Friday, May 28, 2021
The Psalms are so clear in how we are to approach God in worship. And it's always interesting because it's never about us, it's always about him.
Friday, May 28, 2021
Today I want to talk to you about this idea of exalting God. That sounds lofty, that sounds huge, and it is. But the Psalms are so clear in how we are to approach God in worship. And it's always interesting because it's never about us, it's always about him. I want to read Psalm 100 and draw seven principles from it. Psalm 100 says this, "Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord himself is God; it is he who made us, and not we ourselves. We are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name. For the Lord is good; His loving kindness is everlasting, and his faithfulness to all generations."
How do we exalt God? Well, let me tell you, there are seven things that just jump out of this psalm. The first thing is this that you shout for joy. It says, "Shout joyfully to the Lord." What's interesting about the word 'shout' here is it's actually the word that is used for a battle cry. Now, when we talk about a battle cry, think of that movie, Braveheart, that came out in the 90s. In it you have these massive armies on the field, right? And they're shouting as they're going toward one another. That was a battle cry. It was a cry of triumph. It was a cry that would deafen the ears of anyone listening. He says, "Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth." That's the first thing in exalting God. It's okay to shout and to give him the praise, and do it as a battle cry.
The second thing is "Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful singing." So, if the first is shout with a battle cry of joy, the second is serve him. Serve God, serve the Lord with gladness. Come before him and serve him with gladness. The third is this, "come before him with joyful singing." So, we shout triumphantly, we serve Him, and we sing joyfully, or lift our voices joyfully to him. The fourth is, "Know that the Lord himself is God." Know that he is God, and we are not. Know that he is the one who is in control, and he is the one orchestrating all things. It has nothing to do with us. The fifth, "It is he who made us and not we, ourselves." See what God has done, see what he is doing and see what he has done. The sixth is this from verse four, "Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise." Enter His gates with thanksgiving. This psalm is a song of thanksgiving. When we say thanksgiving, that means "God we are giving you thanks." We are saying thank you for who you are, for what you've done for us, and how you're working in our lives. And then it says, "Give him thanks, bless his name." What does that mean? Praise him. Give him all the glory, give him all of it, everything because he deserves it. Why? Look at verse five, "For the Lord is good; his loving kindness is everlasting, and his faithfulness to all generations." He alone is worthy, it has nothing to do with what we can do on our own strength, and our own being.
So, let me just recap that. To exalt the Lord, you shout for joy with a battle cry, it's a triumphant shout. You serve Him, you sing joyfully, you know that he is God, know that he is the one who has created everything. You see what he has done, he made us, we didn't make him. You enter His gates with thanksgiving, shouting that thanks to him. And then lastly, you praise his name. That is how we exalt God. That is how we worship Him. And I want to challenge you today. If you're going into church this coming Sunday, or during the week, or whatever that looks like for you, I want to challenge you to worship God with abandon. Worship God and exalt Him as psalm 100 goes through. You shout joyfully, you proclaim it. You serve Him, you sing joyfully, you know that he is God. You see what he has done, you enter those gates with thanksgiving, and you praise his name.
Father, thank you so much for how we can come before you in worship. Thank you that we can praise you. I pray, Lord, that we would just stay laser-focused on who you are, what you've done, your strength, and how you are mindful of us individually. Let us remember how you love us unconditionally. In church this week and even throughout our day, throughout our week, even if we're just driving in our car, let us shout triumphantly for you because of what you've done and who you are. We thank you, in Jesus' name. Amen.
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
The Bible is rich with insight about how to know God. In fact, the Bible IS how we know God, who he is and his characteristics and attributes.
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Today, I'm going to talk about a very big topic in a very small amount of time. It's the idea of, "how do I know God?" The Bible is rich with insight about how to know God. In fact, the Bible IS how we know God, who he is and his characteristics and attributes. I want to focus in on one specific area from Psalm 119. I think there are seven principles that we can draw from this, and you can dig into this a little bit more on your own time. We are in Psalm 119:9-16. We don't know who wrote this song, but whoever wrote it knew God. It says, "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart, do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O Lord; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word."
Now, there's a lot there. We're going to quickly draw seven principles and answer the question, "How can I know God?" First thing is Keeping the Word. He says, "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word." In other words, by keeping the word of God, keeping the teachings of the Scriptures, holding on to them. The second thing he says is, "I will seek you with all of my heart, do not let me stray from your commands." Seek God, go after him. You search out for him, you go with everything that you are. He says, "I seek you with all of my heart." That means with all of my mind, with all of my understanding, I'm going to pursue you, God. Then he says, "I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." So the third thing is this, Hide the Word. Now, that's a strange way to say it, but think of it this way: treasure it. When you have something that you deeply love and treasure, maybe it's a family heirloom, or maybe it's something that is significant or valuable, you hide it away. You keep it separate to keep it safe, and to keep it preserved. That's what he's saying. Hide the word, treasure the word of God, keep it in a safe place. Then he says, "Praise be to you, O Lord, teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth." So, the fourth thing is to Proclaim. When he says recount, we think of remembering, but the word actually here means to proclaim with my lips. I will shout, I will proclaim all of the laws that come from God's mouth. Proclaim the truth. That's the fourth thing.
The fifth thing is this, he says, "I rejoice in following your statutes, as one rejoices in great riches." The fifth is Rejoice in How Just God Is. "I rejoice in following your statutes," or following your instructions and your laws, "as one rejoices in great riches." So, rejoice in how just God truly is. The sixth thing is this, "I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways." This is Meditate on God's Call for You, specifically. He says "precepts and ways," meaning his instruction. Meditate on it. Think about it. When you're going throughout the day, it's not just about opening the Bible and seeing a couple words, it's meditating on it, thinking through what that means. He says to meditate on the precepts, the instructions, the path that God is setting you on. The seventh thing is this, "I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word." Delight in His Word, find the joy and satisfaction in His Word to us.
So, let me answer that question that I started with. How do we truly know God? It's by knowing his word, and let me just recap the seven things. I know God by keeping his word, by seeking God with all that I am, by hiding his word in my heart and treasuring it, and by proclaiming the truth. I had a pastor friend tell me if you really want to understand something, you teach it. Proclaim it, proclaim the truth. Number five, rejoice in how just God is. Number six, meditate on how God calls us and what He has called us for. Seven, delight in His Word with joy and satisfaction. I don't know where you are today. I don't know what you're wrestling with. I don't know what your day looks like or what you're walking into. But know this, that God is with you. And God is for you. The way that you can be sure of that, the way that you can truly know him, is by the seven things that we talked about today.
Let me pray for you. Father, again, thank you so much for the Bible. Thank you so much for how you speak to us through it. I pray that we would remember these seven steps on how we can truly know you, so that there's no question, no hesitation. For that person who's watching or listening right now and they're just not sure, let them be encouraged. Lord, let them open that book and let them walk through those steps to understand, truly, who you are. We thank you for how you've clearly revealed yourself to us through your word. And we pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
...today I want to talk to you about how you can get some satisfaction.
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Anyway, so they had a song called, "I Can't Get No Satisfaction," and today I want to talk to you about how you can get some satisfaction. If any of you know Mick, Keith Richards, and the other guys, maybe you could send them this. Then, maybe they can get some satisfaction. This idea comes from Psalm 63:5-7, where the psalmist says this about God. He says, "God, you satisfy me more than the richest of foods. I will praise you with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings."
Think about an amazing dinner. What's your favorite food? Have you had to go to an amazing white-linen restaurant and have an amazing dinner. When you leave, you're not too full, not too empty. The psalmist goes on, saying, "I will praise you with songs of joy" because he's so satisfied. He lies awake thinking of God, meditating on him through the night. Those are pleasant thoughts. "I think how much you have helped me." That's satisfying. "I sing for joy in the shadow of your protecting wings." What is the psalmist saying? He's saying, "Every time I think about you, God, I get excited. You're better than than an amazing meal. I think about you at night. You help me when I have needs." How can you get some satisfaction? Start thinking more accurately about God. Start thinking about how good he is. Another kind of meal related metaphor is when the Bible says, "Taste and see, that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8).
Let's pray. Father in heaven, you are the most satisfying person in the universe. Forgive us for trying to find satisfaction in people, places, and things. Help us to find satisfaction in you, in thinking about you, falling more deeply in love with you. Help us to be satisfied in you. And everything else that we get in life is gravy. I asked this in Jesus' name, amen.
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Jesus knew this. Jesus, who created us and our eyes, who designed the eye, he knew this. And he used our eyes as an illustration to help us understand the importance of remaining devoted to God. So, in Matthew 6:22-23, Jesus said, "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" You see, the Greek word that is translated into English as "healthy" can also mean perfect, complete, wholeness, or singular. So, the eye that is singularly focused is a metaphor for being fully devoted to God. And when we focus our eyes on that which is good, that which is pure and holy, on those things that are pleasing to God, then our entire body, Jesus tells us, will be radiant, and filled with light. Our eyes, which is which is the lamp of the body, will lead us to follow God with full devotion. Then, we won't have to worry about material items, and the things that the world tries to entice us with and to draw us away from God with. So, focus on that which is good is the message that Jesus is telling us. Be devoted to God.
But, then he contrasts this by saying this, "But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great that darkness!" And that last statement, "how great is that darkness," is not a question. It's an emphatic statement that Jesus is saying. You see, the word unhealthy in verse 23 can also mean imperfect, evil, or morally corrupt. This is a metaphor for following after all of the trappings and material items that the world has to offer. So, Jesus is telling us that if we focus our eye on what the world has to offer, that which is evil or corrupt, that our entire body will be filled with darkness. I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound good to me. And when our body is full of darkness, we will have no light to guide us, and we will wander and remain lost and hopeless in such great darkness. So we have a choice. We can we can only focus on one thing. So what will we choose to focus on? Will we focus our eye on God and remain devoted to him? Or will we let it wander? And will we allow it to focus on the things of this world? Will you focus on God and the eternal things that please him? Or will you focus on the world and the temporal counterfeit pleasures that this world has to offer?
Maybe you're struggling to focus on that which is good and remain devoted to God. I want to encourage you, then, today to go a little bit deeper. Take your Bibles and read Philippians 4:8. Then, flip over to Romans 12:1-2. I hope that these verses will give you some encouragement, some insight, and ways to stay focused on God today. I hope you guys found this challenging and encouraging at the same time, and I want to encourage you right now: don't just have a great day. Go and make a great day.