Archive for February, 2012

TO THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY(Pt. 4)

“God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth”(John 4:23-24 NKJV).

Man was created to give glory and honor to God alone. This can only be done according to truth, Truth revealed by God. This is why the First commandment is so important.”Thou shall have no other gods before Me”(Exodus 20:2 NKJV). God is a jealous God Who tolerates no rival gods. To make an image or idol (With our hands or in our hearts) and bow down before it is forbidden in the scriptures because among other things it distorts the TRUTH of Who God is as the Creator.

A distortion of God becomes a perversion in our minds,our hearts and our actions. The apostle Paul warns that unworthy thoughts about God lead to unworthy behavior in our lives.

TRUTH ABOUT GOD

“The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse”(Romans 1:18-20 NKJV).

Notice the order that Paul describes those who “suppress truth”. Their choice to deny God His place in the universe as Creator (Ungodliness) leads to behavior without regard to God’s character (Unrighteousness). Thus people fall from God’s high ideal when He created man to reflect His image. He says that “their foolish hearts were darkened…and they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things… They exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever. Amen.”(Romans 1:21b-23,25 NKJV).

TRUTH ABOUT OURSELVES

A distortion of the image of God inside of us distorts the image of God around us. Is it not interesting that when man assumes the role of God for himself every “projection” of man’s image of himself becomes a gross misrepresentation, never an improvement…always a downward spiral. Why? Because we become like the thing we worship.

TRUTH TOWARDS OUR NEIGHBOR

Worshipping God in truth involves our neighbor. This is the revelation our Lord Jesus gives as He tells the story of the Samaritan who rescues and restores the Jewish man who was assaulted on the Jericho road. He was beaten, robbed and left for dead. The priest and Levites avoided him, under the pretext that they might become “unclean”. Religion that hardens its heart to the broken and disadvantaged is the most cruel of systems devised by man. True worship says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”(James 2:8b).

True worship also means that our business dealings are the same for those who have the knowledge of God and those who are outside the knowledge of God. This is so that they may see by our behavior that we believe in, and that we have a respect for God in our dealings. God reminds His people Israel of their beginnings when He said through Moses,”The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land if Egypt: I am the LORD your God”(Leviticus 19:34 NKJV)

TRUTH IS FOUND IN HIS WORD

To worship God the Father is to heed and obey His Word. Those who worship God in truth do so, as Eugene Peterson put it,” by working the scriptures into their lives”. Their goal is not merely to have the facts of the scriptures correct, but that they may live a Word-ruled life. This is what Ezra, the priest did. “Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel”(Ezra 7:10 NKJV). Again, king David, sought to worship the LORD by seeking His Word. “I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in your word. My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word”(Psalm 119:147-148 NKJV).

TRUTH IS FOUND IN HIS SON

Ultimately, truth is seeing reality through God’s eyes. This can only be found in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me”(John 14:6). Again, the apostle Paul wrote to the believers at Ephesus, “But you have not learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as truth is in Jesus”(Ephesians 4:20-21 NKJV). Christ Jesus is both the Person of Truth and His life has been given to us as the Principle of truth to live by. Only a life lived in the truth as it is in Him can we bring glory and honor to the Father. This is what it means to worship the Father in spirit and truth.

(c) Copyright 2012, Walter Fletcher Jr., All rights are reserved.  This article may be copied free of charge provided that it is not altered in any way from its original content.  Send all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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TO THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY(Pt. 3)

“For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh”(Philippians 3:3 NKJV).

WORSHIP GOD IN THE SPIRIT

In John Chapter 4, the disciples did not realize that when Jesus sat down by Jacob’s well, one of the most important lessons would be given them. He sat down by a well hungry and thirsty. But Jesus’ hunger and thirst was far greater spiritually than physical. First, He thirsted and longed that all of God’s children should return Home. Samaria had long been thought to be a place where a marginalized people dwelt. As Jesus sat by the well perhaps many felt what the Jews of His day felt when the Samaritan woman came to draw water. Her reputation was known throughout the community: Five failed marriages, and presently living with number six! And yet…what was not known was that this wayward woman was key to her village’s breakthrough to a God reality.

Jesus knew that this woman was the Father’s assignment for Him that day. He saw deeper than surface appearances to the actual “deep calling to deep”. What was the deepest longing and need in her life? A thirst to become the person she was created to be, a true worshipper of God; knowing Him and making Him known.

WORSHIP IN SPIRIT

Jesus gives the Samaritan woman the key into the heart of God. “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth”(John 4:23-24 NKJV).

God is Spirit. He is the uncreated One Who exists as a Spirit being. By His Spirit everything that exists was created or made to exist as the Book of Genesis, Chapter One, records.

The key to true worship is discovering ourselves in the light of God. We as human beings are created spirit beings (Genesis 2:7). Human beings are created spirit beings (Genesis 2:7). We were brought forth as God’s highest created order to uniquely know, love and serve Him. The ground of our fellowship with God is not in “doing for God” but “Knowing God”, not religiously, but relationally. This heart to heart relationship is what David, time and again, extolls in the Psalms.

“I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart”(Psalm 9:1). Again,”Praise the LORD! I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation”(Psalm 111:1 NKJV).

The prophet declares,”With my soul I have desired You in the night, Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early” (Isaiah 26:9a NKJV).

The apostle Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit’s assistance in making perfect our prayer (Which is an act of worship). “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us”(Romans 8:26a NKJV).

Again, Paul refers to his own prayer and worship as “praying with his spirit as well as with his understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding” (1Corinthians 14:15 NKJV).

Angels are spirit beings. They were created to worship God. The LORD God asked Job, “Where were you…when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God”(Angels)”shouted for joy?”(Job 38: 4a,7). This is one of the reasons Lucifer (Satan) hates true worship. He was created by God and apparently given charge of leading the angelic host in worship before the very throne of God, until he rebelled and was cast out of the presence of God (Read Isaiah 14:12-15 & Ezekiel 28:13-15).

Finally, we note that John the Beloved sees in heaven the 24 Elders gazing upon the Throne. Each glimpse seems to evoke a new expression of songs of adoration and worship. “They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb”(Revelation 15:3 NKJV).

This is the hour that the Spirit of God is restoring true worship,”To Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen”(Ephesians 3:21).

 

Copyright(c) 2012, Walter Fletcher Jr., All rights reserved.  This article may be copied free of charge provided that it is not altered in any way from its original.  Send all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

TO THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY(Pt. 2)

“I have found David…a man after My own heart, who will do all My will”(Acts 13:22 NKJV)

WORSHIP-FINDING THE HEART OF GOD

God loved David because David loved God. He captured the heart of God through his worship. Long before David was a king or a warrior he was a worshipper on the lonely backside of his Father’s pastureland. He sang to the LORD God his Creator, gazing up at the moon and the stars by night and the glory of the rising sun by day. As he reflected on the beauty of God’s creation he mused poetically, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor”(Psalm 8:3-5 NKJV).

WORSHIP IS SUSTAINED BY HUNGER

The secret of David’s ardent worship was a consistent thirst for the divine. He refused to accept dead religion for a true experience of God’s manifest presence in His life. “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name”(Psalm 63:1-4).

David understood that worship is a personal matter before it becomes a corporate expression among people. He also understood that it is natural for those who love and honor God to express that love in some demonstrative way. David never considered worship as a drag or dread. He knew that God enjoyed His people and longed to have them filled with joy and expectation.

“Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing…Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name”(Psalm 100:1-2,4 NKJV).

RECOVERING THE ARK

Perhaps the one crowning achievement of David’s life was recovering the Ark of God’s presence. This was the symbol of God’s presence among Israel, God’s people. Under Eli’s priestly administration it was lost, captured by the Philistines. It was not pursued under the prophet Samuel’s leadership. Neither did Saul, first king over Israel, seek the Ark. But when David was anointed to be the next king, he declared, “I will not rest until I find a resting place for the Ark of God”. David knew that his kingdom would never be established until God’s Kingship was visibly acknowledged in the midst of His people. Today, we have too many who are happy to have their rulership acknowledged among the people and yet, the Lord God’s Kingly government is nowhere in sight.

WORSHIP AMONG THE NATIONS

David was not only a priest and king. He was a prophet who gave expression by the Holy Spirit of those things that were yet to come. He writes with anticipation of when all the nations would come to worship the Lord King of all the earth. “Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You. Then the earth shall yield her increase; God, our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us, And all the ends of the earth shall fear Him”(Psalm 67:5-7 NKJV). Our worship matters to the Lord. True worship from His people will hasten His coming.

 

Copyright(c) 2012, Walter Fletcher Jr., All rights reserved. This article may be copied free of charge provided that it is not altered in any way from its original content. Send all correspondence to:Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

TO THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY(Pt. 1)

WORSHIP

A.W. Tozer warned in his day that the Church had lost the true art of worship. Although he has been gone for over a generation, I believe his concern could still be echoed. Today in many houses of worship we have come to substitute or mistake music style and entertainment as worship. While it can be argued that instruments and contemporary rhythms assist us in having a meaningful worship experience, it may not touch the heart of worship. Here are some thoughts to reflect upon as we examine the true essence of worship.

1-Worship is an act of love and obedience. The Shema: “Hear, O Israel…Thou shall love the LORD your God, with all your heart, soul, mind and strength”. God, Who has revealed Himself as a God of Love and Mercy, a God of faithfulness and forgiveness, wants a people who will both receive His love and return that love through our obedience.

Worship is an act of obedience to His Word; Love is a verb.

2-Worship acknowledges the worth of another. The One true and living God, Who is both Creator and Sustainer of every living thing, is worthy of all honor and glory. Because of this He is to be both acknowledged and celebrated. Through the scriptures we see that God alone is “The Most High God”. He is a great God above all gods because He was not created by the imagination of any human being; that would be an idol. David said, “O magnify the LORD with Me. Let us exalt His Name together”.

3-Worship is an expression of the creative order. All nature was created to worship Him. The apostle Paul wrote, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead”(Romans 1:20 NKJV). The angels were created to worship, “Let all the angels of God worship Him”(Hebrews 1:6b NKJV). Mankind was created to give Him praise, honor and glory. “I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You”(Hebrews 1:12 NKJV).

4-Worship requires sacrifice. David, in the midst of calamity, watched a plague ravish his people due to his disobedience. He understood the meaning of true worship when he bought the field of Araunah to offer sacrifices.  He declared, “I will not offer to the LORD my God of that which cost me nothing”(2 Samuel 24:24b). David only echoed what he had learned from the Word of God. God requires the best of what we have. We are not to give what is left over after we have chosen or used the best for ourselves. With this the apostle Paul agrees. “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable act of spiritual worship”(Romans 11:36-12:1).

THE HIGHEST PRAISE

God demonstrates the highest form of sacrifice by giving us Himself entirely by giving us His Son, Jesus Christ.  Adam witnessed (in type) in the garden of Eden that sin was a costly affair. He saw God Himself become the first priest in the scriptures, shedding the blood of an innocent animal, clothing the man and the woman with its skin to cover their nakedness and shame. Likewise, Jesus said,”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”(John 3:16).  Jesus came to give Himself as the highest praise to the Father by giving His life for us and clothing us with His righteousness.

WORSHIP IS HEAVEN’S CULTURE

 We need to understand that worship is heaven’s culture.  “Unto Him Who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood and has made us a kingdom of priests to our God and His Father; to him [be] glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen”(Revelation 1:5-6) .  John sees the restoration of the ultimate purpose of Mankind. Not only were we CREATED to worship God, but we were REDEEMED to worship God. “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name”(Hebrews 13:15 NKJV).

Copyright(c) 2012, Walter Fletcher Jr., All rights reserved. This article may be copied free of charge provided that it is not altered in any way from its original content. Send all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com