VIDEO Standing for God

Stand up and bless the Lord your God forever and ever! “Blessed be Your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise!” Nehemiah 9:5

If you attended a performance of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah this past Christmas, you—along with everyone else—probably stood when you heard the opening bars of the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Why? It is a tradition that supposedly began by England’s King George II in 1743. But why did King George II stand (which caused everyone else to stand)? No one knows for sure. Answers range from worshipful reverence to his need to stretch his legs to gout in his feet. But stand he did, and audiences have stood for the “Hallelujah Chorus” ever since.

If the King stood out of worshipful reverence, he could have based his decision on a biblical precedent. For example, when the Levites led the newly returned Jews in a prayer of confession, they commanded the people to “Stand up and bless the Lord your God forever and ever!” Numerous examples of standing in the presence of authorities or rulers can be noted throughout history, so standing to worship God certainly qualifies in that regard.

Standing or sitting, worship is an appropriate response to the forgiveness that follows the confession of sin.

The best rubrics of worship are those which are written on broken hearts. Charles H. Spurgeon


Nehemiah 9

Escape or Peace?

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

“ESCAPE.” The billboard shouts the benefits of having a hot tub installed. It gets my attention—and gets me thinking. My wife and I have talked about getting a hot tub . . . someday. It’d be like a vacation in our backyard! Except for the cleaning. And the electric bill. And . . . suddenly, the hoped-for escape starts to sound like something I might need escape from.

Still, that word entices so effectively because it promises something we want: Relief. Comfort. Security. Escape. It’s something our culture tempts and teases us with in many ways. Now, there’s nothing wrong with resting or a getaway to someplace beautiful. But there’s a difference between escaping life’s hardships and trusting God with them.  

In John 16, Jesus tells His disciples that the next chapter of their lives will test their faith. “In this world you will have trouble,” He summarizes at the end. And then He adds this promise, “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (v. 33). Jesus didn’t want His disciples to cave in to despair. Instead, He invited them to trust Him, to know the rest He provides: “I have told you these things,” he said, “so that in me you may have peace” (v. 33).

Jesus doesn’t promise us a pain-free life. But He does promise that as we trust and rest in Him, we can experience a peace that’s deeper and more satisfying than any escape the world tries to sell us.

By:  Adam Holz

Reflect & Pray

How have you seen invitations to escape in the world around you recently? How well do you think they might deliver on those promises?

Father, help me to trust You so that I may find peace and rest in You.

Read Finding Peace in a Troubled World .

Bringing Our Needs to the Father

If we pray like Jesus, we’ll prioritize God’s desires over our own

Matthew 6:9-15

The first half of the Lord’s prayer focuses on God, but in the second part, Jesus addresses our need for daily provision, forgiveness, and protection. Notice His words remain centered on the Father, who provides all three. 

Give us this day our daily bread. The Lord is the source of everything we need—physical, material, emotional, and spiritual (Phil. 4:19).  By asking Him to provide our basic necessities, we’re acknowledging our complete dependence upon Him and trusting in His sufficient provision for each day. 

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. This part of the prayer is meant to ensure that everything is right not only between us and our Father but also between us and other people. Since God forgave our sins, it is His will that we also forgive others. 

Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Our prayer is for the Lord to protect us from falling into temptation, and we instead honor Him by living righteously.

This entire prayer is focused on our heavenly Father. It teaches us to worship, submit, and depend fully on Him for needs of any kind. 

Abram’s Trust Test

“And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.” (Genesis 12:10)

After Abram moved to Canaan at God’s calling, a test came in the form of a severe famine in the new “land of promise.” He became consumed with worry about business survival, leading him to make the decision to leave the land God had promised to give him and take himself and his family into the great empire of Egypt.

Egypt was dominated, as is every world system, by a pagan government. Abram knew this. Yet, motivated by a fear for his personal safety, colored by a self-induced, self-protecting imagination, he became willing to risk the moral compromise of his wife (to say nothing of the potential of destroying God’s promise of an heir) and made an awful decision (Genesis 12:10-13).

Sure enough, what Abram feared seemed to happen. Sarai was rather quickly taken into Pharaoh’s harem. And things seemed to go well as a result; he prospered doing business (Genesis 12:14-16). Sometimes, things work out as we think they might—but God’s sovereign plan will always override our foolish and deceitful behavior (Genesis 12:17-20).

It was a long time before the testimony of Abram was restored in Egypt. Not only did his sin become public knowledge, but the pagan rulers rebuked him for his error (Genesis 12:20). God may undo the potential damage of our foolish behavior, but the spiritual damage is real. The biblical principle is: “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

Fortunately, God is also the God of mercy and forgiveness. Abram returned to Canaan, repented of his sin, and restored his fellowship with God. When such sin enters our lives, we can learn the lesson and regain our role with our Creator, just as Abram did. HMM III

How Majestic Is Your Name in All the Earth

O Lord, our Lord, bow magnificent is Your name throughout the earth! You have covered the heavens with Your majesty. Because of Your adversaries, You have established a stronghold from the mouths of children and nursing infants, to silence the enemy and the avenger (Psalm 8 vv. 1-2).

Psalm 8, a consummate example of what a hymn should be, celebrates the glory and the grace of God. Its major thesis is “How excellent is your name.” in Refections on the Psalms. C. S. Lewis reminds us that “to glorify God is to enjoy Him.”

Majesty combined with intimacy characterizes our relationship with God. On one hand, we can relate to Isaiah, who witnessed the holiness of God: “Woe to me!” he cried.“I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isa. 6:5 NIV). On the other hand, God wants us to approach his throne with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace (see Heb. 4:16),

That the Sovereign of the universe desires a close, personal relationship with me is almost beyond comprehension. He is my Heavenly Father, and I am his child.

Personal Prayer

Lord, may I move from sterile, inattentive worship to an intimate relationship with you. May I learn to enjoy your presence!

A Little-Known Sin

The One who examines the thoughts and emotions is a righteous God.—Psalm 7:9

Focusing only on correcting obvious sin (sins of behavior) without understanding what it means to deal with the issues of the heart will bring about a condition akin to that of the Pharisees—more smug than spiritual.

One of the things I have noticed about myself is that whenever I feel I am not pursuing God in the way I should, I tend to focus on the surface issues of my life—my above-the-waterline problems—and work at them all I can. But sin involves far more than what goes on above the surface; there is also something going on in the deep recesses of my heart.

As there is little need for me to discuss the sins that are obvious, I want to focus now on those that are not. I imagine that those of you who have been Christians for some time will expect me at this stage to identify the hidden sins of the heart under such categories as resentment, lukewarmness, impatience, jealousy, and so on. My concern, however, is with a category of sin that is not easily recognized and not very well-known. This sin is probably more deeply buried in our hearts than any other, and it acts, in my opinion, as a trigger to them.

The sin I refer to is—demandingness. You won’t find the word in the Bible, but you will certainly see it illustrated there. Demandingness is insisting that our interests be served irrespective of others.

Clearly, if Christ is to live in us, then this has to die in us.

Prayer

Father, I see that again You are about to face me with a strong and serious challenge. Forgive me if I draw back when Your lance plunges deep. I have lived with demandingness for so long that I might not even be able to recognize it. Help me, Lord. Amen.

Further Study

Gl 2:15-21; Isa 29:15; 30:1-2; 1Co 10:24

How did Paul describe “demandingness”?

What were the children of Israel doing?

The Mind of Christ

Philippians 2:5

What is the mind of Christ? First, Jesus had a nonstop God-consciousness. God was part of every experience of His life. He did not split His life into two parts: the sacred and the secular, the religious and the ordinary.

When questioned about His miracles or His teaching He would reply humbly, “I do always the will of My Father,” (John 8:29) or “I speak only what My Father tells me to speak” (John 12:50). Life was all of one piece, like the seamless robe He wore.

The awareness of God’s presence and purpose was most perfectly seen in His obedience to God’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane. As He prays beneath the olive trees lit by the Pascal moon, we hear His words in that sacred moment,

“Not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus was prepared to subordinate His own will, good and blameless as it was, to the will of God. So He rose from His knees and went forward to face the cross and become the world’s Redeemer. That was the mind of Christ. Unquestionably obedient.

How obedient to the will of God are we? Does the world crowd in too much and put God to the margin of our experience? Let us ask the Holy Spirit to shape our attitudes to Christ’s, to make us more aware of God’s presence and ready to do His will above all else. Let this obedient mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

Secondly, a beautiful characteristic of the mind of Christ was His awareness of others. He was never self-absorbed, but always concerned for the people He met among the crowds that milled around Him.

It is fascinating to watch Jesus in the Gospel stories, calling the children closer to Him when His disciples would chase them away, or noticing a poor woman quietly putting two coins in the temple treasury. He made friends with unsavory characters. His ear caught the faint cry of a blind man almost lost in the noisy crowd. His compassion reached out to each one. He was love personified.

The mind of Christ is a loving mind. Do we have a mind like that? That kind of love is costly. To have the mind of Christ is to love like that.

Eva Burrows, The Salvationist Pulp
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