VIDEO Worship That Changes

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Philippians 3:7

Before meeting Christ, Paul could best be described as a “hit man” for the Pharisees. From Jerusalem, he traveled around the area arresting Jews who had become followers of Christ, taking them to jail (or worse—Acts 22:3-5). But all that changed when he met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus.

As Paul and his associates traveled, a bright light from heaven caused Paul to fall to the ground (Acts 9:4). Falling to the ground is a posture in Scripture for worship (Revelation 1:17; 4:10; 5:8; 7:11; 19:10; 22:8). But Paul likely wasn’t worshiping; he was likely just shocked and scared. However, it became an image of what he would be doing for the rest of his life: bowing his knee to the Lord Jesus Christ in worship. He fell to the ground in literal fear, but he lived the rest of his life in reverential fear—that is, in worship. When he discovered the true object of worship, it changed his life.

The more we worship our Triune God, the more our life will change. If it is not your practice already, worship on your knees and see how it changes your heart.

What or whom we worship determines our behavior. John Murray


Until We Cross The Finish Line – Part 1 // Philippians 3:12-14

Imaginative Faith

The mountains and hills will burst into song before you. Isaiah 55:12

“Look, Papa! Those trees are waving at God!” As we watched young birches bending in the wind before an oncoming storm, my grandson’s excited observation made me smile. It also made me ask myself, Do I have that kind of imaginative faith?

Reflecting on the story of Moses and the burning bush, the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote that “Earth’s crammed with heaven, / And every common bush afire with God; / But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.” God’s handiwork is evident all around us in the wonders of what He has made, and one day, when the earth is made new, we’ll see it like never before.

God tells us about this day when He proclaims through the prophet Isaiah, “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12). Singing mountains? Clapping trees? Why not? Paul noted that “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

Jesus once spoke of stones crying out (Luke 19:40), and His words echo Isaiah’s prophecy about what lies ahead for those who come to Him for salvation. When we look to Him with faith that imagines what only God can do, we’ll see His wonders continue forever!

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

What do you imagine the new earth will be like in God’s forever kingdom? How will you serve Him with imagination today?

Loving God, I praise You that no one is more creative than You are! I look forward to seeing the wonder of all that You are and all that You can do!

For further study, read All Creation Sings.

Praying to Our Sovereign God

God gives us the privilege of participating in His work here on earth

James 5:13-18

Prayer is the heartbeat of the believer’s walk with God, and He commands us to pray about everything (Philippians 4:6). But we sometimes wonder what kind of influence our conversations with the Lord really have, and we find ourselves asking the following two questions:

  1. If God controls all things, why does He want us to pray? He’s self-sufficient and needs no help to accomplish His purposes, so what could any of us possibly contribute? 
  2. Would God’s plans fail if we chose not to pray? The Lord isn’t subservient to us. His plans are contingent only upon Himself. He works all things according to the counsel of His will, not necessarily on the basis of our prayers. 

These truths reveal the Lord’s grace toward believers. He doesn’t need us, yet He’s chosen to include us in His eternal purposes by letting us participate in His work through prayer. Though we may not understand the influence our prayers have, we know God chooses to use them in achieving His purposes. 

So keep praying. Being consistent in prayer helps maintain a sense of humble dependence upon the Lord. And answered prayer produces increasing trust in Him, along with greater gratitude for His sovereign care and protection.

Blind Hearts

“Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” (Ephesians 4:18)

It is a tragedy for a person to have blinded eyes but infinitely worse to have a blinded heart. No one ever willfully chooses to be sightless, but spiritual blindness is a product of the human will.

After Christ had given sight to the man born blind, the Pharisees still refused to believe, so Jesus said to them, “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind….If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth” (John 9:39, 41).

Like these ancient intellectuals, it often seems that modern intellectuals are incurably blind. They profess to teach science and philosophy of the highest complexity, but their understanding is darkened, and their hearts are blinded when it comes to the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. As Paul says: “If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

Even very religious people, people who believe in God as Creator, may blind themselves when confronted with the truth that the Creator must also become their Savior. “But their minds were blinded…even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart” (2 Corinthians 3:14-15).

Nevertheless, Christ came as “the light,” and when anyone will simply in faith “turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away” (2 Corinthians 3:16), and the gospel will “shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:4). HMM

The Blissful Center

He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity….Behold, God exalteth by his power.Job 36:10, 22

The work of God is not finished when the first act of inward adjustment has been done. The Spirit would go on from there to bring the total life into harmony with that “blissful center.” This is wrought in the believer by the Word and by prayer and discipline and suffering.

It could be done by a short course in things spiritual if we were more pliable, less self-willed and stubborn; but it usually takes some time before we learn the hard lessons of faith and obedience sufficiently well to permit the work to be done within us with anything near to perfection.

In bringing many sons unto glory God works with whatever He has in whatever way He can and by whatever means He can, respecting always His own gift to us, the freedom of our wills. But of all means He uses, the Bible is the best. OGM072-073

The threefold purpose of the Bible is to inform, to inspire faith and to secure obedience….The Holy Scriptures will do us good only as we present an open mind to be taught, a tender heart to believe and a surrendered will to obey. NCA093

Holiness Is Healthiness

Let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, completing our sanctification in the fear of God.—2 Corinthians 7:1

When we study the Scriptures, particularly the Old Testament, we find that those who got closest to God thought more of His holiness than any other thing. Why should this be? I think in the nature of things it cannot be any other way because, more than anything else, God wants us to be holy. Over and over again in the Bible we are told: “Be holy because I am holy.” We are not directed to be omnipotent (all-powerful) or omniscient (all-wise) as God is, but we are to be holy. This is the prime way of honoring God. We do not glorify Him by eloquent expressions of pompous service but by aspiring to converse with Him with unstained spirits and live to Him in living like Him.

Are you seeking to be holy? God has made holiness the moral condition necessary to the health of His universe. Sin’s temporary presence in the world only accentuates this. Whatever is holy is healthy, and evil is a moral sickness that must ultimately end in death. The formation of the language itself suggest this, the English word “holy” deriving from the Anglo-Saxon halig, meaning “well” or “whole”. To be whole in Christian terms means to be holy. Can you say “I am holy—truly holy”? I am afraid I can’t. I don’t think any honest Christian would say “yes” to that question. But neither would any honest Christian ignore these solemn words: “Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).

Prayer

O Father, help me to be as concerned for the moral health of the universe as You are. But more, help me to focus first on my own moral health and to be rid of all in my life that is contrary to You and Your nature. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.

Further Study

Lk 1:67-80; 2Pt 3:11; 2Co 7:1

Why has God raised up a horn of salvation?

What kind of people ought we to be?

Evil, Good and Good, Evil

Woe to those who call evil good

and good evil,

who substitute darkness for light

and light for darkness,

who substitute bitter for sweet

and sweet for bitter.—Isaiah 5:20

It is Satan’s practice to convince people that what God calls good is actually evil and what God declares evil is, in fact, good. Satan persuaded Adam and Eve that their disobedience, rather than their obedience, would guarantee a full life. They believed him and immediately began to experience sin’s consequences! Despite the absurdity of Satan’s logic, he continues to deceive people into doubting what God has clearly said.

King Saul sought Samuel’s affirmation for the sacrifice he had offered, even though he had acted in direct disobedience to God’s command (1 Sam. 15:13). Ananias and Sapphira expected praise from the early church for their offering, though they were blatantly lying (Acts 5:1–11). An Amalekite soldier sought David’s gratitude for killing Saul, God’s anointed king (2 Sam. 1:1–16).

We, too, will face the temptation to call something good that God has declared wicked. We may be persuaded that we can accomplish more good by lying than by telling the truth. We may claim that we are mobilizing Christians to pray for someone in sin when, in fact, we are spreading gossip. We may assert that we are following God’s will in our job when, in fact, we are striving to pursue our own ambitions. We will also be tempted to call evil that which God declares is good. God says it is good to love our enemies, yet we might decide our task is to hold them responsible for their actions.

It is so important to hold ourselves accountable to God’s word. God does not need us to find exceptions for His commands. He requires our obedience.