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

Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category

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.

 

Wednesday Night Is………..

…………… a night for renewal, refocusing, refreshment, reordering, rearranging, redirecting, and realigning. That is because Wednesday night is Prayer and Bible Study night and I need Wednesday night. Of course it is not always the case. There may be times when everything just does not work out that way. It may be that I am not in the right place spiritually myself and so I miss out on the blessing of renewal, refocusing etc.. It may be that the prayer time and bible study just don’t happen so as to bring blessing.

However, in the generality Wednesday nights are essential for my spiritual welfare. Ideally the Lord’s Day has set you up for the week. You have worshipped the Lord and heard from the Lord and your whole fabric has been rearranged. Thereby, you can face the week with the appropriate direction and focus. But Wednesday gives you that helping hand in the middles of the week to keep you moving in the right direction.

Sometimes on a Wednesday afternoon there is that kindling in my soul looking forward to the evening together with the Lord’s people to be spurred forward to follow the Lord.

It is somewhat baffling to me how Christians feel they can get through the week without Wednesday night. Work and family commitments may prevent people getting there and that is fully understood. But so many do not seem to have any interest in coming to the well for refreshment. That is sad.

So, in the will of the Lord, i am looking forward to tonight when we have opportunity at Feltham to pray together and to consider God’s Word with Mark (Henderson) leading the study. Trust you have a great Wednesday evening (or whenever your mid-week gathering is) as well.

 

God wants People

The Word of the Lord in Isaiah 45:18 is

For this is what the Lord says –
he who created the heavens,
    he is God;
he who fashioned and made the earth,
    he founded it;
he did not create it to be empty,
    but formed it to be inhabited –
he says:
‘I am the Lord,
    and there is no other.

This verse occurs in the midst of a passage which relates how the Lord is drawing a people to Himself. In Isaiah 45:14-17 we see how the people of the nations are coming to Israel as they realise that they are the people who have salvation. And in v 20 we see how the nations are coming to the Lord to find salvation.

Isaiah 45:18 articulates for us something of how the drawing of people to the Lord for salvation is fully commensurate with how He has worked from creation.

In creation God did wonderful work. He designed the earth through His careful architectural work. Then He made it as the perfect builder that He is. The world is established and maintained by God’s initiative and power.

But this beautiful creation was not just made to be an object of curiosity and admiration; it was made to be inhabited. God did not create it to be empty. God is in the business of designing and constructing so as to provide a realm for habitation.

In like manner God is the builder of the church and He has made it to be inhabited. How this should stir us in our evangelism. By knowing that God is a God who is set upon having a people for Himself in the church we should be aware that God desires to save. Accordingly, we read in 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

We should not be surprised at this when we call to mind how God is revealed in the Old Testament. The term “LORD” (Jehovah / Yahweh), referring to the great covenant making and keeping God is a meaningless term if people are absent. He is the LORD because He is One committed to establishing and keeping His people.

So we conclude that throughout Scripture God is revealed as the only LORD determined to have a people for Himself in His place; the place He designed and built.

Let us then be spurred on to evangelize and pray that the Lord would build His church.

Oh Worship The Lord.

All of us are worshippers. The question is not whether we worship, it is rather, who or what we worship. The objects of our worship can be diverse and various. Sport, friends, fashion shopping, computer games and so many other things can all be objects of worship. But the One we should worship is God. In fact, we are fully demonstrating our humanity when we worship Him. As we consider what true worship is, we must remember that Satan hates true worship and wants to drive everyone from the true worship of God. So don’t be surprised if you have to battle to engage in the true worship of God. Let us then look at Psalm 111 to consider the true worship of God. Why not get your Bible open as we study this psalm?

A. Exhortation to Worship (v1a) We are to make the LORD shine; to put Him on display so he is seen to be distinctly beautiful. We need to be exhorted to worship; it does not automatically happen.

B. Commitment to worship (v1b) The psalmist does not just exhort others; he commits himself to worship God. It is from the heart; it is not just an outward act. To truly worship God, our heart must be in it. With his heart prepared in private, the psalmist joins his godly friends. But then he also goes into the congregation; where there is a great mixture of people. Here some may look down on his fervour for God, but he still gives himself to praise of the Lord.

C. Content of Worship (vv 2-9) Houses, up until recent times, were generally heated by fires in the fireplace. No warmth ever came by just looking at the fireplace; you had to place first the newspaper to get the fire going, then the kindling sticks to makes sure the fire takes hold and then the coal which gives the enduring heat. True worship is like such a fire. For the worship to be ongoingly aflame, there has to be the kindling and the coal. In vv3-9 we have the two fires.

The first fire (vv2-6)

The kindling (vv. 2-4) If you have an interest in something you tend to want to find out more; you want to study your interest. The Christian should have great interest in God’s Works. So he/she studies creation and studies the Word to find out more of the works of God. V3 tells us of the perfect works undertaken by our perfect God.

Not only should there be study, but also remembrance. And as we remember, we know of a God who is kindly disposed to us. So we go to His cross and we ponder of the great work of redemption and we marvel at how kind this God is. So worship is kindled in our heart to our God, but then the coal comes which brings enduring worship. It comes through the awareness of God’s grace.

The coal (vv.5-6). His actions are not out there in the abstract; they are towards us. So He provides food for the body and most importantly for the soul of God-fearing people. God is a gracious giving God and the the new covenant of his grace shows his commitment to his people. We remember at the Lords’ Supper His covenant love in Christ shown most profoundly in Jesus shedding His blood for us at Calvary. And as we remember so does He.

We call to mind His mighty power in His creatorial works, but all surpassed by the exceedingly great power which brought Jesus from the dead.

He is a God who is luxuriant in His giving. In him we possess all things. So we come with worshipful hearts and the coal glows. But if you leave the fire overnight then the fire fades so you need to re-ignite the fire.

The second fire. (vv7-9)

The kindling (v7-8). Once again, we look upon God’s great works and find all of them to be true and just (v7a). Then we marvel at His Word, abidingly true in all its statements, and when adhered to it brings benefit to His people.

The coal (v9). And once again we come to the coal. This magnificent God is a God who gives so abundantly and meaningfully to His people. And here is His biggest gift. He has given redemption to his people (v9a). All those bound in sin and unable to buy themselves out, have been purchased for God by the precious blood of Jesus. And therein the coal of worship burns. And this covenant, the commitment to us is forever. We can never be taken out of these nail-pieced, gracious hands and we ascend to the throne and worship the God who is holy and full of awe.

The third fire……….Go get the kindling and coal again and worship!

D. The oxygen of worship (v10a) Without oxygen there can be no fire. Reverence and Obedience provide the gaseous input so that the flames of worship grow with vigour.

E. The eternity of worship (v10b) All other worship will fade, but the worship of the true God goes on and on forever.

The Christmas-time let us bring the kindling and coal and worship our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as we consider the wonder of Emmanuel; God manifest in the flesh. Consider for example, in Isaiah 9:6 that not only is a Son given and child born to kindle our worship, but such a One is “unto us.” Oh bring the coal and marvel at His grace to us

Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter December 2013

Erecting Altars.

It is interesting to study the early stages of Abram’s pilgrimage for the Lord. One issue that seems pivotal to his spiritual progress was that of erecting altars. We read these verses:

  • From there he went on towards the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord (Gen. 12:8)
  •  So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord. (Gen. 13:18).

The erecting of the alter indicated that Abram was acknowledging God in his life. It means that he was taking time to worship the Lord and call upon His Name. And as soon as he reached a new location he erected an altar. This all makes me think about whether I am erecting alters in my life. Are there times in my life when I am stopping to acknowledge the Lord and worship Him? If these times are a regular part of my life it will mean that when i go astray I will know where i need to go back to. If there is no altar I might just continue to wander off.

The fact that Abram had first alter when he entered the land of Canaan means that he had somewhere to get his spiritual bearings when he returned from his drifting away into Egypt. So we read in Genesis 13:3-4: From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier  and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord. In any new situation it is vital that we erect an altar for the Lord. In particular when we move location we need to make sure we have a place of worship.

Further, we remember that altars are not built immediately. They have to be erected which requires a commitment in terms of time and resources. Am I committing my time and arranging my resources so that there are worship events in my life? Does my VISA bill / bank statement reveal that I am a worshiper of God? And what does my diary reveal about my inclination (or disinclination) to worship God?

Our places of stopping off to worship God should remind us of our corporate places of worship. Being a part of a church means we must give time to stop and worship the Lord. If you are a Christian and not”erecting your altar” with a group of God’s people then something is wrong.

But more than that we should have our personal “Quiet Time” where every day we can get our spiritual bearings. And then there is the family altar which should be erected in our families as we draw our families together for “family worship”.

The Beauty of God’s Order.

One of the things that we can anticipate over the next couple of weeks is people getting disorientated. One statement you are likely to hear is “I don’t know what day it is”. And then as the holiday season moves on people will be saying that “I just want to get back into routine”.

Yesterday I made mention of how we should be careful to make it a priority to remember that this Sunday, is Sunday. This leads me on to consider more generally how the weekly setting aside of the Lord’s Day gives order and structure to our lives. We may be doing different things in the week, but “the first day of the week for the Lord” principle gives a re-orienting blessing into our lives.

This leads me on to ponder upon how our lives should, in many ways, be formed by our ‘Special Day’. Every week we should be living in the light of what the Lord brought to us last Lord’s Day and looking forward to His favour being upon us for the following Sunday. This point is particularly powerfully made when the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is a central part of our worship. Each week looking back to last Sunday we remember how we confessed Him as Lord together with His people in the “Communion Feast”. And each week we anticipate the Lord’s Supper ahead next Sunday and as a result we will be continually confessing our sins so we are fully prepared for that great celebration.

Oh how beautiful and helpful is the order of God into our lives.

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