Enjoy these entries - we hope they make you think.

Displaying 31 - 35 of 64

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Worship...Not Just a State of Mind

Monday, April 24, 2023

Is worship just a state of mind? Is it a special feeling that lets you know you are properly connected to God? Is it a great swelling in your chest or a fire in your bones?

Some Pictures of Worship in the Old Testament

Genesis 24.26, 48, and 47.31 reference the action of bowing low in worship, and that wording is found all over the Old Testament.

We often find Service together with worship (i.e., Deut. 29.26; 30.17).

Nehemiah brought true worship back to Israel:


On that day men were also appointed over the chambers for the stores, the contributions, the first fruits and the tithes, to gather into them from the fields of the cities the portions required by the law for the priests and Levites; for Judah rejoiced over the priests and Levites who served. For they performed the worship of their God and the service of purification, together with the singers and the gatekeepers in accordance with the command of David and of his son Solomon. For in the days of David and Asaph, in ancient times, there were leaders of the singers, songs of praise and hymns of thanksgiving to God. (Neh. 12.44-46)

It is said "they performed the worship," which again couples the concepts of worship and service, specifically temple service, in this case.

In Psalm 66.4, God is worshiped through songs of praises:

         “All the earth will worship You,
         And will sing praises to You;
         They will sing praises to Your name.”

Psalm 95.6:

         Come, let us worship and bow down,
         Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

Psalm 96.9:

         Worship the LORD in holy attire;
         Tremble before Him, all the earth.

This does not mean we should dress in our finest clothing; some who would impress their brothers and sisters by outward dress do not dress themselves in holiness. This has to do with the heart's attire, an attitude of holiness before YHWH.

Some Pictures of Worship in the New Testament

In the New Testament, worship often involves some physical posturing or activity of service.

The wise men "fell to the ground and worshiped" the Holy Child (Matt. 2.11). Satan demanded Jesus "fall down and worship me" (Matt. 4.9). Jesus speaks of worship with service in His answer to Satan: "You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only" (Matt. 4.10). Towards the end of Jesus' ministry, the disciples "took hold of His feet and worshiped Him" (Matt. 28.9).

In the early church, Paul writes of an unbeliever who "will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you" (1 Cor. 14.25), and in the Apocalypse "the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne..." (Rev. 4.10).

How Do We Worship?

Does our worship look like how the Hebrews worshipped? Does it look like how the New Testament disciples worshipped? When was the last time you fell on your face or knelt in worship?

But it's not really about the posture; it's about the heart, isn’t it?

It certainly is about the heart...but the heart should drive us to actively serve the Lord. Although the word worship is never directly associated with singing, praying, or preaching in the New Testament, we understand those activities to be spiritual services of worship. In those activities, you might fall prostrate before Him, reflecting on how great, glorious, and magnificent God is. You might kneel and bow your head, dwelling on His majesty and holiness.

Worship is a state of mind, but not just a state of mind. In worship, we actively and intentionally diminish ourselves and magnify God.

Worship is not just a good mood we get when we hear religious music. Many Christians today think only of music ministry when they think of worship. For them worship is when the people on stage play music and get the crowd all worked up. When they cry, laugh, or feel a great swelling in their chests, they feel they have worshiped. Those feelings may (and should) result from true worship, but it's the God-praising, God-glorifying, God-magnifying activities we do which are the actual worship—not the feelings which result from worship.

The best thing we can do is look in God's word to see how He desires to be worshiped. Then do those things with all our might!

Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. (Psalm 143.10)

YHWH be praised!

Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

Monday, April 10, 2023

What does it mean to be poor in spirit? Jesus said I am blessed if I am poor in spirit, and, in addition, I have (present tense) the kingdom of heaven, so it sounds important to be poor in spirit.

Jesus started His list of “blessed” statements (what we typically call the “Beatitudes”) with this one. Notice, by the way, the how many Ts are in “beatitude” and how many are in “attitude.” They are not related words. A beatitude is not an attitude we are supposed to be. “Beatitude” means “a supremely blessed state.” Jesus said I am supremely blessed if I am poor in spirit.

In fact, all citizens of Jesus’ kingdom must be poor in spirit, because if we are not poor in spirit, we do not have the kingdom of heaven!

The first and last of the eight beatitudes hold the same promise—“for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”—so this short list defines citizens of Jesus’ kingdom. This is not some random list of proverbs; this is a definition of who is in the kingdom of heaven. Every Christ-follower is poor in spirit, mourns, is meek, hungers and thirsts for righteousness, is merciful, is pure in heart, is a peacemaker, and rejoices in persecution.

But return to the first one—what does it mean to be poor in spirit?

Poor means lacking, not having, being empty. But what do we lack? Jesus taught that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, and He told the rich ruler to sell all he had, give to the poor, and go follow Jesus. Is that what this is talking about? Does Jesus demand all His followers sell everything they have and give to the poor?

A man can be worldly poor and still not be poor in spirit. These are not equal.

Poor in spirit is like humility. We realize our low place in reference to God and others. Yet it is more than simple humility. We stand before God spiritually destitute, having nothing to bring to Him. Like Adam and Eve, we have sinned and stand naked before God, without even the ability to properly cover ourselves.

Nothing in my hand I bring; Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked come to Thee for dress; Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Vile, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Savior, or I die.
(from “Rock of Ages” by Augustus M. Toplady)

Every citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven comes to Jesus with empty hands, on his knees, asking for Jesus’ blood to cover his sins. And after Jesus wondrously, graciously, lovingly applies the blood and forgives the sins, the kingdom citizen remains perpetually conscious of his never-ending need for grace and strength from the Lord. Never will he boast of anything before God except the work of Christ!

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for there is the kingdom of heaven.

Today Is Passover

Thursday, April 06, 2023

Today—Thursday, April 6, 2023—marks Passover, which, for the Jews, began last night as the sun went down. This day commemorates the freedom God created for the Israelite people through the Ten Plagues. Specifically, that last plague—the death of the firstborn in Egypt—was the occasion for the first Passover feast.

God told the Israelites to eat with their travel clothes on, belts around their waist, sandals on their feet, and staves in hand—as if they were about to embark on a long journey…which was exactly what they were about to do.

They were to kill a year-old lamb at twilight on the 14th day of their 1st month (Abib), and they were to roast and eat the whole thing as a family. If any part of the lamb was not eaten, it was to be burned before morning so that nothing remained to the next day. They were not to break any of its bones, and they were to paint the doorposts and lintels of their houses with the lamb’s blood.

The blood would be a sign to God that in this house were His faithful people, so He would pass over that house with His terrible tenth plague.

That night, God entered every Egyptian house and killed all their firstborn sons, including the firstborn animals. The firstborn belong to God, and if they are not freely given, God will take them. This was both a judgment on Egypt as well as a teaching moment for Israel (and all the earth). God gets the first fruit.

Following Passover evening, the Jews were to celebrate an entire week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which represents affliction (Deut. 16.3). On the first and seventh days of this feast they were to have a holy convocation and do no ordinary work (a special Sabbath).  

Once God brought Israel into the promised land and they had an established place for the Tabernacle (and later the Temple), the Jews were only allowed to celebrate the Passover at the Temple, which is why the Jews streamed to Jerusalem every year for this grand event. What an awesome time that must have been for those who celebrated it according to the Lord’s direction!

But all of that pointed to something God had planned in the future. Jesus Christ ate the Passover with His disciples the evening of Abib the 14th, and later that evening was captured by group of Jews, mocked all night long in a Jewish monkey court, convicted of crimes He had never done, and presented to Pilate early the next morning on the 15th day of Abib.

He was crucified that very day. The blood of the true Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5.7) dripped onto the ground below His cross, and He died and was quickly buried before evening. We commemorate the crucifixion day by calling it “Good Friday.” God had taken His own firstborn Son.

Jesus was in the grave Friday…Saturday (the Sabbath day of rest)…and rose on Sunday, the first day of the week.

Passover was an awesome memorial time each year for the Jews, but it foreshadowed a greater liberation than even the Exodus. It pointed to the great salvation of the Lord to all nations through Jesus Christ! It is no accident that Jesus was killed on Passover Day. It was God’s plan before the foundation of the earth (Acts 2.22–24).

Christians are not called to celebrate the yearly Passover any more, but we celebrate our great Passover Lamb. We don’t know the exact day of the year that Jesus was born, but we do know Easter Sunday is the exact anniversary of the day Jesus came out of the tomb—the central event which drives our faith:

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom. 10.8–9)


  1. Exodus 12
  2. Leviticus 23.4–8
  3. Deuteronomy 16.1–8

The Fifth Commandment

Monday, April 03, 2023

The first four of the Decalogue (“ten words”) have to do with man’s relationship with God:

  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.

The last five concern man’s relationship with his fellow man:

  1. Honor thy father and thy mother.
  2. Thou shalt not kill.
  3. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  4. Thou shalt not steal.
  5. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
  6. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house or thy neighbor’s wife...or anything that is thy neighbor’s.

Many call these the “two tables of the Law.” The first table falls under the greatest commandment: “Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6.5). The second table falls under the second greatest commandment: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19.18).

Interestingly, the Fifth Commandment is stated positively, while the rest that follow are negative. Paul also points out it is the first commandment with a promise attached: “That it may be will with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6.2–3).

familyThe first table of the Law begins with God’s authority. The second table begins with authority in family structures. If authority is not recognized and respected, families disintegrate, and if families fall apart so does society. If children do not first learn to obey their parents in their parents’ house, they most likely will not honor their parents after they leave home. If they don’t honor their parents, they will likely not honor the aged. They will tend to exhibit what C. S. Lewis called “generational snobbery,” in which the children think they know more and have more wisdom than their parents and grandparents. They will have a misguided notion that their generation is the wisest of all generations. In truth, they may be the dumbest and most foolish of all.

Worst of all, they will not honor God. Those who put no other gods before Yahweh God also honor their parents, and those who honor their parents also honor Yahweh God.

After honoring God, honoring our parents is critically important. That does not necessarily mean fawning over them and adoring them in overly-emotional ways. It does not mean you necessarily have to like your parents all the time, because sometimes parents are not gracious, kind, or loving towards their children. But you must still honor your father and your mother because they came before you and God saw fit to bring you into existence through them.

Praise God for godly-minded parents who work hard to train their kids and grandkids, who show grace, and who cherish their children.

But whether your parents fit that mold or not, you are called to honor them. Honor them by providing for them in their old age and taking care of their physical needs. Do not speak evil to them or about them. Pray for them. Share the gospel with them in a respectful way.

The Fifth Commandment is a primary foundation for a stable family, church, and society. No wonder God ended His words to Israel in the Old Covenant with this promise:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” (Malachi 4.5–6)

Our families need healing! The gospel includes family structures working the way God created them to function. Healthy families is not just a beautiful side consequence of turning back to the Lord—it’s a main mission of families who turn to the Lord.

Do your kids honor you? If not, next ask yourself if you honor your parents. Have you shown your kids what it looks like to honor your parents, or do they hear you griping, mocking, and voicing your displeasure about them?

Do I honor my parents? God promises me that if I honor my parents, I will live long upon the land He gives me!

A Time to Fight

Monday, March 13, 2023

Have you noticed the spiritual armor in Ephesians 6 includes a breastplate but no backplate? We do not turn our backs on the enemy; we advance forward swinging the sword of the word of God. The weapons of our warfare are powerful to destroy the strongholds of the enemy (1 Cor. 10.4-5). God calls all Christians, both men and women, to the fight, but He tasks us men with leading the charge.

Switching our thoughts to the physical plane, men should also be ready to fight for their loved ones to protect them. This is controversial because Jesus did say, after all, to turn the other cheek and love our enemies. But Jesus also said there was a time to take up the sword (Luke 22.36), and Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3.1–8 there is “a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up . . . a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

There is a time to fight.

Godly wisdom teaches us when we should fight, how we should fight, and how far we should go in the fight. Often, we want to fight when we shouldn’t, and when we are in a fight, we tend to go too far. Defending yourself against a bully doesn’t mean you should pulverize the bully’s face.

We should never start a fight, for that would violate the principle of living at peace with all men (Heb. 12.14; Rom. 12.18), and we should “repay no one evil for evil” (Rom. 12.17). But if a man strikes or shoots a robber who has broken into his house in the dead of night, he has not started the fight. The robber proved he intended violence when he invaded an inhabited house, and only a fool would flip the lights on and kindly ask the robber if he were just planning on a peaceful visit.

To train in a martial art or in weaponry (gun, knife, staff, etc.) is to train for battle. The word “martial” in martial art means battle—it’s literally a battle art. I love martials arts, in part, because I can train to be more in control in the event of an attack on my family, friends, or person. The more you understand about the battle arts, the more ability you have to decide in your level of response. You don’t necessarily have to break a man’s bones to stop him. You could choke him out or pin him to the ground on his face with a knee in his back while you wait for the police. However, if he is crazy high on drugs and doesn’t respond to pain, you might have to incapacitate him in a more painful way.

Abraham, David, and Moses knew there was a time to fight, and they stepped forward when the time came. They fought for their loved ones and their people. When David ran to kill Goliath, he was finishing the fight that depraved, bully Goliath had started. When the four kings (Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Ela, and Tidal king of Goiim) defeated the five kings of the plains (Bera king of Sodom, Birsha kind of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the unnamed king of Zoar), Abraham grabbed 318 trained men (all born in his house), tracked those kings down, and defeated them in order to save the captives, including his nephew Lot (Gen. 14).

Societies remain safe because men willingly stand against enemies.

Our constant battle is with Satan and the forces of darkness, but from time to time we must physically protect our families and loved ones. It’s a duty we should embrace, and we should ready our minds for potential action. Praise God we currently live in such a peaceful society, but even still there are bad actors.

Obviously, we should fight only when we have no other option, but there is a time to fight. Physical altercations interact and intersect with our spiritual battles—they are connected. Again, how will we defend ourselves? Will we hate our enemy in our hearts, or will we fight in such a way as to love them as far as we can? Do we intend to annihilate anyone who would sin against us, or do we temper our responses with mercy? In the moment, we fire at center mass until the target is neutralized, and that might or might not kill the attacker. We do that to protect the family. But if we find him still alive, groaning on the floor, do we put another bullet into his head because of the seething hatred in our heart?

God has called us to live in a sinful world, and we sometimes must make difficult choices. May we learn self-control, may we have the strength to stand against the enemy, and may God save us from situations we cannot handle.

For who is God, but the LORD?
   And who is a rock, except our God?—
the God who equipped me with strength
   and made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer
   and set me secure on the heights.
He trains my hands for war,
   so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

You have given me the shield of your salvation,
   and your right hand supported me,
   and your gentleness made me great.
You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
   and my feet did not slip.
I pursued my enemies and overtook them,
   and did not turn back till they were consumed.
I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise;
   they fell under my feet.
For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
   you made those who rise against me sink under me.
You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
   and those who hated me I destroyed.
They cried for help, but there was none to save;
   they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them.
I beat them fine as dust before the wind;
   I cast them out like the mire of the streets. (Psalm 18.31–42)

Displaying 31 - 35 of 64

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13