Seven Words of Worship-Harland & Moser-Mar. 20, 2013

Week 8-Experience-March 20, 2013

Points to Ponder

v  When we experience God in worship, we are empowered to serve Him-and worship Him more.

  1. After this, the Lord appointed 70 others, and He sent them ahead of Him in pairs to every town and place where He Himself was about to go. Luke 10:1.  In fact, not one of their names is even mentioned in the Bible.  Most likely, their only real qualification for service was their eager desire to spend time with Jesus.
  2. The Seventy must have learned numerous valuable principles during the time they had spent at Jesus’ feet; and when it was time to put their faith to work, they were empowered by His presence.  These ordinary people got a firsthand view of God’s willingness to respond to their act of worship! Luke 10:1-19

v  Experiencing God in worship requires time and sacrifice.

  1. Experiencing God in worship starts with our willingness to give God first place in our lives.  This means spending time with Him every day-through prayer and devotion to His written and Living Word.  God rewards those who diligently seek Him.  Apart from Him, we truly can do nothing-and that includes worship.  We cannot worship God unless we spend time with Him.
  2. We can’t receive a fresh revelation of God and the continual indwelling of the Holy Spirit without changing our priorities in life.  Mark 1:35; Luke 9:57, 59, 61-62
  3. Don’t pay so much attention to the sacrifices and commitments of others, but rather what does God desire for us to do?
  4. They willingly suffered loss that other might know Christ.  Worship Him as you step out in faith, my dear friend He is worthy. And He is waiting.  Acts 5:41

v  Experiencing God in worship requires us to trust and obey and keep our focus on Jesus.

  1. God doesn’t just use preachers, worship leaders, and celebrities to accomplish His work on this earth.  He is constantly working around you, too.  Ephesians 3:20-21
  2. However, don’t rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven, Luke 10:20.  It is not then what He accomplishes through us but first and foremost that we are His.
  3. Authentic service and worship must always be about Jesus!  As God moves in our midst, it is so easy for us to trust in our own talents and abilities rather than maintain total dependence on God.  It is crucial that Jesus remains the object, source, and fulfillment of our worship.  He truly deserves the glory!

v  God shows up when His people immerse themselves in worship!

  1. Luke 19:37-38-Their worship was unrestrained.  God Himself fulfilled His promise to be present with them as they worshiped!  God always inhabits the praises of His people.
  2. If Jesus really is who they say He is-if He really is the Son of God come to set us free from sin-then you must respond!  Surely it is Him!  There is no way to stop the worship.  The religious leaders have lost control.  If the people stop praising Him, the stones will start to cry out.
  3. The presence of God in Christ Jesus at the moment provides an indelible living image of God’s promise to be present when His people worship Him.  God always inhabits the praises of His people!  And when God is present-when the revelation of God increases-complete and unrestrained worship is our only reasonable response.

v  Our worship invites God’s presence; His presence brings increased revelation; and we respond with never-ending worship.

  1. Never-ending worship was their destiny, and it is ours as well.
  2. When we turn our attention to the One we worship, our worship expression and experience is totally dependent on where we see our Father seated.  If He is seated in the press box, carefully judging our performance (and our lives) because it is His job to see if we meet some performance standard, the we will approach our Father with caution and fear.

But if we see Him as the Father who has climbed on top of the bleachers to get a better view of His dear child-as a Father who waves His arms and screams His support with all His strength to let us know that He loves us and is there for us-then nothing and no one can keep us from experiencing God at the very moment.

  1. Worship while you wait.  Worship while you are under the weight of circumstances.  Worship when He seems near and when He seems so far away.  Your name is written in the book of Heaven; and when this life is over, you will be worshiping Him day and night for eternity.  Now that is something to celebrate!

Jesus Heals…Blessing or Blasphemy?-Mar. 17, 2013

Jesus Heals…Blessing or Blasphemy?-Mar. 17, 2013

Scripture:  Luke 5:15-26

The news begins to spread of this man Jesus.  There is a new excitement in the air and this excitement threatens the status quo.  People who have been lame, hurting, and without hope now begin to believe hope may be possible.  The traditional sources of authority are upset that Jesus does fit their view or understanding of how things are “supposed” to work.  As the hopeless being to find a new source of hope the “system” draws more skeptical of this new reality that they don’t understand.

Scripture teaches that God’s ways are not man’s ways.  Too often we may be looking to conventional ways and thoughts, while missing the unconventional love and mercy of our gracious God.  I think to think of the question this way, Who but God?”  Who but God, could heal the lame, make the blind to see, give hearing to the deaf, and bring the dead to life?  Who but God, could with His very Word call into existence the sun, moon, stars, earth, everything living thing, and mankind?  Who but a living, powerful, eternal, God can create something out of nothing and by His very breath give life?

Jesus also made sure to take time and withdraw from the busy times in His life.  After busy events or seasons Jesus would always pull back to lonely places and pray.  There was a continuing pattern of this during the life of Jesus, and should also be with us as well.  It was this continual connection that helped to restore Jesus as the daily life of ministry pressed in around Him.

Jesus was becoming popular and was able to do things that the teachers of the law were unable to do.  These “special” abilities are what makes the Pharisees even more suspicious.  The scripture says there were Pharisees and teachers from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem.  Have you every personally felt like you were being followed or observed?  If you think about it some of these men had to come a great distance to see Jesus and to hear Him teach.  Why also do you think there would be so many?  Perhaps they were hoping to catch Jesus in some type of false teaching to discredit Him.  If they could discredit His teaching or His character then they would be able to assert their own self-diluted, self-seeking forms of righteousness.

The word spreads and so they come.  They came along with those that are hearing power in the voice of Jesus, they came along with the sick, the hurting, and the outcast.  One group came looking to discredit Him while trying to maintain the comfort of their lives.  They didn’t mind Jesus as long as He knew His place and stuck with tradition.  Then there was another group who came hoping what they had heard was true.  Hoping that this man Jesus had answers, powerful teaching, and more important to them, healing abilities.  Think of these people who spent their whole lives hoping one day to be whole, complete, and as “normal” as any of us can really be normal.

Scripture goes on to record that the power of the Lord was present for Jesus to heal the sick.  Healing is a power of the Lord that should demonstrate who Jesus was or claimed to be.  One might also think that those religious teachers of the law had at some point in time seen or experienced the power of God.  That they should be able to discern the genuine article.  Perhaps their religious forms had blanketed their hearts and covered their eyes from the truth of God.  I suspect like their days and also now many go to the house of the God or the place of God without experiencing the power and presence of God.  It would be similar to going to someone’s home and talk about them to others right in front of them, and getting it wrong.  Thinking that because they found a to do list in the house they know the hearts of the owners.

Another group of characters in the story are the “faithful friends” these men who believed that Jesus had the power to heal their friend.  The four men come into town carrying their paralyzed friend to get him before Jesus.  I believe they were tired from the journey, and they most likely didn’t show up early because they were carrying their friend.  These four and their friend show up tired and worn out only to find the house-church Jesus was teaching in was full.  It was full-out into the streets surrounding the house.  People were listening through the windows and doors as best they could.

Scripture says they tried to take him to the house to lay him before Jesus.  If our story ended there we might could say well they did the best they could do.  However, was that really the best they could do?  Many today put their faith into action only until the first obstacle  comes along.  Those that believe Jesus has the answer to the hurts of life and that He can heal us, our friends, and our neighbors are willing to push through the obstacles of life.  They are willing to do what it takes to be in the presence of Christ and help others to do the same.  The question remains, what are we willing to do to help bring others to Jesus?

The faithful friends don’t care what others think or perhaps the poor homeowner, but they take their friend to the roof and rip a hole in it to lower their friend into the presence of Jesus.  Some people maybe would have taken the man, but fewer would have stayed after seeing the crowd, and even fewer would have torn a hole in anything to bring their friend to Jesus.  Destroying the roof on this house-church physically got their friend to the feet of Jesus.  Then after seeing their faith Jesus figuratively tears a hole in the traditions of the Pharisees and in exposing His heart also exposes theirs.

Jesus in seeing the man knows what everyone in that room knows that this man needs physical healing.  Jesus does not do that right away, what Jesus does give is of far greater value than any physical healing.  Jesus gives healing for the soul and body.  In Jesus’ time there may have been others who were known as healers, but in stating that the man’s sins are forgiven Jesus is declaring Himself equal to God.  It is this that the Pharisees and teachers are bothered by as perhaps we would have been if we had been alive during that time.

The religious leaders begin reasoning to themselves, but Jesus always knows our hearts.  Who, is always the main question?  The identity of Jesus is one of the main ideas of this passage of scripture.  Who is this man who speaks blasphemy?  Who can forgive sins but God?  The important question is the second and with an open mind the pharisees may have been able to get to the point of seeing Jesus as God.

Jesus sees their hearts and confronts their thoughts.  Which is easier to say your sins are forgiven or get up and walk?  Either may be easy enough to say but both can only come with the true power and authority.  Jesus was testing them and proclaiming His identity that you now know the Son of Man has the authority to forgive sins on earth.  Then He also demonstrates the power to heal by doing so.  Jesus’ words have the power to heal.  He instructs the man to take up his man and go home.  Immediately he stands, picks up the mat, and went home praising God.  Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God.  I would guess everyone did not include the Pharisees.

The word about the Word spread and attracted all kinds of people.  Some who were curious and still figuring things out, others who had faith that they could see the power and mercy of God in a miracle, and others yet who came as fault-finders labeling the blessings of God as blasphemy.  These people represent three groups today the curious and not yet committed, the faithful, and the religious.  The curious crowd is waiting to see, the faithful are moved to action, and the religious seek to preserve their comfort by finding fault with the work of God.

Four friends demonstrate faith in action by tearing a hole in the roof of a house-church to get their sick friend before Jesus.  Jesus then tears a hole in the legalistic minds of the religious by telling the man his sins are forgiven.  Giving the man the greater of the two gifts first. The law teachers question the identity of Jesus in their minds. Asking first who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Second, who can forgive sins except God? The second question should have been first, the first revealed that their minds were made up before their hearts could ask. Answering the questions of their hearts with one if His own, revealing the truth of His identity and power. That the Son of Man has the authority to forgive sins and yes heal a body too. We see faith in action by the friends, and law professors coming to test Jesus and end up failing a test themselves and one man was carried in and a crowd came walking out praising God.

Sabbath

Sabbath

Year after year goes by and there are times and seasons that are busier than others.  These seasons occur in our walk with Christ, busy times of anticipation and celebration such as Christmas and Easter.  The same was true in Jesus’ time.  The weeks leading up to Jesus crucifixion were some of the busiest.  However, even in those busy times Jesus sets an example for us all.  Jesus establishes a pattern that after a miracle or high time of stress Jesus withdraws to a place of solitude and rest as He draws near to God.

When we withdraw it is for physical rest, to eliminate distractions, and to reconnect with the Father.  Many today think of rest as the absence of work or worse laziness.  It is these negative connotations that keep us pushing toward the next thing rather than resting to discover God’s will for our lives.  God’s intention for Sabbath is slowing down to abide in His presence.  The Sabbath allows for rest of the body and the soul, but more importantly it is an opportunity to fully enjoy being in the presence of Christ.

In being attentive to Him we are restored with hope but also direction for the future.  These moments of less activity that allow for our ears to be fine-tuned to the rhythms of His grace and the power of His call.  It is in this place of quiet expectation that we can look at life with perspective and know things may not change but how we choose to live each day tells the world who we believe to be in control.

Imagine if you will the roller coaster of emotions the disciples must have felt.  Excitement, hope, wonder, and joy in the days before Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion.  Then the disappointment, grief, confusion, and hopelessness experienced at the death of Christ.  As dawn begins to break on that third day an overwhelming sense of amazement, joy, comfort, peace, calm assurance, and victory that Jesus lives.  He really lives!!

Jesus tells them soon He would be going away, and He gives them a call, direction, and purpose but first tells them to wait.  They have their purpose but not the power yet.  In the days after the resurrection Jesus instructs them to wait for the power of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  The men didn’t go home to wait but they waited together as the body of Christ ready to receive the Spirit of Christ.

What do people of faith to do in the days after the resurrection?  We gather together in hope, anticipation, in victory, and in expectation that our collective abiding with one another in the presence of our Father will give us rest.  During this time of rest that He will reveal His will, and provide the power of His presence for action in the world today.