VIDEO Worthy of Thanks

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

Sometimes Americans, when watching a British period film, will be surprised to hear a judge, mayor, or other official referred to as “Your Worship.” Worship comes from two words: “worth” (value) and “ship” (a condition or state). So addressing someone as “Your Worship” means acknowledging their state of worth, or importance or their value.

Worship was used in secular contexts long before it entered the religious vocabulary. But it’s easy to see why it did: When we worship God, we ascribe worth, value, or importance to Him. To worship is to say God is worthy of our praise, to offer thanks for who He is and for what He has done. There is no end to the reasons to give thanks to God. In the Old Testament, a common refrain was to “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” God’s attributes, like goodness and mercy, are never-ending. Therefore, He is always worthy of our thanks in worship.

In your personal times of worship, begin by giving thanks to God. Warning: You may run out of time before you run out of reasons for thanksgiving!

The measure of our spirituality is the amount of praise and of thanksgiving in our prayer. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones


A Model for Giving Thanks (1 Chronicles 16:8-36)

The Coffee-Bean Bowl

We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:15

I’m not a coffee drinker, but one sniff of coffee beans brings me a moment of both solace and wistfulness. When our teenage daughter Melissa was making her bedroom uniquely hers, she filled a bowl with coffee beans to permeate her room with a warm, pleasant scent.

It’s been nearly two decades since Melissa’s earthly life ended in a car accident at age seventeen, but we still have that coffee-bean bowl. It gives us a continual, aromatic remembrance of Mell’s life with us.

Scripture also uses fragrances as a reminder. Song of Songs refers to fragrances as a symbol of love between a man and a woman (see 1:3; 4:11, 16). In Hosea, God’s forgiveness of Israel is said to be “fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon” (Hosea 14:6). And Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet, which caused the house of Mary and her siblings to be “filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3), pointed ahead to Jesus’ death (see v. 7).

The idea of fragrance can also help us be mindful of our testimony of faith to those around us. Paul explained it this way: “We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15).

Just as the scent of coffee beans reminds me of Melissa, may our lives produce a scent of Jesus and His love that reminds others of their need of Him.

By:  Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

How can you be “the fragrance of Christ” to someone today? How has your life caused others to sense the presence of the Savior?

Dear heavenly Father, help me to pass along an aroma of life that makes others know I represent You.

The Book of Books

The Bible is an infallible source of truth.

Isaiah 55:9-11

Step into almost any bookstore, and you can find a volume on pretty much any topic you have in mind. Want new direction for your life? Are your children disobeying? Are you hoping to live in a healthier way? There are books that were written to help, but do the authors have trustworthy credentials? 

There is a place to find accurate information and true guidance: The Bible will bless and benefit everyone who reads and applies its wisdom. Here’s what Scripture’s Author—“the God of truth” (Isaiah 65:16)—says about His own Word: 

  1. The Bible gives direction for life (Psalm 119:105). God uses His Word to lead us, no matter what our circumstances may be. 
  2. Scripture strengthens us in grief or difficulty (Psalm 119:28Psalm 119:116). By spending time processing what God says, we’re reminded that He loves us, cares about our situation, and can handle whatever we’re facing. 
  3. God’s Word helps us understand our inner motivations (Hebrews 4:12). Scripture acts like a mirror that lets us see ourselves as we truly are. 

The Bible is the very mind of God put into words so that we can know Him more fully. To what extent do you depend upon this amazing Book as your foundation for life?

The Resurrection and the Life

“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25)

The backdrop to this fifth “I am” declaration of Jesus in John’s gospel is the death of Lazarus four days before Christ‘s arrival with His disciples in Bethany. Martha, Lazarus’ sister, met Jesus and said, “If thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (John 11:21). Jesus then gave her the powerful declaration in today’s text, followed by “and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (v. 26).

Jesus’ declaration of being “the resurrection, and the life” went well beyond what He was going to do in raising Lazarus from the dead. He was proclaiming His divinity and power to raise any man from the dead and impart resurrection life. In John 5:21, we read, “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.”

While our mortal life ebbs away, the life Jesus gives to those who put their faith in Him never ends. John 5:24 says, “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

The resurrection life of Jesus is not just for the afterlife but also provides hope and strength in the midst of a sin-cursed world. Paul declared that God “hath quickened us together with Christ…and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6), and “as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). JPT

The Being and the Seeing

They shall know that I am the Lord their God…that I may dwell among them: I am the Lord their God.Exodus 29:46

Adam sinned and, in his panic, frantically tried to do the impossible; he tried to hide from the presence of God. David also must have had wild thoughts of trying to escape from the Presence, for he wrote, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Psalm 139:7).

Then he proceeded through one of his most beautiful psalms to celebrate the glory of the divine immanence. “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (139:8-10).

And he knew that God’s being and God’s seeing are the same, that the seeing Presence had been with him even before he was born, watching the mystery of unfolding life. POG057

At the heart of the Christian message is God Himself waiting for His redeemed children to push in to conscious awareness of His presence. POG034-035

More Than a Recitation

These people approach Me with their mouths to honor Me with lip-service— yet their hearts are far from Me.Isaiah 29:13

Some Christians think that prayer consists solely of reciting the words of the Lord’s Prayer, but, as the great preacher C. H. Spurgeon once said: “To recite the Lord’s Prayer and believe that you have then prayed is the height of foolishness.” This does not mean, of course, that there is no spiritual value in reciting it, providing we realize that it is not just a prayer to be recited. Personally, I would not want to deprive Christian congregations of the pleasure and joy of reciting together the Lord’s Prayer, but I do want to encourage them to view it as a departure point rather than an arrival platform.

If Jesus advised His disciples to avoid “[babbling] like the idolaters” (Mt 6:7), would He then immediately follow it by giving us a prayer to simply recite? Obviously, as I have said, one can derive great spiritual pleasure from repeating the words that Jesus gave us, but if we are to obtain the greatest value from the Lord’s Prayer, then we must view it as a skeleton on which we have to put flesh. If we view these words, not merely as something to recite, but as an outline from which we must work our way when praying, no matter what we are praying about, then we will experience a growing confidence that we are praying the way Jesus taught.

You see, it’s one thing to recite a prayer; it’s another thing to know how to pray.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I see there can be great value in reciting a prayer, but I want to be able to do more than repeat a prayer—I want to pray. Help me, for without You I can do nothing. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Further Study

Gl 4:1-11; Mt 6:5; 23:14

What is Paul saying about ritualism?

When does prayer become hypocritical?

It’s Not Difficult!

“This command that I give you today is certainly not too difficult or beyond your reach.”Deuteronomy 30:11

The Christian life is not difficult. The same Christ who lived a perfect, obedient, and sinless life stands prepared to live it again through you (Gal. 2:20). God’s will is not hard to discern. He has given us the Scriptures, which reveal His will, and He has placed His Holy Spirit within us to guide us to His perfect will in every situation (John 16:13). Our greatest challenge will be to wholly commit our lives to follow God’s will obediently as He reveals it.

Moses gathered the Israelites around Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim before they were to enter the Promised Land. There, God described what they had to do in order to obey Him. God gave detailed instructions so there was no mistaking what was expected of them. Then God asked them to make a choice. If they chose to disobey His commands, they would face His wrath. If they chose to obey, they would receive His blessing.

God’s Word comes to you in the same way. It is not too complex to understand. You don’t have to struggle to discern God’s will about adultery or forgiveness or honesty. God’s word is perfectly clear. The question is, how will you respond? Nowhere in Scripture did God excuse disobedience because His instructions were too vague or complex. Condemnation came because they knew exactly what God wanted them to do, yet they chose not to do it! God, through His Holy Spirit, will always give you sufficient revelation and strength to take the next step with Him. If you are uncertain about what God is asking of you, make sure that you are obeying all that you do know, and through your obedience, God’s next instruction will become clear.

VIDEO Conformed Through Worship

And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
1 Corinthians 15:49

Neuroscientists say that the brain reacts to focused thoughts in almost the same way it reacts to physical actions. That is, repeatedly imagining a perfect tennis serve or golf swing results in the same progress toward perfection as actually practicing the action itself.

The Christian’s goal of perfection is becoming conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. That’s not something we accomplish in our own strength—it is something that the Holy Spirit works in us. Yet the more we focus on Christ, the more we can cooperate with the Spirit in us, moving us to the goal of conformity to Christ. And what is the best way to focus on the Person of Christ? Worship. After all, worship is directing our love, attention, and praise to Him who is Lord of all. The more we focus on Christ in worship, the more we become like Him—conformed to His image.

Worship is not just a religious exercise; it is a spiritually transforming process of focusing on the One to whom we desire to be like—to be conformed to His image.

The more the soul is conformable to Christ, the more confident it will be of its interest in Christ. Thomas Brooks


We Will Receive a New Body in Heaven! | David Jeremiah | 1 Corinthians 15:35-49

Out of the Heart

Out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. Matthew 15:19

A rescue mission nicknamed “Operation Noah’s Ark” might sound fun for animal lovers, but it was a nightmare for the Nassau Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. After receiving complaints about the noise and the horrid stench coming from a certain house, workers entered the Long Island home and found (and later removed) more than four hundred animals from their neglected conditions.

We may not be holding hundreds of animals in filthy conditions, but Jesus said we might be harboring evil and sinful thoughts and actions in our hearts that need to be exposed and removed. 

In teaching His disciples about what makes a person clean and unclean, Jesus said it isn’t dirty hands or “whatever enters the mouth” that defiles a person, but an evil heart (Matthew 15:17–19). The stench from our hearts will eventually leak out from our lives. Then Jesus gave examples of evil thoughts and actions that come “out of the heart” (v. 19). No amount of external religious activities and rituals can make them clean. We need God to transform our hearts.

We can practice Jesus’ inside-out ethic by giving Him access to the squalor of our hearts and letting Him remove what’s causing the stench. As Christ uncovers what’s coming from our hearts, He’ll help our words and actions be aligned with His desires, and the aroma from our lives will please Him.

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

Why is it important to take frequent inventory of your heart? How can you seek God’s help?

Loving God, my heart is desperately wicked. Only You can fully know it and remove the evil that’s in it.

For further study, read The Forgiveness of God.

The Abiding Life

Our service for the Lord becomes joy-filled and effective when we depend on Him to guide our steps

John 15:1-5

Yesterday I shared with you about a time when the Lord reminded me that I am not the vine—He is. For years I had tried to accomplish by myself what Jesus wanted to achieve through me. My desire was to impress God and earn His approval. His goal, on the other hand, was for me simply to abide

The Holy Spirit’s job is to live the life of Christ through us. This is known by a variety of names, including the exchanged life, the Spirit-filled life, and the abiding life. All of these describe the joyful existence Paul spoke of in Galatians 2:20: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.” 

Seen from the outside, a branch does not appear to be doing anything. But that doesn’t mean that the abiding life is passive. Jesus was the perfect example of a Spirit-filled life, and He certainly didn’t sit around! He worked hard out of a reservoir of divine energy (John 8:28). All of Christ’s wisdom, knowledge, and courage was drawn from God through the Holy Spirit. 

Christians bear fruit through surrender. We “take root” in the Lord by meditating on His Word, praying, and serving. We reserve nothing for ourselves to control but fully rely upon Him. That’s not passive living; it’s an abiding life.