Hallelujah!

We’ve been discussing praising God with others, as well as in our personal devotion to the Lord, which brings us to one of my favorite expressions of worship:

Hallelujah!  Literally, “Glory to God!”  From the Hebrew root word “halal’  (haw-lal’): to be clear; to shine; hence to make a show; to boast: and thus to be clamorously foolish; to glory; also to celebrate; to rave; to be mad; to praise.  (def. from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Crusade Bible Publishers, Nashville, TN) “ -lu,”  makes the word 1st person plural, and “-jah”  is the Hebrew shortening of the name of God.  So it could be translated, “We Glory, Praise, Celebrate  God!”  How can we, mere creatures add glory to the Almighty, already Glorious, Creator? Well, we can’t add anything to God, but we can boast about Him; shine for Him; rave about Him; tell about His wonders; and even look “clamorously foolish” as we get caught up in our praise of Him.

Halal is used 113 times as some form of the word “praise.”                                                                                *Ps.22:22 “..in the midst of the congregation will I praise (halal) thee.”                                                  *Ps.35:18  “I will praise (halal) thee among much people.”                                                                          *Ps. 109:30 “…I will praise (halal) him among the multitude.”                                                           Halal is used liberally in Psalms 148 and 150, and in descriptions of Old Testament Tabernacle worship, and brings to mind   1Peter2:9: …“ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy notion, a peculiar people that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light

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I love the story of King David when he found the Ark of God, and decided to bring it to Jerusalem.  The Ark was not just a symbol, but was considered by the Jews to be the actual dwelling place of God on earth; the seat of His presence. It was upon the “Mercy Seat” of the Ark  where the blood of the sin offering was to be sprinkled every year. The Ark had been captured by the Philistines, but had been sent back into  the land of Israel because its presence there had brought calamity upon those people. Now David, the Bible says, was “a man after God’s own heart.” (1Samuel 13:14 & Acts13:22)  He longed for the Lord’s presence to be in the midst of Israel.

This is a story that is rich with the Biblical principles and patterns for our present day  worship. The part I want to draw on today is David’s complete abandon in His joy and pleasure at finally bringing his beloved Lord’s Ark home to his people.  As the priests carried the Ark up the road to Jerusalem David “danced before the Lord with all of his might!”  He laid aside His kingly robe, humbling himself before the One True King, and began to “show forth” his praise in his famous dance.  (2Samuel 6:13-23)  Now David’s wife, Michal, was watching through a window as he was leaping and dancing, and she despised him in her heart.  Please note that she was not participating in the ceremony. She had distanced herself from the worship. Perhaps she thought his brash display was unbecoming a king, or perhaps she just thought all this hoop-de-doo was too much! She met David with scornful contempt….his reply?  “It was before the Lord…..and I will yet be more vile…”  (vs. 21 & 22) He was prepared to humble himself even further to exalt his Lord.

Please notice two things:  1.  David’s praise was completely God focused. He wasn’t performing for an audience!    2. Michal’s heart was far from God. She cared only about what it looked like to others.  By the way, Michal paid a price for her judgemental attitude towards David’s worship.  She was never to bear children. Her life became barren.

Please take away these two lessons: 1. Don’t be afraid to “show forth”  your praise (halal). To rave about God; to glory & shine in Him, even if it may look or sound foolish to others.  Perform your “halal’ for Him alone.   2. It is displeasing to the Lord for us to despise others as they perform their praise (halal) to Him. Withhold your judgement of the praises of others, so that your life doesn’t become barren like Michal’s.  Leave it to God to decide if the praise offering is acceptable or not.  He sees the heart.

Having said that, be aware that wherever there is liberty in the Spirit to worship freely, there may be a time when you see something happening that is decidedly unscriptural.  This is why we have wise shepherds to bring correction, so that the service is orderly and God-centered.

God loves the praises (halal) of his people.  Read Psalm 150! Here, and in many other places in scripture, we are commanded to praise (halal) the Lord!  Let us offer our hallelujahs to the King

Let’s pray:  Lord of the Mercy Seat, help us to be like David, a people “after your own heart.”  May we learn to abandon ourselves to You,  to praise You with a singleness of heart: To see you  high and lifted up. To glory in Your Presence and Your love.  May joyful hallelujahs fill our hearts today!  In Jesus’ name,

Amen!

 

 

 

The Sacrifice of Praise

Since Jesus is building His Church…a dwelling place for Himself… I cannot say enough how important it is to be in church.  If you don’t have a church, find one and go regularly!  Look, there is no perfect church!  Churches are filled with people, and there are no perfect people!  There are just folks like you, hoping to find a place to feel welcome and loved.  Try not to make it complicated.  Try to put your “druthers” aside. Ask Jesus to lead you. You might be surprised where to end up.

But don’t delay!  Look around!  The days are dark!  We need to do what Jesus has shown us to do in His Word!!   He has given us men as gifts: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. (Ephesains 4: 11) These are His shepherds to keep us on the right track; to help  us to be transformed.  These shepherds are found in church!   They may not be perfect, either, but using them is God’s way for His Church.   Now,  I know there are lots of good TV personalities who preach and teach, and discuss, and prophesy. (and sell things, and ask for your money!)  But, they do not know you! They won’t be holding your hand and praying for you when trouble comes!  They can’t speak into your life or strengthen you in your walk with Christ.  We need the local assembly, especially “as we see the day approaching!”(Hebrews 10:25)  We are to be “fitly joined together.” Ephesians 4:11-16)  Worshipping together is part of God’s plan for His church and your life!!

God has given us patterns for the way He wants us to worship.Shirley Blank

Back in the days of Israel’s temple, a believer was to bring different kinds of offerings and sacrifices to God: lambs, cattle, goats, doves, money, fruits of their harvests, oil, wine, salt.  Aren’t you glad that you don’t have to take your pet lamb to church and offer it as a sacrifice to God, so your sin can be forgiven until next year?  Jesus has offered himself in your place.  “The Lamb of  God who takes away the sin of the world!” So that is finished!  He is our offering!  It is still proper to bring an offering to the Lord, just not required to take away sin.

The offerings we bring now are offerings of the heart.  We should cheerfully give of our substance to the work of the Lord, and to the poor; and do good works. (Heb.13:16)   And offer the “Sacrifice of praise!”

Hebrews 13:15:  “By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is          the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”

Sacrifice of praise

That brings us to the 3rd Hebrew word for praise: towdah (to-daw’) This word is often used when referring to a company of worshippers with their hands extended.  “…I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise (towdah), with a multitude that kept holy day. (Ps. 42:4)    It speaks of joining together to praise. Jeremiah uses it twice to describe a “sacrifice of praise (towdah)” (Jer.17:26 & 33:11)

Maybe you are not into the singing portion of your church service.   Try thinking of it as an offering  to the Lord. Maybe it truly is a “sacrifice” for you. Something to be endured until you can get to the part you like…the preaching.  I promise that if you focus on God; let the words take hold in your mind and heart; forget the off-key singer next to you, or the tamborine playing that annoys you; and make it an offering to the Lord, it will transform you!  Singing together is scriptural. Not only does it honor God, but it builds your faith as you focus on Him.

Let’s pray:  Shepherd of our hearts and lives, We thank you that your plan is to “set the solitary in families.”  Lead us each to the family of believers that you intend for us. Plant us where we can be shepherded, renewed. and transformed.  Teach us how to worship together in Your holy Presence.   In Jesus’ Name,

Amen!

May you find the place where you can be “fitly joined” and offer your sacrifice of praise!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A House of Praise

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord!”  (Zechariah 2:10) Prepare for His coming!  “How?” you ask. This verse says to sing and rejoice!  Does a bride preparing for her wedding spend her days in fear, depression, and confusion?  Of course not! She is counting the days and enjoying all of her preparations!  He is coming for a joyful, ardent people!

Unfortunately many of us have dozed off while waiting!  Perhaps it has been a while since you have spent time with Him, and enjoyed His nearness. Maybe the business of day-to-day life has sapped your joy and ardor.  Jesus sent a message to the Church at Ephesus saying that He admired their works, their patience, their hatred of evil, and their discernment of false  apostles; yet, He said they had left their first love!  Him!  We must beware of falling into “churchiness,”  while our hearts grow cold. The Ephesians were doing good things!  And  He called them to repent! To return to loving Him!  They needed to renew their minds!

“,,,be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Some of the most thrilling words in the Bible!  Transformed; changed; made into His likeness!   “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  (2 Corinthians 5:17)  He makes it possible for us to warm up again.  He has left instructions in the Book!  So, let’s  search it out.

In my last post I mentioned that one of the Hebrew words for praise is “yadah,”  In fact, it is ReachingFullPotentialthe word that Jacob’s wife, Leah, used to name her son “Judah” because she praised the Lord for giving him to her.  It is the word used in Psalm 9:1: “I will praise (yadah) thee, O Lord, with my whole heart.”  It is focusing on God and praising with intensity. Throwing our praises to Him!

Another important way to praise is through the “tehillah:” a laudation in song; a hymn; singing that is God centered and exalting. It is a song that boasts of the attributes, character, and/or the work of God.  It is used 71 times in the Old Testament, and sometimes miracles happened when the people sang (tehillah) praises.  A tehillah praise can be, “How Great Thou Art,” or it can be a song you make up as you go along.  A one time only composition that you might not ever sing again.  No matter!  “God inhabits the (tehillah) praises of His people!” (Psalm 22:3)

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In 2Chronicles 20:22, when King Jehoshaphat and all of Judah were surrounded by an overwhelming array of enemies, a prophetic word came to tell them that they would not have to fight.  So they marched out to meet their enemies with the singers and musicians leading, singing praises (tehillah), specifically singing: “Praise the Lord, for His mercy endureth forever.”  And the “Lord set ambushments” against the enemy and they began to fight each other. By the time Jehoshaphat’s army arrived at the battlefield all they found were the dead bodies of three enemy armies!  The power was not in the song, the power was in the focus of the tehillah! In the Lord!  He says that He inhabits our praises.

“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing.”  (Zephaniah 3:17)

When we sing corporately, or when we sing alone, we are building an habitation for Jesus, the Mighty One, our First Love!

Let’s pray:  Father of our heart’s First Love, draw us ever nearer to you. Teach us that song of joy that You sing over us, so that we might return it to You!  Reveal Your true love to us all over again. We want to return to You fully and with an abandon of all that hinders us.  Be our song of tehillah.  Help us find our way back to our First Love!  In Jesus’ name,

AMEN

 

 

This Little Light of Mine!

We are on our way!  We’ve been called “Out of darkness and into His marvelous light!’  He has redeemed us by His precious blood; cleansed us from every sin; given us new hearts; and  has set our feet upon the path of life!   The rest is a piece of cake!! Right?  Um….no!  (Good! You’ve been paying attention!  🙂 ) Jesus has done His part!  The glorious, miraculous part.  Now, it’s our turn!  We have a part to do!

Our hearts are made new, and our new lives are hidden with Christ in the heavenlies, BUT we still have earthly lives. We still tread upon the earth, deal with people every day, and have natural decisions and choices to make.  Are we going to do that stuff the same old way?

If you recall, we explored Jesus’ story of the Ten Virgins.  Five were wise & five were foolish. FiveOil lamp 1 had a surplus of oil, and five were stuck in the dark because their lamps went out.  Now it is time for us to learn how to be wise! Jesus has ignited our flames, but it is now up to us to guard them and keep them burning.   As we walk in this world, lots of things try to extinguish our flames.  Remember the little children’s song, “This Little Light of Mine?”  Lots of wisdom in that little ditty!  “Hide it under a bushel? NO! I’m gonna let it shine!”  “Don’t let Satan blow it out! I’m gonna let it shine!”  Here’s a new one: “Don’t run out of oil! NO! I’m gonna let it shine!”  The world, our own natural inclinations, and the enemy of our souls work overtime to get us to hide it; forget to replenish our oil; or just let it be blown out!  So what (on earth) should we do?

Jesus didn’t save us just to fling us out into the deep end and say, “Sink or swim!”  He gave us the lifeline of His Word.  In Romans 12:2 we find the key, if we will just pay attention. “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”

We are clean by His work, but transformation comes with the renewing of our minds.  Well, just what does a renewed mind look like?  If you grab on to that Lifeline, God’s Word, and read Philippians 2:5, you’ll see that we are to have the same kind of mind that Jesus has.  If fact, 1Corinthians 2:16, says that we have the mind of Christ!  How amazing is that?  So now our job is to nurture it; feed it; put good things into it; keep the junk out of it! Which brings us to the care, feeding, & renewing of our minds:

Our minds are renewed in His presence.  In praise and worship; in prayer; in reading the Word of God; in Church; and in fellowship with other flaming hearts.

Praise and worship serves to focus our minds on Him.   God is worthy of all the glory we can possibly give Him, but, is God an egotist that must have constant reminding of how wonderful He is?  Of course not!  Worship serves a purpose for us!  We are the ones who need to worship!   As we declare His attributes, we build our own faith. Our minds become focused on who He is and what He has done for us!  God inhabits the praises of His people.  (Psalm 22:3)  When we praise Him, He will manifest Himself to us.  It is a way to fellowship with the Almighty!  Wow!

 We are told to come into His presence with singing & into His courts with praise. (Psalm 100) Our songs and hymns serve to encourage one another in corporate praise. But, don’t miss out on the wonderful blessing of private worship. Don’t just save your singing for church!  We are commanded to make melody in our hearts to the Lord! (Eph.5:19) For those non-singers among us, consider this verse from the Song of Solomon 2:19. “Oh, my dove……let me hear your voice, for sweet is your voice, and your countenance is comely.”  You may think you croak like a frog, but your Lord thinks your song is sweet!   (…and He thinks your face is lovely!…or handsome, as the case may be.)

There are seven different words in the Old Testament Hebrew that are translated as “praise” in our English translations.  Their literal meanings range from throwing out the hand as though throwing a stone or an arrow (taking aim at the object); to exalt God with a song or hymn; to extend the hand with an offering or sacrifice; to shine or make a show; to kneel in adoration; to strike an instrument with the fingers; to address in a loud voice.  That covers a lot of activity, and one day we will go into it in more detail.

I like the first one..which is “yahdah.” It is such a good place to start1  It has the sense of throwingprayer worship something at a target!  So, take aim at the Lord!  get Him in the cross hairs of yourmind & heart!   Throw out your hand to the King! …Boom!   Here is my heart!    Here is my praise! This is my love and gratitude!  Focus your very being on Him!  King of Kings! Mighty God!

You can enlarge your praise vocabulary by reading the Word of God, especially the Psalms.  If your praises don’t seem grand enough (and mine often don’t), try writing down some of the attributes you find in the Bible.  His names, for starters: King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Everlasting Father, Creator, Saviour, Good Shepherd, Friend, Holy One, Mighty Warrior, Lord of All, Glorious One, Sun of Righteousness, Word of God. (..and this is only a fraction of the list!)  Think of what He has done for you, and recite those things before Him.  You will find yourself growing in the grace of worship.

In the days ahead we will take a look at some other transforming, renewing ways to worship, but for today,

Let’s pray:  King of Glory, renew our minds in your presence so that we might burn ever more brightly in this dark world. Teach us to praise and worship you in the “beauty of holiness.”  May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable offerings to You.  In Jesus’ name,

AMEN

Phillips, Craig, and Dean are here to give you a praise lesson! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Piece of Cake

I just love cake! In fact, I consider it to be one of the main food groups necessary for survival!  It’s great with a cup of your favorite coffee, or a tall, cold glass of milk!  We usually eat cake at  celebrations of some kind: birthdays, weddings, retirements, send-offs…It’s oh, so sweet! it’s cake-775426_640effortless to chew! It goes down easy!  I think that is why we refer to something being easy as “a piece of cake!”   Like the Christian life, right?   Uhhhh….no!

Jesus never promised us an easy road.  In fact, He said to take up our cross and follow Him.  His path led to Calvary.  He asked His followers if they were able to drink the cup that He would drink.  If that gives you some pause, it should.  Turn on the news and see what is happening to Christians around the world. He warned His followers to “count the cost;”  that if the world hated Him, it would hate us, too.   He said, “In this world you shall have tribulation.”  (John 16:33)   But there is more to that verse: “but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

The world is a dark and dangerous place. Weeds of all kinds grow here!   And I’m not just talking about your lawn or garden. There is hate, deceit, betrayal, drug addiction, alcoholism, sickness, mental illness, cancer, loss, grief, war…this list could go on and on.  The path we walk might take us through long, deep valleys.  Loved ones may suffer, children may die,  marriages may fail, businesses may go under, and people (even God’s people) may disappoint.  Yes, in the world there is trouble.  But Jesus says, “Cheer up!  I have overcome the world!” 

Is it easy to cheer up when your loved one is gone? When your baby dies after you have prayed for so long for his healing? When the one you love says they don’t love you anymore?  When the child of your heart’s delight has wandered away into unspeakable danger?  When your dreams are shattered? And your grief knows no end?  No, this is no piece of cake…this is hard!

That is why we need to know what Christ has provided for us in this salvation.  He has overcome!  And He has said, “…I will never leave thee, nor forske thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)  He is our Comforter, (John 14:16), a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief. (Isaiah 53:3) He is touched by the feelings of our infirmities. (Hebrews 4:15)…and it doesn’t depend on us!

 He doesn’t cast us away because we don’t understand our circumstances. We might be angry; we might have questions; why, God, why? We might be discouraged; we might be downcast; confused; broken hearted; just broken. Completely unable to sense His presence.  Numb; dry; knocked down. Don’t give up!  Even “if we believe not; yet He abideth faithful. He cannot deny Himself!” (2Timothy 2:13) He doesn’t stop saving us after we’ve prayed the first sinner’s prayer.  He will always save us. He is our Saviour!

I will tell you that my most recent valley was a very long, dark one.  The wilderness is real. Planted with doubts, questions, regrets. You can find out what you are made of there. Not always good things, either.  But, the valley is significant because Jesus is with us there.  He is the “Lily of the Valley.”  “Faithful and True.”  He will lead you out!  For me, He used some friends who prayed, and one who wrote some wonderful books: One on “Facing Fear” and one on “Letting It Go.”  (Thank you, Christin Ditchfield!   See my recommended books page! 🙂 )  Soon I was like the lady in the Song of Solomon.  “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness leaning upon her beloved?”  You see He was with her in the wilderness all the time!

You are not alone!  It may not be a “piece of cake;” it may be really hard!  But He is with you!

Let’s Pray: Beloved Father of our hearts,  Thank you that you have provided all that we need to be able to walk this path.  You will never leave us! We belong to You and You are able to keep what we have committed to You…Even when we are faithless, You are faithful.  Keep  us, Lord, from the power of the evil one. And prepare our hearts for Your coming. In Jesus’name,

AMEN

Here is Meredith Andrews reminding you, “You’re Not Alone”

The Path of Life

He has called us out of the darkness and into His Light.  And now He tells us to “walk as Children of Light!”  (Eph.5;8)   So,  how do we do that?  Where do we walk?  How do we find our way ?  Aren’t you glad that He said He was the Good Shepherd?  The Shepherd is the One that shows the way.  He is the One who leads the sheep!  “He leads me in paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake!”   Ps.23:3

Perhaps you are thinking, “I’ve heard the road is called the straight and narrow, and only a few will find it.”  Well, don’t be afraid!  There’s good news!  Psalm 16:11 will strengthen your heart! “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”   He is showing us the secret of that narrow road!  It is in His presence! and not only that, but there is fullness of joy to be found there!  and pleasures for evermore! The Path of Life is in the very presence of God!  I don’t know where you are, or where you have been in your relationship with the Lord.  But,  I want you to know that it is possible for ordinary people like you & me to experience the manifested presence of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  If you have never “felt” His presence, it is most likely that you didn’t know that it is possible.Psalm 16

Jesus said that if we would open the door when He knocked, that He would come in and dine with us. Have fellowship with us.  How could that happen if He didn’t intend for us to aware of Him?  This will only happen if we take time each day to just be with Him.

We can develop our awareness of His presence in several ways. I will outline a few here, and then take more time with each one in the days ahead.

1. Devotion: praise, worship, and prayer.  Read Psalm 100 to see how He wants us to enter His Presence.  Hint:  with singing and worship!  I can hear you saying, but I have a voice like a frog!  I can’t sing!  I am telling you…get some worship music, and sing along. Put your mind on HIm and soon you will have entered His Presence.  (More on this special interest of mine later!)

2. Read the Word: Psalm 119:105  “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”  Now that is pretty self explanatory. You want to find the Path of Life?  He will show you in the Bible!

3. Church:  Psalm 77:13  “Thy way is in the sanctuary.”  and Hebrews 10:25 “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.”    I hear someone saying, “But I don’t have a church.” or, “I can’t find a church I like.”  Oh, yeah, that was me I heard!  True! I was a wanderer for a long time. If you are a wanderer, don’t give up looking  for a church. The days are very short, there is persecution everywhere in the world. We need each other more than ever!  Lay aside the list of things you want, and ask the Lord to lead you to where He wants.  Then stop complaining and sit there!

If that sounds harsh, it is only because I have had to be harsh with myself on this issue. I have been guilty of wanting “this kind of music, and that kind of preaching; these kinds of people, and those kinds of programs and ministries.”  He isn’t building His church for me! He is building it for Himself!   The Day is approaching!! The Bride that Jesus is coming for is His church.  His church is built of many individuals.  And I want to be a part of that!  (and by the way…after years of searching, I have found a wonderful church where the word is preached in truth and power, and God’s people are  filled with genuine love and kindness!)

Let’s pray:  Father of Life, thank you that You want us to come into Your presence every day. Help us to see that we don’t need to avoid You when we mess up.  We can run to You, and You will meet us! And clean us up; feed us; restore us; and lead us on again. Draw us close to Your heart.  Teach us to make time for devotion to you; to make you our number one priority. Establish our feet on the Path of Life, where we can find fullness of joy! In Jesus’ Name,

Amen!

Let Terry MacAlmon lead you into His presence.  🙂

Walking in the Light

 

Out of Darkness

And now…we have a new beginning!  He has said, as He did in the very beginning of all things,  Let there be light!”  And He lights  us up!  He breathes light into our darkness and He says,  “…come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.”  (Isaiah 2:5)  “For you were sometimes in darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.”  (Eph 5:8)

Ever have someone come into the room where you were sleeping soundly and turn the light on in your eyes?  It will wake you right up! That’s the idea!  Have we been slumbering, like the virgins whose lamps went out?  (see post #1) “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light!”  (Eph.5:14)

Now, the Light He is talking about is not the rules and  regulations, doctrines and principles of “religion.”  (Though I want to make  it clear that learning Biblical principles is important for each of us.)   But, the LIGHT is Christ, Himself.  A relationship; a fellowship with the very Light of the World. He wants you!  He loves you! He sacrificed Himself for you!  He wants to walk with you in the Light of that love.  Not just occassionally, but constantly.  He doesn’t want you to muddle through. He’s the Shepherd who wants to lead you; the Master who wants to teach you; the Comforter who would hold you & wipe your tears.  He is the Word who will speak to you; the Bread who will feed you; the Living Water who will offer you drink.  You don’t have to beg Him for these things! He has already provided them for you in His very Presence.  You may draw them with the cup of faith. And you may draw with joy and confidence.  He has already given Himself for you, how much more He wants you to have all of these things.  So He leads you in “the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

Yes, we are on a journey along a path into the Light. But, we are not Alice, Through the Looking Glass!  Our faith in Him has taken us into a new and wonderous land. Yes, our lives are ” hidden in heavenly places with him!”  (Eph. 2:6)  But we are still in this world!  And there’s the rub!  How do we live in this world now?   In John 15, Jesus is praying for His followers.  He says that they (we) are not of this world,  just like HE is not of this world!  He is not praying for us to be taken out of the world, but sent to it!   He is praying that we will be kept from the “evil one.” And He is sending us into the world to take the Light out into the dark!  I am so thankful that Jesus has prayed for us!  And that He is praying still, as we walk on this earth.  He has left us the treasure of His Word, like  GPS for our hearts, to show the way. (And, I know from experience, that if we neglect it, we will surely wonder off His intended path.)

I’ve said that we are on a journey.                                                                                                                       I know that I sure haven’t shines brighter (2)goldarrived  at my destination!  Our steps are ordered by the Lord, Himself.  And, as we grow in Him, the path gets brighter & brighter until we reach the full day. (Prov. 4:16)

Let’s pray:   Precious Father, teach how to walk in this world,  as we follow You. We want to have eyes to see, and ears to hear, so that the evil one, can’t draw us away from Your purposes for our lives.                               In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

Take some time to ponder the Light today. Here’s some good music to get your started!

Shine on Us, Phillips, Craig, & Dean

Out of Darkness and into His Marvelous Light

Here is a sobering thought for today, brought to us by Adam and Eve:  We are all born into darkness!    Into a fallen, sinful world, with fallen, sinful natures.  Just listen to Isaiah 60:2: “for, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people….”  I mean, just look around! Spend a few minutes with a newspaper or on any news channel!  Immorality, wickedness, crime, greed, deceit,  treachery, terrorism…darkness!

“Well,” you may say. “That’s the world for you!”  But, let’s think about our own natures.  We all have sinned! We all have fallen short!  (Ro. 3:23)  One of the saddest verses in the Bible is John 3:19.  Jesus is speaking.  “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”   Yes, like children who run and hide when they have misbehaved, our tendency is to shrink from the Light!  We don’t want to be found out! We don’t want our sin exposed, so we run and hide.

But, wait a minute! The Light that shines into our darkness is Jesus, Himself! Only our darkened hearts don’t understand it at first.   “The Light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.”  (John 1:5)   So, do we turn immediately and embrace the Light?  Not always!  We think, “There must be some other way!”   But, there isn’t!  We have to see our sin, in order to be cleansed from it!  Jesus’ way is the only way!

I am sad to say that I’ve spent some time running from the light!  Looking for peace and answers in philosophies,  mysticism, the arts, people, and even in nominal “religion.” Looking for love in all the wrong places. Getting banged around by the world. Wounded, weary, and battered.

Jesus is so patient, though. He doesn’t shrug His shoulders and turn away.  He calls to us!  He pursues us with His magnificent search light until we are ready to stop running and turn to Him.  He “hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light…”  IPeter 2:9

“For God, who commanded His light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.”  2Cor.4:6

When Saul (later known as Paul, the Apostle) was on the road to Damascus hunting Christians like prey.  He saw this Light quite literally!  In fact, it was so powerful it knocked him to the ground and struck him blind!  Then Jesus spoke to him out of the light and transformed him completely. He told Saul that He was sending him as a minister and a witness,  “…to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they receive the forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified (set apart) by faith that is in me.” Acts 26:18.

And now, He calls us “Children of Light!”  No more darkness for us! We are to live in the light. Separate from the world. Given everything we need to live a life of holiness, so that we will be ready and waiting for Him when He comes.  Just like a Bride waiting for her Bridegroom.

Let’s pray:  Father of Light, thank you for shining your Light into our darkened hearts! Thank you for the treasure of Jesus in our earthen vessels. You, the  holy Light, dwelling in hearts that have been redeemed by Your blood, and are now aflame with your Presence!   Show us how to live in Your Light, for Your honor, and for Your glory.             In Jesus’ Name,    AMEN!

In Spirit and In Truth

Did you know that the Heavenly Father is looking for someone?  Oh, I hope it is me!  I do want Him to find me!  Don’t you?

One day Jesus was talking to a woman by a well in Samaria. Now there are lots of things to glean from this story, but I want to concentrate today on the most astonishing thing that He said to her about whom the Father was seeking.   He said, “the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”

This is an oft quoted scripture, but, let’s take a close look at it.  What, exactly, is spirit; and what, exactly, is truth?  

According to Strong’s Concordance of the Bible, the Greek word used here for spirit is pneuma: wind; breath; things which are commonly perceived as having no material substance; by extension; spirit, heart, mind – the immaterial part of the inner person that can respond to God. So the Father wants us to respond to and to worship Him in our inner selves; our hearts. Our spirits!  Now, Jesus has paid a price to ransom us from our sinful natures, and made us “alive unto God.” (Ro.6:11)  So our new hearts are washed clean and filled with His Holy Spirit. So now we need to be like those wise virgins, and learn to guard the flame; and replenish our oil. Worshipping in spirit should be a natural thing for a heart  that is alive unto God, as long as we take care of that inner self.

Now, what about truth?   Strong’s gives us the Greek as aletheia: corresponding to reality, verity. Webster’s defines truth as : conformity to fact or reality; actual existence; evident.    So it seems that the Father wants our worship to be real and evident on the outside, too.

Think about that!  Have you ever known someone who professed to be a Christian; a lover of God; but their actions, attitude and life didn’t reflect it?  Amen, and oh, me!  Before we point at anyone else, maybe we should consider our own lives and “see if there be, any wicked way in me.”  (Ps. 139:24)  The rest of that verse is, “lead me in the way everlasting.”  There is so much hope for the, “Oh, me!”s He will lead us out of the quagmire. He wants your inside to line up with your outside!

This is no small issue in the Christian’s life, especially in these times when, sadly, it is getting more difficult to see the difference between the church and the world.  He is looking for those whose transformed hearts are evident. He says, “Don’t hide your flame under a bushel! Let it shine before men, so that God will be glorified!”

There is another side to this coin, too!  How many folks are sitting in churches, paying their tithes, going to Sunday School, attending Christian conferences, and concerts, saying and doing all the right things, but are dead inside. Their flames, (if they ever burned) have gone out, like those five foolish virgins.

Jesus spent more than a few sharp words warning  the religious folk of the day for having the outer life. but not the inner.  In fact, he called them, “whited sepulchres, filled with dead men’s bones.”

The time for playing church is over!  When He comes, He will be looking for those that worship Him in spirit and in truth!   I don’t want to be embarrassed to let the worship I have on the inside to show on the outside. (Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am not shy about worshipping in church.  I believe in giving Him the glory due His name! Sometimes dramatically. But, it’s pretty safe to let it show inside the four walls of the church.)  But, what about the rest of my life? Is the outside lining up with the inside in my everyday life!

It is time for holiness to be restored to our lives.  1Peter 1:15 says, “But as He who has called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of living.”  But the world will suck the holiness right out of us if we don’t guard our hearts. (and our mouths! and our thoughts! and our actions!)  But He has begun a good work in us! (Phil. 1:6) and HE is able to keep us from falling! (Jude 1:24) So, I don’t know about you, but, I am going to hold to His hand; go to Him everyday for my oil; guard my heart’s flame; and let it shine!

Let’s pray:  Heavenly Father, Seeker of Worshippers,  I want to be found by You!  I want to be a worshipper in spirit and in truth! I want to be yours, inside and out! Draw me to yourself anew, everyday, so that I can live the life you intend for me to.  A holy, redeemed life – for your glory! in Jesus’ Name,

AMEN!          Draw Me Close to You by Michael W. Smith

 

 

 

 

 

Oil For My Lamp

There is so much to learn from the story of the Ten Virgins. (Matt.25; 1-18)  They all had lamps; and evidently they all had a flame in the beginning.  They must have been filled  with  great anticipation at going to meet the Bridegroom, and to attend the marriage feast!  I remember, years ago, when I first gave my heart fully to Jesus, there was a gospel song that I loved.  “Soon & very soon. we are going to meet the King! Soon & very soon, we are going to meet the King!  Hallelujah, hallelujah! We’re going to meet the King!”  I just couldn’t wait to meet Jesus!  My flame was burning hot, I tell ya’!  But, just like in the story, the Bridegroom has tarried.

Now, let’s take a look at the difference between the 5 wise & 5 foolish maidens.  They all slept!  After all, it was late, and they were tired.  Just like we get! We all need rest and restoration, don’t we?  So nothing wrong with a little nap.  But, at midnight, the watchman called out that the Bridegroom was coming, and what a stir as the ladies awoke to trim their wicks to make sure their flames were burning their brightest!  Only, …dear, oh dear!  Five of the lamps had gone out! pfffft! kaput!  No oil for a flame! and their friends could not give them theirs!

Here is a principle we need to understand.  We each have to get our own oil!  And make sure we have enough for the journey! Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and there is an abundance to be had!  The wise virgins knew where to get it;  they knew how to guard it; they knew how to keep it; and they knew how to use it!   Yes, they were very wise.

The foolish virgins remind me of many of us, whose hearts are set  on fire in the beginning, but, when He delays His coming, we get discouraged, worn out by an enemy who wants to do just that:  “Wear out the saints!”  The cares & stress of this life seem to poke holes in our vessels, and the oil that keeps our hearts aflame just kind of leaks out.  We must be able to replenish our supply.

But, how do we do that?  Well, since oil is one of the pictures or symbols of the Holy Spirit, we must start there. When you gave your heart to Jesus, the Bible says that He made you His dwelling place by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (1 John 4:13) This is a miracle & a mystery! We are “made alive unto God.” (Ro.6:11)  He stood at your door & knocked, you asked Him in; He entered, and now He wants to fellowship with you.  As you spend this precious time with Him, you will be filled with the oil of His Spirit.  As you pray; as you read His Word; as you worship Him and contemplate His attributes, He will fill you.

So your flame will burn for your family, your friends, and your ministry. But, of course, eventually the oil is used up, so you have to come back for more!  More Truth, more Love, more Strength.  More Jesus!  Gathering oil is a way of life.

I remember seeing a little skit in which an actor playing Jesus knocked on a door and was welcomed with open arms, directed to a chair, and then was completely ignored, as the host scurried about doing this and that, but neglecting the Guest. Perhaps that was what those foolish virgins did. Jesus comes in, by the Holy Spirit, but it is up to us to do our part in the fellowshipping.  He wants a relationship, not a nodding acquaintance. And we have a part to play.

I believe that the problem with the church today, is that we have condensed the Christian life down to principles, doctrines, and programs. Attend all the classes. Learn the first principles. Give your money for the building program, and you got this.   These are all good things! But you can do all of these and run smack dab out of oil, just like the foolish virgins, (and hear those dreaded words, “I never knew you) if you aren’t going to Fountainhead of oil  for yourself  on a regular basis.   And much more as day break appoaches.   You can find your oil in His Presence.

Let’s pray:  Heavenly Father,  Bridegroom and King,  draw us into Your Presence where we may be restored and re-supplied with oil for our flames. We want  hearts that burn for You.  We want to light the Way for our loved ones and friends.  We want to be ready to meet You when You come. Teach us to seek You each day for fresh oil.  In Jesus’ Name,

AMEN!

I hope you will take time in His Presence as you listen to this beautiful song by Terry Macalmon  The lyrics begin about halfway through.  You can get some oil here! 🙂