Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Centrality of Worship

The Purpose of Your Life
You were made to worship. This is unavoidable. God has created you and he calls every person to worship him. Psalm 96:9 says, “Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!” At any particular point in your life you are either obeying this commandment or you are disobeying and worshipping something else. If that is true, then understanding who or what you worship is the most important and practical thing in your life.

Since worshiping God is that important it would make sense for us to ask, what is it? Worship is the act of glorifying God in giving honor, adoration, thanks, praise, and service to him. Since God is our Creator and he has given us every good thing we have or experience, it is clear why we should worship him at all times, above all else.

This call to worship encompasses every aspect of our lives and we are to worship and glorify God in all that we do (1 Corinthians 10:31). In other words, our goal in everything – whether we are eating or drinking, at work or at play – is that God must be first in our hearts. This is what we will call informal worship. It is just your personal daily experience of using all God’s gifts as a stepping-stone to draw closer to him.

While God clearly calls us to worship him at all times and in all places, he also calls us to set aside a special time to put off everything just for worshipping him. This is what we will call formal, or corporate worship.

Formal worship is a gathering of God’s covenant people to hear from and receive grace from him, and for his people to offer themselves as living sacrifices in service to him. This is the main purpose of the church. In all other ministries of the church, even something as important as evangelism, drawing people to worship God is the goal. The worship of God, both formally and informally will still be the eternal purpose of the life to come in the new heavens and the new earth. (Revelation 7:15)

This is why meeting weekly on the Lord’s Day for worship is so vital to the life of a Christian. We see that worshipping and glorifying God is the very purpose of your life, and formal worship is where you encounter God in a special way. It is then the training ground to learn how to glorify God in everyday life in informal worship. Corporate worship is where God gathers his people to feed them spiritual food in word and sacrament. It is a place to be replenished, fed and energized to fight the spiritual battles of the coming week. Formal worship should be seen as a summons to meet with and even feast with the Lord Jesus, the King of Kings, the Lord of the Universe. When put that way, we begin to see that Sunday should be the most important day of the week.

Who is Worthy to Meet the King?
This is great news. God is the king of the universe, and I am talking about having a close, intimate relationship with this King of Kings - for that is what worship really is, it is a description of the way we are to relate to God. The question should be asked then, can anybody worship God? The question becomes more pointed when we factor in the fact that not only is God the King and we his subjects, but that we are guilty of high treason and the murder of the King’s Son.

While we were made for God, to worship and love him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, we have all gone astray. We have all replaced God with idols. You're most likely too enlightened to actually bow down to a literal statue idol, but idolatry is living for anything besides God. It is offering the worship due only to God, to something else. Many things can be an idol: sex, drugs, money, career; even things such as being a moral person, or being a good parent can become idols. Idolatry is saying to the King, "I want to take your authority and be my own king of my own world." So this compounds the problem, because God has issued a sentence to banish idolaters from his kingdom forever.

Let’s ask again, since the Bible puts everybody in the category of idolater (Romans 3:11-12), who is worthy then to worship God and so find true satisfaction and purpose in life? We see the answer in Revelation 7:9-17 where we get a picture of worship in heaven. In that passage we get a glimpse of an innumerable multitude worshipping around the throne of God. In verse 13 the question is asked, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” The answer, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple.” (Revelation 7:14-15) The blood of Jesus is the only thing that can atone for and take away hostility that God has toward treasonous idolaters. This is the answer then - only those who trust Jesus can be friends with and worship the King. They have been washed in Jesus’ blood therefore they worship him.

For the person that isn’t yet a Christian this answer is vital to understanding how to fulfill the purpose of your life. The first step is to be reconciled to God through the death of Jesus. The Christian, too, always needs to be reminded of the blood of the perfect lamb of God. The ability to have free access to God is something that many Christians take for granted and the death of Jesus is something that we tend to downplay as we go about our Christian life. Let me remind you, Christian, that the only reason you can have access to God on a daily basis, and why God is present in your corporate worship, is still and always will be because of the blood of the perfect lamb of God.

The Solution to Your Problems
So I ask, do you have problems in your life? When you do have problems, where do you go for your solution? When we aren’t happy or something is wrong in life we think to ourselves, “if only…” How do you fill in the blank? What are your common "if onlys"? Where do you go for comfort in times of distress?

In Psalm 27 King David expresses some of his problems and distresses. He says in verse 2 that, “evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh”; in verse 3 he says that "war has arisen against him". This isn’t creative writing or a figure of speech, people were literally waging war against David and were trying to kill him. Few people in America face trials like David is describing here, and fewer still understand the true solution to our problems like David did. So what is David’s solution? What is David’s “if only” in this time of distress? This is what verse 4 says:

“One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.”

David knew that everything would be alright “if only” he could dwell with God and worship him. Worship was the solution; communion with God was the solution. Unfortunately, when problems arise in our life our first tendency is often to blame or question God, not to desire more of him or to want to worship Him. We should learn from David and instead of making God our last resort, we must trust and long to worship him at all times.

Job, too, when faced with the destruction of his property and the death of his children knew that even then he must still worship God. “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.’” (Job 1:20-21)

Really then, worship must be central to your life because God must be central. In good times or in bad times, draw near to God through faith in Jesus and worship him. Worship is your purpose because God is your purpose. Worship is the solution to life’s dilemmas because God is the solution to life’s dilemmas. So I say with the Psalmist, “Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” (Psalm 95:6-7)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Loving the Standard

I posted a video from Doug Wilson on this before, but here he is, expounding on the same point a bit more.

Ask Doug - Advice on Childrearing from Daniel Foucachon on Vimeo.

In the video he mentions a few books on child rearing that I will link to here. I have actually read all three that he mentioned, and I, too, strongly recommend them all. They are all must reads for every Christian parent. I will add a couple more as well, some that I haven't read myself but have heard great things about.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Adopted for Life: A Video Chat with Russell Moore

This is a must watch video in my opinion! Just for the insights into what it means to be adopted by God alone (not to mention that it may give you a heart to adopt). The video is an interview by Justin Taylor of Russell Moore author of Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Are You a Church or a Club?

Think about it for a bit and apply it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Christ Crucified: The Foundation of a Church’s Prosperity

From a sermon by Bishop J.C. Ryle, "Christ Crucified":

The doctrine of Christ crucified is the foundation of a Church’s prosperity. No Church will ever be honoured in which Christ crucified is not continually lifted up. Nothing whatever can make up for the want of the cross. Without it all things may be done decently and in order; without it there may be splendid ceremonies, beautiful music, gorgeous churches, learned ministers, crowded communion tables, huge collections for the poor; but without the cross no good will be done. Dark hearts will not be enlightened, proud hearts will not be humbled, mourning hearts will not be comforted, fainting hearts will not be cheered. Sermons about the catholic church and an apostolic ministry, sermons about baptism and the Lord’s supper, sermons about unity and schism, sermons about fasts and communion, sermons about fathers and saints,-such sermons will never make up for the absence of sermons about the cross of Christ. They may amuse some, they will feed none.

A gorgeous banqueting room, and splendid gold plate on the table, will never make up to a hungry man for the want of food. Christ crucified is God’s grand ordinance for doing good to men. Whenever a Church keeps back Christ crucified, or puts anything whatever in that foremost place which Christ crucified should always have, from that moment a Church ceases to be useful. Without Christ crucified in her pulpits, a Church is little better than a cumberer of the ground, a dead carcass, a well without water, a barren fig-tree, a sleeping watch­man, a silent trumpet, a dumb witness, an ambassador without terms of peace, a messenger without tidings, a lighthouse without fire, a stumbling-block to weak believers, a comfort to infidels, a hot-bed for formalism, a joy to the devil, and an offence to God.

It depends on what your fundamental is

I love Tim Keller's response to people who claim that all "fundamentalism" is dangerous and creates war and terrorism. This excerpt is from his conversation at the University of Chicago: “Reason for God: Exclusivity of Truth.”:

It was right after 9/11 and all the papers were talking about “this is the problem with fundamentalism.” If you’re a fundamentalist, if you really believe you have the truth, this is what happens… As I tried to show you here, everybody’s a fundamentalist in a way. I mean everybody believes fundamentals. Everybody’s got exclusive truth claims.

I remember Kathy said, “No, that’s not true. Fundamentalist doesn’t necessarily lead to terrorism. It depends on what your fundamental is.” Have you ever seen an Amish terrorist?... So why will there never be Amish terrorists? I’ll tell you why. If your fundamental is a man dying on the cross for his enemies, if the very heart of your self-image and your religion is a man praying for his enemies as he died for them, sacrificing for them, loving them—if that sinks into your heart of hearts, it’s going to produce the kind of life that the early Christians produced. The most inclusive possible life out of the most exclusive possible claim—and that is that this is the truth. But what is the truth? The truth is a God become weak, loving, and dying for the people who opposed him, dying forgiving them. Take that in the center of your heart and you will be at the heart of the solution that we have in this world and that is the divisiveness of exclusive truth claims.

So on this Good Friday, as we contemplate the death of our savior, let that truth penetrate our hearts. Think about what the truth of the cross means for your relationship with God and what it means for your relationship with your family, your friends, your enemies, your church, the world.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thursday of the Commandment

Here is a post from Maundy Thursday last year by John Piper:

Today is Maundy Thursday. The name comes from the Latin mandatum, the first word in the Latin rendering of John 13:34, “A new commandment (Mandatum novum) I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” This commandment was given by the Lord on the Thursday before his crucifixion. So Maundy Thursday is the “Thursday of the Commandment.”

This is the commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” But what about Galatians 5:14? “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” If the whole law is fulfilled in “Love your neighbor as yourself,” what more can “Love one another as Christ loved you” add to the fulfillment of the whole law?

I would say that Jesus did not replace or change the commandment, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” He filled it out and gave it clear illustration. He is saying,

Here is what I mean by “as yourself.” Watch me. I mean: Just as you would want someone to set you free from certain death, so you should set them free from certain death. That is how I am now loving you. My suffering and death is what I mean by ‘as yourself.’ You want life. Live to give others life. At any cost.

So John says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16). Was Jesus loving us “as he loved himself”? Listen to Ephesians 5:29-30, “No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.”

In the horrors of his suffering Christ was sustained “by the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2). And that joy was the everlasting gladness of his redeemed people, satisfied in the presence of the risen king.

Therefore, let us see the greatest love in action during these next 24 hours. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). And let us be so moved by this love that it becomes our own. “He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” This is the commandment. This is the Thursday.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Keep the Fast, Keep the Feast

I'm getting a little behind on keeping this blog updated. I planned on writing more on fasting through this Lenten season but this article by Peter Leithart will make up for what I am lacking considering it is one of the best pieces on fasting I have ever read. Here is a little excerpt:

Jesus is the Last Adam because He keeps the fast. He enters a world that is no longer a garden, but a howling waste, and in that wilderness Satan tempts Him to break the fast, to be an Adam: “You’re hungry; eat this now. You deserve the accolades of the crowds; you can have it now if you jump off the temple. You want all authority in heaven and on earth, but your Father won’t give that to you unless you suffer an excruciating, shameful death; you can have it all now, no cross or self-denial required. It’s yours, and you only need to do a bit of bowing. Life, glory, power, everything you want, everything you deserve—you can have it all now.”

Jesus refused, and refused, and then refused again, and in so doing broke the power of Adamic sin. Jesus kept the fast; he waited, labored, suffered, died, and then opened his hand to receive all the life, glory, honor, authority, and dominion that his Father had to give Him. He kept the fast and as a result was admitted to the fullness of the kingdom’s feast—because by that time both it and he were ready. And by resisting the devil, Jesus sets the pattern of true fasting and reveals a Lenten way of life.

You really should read the whole thing.