Tag Archives: Meditation

Worship Matters Part Two: True Worship Begins with the Bible

Have you ever seen God in a vision?  Don’t worry, visions are not the normative way in which God has ever spoken to his people.  When Isaiah received this vision, it’s because God especially chose Isaiah to receive this revelation.  Through this special revelation of God, Isaiah 1) received his calling, 2) was then to preach this message to God’s people, 3) and was then to pen this vision down so that future generations of God’s people could benefit from this vision of God.  Even today 2,800 years later, here you are reading a blog article about this experience of God.

In the year that King Uzziah died
I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up;
and the train of his robe filled the temple.
Above him stood the seraphim.
Each had six wings:
with two he covered his face,
and with two he covered his feet,
and with two he flew.
And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook
at the voice of him who called,
and the house was filled with smoke.

Isaiah 6:1-4

The most important thing we learn about God from this vision is his complete and utter holiness.  God’s primary attribute is his holiness.  Many would say that God’s primary attribute is love.  Doesn’t the Bible even say, “God is love? (I John 4:8)”  God is love. But his love is a holy love. In fact, all of God’s attributes are defined through his holiness Tweet this!:

  • God’s love is a holy love
  • God’s justice is a holy justice
  • God’s judgment is a holy judgment
  • God’s wrath is a holy wrath
  • God’s grace is a holy grace
  • God’s mercy is a holy mercy

God’s holiness is demonstrated in the vision through his perfect and exalted royal majesty.  He is King. This is one of the great themes of Isaiah.  The reason many people have a hard time reading through the book of Isaiah is because of all the “woes.”  “Woe to you Damascus…woe to you Tyre and Sidon…woe to you Israel…woe to you Judah.”  They can’t find the profitability of reading these today (II Timothy 3:16).  But the reason the Holy Spirit inspired those woes for us to read even today is to show that God is not just the God over his chosen people.  He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.  He is the sovereign ruler over all the earth.  That is what the throne signifies.  This ruler sits on a high and exalted throne over all the earth.

But this vision took place not on an earthy throne, but in the heavenly temple of God.  It’s interesting that this temple has a throne.  Or should I say that it’s interesting that this throne is in a temple.  God is so high and exalted that no one deserves to approach him.  However, he desires, yea even commands, worship.  His throne is in a temple for the purpose of worship.

The seraphim in this passage that worship God are mysterious creatures that we don’t know too much about.  We know they are holy…yet even they cover their faces before this thrice-holy God.  We also know that they call out to one another in worship:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

This structure of three ‘holy”s in a row is the Hebrew version of the superlative.  It’s similar to us saying “really, really, really, holy” or “the most holy.”  God is so holy, that the entire temple is trembling and bursting with the glory of God.

What we learn from this experience when it comes to worship is that worship must begin with revelation.  Worship at root is our rightful response to all that God is Tweet this!.  For us to respond with worship, we must be exposed to who God is.  As stated before, a vision like this is not normative, so if you are waiting 4 God 2 reveal himself especially 2 you, don’t close your eyes and wait for a vision, open a Bible Tweet this!.

True worship begins with the Bible.  We encounter God through his revelation of himself.  And that happens through his Word.  Therefore here are three points of application with regard to corporate worship, individual worship, and family worship.

True corporate worship:  Worship with the church must begin with the Bible.

The church must keep the Word of God central in all that she does, especially worship.  Paul commanded Timothy something that we need to hear today more than ever:

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture
– I Timothy 4:13

Reading of Scripture, both the dumb reading & preaching, must be central to the corporate worship service Tweet this!.

True individual worship:  Individual worship must begin with the Bible.

Each time I begin my private devotion, I start with a short prayer of illumination (something like Psalm 119:18) followed by the reading of Scripture.  Only after I’ve spent time meditating on the Word do I then pray and sing a psalm, hymn, or spiritual song (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16).

One other encouragement I have for private worship is to ensure that you are meditating on Scripture and not just reading it shallowly.  One way to do this is to underline a particular verse or set of verses that you want to come back to to pray through or spend a few minutes studying.  I can’t say reading the Word without meditation is useless because God’s Word never returns empty (Isaiah 55:11), but if you just read and don’t spend any time thinking about what you read, it’s close to worthless.

True family worship:  Family worship must begin with the Bible.

Perhaps family worship is not something you have thought about much or even heard of.  It is not a new concept.  In fact, it was a part of regular life for the Christian family back in the day to have both morning and evening devotions every day.  Men would open their Bibles and lead their family in family worship.  When was the last time you opened your Bible and led your family Tweet this!?

Go to Worship Matters Part One:  Seeking True Worshipers

Go to Worship Matters Part Three:  True Worship Requires Repentance

Advertisements

You’ve Got a Heart Problem – The Great Physician Can Help

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”         – Hebrews 4:12

The basic point of Hebrews is that Jesus is better. Chapter four discusses how not only he is better, but his message is also better. Any good news this world may offer, your doctor may offer, and even the Geico© Gecko may offer cannot compare to Christ’s good news, the gospel. The message of the gospel is that if we repent of our sins and trust in Jesus Christ to save us we have eternal life and eternal joy.  If we neglect or reject this offer, there is only “a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:27).  Run to Christ!

Even as Christians who have eternal life and joy, we still live in these sinful bodies.  This means that we are subject to temptation from the world, the Devil, and ourselves.  Scripture speaks of redemption in all three tenses:  past, present, future:  We have been redeemed, we are redeemed, and we will be redeemed.  Until we are fully redeemed and are living in redeemed, resurrected bodies, we must fight against “all that is in the world:  the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and pride of life” (I John 2:16).

Think of it like this:  We have heart disease.  “Our heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand  it” (Jeremiah 17:9)?  We need open heart surgery.  We must allow the Great Physician to use His scalpel, the Sword of the Spirit, to change the desires of our heart to match His Tweet this!.

To carry this analogy (possibly) too far:

Reading God’s Word is changing your diet.

Memorizing God’s Word is taking the right medication.

Meditating on God’s Word is changing your exercise routine.

Studying God’s Word is laying on the surgery table under the knife of the Great Physician, allowing him to take out your old, cold, heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh; open heart surgery Tweet this!.

How is your spiritual health? What are you doing to change your spiritual lifestyle Tweet this!?

“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”     – I Timothy 4:8

Collaborative Rumination: The Benefits of Breaking Bread with Brothers

What did Jesus’ bro-night look like Tweet this!?  While he often slipped off to be alone with his Father, Jesus also made sure to spend quality time with his disciples.  He often would take them aside to expound on the things he had taught to the masses.  In one memorable scene, Jesus was praying with his disciples and one of them asked him, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1-4).  He took the opportunity to teach them the Lord’s Prayer.  This prayer has been the template that generations of Christians have used to approach God in prayer both individually and corporately.

Jesus made sure that he and his disciples were meditating on Scripture…together!  Their conversations did not just consist of the top plays from the Gallilee Giants vs. the Jerusalem Juggernauts game or Martha’s most recent roasted fish recipe.  Jesus was always about the Father’s business (Luke 2:49), and this meant consistently directing the conversation toward the deeper things of God.

What do you chew on during bro-night or girl’s night out?  I hope it’s not just chips and crack dip.  Be intentional about chewing on the Word – together!

 Often in our Christian circles, we associate fellowship with food and fun.  In fact, the thought of having a time of fellowship with no casserole present is tantamount to blasphemy.  While there is a precedent for fellowshipping over food (and wine for that matter) in Scripture, The necessary ingredients for biblical fellowship are neither food nor fun, casserole nor sports-talk Tweet this!.  There are two necessary elements to enjoy godly, biblical fellowship:  believers and the Word of God.  Biblical fellowship is chewing the Word together!

Necessary Element for Biblical Fellowship # 1:  The Bread of the Word

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
– Matthew 4:4

The most glaringly obvious omission in most churches’ fellowship gatherings is the Bread of the Word.  There’s usually plenty of bread, but very little if any of the Bread of God.  I am not suggesting a sermon or even a teaching time during your pot-luck.  I am simply arguing that perhaps your pot-luck “fellowship” is not biblical fellowship at all.

True, biblical fellowship is the people of God talking about the things of God Tweet this!.

If there is no discussion of the things of God, you are not fellowshipping, you are socializing.  As Christians, we need both.  This is why socializing often takes up so much of your time before (and sometimes during) Sunday school or small group.  We need to socialize, but we must press on to deeper subjects.  Socializing is just the appetizer before the meal, the chips and salsa before the whole enchilada Tweet this!!

How can we be more intentional about generating true godly fellowship in our Christiancircles?  It will take intentionality and maturity.  The best way to cultivate biblical fellowship is to ask good questions.  Asking the right questions steers the conversation toward deeper, godly topics.  Here are a few questions one of my mentors developed that you can use to organically generate biblical fellowship during your next bro-night:

  • How is your [teaching, hospitality, deacon, etc…] ministry going?
  • What do you enjoy most about it?
  • What has the Lord been teaching you lately?
  • Have you had any opportunities to share the gospel recently?
  • Where in the Bible have you been reading lately?
  • What impact has it had on you?
  • How can I pray for you? –  find the full article here
Necessary Element for Biblical Fellowship # 2:  Brothers

The other crucial element for godly fellowship is one or more brothers in Christ.  This should be obvious, but for many Christians, they spend way too much time in and of the world and little to no time fellowshipping with their church family and fellow believers.

“That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”
I John 1:3

Our fellowship with fellow believers is directly tied to our fellowship with God.  When I first began growing in my relationship with God, it all started with a deep study of the Word of God.  My communion with God was fantastic.  The intimacy I felt there cannot be matched by any worldly relationship.  However, it wasn’t long before I discovered that as a Christian, I desperately need other Christians to encourage, uplift, and exhort, and even challenge, correct, and rebuke me Tweet this!!

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.  But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
Hebrews 3:12-13

This text challenges us with this profound truth:  we need each other! So where to start?  Again, what we will need is intentionality and maturity.  Here are some questions to chew on:

  • How can you be more intentional this week to meet with a brother or sister in Christ?
  • Who could you get together with bi-weekly or monthly to read and discuss Scripture together?
  • Who do you surround yourself with to hold you accountable to grow in your relationship with God?
  • Who do you trust with the deep things in your heart?
  • To whom do you confess sin so they can pray for you that you may be healed (James 5:16)?
  • What Christian brothers or sisters would be willing to meet you for a prayer breakfast where you can discuss how God is working in your life?

Go chew the Word!  Together!

Ruminate

Growing up on a dairy farm had its joys.  Getting up early enough to feed the calves before catching the bus was not one of them.  But living on 200+ acres of land was awesome, and I learned so much about life and faith on that land.

One of the intriguing things about being around cows a lot was the fact that they seem to always be chewing.  I mean, I understand the fact that they’re cows and they eat a lot (which is what makes calling someone a cow not so nice), but they even seem to be munching when they are laying down catching some shade from the hot sun under the big oak.  As a young inquisitive boy who asked too many questions I was told they were “chewing the cud.”  I didn’t find out what this meant until I was a teenager.

Cows are ruminants.  They belong to a classification of mammals that regurgitate their food, re-chew it for a while and then swallow it again before digesting it using their four stomachs!  They are called ruminants because of the way they chew.  To ruminate is to chew on.  So what are they doing out there laying under the old oak?  They are vomiting up their lunch and chewing it up more!  Gross and awesome at the same time.

But the most interesting reality about rumination is that God expects us to do it, too!  Now before you go vomiting up your lunch as a mid-afternoon snack (too far?), the word ruminate also means ‘to think over, muse about, or meditate on.’

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.”   – Joshua 1:8

This specific command to Joshua applies to all Christians.  We are not to live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  As the robin feeds her young the worm, so from the mouth of our Father the Word of God comes as life-giving nourishment Tweet this!.

So ruminate!  Chew the Word.  Think on it, meditate on it.  Mull it over and apply it to your life every day.  For the man that meditates on the Word day and night is the blessed man Tweet this!.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of God and on his law he meditates day and night.”   – Psalm One