Wednesday, January 26, 2005

I Worship

...because I can't help it.
The more I understand about the overwhelming love and grace of God that compelled Him
to place the very Lamb of God (Jesus) into the body of a teenage girl (Mary),
to be born into a culture and time that would hound Him at every turn,
that would allow Him to be nailed to the nightmare of our sinful lives
all for love of His lost sheep (us),
the more I cry "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lamb."
Knowledge that doesn't lead to worship is empty.
The whole purpose of my life is love, LOVING HIM!
- Sheila Walsh
Life is worship so let the adventure begin. Worship is very important! It is like breathing, it is essential to life. Without breath, there's no life in us. We're just a lifeless entity. Without worship, we cannot fully communicate to our Creator. When we miss the grandest opportunity to worship God, not only on Sundays, but everyday, it is like we're lacking breath and our fragile body is dying. God is like the wind, He blows into our soul when we fix our eyes upon Him in worship. He breathes His Spirit in us when we praise Him. He soothes our soul when we come together in fellowship. Here are a few elements of worship:
1. A time when my soul is receptive and searching for Him.
2. A context in which there aren't a lot of distractions from the here-and-now.
3. A sign of Himself through a song, something said in a sermon, or a memory of God in my past experience that comes to mind.
And then worship occurs!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

January Scriptures

Here are the Scriptures to memorize this year.

Jan. 2nd: Romans 12:1-2
Jan. 9th: Galatians 2:20
Jan. 16th: Ephesians 5:1-2
Jan. 23rd: Colossians 3:16-17

Jan. 30th: this Sunday!

One Cold Day!

After getting a nice accumulation (snow) all day Saturday, it was a cold, cold Sunday morning and worship was postponed to a later time that day (2 p.m.). Despite the wind cold weather, we were especially excited about worship! The family got to eat at McDonalds nearby Fairfax church then just as time drew near, we hurried over to give God our hearts and praises! There were very few to worship God, 23 were present showing God's glory!

We returned home to watch the NFL playoffs. I was actually rooting for the teams that lost both championship! I was hoping to see Falcons play in the Super Bowl against the Steelers. I am not a fan of the Eagles (sorry, Eagles fans). ; ) Something caught my eye as we watched the games. The people! They were faithful, even to the point of a potential hypothermia!

The weather forecast was: 11 degrees (and dropping) with a minus 1 (-1) wind chill (and dropping).

The stadium was, with great emphasis, "PACKED"! They rooted, roaringly, for their home football team. They braved the frigid cold to watch their team do one thing, "Win and go to the Super Bowl." Faces were painted. In spite for attention, some bare (upper bodies) were visible. Philadelphia had the worse accumulation of snow than we did in Virginia, yet the fans braved the impossible road conditions to get to the game. Even most of the fans stood outside of the stadium in what is called, "Tailgating" cooking and drinking hours before the start of the game. It shows their desperation, their love of the game.

How we wished it was the same with Christians! Despite the cold and the snow, we long to worship God along with other brothers and sisters like the fans. How marvelous it would be if we "tailgated outside the church" hours before the start of worship! A hearing member of the church came up to me asking if worship begins at 2 p.m.. I told her, "Yes." Then she went on to say, "But it's really cold out there." I told her, "Beats sitting outside at the football stadium for 3 hours watching the football game today!" God desires that we feel such assurance and desperation. Regardless of any circumstances, He enjoys our company and longs to spend time with us. It's unfathomable, really! The majestic Lord of all creation - of water, earth and sky.... ruler of the universe who ordains the sun to rise and fall.... Almighty God of wonders beyond our galaxy - dwells in our very midst... in spirit. He knows our heart. Do you know your own heart? Is the "fear" (respect) for God in your heart?

So when we admire the brave fans of football, how much more do we admire the brave Christians who comes to worship God regardless of the weather! We need to realize like never before - THE VULNERABILITY.... Joy near dread.... A wonderful ache.... Unconditional love.... Gaining profound insight concerning the heart of our Holy God - Abba - our Heavenly Father. He created us to be "intimate with Him, passionately intimate."

Instead of allowing the effects of the cold weather hinder your faith, we ought to feel the warmth of God's love by singing this:

God of wonders beyond our galaxy,
You are holy...., holy.....
The universe declares Your majesty,
You are holy...., holy....
Lord of Heaven and earth....

Then "One Cold Day" will be a warm one!

"Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth!" Ps.8:1, 3

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Jesus Christ Today

Tonight, we're going to begin studying the book of Hebrews. Hebrews is a masterful document written to the Jews who were evaluating Jesus or struggling with this new faith. The message of Hebrews is that Jesus is better, Christianity is superior, Christ is supreme and completely sufficient for salvation. This book begins by emphasizing that the old (Judaism) and the new (Christianity) are both religions revealed by God (1:1-3). The writer of Hebrews identified Christ as the following:

Christ is Superior because Jesus alone can forgive your sins. He has secured your forgiveness and salvation by his death on the cross. There are no alternative or substitute. If you're struggling to find peace through material things, you will never find them. Only Jesus can because He is the Superior One.

Christ is the High Priest. He guarantees our access to God the Father (John 14:6). He intercedes for us so we ca boldly come to the Father with our needs. When we are weak, we can come with confidence to God for forgiveness and ask for His help.

Christ is the Sacrifice. He removed our sins, which barred us from God's loving presence and fellowship. We must accept Jesus' sacrifice for us by believing in Him, repenting and confessing our sins, be baptized to wash our sins away and live a Christ-like life. So many so-called "religious people" say they love God but continue to sin intentionally. We struggle with sin but His sacrifice clears the way for us to have eternal life.

Christ the Maturity. It takes time to process our lives toward spiritual maturity. Some of us spurt on fast! Some of us extremely slow because we do not understand things of God. Daily commitment and service produces maturity. You and I know if we do not, daily, seek God, we slow the process of maturity. If we do not seek His favor in class, worship and fellowship, how can one grow. It is similar to our body and food. When we stop eating, our bodies wither and dies. When we stop drinking fluid, the inside portions of the bodies dehydrate and shuts down the functions of each parts. When we do not seek God in His Word, we're dying spiritually. When we are mature in our faith, we are not easily swayed or shaken by temptation or worldly concern.

Christ the Author of Faith. If you trust in Jesus Christ for your complete salvation, He will transform you completely. A life of obedience and complete trust is pleasing to God.

Christ the Endurance. You can have victory in your trials if you don't give up or turn your back on Christ. Stay true to Christ and pray for endurance.

Whatever you're considering as the focus of life, Christ is better. He is the perfect revelation of God, the final and complete sacrifice for sin, the compassionate and understanding mediator, and the only way to eternal life. Read Hebrews and begin to see history and life from God's perspective. Then give yourselves completely to Christ. Don't settle for anything less.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Scarborough Country

I was so exhausted, last night, after arriving home (late). Played with our black lab, Hope, and chatted with Michelle while she was watching a tv program called, "The Biggest Loser" where the contestants compete to see who loses the most weight. I believe this is a wonderful tv game compared to other reality shows because they encourage the hopeless that they have hope to lose unwanted pounds. After this program, Michelle just got ready for bed and I was flipping back and forth from the OU v. USC Orange Bowl football game to MSN News.

I stumbled into a news program called, "Scarborough Country" with former Congressman Joe bringing before us, viewers. a debate between a Christian woman representing women in the world, a Jewish rabbi, an American athiest, a Christian authors (I can't remember the woman's name and Tim Lahaye, author of Left Behind). They were all debating regarding the terrible disaster in Asia (Tsunami) and its relationship with God. Joe, a devout Christian, asked all kinds of questions such as, "Why does God allow this to happen? Would a "good" God do this to people? Could God have prevented this calamity?"

There were discussions that these were "signs" that the end is near. An athiest discussed why a good God would allow suffering to happen in the world. If there is a good God then there should be no evil in the world. Another commented that it is a form of punishment to the people/nation because of sin (sexual immorality, homosexuality) and God "allowed" natural disaster to happen in hope to bring people to repentance. The Christian woman mentioned that, in Asia alone, over 40 million abortions had been performed! How do you think God feels about it? The rabbi blatantly yelled at the Christians that God would never do that and He is never involved in any way! He argued that there are "righteous" people in these cities than Sodom and Gomorrah (when Abraham questioned God if He would destroy the city along with the righteous?). I wasn't too fond of the rabbi's attitude as he was very brute and annoying.

Congressman Joe opened a Scripture, Matthew 24 (NIV), ".."Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?... ...Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you.... ...Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famine and earthquake in various places.." We understand that Jesus is talking about the "end of the Jewish age", the destruction of Jerusalem which happened in 70 AD when Rome came. How do we know this had happened? Jesus said it would happen during that time (..this generation..), "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." Matthew 24:34 (NIV) There were all kinds of comments surrounding Matthew 24.

After the program ended, I took a quick glimpse into the Scripture. I prefer that God speak to me through the Bible rather than hearing many different views of what each believe. I made God speak to me this way, "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." Matthew 24:42-44 (NIV)

God loves us and that's the reason He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins. When we gave our lives to the Lord in baptism, we are dead to self and alive in Christ. We feel His marvelous love. He promises us that, one surprising day, He will return to bring His children home in heaven. He gives us all an opportunity to repent from our sins and continue to walk with Jesus, our Lord. When a situation collapse around us, we need to be assured that there is a loving God who cares for us. Such situation helps us seek the Lord for His power and guidance. We ought to thank God for natural disasters because they bring us closer to God in prayer. Instead of looking at natural disaster as a curse, we look at them as a blessing!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Resolution Solution

It seems like eons ago when I last placed a blog. I thank God that my family and I are well rested before the new year rang in! Now that 2005 is here, it is time, again, to roll up our sleeves and begin the work God has for each of us.

Last Sunday was a great, great day! A handful of people were present to worship and praise God together. It's a sure blessing to come together every first day of the week and that's what we love to do and that is life itself! For those who were not present, we encourage you to remember these two powerful verses as a "Resolution Solution". Before the beginning of each new year, we come up with a "New Year's Resolution" but sadly, they tend to be ignored and broken. Your resolution gets some pollution. You jam in January, fade in February, and turn to mush in March. You may say to yourselves, "Why can't I keep my resolutions? What is wrong with me?" That's why I want to challenge you to remember these verses daily then the rest will go along as well:

1. Philippians 3:8, "What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ."

Everything in life is pale. Paul's "life resolution", not yearly (in case it didn't happen), is to know Christ! Is that your "life resolution?"

2. Matthew 6:33 is about priority! It is about priority! "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

If you're committed every first day of the week, if you gave the first few moments each day, I mean, each day, if you tithe regularly, what would happen in your life and mine? A proper priority! We understand that God expects our love and devotion everyday! He does so on the first day of the week (Sunday) as well. When we come together to worship God, we show to the world that God is our number one, a numero uno!

So what do we do? According to Philippians 3:8, first, we give our life to the Lord, we died to self, we live no more but Christ lives in me (Gal. 2:20) and second, according to Matthew 6:33, we fulfill His will, we seek Him as number one, we place Him at the top of our daily to-do-list. Make that your "life resolution". Now, that's our resolution solution!