Why Do We Do the Things We Do During Church Services?

WHAT MAKES OUR WORSHIP SERVICES GENUINE?

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I was saved, became a true believer in Christ Jesus in 1972.  Almost 43 years ago this August.  My knowledge of church doctrine began and grew, increasing over the years.

And then, in 2006, my spiritual life took a 180 degree turn. [See my blog: My Spiritual “Rabbit Hole” and Taking the “Redpill” https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/my-spiritual-r…ng-the-redpill/]

Our Freedom of Worship and Praise Can Pose Perils–

WORSHIP must truly be worship!

TRUE WORSHIP isn’t religious excitement, nor appeals to the flesh.  Our worship services may take undesirable directions–there may be formality with lack of spiritual liberty, or there may be lack of scriptural order and control.

Spiritual leaders are responsible in bringing people into God’s presence and making them realize “God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth”  (John 4:24 NIV).  But formality can develop in the ritual of the informal church.

Meaningless HABITS can be hard to break–

Neither Pentecostal routine nor ecclesiastical liturgy is TRUE WORSHIP.  When we in the Pentecostal churches, or any Christian church throughout the world, follow an order of service that degenerates into meaningless habit, they have nothing more than ritual.

The apostle Paul outlined a beautiful WORSHIP PATTERN for the church:  “When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church”  (1 Corinthians 14:26 NIV).  

Notice TWO important words in Paul’s instructions: “everyone” and “all”.  

Furthermore, he said:  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16 NIV).  

Yes, while sitting, or standing in church during church services, we too can be the “spiritual leaders”.

We are told to EXHORT, urge one another, and not to forsake “giving together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching”  (Hebrews 10:25)

CONGREGATIONAL WORSHIP DESCRIBED:

Our church services then, should all be based on scriptural instruction; that all members of the whole body of Christ should SHARE in worship as the Holy Spirit indwells them, and then yielding to Him.  Then people who fill the church pews are no longer spectators, wondering how they will be entertained.  They become “spiritual leaders.”

QUESTION:  So why then, do we do what we do on Sunday mornings?

Assessing Praise & Worship On Sunday Mornings at Church –

Have we become so self-serving that a fellowship time, or lack of it, is a make or break thing for people in going to church?

What about where we put the offering, if we include it at the end of the service, as some would suggest, should I be so offended that I don’t go back to THAT church?

Her is another issue to think about.  I know a good number of people who HATE to sing, so should we do away with singing because so many people cannot carry a tune and they are afraid someone might hear them?

I once had a pastor who said he was tempted to put up tables in the foyer of the church.  A TABLE with hearing aids, for those who couldn’t hear; cotton balls, for those who said the music was too loud; binoculars, for those who couldn’t see, etc.  In other words, “no excuse tables”– for people who needed an excuse for not attending the praise and worship services.

Excuses are always present…

I think any excuse could be made for not going back to church: the PREACHING is too long…or too short; the MUSIC is too loud or too soft; there are too many gray hairs…or young people…oh, and I cannot deal with perfume, I wish people would quit wearing  it.

Even JESUS didn’t have everyone stay…He laid out the cost, and many left…so, a more important question to ask ourselves is,

WHAT MAKES OUR WORSHIP GENUINE?

“Worship is not dependant upon environment and circumstance but most people are not oblivious to environment.”  ~ G. Raymond Carlson

Real, Genuine, Heartfelt, and Relevant Worship at Church Services –

“MEET & GREET” Purpose, or is there a specific purpose?

In a recent Twitter poll (not scientific), asking first-time church quests, what factors made them decide not to return.  The surprise factor was the number one issue–Don’t like the time spent of stand and greet one another. *[See all 7 Answers to Twitter Poll–by Thom S. Rainer @ Christian Post Contributor]  

According to the Twitter responses and comments, many quests really don’t like it, so much so that they will not return.

So what is it about this “stand and greet” time that many guests don’t like?  

#7 Answer: Not only do some guests dread the stand, meet, and greet time, so do some members –

“I visited the church and went through the ritual of standing and greeting, but many of the church members looked just as uncomfortable as I was. We were all doing a required activity that none of us like.” 

My views are mixed about the practice.  Would I not attend church because of the practice? No! But I do have issue with the timing, the placement in the order of the service, the interruption in my spirit after praise, more than the actual practice.

So I decided to ask my pastor for his views, his desires, within church services, why we do what we do on Sunday mornings

[PASTOR KYLE HOPKINS – Lead Pastor at Valley Church, located in Nooksack, Washington.]

I believe that everything has a practical purpose, but also a deeper spiritual purpose. i.e. the Meet & Greet:  It practically serves a purpose, causing people to get to know each other, meet someone new, say “hello”, etc…  It spiritually is an opportunity for us to speak into someone’s life, give a word of encouragement and share a message of knowledge/discernment; to briefly connect with someone who the Spirit would lay on our heart to meet up with them, pray for them, etc…  The order is usually where does the Spirit want to lead us and practically, what makes sense to get us there. Like a piece of music, there should be a rhythm, a flow.  I think it’s good for every service gathering to have a crescendo, building to a place that God desires to lead us during that time.

2 Timothy 3:5 (KJV)

“…having the appearance of godliness…”

ENTER HIS COURTS WITH PRAISE – Psalm 95 – “O COME,…”

The first thing I consider when driving to church on Sundays, listening to PRAISE MUSIC on the car’s CD player is, “whom is it I coming to see?”

We are supposed to be coming into the presence of the living God, the Author and Creator and Sustainer of the whole universe; the God who was, and is and always will be.

We are coming into the presence of the God about whom the songwriter said,

“Before the hills in order stood or earth received her fame,

from everlasting thou art God

and to endless years the same.”

THE FIRST THING to consider about being in our church services,  in whose presence are we standing?  Why are we even here for one hour or so?  If we are attending church weekly, just to fill up a hour or so once a week… then leave and continue living in a godless world, forgetting who we are in Christ...then are we missing the point?

Let’s go over the Church Bulletin!

There are other aspects in the order of church services that vary from church to church.  But let me throw one more element of ‘why we do what we do’ and the religious placement where it’s found.

The Tithes and Offerings…

Psalm 96:6-8 NIV Bible:

[6] Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and glory are in His sanctuary.

[7]  Ascribe to the Lord, O families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

[8]  Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; …

Now see the flow, the “rhythm” of the elements place in order.  No interruptions that I can see.

“…bring an offering and come into His courts”  (verse 8 b.).

The OFFERING was given after the glory was given to His name–the BLESSING then the GLORY.

The Placement of “things we do” is Important on Sunday’s –

Although our singing can and should be the beginning to PRAISE–but it will not produce WORSHIP.  And isn’t that what we are to suppose to be here for?  The MESSAGE is important, but is it the point of our attendance?

John MacArthur gives this helpful clarification (on qty.org. “Messiah: The Living Water,” part 2):

“Worship, by the way is not music.  Worship is loving God…Worship is honoring God…Worship is to know God for who He is, adoring Him, obeying Him, proclaiming Him as a way of life.  Music is one way we can express that adoration.”

After all that is said concerning the answers to the question, “Why Do We Do the Things We Do…?”, I had to ask a follow-up question…“How much cultural freedom has been substituted for TRUE WORSHIP in our church services?”

Almost every Sunday morning after singing praises to my God, there is a sense of infilling of the Holy Spirit, a continuance of PRAISE so that I can fully WORSHIP HIM.

This is probably a poor analogy, but it is like God’s Spirit has inflated [“infilled”] my spirit with His breath, like the filling up of a balloon.

Balloon-blowup

And then, STAND, MEET & GREET time begins, and afterwards…I feel like a deflated piece of latex.

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Is what we do, when we do it, a PRIORITY on Sunday mornings? The more important question becomes, “Is what we’re doing, worshipping in spirit and truth?

If your answer is “yes,” then forget all that I’ve said.  If your answer is “no,” then it’s time perhaps, to change the order, the placement of traditions on Sunday mornings, or whenever you are in WORSHIP & PRAISE.


 PHOTO CREDITS:

Hand shake–Christian Post photo insert by Thom Rainer.

Other Photos by Google Search Images [Balloon images].

BIBLE CREDITS:

As noted– New International Version (NIV), King James version (KJV).

Our Eating Habits Are Killing Us!

For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold,  And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions.            (2 Timothy 4:3-4 Amplified Bible)

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 Too Much is too much!

We are living in a day in which we’re continually being made aware of what we eat.  Going to the doctor’s office and sitting in the waiting room, you can’t help from picking up a Health Magazine and thumbing through the pages.  There are articles and ads reminding us as we wait to hear our name called, eat wisely, avoid junk food, and be sure to read labels on cans and boxes before we buy them.  All to confirm that the contents will be HEALTHY for us.  By the time the doctor finally enters the scene, asking the peruvial question–“So how have you been feeling since the last time I saw you?”  After spending 15 minutes reading every magazine available, I’m tempted to answer: “Evidently, LOUSY!”

But how many of us are as concerned about our SPIRITUAL DIETS as we are about are natural ones?  Are we using discernment in choosing the material we read, the Christian programs we watch, or the preachers we listen to?

Are we able to distinguish between the MEAT and the MIXTURE?  The HOLY and the PROFANE?

Many people today are so used to mixture, they’ve lost a taste for what is pure.  Lavish presentations, displays and methods to get our attention to the given message.  They often become more important than what is being served and the servers more important than what they serve–sitting down at the spiritual “table of reason”:  “If it looks good and multitudes are eating it, then it must be OK.”

EXEGESIS: A Healthy Diet Plan, Rich in Protein needed for a spiritual health awakening –

Rich in Meat

Rich in Meat

The definition of Exegesis: An “exposition or explanation.”  [*Footnote [i] ]

BIBLICAL EXEGESIS involves the examination of a particular text of Scripture in order to properly interpret it.  Good biblical exegesis is actually commands us in to do so in 2 Timothy 2:15:

Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth” (Amplified Bible).

Exegesis has many principles, as most diet plans do.  But in this blog, I want to put the emphasis on the Literal Principle to help in being faithful to the plan– [Note: See Footnote [ii] for the other principles of “exegesis’.) 

QUESTION:  “Can/Should we interpret the Bible as literal?”

Not only can we take the bible literally, we must take the bible literally.  

It is the only way to determine what God really is trying to communicate to us.  When we read any piece of literature, especially the Bible, you must determine what the author intended to communicate.

Over the years in my Christian life, I’ve listened to many sermon messages.  I’ve heard many well-meaning pastors, who will read a verse or passage of Scripture, then give their own definition to the words, phrases, or paragraphs, ignoring the context and the authors intent.

“JUNK FOOD” Preachers serve up a diet of unhealthy, fast food, but little else–real“meat” is never on the “reason table.” 

But this isn’t what God intended, which is why God tells us to correctly handle the Word of Truth (discernment)–the “meat”–the “spiritual food” according to 2 Timothy 2:15.

One Good Reason to take the Bible literally?

Because JESUS took it literally; He had no appetite for “junk food.”.  Whenever Jesus quoted from the Old Testament, it was always clear that He believed in its literal interpretation.

As an example, when Jesus was tempted by Satan in LUKE 4, He answered by quoting the Old Testament–word for word.  If God’s commands in Deuteronomy 8:3; 6:23, and 6:16 were not literal… then Jesus would not have used them and been powerless to stop Satan’s mouth, which by the way, certainly did!

The disciples also took the commands of Christ (which are a part of the Bible) literally.

Jesus commanded the disciples to GO–make more disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).

And in Acts 2, we find that the disciples took Jesus’ command literally and went through the known world of that time preaching the Gospel of Christ, telling them to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be SAVED” (Acts 16:13).

Just as the disciples took Jesus’ words literally, so must we.  How else can we be sure of our salvation if we don’t believe Him when He says “He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10); to pay the penalty for our sin (Matthew 26:28) and, provide eternal life” (John 6:54)?

A Side Note of EXEGESIS:  FIGURES OF SPEECH PRINCIPLE –

Although we should take the Bible literally, there are still figures of speech within the pages.  An example of a figure of speech would be if someone said, “it’s raining cats and dogs outside,” you would know they didn’t really mean cats and dogs were falling from the sky.  They would mean it’s raining really hard.

There are figures of speech in the Bible NOT to be taken literally, but those are obvious (See Psalm 17:8 for example).

“Junk Food” OR “Meat” on the table–It’s our CHOICE:

Some of what we are eating in these last days, is frighteningly unhealthy.  Let me give you some examples of the types of spiritual “junk food” (“wrong thinking”) being served, along with the “meat” (“solid food” – 1 Cor. 3:2) we should be eating instead.

FOOD CHOICES –

JUNK FOOD:  Times and conditions in our society have changed in defining gender roles in the church today.  Women can and should be designated Pastors; having authority over everyone in the body of Christ.  The principles instilled in the early church by the Apostle Paul were purely cultured, therefore inapplicable to believers in the church of the 21st Century.

MEAT:  “In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself (John 1:1); “O Timothy, guard and keep the deposit entrusted [to you]! Turn away from irreverent babble and godless chatter, with the vain and empty and worldly phrases, and the subtleties and the contradictions in what is falsely called knowledge and spiritual illumination” (1 Timothy 6:20); “Let a woman learn in quietness, in entire submissiveness. Allow no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to remain in quietness and keep silence [in religious assemblies]. For Adam was first formed, then Eve”  (1 Timothy 2:11-13).

There are many roles today for a woman to serve in ministry along side of men–still adhering to the literal understanding of the Word of God.  Remember, God spoke through the Apostle Paul.

JUNK FOOD:  Because God “so loved the world,” we must accept all religions in the name of love without insisting the followers repent of sin and accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

MEAT:  “For God did not send His Son into the word to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.  Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.  This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil”  (John 3:17-19 NIV).

JUNK FOOD:  Apostles, prophets, and pastors have absolute authority. “Because I am your appointed leader, you are to respect and obey me without question no matter how I live or what I do.”

MEAT:  “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame–who set their mind on earthly things”  (Philippians 3:17-19 NKJV).

JUNK FOOD:  It’s not necessary to deal with your sin; just think positive thoughts about yourself and others.  Don’t worry, be happy!

MEAT:  “If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts].  If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformance to His will in purpose, thought and action]”  (1 John 1:8-9)

JUNK FOOD:  “Michelle and I join our fellow Americans and others around the world in commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia tomorrow, May 17–2015.”  [the President of the United States quote: Constitution Rising.com].

MEAT:  “So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification],  Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give thanks. But instead they became futile and godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves].  For this reason God gave them over and abandoned them to vile affections and degrading passions…”  (Romans 1:20 b., 21, 23, 26 a). 

THE RESULTS OF OUR EATING POORLY:

In a spiritual sense, the result are numerous.  

— We forget our WITNESS in favor of majority thinking.

— Popularity overrules purity.

— Fear of man replaces the fear of God–“to RESPECT and HONOR God in our lives with the audacity to obey His Word.”

Acceptance of JUNK FOOD translates into allowance… and love loses its power because of our fear of being judgmental.

FINALLY, when we make ourselves as the final UMPIRE–of which parts of the Bible are to be interpreted LITERALLY, we elevate ourselves above God.

Who is to say then, one persons interpretation of a biblical event or truth, is more valid than another’s?  Confusion and distortions would inevitably result from such a system that it would render the Scriptures null and void.

THE BIBLE IS GOD’S WORD to us and He meant it to be believed–literally and completely.  Are you ready to get started on the healthiest diet plan available?  It starts with Genesis and finishes with the Revelation to John.


 Footnotes & Credits for this post:

Footnote [i] and [ii] – What is good biblical exegesis? Got Questions.org

Credit to,  Ministry Today, Iverna Tompkins Learn to Discern Spiritual Junk Food.

Photo Credits:  Google Images and Photo Pin (Shutterstock).

Bible Credits:  Amplified Bible translation, except where noted in text.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“This Isn’t Another MESSAGE On ‘GIVING’ Is It?”

1 Chronicles 29:9 (KJV):

“Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD; and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.”

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ONE MOTHER’S TEACHING ON GIVING–

It was officially Mother’s Day on May 10th, 2015 and I thought, what better way of starting the conversation, but from a story regarding a mother’s teaching on GIVING:

A mother wanted to teach her daughter a moral lesson.  She gave the little girl a quarter and a dollar for church.

“Put whichever one you want in the offering basket and keep the other yourself,” she told the little girl.

When leaving thee church that morning, the mother asked her daughter which amount she had given.

“Well,” said the little girl, “I was going to give the dollar, but just before the offering, the mn in the pulpit said, we should all be cheerful givers.  I knew I’d be a lot more cheerful if I gave the quarter…so I did.”

The mother may not have agreed with her daughter’s reasoning, but at the heart of the matter is the fact–the daughter gave in the way she believed.

True of all Christians–we give as we believe. 

In 1 Chronicles 29, DAVID led the people to BELIEVE in what they are given to.

David believed God deserved a TEMPLE.  At first, God would not let him build it because as 1 Chronicles 28:2-3 tells us,

DAVID wasn’t the type of man God wanted to have building the Temple.  BUT DAVID still believed the Temple for God needed building.

And so, in 1 Chronicles 29:2, David dedicated his own wealth to the project.

DAVID’S VISION IS INFECTIOUS (verse 6):

The leaders of the assembly dedicated money for the Temple.  And then (vs. 9), “the people rejoiced because these had given willingly, for with a whole and blameless heart they had offered freely to the Lord.  King David also rejoiced greatly.”

“the people REJOICED because”…

The Hebrew word here for “rejoice” or “rejoiced” is ‘samach’ [Strong’s Concordance #8055]: “Samach usually refers to a spontaneous emotion or extreme happiness which is expressed in some visible and/or external manner. It does not normally represent an abiding state of well-being or feeling.”  (See Footnote [i] ).

WOW! Rejoicing after giving.  What a concept and one that I surely need to give more attention to.  Remember, the people giving their offerings in 1 Chronicles 29 are giving willingly with a “whole and blameless heart.”

And they gave and they built because they believed in a VISION.

 The “What’s Happening Now Church?”

Flip Wilson was a popular comedian several years ago and one of his characters was a Preacher.  Flip did a skit once that I watched on television, where he told about this preacher.  He’d shout out:

“IF THIS CHURCH IS GOING TO SERVE GO IT’S GOT TO GET DOWN ON IT’S KNEES AND CRAWL!!!

And the audience yelled back,  “Make it crawl preacher, male it crawl!”

“AND ONCE THIS CHURCH HAS LEARNED TO CRAWL, IT’S GOT TO GET UP ON IT’S FEET AND WALK!!!”

“Make it walk preacher, make it walk,”  the audience moaned.

“AND ONCE THIS CHURCH HAS LEARNED TO WALK, ITS GOT TO BEGIN TO LEARN TO RUN!!!”

“Make it run, preacher, make it run!”

“AND IN ORDER TO RUN, ITS GOT YO REACH DOWN INTO POCKETS AND LEARN TO GIVE!!!”

(pause)  “Make it crawl preacher, make it crawl.”

A CHURCH CAN’T GROW IF IT DOESN’T GIVE.

And if our churches don’t give…it’ll crawl.

Inspiring People to Give–

Now when DAVID wanted to inspire people in their giving–he set the example.  He said–this is what I’m giving.  Then the leaders in the congregation stood up and set the EXAMPLE, the pattern for GIVING.

“TITHING” versus “FREE WILL OFFERING”:

In setting up the scene in 1 Chronicles 29, overlooking the “free will offering” principles would be detrimental to the whole MESSAGE on stewardship today.

Is there a difference between TITHING and OFFERINGS?

TITHING is giving GOD the first tenth of ALL your increase.  

In the Old Testament, most tithes were given from produce or herd.  But in modern times we tithe with MONEY since most of our increase is financial.

In the O.T. there were different types of tithes and different types of offerings.  TITHES were required giving according to the Mosaic Law, where OFFERINGS were voluntary.

Here in 1 Chronicles 29, the free will offerings given didn’t replace their tithes.  Their giving was above and beyond the Law of “10%”.

God trusted us with what is His in the first place:

He trusts us with an INCREASE–lets us have 90% of it–but places a 10%–the “sacred portion” aside (Deuteronomy 26:13; Numbers 18:28) which we are to tithe back to Him.  

This “sacred portion” is entrusted to us and we return it to Him.

TITHING TEACHES US Redemption–

The TITHE is the first tenth, the FIRST FRUIT of our increase.

Christ was God’s FIRST FRUIT.

When God gave to us His only Son to die on the cross for our sin, He REDEEMED us from the curse of the Law.  And when we give our TITHE, we are worshipping God by recognizing His REDEMPTION.

So then, we should recognize that through JESUS, we are redeemed and in turn God redeems and blesses the 90% that is our portion.

I remember after my wife and I were saved, our preacher gave a sermon on TITHING as many preachers try to fit in once a year, at least.  Afterwords, we both admitted to one another that “tithing” was out of the question.  We were overwhelmed at the time with debt and other obligations of a young family; we could tithe 10%!  But then, the Spiritual Light Bulb came on! God’s Word had penetrated our spirit, and we decided to be faithful and to trust God for the results.  We’ve been BLESSED ever since.

Is today’s Church suppose to adhere to the “giving principles” of the Old Testament?

Many people believe that today’s church should not follow the practice of TITHING–it was in the Old Testament–not mentioned in the New Testament except for reference.

But I say the LAW was given to help us see our need for redemption every time we tithe in honor and recognize our need for God and the amazing way He has blessed us and provided for us.

I think that many use the Gospel of Grace to free themselves from OBEDIENCE instead of discovering the GRACE OF GOD enables us to follow Him more passionately.

SO WHAT IS AN “OFFERING”, or generous giving?

1 Chronicles 29:6-8 (NASB):

[6] Then the rulers of the fathers’ households, and the princes of the tribes of Israel, and the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with the overseers over the king’s work, offered willingly;

[7] and for the service for the house of God they gave 5,000 talents and 10,000 darics of gold, and 10,000 talents of silver, and 18,000 talents of brass, and 100,000 talents of iron.

[8] And whoever possessed precious stones gave them to the treasury of the house of the Lord, in care of Jehiel the Gershonite.

[9] Then the people rejoiced because they had offered so willingly, for they made their offering to the LORD with a whole heart, and King David also rejoiced greatly.

OFFERINGS are something that you search your heart for (not your wallet), deciding to give beyond the tithe BUT NOT IN PLACE OF THE TITHE.

TITHES go to the local church but offerings are free for you to decide what to do with.  

Many people give OFFERINGS to their place of fellowship because they’re excited about what God is doing there and they know there’s a need.

Others use their OFFERINGS to support missions, a favorite radio or television preacher, maybe a local Christian para-church ministry.  ALL are great options as an OFFERING or GENEROUS GIVING.

Christian Maturity–

Christians mature (grow spiritually) as their FAITH grows in fiscal responsibility; in giving more and more generously to God’s kingdom through offerings that are over and above the TITHE.

Looking at a great verse where the Apostle Paul talks about offerings in his second letter to the church in Corinth:

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (AMP):

[6]  [Remember] this:  he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously  [that blessings may come to someone]  will also reap generously and with blessings.

[7]  Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving].

[8]  And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation].

“GIVING” FOR A REASON:

Now hopefully, we don’t give to the “building project,” and we don’t give to the Pastor.  And as we see in 1 Chronicles 29, the people gave to God, to GLORIFY HIM, to build up His Kingdom.

If the attitude out there is “Yeah, sure we do”, then reread 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 one more time, or as many times as it takes, to give with a “blameless heart.”

Hopefully, you can give with a VISION; that God is going to do something special with your offerings because of your faithfulness.

It’s about BELIEF…

In 1 Chronicles 29, David says something about our believing (vss. 10-17).

IN DAVID’S PRAYER…HE PRAYED acknowledging that they were giving to the building of the Temple because… the believed God would supply.  The funds all came from God’s hands in the first place.  They were only using His bounty to build a place of worship for Him.

Other passages of the Bible speaks of this kind of BELIEF (1 Corinthians 9:6-11; Malachi 3:10-11).  

This is all in agreement with the powerful message given to us in Hebrews 11:6:  

“But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] BELIEVE that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].”

And so FAITH is important in all aspects of our Christian walk in Christ Jesus.  Especially in our giving.

TITHES & OFFERINGS:

Both our tithes and offerings (generous giving) should be a part of our lives as Believers–Christians. SO…

–GIVE “JOYFULLY” (1 CHRONICLES 29:9),

–GIVE THANKFULLY (1 CHRONICLES 29:10),

–AND EXCEL IN THE GRACE OF GIVING,

BUT NEVER FEEL PRESSURED TO GIVE!

It is NEVER about the amount you give, but about the JOY in your heart to give.

A song that almost every parent with small children have heard a million times and know the words by heart, is from the Disney movie, FROZEN – “LET IT GO”

Let me give you the words in the music lyrics that I thought might fit in perfectly to the message in our giving of tithes and offerings:

It’s time to see what I can do

To test the limits and break through

No right, no wrong, no rules for me

I’m free

[TO GIVE]

set-it-free

 

 


 

Footnotes, Credits, and Commentaries:

Footnote [i]:  Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

Photos:

Google Search in 1 Chronicles 29 Images.

Bible References:

Amplified Bible except where Noted.

Commentaries:

ABC’s of Giving by Jeff Strite

Tithes vs Offerings by Patrick McCue

 

 

 

 

 

BEING “SOLD OUT” to God’s Character in SONG

I’m dating myself here, but in the late 50’s, early 60’s, I was obsessed as a teenager with the music, popularity and personalities of a men’s trio who sang folk songs.  I bought their records, attended their concerts when in town.  They made me smile every time I heard one of their tunes on the radio.

On April 4, 1960, The Kingston Trio (Dave Guard, Bob Shane and Nick Reynolds) put out a vinyl LP record that was #1 on the Billboard Charts for 40 weeks:  The Kingston Trio  SOLD OUT.

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The Free Dictionary defines SOLD-OUT: Having all tickets or accommodations completely sold especially ahead of time.

How does all this apply to our Bible text?

1 Chronicles 25 – Dedicated to the Song Leaders, Singers and Instrumentalists in the Assembly–

God works through those of us who are sold-0utsold out completely to His will and purposes.  God doesn’t work through buildings, plans or fads.

According to the following verses we’ll look at, it is His will that we PRAISE Him in song proclaiming His truths with music–sold out completely ahead of time.

1 Chronicles 25:1 (NIV):

DAVID. TOGETHER with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals.

Understanding The Character of the “Song Service” –

What do I mean by “the character”?  The New Roget’s Thesaurus says it this way: character, nature, make-up, mood, bent, frame of mind, emotions, disposition, caliber, quality, mannerism…

The character of the “Song Service” in churches today is to reflect singing that praises God in such a way that it prepares the spiritual heart to the presence of God into worship; and all in accordance to that which brings Glory to God.

That is my opinion and I’m sticking with it.  It’s what my CHARACTER needs to be before the worship and praise even begins.

The Pleasure of Music in the house–

MUSIC has always been a part of my life since I was three years old, hearing the stories from my mom and dad growing up.

One afternoon my mom came into our living room, and there, a three-year old little boy was standing on a chair in front of the radio, waving his arms and hands in every such way in directing the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra; totally unaware of the audience of one.  And my music appreciation went on from there…according to my mom.  That was 70 years ago and I still occasionally wave my arms and hands directing music from CD’s; but not standing on a chair.

There are many INSTRUMENTS found in the Bible–

And as you read along in Chapter 25, they are used by man for prophesying by singing about the TRUTHS & WORKS of God.

An INSTRUMENT of PRAISE

An INSTRUMENT of PRAISE

What does it mean,”PROPHESYING” – Hebrew word is han-nib ba – “to prophesy under the influence of divine spirit. [a] in the ecstatic state, with song.”  [*Note: See Footnote [i] for reference.]

In the book of 1 Samuel, chapter 10, we read of a “…procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps being played before them, and they were prophesying”  (1 Samuel 10:5).

I’m in agreement with those who say PROPHESYING here is not a prophetic utterance of future events, but singing the praises of God through songs proclaiming truths already revealed.

How can this be applied to the New Testament church in our song services?  The twin epistles of Paul to the churches at Ephesus and Colossae speaks to this matter:

“Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices  [and instruments]  and making melody with ALL YOUR HEART to the Lord”  (Ephesians 5:19 AMP).

“Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts”  (Colossians 3:16 AMP).

THAT’S BEING “SOLD OUT” to Christ before and during the church Song Services!

That is “prophesying” in a nutshell!  To who?  The people all around you on Sunday morning.

God Works Through Those Who Are “SOLD OUT!”

I believe that one of the character traits of the song service PRAISE TEAM is to lead and sing songs that please the LORD; to proclaim His mighty works.  When done correctly, SOLD OUT to Jesus, the devoted children of God can expect the presence of Holy Spirit in the house that will empower others to sing praises to the LORD and the mighty works of God.

The Human Voice: My Favorite Wind Instrument [*See Footnote [ii] ]

In studying this past week in 1 Chronicles 25, I ran across an article by Cheryl Hodge that lined up perfectly with my own musical past.  I have been asked many times over the years if I play an instrument based on my musical background.  My answer is “NO”:

“Hey, what instrument do you play?”  

Cheryl Hodge stated, “Whenever I answered that I was a singer or vocalist, I would see their faces fall.” Finally, I started to answer, “I play the VOICE.”  Often they would quip back to her, “What d’ya mean you play the voice?”  I love her reply and of course the answer was always obvious– “It’s a wind instrument, rigggghhhht?”

Biblical Truths Regarding Our Song Services Coinciding with Worship and Praise–

PSALM 98 clearly shows the TRUTHS that deserve our attention; in meditation, obedience and endurance, grasping the wisdom of God regarding today’s contemporary song services:

“O SING to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have wrought salvation for Him.  Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy, yes, sing praises!  Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the voice of melody.  With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!”   (vs. 1, 4-6 AMP).

HAVING A “SINGING FAITH”:

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QUESTIONS THAT NEEDS AN ANSWER:

What is it meant by having a “Singing Faith”?  Is our singing in faith just for the “upfronters,” or for all of us in the body of Christ?

The Song Service that has Biblical Character, is the service that has songs which are theologically literate.  Did I confuse you here?

The CHARACTER of the song service is to worship unto the LORD in accordance to that which brings Glory to God–not ‘which brings glory to the congregation; or to the song leader and musicians–but that which brings Glory to God.

Psalm 29:1-2 (AMP):

ASCRIBE TO the Lord, O sons of the mighty, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.  Give to the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness or in holy array.

“ASCRIBE TO” simply means when you sing in worship and praise–when you are instrumentally praising God–you are referring to God’s glory!  Is that a challenge for most in a song service?  Perhaps, but that’s not the Holy Spirit’s doing.  It is simply a lack of preparation on our part.

In my studying this week, a Bible verse stuck out to me, one illustrating the character of the SONG SERVICE; our singing faith:

John 4:23-24 NASB:

[23] “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers.’

[24] “God is spirit, and those who worship Him MUST [I capitalized for emphasis] in spirit and truth.”

Those who truthfully desire the Lord to be manifested in their song service agree with the psalmist who wrote “Your decrees are the theme of my song…” (Psalm 119:54).

PSALM SINGING–(Ephesians 5:19)

With “psalms” we are to sing songs that consist of short sentences expressing praise for the Lord’s character or actions.

Several years ago, I attended a small church in Bellingham, Washington where the pastor occasionally would come up on the platform during the song service and express praise by singing prophetically in psalms.  He wasn’t a trained musician, vocally trained, but a man of God who displayed the Lord’s character in front of the body of Christ.

I am part of a church teaching ministry on Friday afternoons at a Alzheimer/Dementia unit nearby.  I was giving a devotional from Psalm 103 and at the end of teaching, we always like to sing.  This one particular Friday is sang a solo–I made up a tune that gave a foundation to God’s character–in spirit and truth:

Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me,

bless His holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.

Was the tune elegant?  Probably not but I sung it in “spirit and truth.”

With “hymns” we are to proclaim the wonderful works of God (Colossians 3:16):

Some say a HYMN is an anthem but a “hymn” can also be a proclamation to the promises and works of God.  I’m thankful that the church we are currently attending, the song leader brings into the song service old hymns.  Being in a young congregation, I hope it is not done for all of us ‘old folk’.   And no, I don’t actually believe that it is.

We are to allow time for “spiritual songs” brought forth as the Holy Spirit moves on those who are gathered together on Sunday mornings (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16):

There’s my take on the SONG SERVICES in churches today.  If you are a BELIEVER in JESUS, are you “SOLD OUT!” before coming to the worship and praise SONG SERVICE?  Spend some early time by reading in the Psalms before starting time, be in an attitude of prayer–praying that God will work through the gathered believers by His Spirit.  Song Leaders, Musicians, if you find yourself a bit discouraged on Sunday mornings because of the assembly’s response to the song service, maybe you might need more CHARACTER brought into the music.  Just a thought.  Remember, true revival begins with you…me first.


 CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Footnotes:  [i] Bible Hub/Strong’s Concordance #5012; [ii] The Human Voice: My Favourite Wind Instrument vocals:songstuff.com

Photo Credits:  Google Images; People Singing Photo is from Photo Pin.

Bible Translations: Amplified Bible, except where noted in the text.

Things Seldom Work Out Exactly the Way We Plan

13.1CHRONICLES.17

(verses 1-2):

[1] AS DAVID sat in his house, he said to Nathan the prophet,  Behold, I dwell in a house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord remains under tent curtains.

[2] Then Nathan said to David,  Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.

Here we see that David is living in a pretty nice house.  I dwell in a house of cedars.  Since CEDAR wood was especially valued, it means David lived in an expensive beautiful home.

David remembered that the ark of the covenant of the Lord was under tent curtains and the contrast got under his skin. David was troubled by the thought that he lived in a nicer house than God’s Presence at the ark of the covenant.  So his desire needed a PLAN.  That was who David was.

My PLAN “A” versus God’s Plan “A” –

329794e8f685ce0454e65bf00f7623d9Without saying the specific words, David told Nathan that he wanted to build a TEMPLE to replace the TABERNACLE.  

I have often repeated a quote by Will Smith when people when people ask, “If things don’t work out the way you’ve plan, what is your PLAN B?”

“There’s no reason to have a plan B because

it distracts from plan A.” ~ Will Smith

More than four hundred years earlier, Israel was in the wilderness and God commanded Moses to build a tent of meeting according to a specific pattern (Exodus 25:8-9).

God never asked for a permanent building to replace the tent, but now David wanted to do this for God.

The Tent of Meeting–

The tent of meeting–also known as the tabernacle–perfectly suited to Israel in the wilderness, because they were constantly on the move.

Now that Israel finds themselves securely in the land, and the tabernacle is in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:17), David decides it would be better and more appropriate to build a permanent structure…A TEMPLE, to replace the tabernacle (PLAN ‘A’).

CONFIRMATION OF PLAN “A” – Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.

Nathan said this to David because it seemed like a good and reasonable idea.  I don’t know about you, but if someone like Nathan came to me with his godly counsel, telling me my desires…my ideas were BLESSED; do all that is in your heart, for God is with you…I would probably jump up and down and shout Hallelujah!  “Lets get this thing done!”

What could be wrong with David wanting to build the TEMPLE then?

All that is in your heart shows that David’s heart, his mind, his soul was filled with this question:  “What can I do for God?”

He was so filled with gratitude and concern for God’s glory that he wanted to do something special for God.

(Vs. 3-6):  God Corrects Nathan’s Premature Advice–

[3] And that same night the word of God came to Nathan, saying,  [4] “Go tell David My servant. Thus says the Lord: You shall not build Me a house to dwell in.  [5] For I have not dwelt in a house since the day that I brought up Israel from Egypt until this day; but I have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another.  [6] Wherever I have walked with all Israel, did I say a word to any of the judges of Israel whom I commanded to feed My people, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?”

That very night that the word of God came to Nathan, his response to David was found presumptuous.  He answered according to human judgment and common sense, but before the word of God came to him.

For I have not lived in a house since the time that I brought up Israel, even to this day.

God seemed honored and “surprised” at the same time when David offered to build Him a house.

“You want to do what? No one has ever offered to do that before, and I never commanded anyone to do it.”

David wanted to do more than God had said to do.  

This is a wonderful place to be in our relationship with God.  Most of us are so stuck in thinking, “How little can I do and still please the LORD”, that we never really want to do more than God asks of us.

I love what Spurgeon says on this matter:

“Though the Lord refused to David the realization of his wish [his plan], He did it in the most gracious manner.  He did not put the away from him in anger or disdain as though David had cherished an unworthy desire, but He honored His servant even in the non-acceptance of his offer.” 

David now knew that God didn’t want him to build the TEMPLE, but David didn’t respond by doing nothing.  Instead of building the house of God, David gathered all the materials for the upcoming construction project so Solomon, his son, could build a glorious TEMPLE to God (1 Chronicles 29:2-9).

God’s Plan “A” – He Promises to Build David a House instead (vs. 11-15):

I will set up your seed after you…

[11] And it shall come to pass that when your days are fulfilled to go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom.  [12] He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever.  [13] I will be his father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy and steadfast love away from him, as I took it from him [King Saul] who was before you.  [14] But I will settle him (Him) in My house and in My kingdom forever; and his (His) throne shall be established forever more.  [15] According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.

How would I feel coming up with a great idea, a plan, then finding out someone else is going to get the credit? Anger, envy, jealousy, disheartened, devastated and more?

David’s response to the change in plans had nothing to do with “feelings”.  His loving relationship with his heavenly Father took precedence over feelings of personal success.  God must have a better a better PLAN “A”.

God has a better plan that comes with promises.

David is told,  not only will your son build Me a house, but I will establish his throne forever.  God’s PLAN promised David that the reign of his dynasty will last forever.

Each of these great promises revealed within God’s PLAN is partially fulfilled in Solomon, David’s son, successor to his throne.

*  Solomon ruled on David’s throne.

*  God’s mercies never departed from Solomon, though he sinned.

*  Solomon built God a magnificent house.

Yet, God’s Promise to David was all the more important…because when the Chronicler (Ezra) wrote about it–after the  exile, when there wasn’t an independent kingdom of Israel, and the throne of David seemed vacant–the PROMISE wasn’t broken, even when all appeared that it was.

The Chronicler knew that Messiah would indeed come from the seemingly dead line of David and reign forever.  He had FAITH in what the prophets foretold as a greater fulfillment of God’s PLAN:

Jeremiah 23:5-6 ~

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch (Sprout), and He will reign as King and do wisely and will execute justice and righteousness in the land.  In His days Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is His name by which He shall be called:  The Lord Our Righteousness.

Isaiah 9:6-7 ~

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,  Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace.  [7] Of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from the [later] time forth, even forevermore.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Luke 1:31-33 ~

And listen! You will become pregnant and will give birth to a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus.  [32] He will be great (eminent) and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His forefather David,  [33] And He will reign over the house of Jacob throughout the ages; and of His reign there will be no end.

God did not want the earthly house built until…

Until the SPIRITUAL HOUSE was promised and established.  The more important house had to be in place first, and that house was the dynasty and was the result in the throne of God’s Son.

What is our response when we think our plans are so meaningful, so exact, so wonderful in furthering the kingdom…and then God says no?  Let’s look had David’s response.

David’s Thankful Response to God’s Plan (16-22):  *Note – You will need your Bible to read along.

Who am I O LORD God?…O LORD there is none like You

When David received this spectacular gift, he didn’t think it made him any greater.  In David’s eye, it made God greater.

David’s attitude wasn’t “I’m so great that even God gives me gifts.”

Our attitude in receiving…

We should receive th gift of our SALVATION and every BLESSING with the same attitude as David’s.  God’s giving reflects the greatness of the Giver, not the receiver.  [*See Footnote [i] ]

Your servant

David’s humble reception of this gift is shown by the repetition of the phrase Your servant ten times in this prayer (15-27).

It shows that David humbly accepted God’s “no” when he wanted to build the TEMPLE.

Bringing Boldness in Prayer – (23-27)

“And now, O LORD, let the word that Thou hast spoken concerning Thy servant and concerning his house, be established forever, and do as Thou hast spoken.

“And let Thy name be established and magnified forever, saying ‘The LORD of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel; and the house of David Thy servant is established before Thee.’

“For Thou, O my God, has revealed to Thy servant that Thou will build for him a house; therefore Thy servant hath found courage to pray before Thee.

“And now, O LORD, Thou art God, and has promised this good thing to Thy servant.

“And now it hath pleased Thee to bless the house of Thy servant, that it may continue forever before Thee; for Thou, O LORD, hast blessed, and it is blessed forever.”

(The NASB translation)

David’s conversational prayer boldly asked God to do what He promised.  This wasn’t a passive prayer:  “Well God, do whatever You want to do–I don’t care one way or another.”

This wasn’t an arrogant prayer either that said, “Well God, let me tell You what You need to do here.”

This was a BOLD PRAYER–that said, “God here is Your promise.  Now I trust You to fulfill it grandly and to be faithful to Your word.”

Confidence in Prayer Comes from the Blood of Jesus–

I love a verse in Hebrews that reflects bringing boldness to our prayers with confidence.

“Therefore, brethren, since we have full freedom and confidence to enter into the [Holy of] Holies [by the power and virtue] in the blood of Jesus…”  (Hebrews 10:19).

Prayer that comes from the heart –  Therefore Your servant has found it in his HEART to pray before You.

Notice that David’s prayer was coming from his heart.  Some people pray from a book, others pray from their head.  But oh, what a difference it makes when we pray from our hearts.


 Credits, Footnotes, Photo credits:

Referred Commentary by David Guzik 2006.

Footnote [i] : from David Guzik’s commentary.

Photo Credits: Google Images.

Bible Translation for this Blog:  Amplified Bible except where noted.

If God Wrote Your Obituary…

“IF GOD WROTE YOUR OBITUARY, WHAT WOULD HE SAY?”

“OBITUARY” –  “a published announcement of a death, often accompanied by a short biography of the dead person”  (*See Footnote [i]).

Fill in the Blanks

Filling in the Blanks

TEXT:  1 Chronicles 10:1-14 and 1 Samuel

[13]  So Saul died for his trespass against the Lord [in sparing Amalek], for his unfaithfulness in not keeping God’s word, and also for consulting [a medium with] a spirit of the dead to inquire pleadingly of it.

[14]  And inquired not so of the Lord  [in earnest penitence]. Therefore the Lord slew him and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

Often when I read a great book, I want to read even more by the same author.  My last blog-post was a study in the Book of Ezra in the Old Testament, and since Ezra was the author/writer of the volumes of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, why not dig into 1 Chronicles.  Some scholars attribute the possibility that Ezra may have been the author of Ester as well.

So for the past week, I’ve been reading and studying 1 Chronicles which brings me to this particular blog-post in Chapter 10.

Verse 13-14 of 1 Chronicles 10 provides a sad OBITUARY of a man who had been called of God but whose life ended in tragedy and ruin.  God cuts no quarters in telling us exactly what brought down this man of God.

In this WORD DETECTIVE investigation into the Scripture provided, I want for us to consider what God has to say concerning Saul that might be a warning for all us to take heed.

SAUL BREACHED FAITH WITH GOD–

What does a person do when they BREACH a thing?  Going to my Thesaurus and Google Search, I came up with this brief definition:

#1. An act of breaking or failing to observe a law, agreement, or code of conduct.  

#2. To make a gap in…

We have a definition, so let’s begin to search out the Spirit of God and dig deeper into the Word.

THE KING WAS SO PRIVILEGED, SO WHAT HAPPENED?

From a natural point he was outstanding:

“…a choice young man and handsome; among all the Israelites there was not a man more handsome than he.  He was a head taller than any other of the people”  (1 Samuel 9:2b AMP).

Saul was given a new heart besides by God–

“The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily…and you will be turned into another man”  (1 Samuel 10:6)

“…God gave him another heart…”  (1 Samuel 10:9).

Saul was chosen by God for a TASK: To SAVE Israel–

“And Samuel said to all the people,  Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen, that none like him is among all the people?  And all the people shouted and said, Long live the king!”  (1 Samuel 10:24).

God touched the hearts of other lives around him–

“Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of valiant men whose hearts God had touched”  (1 Samuel 10:26).

Everything seemed to be in Saul’s favor:

–  Had a good standing in the nation.

–  Distinctly called and commissioned by God.

–  Honored with the friendship of Samuel.

–  Surrounded by a band of men whose hearts God had touched.

Wow!  What privilege Saul must have had and thought of himself in having.  Do you ever feel like a PRIVILEGED one in your ministry?  Not you?

THE CHRISTIAN’S PRIVILEGE–

Believers in JESUS have been chosen by God to take the message of salvation to the world:

“You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting…”  (John 15:16).

God doesn’t want for us to be “Lone Ranger Christians” and provides and touches the lives of others to co-labor with us:

“For we are fellow workmen (joint promoters, laborers together) with and for God…”  (1 Corinthians 3:9).

Saul Disobeyed God’s Command!

Saul OBEYED God’s command but NOT to the letter.

In 1 Samuel 15, we see Saul in obedience to God’s command with his valiant men fighting the Amalekites.  He won the battle, but failed to do everything the LORD said.  Rather, he chose to do it his way.

Some feel that the end justifies the means–that’s REBELLION!  Note what God’s Word says in 1 Samuel 15:23-24:

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim (household good luck images).  Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.  [24] And Saul said to Samuel, I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.”

A Lovely Thought, But Still Disobedience…

While vacationing, a little girl was told not to go by the cliff, and wandered out toward it when her dad fell asleep.  She reached out over the rocks and grabbed a pretty flower and ran back to her dad and said,  “Look what I brought to you.”  He grabbed the flower and threw it down and clutched his little daughter and said,  “You have disobeyed. I’d rather have you than anything you could give me.”  Sound a bit harsh?  Perhaps.  But to DISOBEY God is the ultimate REBELLION–the scowl, the folded arms in position of defiance.

The Regrets From Unfaithfulness–1 Chronicles 10:13:  

So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the LORD.

Verse 13 (ESV):  So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the LORD in that he did not keep the command of the LORD.

Seeking the Advice of the World–

According to Verse 13, Saul not only ignored God’s Word, but sought out and consulted the world–“…[a medium with] a spirit of the dead…”

WHAT IS WISDOM OF THE WORLD?

“Then Saul said to his servants, Find me a woman who is a medium [between the living and the dead], that I may go and inquire of her.  His servants said,  Behold, there is a woman who is a medium at Endor”  (1 Samuel 28:7).

The apostle Paul warns the BELIEVER to beware of the “wisdom of this world” (1 Corinthians 1:20; 2:6; 3:19).

In study for this blog, I discovered the WORLD SYSTEM is committed to at least FOUR major objectives:  [*See Footnote [ii] ] 

– FORTUNE,

– FAME,

– POWER,

– PLEASURE.

FIRST and foremost: Fortune, money.

The WORLD SYSTEM is driven by money, feeding on materialism.  Remember, the Bible never says “money is the root of all evil”, it reads “the LOVE of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10; 2 Timothy 3:2; Hebrews 13:5).

I ran across this quote the other day in my reading to share–

“I LOVE MONEY.  I love everything about it!  I bought some pretty good stuff.  Got me a $300 pair of socks.  Got a fur sink.  An electric dog polisher.  A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater.  And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too”  ~ by Steve Martin.

SECOND:  FAME –  

That’s another word for popularity.  It’s the longing to be known, to be a somebody in someone else’s eyes.

THIRD:  POWER –  

This is having influence, maintaining control over individuals or groups or companies or whatever.  It is the DESIRE to manipulate and maneuver others to do something for one’s own benefit.

FOURTH: PLEASURE –  

At its basic level, PLEASURE has to do with fulfilling one’s SENSUAL DESIRES.  It is the same mindset that’s behind an all together familiar slogan:  “If it FEELS GOOD, do it!”

God’s System Vs. The World’s System:

“But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then ALL THESE THINGS taken together will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:33).

“BLESSED  (HAPPY,  fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly  [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands  [submissive and inactive] in the pth where sinners walk, nor sits down  [to relax and rest] where the scornful  [and the mockers] gather” (Psalm 1:1).

FAILING TO SEEK GOD AND HIS WILL–His Word

In 1 Chronicles 14, Saul,  “He did not seek guidance from the Lord.  Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse”  (English Standard Version-ESV).

Th Jameison-Faussett-Brown Bible in their commenting on the statement given in 1 Samuel 28:6 says, Saul inquired of God alright, but Saul  “…had done so in form, but not in the spirit of a humble penitent, nor with the believing confidence of a sincere worshipper.”

“Whoa!,” I thought when I first read the comments.  At times, I have asked questions of my heavenly Father, just as a matter of form in my prayers, not expecting an actual answer.  Did I really have the “believing confidence” that God would answer?

Saul’s inquiry was, in fact, mere mockery.  His total want was really for all right religious impressions toward others surrounding him in his kingdom manifested by his rushing FROM GOD TO an imposter “in the service of the devil.”

James 1:5 (AMP):

If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God  [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or fault-finding, and it will be given him.”

Many today who are like Saul, operating in their own kingdom, seeking counsel from everywhere but God and His Word!  Usually, it’s because they don’t really want to hear what God has to say!

Saul Lost Everything God Had Given Him (Vs. 14 b.)

Saul had lost contact with God, lost God’s anointing; an enablement for the task at hand.  Saul lost his character, he lost his kingdom and lost everything that God had given.

Sin has devastating consequences for not only us, but our descendants as well.

Exodus 34:6, 7:

“The Lord!  the Lord! a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth.  [7] Keeping mercy and loving-kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, BUT…Who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”

1 Chronicles 10:6-7:

[6] So Saul died; he and his three sons and all his house died together,  [7] And when all the men of Israel who were in the valley saw that the army had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook their cities and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.

Sin & A Rotten Apple

Sin & A Rotten Apple

We don’t operate in a vacuum and that one person’s sin affects others beyond himself.  It’s like the saying your parents may have referred to when they were unhappy with the crowd you were hanging out with:  “One rotten apple will spoil the whole barrel!”

Saul committed a BREACH OF FAITH that cost him dearly.

When you accepted Christ Jesus, you pledged your FAITH in Him and Him alone.  Have you breached that faith by your actions, or lack thereof?

Thank God for His Word in 1 John 1:8-9:

“[8] If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us  [does not dwell in our hearts].  [9] If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].”

 

GOD IS FOREVER FAITHFUL–

THERE IS NO BREACH OF FAITH IN HIM!

 


 Blog Credits & Footnotes:

Photos:  Photo Pin/shutterstock

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible except where noted.

Footnote:  [i] The Free Dictionary.com; [ii] Charles Swindoll’s Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, p. 219

 

 

Who Are The Teachers?

ezra

Before answering the question in this blog title, I felt needed to identify–find out who the teachers are in the body of Christ.  So let’s look at the Book of Ezra together to observe some distinguishing qualities.

EZRA’S RESUME: 

First of all, Ezra wasn’t the one who had the Temple rebuilt.  That was Zerubbabel.  He wasn’t the one who had the wall built around Jerusalem to protect the inhabitants.  That was Nehemiah.  Ezra wasn’t responsible for the things made from stone.

Then who was he?

Ezra was a PRIEST, a direct descendent of the line of Aaron.  Because of his lineage, he could have functioned as a HIGH PRIEST.  Yet we probably better know him as a “SCRIBE”, a teacher of God’s Word (Ezra 7:6).

Ezra is often called the “father of Judaism” and ancient rabbis said, “If Moses hadn’t received the Law of God, Ezra would have.”

He was the author of the following books:  1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and some scholars have suggested he may have written Ester as well.

Ezra was responsible for the establishment of the SYNAGOGUE.  This was a system to help the people learn the Law of Moses in a setting near their homes on a weekly basis, rather than just going to Jerusalem three times a year.  This would become the basis for Christians of having church each week.

We actually don’t get to meet the man named EZRA until Ezra 7–where we see one of the unique characteristics of a teacher’s life.

“For the hand of the Lord his God 

was upon him.”

(Ezra 7:6-b.)

“THE HAND OF GOD” –

Psalm 63:1-8 Amplified Bible:

[1] O GOD, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is.  [2] So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory. [3] Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.  [4] So will I bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.  [5] My whole being shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.  [6] When I remember You upon my bed and meditate on You in the night watches.  [7] For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice.  [8] My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You;  Your right hand upholds me.” 

Psalm 63 is a song of David.  But it could have very well been a Psalm of Ezra, or what that matter, yours and mine too.

WHAT IS THE “HAND OF GOD”?article-1169776-046ECDC9000005DC-372_634x475

It is another way of displaying the POWER OF GOD; it is how God gets His work done in our lives.

So what moves the ‘hand of God”?

I noticed an interesting thing about God’s hand being on Ezra.  Ezra didn’t just think this was some sovereign move of God which he had no part in. He realized there were certain things that moved God’s hand–

Ezra 7:9-10:

[9] On the first of the first month he started out from Babylon, and on the first of the fifth month he arrived in Jerusalem, for upon him was the good hand of his God.

[10] For Ezra had prepared and set his heart to seek the Law of the Lord [to inquire for it and of it, to require and yearn for it], and to do and teach in Israel its statutes and its ordinances.

A “prepared heart”–

PREPARED  kuwn, Hebrew word. (hipul); to establish, to set up, accomplish, do, make firm; to fix, make ready, prepare, to direct toward (moral sense); to arrange, order.

HEART – lebab, Hebrew word; inner man, mind, will, heart, soul, understanding.

Ezra 7:10 NASB –  “set his heart”

Ezra 7:10 NLT –  “determined to” 

Ezra 7:10 NIV –  “devoted himself”

It all starts right here my friends–with YOUR HEART.  If you don’t want God to work in your life. He won’t.

BECOMING A DEVOTED STUDENT–

When I was a student in school, my concept of success in  study was to “just get by.”  I would do the minimum amount required to gain approval from my parents.  In High School, this idea worked fairly well maintaining a “B” average.  But when I went to college…the “just getting by” plan didn’t work.  After 3 1/2 years of stumbling around academic target practice, trying to decide what my future profession would be–with little help from parents, friends, and school counselors–I dropped out of school.  I came to the general conclusion–I just wasn’t going to be a STUDENT.

The Change that Occurred in My Life…

After becoming a born-again believer in Jesus at age 30, and as I matured in Christ over the years, God’s hand wasn’t in my life and I had become frustrated in being a servant in His service.

As I grew in spiritual maturity, I began to become a student of God’s Word as Ezra became and as a result of God’s POWER, His hand, I became a TEACHER of God’s truth.

Ezra became a TEACHER of God’s truth and restored a nation of believers in a right relationship with God.

COMMUNICATING GOD’S WORD EFFECTIVELY IN THE WORLD TODAY–

Much like in Ezra’s day, as he thirsted after God’s holiness and insights and then communicated it effectively to others should be all of our goals.  Our reputation as TEACHERS is at stake as was Ezra’s.  How did he get that reputation?  “having God’s hand on him” (Ezra 7:6).  

We LEARN by the words given…

Ezra was a TEACHER who was well-studied and diligent in knowing God’s teachings.  Ezra’s REPUTATION was one of being known [and not to just the “religious” ] as a STUDENT of God’s law and because of his studious mindset, God’s hand was on him.

You might be thinking right now, “I’m not a teacher.  It’s just not my spiritual gift.  I didn’t go to bible school or seminary or have I taken an online bible college class.  There isn’t a teaching certificate on the wall. 

Let me counsel and guide your thoughts here, taking you to the apostle Paul’s instruction to  a young man by the name of Timothy:

“Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth”  (2 Timothy 2:15 AMP).

**Note:  “The best teacher is one who is always a student and always learning.” ~ Dr. Howard Hendricks’ “Learning Professor”.

A TEACHER’S RESPONSIBILITY:

Dr. Hendricks felt it was the RESPONSIBILITY OF THE TEACHER to teach people to learn, not the students.

Hendricks tells of a professor who made a great impact in his life.  He passed the teacher’s home many times–early mornings or late at night, and often saw him pouring over his books.  One day Hendricks asked him, “Doctor, I would like to know what is it that keeps you studying?  It seems you never cease to learn.”  His answer:  “Son, I would rather have my students drink from a running stream than from a stagnant pool.”

“STUDYING” GOD’S WORD wasn’t enough for Ezra–

EZRA devoted himself–prepared himself–set his heart to–STUDYING.  He was zealous, relentless in his study of God’s Word. Nothing superseded his study time.  He digested it in his heart and in doing so, it changed him so much that he became DEVOTED to observing what he learned.  He LEARNED and then put it into practice in his own life.

I’ve often thought to myself over the years, wouldn’t it be nice to see the results of my effort before committing the effort.  But take a moment to look at EZRA’s success–

THE RESULT FROM STUDYING–

Others noticed his effort and because of his passion he earned a reputation; his REPUTATION to those who would listen.

EZRA was not only studious but a TRAINER, TEACHER of people who probably followed these principles.

The RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF AMERICA gives us a list of requirements for those who train–teach others.  I keep this list in a notebook on my desk for reference and reminders for my own teaching: (by Donald Kirkpatrick)

#1.  DESIRE TO TEACH.

#2.  KNOWLEDGE OF THE SUBJECT.

#3.  ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE.

#4.  PATIENCE.

#5.  SENSE OF HUMOR.

#6.  TIME TO DO A THOROUGH JOB.

WE ALL HAVE A GOD-GIVEN RESPONSIBILITY TO TEACH:

No, sorry. It is NOT just the responsibility for the pastor.  After JESUS’ resurrection and exaltation, He sends his disciples out with the mandate to perpetuate His teaching:

“Go then and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  TEACHING them everything that I have commanded you…”  (Matthew 28:19-20).

THE SALVATION MESSAGE:

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the word that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that WHOEVER BELIEVES IN (trusts in, clings to, relies on)  Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life”  (John 3:16).

OBEDIENCE IN TEACHING–

EZRA 7:10 says a teacher is to PREPARE, SEEK, and to coin a phrase from Madison Avenue,  “…and (‘just’) do it!”

Ezra knew enough that it wasn’t enough just to KNOW God’s Word, yet we don’t let it affect our behavior, fooling ourselves.  We need to LEARN to OBEY what God says:

“Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you TEACH and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts”  (Colossians 3:16).

“BUT [as for] you, TEACH what is fitting and becoming to sound (wholesome) doctrine.  URGE the older men…  Bid the older women…  So that they will wisely train (teach) the young women…”  (Titus 2:1-4).

 SHARING IN OBEDIENCE–

EZRA 7:10 further gives us our responsibility as God’s disciples:

“…and to teach in Israel statutes and its ordinances.”

TO TEACH – Hebrew word lamad – to learn, teach, exercise in, train.

STATUTES – choqstatute, ordinance, limit something, prescribed, due.

JUDGEMENTS – mishpat – judgements, justice, ordinance.

Ezra’s RELATIONSHIP with the Word wasn’t just about living a better life for himself.  He knew he needed to share–COMPELLED–to share, to communicate God’s Word with those around him.

“So we are Christ’s ambassadors, God making His appeal as it were through us. We [as Christ’s personal representatives] beg you for His sake to lay hold of divine favor…”  (2 Corinthians 5:20).

We are PLENIPOTENTIARIES (Ambassadors) and as God’s representatives we have a responsibility–

According to Dictionary.com, the definition given for the noun AMBASSADOR reads:

A diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative (ambassador extraordinary) an authorized messenger or representative.

“But I’m not a teacher in any stretch of the imagination!”

By your definition, perhaps not.  But with God’s hand on your shoulder, you have entered the priesthood and by His definition…you are teachers.

If you are a Christian father, God’s Word says you are a TEACHER:

“Fathers don’t over-correct your children or make it difficult for them to obey the commandment. Bring them up with Christian teaching in Christian discipline”  (Ephesians 6:4 – J.B. Phillips New Testament).

LIVING THE EZRA EXAMPLE IN OUR FAMILY AND THE COMMUNITY:

We as Christians need to practice daily Ezra’s example–

#1.  We need to have a REPUTATION like Ezra’s as God’s hand was on him.

#2.  We need to STUDY God’s word with diligence and have a Godly reputation with those around us.

#3.  We need to be DEVOTED to God’s teachings and have a Godly reputation.

#4.  We need to have a reputation so Godly that earthly rulers see and testify about our example.

#5.  We need to be walking sermons and not just talking sermons with no action.  “DO IT”

#6.  We need to be PRIESTS that trust God with all of our heart, mind and soul.  A reputation of being confident in God 100%.

WHO ARE THE TEACHERS TODAY?  The responsibility has been given to you and I.  So, let us all…

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CREDITS:

Photo Images:  Google Images and Photo Pin.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible except where noted.

English/Hebrew translation and definitions:  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words – Stephen D. Renn, Editor.