From Victory Unto Victory-Feb. 10, 2013

From Victory Unto Victory-February 10, 2013

Scripture:  1 Corinthians 15:10, 54-58; 2 Corinthians 2:15-16

We worship because of the victory.  We worship because our new identity is not in what I’ve done but whose I am.  I am His because of the great work of God in grace.  Paul says the grace extended Him was not in vain that He was willing to let God work through Him in whatever manner He sees fit.  The work of God is grace, mercy, reconciliation, and unity.

It is in this working of God in us, that we become co-laborers in the building up of the kingdom of God.  It is a kingdom that can always produce a victory.  It is not a kingdom of flesh and bone, or brick and mortar.  The kingdom is spiritual, eternal, and everlasting.  We must look beyond the flesh to find the kingdom.  The promise of the completion of this kingdom is inheritance con only be reached by shedding mortality for immortality, the flesh and things of the flesh.

In the final victory the greatest and last enemy stands no chance.  The victory is so complete there is not really even a battle for “death is swallowed up in victory.”  The victory was not at the last-minute but was decisive win and it was never in question.  This is the victory for those who find their identity in Christ.  Paul said it is by God’s grace he is who he is and the small sacrifices we make are nothing compared to the complete victory offered in the sacrifice of Christ.  On the cross Christ stated it is accomplished, it is finished.  There is nothing I can or could have done to achieve this victory.  Our sin that would separate us from God was a God sized problem not a human problem to be solved.

Our just God cannot ignore sin He must punish it, but in His great love justice was met by offering His Son in our place.  That is a grace beyond my comprehension.  I can only begin to scratch the surface of the grace of God In this sacrifice not only to receive forgiveness of our sins but also receive the righteousness of His Son.  We become His Sons and daughters of the victorious king.

The demonstrative exclamation point on this is not the cross but the empty tomb of Christ.  Death could not hold Him.  God is eternal and has the final say, always.  Live in victory each day because by His grace I am what I am.

Death has no victory or sting.  We move from victory unto victory proclaiming the mighty name of Christ.  The law of sin has not power under the grace of God.  Give thanks to God who gives victory through Christ.  The victory is worthy of continual thanks.  The response of thanks is to worship our great Lord and Savior today and every day.  We worship in submitting ourselves to Him and allowing His image, love, and work to be accomplished through us because of Christ.  Who should be afraid to give themselves over to Him when we already know the great victory is won?

Therefore, beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing the work in the Lord is not in vain.  His Word won’t return void.  His work will be accomplished there is not purpose of His that can be thwarted.  We will try to short-circuit it through pride, sin, or unwillingness but God will accomplish with or without and sometimes in spite of us.  The same is true of worship if we don’t worship or praise Him, His Word says even the rocks and trees will cry out with praise.

When His work is accomplished through us it is evidence in our lives 2 Corinthians refers to this as the fragrance of Christ to all, both those who are being saved and to those perishing.  This aroma or reality of Christ is presented the same, but received differently, to one it looks like death unto death.  To give up what little we may grasp for in this life is a dying to self and the unwillingness to see the death of our will and pride, we remain defeated and will suffer death with no confidence of victory, death unto death.

But to the other the aroma is the sweet smell of life entering into our world of death.  The giving up of ourselves and our life, allows a greater life and victory than we thought possible to rule and reign in our lives, filling our days with hope, meaning, purpose, and victory.  Then we can at the end of our lives or the end of these days with confidence of a victory already won on the cross of Christ and the empty tomb.  We move from life to life celebrating with our brothers and sisters in worship and adoration.

Then join the saints of old for all time in the eternal worship of the lamb who was slain, in whom we find victory in this life and all eternity.  Is your life one of worship from the victory of this life to the victory of all eternity?

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Seven Words of Worship-Harland & Moser-Feb. 6, 2013

Seven Words of Worship-Harland & Moser-February 6, 2013

Week 4-Love-February 6, 2013

Points to Ponder

v  The full and perfect expression of God’s great love for us is His Son, Jesus Christ.

  1. “No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.  You are My friends if you do what I command you.”  John 15:13-14
  2. “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”  1 John 4:16
  3. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

v  God’s love elicits a response of love from us-worship!

  1. The Bible shows us that God always has been and always will be love.  It is His nature, His expression, His identity; and we have learned, God will always be consistently true to Himself.
  2. “Then I brought the leaders of Judah up on top of the wall, and I appointed two large processions that gave thanks.  One went to the right on the wall, toward the Dung Gate…Then the singers sang, with Jezrahiah as the leader.  On that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy.  The women and children also celebrated, and Jerusalem’s rejoicing was heard far away.”  Nehemiah 12:31, 42-43
  3. Have you ever been a part of a corporate worship experience that was so “lively” it could be heard from far away?  Would you be comfortable in such a setting?  Why or why not?
  4. Worship is both a natural human response and a spiritual reaction to who God is and what He has done.

v  God’s love for us empowers us to love one another.

  1. “God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!” Romans 5:8
  2. God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another.  Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive.  Above all, put on love-the perfect bond of unity.  And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts.  Be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15
  3. We are the elect of God, which means that God chose us.  And He has chosen to dwell in us to approach His throne of grace without any hindrance or obstacles.  He loved us enough to die for us, and that love must set the tone for our relationships with one another.
  4. With our attitude and actions toward one another in right order, we can gather corporately with expectation.  As we lift our voices to the Lord in worship, with grace in our hearts, the love we have for God will overflow to those around us; and their lives will be changed forever.
  5. “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  1 John 4:7-8

v  God calls us to love others by sharing His Word.

  1. Worship is directional.  The effect of worship flows upward to God and outward to fellow believers.  And God will always respond!
  2. Worship is motivational.  When God’s people worship in spirit and truth, there is no need to convince them to step into ministry opportunities.  Worship motivates us to witness, give, and serve as we receive more revelation of God’s greatness in our lives.
  3. Worship is continual.

Each of the four living creatures had six wings; they were covered with eyes around and inside.  Day and night they never stop, saying:

Holy, holy, holy,

Lord God, the Almighty,

Who was, who is, and who is coming.

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the One seated on the throne, the One who lives forever and ever, the 24 elders fall down before the One seated on the throne, worship the One who lives forever and ever.

Revelation 4:8-10

  1. Perhaps the constant repetition is not habit but is due to an ever-increasing revelation of God’s greatness, which occurs every time they look into His glorious countenance.

v  God wants us to allow His love to flow through us.

  1. “Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion:  if One died for       all, then all died.  And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.”

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

  1. Our one true love came and found us.  He rescued us from a life of doom, and He never, ever gives up.  True love is this:  that a man lay down his life for another.
  2. Love Himself compels us to worship.  Let us put our response of love into action toward God and one another.

Worship the One as One-February 3, 2013

Worship the One as One-February 3, 2013

Scripture:  Deuteronomy 6:4-5, John 10:30-33, 17:13-23

Worship the One as One (our survival depends on it)

Deuteronomy 6:4-5-The Idea is that Israel is being instructed God is Lord, and that He is One.  The Oneness of God as the Trinity is the basis for Israel’s identity as a people and as our identity as a people.  The idea that we are to be one comes from the oneness of the trinity.  The foundation of worship is in recognizing the truth of the identity of God, and that connectedness to Him is the foundation of our identity as a people.

In John 10:30-33-Christ maintains the identity that He is one with the Father, and it is for that the Jews sought all the more to kill Him.  It was His claim of oneness with the Father, in that identity He is claiming equality.  Connecting ourselves to Christ will come with some risk and sacrifice.  In claiming the name of Christ we are bearers of His identity.

John 17:13-23-The disciples area given God’s word, and the world hated them because the word of God made them different from the world, just like Christ was different from the world.  Jesus does not pray that His disciples be removed from the world, we too are called to live in the world.  As God sent Christ,  He also sends us into the world that will not like us because we are like Him.  Jesus prays for our sanctification not only for our benefit but for those who will believe in Him through us.

Then Jesus prays that the disciples and us would be one, as He and the Father are one.  It is this unity with one another and oneness with Christ that the world is supposed to know and believe in Christ.  We must be like the one living in us.  Any hope we have in glory is not found in us but in our connection to the Father.

Jesus desires and prayers for the disciples to be perfected in unity, and thus show the world God’s love for Jesus and the disciples.  Unity is the key.

Romans 12:4-5-Many are one, but we all do not have the same functions, but are as individuals one in Christ.

The intimate setting of the Upper Room Jesus prays for His disciples and really all disciples about the unity they have in Him and His connection with the Father.  If we don’t have the power it is because we are not connected properly with God and one another.  We belong to one another and we cannot forsake one another and claim to be His.  It is our very connection with one another and that powerful presence in the world that shows the world that we are His.  The transformative power of the body of Christ is crippled in the world, because either we go out alone and are easily worn down by it, or we just don’t go out at all.  It will require sacrifice to follow Christ and see His presence alive in the world.  It begins with unity, in moving toward unity we learn the disciplines it takes be the powerful witness of Christ in the world.  To achieve and maintain unity means we must make sacrifices of ourselves individually and corporately for the value of unity is greater than ourselves, it is one of Jesus’ last prayers for His disciples; not great evangelism or big churches, but that they would be one.  And in that oneness and unity, we get the privilege of serving one another as Christ and demonstrating the oneness of the Trinity.  Unity in blood, faith, purpose, life, love, hope, and Christ.  We can truly demonstrate the power of Christ in the world.  

Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16-Walk in a manner worthy of your calling, and Christ died for this calling upon our lives.  We have been called with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, on faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.  But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

We can’t claim unity with God while forsaking one another, it is not truth.  If the body is not growing it is because it must be connected to its head and in this case Christ.  The church (the body of Christ) must remain connected to Him and unified with each other. 

We are to be equipped by God for the work of service, to building up the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature that belongs to the fullness of Christ.

Grow up into the head Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

 

Worship As A Way of Life-Jan. 27, 2013

Worship As A Way of Life-January 27, 2013

Scripture:  John 15:1-11; Gal. 5:22-25

Worship as a way of life.  We must remain connected to the One we worship.  If we become disconnected, life becomes what we are doing and we could get angry or frustrated at the direction of things.  It is easier than we may want to admit to come into a church on Sunday morning, praise Him with our lips and walk out the door feeling hopeless.  Why is it that the people who should feel the most hopeful are perhaps the ones that are hopeless?

Is it as Revelation 2:4 says to the church in Ephesus many good things they are doing but…‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.’  God’s message though John to this church in was not all bad, they were doing many “good” things, but they had forgotten God and their love of Him.  It became about doing these good things while losing sight of God.

We are in a society that pushes us to be busy, being industrious is considered a good thing and pushing ourselves closer to our graves and further from the heart of God.  God wants and desires for us to be connected to Him, replenished through Him, renewed though Him, and yet there we are some of the most productive and most broken people in history.

It seems like contradiction to say that we are to bear fruit, that there is some visible outward dimension to our life of faith and this would be true if not for the source.  The fruit is not a product of the branches but the vine.  The outward, visible expression of Christ can only come when we are connected to Him.  When we are crushed or pressed, or persecuted, what comes out reveals our true core, and source of life.  Are we fearful, angry, anxious, frozen, hopeless, and helpless, or during the trials of life is Christ made all the more evident.  Times of trial and struggle reveal who we are and whose we are.

Inward, outward, and upward components.

Any branch that does not bear fruit is analogous to being disconnected.  Notice that the scripture says the branches that do not bear fruit He takes away.  He doesn’t really have to prune them or cut them because they are already not connected to the vine.  Fruit is not evidence of the work of the branch but of its healthy connection to the vine.

Connected we bear much fruit, disconnected there is no fruit.  Apart from me, Christ said, you can do nothing.  An unconnected branch loses its life, and dries up, and they are gathered to be thrown on the fire and burned.  When the presence of Christ and the Word of Christ abide in us we find life in Him, and that life begins to speak His words, pray His prayers, and seek what He seeks.

God is glorified when we remain connected and bear much fruit.  It is an expression of His life-giving power.  It does matter if it is a branch from an apple or a peach tree it will produce no fruit after it is apart from the source.  John says fruit (the connection) demonstrates God’s glory and is the proof that we are His disciples.  Just as an apples tree doesn’t grow peaches because of its source so too are Christians proof of their source.  We know in fact that it is an apple and not a peach tree because it is identifiable by the fruit it produces.  And a broken, disconnected branch cannot give any fruit.

The fruit that comes from the source, will show or demonstrate the glory and power of the source, and is the identity marker of the branches to the source.  So remain close, abide in Him, trust Him, allow His fruit to be produced through you.  Anything else does not reveal Christ’s character but our own, and does not honor God but ourselves, and we take or accept glory that belongs only to God.

Love and presence, dwelling connected to our Lord God and our strength in time of need.  Jesus spoke these things that His joy would be in us (connection), and because His joy is in us ours would be full, joyful.  Joyful, not helpless, hopeless, wound tight, stresses out, anxious, angry, desperate, disillusioned, but remaining in Him we have life, hope, and peace.

The worship of our lives is not one that daily demonstrates our connection to the source of life Jesus Christ not the homage we pay with empty and lifeless words and ceremony, but in the vitality of daily producing fruit in accordance to the Spirit of God working in and through us.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control; against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the desires of the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”  Gal. 5:22-25

Let’s get personal as a disciple of Christ the fruit of which is the evidence of the connection, health of our disconnection with the source so let’s put ourselves in the list and ask the honest questions:  Am I loving? Am I joyful?  Am I peaceful?  Am I patient?  Am I kind?  Am I good?  Am I faithful?  Am I gentle?  Do I practice self-control?

Psalm 51:15-17; Romans 12:1-2

Our lives demonstrate our worship.  To insist on our own way declaring I am a peach branch, even though I was created an apple branch leaves me disconnected from my true source of life and character and in denial about my own lifelessness.  Dried up fruitless and having no fruit of any kind, or glory of my own, I therefore remain apart, hopeless and helpless.

Will we surrender all to Jesus not just today but will we surrender our daily living to Him, abide in Him and allow His power to work through us to produce visible fruit the demonstrates His glory and character, proves us to be His disciples because we bear His fruit, that His joy would be in us, and our days be joyful and complete in Him.

Will you surrender all to Him and worship Him in all your life, with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  Join us in singing Hymn _________ I Surrender All.

Seven Words of Worship-Harland & Moser-Jan. 23, 2013

Seven Words of Worship-Harland & Moser-January 23, 2013

Week 3-Grace-January 23, 2013-Luke 15:11-32

Points to Ponder

v  Entering God’s presence requires grace that only He can provide.

  1. These words express a divine/human relationship whereby the lesser human receives undeserved or unmerited favor at the hands of a superior God.
  2. The sovereign God of the universe reached down from His holy throne and took on real flesh and blood in order to redeem sinners like you and me.
  3. He provides grace, which is His transforming power to grow us into His likeness, to bring us to the fullness of His glory, day by day, as we submit out lives to Him.
  4. It was God’s charis, God’s grace that gave unbelievers the power to believe, believers the ability to be built up or transformed, and the apostles the capability to be successful in their mission.
  5. Grace is indeed the unmerited favor that only God can provide and the transforming power of God for every person and every issue of life.  But just like the Israelites, it is always our decision to respond.
  6. Still, the people could not enter God’s presence.  Although they were created to enjoy intimate relationship with God, their rebellion made it impossible for them to have direct contact with God.  Entering the presence of God is still a very serious matter-and grace makes it all possible!

v  God’s grace comes to us through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

  1. We just can’t miss this truth:  All of us who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior are received into God’s presence through the One who purchased us with His blood.
  2. Jesus broke down the barrier so you could have a breakthrough in order for Him to break in to the broken places in your life.
  3. Our only reasonable response is worship.  And as we worship-as we break through traditions, doubts, and fears that have restricted our worship expression-God Himself has promised to break into our circumstances and repair what is broken.  And when the King is present, all things are possible.
  4. There is no amount of work you can do to improve the fact that salvation come by grace and grace alone.

v  Salvation is a matter of accepting God’s gift of grace by faith.

  1. If you believe, then you belong to Christ; and you can become the person God created you to be.
  2. Do I need a Savior, or is my life sufficient to obtain eternal life with God by its own merit?  In other words, it there any other way to get to God? (John 14:6)
  3. Jesus not only made it clear that no one comes to the Father except through Him; He also told us that no one comes to Him unless that Father draws that person to Him (John 14:6; 6:43-44).  And the fact that you are drawn to Jesus is a clear indication that the Father has determined this is the day you are to repent of your sins-turn from them-and receive Jesus as Lord.

v  True worship is expressed through spirit and truth-our spirit surrendered to God’s truth.

  1. Jesus used this encounter to explain what God requires of us as we worship.  The woman knew enough about worship to ask Jesus about the right location, but He responded with a message about the right relationship-the relationship between God and the worshiper. (John 4:19-20; 21, 23-24).
  2. True worship come from within, as this verse implies:  “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.  They worship Me in vain.”  Matthew 15:8-9.
  3. True worship is expressed through spirit and truth:  our spirit surrendered to His Truth.
  4. Although human beings can reproduce human life, it take the Spirit of God to breathe divine life into the spirit of a man or a woman:  Worshiping the Father in spirit, then, begins with being born again.
  5. Worship that is Christ-centered and Christ-focused is true worship, and worship that comes from the heart filled with Jesus, the Living Word, will never be in vain.  Jesus said that it is not time to worship the Father in spirit and truth.

v  True worship requires that we understand who God is and who we are in comparison.

  1. Worship is really fairly simple:  God initiates and we respond.  Yet as we respond, it is crucial that we understand who God is, who we are in relation to Him, how we should respond, and what we can expect.
  2. Isaiah was called by God to prophesy to the nation of Israel from 739-686 B.C.  Isaiah knew that his ministry would be fruitless in his time.  However, Isaiah’s words burned brightly for the early church, which is evidenced by the fact that Isaiah is quoted over 65 different times in the New Testament.
  3. As we have seen, Jesus is the express image of God.  He is the incarnation, of Truth, and thus anything that contradicts who He is (His character) or what He has said is not truth.
  4. “For God did not send His Son into the world that He might judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  Anyone who believes in Him is not judged, but anyone who does not believe is already judged, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.”  John 3:17-18
  5. Grace determines how God “sees” His children.  Without grace, we could never worship God.  Entering His presence would surely condemn us to death.  But, praise His holy name, His grace is sufficient!  God so loved the world that He gave and He gave and He gave….and He continues to give today.

Idle Idol-Jan. 20, 2013

Idle Idol-January 20, 2013

Scripture: Exodus 2:1-6

In the T.V. show American Idol young people are looking for opportunities to get ahead and hope to become something more than what they are.  I do not personally care for the name because it implies that these folks worship those in the music industry and that they want to be successful and idolized by others.  It is not the wanting to do well is a bad thing, but giving anything or anyone the glory that belongs to God, we have an idol.

An Idol can be understood as giving worship to something or someone other than God or as trying to put God into a box.  To create an image of Him.  There is some archaeological evidences of pictures or icons of Jesus, but none for God.  God is beyond our definition yet wants to be intimately involved in our daily lives.

Its easier to define or describe an idol than God.  God is beyond definition.  We are asked to guard ourselves from idols (1 John 5:21).  Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry (1 Cor. 10:14).  We must be careful what is in our lives that it doesn’t take the place of God, practically.  There is no image to represent God and no Archaeological icons, there is power in His presence not in a portrait.  His word is action, and His speaking is proof of life.

What is our proof of life as Christian?  It is the speaking of the word of God, and allowing Him to speak through us (Habakkuk 2:18-20).  An Idol is idle because it has not life in it.  Worship is a response, an action, so inactivity, when it comes to responding to the presence of God maybe as bad as wrongly motivated action.

Idols do not speak, only our great God can give and sustain life, provide life everlasting by His life-giving Word.  What reasons do we have for not worshiping Him?  Some remain Idle and others place created things in the place of the eternal.

Idols are more evident because we want a more convenient gospel.  Matthew 5:9 states, “But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.”  Some would rather make God in their image rather than being created in His.

When confronted with the reality of who He is, we should be compelled (moved) to worship.  To sit around and not give God glory shows a lock of understand or personal knowledge of Him.  Where is life?  The dead are idle and yet we prop up ourselves, others, money, success, family, pride, sports, country, or other allegiances, ignoring the only one worthy of our allegiance.  We worship because He is, and for what He has done, before our verses today God starts with a reason in case they ask, He rescued them from Egypt, and us from sin and He has the right to lay claim to our lives.

We must bear His image rather than trying to shape it into something easier, or more acceptable or popular, with less demands on our lives, time, and desires.  To fashion anything is to do God a dis-service when worship is our service.  All things created will cease to exist, only that which is eternal (spiritual) is lasting.  We are worth a great deal to God, but the glory is all His.  Worship Him in Spirit and Truth, asking that God give us clean hands, and a pure heart for Him.