Christianity 201

July 18, 2017

Would You Speak What You Sing?

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:30 pm
Tags: , , ,

Sometimes a comment left at our other blog leads us to articles which would fit here at C201. That was the case with Lisa Stepanian who blogs at The Burning Lamp (theburninglamp.com) You can read this article there by clicking the title below and then take some time to check out other things she’s written.

Worshiping in the Boat

“Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’.” Matthew 14:33

In this passage, Jesus had walked upon the water as the disciples in the boat fought a raging storm in the dark. Jesus walked on water? Reigned with power and authority over the forces of ‘nature’? Certainly, yes He did.

But the disciples ‘worshiped on the boat’ – without strobe lights, fog machines, tuned instruments or perfected choir? How is that possible?

Jesus said,

“But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24

God almighty is seeking, looking for, those who will worship in spirit and in truth?   I want Him to find what He’s looking for in me!

I want the boat worship. I want to receive Jesus, acknowledging His power and authority, and meditate on His divine accomplishment on the cross. I want to be led into worshiping the Father in spirit and in truth.

“Christians are guilty of telling more lies to God on Sundays than on any other day….Because it is on Sundays that they sing so many hymns such as, “All to Jesus I surrender”… excerpt, Zac Poonen,  God-Centred Prayer

Human talent, resource, and technology has made ‘worship’ a business…

Are we attempting to ‘conjure up’ the presence of God?

Many church goers are satisfied with entertaining ‘performance worship’. The emotional appeasement is uplifting, encouraging and even medicinal. But is that anything like the worship in the boat?

But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 1 Corinthians 11:31

I am searching my own heart, asking…

1. Would I sincerely take the words of the songs I am singing and speak them during prayer time to the Lord? Do I have a prayer time to meet with the Lord?

2. Is the music and song or the ‘atmosphere’ engaging my flesh with rhythm and tempo or are songs drawing me into scriptural truths?

3. Am I engaging in something contrived and artificial?

4. Is worship (adornment, deep honor and reverence) already in my heart before I gather with others or is the gathering working up a group cheer for God?

5. Can I sing the songs, even sing the Psalms, during dark storms –  when my circumstances have horribly changed  – with assurance that God has not changed?

There is value in presenting God our best praise and thanksgiving, especially that unbelievers may see that our God is worthy of all exuberant praise.  But lowly fishermen did not rehearse worship to get it right or impress in any way. The presence of God brought them to their knees, their hearts prostrate, filled with awe.

If Jesus walked into our home during our prayer time (or anytime) we would not pull out a guitar, flash vibrant lights nor would we sway and bop. We would fall to our knees with the weight of our nothingness next to His sovereignty. We would worship.

“Lord in heaven, I do want to worship You in spirit and in truth. Help me to understand what that simply means. Help me to wait on You, even if I must stroke the oars through a dark storm. Give us all a true anticipation of Your presence and prepare our hearts to bow down to You. More than anything Father, I want You to find what You’re looking for in me. In Jesus name, amen”.

May the Lord personally bless you!


Starting Sunday, August 6th, we’re launching a weekly feature at C201 called Sunday Worship. If you see something online you think would be a good fit for that theme, please contact us.

November 26, 2016

2-For-1 Devotional Special: It’s War/Hearing the Truth

Regular readers here are accustomed to this paragraph containing something like, “Today we return to the blog of _________…” It’s easy to work with writers we’ve worked with before, but I try to spend about 30 minutes each week seeing who else is writing good material that we can steal would be a good fit here. That often takes me to the #devotional tag on Twitter where sadly, most of the activity consists of people trying to sell their devotional book. (I have other avenues for blind searches which usually turn out to be more effective: Using the devotional or Jesus or Bible tags on WordPress, for example.)

So today’s new writer is Todd Sepulveda who lives in Houston and writes at Glorify God • Magnify Him. His writings are shorter — hence the reason you’re getting two today — but thankfully more substantive than many other things you encounter online. (Besides, I really enjoyed reading his personal story.) So click each of the individual titles to read these at source and then look around the rest of his site.

todd-sepulvedaIt’s War!

Scripture

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,
2 Corinthians 10:3 NASB

Observation
There is a war going on, but most don’t realize it! I know that sounds like a line from a sci-fi movie, but it is true.

We live in two realms, the flesh, the things we see, touch, smell, etc…,and the spiritual, the things we don’t see.

The evil forces of the devil will do anything to keep you away from spiritual things and the things of God. You’ll find yourself wrapped up in debate, arguments, hate, worry, instead of walking in the Spirit and the things of God.

Application
Can you identify with the above paragraph? Do you find yourself focusing on the things of this world, when they will pass away, vs the things of God, which are eternal?

If so, you need to wage war! This is a purposeful, focused, disciplined way to live. Press into the things of God. Don’t let anything pull you away. Know that when things come against you, they very may be the work of Satan trying to derail your relationship with God!

Fight back! God is more powerful! You are His child! What Father wouldn’t come to the rescue and help of their own child?

Remember, this war is for eternal lives!

Prayer
Lord, help us to realize that we are in a spiritual war. You have given us everything we need to fight and stand firm. Give us strength and insight so that we don’t allow the ploys of the evil one to distract us from living for You.

Hearing the Truth is Tough

Scripture

5 Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, “Today you have covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who today have saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your wives, and the lives of your concubines, 6 by loving those who hate you, and by hating those who love you. For you have shown today that princes and servants are nothing to you; for I know this day that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased.
2 Samuel 19:5-6 NASB

Observation
David had to flee Jerusalem because His Son wanted to kill him and take the throne for himself. After David’s men defeated and killed Absalom, the only thing that David could do was weep. A day of great victory turned into a day of great mourning.

It would have been bad for David if Joab wouldn’t have given him some much needed advice.

David was heartbroken, understandably. But he should have also been grateful for everyone who put their life on the line to protect him and the rest of his family.

Application
Sometimes we don’t realize that we are off course. It is good to have people in your life that will tell you what you need to hear, even if you don’t like it at the time.

Be grateful for those people. Choose to listen with an open mind and be led by the Holy Spirit to see if what they are saying is from God. If it is, make the change, change your course.

The other side of this is that there might be someone in your life that needs to hear something that might upset them. Pray and ask God if it is something you should say. Then pray that the Lord gives you the right words to say.

Prayer
Lord, thank you for bringing people in our lives that are willing to tell us the truth. Help us to prayerfully consider what they say and help us to not be so into ourselves that we can’t identify You speaking. Also, help us to be that person for others. Give us insight and the words to say, that we would be a blessing and help someone get back on track with You.


Todd attended Houston Baptist University with a dual-major in religion/Christianity and Communications/Mass Media with an emphasis in TV production and journalism. He and his wife Belinda ran a group home for kids in Children’s Protective Custody for 11 1/2 years. They were the youngest group home parents the agency ever had, and he had to get an insurance waiver to drive the van. At the same time they planted a church which ran for 14 years.

 

February 1, 2015

Truth in Advertising

With the start of a new month, we often revisit things from the same month in the previous year. Immediately we were reminded of Christian Fellowship Devotionals.  During the month of February, we’re hoping to feature a re-post from that website each Sunday.  This one is by Adam and you should click the title below to read this at source.

your_ad_here_t_shirtTruth in Advertising

Jesus’ harshest words were spoken of the churched. Did you catch that – the churched, not the unchurched – the there-every-time-the doors-are-open crowd, not the sinful, wicked world?

Matthew 23:13-14,27-28 (NKJV)
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
27  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28  Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

If you read the rest of chapter 23, Jesus is brutal with the good church-going, faithful Jews. On at least three separate occasions, he refers to this group as a “brood of vipers”. (Matthew 3:7, Matthew 12:34, and Matthew 23:33)

I believe he was hard on them because he wanted them to recognize the differences in their own lives, between what they said they did, and what they actually did. He wanted the church to realize that they were sinners, too, and in as much need of him as anyone. He wanted them to see that just as he saw through their false fronts, so could everyone else. I have heard it said before that most people don’t come to church because they’ve already been. We talk about love and grace, but all too often, confront with condemnation and guilt.

I recently attended a marketing seminar, and the panel of experts discussed what they called the integrity gap. This is the difference between the promise and the reality. My t-shirt may say “Jesus loves you,” but gestures made when someone cuts me off in heavy traffic might show a different reality. I may say “come as you are” but then when you do come I turn my nose up and walk away because you’re not like me. I may condemn adultery, and then spend early morning hours looking at internet images that should never be seen. These all indicate gaps. They indicate a degree of phoniness, and it is these gaps that Christ was trying to continually point out to the church (well, okay, to the temple- and synagogue goers). What can we do to remove this integrity gap? How can we be Christ-like Christians, rather than Pharisee-like church-goers?

Well according to what I got out of the marketing presentation, we first have to determine a vision of what we should be, and then determine where we fall short of that ideal. We need to discover the integrity gap. These experts were talking about gaps at corporations, between their brand’s promise and the reality – but as I listened, I thought they applied to individuals just as well.

One of the panelists listed off five questions to uncover the integrity gap, and I was amazed at how many times I had heard preachers say some of the exact same types of things.

  1. What’s on your calendar – really? Where do you invest your time?
  2. Where are you spending money? Follow the dollars to find your heart.
  3. What questions do you frequently ask others? What are you measuring?
  4. What do you celebrate? What do you reward?
  5. What keeps you awake at night? What captures your mind in such a way that you lose track of time?

If we honestly answer these questions for ourselves and our churches, then we begin to see some of that phoniness and hypocrisy that undoubtedly others can already see, because it is always easier to find the faults in others, than it is in yourself. Identify the worst areas, and begin to work on them now. Don’t tackle it all at once, but instead determine one thing you need to stop doing – and one thing you should start doing – and just do that. Then make the next step, and the next – until the gap is closed. If you need a second opinion, ask your spouse to be honest about these questions with you.

John 13:34-35 (NKJV)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John Maxwell said, “Image is what people think we are; integrity is what we really are.” It is my prayer that the image I put out would align with the person I truly am, and that person each day would resemble Christ more and more. We are to be his reflection, so our image and the reality behind it is very important.

image: Zazzle.com