Saturday, November 23, 2013

Worship is, “loving” God! – Psalm 18:1-3; Psalm 8:1, 3-4; Psalm 144:3-4

Worship is, “loving” God! – Psalm 18:1-3; Psalm 8:1, 3-4; Psalm 144:3-4
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 24, 2013 AM

How often do you tell the person you care about most in life that you love them? There’s an old joke where on their 50th wedding anniversary a farmer’s wife said she was leaving him. He asked her,
“Why?” She replied, “Because you don’t love me.” He responded, “Why in the world would you say that?” She said, “Because you never say that you love me!” He immediately replied, “I told you that I love you on our wedding day; if I ever change my mind, I’ll let you know!” Sadly, for some this is exactly how they treat their relationship with God! Our worship is, “loving” God!

Perhaps some of us have forgotten what our worship is to be. The Bible reminds us over and over that His people are to “love” Him. Jesus related that the greatest thing we can do as God’s children is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” In fact, worship is, “loving” God! Let’s take a closer look at Scripture and discover what this truly means.

READ: Psalm 18:1-3; Psalm 8:1, 3-4; Psalm 144:3-4


When is the last time you told God you loved Him for who He is instead of what He has done or is doing in your life? How would that fly with someone you cared for? You only say you love them for the things they do for you or have done for you. We are reminded that…

I. Worship is loving God, when we tell Him so! (Psalms 18:1-3 NIV)


I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. (Psalms 18:1-3 NIV)

  1. The intro to this Psalm states, “For the director of music. Of David the servant of the LORD. He sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.” David is praising God for his deliverance and for the peace, he was finally experiencing as King of Israel. King David understood what some in power do not, namely that God is the one who is the rock, and He brings stability and security, in which we can take “refuge”! God tells us that He does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. David loved God for the constant refuge He provided, the shield and stronghold He was in life. In his vow to praise God, David piled military metaphor after military metaphor to describe all that the Lord was and had been to him. Why would a military King care one hoot how he felt about God let alone express his feeling to the Lord? I believe that David expressed his love for the Lord who had shown mercy to him throughout his many struggles. Even when he had been wrongly accused by Saul, had to wage a long drawn out campaign to bring his nation under control, family infighting, and his own sinful condition! David could call on the Lord who loved him, and love Him in return, because the Lord had defended and delivered David from all his enemies, He was worthy of David’s praise. David was not ashamed to let God know how much he loved Him! In our lives, especially as we approach Thanksgiving, we should also remind ourselves just what God has done for us and express our love for Him. Like David, we need to realize that worship is loving God, when we tell Him so!

  EXAMPLE: David shared during a time of great distress that God is, “enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.” (Psalms 22:3 NIV) Literally, God “inhabits” the praise of the Israelite people! God does indeed inhabit the praise or worship of His people. We often forget that our worship is never about us, it is always to be focused on God alone or it is not worship! I can love my wife, but if I never tell her so, my feelings mean nothing. This is why we are told to “confess” with our mouths and “believe” in our hearts. It is also, why Scripture reminds us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30 NIV) And remember, according to the Word of God, our words are always to be in conjunction with actions! Like David, we need to realize that worship is loving God, when we tell Him so!

It truly baffles me is when folks go through life without ever noticing that everything they enjoy was created by God. Paul writes, “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20 NIV) We are reminded that…

II. Worship is loving God, when we remember His creation! (Psalms 8:1-4 NIV)

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants, you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? (Psalms 8:1-4 NIV)

  1. Notice how David begins this psalm by relating, “O Lord, our Lord.” It is a personal reference for David that relates just how much David viewed his relationship with God. He believed God was his Lord always. And, isn’t that great to know during this time of thanksgiving? David was addressing God by His personal name Yahweh (“Lord”), David then identified Him as “our Lord” (’ăḏōnay), his Sovereign or Master. “Lord” stresses David’s recognition of God’s authority over His Creation. So majestic is God’s nature for David that he cries, “You have set your glory above the heavens!” God alone can do this. While pagan cultures worship the created things rather than the Creator, David acknowledges the magnificent nature of God! It is a direct slam to the manmade deities that others worshiped. In fact, David realized that even the innocent knew who God truly was, for, “From the lips of children and infants, you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” Isn’t it interesting, children never have a problem believing there is a God. Adults are the ones that instill distrust and doubt into young minds. Why is that? I believe it is because of the embarrassment and consciousness of sin. David knew that when one just looks up into the night sky, there was no doubt God existed! Instead of worshipping the planets or stars as pagans did, David worships the One who made them! “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” Compared to the majesty of God and the awesome panoply of the universe spread out in the night sky, how could a mere tiny man match up to that? David teaches us that worship is loving God, when we remember His creation!

  EXAMPLE: Did you know that 80 percent of all life on Earth is found in the oceans of the world? That staggering number can be difficult to process, largely because most of that life is out of sight. Knowing this should remind you of how much greater God’s creation is than we typically appreciate. While we can easily have our breath taken away by a majestic mountain range or a panoramic sunset, we sometimes fail to see His extraordinary work in the details that require more careful study and examination. Not only is much of God’s creation hidden by the oceans but also other parts are too small for our eyes to see! From the microscopically small to the unsearched reaches of the universe, it is all the work of our Creator. In these magnificent structures, seen and unseen, God’s creative glory is revealed! However, compared to all the magnificence of the inner or outer universe, God’s majesty is greater because He is Creator! David teaches us that worship is loving God, when we remember His creation!

Paul warned that when the creature demands worship that is due the Creator, we are in serious trouble, “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man… They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen.” (Romans 1:22-23, 25 NIV) We are reminded that…

III. Worship is loving God, when we remember who we are! (Psalms 144:3-4 NIV)


O LORD, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow. (Psalms 144:3-4 NIV)

  1. We find David acknowledging God for His power and protection, but then he reminds himself, “O LORD, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him?” These are questions every human being has asked. Why would a great God care for a sinful person? As the theologist Gill would ponder, “Man, that is at most and best but a creature, made of the dust of the earth, is but dust and ashes; yes, a sinful creature, that drinks up iniquity like water!” David would cry, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight… Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalms 51:2-5 NIV) David held no illusions to what he really was and what he was guilty of doing. Most folks know and yet are afraid to admit it to the One who can cleanse us completely! Gill continues, “Yet the Lord not only knows him, as he is the omniscient God, but takes notice of him in a way of providence, and in a way of grace!” Perhaps, like David, during this season of thanksgiving we need to remind ourselves not only of what we are, sinful, but that “Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.” Life is short, a mere breath, as compared to an eternal God! What impact will your short-lived life have? Man lives either for himself or for the Lord. David wrote, “Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath!” (Psalms 39:4-6 NIV) Shouldn’t we be thankful for an everlasting God who imparts eternal life to sinful mortal man when we confess His Son as Savior and Lord? David teaches us that worship is loving God, when we remember who we are!

  EXAMPLE: James would admonish us to, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10 NIV) and then he would inquire, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (v. 14) this is why Jesus’ words speak to the eternal nature of our lives when we trust in Him, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV) Paul would confess, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16 NIV) David teaches us that worship is loving God, when we remember who we are!

Conclusion:
Like David, we need to realize that worship is loving God, when we tell Him so!
David teaches us that worship is loving God, when we remember His creation!
David teaches us that worship is loving God, when we remember who we are!

This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Worship: Going through the motions! – Genesis 4:3-7; Leviticus 10:1-2; Matthew 15:7-9

Worship: Going through the motions! – Genesis 4:3-7; Leviticus 10:1-2; Matthew 15:7-9
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 17, 2013 AM

Last week, we talked about worship being God’s idea. I heard a story concerning a pastor and his first Sunday in a new church presenting the children’s message. It seems the sanctuary in the new church had some magnificent stained glass windows, so his message centered on how each of us is called to help make up the whole picture of life (the life of the community of the faithful). Like the pictures in the windows, it takes many little panels of glass to make the whole picture. And then he said, “You see each one of you is a little pane.” And then pointing to each child, “You’re a little pane. And you’re a little pane. And you’re a little pane. And...” It took a few moments before he realized why everyone was laughing so hard. Sometimes, we don’t realize that we are just going through the motions.

Our worship can be like that as well. We can simply show up and go through the motions. There are churches and believers who go through the motions of worship every Sunday and then head home wondering why their worship wasn’t what they thought it should have been. Far too many believers and churches are simply copying what they have erroneously learned about worship. They are simply going the through the motions of worship. This morning, let’s discover the way God desires us to worship by looking at how we can be simply going through the motions…

READ: Genesis 4:3-7; Leviticus 10:1-2; Matthew 15:7-9

We find two young men who seem to both worship God in the same way, but one was simply going through the motions of worship. We are simply going through the motions of worship…

I. When we don’t give God our best! (Genesis 4:3-7)

In the course of time, Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering, he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:3-7 NIV)

  1. “In the course of time” both of these men brought to God the outcome of their lives. “Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.” However, “Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.” Did you notice the difference? No, it wasn’t that one was focused on fruit! Contrary to what some folks believe, God does not mind what you eat; rather He is more concerned with what comes out of your mouth! Your actions will reveal the intent of your heart! Adam and Eve had sinned, been thrown out of the Garden of Eden and were now raising two boys. They both brought an offering to the Lord. “The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering, he did not look with favor.” Why, what occurred here? Notice that a period of time had passed and also notice that “Abel brought fat portions” of the “firstborn of his flock” while Cain just brought “some of the fruits of the soil.” Do you detect the difference? God looked with favor on the offering that was given with the best intent from the best the individual had, while the offering that was kind of just slapped together at the last moment, “he did not look with favor.” “So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.” God knows when we don’t give Him our best. God confronts Cain and his second-rate worship: “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Cain knew his offering was not given with the best intentions that it had been given halfheartedly. And isn’t this perhaps the very reason why so much worship in our day and age is seen by God as kind of second-rate? Like Cain, we are simply going through the motions of worship when we do not give God our best!

  EXAMPLE: The other day I cleaned out or refrigerator and I discovered that there were some hidden “secrets” in the back of the fridge. You know what I mean; those science experiments that you did not know you had begun but are now in full bloom. I soon discovered also that you cannot clean some of the containers, you have to throw them out or they stink! Our worship can become leftovers as well and it also begins to stink to high heaven! The solution is to get rid of anything that hinders our worship. Not to do so is sin. Sin crouches at our door when we give God the leftovers of our life. We are simply going through the motions of worship when we do not give God our best!

God has given us His instructions to love Him completely and others, as we love ourselves. However, we often neglect one or the other or both! We learn in the following passage that we are simply going through the motions of worship…

II. When we do our own thing! (Leviticus 10:1-2)

Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. (Leviticus 10:1-2 NIV)

  1. We can forget that when we worship we are entering the very presence of God. Certainly, when we come to Christ we are covered by the blood of the Lamb and His grace is completely sufficient. However, we should never forget that God told Moses, “Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.” (v. 3) on the very first day of his high priestly ministry, Aaron had to face the tragic deaths of his two eldest sons. What occurred is that “Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command.” They thought they could do what they pleased as they entered the presence of God. There are always consequences when we do our own thing, whether good or bad, we reap what we have sown. “So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.” Perhaps this is what today’s church suffers from. There are those who think they can take spiritual short cuts to worship God. They tacitly think God will not care if they offer “unauthorized fire before the Lord,” manufactured or otherwise! How often do we approach God without any honor at all, and then is it any wonder that the rest of the world does not see the church as a viable option? When God’s people do not honor, worship, according to His commands our worship is invalid. In fact, at best, it is manufactured! One of the teachers of the law came and asked Jesus, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus told him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The teacher of the Law responded, “You are right… To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength… is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Matthew 12:28-34 NIV) Aaron’s sons, like some believers do, forget whom they are to love, worship, completely. We are simply going through the motions of worship when we do our own thing!

  EXAMPLE: We live in a society that thinks every moment of our lives should be lived in doing whatever we want to do whenever we want to and however we want to do it! This is not only extremely narcissistic but it is also extremely spiritually myopic. Church has become about us instead of the body of Christ where we are supposed to serve even if means unto death! If we are unwilling to, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21 NIV) how can we worship God? We are simply going through the motions of worship when we do our own thing!

Nothing is worse than discovering that those who say they care about us don’t. We call it being two-faced. In the next passage, we discover that we are simply going through the motions of worship…

III. When our hearts are far away from God! (Matthew 15:7-9)

You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” (Matthew 15:7-9 NIV)

  1. “News of Jesus’ teaching and His mighty acts had spread throughout the land. The officials in Jerusalem were aware of all Jesus was doing, for a delegation arrived in Galilee from Jerusalem to interrogate Jesus over a matter of Jewish tradition. Their attack was directed against Jesus’ disciples, who were accused of failing to observe the elders’ tradition of the ceremonial washing of hands before eating.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary) They thought of themselves as righteous because they followed the law; however, they had dishonored the fifth command to honor their parents by the use “Corban.” Jesus related, “But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban’ (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother.”(Mark 7:11-12 NIV) In fact, Jesus accused them of nullifying the “word of God”! Jesus bluntly tells them, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’” Their hearts were so far away from God, they could not even see their own phoniness. How could those who thought of themselves as righteous worship God when they in fact were hypocritical about how they treated their parents! There are those in our day who treat their brothers and sisters in Christ with disdain, they treat their church with contempt, and their walk with God is just lip service. God told Isaiah, “They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” Their religion had become a matter of man-made rules! We may think as evangelical Baptists we do not have man-made rules, but we do. When we allow our ungodly attitudes, actions, or man-made traditions to interfere with our worship, we cannot worship! In fact, we are simply going through the motions of worship when our hearts are far away from God!

  EXAMPLE: Paul knew the importance of true worship. He understood that it is based on the purity of one’s life in Christ. This is why after teaching the Ephesians about the importance of the church in the life of a believer, he writes, “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.” (Ephesians 4:17-21 NIV) We are simply going through the motions of worship when our hearts are far away from God!

Conclusion:
We are simply going through the motions of worship when we do not give God our best!
We are simply going through the motions of worship when we do our own thing!
We are simply going through the motions of worship when our hearts are far away from God!

This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Worship is God’s idea! – 2 Kings 17:35-36; Numbers 28:1-2; Matthew 4:8-10

Worship is God’s idea! – 2 Kings 17:35-36; Numbers 28:1-2; Matthew 4:8-10
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 10, 2013 AM

As a youngster, church for me was boring; it was full of weird sounding words, repetition, a lot of kneeling, standing, genuflecting, and symbolism that was beyond my comprehension. Later I learned that each part was symbolic and allegedly necessary if I desired to “know God” and come near Him. Of course, this simply was not true. Church was not meant to be a myriad of regulations and endless repetitions. Also, I used to think that church was worship, but I learned this was not completely true either. While we go to church to worship, worship is more than church. Worship is God’s idea!

The king of Assyria had given an order: “Have one of the priests you took captive from Samaria go back to live there and teach the people what the god of the land requires.” He did not know the Lord, but he wanted his captured subjects to be placated. In doing so, the Samaritans maintained their ways and ended up corrupting the true worship of God. They began to practice syncretism, combining their worship of idols with the worship of God; “each group made its own gods in the several towns where they settled, and set them up in the shrines the people of Samaria had made at the high places.” They, like many in our day and age do, misunderstood God’s idea of worship! This morning we will discover anew what God’s idea of worship is meant to be.

READ: 2 Kings 17:35-36; Numbers 28:1-2; Matthew 4:8-10

Far too often human beings begin to think that worship is all about them and as such, we can bring anything into our worship that makes us feel better. We forget that this is not God’s idea of worship. We discover…

I. Worship of God is to be distinctive! (2 Kings 17:35-36 NIV)

When the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. But the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices.”

  1. Right up to the day of the writing of 2 Kings the Samaritans maintained their ways. They did not worship God. While they “worshiped the LORD,” they did not worship God from the heart and in the ways, He specified, “they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.” Nor did the people keep the laws He gave to Jacob’s descendants. God had changed Jacob’s name to Israel to show everyone that he and his descendants were to become a distinct people in the world. This distinctiveness was being broken down by the Samaritans; in fact, they persisted in their former practices! This should sound all too familiar. There are those who in our day who say they worship God, but have readily adopted other religious ideals, theologies, and beliefs. However, “When the made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: ‘Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them.’” God’s command was plain, His people called by His name were to be distinctive from the pagan nations around them and they were to worship God alone! “But the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices.” God was not to be treated casually as some territorial deity that was handmade by a human being. He alone was God and demanded that His people’s worship of Him was to be distinctive! He would tell them, “You must always be careful to keep the decrees and ordinances, the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods!” (v. 37) this command has not changed, we are not to bring ungodly practices or beliefs into our worship; our worship of God is to be distinctive!

  EXAMPLE: Have you ever seen those bumper stickers that have the word “Co-exist” spelled out with different religious symbols? It promotes and encourages the ignorance that all religions are the same. This is a totally false notion and ungodly. The sad truth is we live in a nation of syncretism. People love to cut and paste their own proclivity to their personal beliefs about God. When we do, we will suffer from what we have decided to obey in our lives. 2 Kings goes on to lament, “Even while these people were worshiping the LORD, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.” (v. 17) Wow! The Bible teaches us that our worship of God is to be distinctive!

Far too often as human beings, we begin to think that if our worship pleases us, then it must please God! So, we begin to allow all kinds of attitudes to influence our worship. If we feel good, it must be good worship. Is this true? The Bible teaches us that…

II. Worship of God is to be pleasing to Him! (Numbers 28:1-2 NIV)

The LORD said to Moses, “Give this command to the Israelites and say to them: ‘See that you present to me at the appointed time the food for my offerings made by fire, as an aroma pleasing to me.’”

  1. On the eve of the conquest and occupation of Canaan, it was necessary that the younger generation be instructed concerning the offerings and worship of God that was appropriate for the settled, agricultural way of life they would soon be living. If older generations are either unwilling or neglect the teaching of younger generations about the true worship of God, they will neglect what they are supposed to be doing and how they are to worship the Lord. This is why, “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Give this command to the Israelites and say to them: “See that you present to me at the appointed time the food for my offerings made by fire, as an aroma pleasing to me.’” Notice what occurs here in Numbers. The people had just entered into the Promised Land. In fact, the old generation, except for a few godly men, died in the wilderness because of their disobedience to follow God! “Not a man of this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your forefathers, except Caleb… because he followed the LORD wholeheartedly.” And, “Joshua son of Nun, will enter it.” (Deuteronomy 1:35-37 NIV) Now this new generation may have felt that because most of them were unborn when the former laws were given; they might have a good reason not to worship as mom, dad, and the grandparents did! However, they not only had these laws written, to be read to them, but again repeated from God himself! Perhaps they were tempted to think that since these were old things done a long time ago, they did not relate to them personally, they did not need to adhere to them as strictly. Or perhaps since they were headed into a new area, they needed to worship in newer ways in order to fit into the societies they encountered. Sounds familiar doesn’t it. None of these was a good enough reason to neglect worship that is pleasing to God. Worship is not about us, it is not based on how we feel, nor does it concern adhering to society’s ungodly standards. Whatever the reason they forgot that worship is a command from God, supposed to be done at an appointed time, in a prescribed way! The Bible teaches that worship of God is to be pleasing to Him!

  EXAMPLE: What we get out of our worship is never as important as to what we bring to our worship. What do you do to make sure your worship is pleasing to God? Psalms teaches us, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.” (Psalms 29:2 NIV) Hebrews teaches us, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’” (Hebrews 12:28-29 NIV) In fact, Paul may have it best when he wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1 NIV) Our worship of God is to be pleasing to Him!

Far too often human beings begin to think that worship is all about them -- how they feel and how God is to relate to them. We forget that this is not God’s idea of worship. We discover…

III. Worship of God is to be focused on Him alone! (Matthew 4:8-10 NIV)

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

  1. After being baptized, Jesus was led immediately by the Spirit of God into the desert for a period of testing. This period of time was a necessary under God’s direction. After fasting 40 days, when the Lord was hungry, the tests began. The first test pertained to the matter of sonship. The second test by Satan appealed to personal popularity. Satan’s final test related to God’s plan for Jesus. It was and is God’s design that Jesus would rule the world through the human heart. “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.” The god of this age and the prince of this world took the King of kings to a place where he tried to tempt Him from His journey to the cross. “‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’” However, this would have thwarted God’s plan for salvation and would have meant Jesus was worshiping an inferior. That is always the world’s and Satan’s desire for God’s children, that they would give allegiance to that which is spiritually substandard. This is how believers are always easily distracted from their worship of God and His Son. We willingly chase after that which is inferior thinking that we are gaining something superior. Notice dear child of the King His ready response, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only!’” That is to be the Son’s choice and ours as well! Scripture reiterates over and over the singular lesson that God is a jealous God; jealous of that which He lovingly formed, that which He lovingly sought after, and that which He lovingly gave His one and only Son to die for! Satan loves to lead the weak-willed and spiritually shallow to the heights of personal satisfaction and whisper to our insecure souls, “All this I will give you if you will bow down and worship me.” He does it with intoxicating power, with the pornography of emotional lust, or the loneliness of heart. And, like addicts drawn to cocaine, we willingly sell ourselves on the altar of inferior worship. The answer for us is found in the words of Deuteronomy echoed by Jesus, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only!” Our worship of God is to be focused on Him alone!

  EXAMPLE: Of course most of us do not think we are actually worshipping Satan when we acquiesce ourselves to ungodly things instead of the Lord, but we are. In fact, we can so delude ourselves that we might actually think that what we do on our own spare time is of no consequence to God and nothing could be further from the truth. He is the one who knows when a sparrow falls and numbers the hairs on our heads. (Matthew 10:29-30) Jesus reminds us, “You are worth more than many sparrows!” (v. 31) and then He teaches us what true worship is all about: “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33 NIV) Worship is not just about our exaltation of God, it is our acknowledgement of Who He truly is! Our worship of God is to be focused on Him alone!

Conclusion:

Our worship of God is to be distinctive!
Our worship of God is to be pleasing to Him!
Our worship of God is to be focused on Him alone!

This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

How to live confidently! - James 5:1, 4-11, 13-20

How to live confidently! - James 5:1, 4-11, 13-20
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 3, 2013 AM

In my early 30’s, I questioned what my future held. I was newly married, working at a good job, but I could not see the finish line. I wanted desperately to be “out there in the real world,” working in pastoral ministry. I observed people my age who were established in ministry. Soon, a ministry opportunity arose that was the beginning of a future I could not have imagined—one better than I could have drawn up. I wish I could say I never again lost confidence about the future, but I can’t. Yet in my journey, I have learned valuable lessons. God works on His timetable and I can trust Him.

Disappointments make adults less confident about their lives. Some lose confidence and concentrate on the worst that could happen. They always wonder when the next shoe will drop! Other adults worry about the future. Limited incomes, aging, health-care, terrorism threats, the economy, and other concerns erode their confidence about the future. Some adults have lost confidence in prayer. God desires us to live confidently and James teaches us how.

READ: James 5:1, 4-11, 13-20

James declares that wicked people will lose their wealth; in fact, it will ultimately testify against them! God already knows about people’s evil and will judge them. As a result, they will suffer for their acts of ungodliness. However, we can live confidently because we know…

I. The wicked will be punished! (5:1, 4-6)

  1. James had referred to ways some rich people treat believers—oppressing them, dragging them into court, and speaking evil of their Lord’s name (2:6-7). James now addresses non-Christian rich people directly. Evidently, these rich folk were unbelievers who took advantage of the destitute believers. Weep and wail describes loud mourning—howling in terror—and bursting into tears. Misery means “calamity” or “distress.” James declared a time was coming when the unscrupulous rich would face the consequences of their actions. Their wealth would decay. Moths would eat holes in their hoarded clothes, and their silver and gold would rust (vv. 2-3)! Then, James outlined three charges against them! First, they had hired workers to reap their fields and had withheld their pay. The failure to pay was cruel and fraudulent. Poor Jewish day laborers expected to be paid at the end of each day as the law required. They depended on it for their families’ survival. James stated that the withheld pay cried out against them and now, “The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.” God takes note of rich people’s ruthless treatment of the poor. He can—and will—address the wrong. The heartless landowners had deprived the day laborers of their subsistence, but the wealthy “lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence.” They had “fattened (themselves) in the day of slaughter. James compared the self-indulgent rich with animals that went on feeding securely, unaware of the looming day of slaughter. They had lived a soft (delicate) life and engaged in extravagant wastefulness; solely for their own pleasure. James then leveled a third charge against wealthy unbelievers, “You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.” He may have referred to their having control of the courts so the poor had no recourse and thus were deprived of justice. Their exploiting the poor amounted to murder. In Jewish tradition, people could murder others by depriving them of their living. The poor had no power to gain a fair hearing in the courts. We can live confidently because we know the wicked will be punished!

  EXAMPLE: We can be confident about our future because God will punish the wicked. We are not to rejoice at the prospect of their judgment; we should be concerned that they repent and turn to Christ. Yet we can take comfort in the truth that God is fair and just, and we can leave reward and punishment to Him. We can live confidently because we know the wicked will be punished!

James turned again to Christians. He called for believers to be patient as they await Jesus’ return and to endure on the basis of God’s nature. We can live confidently because we know…

II. Our future is secure! (5:7-11)

  1. James encouraged his brothers to be patient “until the Lord’s coming.” Rather than to seek revenge for wrongs, we are to live in anticipation of Jesus’ return. An illustration from farming presses James’s point. The farmer plows his field and sows his seed. “See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.” Believers are to follow the farmer’s example of perseverance. In light of Christ’s imminent return, we are to strengthen our hearts. We are to persevere in faith and renew our courage and commitment. Believers are not to “grumble against each other… or you will be judged.” Christians must remember that, “The Judge is standing at the door!” James wanted believers to stop grumbling against one another so they would not be judged! With the Judge so near, how can believers continue to grumble against and find fault with one another? Christians will face the same judgment as the wicked. Instead, believers will be judged on the basis of their relationship with Christ, and the wicked will be judged on the basis of their lack of a relationship with Him. James pointed believers to the prophets as a group for an outstanding example of suffering and patience. “Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered.” The prophets were worthy examples of steadfastness. James reminds us, “You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.” Job is a great example of perseverance. He was not patient in our usual meaning of the word; he “had it out” with God, but he remained steadfast in his faith. God restoring Job demonstrates His compassionate and merciful nature. James writes, “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” We can live confidently because we know our future is secure!

  EXAMPLE: We can patiently await and be confident about the future because God is in charge of it. We are to persevere in our faithfulness to Christ, no matter what difficulties we encounter. We have the opportunity to follow outstanding examples of endurance and in the process to become models for others. We can live confidently because we know our future is secure!

James echoed Jesus’ teaching about speaking truthfully without using oaths (Matthew 5:33-37). Instead of cursing God or others about our circumstances, we should pray. James points us to God’s past consistency in answering prayers. On that basis, we can be assured of our prayers’ clout! We can live confidently because we know…

III. Our prayers are powerful! (5:13-20)


  1. James then asked three questions that expected a "yes" answer. First, are any believers in trouble? He is referring to experiencing hardships. That person should keep on praying for God’s help. Second, is anyone happy (in good spirits)? That person should sing praises—literally, “sing psalms.” Singing to God is a fitting way to thank Him for blessings. James’s third question concerns believers who are sick. An ill person may lack the strength to pray, so the individual was to call for the elders of the church. Elders may have been older, respected Christians, or they could have been leaders with pastoral functions. The elders’ role probably mirrors a similar role found in the Jewish community, and James’s advice reflects a familiar practice in that community. The elders first were to anoint the sick person with olive oil in the name of the Lord. The word anoint means more than using olive oil in a ceremonial gesture; it means “to rub” in the medicinal sense. Thus, their prayer is to be combined with the best medical treatment available. The phrase in the name of the Lord emphasizes dependence on God. On the surface, this verse seems to offer an absolute guarantee that this would always result in healing. However, we must consider an underlying condition. The phrase the prayer of faith refers to petitioning God in total confidence. James meant that it is God alone who “will cure” or “will restore to health” the one who was sick. “The Lord will raise him up.” James’ comment, “If he has sinned, he will be forgiven”, does not indicate all sickness is a result of sins. Rather, it points out that where sin is present, God’s forgiveness is available. James writes, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” The intense prayer of the righteous is very powerful. A righteous person has a close relationship with God and demonstrates faith through obedience. The idea is that God hears and makes effective the prayers of His faithful people. Thus, His people are to pray. As an example of a righteous man’s powerful, effective prayers, James pointed to the prophet Elijah. James’s point was that Elijah was human as we all are; yet because of his right relationship with God, his prayers were effective in God’s causing and then ending drought. James urged believers to develop and maintain a vibrant relationship with God out of which they could pray effectively. In fact, Christians are to be engaged in the ministry of restoration as they endured trials and an ongoing struggle against sin. “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” We can live confidently because we know our prayers are powerful!

  EXAMPLE: Intercessory prayer is essential as an expression of Christian concern and of faith in God’s care and power. Intercessors’ presence with the sick person gives assurance of the church’s fellowship and provides a personal touch that can strengthen the individual’s faith. Yet seeking the best medical treatment is always valid and crucial. We can be confident about our prayers because God always answers them, often in exactly the way we ask. Even when He seems to be silent, we can be confident that He has not forgotten our petitions and is working on our behalf. We can live confidently because we know our prayers are powerful!

Conclusion:
 1. We can live confidently because we know the wicked will be punished!
 2. We can live confidently because we know our future is secure!
 3. We can live confidently because we know our prayers are powerful!

This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.