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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Religious Entertainment

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Colossians 3:16)

Religious entertainment has so corrupted the Church of Christ that millions don't know that it's a heresy. They don't know that it's as much a heresy as the counting of beads or the splashing of holy water or something else. To expose this, of course, raises a storm of angry protest among the people.

One man wrote an article as an expose of me. He said that I claimed that religious entertainment was wrong and he said, "Don't you know that every time you sing a hymn, it's entertainment?" Every time you sing a hymn? I don't know how that fellow ever finds his way home at night. He ought to have a seeing eye dog and a man with a white cane to take him home!

When you raise your eyes to God and sing, "Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me," is that entertainment - or is it worship? Isn't there a difference between worship and entertainment? The church that can't worship must be entertained. And men who can't lead a church to worship must provide the entertainment. That is why we have the great evangelical heresy here today - the heresy of religious entertainment.

Lord, help me to be aware of the danger of religious entertainment and fill me to overflowing with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to Your glory! Amen


Wasted Religious Activity

"But now, O Lord, thou art our fathers; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand" (Isaiah 64:8)

There is probably not another field of human activity where there is so much waste as in the field of religion.

In the average church we hear the same prayers repeated each Sunday year in and year out with, one would suspect, not the remotest expectation that they will be answered. It is enough, it seems, that they have been uttered. The familiar phrase, the religious tone, the emotionally loaded words have their superficial and temporary effect, but the worshiper is no nearer to God, no better morally and no surer of heaven than he was before. Yet every Sunday morning for twenty years he goes through the same routine and, allowing two hours for him to leave his house, sit through a church service and return to his house again, he has wasted more than 170 twelve-hour days with this exercise in futility.

I need only add that all this tragic waste is unnecessary. The believing Christian will relish every moment in church and will profit by it. The instructed, obedient Christian will yield to God as the clay to the potter, and the result will be not waste but glory everlasting.

I don't ever want to waste another hour just going through the motions, Father. As I worship may I do so with an attitude of obedience, expectancy and yielding - as the clay before the potter. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

It Takes One to Make One

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

—Matthew 28:18–20

To be growing Christians, we must be disciples of Jesus Christ. Why? Because Jesus told us to go into all the world and make disciples. It takes one to make one. So first we have to know what a disciple is so that we can then go and make other disciples.

In Matthew 28 we find what is known as the Great Commission, where Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you" (verses 19–20).

What has Jesus told us to do? Go. Go where? Into all the world. And do what? Make disciples of all the nations.

There are two things in the original language of the Great Commission that we need to understand. First, it is a command. Jesus wasn't saying, "If you can work it into your busy schedules, would you mind—as a personal favor to Me—to please go. . . ." Rather, Jesus was saying, "You have submitted your life to Me. I am ordering you now to go into all the world."

Second, these words are given to every follower of Jesus—young and old, men and women, new believers and older believers.

It is not the Great Suggestion; it is the Great Commission. The commission of the church is not to wait for the world to show up. Rather, the commission of the church is to go to the world. Every follower of Jesus should be doing this.

So here is my question for you: Are you doing this? If we are not making disciples of others, then we are not really being the disciples that Jesus wants us to be.
~Greg Laurie~

Monday, June 29, 2015

Set Aside the Agenda

"Then all the multitude ... gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them" (Acts 15:12)

When we compare our present carefully programmed meetings with the New Testament we are reminded of the remark of a famous literary critic after he had read Alexander Pope's translation of Homer's Odyssey: "It is a beautiful poem, but it is not Homer." So the fast-paced, highly spiced, entertaining service of today may be a beautiful example of masterful programming - but it is not a Christian service! The two are leagues apart in almost every essential. About the only thing they have in common is the presence of a number of persons in one room. There the similarity ends and glaring dissimilarities begin.

Throughout the New Testament after Pentecost one marked characteristic of all Christian meetings was the believer's preoccupation with their risen Lord. Even the first Church Council was conducted in an atmosphere of great dignity and deep reverence. It is of course unthinkable that such a meeting could have been held without some kind of agenda. Someone had to know what they had gathered to discuss. The important point to be noticed, however, is that proceedings were carried on in an atmosphere of Christian worship. They lost sight of the program in the greater glory of a Person.

Thank You, Father, for the commitment to excellence in many churches. But don't let us lose sight of the glory of Your presence, which is so much more important. Amen


The Program Instead of the Presence

"And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all" (Acts 4:33)

Now, I freely admit that it is impossible to hold a Christian service without an agenda. If order is to be maintained, an order of service must exist somewhere. If two songs are to be sung, someone must know which one is to be sung first, and whether this knowledge is only in someone's head or has been reduced to paper, there is indeed a "program," however we may dislike to call it that. The point we make here is that in our times the program has been substituted for the Presence. The program rather than the Lord of glory is the center of attraction. So the most popular gospel church in any city is likely to be the one that offers the most and best features for the enjoyment of the public. These features are programmed so as to keep everything moving and everybody expectant.

We'll do our churches a lot of good if we each one seek to cultivate the blessed Presence in our services. If we make Christ the supreme and constant object of devotion the program will take its place as a gentle aid to order in the public worship of God. If we fail to do this the program will finally obscure the Light entirely. And no church can afford that.

Like the apostles, Lord, I want to see the resurrected Christ in all His glory. Help us to focus not on the program of our worship but on the Lord of glory who is the object of our worship. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Delayed Obedience is Disobedience

In the selfsame day, as God had said unto him (Gen. 17:23).

Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience. Every time God calls us to any duty, He is offering to make a covenant with us; doing the duty is our part, and He will do His part in special blessing.
The only way we can obey is to obey "in the selfsame day," as Abraham did. To be sure, we often postpone a duty and then later on do it as fully as we can. It is better to do this than not to do it at all. But it is then, at the best, only a crippled, disfigured, half-way sort of duty-doing; and a postponed duty never can bring the full blessing that God intended, and that it would have brought if done at the earliest possible moment.
It is a pity to rob ourselves, along with robbing God and others, by procrastination. "In the selfsame day" is the Genesis way of saying, "Do it now."
--Messages for the Morning Watch
Luther says that "a true believer will crucify the question, 'Why?' He will obey without questioning." I will not be one of those who, except they see signs and wonders, will in no wise believe. I will obey without questioning.
"Ours not to make reply,
Ours not to reason why,
Ours but to do and die."
Obedience is the fruit of faith; patience, the bloom on the fruit.

~L. B. Cowman~

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Religious Extaoversion

"For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7)

"The accent in the Church today," says Leonard Ravenhill, the English evangelist, "is not on devotion, but on commotion." Religious extroversion has been carried to such an extreme in evangelical circles that hardly anyone has the desire, to say nothing of the courage, to question the soundness of it. Externalism has taken over, God now speaks by the wind and the earthquake only, the still small voice can be heard no more. The whole religious machine has become a noisemaker. The adolescent taste which loves the loud horn and the thundering exhaust has gotten into the activities of modern Christians. The old question, "What is the chief end of man?" is now answered, "To dash about the world and add to the din thereof."

We must begin the needed reform by challenging the spiritual validity of externalism. What a man is must be shown to be more important than what he does. While the moral quality of any act is imparted by the condition of the heart, there may be a world of religious activity which arises not from within but from without and which would seem to have little or no moral content.

Lord, yesterday I saw the need for loud exaltation at times; today I am reminded of the importance of internal meditation, and of guarding myself from mere external noise. Give me the right balance in my worship, I pray. Amen


The One Thing Missing

Revelation 3:17-19

Christian churches have come to the dangerous time predicted long ago. It is a time when we can pat one another on the back, congratulate ourselves and join in the glad refrain, "We are rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing!"

It certainly is true that hardly anything is missing from our churches these days - except the most important thing. We are missing the genuine and sacred offering of ourselves and our worship to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have been surging forward. We are building great churches and large congregations. We are boasting about high standards and we are talking a lot about revival.

But I have a question and it is not just rhetoric: What has happened to our worship?

Lord, may we not become caught up in all we have and yet be found wanting in the most important element in our church life! May we understand that true success comes from the intimacy with You that we experience in true  worship. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Our Sufficiency Is From God

Our sufficiency is from God. (2 Corinthians 3:5)

We go through times of trial and test under the hand of God, and it is so easy to get into that frame of mind which says in effect, 'The Lord does not want us, He need not have us!' We let everything go, we do not care about anything; we have gone down under our trials and we are rendered useless. I do not believe the Lord ever comes to a person like that to take them up. Elijah, dispirited, fled to the wilderness, and to a cave in the mountains; but he had to get somewhere else before the Lord could do anything with him. "What doest thou here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19:9). The Lord never comes to a man and recommissions him when he is in despair. "God shall forgive thee all but thy despair" (F. W. H. Myers, "St. Paul") – because despair is lost faith in God, and God can never do anything with one who has lost faith....

A great deal is made of the natural side of many of the Lord's servants, and usually with tragic results. A lot is made of Paul. 'What a great man Paul was naturally, what intellect he had, what training, what tremendous abilities!' That may all be true, but ask Paul what value it was to him when he was right up against a spiritual situation. He will cry, "Who is sufficient for these things?" "Our sufficiency is from God" (2 Cor. 2:16; 3:5). Paul was taken through experiences where he, like Moses, despaired of life. He said, "We... had the sentence of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead" (2 Cor. 1:9).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Saturday, June 27, 2015

In Need of Worshipers

"But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:4)

Well, we have great churches and we have beautiful sanctuaries and we join in the chorus, "We have need of nothing." But there is every indication that we are in need of worshipers.

We have a lot of men willing to sit on our church boards who have no desire for spiritual joy and radiance and who never show up for the church prayer meeting. These are the men who often make the decisions about the church budget and the church expenses and where the frills will go in the new edifice.

It seems to me that it has always been a frightful incongruity that men who do not pray and do not worship are nevertheless actually running many of the churches and ultimately determining the direction they will take.

It hits very close to our own situations, perhaps, but we should confess that in many "good" churches, we let the women do the praying and let the men do the voting.

Because we are not truly worshipers, we spend a lot of time in the churches just spinning wheels, burning the gasoline, making a noise but not getting anywhere.

Lord, give us men who are willing to lead in the Church, in prayer and in true worship, of which Yo are so deserving. Amen


With A Loud Voice

"The whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest" (Luke 19:37-38)

This does not mean, and I am not saying, that we must all worship alike. The Holy Spirit does not operate by anyone's preconceived idea or formula. But this I know: When the Holy Spirit of God comes among us with His anointing, we become a worshiping people. This may be hard for some to admit, but when we are truly worshiping and adoring the God of all grace and of all love and of all mercy and of all truth, we may not be quiet enough to please everyone.

First, I do not believe it is necessarily true that we are worshiping God when we are making a lot of racket. But not infrequently worship is audible.

Second, I would warn those who are cultured, quiet, self-possessed, poised and sophisticated that if they are embarrassed in church when some happy Christian says, "Amen!" they may actually be in need of some spiritual enlightenment. The worshiping saints of God in the Body of Christ have often been a little bit noisy.

Lord, may my worship be genuine and heartfelt, whether it be in quiet meditation or in loud exaltation! Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Imperfect Motives

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

God can use my imperfect motives to carry out His perfect will. As a college freshman I was motivated to attend church by a cute girl (now my wife) and a need to know how to conduct business with church people. However the Lord had a greater purpose in mind. Six months into hearing and understanding the gospel I repented of my sins and trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. Though motivated to date a pretty girl and make money—I was ambushed by the Lord’s love. Indeed, the Holy Spirit worked with me where I was—to get me where I needed to be.

Because of the heart’s deceitfulness it cannot be trusted. The heart can say there is no God—when in fact there is a God. The heart thinks it can handle temptation—but in reality it is easily lured into risky behavior. The heart believes it is good—but the Lord says it isn’t. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit understands our heart’s unholy condition. The Spirit of God cuts into the desires of what drives us. Thus, when the Spirit convicts our heart of unseemly intentions, we are wise to listen and adjust our actions. Jesus takes our imperfect motives and perfects them for His glory.

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

Has your heart been converted by Christ? God’s grace is like a spiritual pacemaker that causes your heart to beat for God’s will. Sin causes an irregular heartbeat, but grace brings it back into a righteous rhythm. It is easy to get entangled by sin, but hard to get untangled  (Andy Stanley). Ongoing confession, repentance of sin and faith contribute to spiritual health. Imperfect motives are made perfect by the ongoing perfecting work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of Jesus followers. Christ is the cure for sin’s soul sickness. Sin kills—grace gives life.

Furthermore, a deceitful heart requires the objective accountability of a caring community. Those whose questions probe the motives of our actions keep us honest. Thus, when a friend asks, “Why are you so defensive to criticism?” We can respond with a humble answer, “I am not sure, but I do struggle with needing approval from people.” Perhaps pride causes us to be caustic when we don’t get our way. Indeed, in humility we recognize our need of a deeper understanding of our heart’s motivations. The Spirit reveals to broken hearts the way to be healed. Motives do matter.

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, take my impure motives and perfect them to accomplish Your will.

~Wisdom Hunters Devotional~

Friday, June 26, 2015

Evil In Our Nature

"Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow" (Psalm 51:7)

Why should we delude ourselves about pleasing God in worship? If I live a worldly and carnal tramp all day and then find myself in a time of crisis at midnight, how do I pray to a God who is holy? How do I address the One who has asked me to worship Him in spirit and in truth? Do I get on my knees and call on the name of Jesus because I believe there is some magic in that name?

If I am still the same worldly, carnal tramp, I will b disappointed and disillusioned. If I am not living in the true meaning of His name and His nature, I cannot properly pray in that name. If I am not living in His nature, I cannot rightly pray in that nature.

How can we hope to worship God acceptably when these evil elements remain in our natures undisciplined, uncorrected, unpurged, unpurified? Even granted that a man with evil ingredients in his nature might manage through some part of himself to worship God half-acceptably. But what kind of a way is that in which to live and continue?

Lord, it is the longings of my heart that I might worship You acceptably. Purge me and cleanse me, that the evil nature within me might be subdued. Amen


Saved to Worship

"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people: that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9)

I believe a local church exists to do corporately what each Christian believer should be doing individually - and that is to worship God. It is to show forth the excellencies of Him who has "called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). It is to reflect the glories of Christ ever shining upon us through the ministries of the Holy Spirit.

I am going to say something to you which will sound strange. It even sounds strange to me as I say it, because we are not used to hearing it within our Christian fellowships. "We are saved to worship God." All that Christ has done for us in the past and all that He is doing now leads to this one end.

If we are willing to confess that we have been called out of darkness to show forth the glory of Him who called us, we should also be willing to take whatever steps are necessary to fulfill our high design and calling as the New Testament Church.

Lord, I acknowledge today that my highest calling and my purpose for existence is to worship You. May I and my church glorify You through our worship. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

God's Faithfulness

Genesis 8:1

(1) Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided.
New King James Version  

It is good to first consider that God's faithfulness covers animal life as well as human life. He upholds "all things by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:3). He does not simply create and then leave His creations to their own devices. His obligation to all life and its care and sustenance continues unabated.
Though the words of this verse are few and simple, to those who feel lost in the depth of an ongoing trial a world of meaning lies here: We are not lost to God. Noah, his family, and the animals were virtually imprisoned in the ark for months, pitching about alone on an endless sea. Nothing broke the skyline. Noah could have easily thought himself as forgotten. Though he could remind himself that God had promised him protection, where was God now—now when the gray days and black nights dragged by and wherever he looked he saw only empty waters and a sky that seemed to hold no hope?

Have we ever found ourselves seemingly cut loose from all moorings, adrift in a sea of problems from which, as far as we could tell, God has vanished? Have we ever begun on what seemed like a great adventure only to be swept away in a flood of sorrow, loneliness, perplexity, and disappointment that seems as though it will end only in despair? Perhaps we have felt as Asaph did in Psalm 77:4, 8: "You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed forevermore?"

God, however, did not lose track of Noah, and He will not lose track of us! The story of the Flood does not end on a note of hopelessness. The Flood abated. Mountaintops appeared, and the ark came to rest. Their physical survival assured, Noah and his family resumed life on an earth revived and cleansed of sin.

We may never have to face a trial of this magnitude, but God's faithfulness promises another great assurance: It guarantees that all our trials will be in proportion to our strength. God pledges through Paul in I Corinthians 10:13:
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
David writes in Psalm 103:13-14, "As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust."

God will never lay on us anything beyond our power to overcome. He knows how much pressure our hearts can stand. Do teachers give college-level assignments to a first grader and expect them to perform? Men are careful not to overload a truck, horse, mule, or ox. Will God be any lessmerciful and faithful to us, His children He is creating in His image? He clearly recognizes His obligation to the work of His own hands to supply our needs and shape the burdens needed to prepare us for His Kingdom.

~John W. Ritenbaugh~

Thursday, June 25, 2015

We Belong to God

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created" (Revelation 4:11)

Every soul belongs to God and exists by His pleasure. God being who and what He is, and we being who and what we are, the only thinkable relation between us is one of full Lordship on His part and complete submission on ours. We owe Him every honor that is in our power to give Him. Our everlasting grief lies in giving Him anything less.

The pursuit of God will embrace the labor of bringing our total personality into conformity to His. And this not judicially, but actually. I do not here refer to the act of justification by faith in Christ. I speak of a voluntary exalting of God to His proper station over us and a willing surrender of our whole being to the place of worshipful submission which the Creator-creature circumstance makes proper.

Made as we were in the image of God we scarcely find it strange to take again our God as our All. God was our original habitat and our hearts cannot but feel at home when they enter again that ancient and beautiful abode.

Father, I am Your creation, and I owe You every honor I can give. I bow in complete submission to Your Lordship. How can I do any less? Amen


Some Things Must Go

"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

I repeat my view of worship - no worship is wholly pleasing to God until there is nothing in me displeasing to God.

There is nothing in either of us that an be made good until Jesus Christ comes and changes us - until He lives in us and unites our nature with God, the Father Almighty. Not until then can we call ourselves good.

That is why I say that your worship must be total. It must involve the whole you. That is why you must prepare to worship God, and that preparation is not always pleasant. There may be revolutionary changes which must take place in your life.

If there is to be true and blessed worship, some things in your life must be destroyed, eliminated. The gospel of Jesus Christ is certainly positive and constructive. But it must be destructive in some areas, dealing with and destroying certain elements that cannot remain in a life pleasing to God.

Search me, O God, and know my heart. May there be nothing in me displeasing to You, that I may worship You totally. If there is anything to be destroyed within me, I yield myself to the Holy Spirit's work. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

The god of Popular Christianity!

"Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth! Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might!" 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 

In these days of man-centered religion, verses like these have been ignored. The pulpits of our land preach . . .
  a defeated God, 
  a disappointed Christ and 
  a defenseless Holy Spirit. 
Man has been deified--and God dethroned. 
God has been relegated to the background. 

The God most people believe in has benevolent intentions, yet He is unable to carry them out. He wants to bless men, but they will not let Him. The average church-goer thinks Satan has gained the upper hand, and that God is to be pitied rather than worshiped. The god of popular Christianity has a weak smile and a halo! 

To suppose in the slightest that God has failed, or that He has been defeated, is the height of foolishness and the depth of impiety! The religious world needs to get God off the charity list! 

The Bible knows nothing of a defeated, disappointed, and defenseless God. The God of the Bible is the "Almighty God" (Genesis 17:1) Who has all power in Heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). With Him nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37) or too hard (Jeremiah 32:17). His eternal purpose is being worked out. Everything is going according to His plan, and all things are under His control. 

The God of the Bible is the Supreme Being in the universe! He is the most High, higher than the highest. He has no superiors and no equals. 
God is God.
 He does . . .
He pleases,

  only as He pleases,
  always as He pleases. 

"He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? What His soul desires, even that He does" (Job 23:13). Agreeing with this is Psalm 115:3: "But our God is in the heavens: He has done whatever He has pleased." As the Master of the World He declares: "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure!" (Isaiah 46:10) 

God is the Supreme Being and the Sovereign of the universe. He exercises His power . . .
  as He wills,
  when He wills,
  where He wills. 
"All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing. But He does according to His will in the host of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of earth. No one can ward off His hand or say to Him: What have You done?" (Daniel 4:35

God governs all His creatures and their actions. The events that take place on earth do not take place by chance, or fate, or luck. The so-called accidents are not even incidents with the Master of the World. He numbered the hairs of our head and noted the sparrow's fall in eternity past by His "determinate counsel and foreknowledge" (Acts 2:23). 

The Master of the World set the bounds of our habitation on earth. The number of our months is with Him, and our days are appointed! 

God is holding the helm of the universe, and regulating all events. The Master of the World "works all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11). It is God's eternal right to do all His pleasure. He is not accountable to any of His creatures. Job 33:13 declares: "He gives no account of any of His matters." 

God controls all things--or nothing. 
He must either rule--or be ruled. 
He must either sway--or be swayed. 
He must either accomplish His will--or be thwarted by His creatures. 
He is not obligated to leave the affairs of this world to be governed by accident, chance, or the will of sinful men. 

If we admit that God absolutely governs all things according to the counsel of His own will, then we admit that He has determined what shall and what shall not transpire in time and eternity. To deny His universal control of all things, is to deny His eternal power and Godhead. If He has the power and wisdom to determine all events--then He can cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

~Milburn Cockrell  ("The Master of the World")

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Too Familiar With God

O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together" (Psalm 34:3)

Worship rises or falls in any church altogether depending upon the attitude we take toward God, whether we see God big or whether we see Him little. Most of us see God too small; our God is too little. David said, "O magnify the Lord with me," and "magnify" doesn't mean to make God big. You can't make God big. But you can see Him big.

Worship, I say, rises or falls with our concept of God; that is why I do not believe in these half-converted cowboys who call God the Man Upstairs. I do not think they worship at all because their concept of God is unworthy of God and unworthy of them. And if there is one terrible disease in the Church of Christ, it is that we do not see God as great as He is. We're too familiar with God.

Oh, God, may my concept of You be worthy of Your majesty. Forgive me for being too familiar and for seeing You so small. I magnify You and fall on my face in worship. Amen


The True Meaning of Worship

"Both riches and honor come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name" (1 Chronicles 29:12-13)

Actually, basic beliefs about the Person and the nature of God have changed so much that there are among us now men and women who find it easy to brag about the benefits they receive from God - without ever a thought or a desire to know the true meaning of worship!

I have immediate reactions to such an extreme misunderstanding of the true nature of a holy and sovereign God.

My first is that I believe the very last thing God desires is to have shallow-minded and worldly Christians bragging about Him.

My second is that it does not seem to be very well recognized that God's highest desire is that every one of His believing children should so love and so adore Him that we are continuously in His presence, in Spirit and in truth.

That is to worship, indeed.

Lord, help me, in the midst of all the blessings You shower upon me, to keep my focus on the Giver and not on the gifts. Teach me to love and adore You in genuine worship. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Walking In the Midst of the Fire

Walking in the midst of the fire (Daniel 3:25).

The fire did not arrest their motion; they walked in the midst of it. It was one of the streets through which they moved to their destiny. The comfort of Christ's revelation is not that it teaches emancipation from sorrow, but emancipation through sorrow.
O my God, teach me, when the shadows have gathered, that I am only in a tunnel. It is enough for me to know that it will be all right some day.
They tell me that I shall stand upon the peaks of Olivet, the heights of resurrection glory. But I want more, O my Father; I want Calvary to lead up to it. I want to know that the shadows of this world are the shades of an avenue the avenue to the house of my Father. Tell me I am only forced to climb because Thy house is on the hill! I shall receive no hurt from sorrow if I shall walk in the midst of the fire.
--George Matheson
'The road is too rough,' I said; 'It is uphill all the way; 
No flowers, but thorns instead;
And the skies over head are grey.'
But One took my hand at the entrance dim,
And sweet is the road that I walk with Him.
"The cross is too great,' I cried--
'More than the back can bear,
So rough and heavy and wide,
And nobody by to care.'
And One stooped softly and touched my hand:
'I know. I care. And I understand.'
"Then why do we fret and sigh;
Cross-bearers all we go:
But the road ends by-and-by
In the dearest place we know,
And every step in the journey we
May take in the Lord's own company.

~L. B. Cowman~

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Inner Sanctum

"Behold I stand at the door, and knock if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:20)

One of the most liberating declarations in the New Testament is this:

The true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth." (John 4:23-24)

Here the nature of worship is shown to be wholly spiritual. True religion is removed from diet and days, from garments and ceremonies, and placed where it belongs - in the union of the spirit of men with the Spirit of God.

From man's standpoint the most tragic loss suffered in the Fall was the vacating of this inner sanctum by the Spirit of God. At the far-in hidden center of man's being is a bush fitted to be the dwelling place of the Triune God. There God planned to rest and glow with moral and spiritual fire. Man by his sin forfeited this indescribably wonderful privilege and must now dwell there alone. For so intimately private is the place that no creature can intrude; no one can enter but Christ, and He will enter only by the invitation of faith.

Lord Jesus, enter the inner sanctum of my heart, I pray. Come in and fill me with Your holy fire, that I might uniquely sense Your presence today. Amen


Because He Is God

"Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee" (Psalm 73:25)

The teaching of the Bible is that God is Himself the end for which man was created. "Whom have I in heaven but thee?" cried the psalmist, "and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee" (Psalm 73:25). The first and greatest commandment is to love God with every power of our entire being. Where love like that exists there can be no place for a second object. If we love God as much as we should, surely we cannot dream of a loved object beyond Him which He might help us to obtain.

Bernard of Clairvaux begins his radiant little treatise on the love of God with a question and an answer. The question: Why should we love God? The answer: Because He is God. He develops the idea further, but for the enlightened heart little more need be said. We should love God because He is God. Beyond this the angels cannot think.

Father, I do indeed love You simply because You are God. May You continue to be the focus of my dreams and desires as I go about my ordinary day. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

What's Your Motive?

The Bible says in James 4:3,

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

James says that you ask, but you do not receive, because you ask amiss.  The word amiss here comes from the Greek root word that means to harm or to injure.  His point is:  God will not grant you anything that is going to harm or injure your spiritual life, whether in the short term or in the long term.

When you pray, God is looking out for your best interests.

But then he also said, You ask amiss that you may spend it on your pleasures.  The word pleasures has the idea of sensuality, which means, if I am asking for something just to stroke my fleshly ego, then I short-circuit the prayer by my wrong motivation.

For example, it is great to pray for a car.  I live in Southern California where we need a car to get around.  And I think God will give you a car that you like.  After all, the Bible says He gives us richly all things to enjoy.  Jesus said, "Ask, that your joy might be full."  So I think God wants us to be happy, and He generally has no problems granting your request for a car you would like.

Yet some people go a step beyond that, and their real motivation is, "Man, I want that car because I would look good in that car!  If I came to work in that car, I would really show up so-and-so.  People would think I'm pretty fine if I had that car.  If I had that car, the chicks would dig me."

Be careful when you pray to not slip over into a motivation that is not really pure.  Because you will short-circuit your faith and you will not receive an answer—except "no". 

~Bayless Conley~

Monday, June 22, 2015

Monday Morning

"But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him" (Habakkuk 2:20)

As God's people, we are so often confused that we could be known as God's poor, stumbling, bumbling people. That must be true of a great number of us for we always think of worship as something we do when we go to church.

We call it God's house. We have dedicated it to Him. So we continue with the confused idea that it must be the only place where we can worship Him.

We come to the Lord's house, made out of brick and wood and lined with carpeting. We are used to hearing a call to worship: "The Lord is in His holy temple - let us all kneel before Him."

That is on Sunday and that is in church. Very nice!

But Monday morning comes soon. The Christian layman goes to his office. The Christian school teacher goes to the classroom. The Christian mother is busy with duties in the home.

Actually, none of us has the ability to fool God. Therefore, if we are so engaged in our Sunday pursuits that we are far from His presence and far from a sense of worship on Saturday, we are not in very good shape to worship Him on Sunday.

Lord, I want to kneel before You in worship not only on Sunday, but on Saturday and the rest of the week as well. Accept my entire life as a sacrifice of worship to You, I pray. Amen


In His Holy Temple

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31)

On Monday, as we go about our different duties and tasks, we are we aware of the Presence of God? The Lord desires still to be in His holy temple, wherever we are. He wants the continuing love and delight and worship of His children, wherever we work.

Is it not a beautiful thing for a businessman to enter his office on Monday morning with an inner call to worship: "The Lord is in my office - let all the world be silent before Him"?

If you cannot worship the Lord in the midst of your responsibilities on Monday, it is not very likely that you were worshiping on Sunday!

I guess many people have an idea that they have God in a box. He is just in the church sanctuary, and when we leave and drive toward home, we have a rather faint, homesick feeling that we are leaving God in the big box.

You know that is not true, but what are you doing about it?

Lord, may I today - whatever day it happens to be - go about my tasks with an overlying sense of worship, that You would be glorified in everything I do, say or think today. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

What A Saviour Is Ours!

Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them. - Leviticus 9:22

The eighth day is evidently the type of the bright millennial morning. During the present age we are hidden with Christ in God; the world knoweth us not, as it knew Him not; our hopes, and joys, and aims, are largely secret. But the day is not far distant when He shall be manifested, and then we shall be manifested with Him in glory. That group of priests, following the high priest out from the recesses of the Holy Place, is a picture of the Second Advent, when Christ and His own shall come forth to bless the world. When Jesus was parted in the Ascension from His disciples, He was in the act of blessing them; and in that attitude He will return. Who can doubt that all through the intervening ages those blessed hands have still been outstretched, that heart ever going forth, in blessing.
What a Saviour is ours! In Him are combined meekness that bears all insult and hatred, and mercy that retaliates on wrongdoing in ministries of love. He fulfills His own idea of blessing those that hate, and praying for those that despitefully use. How truly can it be said of Him, as of Archbishop Ussher, that to do him a wrong is to make him your friend forever!
Let us imitate Him in this, and let the going forth of our lives be one incessant stream of benediction to men, until they shall fall on their faces and acknowledge the overwhelming power of love. But in order to this we must be much in company with our blessed Lord; gazing on His face we shall reflect His likeness; the lineaments of the Divine beauty shall pass into our life, and light it up with a loveliness which is not of earth. Thus shall we bring glory to our God.

~F. B. Meyer~

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Worship In Spirit and Truth

God is a Spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth" (John 4:24)

Worship must be in spirit and truth!

It must be the truth of God and the Spirit of God. When a person, yielding to God and believing the truth of God, is filled with the Spirit of God, even his faintest whisper will be worship.

The stark, tragic fact is the efforts of many people to worship are unacceptable to God. Without an infusion of the Holy Spirit there can be no true worship. This is serious. It is hard for me to rest peacefully at night knowing that millions of cultured, religious people are merely carrying on church traditions and religious customs and they are not actually reaching God at all!

We must humbly worship God in spirit and in truth. Each one of us stand before the truth to be judged. Is it not now plain that the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit of God, far from being an optional luxury in our Christian lives, is a necessity?

Lord, fill me with Your Spirit as I worship You today. I don't want just to carry on church traditions and religious customs. Send the Spirit today, that my worship might be more real! Amen


The Self-Existent God

"The lord reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved" (Psalm 99:1)

In this context, I confess a sadness about the shallowness of Christian thinking in our day. Many are interested in religion as a kind of toy. If we could make a judgment, it would appear that numbers of men and women go to church without any genuine desire to gear into deity. They do not come to meet God and delight in His presence. They do not come to hear from that everlasting world above!

Compared to Him, everything around us in this world shrinks in stature and significance. It is all a little business compared to Him - little churches with little preachers; little authors and little editors; little singers and little musicians; little deacons and little officials; little educators and little statesmen; little cities and little men and little things!

Brethren, humankind is so smothered under the little grains of dust that make up the world and time and space and matter that we are prone to forget that at one point God lived and dwelt and existed and loved without support, without help, and without creation.

Such is the causeless and self-existent God!

Lord, as I enter the church service this next Sunday, help me to come expectantly. I'm little; You are big. Let me wait in silence before You. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Tarry At the Promise Till God Meets You There

He spoke a parable unto them… that men ought always to pray, and not to faint (Luke 18:1).

No temptation in the life of intercession is more common than this of failure to persevere. We begin to pray for a certain thing; we put up our petitions for a day, a week, a month; and then, receiving as yet no definite answer, straightway we faint, and cease altogether from prayer concerning it.
This is a deadly fault. It is simply the snare of many beginnings with no completions. It is ruinous in all spheres of life. The man who forms the habit of beginning without finishing has simply formed the habit of failure. The man who begins to pray about a thing and does not pray it through to a successful issue of answer has formed the same habit in prayer. To faint is to fail; then defeat begets disheartenment, and unfaith in the reality of prayer, which is fatal to all success.
But someone says, "How long shall we pray? Do we not come to a place where we may cease from our petitions and rest the matter in God's hands?" There is but one answer. Pray until the thing you pray for has actually been granted, or until you have the assurance in your heart that it will be. Only at one of these two places dare we stay our importunity, for prayer is not only a calling upon God, but also a conflict with Satan. And inasmuch as God is using our intercession as a mighty factor of victory in that conflict, He alone, and not we, must decide when we dare cease from our petitioning. So we dare not stay our prayer until the answer itself has come, or until we receive the assurance that it will come.
In the first case we stop because we see. In the other, we stop because we believe, and the faith of our heart is just as sure as the sight of our eyes; for it is faith from, yes, the faith of God, within us.
More and more, as we live the prayer life, shall we come to experience and recognize this God-given assurance, and know when to rest quietly in it, or when to continue our petitioning until we receive it.
--The Practice of Prayer
Tarry at the promise till God meets you there. He always returns by way of His promises.

~L. B. Cowman~