Tag Archives: worship

Don’t Be Like Your Dog

Don’t Be Like Your Dog

“A little lad of six was invited out to lunch in a neighbor’s home. As soon as all were seated at the table the food was served. The little boy was puzzled, and, with a child’s frankness, asked, “Don’t you say a prayer before you eat?” The host was uncomfortable, and mumbled, “No, we don’t take time for that.” The lad thought silently for a while, and said, “You’re just like my dog! You start right in.””

Don’t be like your dog on Thanksgiving.  Remember to give thanks to the Lord.

One of my favorite things to do each holiday season is to watch Charlie Brown and his talented dog, Snoopy.  One of the best yearly reminders of God’s blessing to early America can be seen in Charles Schultz’ rendition of the Pilgrims coming over on the Mayflower, meeting Chief Massasoit and Squanto and sitting down to dinner and giving thanks to God for surviving the brutal and deadly winters they were unprepared for.  With little food, a majority of the settlers buried, and with great uncertainty facing the future, they stopped everything to praise and thank the Lord.

It has been said that being truly “thankful” involves “giving.”  After all, the word Thanksgiving is a compound word; and both “Thanks” and Giving” are words rich with meaning.  Grateful people are happy people.  Have you ever seen a complaining, grumbling person?  Sure.  Are they happy?  No.  We are most happy when we have thankful attitudes, grateful words, and gracious actions.  If you are consistently giving praise and thanks to the Lord, you will be less likely to be critical, self absorbed, and feeling negative about life.

We need to be like the Apostle Paul who said in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  The early Christians living in the city of Thessalonica were challenged and encouraged to give thanks in everything in life.  Every life stage.  Every circumstance.  Every weather event.  Every electoral cycle.  Every season of life.  Every start to the week.  In.  Everything.  Give.  Thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Thank-you for reading these devotionals.  I am grateful for each reader and pray that these postings will be a help to you.

 

 

 

 

 

(Snoopy rendition by Charles Schulz, from internet search)

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Running to the Tomb

Running to the Tomb

“Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.”  John 20:3-9

Peter and John are stoked.  They are amazed at what Mary Magdalene has just told them about the tomb being empty.  It had been a fast three days earlier that everyone saw Joseph of Arimathea wrap the body of Jesus and lay it in a brand-new tomb.

Peter and John run.  They run to verify the amazing story of the resurrection.  After running to ensure the validity of the empty tomb, verse 8 says: “he saw, and believed.”  What John saw and believed was that Jesus was gone, the resurrection took place, just as He had said.

Many Christians would say they “believe.” Our issue today is that we take that “belief” for granted.  Since the resurrection is life changing, eternity changing, and is the single most monumental moment in history, you would think we would have a higher regard for Jesus and the salvation He purchased for us on the Cross.  This moment of victory is unparalleled by anything else in life.  Anything.

Even while we “believe” many of us are not as enthusiastic about the Cross, the Resurrection, and of Jesus as we ought to be.  How many Christians will make it to Easter Sunday on time?  How many will be late?  How many will show up at all? How many will have an inner excitement visible on the outside with facial expressions of peace, joy, and satisfaction in Jesus?  We tend to “run” everywhere else: “Run” to the store.  “Run” to the Doctor or to the school event.  We “run” to sporting events and more!

We should run to the empty tomb Easter Sunday and every Sunday.  The Christian church celebrates the resurrected Lord Jesus every Sunday.  That is why the old “Sabbath Day” of worship was moved to Sunday.  Because Jesus rose on the first day of the week. We should congregate with other Christians to worship the resurrected Lord.  We should be quick to priorities celebrating our faithful God and praising His Son for what He did on the Cross and in the Tomb for us.

We may not need to physically run to church, but we should have the same drive and energetic spirit to stop everything else to praise the Lord.  Go to church this Sunday with the same emotions of jubilation and amazement that Peter and John had that very first resurrection day!

 

 

 

 

 

The Better Question

The Better Question

“…Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”  Ephesians 5:25

Joe was blessed when he truly understood the Bible for the first time. “Imagine the love of God for a sinful person like me?” he thought.  Following accepting Jesus for salvation, Joe began to study the Bible with another church member.  Soon after he was baptized and was excited to be part of a loving church where he could hear the Bible taught each service.  He attended both services Sunday and even got up early for the Bible study in Sunday School.

Joe was busy just like everyone else.  His job required late nights and the shift hours were tough at times.  He was trying to advance his career and was taking classes to earn another degree.  His son played in the local baseball league, and his daughter was busy with music lessons and performances.  Yet he still prioritized giving Sunday to the Lord.  His life was changing.

Then one day, he was sick, and unable to take the family to church.  His wife and kids went without him.  He next week he needed to be out of town for completing a certification for his job and he did not make it back in time for Sunday church.  The following week a family reunion was to start at 1:00 PM and it took about 2 hours to drive to the location, so he and the family had to miss church again.  That fourth Sunday, Joe was simply tired.  He had been up all night working on a house project “We have to have heat,” he grumbled.  He was not a plumber, but he was working on the heating system to make sure his family was warm.  “I’m tired, leave me alone,” was now rubbing off on the whole family.  Each one was now discouraged.  No-one in Joe’s family went to church that Sunday.  After several months, Joe’s family were not heard of again in the church.

A story like this happens in every church. Much. Too. Often.

Why is it that some Christians “give up” on faithful church attendance?  The consistent attendance and participation in church worship services is an integral part of the Christian life.  After all – the Lord Jesus gave His life for the church.  What an example of love for church Jesus demonstrated for us?  Could we give ourselves to faithful church attendance?  The world, our flesh, and Satan are enemies of this godly routine of setting a day aside to worship the Lord.

Some believers get out of the church attendance habit.  They do not decide to, but it just happens.  One service here, one sickness in the family, a vacation or trip, a snow day or an inconvenient change in the work schedule.   After missing 3-4 services, some Christians begin to lose their resolve to go back to church.  With a sense of defeat they think: “I missed this much, what is one more?”

After several months of no church attendance some Christians ask: “What will the church members think of me if I show up this Sunday?”  The reasoning is that the other Christians will be judgmental or harsh for the lack of attendance.  I have found that this reasoning is faulty.  The regular church members are happy for the “backslidden believer” coming back to church.  The faithful church members have been praying and have missed the wayward brother or sister in Christ.  Instead of commendation – the others congratulate the friend for coming back to church.

A better question to ask than “What do the church members think?” Is this question – “What does Jesus think?”   In our misplaced pride, we can speculate the response of other people.  We should live to please Jesus, not others.  Avoid letting pride about what others think to prevent you from getting back into the church attendance and worship participation habit.

Jesus wants you to come back to church.  Even though the church is not perfect – yet, you make it a better form of the image of Jesus when you show up and participate in worship and service to the Lord.  Go back to church this Sunday.  The people will congratulate and welcome you.

 

 

 

How to Know You Are Not Thankful

How to Know You Are Not Thankful

Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.  Psalm 106:1

For this posting, you may want to open your Bible to Psalm 106 to follow along in the text.

“A man writing at a post-office desk was approached by an elderly fellow who asked, “Sir, could I get you to address this postcard for me?”

The man did so gladly, and then agreed to another request, which was to write a message on the card, and to sign it. He then asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

The old fellow thought a moment, then said, “Yes. Add this at the end: ‘P.S. Please excuse the handwriting.”

All of us should be challenged with the idea of thankfulness. You can Become a thankful person today.  Early Israel is our example to learn from in Psalm 106.

Eight marks of thanklessness to the Lord include:

  • Forgetting the Mercy of God. 1-7
  • Lusting for More Stuff. 8-15
  • Envying Others’ Power. 16-23
  • Murmuring Behind Closed Doors. 25-26.
  • Making Idle Inventions. 28-29, 39

Please note that Inventions = deeds.  We can be very creative at evil action.  Our imagination can be dangerous. Imagination = “Framing of the Mind.” When we think of it – then our actions will follow:  See how these verses inform this truth:  Genesis 6:5, And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And in Psalm 81:12, So I gave them up unto their own hearts (“Imagination”) lust: and they walked in their own counsels.

Too Much Time on Our Hands could be the result of blessing or even the result of hard work.  When we abuse the time with evil, it is the product of an un-thankful heart.

“Idle Hands are the devils workshop.”  It is a true idea rooted in Bible truth. Voids of good activity are always filled with evil activity.  Fill your day with good actions.  Fill your heart with Bible Intention. Stage the platform of your life so that free time is used for good, not evil.

  1. It could be that being with other people prevents sin.
  2. It may be that reading the Bible prevents sin.
  3. It is possible that having routines and expectations could prevent sin.
  4. It is true that being thankful, daily, could prevent sin. “An Attitude of Gratitude” goes a long way.
  5. Idle inactivity often leads to idol activity!
  • Provoking Anger in Others. 29, 40, 32-33
  • Mixing Up Relationships. 34-36
  • Disregarding Human Life. 37-39

Check your life against this list of eight marks of thanklessness.  How did you do? You could get this right with God right now and have a fresh perspective on life.

 

WHAT should I DO about Un-thankfulness?  Good question.  Here are 3 helps:

  1. Stand for Right. 30-31
    1. Think Right. Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind (Imagination” in Hebrew) is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
    2. Do Right.  Phinehas was thinking right and therefore he did right.  As a result we know him even today as being a righteous man.  He was thankful to God so he was willing to stand for God and right.
  2. Seek Mercy. 44-46.  May the Lord not give us what we really deserve.  Remind yourself of His mercies each morning to help with your days perspectives.
  3. Say “Thank You.” 47-48.  In prayer – be purposefully thankful to God.

May the Lord help us to be a thankful people.  Not only in November – but in each day that He gives to us.  Be encouraged and challenged to live thankfully each day.

You can Become a thankful person today.

Why TR Went to Church

Why TR Went to Church

Teddy Roosevelt was born in New York.  He was able to overcome debilitating asthma from childhood to become a strong leader of men.  He became a New York State legislator who after a stint with the “Rough Riders” went on to become Governor of the State of New York.  Looking at his life, we would say he was a very busy man who also endured much heartache.  His first wife died young after only 4 years of marriage.  He was persistent in spite of the troubles he faced and actually became president of the United States at the young age of 42.  You may know him in history as “TR.”  What you may not have known about him was his love for God and for the local church.

The Bible speaks to the importance of church attendance in Hebrews 10:25: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Consistently being in church services is a good practice that includes many intangible benefits.

In the business of our lives, sickness, distress, and trouble, it is easy to allow evil to overcome us and to allow for excuses as to why we do not worship the Lord in public services or fellowship with God’s people.  However this verse is clear – we need to be closer to the Lord and other Christians as we “see the day approaching.”

Don’t allow circumstances to squeeze Christian living from your daily life.  Romans says, 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Recently I came across and article “Why Teddy Roosevelt Goes To Church” in an illustration file.  I thought that you would find it interesting today…

“Teddy Roosevelt offered his reasons for going to church in Ladies’ Home Journal in 1917.

  1. In this actual world a churchless community, where men have abandoned and scoffed at their religious needs, is a community on the rapid downgrade.
  2. Church work and church attendance some responsibility for others and the sense of moral strength which prevents a relaxation of one’s own moral fiber.
  3. There are enough holidays for most of us to be devoted to pure holiday making….Sundays differ from other holidays in that there are fifty-two of them every year….On Sunday, go to church.
  4. Yes, I know all the excuses. I know that one can worship the Creator and dedicate oneself to good living in a grove of trees, or by running brook, or in one’s own house, just as well as in church.

But I also know as a matter of cold fact the average man does not thus worship or thus dedicate himself. If he stays away from the church he does not spend his time in good works or in lofty meditation. He looks over the colored supplement of the newspaper.

  1. He may not hear a good sermon at church. But unless he is very unfortunate he will hear a sermon by a good member who, with his good wife, is engaged all the week long in a series of tasks for making hard lives a little easier.
  2. He will listen to and take part in reading some beautiful passages from the Bible. And if he is not familiar with the Bible, he has suffered a loss….
  3. He will probably take part in singing some good hymns.
  4. He will meet and nod to, or speak to, good, quiet neighbors….He will come away feeling a little more charitably toward all the world, even toward those excessively foolish young men who regard church-going as rather a soft performance.
  5. I advocate a man’s joining in church works for the sake of showing his faith by his works.
  6. The man who does not in some way, active or not, connect himself with some active, working church misses many opportunities for helping his neighbors, and therefore, incidentally, for helping himself.”
    (Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.)

Be encouraged to attend a Bible preaching and teaching church this Sunday.  It has the potential to change your life, family, and community.  More importantly, when attending a Bible believing church you will hear about the Lord, His Gospel, and discover how to know God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Value of Attending Church

The Value of Attending Church

In our home growing up, there were no ballgames, school events, or jobs we took that prevented my brother and I from the consistent attendance of the local church services.  Our parents made that decision, and it really impacted our lives in a positive way.  Attending church adds value we can see now and later in eternity.

Here are 3 ways attending church adds up as valuable:

Valuable Personally

Attending church increases Bible knowledge.  The more we know of the Word, the better enabled we are to love the Lord and live out His will.  Think back to the last message you heard; it was probably both informational and transformational at the same time.  This is why Ephesians 4:12 says Bible teachers are given: “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”

Being in church is a good way to invest your spiritual gift in others.  Romans 1:11, speaks of imparting a spiritual gift.  Every believer has been equipped by the Holy Spirit with a special gift for service.  We discover our gift and then deploy our gift in service to the Lord.  Spiritual gifts include administration, teaching, and helping.  Every church service is a good place to begin the use of your spiritual gift to help others.

Valuable Relationally

Being present, walking the halls, welcoming others, singing with the congregation, smiling at the special music singers and preacher, and participating in the worship are ways that you are adding value to the local assembly.  If you were not there, people would miss you and you would miss an opportunity to add your value to the congregation.

Like a body functions with many parts working together, so functions the body of Christ.  Simply stated by one preacher: “Teamwork makes the dream work.”  When we serve the Lord with God’s people, instead of isolated and alone, more good is accomplished for the sake of the Gospel.  When we “Strive together” we are honoring the Lord and helping others fulfill God’s will.

Valuable Spiritually

David in Psalm 122:1 declared: “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.”  David was interested in public worship.  Never minimize the value of the objective worship of God.  Attending church is not about who is there or what emotions you are having.  Being in church demonstrates a love for God above all others.

Being there early and eager is a life changing discipline.  Commitment to something bigger than self, changes our perspective.  Along with Bible reading, witnessing, and prayer, church attendance is a terrific habit to establish.  When we are faithful in these “small disciplines” we are better equipped to handle the big temptations to sin that come along.

I challenge you to attend every service at your church for the next 4 weeks.  Start counting the value you see.  Church attendance can add up to something great in your life.

 

 

 

The Professional Musicians in the Bible

The Professional Musicians in the Bible

And other of their brethren, of the sons of the Kohathites, were over the shewbread, to prepare it every sabbath.  And these are the singers, chief of the fathers of the Levites, who remaining in the chambers were free: for they were employed in that work day and night.  1 Chronicles 9:32-33

Years ago as a student in Jr High and High School, I played an instrument in the school band.  We had a stage band, a marching band, and would perform a Christmas, and end of the year program.  Band practice was always a lot of fun.  My favorite part was the “tuning time” when the director would try to get all the instruments to be tuned to the key of “c.”  This was always a challenge with woodwinds, brass, and complicated teenagers trying to sound out on their instruments.  One exasperated director threw his baton, he was so upset that the practice was going so bad!

I enjoy listening to classical music.  Large orchestras filled with professional musicians making music in perfect harmony with accurate pitch and acoustic tenor is a wonderful thing for my ears to hear!  Hearing the various instruments resonate through the hall or park and the united sounds of the orchestra penetrating our ears can be amazing.

Music is a wonderful gift God has given man and it is a terrific tool that God has given us in part to worship God.  The Bible musicians took their presentations to the Lord very seriously.  In the verses above, they were so devoted to the music of the temple, that it became their occupation.  There are a few “professional musicians” in the Bible.

Not all the people of the Tribe of Levi became priests.  However, all those who were priests did come from the Tribe of Levi.  The non-priest Levites were asked of God to help with the functions around the temple and also to assist in facilitating the music and singing of the temple.  This was started back when the people of Israel were still worshipping God in the transportable temple called the Tabernacle.

Note how the music expectations developed by the time of King David.

1 Chronicles 15:16 And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of musick, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy.

Not just anyone was allowed to sing, but only the people approved by the leaders.  Some people do not have a good testimony and may not be allowed to sing.  I wonder if some of the Levites were born with “tin ears” and could not hold a tune.  I doubt they would have been asked to sing.

These musicians that were asked to present their music did so after much practice.  Think about a professional musician today.  They take their music so serious that they memorize the words and give every effort to put on a good performance.  While Christian singers are not performing as such, we are presenting our songs to the Lord Jesus Christ and we should give the best effort possible.

They were also to present their music pieces with joy.  A good attitude is a perquisite for singing a special in church.  Isn’t it amazing how sometimes when you are discouraged a song can lift you up?  These musicians were to be right with the Lord and joyful in their disposition before they delivered their music.

2 Chronicles 7:6 And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musick of the LORD, which David the king had made to praise the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood.

The music was clearly a call to worship the Lord.  It was distinct music that directed people’s attention to the Lord.  Our music should have the same affect today.  The music and the words sung should guide our hearts and minds to the Lord Jesus Christ.  The congregational singing, choir number, and special music must work together to point people to the Lord.  The music director must be filled with the Spirit of God and emptied of self to be truly effective.

This also causes us to consider the quality of the music.  Our instruments should be tuned, and our musicians should be accustomed to playing the right notes at the right time.  Any Jr High music teacher will chuckle at that proposition!  I still laugh when I recall the band director throwing the conductors baton across the room!  It would not have happened if we Jr High students could have only played the warm up in the same key!

Not every song sung or instrument played will be pitch perfect every time – but we should try for it.  The idea of “winging it” or “hoping it will work out” would be an unfamiliar idea to David and to the Levite professional musicians who served the Lord in the music ministry.

At the same time, young people and developing musicians should be encouraged and given appropriate opportunities to present their music to the Lord.  Not every musician will be Sunday morning ready, but they should be utilized in the Nursing Home, Jail service, Jr. Church, and Youth Ministries.  While serving God, they are further developing their talents and preparing for more opportunities when the time is right.

2 Chronicles 34:12 And the men did the work faithfully: and the overseers of them were Jahath and Obadiah, the Levites, of the sons of Merari; and Zechariah and Meshullam, of the sons of the Kohathites, to set it forward; and other of the Levites, all that could skill of instruments of musick. 

These musicians were faithful.  They were faithful to practice, they were faithful in service.  All of us have known people who attend a church service only when it is their turn to sing.  If they are not scheduled to lead singing, sing a song, or play an instrument, they do not show up.  These are not the people that should be ministering in music in our churches.  The music people should be faithful to be involved in other aspects of church life.  I have found that many times, the most involved people are the lovely piano players who are almost “stretched thin” they are so committed to serving the Lord in areas other than music.

Musicians should be involved in other areas, not just music.  This is clear as we see the musical Levites in their ministry.  If a person only serves in the spotlight, he is much quicker to become lifted up with pride.  Many talented musically enabled Christians have fallen because of pride.

The “overseers” would also coach and help the musicians get better.  If a musician cannot be encouraged to do better, then pride is getting in the way of true service to the Lord.  The work of music was “set forward” by the overseers.  Each musician should try to help the church music director and the church music ministry advance to become more professional to the glory of the Lord.  I enjoy listening to church and college CD’s and then comparing them to their next CD.  You can hear a “quality difference” in voice, music, and recording.  As the musicians, sound engineers, and technology get better, so does the quality of the CD’s.  We all are blessed when things are “set forward” and made better.

Not to suggest anyone quits their job to become a “professional musician” but we all can look at our music ministry and consider – are we being as professional as possible to make a joyful noise unto the Lord?