To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category

Worship By The Spirit Of God.

In Philippians 3:3 Paul tells the Philippians (and us) what characterises the true people of God. These people are said to be the circumcision (Phil. 3:3a). This is pictorial language which describes us as those who have given up living for the flesh. Three different facets which define the people of God are then presented. We who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh. (Phil. 3:3b). Our purpose in this study is to concentrate on what it is to serve God by the Spirit?

The word “serve” in this verse refers to service which is directed towards God. Hence, in many versions of the scripture the word is rendered as “worship”. This service/worship can be viewed in a general way and also in a specific way. Generally it refers to our whole lives being full of worship. So in our day-to-day lives we are seen as living lives which please God. When thought of specifically it refers to those times when the church comes together to worship. It is this latter aspect I want to concentrate upon, but there are significant cross-overs to the issue of “whole-life worship”.

So what is it, that we will find in a church worshipping God by the Spirit? How will we know, when a church is gathered together, whether or not they are worshipping by the Spirit of God? For that matter how will we know if we, at Feltham Evangelical Church, are worshipping God in an acceptable way? Let us go to scripture and see what we discover:-

Not physical. This issue is specifically derived from the context in which our statement is found. At the beginning of Philippians 3 we find the true Christian lifestyle contrasted to that of those who concentrated on outward forms. When we find a concentration on the things of the senses then we should conclude that this is not of the Holy Spirit. When seeing, touching and smelling are emphasised then the emphasis is not spiritual, but physical.

The Word. When the Holy Spirit is leading the worship then there is an emphasis on the Word of God. Everything, whether done or spoken, will harmonise with the requirements of the Word. Moreover, there will be the reading and proclaiming of the Word of God, with the Word element having prominence in the service. It is inappropriate to prescribe exactly how this takes place, but it will surely be there if the Spirit of God is there. In asserting the prominence of the Word in the ways of God we remember that faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ (Rom. 10:17).

The Christ. When the Spirit comes there is the glorifying of Jesus Christ. This is the Holy Spirit’s most delightful work; the Spirit loves to magnify Christ. As the Saviour has gone to heaven so the Spirit has come into this world; being sent by the risen Lord. Accordingly, we read the words of the Saviour ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me (John 15:26). When there is much speaking about the glory of Jesus in a service we can inclined to conclude that the Spirit of the Lord is there.

Sin. The Spirit convicts of sin. So we read in John 16:7b-8 the Lord Jesus saying Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement. When the Spirit is working there is an awareness of our wrongness before God.

Praise. We read in Hebrews 13:15 about the fruit of the lips being a sacrifice of praise. This thankfulness is connected lives which confess His name and is through Jesus. It reflects a positive attitude towards God in all His goodness towards us. When the Spirit is present in the service there is a much thankfulness to and appreciation of God.

Understanding. On the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit came to manifestly demonstrate God’s new regime amongst mankind there was the special gifting of the disciples speaking in different languages so that all could understand (see Acts 2:1-12). When the people come together to worship God by the Spirit then there will be that awareness that everything is being done in an understandable way.

Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of January of 2015

 

Church Newsletter

Here is our church newsletter for January 2018 with an article on worship.

Master Of Ceremonies.

I went to an occasion a little while ago and it was spoiled by the Master of Ceremonies (MC). The main issue was that he had too much to say for himself. Rather than sweetly and efficiently linking to the next item, he always wanted to have too much of a say about this and that. After a while it became tedious.

Contrariwise I was in a worship setting at around the same time and that was, I suggest, lacking in linkage into the songs. There would have been more engagement with the worship through a sensitive introduction to the songs we were to sing.

This all reminds me of how important it is to lead services and to MC in a suitable way. Sensitivity to the occasion is so very important. You need to remember that you are a servant. You are there to help the people into blessing. The people have not come to hear you and your jokes and your self-indulgence. The people have come for something more important. And if that is a church service it is for the worship of God. You are there consecrating all your being for the service of God and the people.

So we must be prayerful and careful about how we engage with these matters. Carelessness in a coordinating role from the front is reprehensible.

The Band.

It seems to have become de rigeur for a church that wants to be up-to-date to have the band leading (or I might say, less respectfully, dominating) worship. The band is normally drums, bass guitar, lead guitar, keyboard and vocalist. I find the arrangement somewhat intimidating seeing we do not have anything like a band format at Feltham Evangelical. Yet, I ask myself, should I be to easily impressed?

I am not sure that we have to accept that the worship in our churches needs to be led by “the band” or something of that ilk. Have we too easily acquiesced with the seemingly prevailing view that the band is necessary to lead our worship and anything less is second-rate? Too easily a band can degenerate into being an entertainment provider. Now this depends on the character of the musicians of course. But it just seems to me that we need to remember what we are there for. We are there to bring our hearts into worshipful harmony with our great Lord and Father and his Son by the Holy Spirit. We do not need impressive music to do this.

Now I am not condoning sloppiness here; certainly not. We do need to seek to honour God by having our worship times well-ordered. But I am wanting to make us thoughtful about the necessity of having the band. Nor do I want to reject more modern forms of musical expression in our worship; certainly not.

In all this we need to remember that it is not the band or music that should impress us; it is our God. The goal of musicians is to be facilitators in this.

 

 

Saturday Night is Alright For……………………..

Well what is Saturday night alright for?  How you answer that probably all depends on what your thoughts are about Sunday. If you have no thoughts about Sunday then it is probably OK for just about anything that takes your fancy. In fact the Saturday night will flow into the Sunday so it is all just one Saturday night until you emerge from your slumbers mid afternoon on the Sunday.

But if Sunday means something to you then your Saturday night will be affected. This is particularly so for Christians. So fellow Christian what do you think about your Saturday evenings?

The first thing to have in mind on a Saturday evening is that you have got church tomorrow, and therefore to remember that you are committed to being with the Lord’s people in the church of which you are a member, to worship the Lord with them. Everything you do and think on Saturday evening is permeated by this awareness.

The second thing to do which builds on the first is to prepare for Sunday. If you have filled your mind with junk on a Saturday evening don’t be surprised if church is an empty experience on the Sunday morning.  Perhaps set aside sometime to meditate on Scripture and seek the LORD confessing your sins and getting your soul in good order. And pray over the services of the Lord’s Day ahead; pray for the preacher and all taking part. Pray that you would be in the right place at the right time to say the right thing and act the right way.  So that you will be a blessing to others.

The third thing to be aware of on a Saturday evening is the impact that you have upon others. This particularly applies if you have got children and even more so when the children are younger. And I cannot emphasise the importance of Christian fathers taking the lead here.  Christian parents you should be expecting and anticipating that the whole family is going to be in church. So you will arrange everything around this. You will make sure that the kids are in bed in decent time. You will make  sure they know what time you are going to get up, and your whole schedule operates around knowing that you will be in church by the time the service is arranged to start.

And when we see God’s people getting their Saturday nights sorted out,  then we will see the whole experience of the Lord’s Day transformed.  What do you think?

(Original post from Venabling 01/06/2015)

Family Time.

We, as a family seek to have our family worship time each evening, Monday to Friday after our evening meal. I have written about “Family Worship” here. Recently, we have introduced the following and so far found them beneficial.

  1. We have started using the New City Catechism (see here). This provides brief questions and answers, along with supporting scripture, to seek to establish us in the truth.
  2. Alongside this resource there are songs which reinforce the truth. These can be found here.
  3. We have used the Operation Word Book before and found it helpful, but it is somewhat unwieldy. We have now started using the online version which is here. This helps us educationally to find out about countries, but most importantly sets us to be praying for countries around the world.

So, thus far, I feel these resources have enhanced our family time and given us some direction in our family worship time.

Noah’s Priorities.

So Noah has been cooped up in the ark with a large number of animals and birds and seven other sinners for 320 days. What a relief it must have been to get out from all that smell and noise and all those sinners. In Genesis 8:18-19 we read how they ventured forth onto a cleansed earth. It must have been so clean after all the water had ebbed away. Now Noah is free, but what will he do? We think, “Noah why don’t you go and enjoy yourself? Surely you need a bit of recuperation after what you have been through.” Or we might counsel him and say: “Noah there’s so much to do, you need a home and some food. You’d better get on with it.  You don’t even know when it is going to rain again (!) and if you don’t have any crops all eight of you are going to starve.”

But Noah thought differently so we read in Genesis 8:20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. “Why are you doing that Noah? There is so much to do and you don’t even know where you are going to get the stuff for the altar”, we might ask. So why did Noah do it?

  • The earth may be cleansed. All may be beautiful. But he realised he was a sinner. 320 days with 7 other sinners had made him very much aware that he was a sinner. We need to know this: Beautiful scenery, beautiful weather, beautiful food, beautiful drinks are all marred by the unbeautiful me. I am a sinner and I need another life to be offered up as a substitute so that I can be acceptable to God. And all these offerings anticipated our Lord Jesus and what He would do.
  • The principle for populating the ark was that all animals and birds went in two by two. But it was different with the clean birds and animals; he took seven of them. He must have pondered why? He was not told why. But, I suggest, he concluded that these must be for sacrifice. He had the example of Abel to guide him knowing that Abel was accepted on the basis of sacrifice. He determined that I only have extra of the clean so that they are to be offered up to God, not just to be there to repopulate the earth. This all indicates to us how God provides f us so that we can worship Him. Don’t forget the Lord’s day is a gift so that we can worship God. And remember above all our Lord Jesus is given so that we can be worshippers. In Him and through Him alone we can worship God. So neither should we miss the provisions of God for worship nor should we reject them.
  • He wanted to start with God. Here was a new start.  He wanted to make sure that he started by honouring God. He said I will not go forth without making sure that God is worshipped and acknowledged. And so He took the offerings and offered them up. How much we have to learn here. We so often feel I am too busy to give time to prayer and reading the Word, but such reasoning is folly. We are always headed for a mess when we adopt that reasoning. We should make sure we start everything by acknowledging the Lord. Every day, every journey, every meeting,  in everything start by bringing it to the Lord.

These motivations governed Noah’s actions as he left the ark. He left the ark with set determinations; nothing would deflect him. It is interesting to note that this would take preparation. The clean animals and birds had to be restrained for example. If he had just let them out they would soon have flown and ran away. Which prompts me to think about how much preparation do I make for the worship time in church.

It is instructive to see what the outcomes of Noah’s commitment were:-

  1. The Lord was pleased, everything in the ensuing verses indicates this. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, (Gen. 8:21a).
  2. Noah was blessed. He was now set to achieve what God had called him to, so we read in Genesis 9:1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.

So Philip. You must learn to put God first. You ignore this at your utmost peril.

 

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