worship Posts

The God We Worship

“As nothing is more easy than to think, so nothing is more difficult than to think well.” – Thomas Traherne (17th Century English poet and theologian)

If we ever think well, it should be when we think of God. Surely Tozer was right: “What comes into our minds when we think of God is the most important thing about us”. You and I are shaped by who (or what) we worship. At the end of Romans 11, Paul finishes major theological treatise to the Roman Christians. Then, his theology bursts forth into doxology:

33 “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
    that God should repay them?”
36 For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things.
    To Him be the glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:33-35

God is… In all of these traits we remember that, when it comes to God, we must first believe and then understand. Faith precedes reason when we approach God because He is beyond our understanding.

  • all-wise (vs. 33) – the wisdom of God is unfathomable. All God’s acts are done with perfect wisdom. His wisdom is His ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve perfect ends with the most perfect means. A.W. Tozer- in “The Knowledge of the Holy” wrote, “All of God’s acts are done with perfect wisdom, first for His glory, and then for the highest good for the greatest number for the longest time.” Not only could His acts not be better done: a better way to do them could not be imagined. His plans cannot be improved. He is wisdom unimagined.
  • all-just (vs. 33) Revelation 4 tells us that Jesus is seated on His throne- He is in the highest place- of all authority and all judgment. He is just, righteous, perfect in everything He does. Every decision He makes is perfect. He does not seek counsel from anyone. He does not conform to some other opinion. He is always right, simply acting like Himself in every situation. His goodness and compassion flows out of His justice, because goodness without justice is not goodness.
  • all-knowing (vs. 34) To say that God is omniscient is to say that He has perfect knowledge and therefore has no need to learn- who’s going to teach Him something? God knows instantly and effortlessly all things. Because God knows all things perfectly, He knows nothing more than He knows anything else, but all things equally well. He never discovers anything. His knowledge is infinite. He is never surprised, never amazed. He never wonders about anything, He doesn’t seek information or ask questions. He is self-existent and self-contained and knows what no creature knows- Himself, perfectly. Only the Infinite can know the infinite. He is eternal and infinite. He is eternal in time and He is infinite in all of His qualities. When Moses said He is “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps. 90), he was saying that God has no beginning and no end. That God appears at time’s beginning is not too difficult to grasp but to say that He appears at the beginning and the end- at the same time is hard to grasp. But it is true. He is the God of the past AND the God of the future. He is the eternal NOW- He has no past and no future. When words that describe “time” are used in the Bible they refer to us not Him. It’s why Revelation 4 says, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty- Who was, and is, and is to come.” He has already lived all of our tomorrows just as He has lived all of our yesterdays. From Him everything that will happen has already happened. God is beyond our comprehension and what God thinks when He thinks of Himself, only He can know. All this to say- He is transcendent, that is, He is far above what human thought can imagine. T.S. Eliot asked, “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”
  • all-sufficient (vs. 35)  No one can give Him anything. He is self-existent. No onemade Him. A more positive assertion of selfhood could not be imagined than the words of God to Moses: “I AM THAT I AM.” You cannot add to me. I don’t need anything. “Need” is a creature word. Nothing is complete in and of itself but requires something outside of itself in order to exist. All breathing things need air; every organism needs food & water. Every created thing needs some other created thing to keep it alive & all things need God. To God alone nothing is necessary. In fact, the word “necessary” is completely foreign to God. He is Supreme over all and cannot be elevated. You can’t add to Him. You can’t give Him anything that He needs. He doesn’t need our praise. God doesn’t need our approval. We are so prideful, and we think so lofty of ourselves, it is quite easy- even enjoyable- to think that we are necessary to God. He loves us, but He doesn’t need us. We cannot add to His infinite worth, we do not enhance Him, increase His value. And our worship of Him adds nothing to Him. If every man on earth were to become an atheist it would not effect Him in the least.

As Paul closes this doxology he says that all things are “from Him”. God is the Giver, is the Source; He is the Initiator. He says all things are “through Him”. God is the Deliverer the Provider, the Sustainer; He is the avenue by which the gift is delivered. All things come “through Him”. Not only that, but God is, at the same time, the Receiver. All things are “to Him”.  He is the beginning and the end. His glory is the goal. And Jesus teaches us that God IS the Gift. He is delivering Himself to us. Not only is it from Him, through Him and to Him but it is Him!

“For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:16

What is God receiving? Look at the gift that God is giving and receiving through us! He is receiving THE GLORY. The word here is doxa. It translates literally as “an opinion”. In the New Testament it is always a good opinion that results in praise. What is God giving Himself through you? He wants you to respond to who He is and what He has done with such a high opinion of Him that results in praise. Commentator Douglas Moo asks, “What should be our response to our contemplation of God’s supremacy in all the universe? Like Paul’s, doxology.”

Perhaps the greatest of all of God’s qualities is the fact that He is all-loving. All of God’s greatness- every one of His eternal and infinite qualities- have found their expression most perfectly in a single Person. His name is Jesus. In Him our worship takes a dramatic Christological shift. Scotty Ward Smith writes, “Jesus turns our theology into doxology.” In the end, the purpose of our lives is live every day, and throughout eternity, “to the praise of His glorious grace!” Colossians 1:6

And the Angels were Silent – Saturday

“He put Jesus’ body in a new tomb that he had cut out of rock, and he rolled a very large stone to block the entrance of the tomb.”  Matthew 27:60

How quiet it is on Saturday before Easter.  How sad it is.  How despairing it must have been for those who had seen their teacher, their friend, and their hope die right before them.  All of creation held its breath to see what would happen next.  All of heaven peered toward earth to see how we would respond.  And God didn’t move.  Not one word; not even a sign.  Have you ever been there?  You had great expectations that God was up to something big, something life changing, and then…nothing.  Have you ever put all of your hopes in a person or in yourself, only to see them come crashing down before you?  Then you know how the disciples must have felt.

They had all run away scared.  They couldn’t believe it.  Their leader, their master was dead.  He was really dead!  It was all over.  No hope, nowhere to turn, no plans.  On Saturday all they could do was run for their lives and hide out hoping no one would find them.  Do you ever think God is silent?  Do you ever pray thinking it doesn’t get past the ceiling?  Let Easter Saturday serve as a lesson for every day of the year.  God may seem to be silent, but in reality, He’s about to bring about His greatest work!  If you ever wonder if He’s at work on your behalf, ponder the difference between Saturday and Sunday.  Remember, God may seem slow, but He’s never late.

Pray:  Lord, I confess I have not trusted You in Your silence. I want You to work in my time and in ways that don’t require a lot of waiting and wondering. I realize that when You are silent is when You will soon show your greatest work.  And when You are silent, I can show my greatest faith and trust in You.

 

You’re Invited to a Party – Tuesday

“Come to the wedding feast.”  Matthew 22:4

I once heard Billy Graham say, “Jesus has two verbs in His vocabulary: Come and Go.”  Our God is an inviting God.  He says, “Come.”  “Come let us reason.  Come and drink.  Come to me all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, I will give you rest.  Come and I will make you fishers of men.”  And, “Come to the wedding feast”, He says on the last Tuesday of His life.  His invitation is to life eternal with Him.  His invitation is to come eat at His banquet table.  Who can come?  Whoever wishes.  The invitation is both universal and personal.  But you must decide.

Have you ever had a personal invitation ignored?  If so, then you know a fraction of how Jesus must feel.  It’s amazing that He leaves this choice to us.  You can’t choose the weather, or your parents, or whether you’re born with a little nose or blond hair – or born at all.  But you can choose to attend the wedding feast.  You can choose to “come”, but you can also choose to “go”.  The other side of this story, told with great urgency, is that we have a choice to go as well.  This Holy Week many people are thinking about Christ’s death.  Many more are not and have no idea what Easter is about.  Will you go to them?  Look for opportunities to tell others about the wedding feast.  Invite someone to church this Sunday!

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”  Matthew 22:14

Pray:  Lord, I praise You for putting me on Your guest list for the big wedding feast.  I praise You that You have made a way for me to have eternal life.  This week I’m especially mindful of what it cost You for me to come.  Today I will watch for others I can invite to the party.

 

The Day God Got Mad – Monday

“My Temple will be called a house of prayer but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”  Matthew 21:13

Most of us have the mental picture of Jesus as the Good Shepherd with a baby lamb on His shoulders, carrying it to safety. We think of the soft images of Jesus in the manger as a baby or as a grown up with children sitting in His lap. But there’s one picture few of us ponder very often. It’s the picture of Jesus on the Monday before His death storming through the temple like a wild man yelling at people to leave! In one of the most dramatic acts of His ministry, Jesus said more about the priority of prayer than in a hundred sermons on the subject. He actually did this twice in His ministry and the first time He made a whip out of cords and was thrashing people out of the temple.

Why was He so mad?  As Jim Cymbala states in Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, “His house was being prostituted for purposes other than what was intended.” The Bible never says, “My house shall be called a house of preaching, or programs that suit me perfectly, or lots of great music.” No, He says His shall be a house of prayer. Cymbala says, “I’ve seen God do more in people’s lives in ten minutes of real prayer than in ten of my sermons.” Then he asks, “What does it say about our churches today that God birthed the church in a prayer meeting, and prayer meetings today are almost extinct?” What about you? Is prayer your first priority?  Is your house a house of prayer? Is your life a life of prayer? Determine that it will be. Let’s let our first priority of the church be prayer!

“The prayers of an upright person accomplishes much.”  Proverbs 15:8

Pray:  Lord, I want prayer to be the first priority of my church and of my life. I don’t want to grieve Your heart because of prayerlessness in my life. I will devote time to pray to You every day. I will be in constant conversation with You today.

St. Patrick’s Prayer

I arise today,

Through the strength of heaven;

Light of the sun,

Splendor of fire,

Speed of lightning,

Swiftness of the wind,

Depth of the sea,

Stability of the earth,

Firmness of the rock.

I arise today

Through God’s strength to pilot me;

God’s might to uphold me,

God’s wisdom to guide me,

God’s eye to look before me,

God’s ear to hear me,

God’s word to speak for me,

God’s hand to guard me,

God’s way to lie before me,

God’s shield to protect me,

God’s hosts to save me
afar and anear,

Alone or in a multitude.

Christ shield me today
 against wounding

Christ with me,

Christ before me,

Christ behind me,

Christ in me,

Christ beneath me,

Christ above me,

Christ on my right,

Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down,

Christ when I sit down,

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in the eye that sees me,

Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today

Through the mighty strength

Of the Lord of creation.