them. And, the text notes, there was not a help meet (or suitable, or appropriate) for him. So, verse 18 in Gen. 2 says (in modern English) that God said, "I will make a helper suitable for Man."
The suitable, or fitting. or proper companion appropriate for a man, as designed by God, is a woman.
“The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance.”
Most Christians are aware of these verses (Deut. 4:2, Deut. 12:32, Prov. 30:6, Rev. 22:18-19) that pose serious warnings about adding to, changing, or taking away from scripture. And many of them are vociferously antagonistic toward any denominations or cults that claim new revelation or add their own publications to assist with or enhance the understanding of scripture. They insist on scriptural accuracy; some even militantly demand only one version of the Bible (the one that was published in 1611 and was used by the Apostle Paul).
If your doctor discovered that you have a tapeworm living in you, wouldn’t you make arrangements to get it out? If you just found out that you had a tumor, wouldn’t you rush to have it removed? If your doctor discovers cancer, would you not demand an immediate attack to cut it out or destroy it?
I don’t know very many people who would tolerate and allow any of those things to thrive in their bodies. Most people want them gone NOW. You will change your behavior, change your diet, and you may even relocate in order to get the best help you can afford to rid yourself of the harmful foreign tissues, even at the risk of removing or severely damaging other parts of your own body.
And what about harmful activities? Would you tolerate a chain smoker filling your home with second-hand smoke? Of course, you wouldn’t. In fact, you are probably favorable to several laws that prohibit others from exercising their personal freedoms to consume whatever they choose in order to prevent your own indirect exposure. And some of you are so obsessively mindful of the purity of your own bodies that you won’t even tolerate things like processed foods, chemicals, salt, McDonalds French fries, artificial sweeteners or tap water.
So I have to ask you – If you would not introduce harmful substances into or allow them to remain in your own body, would you deliberately pollute or do harm to someone else’s body?
Of course, you wouldn’t; that would be a personal crime tantamount to assault or murder. And, if you wouldn’t do it to someone else then why would you actively and purposefully introduce into or tolerate harmful elements in the Body of Christ?
The Church is not a club or an organization of human origin. It is not our prerogative to feed it spiritual junk food or steroids. It is a living organism. It belongs to Him and all of its growth is from Him. It is the Body of Christ and He is the Head. (Colossians 2:19)
The Body of Christ is comprised of its members. (1 Corinthians 12:27, Romans 12:4-5, 1 Corinthians 12:12) Just because something is in the body (like cancer) doesn’t mean it is of the body.
The members are placed in the body by the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13)
The legitimate parts of the body (its members) are only those who have been redeemed. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17) Everything else is not part of the Body and is harmful or deadly.
The functions or purposes of all body parts are assigned by God. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
His body is for His pleasure and His glory. It is not ours to use or abuse for our own pleasure, amusement, or any human purposes in contradiction to His purposes or designs. Ephesians 1:22, Colossians 1:18, Ephesians 5:23)
The Church is the Body of Christ. He nourishes it, cleanses it, disciplines it, exercises it, and protects it. Ephesians 5:29-30 Don’t pollute it.