"For who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the Lord? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him."
(Psalm 89:6-7 NKJV)
This passage was written by Ethan, a Levite leader and possibly one of the head musicians of the temple. I wonder what was really in his heart when he used the Hebrew word Yare' (pronounced yaw-ray) that we translate here as reverence? Yare' is used over 300 times in the King James Bible but is usually translated as fear, afraid, terrible or dreadful. It is only translated 3 times as reverence. Maybe that's because, as it relates to God, these emotions are very similar; or, they should be...
When you read the entire 89th Psalm, Ethan makes his meaning clear. He is referring to a personal feeling of profound love, veneration, and adoration for the Lord. If someone wants to translate that as fear and awe, that's ok too.
When we walk into a mortuary, we immediately lower our voices and take on an attitude of awe (fear of death?), love and humility to show our respect for those mourning the deceased.
During the minutes prior to a wedding, our hushed tones show our love and respect for the solemn occasion.
At the inauguration of a President or the coronation of a King or Queen, all present understand the seriousness of the occasion and act in a somber and reverent manner befitting those being so honored.
When a play is being performed in most theaters today, late arrivals are not allowed to take their seats until intermission so other patrons (and the actors themselves) are not disturbed.
Contrast these solemn and formal occasions to the atmosphere in most churches minutes prior to service. Are those attending the service presenting an attitude of reverence to the Lord our God? Is He honored by their late arrival, their loud talk and their apparent unawareness of His presence?
"...let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:28-29)
Paul tells us in 1st Corinthians 11 that whoever partakes of communion in an unworthy manner is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. We are to examine ourselves to see whether the thing we are about to do is genuine because "anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself."
If this small portion of our worship service carries such a heavy weight of condemnation for anyone who is not "in the right frame of mind," what about the rest of the service?
My brothers and sisters, let us humble ourselves before the Lord when we come to worship Him. Approach Him with a righteous fear, a repentant heart and the full and submissive love of a bride for her husband.
Many would have us believe that "Old Time Religion" is no longer adequate. The "Lights, Camera, Action" mentality is the only way to reach people today. We need to use "modern technology" to attract people - the Gospel alone just won't bring them in.
Do we really believe that we have to "help" God - That He doesn't understand the modern, sophisticated person of today? Maybe... we don't understand God...
Will a visitor to our church think they're in the temple of the Great I AM, or that they're watching the opening act of a rock concert? Will they think we're worshiping God or showing off our new amplifiers?
Few of us are in a position to change our church's worship program. However, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we are in total control of our hearts.
"Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Eph 5:19-20
The Good News of the Gospel saved thousands on a day in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. Among that crowd were many who, only a few days earlier, were shouting, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" Do we really think that the Gospel has lost it's "punch"?
What could possibly be more appealing than these timeless words: "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."
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 2:5
No, the title is not a misprint, and although I am capable of butchering English on occasion, it is not my idea of proper grammar. It is a quote from a man who admitted to trying to kill his wife in four separate incidents. (He was such a bumbler his second attempt backfired and nearly killed him instead.)
When he asked his son to help him on his next attempt, the son went to the police. The police taped a microphone and transmitter on him and the father's murder plan was recorded. Ironically, the man evidently did not have anything against his wife. He merely wanted to collect the insurance on her so he could continue his high-spending lifestyle.
As he described his final plan to his son, he explained what he intended to do to keep her blood from spattering. "I seen this on TV," he said.
It seems that no matter what demented crime a person wants to commit today it can be found on TV, in all its grisly detail. I can not help but wonder what kind of twisted minds write some of these shows. These minds are obviously not centered on God or grounded in His Word, but then God is rarely included in the world's entertainment.
It is not all the writers' fault either. Too many of today's TV viewers are not satisfied with wholesome family entertainment. Murder and mayhem – the gorier the better – rule much of American television fare.
How far are producers going to go with this trend for the goriest, most inane, nightmare-inducing programming available for anyone of any age with the ability to push a button? They will take it just as far as they can get away with pushing it. Some request it. Some learn to enjoy it. And some are easily manipulated into accepting whatever is put on their plate.
If you fill up on a diet of junk food, which is full of empty calories and unable to supply your nutritional needs, sooner or later your body will show the effects of your poor food choices. If you are what you eat, as the saying goes, can a steady "diet" of negativity, including visions of violent and gruesome death scenes, be healthy for your mind?
It is no wonder there is little peace of mind in the world, even among Christianity. There is nothing in the Bible that specifically mentions making wise TV choices, but there are principles that can be applied. One of them is Philippians 4:8. Fill your mind with positive ideas, uplifting thoughts, and praise. There is nothing positive, uplifting or praiseworthy in gore and violence, so why are so many Christians watching it?
Every generation has taken another step toward lowering the standards for morality and entertainment. Our TV fare has hit an all-time low. I dread to see what unseemly drivel will be introduced next.
As a Christian TV viewer, I need to be aware of what I am ingesting and what kind of an effect it can have on my spiritual life.
Please, Lord, if I ever say, "I seen this on TV," may it be because I learned something I can use to enrich my life and the life of others.
Offering timely words of response in the name of Jesus is a special acknowledgement of faithful service to a fellow Christian. What a blessing it is to be around a person who ministers in that way! We would call someone like that an Encourager.
"I don't serve God because I expect a pat on the back," you may protest. That's true. However, there are at least four occasions in the New Testament that teach us to encourage one another (1st Thessalonians 4:18, 2nd Timothy 4:2, Titus 2:6, and Hebrews 3:13).
I received an email from a pastor who responded to one of the GospeLines devotionals:
Thanks, friends. That is a good story. I had seen it before; was glad to read it again. As I read the part where the two teens talked to the older minister after the meeting, I thought, "At least they said something to him!" Too many times, I've heard nothing afterwards; and have been nearby when people said nothing to other ministers, as well. I'm not referring to the usual statement, "I enjoyed your message, pastor," but to some comment or question that would indicate even the tiniest bit of interest in God's Word and spiritual growth. My heart is breaking... Surely, somebody is hungry... You know, it seems to me that we are nearer to Jesus catching His bride away than we realize!
Maranatha!* See you on the way up!
Pastors are people, too. I don't know how you view your pastor, but from experience I can tell you that he is in need of encouragement from you. Tell him you love him. Let him know his words helped you. It will bless your heart and he will know that God has used him to meet your needs.
GospeLines Prayer: Father, remind us that those who are anointed to preach the Gospel are in need of encouragement, too. Open my silent lips so that I may boldly speak the words of appreciation which are on my heart, yet often remain private. Challenge me to become more sensitive to the efforts of others by sharing words of love and affirmation. Amen and amen.
* From 1st Corinthians 16:22 meaning "Our Lord Comes."
Thursday: March 16, 2006
"Religion or Revolution?"
"...no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined." Mark 2:22
Ask any home winemaker and they will tell you that we don't make wine... we control the yeast. It's the yeast that makes the wine through a process called fermentation. Fermentation produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. The "young" wine is unstable. If you but it into a rigid, inflexible wineskin, it would burst. However, old wine that is fully fermented is stable and can be put into any rigid or inflexible container with no fear of rupture.
What is Jesus trying to teach us? Christians are new creations: "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2nd Corinthians 5:17) He was telling us that Christians are changing from the old to the new... we are volatile... unstable by the world's standards.
Luke 5:39 adds "...no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better." The new wine is tart, not yet smooth and comforting to our palates.
Jesus said "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man's enemies will be the members of his own household." (Matthew 10:33-36)
What are we hearing? Jesus has described change, not stability; "tartness", not smoothness; contention and controversy, not peace. Jesus wants to set you free (John 8:321); if He sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36). The whole world is under the control of Satan (1st John 5:19) but our souls are controlled by the Spirit so we may have life and peace. (Romans 8:5-7).
The Bible describes the creation of a New universe (Genesis 1 & 2), a New nation (Genesis 12), and a New covenant (Jeremiah 31; Hebrews 8 & 12). It speaks of a New song (Psalms 33 & 40; Revelations 5), a New creation (2nd Corinthians 5:17), a New Jerusalem (Revelations 3 & 21) and a New earth (2nd Peter 3 & Revelations 21).
Is this scripture describing sudden, complete and sometimes radical change: the overthrow or renunciation of our way of thinking and the substitution of another? If so, Jesus is not describing religion. He is describing revolution!
He does not want us in boxes controlled by men. He wants to set us free to grow through the power of the Holy Spirit and His Holy Word.
Age may bring stability, familiarity and fewer mistakes; or, age can bring New knowledge and New growth. Religion or Revolution? We have freewill to choose. However, I think I know which Jesus would choose...
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 2:5
Every day the old Wisconsin shepherd would take his sheep to the fields, carrying with him his violin and his battery-powered radio. He would tune his radio to the classical music station and play along with the great orchestras directed by the master conductors of the day. He wrote a letter to the most noted maestro of his time, asking that in the next concert, to play one note, an A, so that he could adjust his old violin, which, over time, had fallen out of tune. The world-renowned conductor had his orchestra pause in the midst of that concert to play that note for the shepherd, to get him back in tune.
GospeLines Prayer: "Master Conductor of the universe, I am grateful that in the midst of all you do, you have time to get me back into harmony with your master plan. Grant that my music will be sweet to Your ears and a blessing to others who might hear your voice in me." Amen and amen.