I wonder how many well-meaning parents are unknowingly harming, with potentially eternal consequences, their children every week when they take them to church? Have you noticed them? They bring their children to church (a good thing), but then during the service, the children do every imaginable quiet (mostly) thing, except listen to the message. Instead of teaching them to sit still and listen so as to obey God’s Word, the children are “taught” how to ignore God’s Word—not on purpose—but that is the result. While the children occupy themselves, they become skilled at deflecting the Word from their minds and hearts.
Many times we read where Jesus instructs those that “hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matt 11:15, 13:9, 13:43, Mark 4:9, 4:23, 7:16, Luke 8:8 and 14:35). That would mean, open your mind to what is coming into your ears. It is an intentional, learned process to train the mind to first concentrate with the goal of understanding so as to ultimately obey what is coming into the ears.
We listen intently because God’s Word is priceless and not to be treated like crummy background music that is played in a store where we are shopping. May we not be guilty of dulling the sword. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
I love to engage people in conversation, and grocery store trips provide many opportunities for that. I have been able to dialog with quite a few baggers over time and found amazing similarities. In general, they are gamers. Playing video/computer games is the highlight of their day and the passion of their lives. They have no ambition or direction for their lives but seem to be content with just enough money to support playing games.
Recently, one man in his twenties, exclaimed with a big smile about the new game he purchased and the price. I asked him if he thought it was worth the twelve hours he had to work to pay for it? Beaming, he said, “Absolutely!” His dream is to upgrade his game system.
So my Brothers, the bad news. If you are giving your children anything for Christmas (or any other time for that matter) that facilitates their becoming addicted to gaming, including iPads/tablets, you still have time to change your mind. The sad thing is often Dad is the one responsible for bringing the vehicles to the addiction into the home.
“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12). Please don’t facilitate your own children being brought into bondage.
Turning the corner briefly to another topic. Each year the closer it gets to Christmas the more dads we see, through our Titus2 ministry, who are ordering books for their wives. I would encourage you, if you haven’t yet gotten your wife a Christmas present, do it today.
Sunday’s Christmas Advent focused on God’s love. Jesus’ incarnation was the greatest example of love that the world has ever seen. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (1John 4:9). The Lord convicted me (the flesh certainly didn’t) how seldom I notice and praise God for His love. I praise Him for His mercy, His grace, His holiness, and His blessings, but I’ve been blind to His love. I love people, and I love to tell about Jesus, yet, I am guilty of not recognizing God’s love. “… for God is love” (1John 4:8b).
You might wonder why it would matter that I haven’t been noticing and praising God for His love. When you generously love someone and they don’t notice it, doesn’t that have an affect on the relationship, in that it could be all the sweeter? Also if we are blind to love, we are far less likely to notice others’ generous, loving acts. Additionally, I’ve begun noticing that the more love is a focus in my heart, the more generous I am in my love toward others. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11).
Jesus’ life and ministry on this earth seems like a very long time ago to me. However, consider this. It is not uncommon for someone to live a hundred years (centenarian). It would be reasonable to assume that during every century, since the time of Christ, there has been at least one centenarian who lived roughly the hundred years of that century. With that reasonable assumption, now picture, it took only TWENTY people to have lived one-after-another since Jesus lived. Only twenty people! We’ve had twenty people over for a meal many times. To look at our dinner guests and imagine how few lifetimes they represent from Jesus to now is shocking to me.
Shocking in what way? In regard to my having a new perspective on time. Even if Jesus’ return was in one or two hundred years, that now seems imminent. I am convicted of a spiritual lethargy as opposed to an urgency in regard to His return. “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not” (Luke 12:40). I have not had and lived out an urgency of sharing Christ. I love to share Christ. I long to share Him with the lost, but I’ve not had the urgency.
What will that change in my life? I don’t know yet. I have a long list of lost people that I will continue to pray for daily. I seek to engage people spiritually every chance I get. How else will He lead, we will see.
Brothers, I am truly thankful to God for each one of you. Thank you for giving your thoughtful attention each week. My prayer is that your relationship with the Lord and your love for, and investment in, your family will intensify.
Here are worship thoughts from several of you:
The worship of God is our eternal destiny. God is looking for true worshippers. “But 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” (John 4:23). DC
Obedience seems to be one of the highest forms of worship. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Worship is impossible to avoid. We either worship God or something else. I see worship as a consecration to God of our entire being which manifests itself in every moment and part of our lives. We need to repent and understand God seeks all of our attention and devotion, that we would worship Him always in our hearts and minds – and that would always directly transpire into acts of love, mercy, compassion, self denial, and self sacrifice in following our Lord, that our motivation in all things would be to His glory and honor. A person can be worshipping as they are doing the most mundane or dirtiest, lowest of jobs if they are doing it with a thankful heart of love to God and love to neighbor. In fact those acts of love may mean more in the sight of God in consecrated adoration and reverence to Him than showing up to church multiple times per week for worship. WH
“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:2b). I have seen this verse best lived out in the life of my Grandpa. Everything he does and says is rooted out of a desire, and I would say sense of duty, to show the “worth-ship” of God in practical and humble ways. He does not do so for men to see but because he knows God sees. I have heard it said that there is “a time for worship.” From this verse, I would say that time is someone’s whole life, not so much a weekly event.” ZP
Worship is abiding in the presence of the shadow of the Most High. MR
He looked to be about 25 years old—tall, thin and muscular. He stood at the back-end of a large, open, box-truck waiting to begin. It looked like it would be a boring, unglamorous, menial job of loading dirty tires to be hauled-away from the Costco tire shop. I was very wrong. Then, it began. The only thing missing from this incredible performance was an orchestra.
Tires started being launched at him in rapid succession as if from a “giant, rhythmic, tire, machine gun” inside the shop. Not missing a beat, and with the appearance of no effort, he bent enough to grab the inside edge of each rolling tire. He skillfully used the incoming tires’ momentum, altered its trajectory, and slung it five to ten feet up into the back of the truck. Right arm, twist, sling, rotate, repeat. Over and over he did this with an occasional left arm movement thrown in. What an incredible show of strength, timing, and coordination. This man knew how to make something boring a work of art.
Brothers are you turning every activity of your day into a pleasing offering of sacrifice to our God for His glory? “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).
God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden to test Adam’s obedience. Adam disobeyed, and mankind still experiences the consequences. Actions of one flow down to others.
Jesus’ obedience to the Father brought Him to the cross to atone for man’s sin. “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). Jesus obeyed, and those who are Christ’s, experience the blessings of eternal life. Actions of One flow down to others.
Now, our turn. Have you meditated on Romans 12:1? “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Daily we have manifold opportunities to bring God glory by loving obedience to Him. And the actions of one (you) flow down to others. Presenting yourself to God as a living sacrifice for His glory is impressed on the hearts of your family because what you love, obey, and give yourself to affirms your words of praise and adoration for your God and Savior.
Prior to Jesus’ ministry beginning, He needed to put Satan “behind” Him (so do we). First, Satan unsuccessfully tempted Jesus to satisfy His flesh. Next would Jesus question/test God’s love? Finally, Satan tempted Jesus with, “… All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9a). Yes, Satan wants your worship, and he offers you treasures if you don’t worship the Father. Satan’s lures are of this world. The question is: How much of our hearts have we given over to the treasures of this world?
Then Jesus said, “Get thee hence, Satan (Matthew 4:10a).” We must get rid of our love/worship of the world and the things of the world. God wants all of our hearts. Now in fairness: Have any of us given Him 100% of our hearts? We wish we would. With that goal, It is a daily process of shedding our love for the world and abiding in Him. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15)
Seemingly, so many men are blind to the “death-grip” embrace they have on the world, which equates to love for and worship of these worldly things – leisure passions, success, status, money, pleasure (to name a few). “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:9b).
“But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men” (Mark 8:33). What do we love and worship, Brothers?
Has it ever entered your mind that you could give God pleasure? Think about it. The righteous and holy Almighty God, Who owns everything and has need of nothing, receives pleasure when His children worship Him. God created man to give Him the glory, honor, praise, and worship that is due Him.1 “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11). Would you meditate on that verse for awhile?
Does knowing that you can give God pleasure motivate you to do it? It sure does me because I love Him and want to please Him.
To many, worship is something they do at church, but worship is much more than that. Consider how you might live out this verse. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
1 However, that wasn’t possible after man sinned in the Garden and that is why only saved, regenerated man can worship God in spirit and truth. “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). Hence the theme of the beginning of this Seriously series last week was: you must be saved to worship God.
Are you a spiritual brood-parasite? There are a few types of birds, (I.E. cuckoos and cowbirds) where the mother lays her egg in another type of bird’s nest. The other, unsuspecting mother bird then hatches and feeds the imposter hatchling, thinking the imposter is her own offspring.
Churches seem to have a similar problem. Each week, professing Christians (spiritual brood parasites) who are not saved go to church “worshipping” and “fellowshipping” outwardly. They then go home feeling like they are part of the family of God, but in actuality, they are a bird of a different feather. That imposter cannot please God in anyway. “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8).
Jesus said you must be born again (John 3:7). Friends, that new birth is real and imparts a new nature. Our old nature is hell bound, but the new nature, is heaven-bound. The lost person cannot worship God as he is under the wrath of God. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). If you aren’t saved and want to be, or not sure if you are saved and tired of pretending, reply to this email with “let’s talk” in the Subject Line.
The saved person can worship God. The question is, will we? (To be continued.)