Category Archives: Christian Living

Part 3: Build your House in ’09

The Roof

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve worked on our “house”.  First we laid the foundation with the Word of God, http://voiceoftruthblog.com/?p=5 next we built the walls through the Power of Prayer http://voiceoftruthblog.com/?p=26 .  Now it’s time to put the roof on and start to tie the house together.  The roof of our house will be built through the worship of our Lord and Savior.  For this discussion, I want to focus on the act of “corporate” worship and posture of our heart as we individually worship throughout our daily activities.  So what is worship, where do we worship and how do we go about it?  Why is it so important?  One author says this about worship:

“Worship in our time has been captured by the tourist mind set. Worship is understood as a visit to an attractive site to be made when we have adequate leisure. For some it is a weekly jaunt to church. For others, it’s occasional visits to special services. Some, with a bent for Christian entertainment and sacred diversion, plan their lives around special events like retreats, rallies and conferences. We go to see a new personality, to hear a new truth, to get a new experience and so, somehow, expand our otherwise humdrum lives. We’ll try anything — until something else comes along.”

Does the tourist mindset describe your worship?  Hopefully you’re not just going through the motions, dragging yourself into church once or twice a week because you feel obligated.  No, instead it should be an opportunity to come together as a church body and worship God.  Just as we mentioned in the Prayer blog, worship is all about the posture of your heart.  17th century author Matthew Henry describes it this way, “It is not enough for us to be where God is worshipped, if we do not ourselves worship him, and that not with bodily exercise only, which profits little, but with the heart.”  Our heart should be defined by gladness and joy, seeking to worship the Lord in the “splendor of His holiness”. Psalm 29:2 Psalm 96:9 Psalm 100:2  We read in Hebrews that not only should we be filled with joy, but likewise present ourselves before the Lord with a reverent heart.  Hebrews 12:28-29 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.'”  Because of this attitude of our hearts, worship need not be confined to a building or structure, although this is primarily where our corporate worship takes place.  In Acts 17:24-25 we learn that, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.”  When we come together in corporate worship, the church “body” not the church “building” serves as the place of worship.  After all, the church body is the body of Christ. 

When we unite in the House of the Lord for corporate worship, with the correct posture of heart, the Bible gives us some insight into how to act or what should take place.  Our worship is a time to glorify the Lord through song, prayer, and to receive instruction from the Word of God.  I Corinthians 14:26 describes it the following way, “What then shall we say, brothers? 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.”  But is this worship merely confined to one day of the week?  I think one common misconception is that a “church service” is the only time of worship; before and after service we continue on with our daily lives.  I’ve been guilty of this attitude in the past.  We sit through an hour or two of service, feel somewhat convicted for the sins in our lives or the distance that’s come between us and God due to that sin and then we leave going on with our “old self” until the next week’s service.  Worship simply cannot be a week to week “activity”.  Early 20th century preacher/author A.W. Tozer illustrates it this way, “If you do not worship God seven days a week, you do not worship Him on one day a week. There is no such thing known in heaven as Sunday worship unless it is accompanied by Monday worship and Tuesday worship and so on.”  That’s pretty a profound statement.  Think about exactly what that statement says.  More importantly, think about it next time you feel worship is only on Sunday mornings.

Worshipping the Lord throughout our daily lives can sometimes be difficult because we allow ourselves to be consumed with work and routine activities.  But what I think the problem for so many of us is perspective.  Rather than trying to create a specific time for structured worship, we should focus on creating an atmosphere of worship.  Much like the prayer discussion, I think we can worship without ceasing when this atmosphere is created.  What I mean by this is that it’s ok to go to that meeting or write that paper, bathe the kids, or prepare dinner.  But when we create the atmosphere of worship, we can carry a song of worship in our hearts, praise the Lord when we’re walking to that meeting, or pray just to praise Him.  Hey there’s a concept – praying without asking for anything, but just to glorify the name of the Almighty!

There is no doubt that a lack of worship in our lives, just like prayer, can significantly impact our walk with God.  A house cannot have just a foundation and still stand.  It has to also have strong walls, and a well-built roof that pulls everything together.  Each part is dependent on the other.  It’s this “roof” of worship that allows us to glorify the Lord in song and praise and to also receive His instructions for our lives.  Worship can be corporate with the church body, but should also be something individual that’s not only on Sunday, but everyday.  Andrew W. Blackwood offers this reflection, “The time has come for a revival of public worship as the finest of the fine arts…While there is a call for strong preaching there is even a greater need for uplifting worship.”  The Bible tells us that in everything we do, do all for the glory of the Lord I Corinthians 10:31, this includes worship.  In closing, I want to leave you with the divinely inspired words of the Apostle Paul, Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Have a Blessed Day!

‘But the Greatest of these is Love’

Quick, name the central, resounding theme of the Bible.  What’s your guess?  If you said love, you’re right!  Maybe you thought the central them was God sending His Son Jesus to die for our sins.  Well you’d also be right, but God’s motivation for this, was love.  John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

When the disciples were gathered around Jesus they asked him, which is the greatest commandment?  Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:37-40 The two greatest commandments are for us to love.  In fact, it’s here where we see the ancient Greek word for Love, agapeo or Agape.  The word translated in English literally means unconditional love.  Let that sink in for a minute… unconditional… no matter what, God still loves us.  Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  There is no separating God’s love from us.  The Apostle Paul speaks so strongly about love in I Corinthians 13:3, “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”  It’s in this chapter we find the eloquent portrayal of love used many times in weddings, in I Corinthians 13:4-8 and are told in verse 13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Love is such a strong, overflowing concept in the Bible that it occurs 697 times in the New International Version.  Compare that to texts used by world religions, such as Islam, which mentions love (hubb) 69 times in the Koran.  Of the 99 different names given to “Allah”, there are no direct references to Allahu Muhibba or “God is Love”.  The Hindu religion has the word kama, but it refers to pleasurable (sexual) love as personified by one of their many gods.  They also have prema and bhakta as references to love, but none of which reflect an unconditional love of god towards man.  Buddhism has benevolent love, but it requires self-acceptance and is not reflective of a godly love.   It’s only in the Bible where we read of God’s love for us.  Take this to heart: The God of the universe loves you unconditionally!  I John 4:8 tells us, “Whoever does not love God does not know God, because God is love.”  All roads lead to the same God?  You decide, but I’ll place my faith in the God of unconditional love.

I’m certainly guilty of holding back love from people for one reason or another, but why is it so important for Christians to express love to everyone? The Bible teaches us to “Do everything in love” I Corinthians 16:4 , that love must be sincere Romans 12:9-10, and even goes so far as to say “love surpasses knowledge”. Ephesians 3:19  But perhaps the most important inspirational message for us to love one another, can be found in a song from when I was a kid.  That song had a chorus of “They’ll know we are Christians by our love“.  What a powerful witness to those who aren’t Christians, that they’ll know us by our love. 

I know with Valentine’s Day upon us, everything is all about “love” and we express that through flowers, cards, candy, and other gifts, but I just wanted to remind you of what true love is and that the Bible says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” I John 4:10

Have a Blessed Day!

 

 

 

What is Spirituality?

I started writing a response to a series of multi-part questions that were asked on the Facebook group page for this blog, http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=62075386824 , but I soon realized that the complexity of the questions might be overwhelming to read in just one post.  So what I decided to do was break down the questioning into its components.  Since spirituality was at the heart of the questions, I want to talk about it first.  Also I want to say that I do not think it was a coincidence that spirituality was the topic of Sunday’s sermon at my church.  Likewise, a passage I’ll refer to later was in my email inbox as K-LOVE’s inspirational verse of the day. www.klove.com 

So what is spirituality?  We hear this word a lot.  People throw it around like a buzz word.  According to Merrium-Webster’s dictionary, spirituality is defined as “concern with religious values; relating to or affecting the spirit; relating to supernatural beings.”  To help assist with this definition, I wanted to look up spirit.  It’s defined as “an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms; supernatural being or essence; temper or disposition of mind or outlook especially when vigorous or animated.”  But this still doesn’t explain what it is or how it applies to us.  Maybe we should look at what the world says about spirituality.  Oprah has an entire section devoted to it on her website with insight from multiple “religious” leaders.  In fact one of her New Age minister’s provides the follow quote on the subject, “So to be spiritual is to be in touch, connected with that dimension of depth in yourself.”  A second quote from her website on spirituality says the following, “Spirituality is where you lay claim to a ground of being within yourself where you say, ‘I want to be that. I really do. I want to be that person that I’m capable of being.’”  A third minister applies the following logic, “Spiritual practitioners must practice spirituality where we stop, take a breath, become still inside—that’s the act of meditation and contemplation,” he says. “It is the same in all of the religions.”  I will just tell you, all three of these quotes came from 3 different people with 3 different religious backgrounds.  Yet they all sound similar.  Primarily, each deals with self and what you can do for you.  On the surface, it sounds like a good idea although a selfish one, but for “religious” leaders where’s their religion?

The truth is the only religion is these quotes come from reliance on self.  There’s no deity, no ultimate authority, and definitely no presence of God (capital G).  Since “religion” had no offer for an answer on spirituality, what does Christianity say about spirituality?  Since I believe Christianity is less a “religion” and more a relationship with an engaged, personal, and powerful God through His Son Jesus, I’d like to discuss what the Bible says about spirituality.  First, spirituality is unattainable without accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior.  It’s through this repentance of sins and acceptance of Jesus that the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts and blesses us with spirituality.  To learn more about accepting Jesus as your Savior, go here http://voiceoftruthblog.com/?page_id=3  or click on the Knowing the Truth tab above.  When Jesus ascended into heaven after his death, burial, and resurrection, He promised the disciples he would send another to remind them (us) of the things He taught. John 14:25-27 With the planting of the seed in our hearts by accepting Jesus, the Holy Spirit offers us the nutrients and water that the seed needs to grow.  With that growth comes the Fruit of the Spirit or our spirituality.  Galatians 5:22-23 outlines the outward fruits that take place from our inward spirituality.  These fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  They don’t exactly reflect a reliance on self like the world’s “religions” do they?  Galatians 5:25 instructs us that, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”  This walk is reflected in our fruits. 

But spirituality does not stop there.  For Christians, we must continually grow our inward spirituality so that our fruits will be externally displayed.  The walk that I referred to earlier comes from living out three basic spiritual behaviors found in I Thessalonians 5:16-19.  This passage says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.”  So we see that the first of these behaviors is to “rejoice always”.  Again in Philippians 4:4 we are told, “Rejoice in the Lord always…”  This rejoicing is rooted in Christ.  It doesn’t come from a self-made happiness, but in a deep joy and peace in Jesus regardless of external happenings.  In the second spiritual behavior, the Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:18 to “pray without ceasing” and “in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6 Christians are to be actively engaged with the Lord through prayer by creating an atmosphere of prayer.  The following quote epitomizes this sentiment, “The activity of prayer may be intermittent, but the atmosphere of prayer should be constant.”  For a deeper discussion of prayer go to http://voiceoftruthblog.com/?p=26  The third behavior necessary for growth of a Christian’s spirituality is, “in everything give thanks”.  Does any “religion” offer that as an example of spirituality?  The answer in short is no.  For them it’s all good as long as it’s all good.  Christian’s know that trials will come and the Apostle Paul’s petition for us to give thanks in everything regardless of our outward circumstances shows how important this idea is.  Last week’s blog “Trial by Fire” offers insight into giving thanks in difficult times, you can find it here: http://voiceoftruthblog.com/?p=178

Spirituality cannot be taken lightly, as the world would have you believe.  The world and her “religious” leaders tell us that spirituality is a reliance on self and is the same in all religions, but this simply isn’t true.  While Christianity in its structure is a religion, it’s a far more than that.  It offers a meaningful relationship with Jesus that leads to true spirituality through the presence of the Holy Spirit.  It’s only through the saving grace of Jesus by his death on the cross that we can experience these truths.

Have a Blessed Day!