Inspired Worship

Inspired Worship

And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan. For it is written, “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.” Luke 4:8

Recommended Reading
Genesis 1:1-29

Feelings of awe alert us to the fingerprints of God. Whether we feel it in response to a sunset, the rushing of a waterfall, or the majesty of angels, it’s easy to be swept up in the moment and to forget the Creator behind the breathtaking beauty.

Our natural instinct is to move from awe to worship. When John came face-to-face with angels, they were beyond anything he had seen before. He fell facedown to worship them. Swiftly, the angel rebuked him, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant …Worship God” (Revelation 22:9). The angel reminded John that only God is worthy of our worship.

God created the heavens and the earth to reveal His glory. Don’t allow creation to eclipse and steal the worship God desires and deserves. Our feelings of awe can increase our worship of God. The brilliant radiance of a sunset reminds us of His radiance. The crashing of waves reminds us of His power. If we focus our adoration on creation, we miss the point. God is greater. Who or what will you worship today?

[Worship is] the specific act of ascribing to God the glory, majesty, honor, and worthiness that are His.
Jerry Bridges

 

Appearing, Dwelling, Abiding

Appearing, Dwelling, Abiding

And the Angel of the LORD appeared to [Moses] in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush..
Exodus 3:2a

Recommended Reading – Judges 13:6, 10, 21

In 1977, much of the Western world saw a depiction of a developing technology. In the Star Wars movie, the robot R2-D2 displayed a hologram — a light-based “physical” image — of Princess Leia. That was 1977 in a science fiction movie. But thousands of years before that movie, something similar occurred on earth: God appearing as an angel-man.

The future mother of Samson described it best — “a Man of God” who “looked like an angel of God, very awesome” appeared to her (Judges 13:6 NIV). She saw what appeared to be a human, yet also appeared to be a “very awesome” angel. And the being appeared, then disappeared, then appeared again (verses 10, 21). The Angel of the Lord (Genesis 16:7, 9-11; 22:11, 15) is generally considered to be deity — a preincarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ. An angel of the Lord (Matthew 1:20; 2:13, 19) is not. After Christ was incarnated in flesh (John 1:14), the Angel of the Lord does not appear again.

God appeared to His people in the Old Testament and dwelt with His people in the New — and now abides in us by His Spirit.

The glory of the Incarnation is that it presents to our adoring gaze, not a humanized God or a deified man, but a true God-man.
Benjamin B. Warfield

 

 

The Gospel of Matthew: The Messiah of Promise5:33-37

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Preached @ Anchor Community Church on March 30th

 

Intro

Big Picture: If we are going to be people that proclaim the truth, it is imperative that we are people that live the truth!

It is not a shocker that taking oaths is right after purity in marriage and divorce. Oaths and vows in their time became distorted through superstitious wording, and hollow promises. This is not that different from the hollow vows we often make in our own time. Vows of chastity, marriage and business dealings are broken regularly.

As soon as we turn our vows into consumer dealings, and do not take into account the gospel and the fact that the people we are dealing with are made in God’s image, it’s easier to see them as a commodity, working an angle to get the best “Deal” for yourself.

Jesus comes into a similar world, where oaths and vows were made and broken to gain an edge that would make you wealthy, while others became poorer. It was the anti-gospel, when Christ; who was rich became poor, so that we would become rich (See 2 Corinthians 8:9). We are not to be a people that “Cross our fingers” or “Swear to God” with no intention of keeping such vows.

In our passage today, Jesus continues to show us what kingdom life looks like, and as usual, it’s different than how the world sees it. He makes Two Points Clear:

From the Head…

Stop Playing Games With God (Matthew 5:33-36)

As we have seen with the other antithesis’ Jesus is not correcting the law, but He is making the people aware of the truth of law and how religion and sin has distorted it for their own gain.

In this passage Jesus corrects the aberration by using hyperbole again when He says, “do not take an oath.” It is biblically clear that Jesus isn’t making a blanket statement, since oaths and vows were a normal way to make promises in that culture, and were governed by truthfulness in the Old Testament (See Leviticus 19:12; Numbers 30:2; Deuteronomy 23:21), were made by God (See Genesis 9:9-17; Psalm 132:11; Hebrews 6:17-19), as well as, Paul (2 Corinthians 1:18; Galatians 1:20).

Then what is the issue here? As always; our heart intention. We often play games with God and bargain and barter and take oaths to get what we want out of the situation. We are called to be people of integrity.

First, our context helps us realize that the actual command was not to swear by “heaven, earth, our head,” etc. Why so? Matthew 23:16-22 helps us realize something that we have found to be true. Many of the Pharisees had started a practice of swearing to other things to lessen their commitment to whatever they were swearing to. So if you swore to heaven that may have more weight than earth, but it didn’t carry the weight of God’s name, which they avoided so they wouldn’t be held to their promises.

Jesus’ answer here is that doesn’t matter, because God is both sovereign and omnipotent, and the creator of all things, so when you swear to those things, it is the same as swearing to God.

 

Be People of Integrity (Matthew 5:37)

Secondly, Jesus commands kingdom dwellers to “Let what you say be simply yes or no!” In other words, be people of integrity. He gives importance to His command by reminding us that anything less than that comes from the “Evil” one! Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44).

We lie, because we either don’t want people to know who we really are, or we want them to think more highly of us, or we want to deceive in order to control the situation. We do this, because our idols still point to other things that give us satisfaction and worth beside our relationship with Jesus.

…to the Heart

We are a culture of litigation, and wrangling over what was meant by certain words, in order to control and manipulate our little worlds. This same wrangling is often taken into our own private lives in order to control, manipulate and justify our actions. We become like Satan and ask, “Did scripture really say…?”

The way we swear and take oaths is the way we will be judged by those around us. Are our vows hollow? When we “Swear to God,” to we mean what we say, or is it a flippant saying? Prayerfully we can be men and women of integrity, because we have a savior who did what he promised eons ago. He became sin, so that we could have His righteousness!

 

Questions To Ponder

  1. How is lying destructive to our relationship with God and one another?
  2. Why is lying wrong?
  3. Is there ever a time to lie?
  4. In what ways to we make false oaths to God and others?
  5. When you lie, why do you do it?

 

For Further Reading

A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Craig S. Keener

The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, Michael J. Wilkins

The Gospel According to Matthew, Leon Morris

Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament 1A, ed. Manlio Simonetti

 

For further dialogue with the sermon go to www.anchorlongbeach.wordpress.com

 

 

 

The Approval Process: Appeal Process

The Approval Process: Appeal Process

“Meanwhile praying also for us..” Colossians 4:3

Recommended Reading – John 17:9-20

Missionary J. Hudson Taylor oft recounted his conversion. One day while a teenager, he was home alone and bored. In the study he picked up a small pamphlet. His mother, meanwhile, who was eighty miles away, felt a sudden burden to pray for him. Going to her room, she turned the key and resolved to stay in prayer until the burden lifted. As Hudson read, his eyes saw a sentence in the pamphlet about the finished work of Christ. It was as if a light flashed in his soul. Falling to his knees, he gave his life to the Lord. When his mother returned two weeks later, he met her with the news. She said, “I know, my boy; I have been rejoicing for a fortnight.”

You can express your approval, affirmation, and encouragement to others by being a fan, in word, pen, and deed. But the greatest results are achieved by our prayer appeals. Thomas Chalmers, the Scottish pulpit giant, said, “Prayer does not enable us to do a greater work for God. Prayer is a greater work for God.” The greatest encouragement is conveyed in prayer.

[Intercessory prayer]… is our instrument to impart spiritual blessing to others.
Andrew Murray, in The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer

 

 

Scheduling Rest

Scheduling Rest

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Hebrews 4:15

Recommended Reading
Matthew 4:1-11

In the desert Jesus withstood intense temptation. Three times the devil enticed Him to sin, but Jesus responded with the power of God’s truth. When Jesus had successfully overcome the temptations, angels came and ministered to Him. The word “ministered” in the New Testament language carries with it the idea of spreading out a table of nourishment and strength. The ordeal Jesus faced was followed by peace and refreshment.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He took time away from the crowds and even His disciples to pray by Himself. Jesus modeled the importance of not only serving God with our actions but of being still and drawing close to God to renew our souls. If we rush forward, forgetting to rest, we may miss the very guidance and encouragement God wants to give us to face upcoming challenges.

God alone knows our deepest needs and the difficult circumstances we may be facing. In the coming days, let’s set aside time to get away, as Jesus did, to rest in God’s presence and allow Him to nourish and strengthen us with His Word.

Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength…. It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less.
Charles H. Spurgeon

 

The Greatest Authority on Angels

The Greatest Authority on Angels

…things which angels desire to look into.
1 Peter 1:12

Recommended Reading
Matthew 26:50-56

Jesus had more encounters with angels than anyone else in history. During His earthly life, angels — both good and evil ones — appeared to Him many times. He conversed with them, argued with them, silenced a few of them, and on one occasion stated that He had several thousand of them at His disposal. Angels were present at His birth, during His temptation, during His agony in Gethsemane, at the tomb on Easter Sunday, and at His ascension. Now they’re awaiting instructions regarding His return.

The angels were drawn to Him and desired to look into the depths of the Good News He was bringing us. It’s no wonder He commands the heightened attention of heaven’s host. If the ultimate purpose of angels is to glorify His name, then we would expect them to be drawn to Jesus.

Come to think of it, the same is true of us, isn’t it? If our ultimate purpose is to worship and praise our Lord, should we not, too, be drawn to Him? Should we not also sing “Holy, Holy, Holy”? And should we not seek to serve Him as the angels do, especially because we have a song that even angels cannot sing — the song of redemption?

Yea, sinners may address their King in songs that angels cannot sing.
John Newton

 

The Fourth Man

The Fourth Man

“Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
Daniel 3:25

Recommended Reading
Daniel 3:19-29

In reading the Old Testament, we occasionally meet a Stranger who defies explanation — the Guest who showed up at Abraham’s tent, the Traveler who wrestled with Jacob, the Commander of the Lord’s Army who puzzled Joshua, the Fourth Man who appeared in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, the Angel of the Lord who appeared to Moses.

Many scholars believe this Personage was Jesus Himself in His pre-Bethlehem state. When Jesus became a human through the womb of the Virgin, He literally became the God-Man. From that moment He was both fully God and fully human. We call this the incarnation. But prior to that, He sometimes appeared in a preincarnate form. In other words, in the Old Testament Jesus occasionally appeared in the form of a man; at His birth He literally became a man.

How comforting to know that Jesus will always find a way of being with His people. Even now He is present by His Holy Spirit, and He constantly speaks to us through His Word. We have a Savior who is always near and always dear. He’s the Fourth Man in the furnace, but He’s first in our hearts.

To throw the Christian into the furnace is to put him into Christ’s parlor; for lo! Jesus Christ is walking with him.
Charles Spurgeon, from his sermon “God’s People in the Furnace”