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pastorway

And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Monday, December 12, 2005

The First Mark of a Sound Church

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verses of the Day
Romans 12:1 - "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service."

Philippians 3:3 - "For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,"

John 4:24 - "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

Daily Scripture Reading - John 4

Puritan Catechism
Question #10 - How did God create man?
Answer - God created man, male and female, after his own image (Gen. 1:27), in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness (Col 3:10; Eph. 4:24) with dominion over the creatures (Gen. 1:28).

Devotional Thoughts

The First Mark of a Sound Church: God is Worshiped in Spirit and Truth

The first mark of a sound church that we will consider is the character of that church's worship. After all, the church's first love is to be its God! He is our God and we are His people. If we really believe everything we preach and teach about salvation and grace and forgiveness, how can we not worship God continually?

Worship, or the telling forth of God's "worth-ship", has to have a priority in our church services. We are not to meet together for what we can get out of the praise or the preaching - we are to meet together so that we might worship God through the praise and preaching. We are to focus on HIM.

The qualifications given by Jesus Himself in the New Testament for worship are that our worship is to be offered in "spirit and truth." To understand this we need to first look at how worship is often the opposite of these requirements.

Worship that Displeases God

In Amos 5:21ff, the prophet proclaims a word from God regarding the acceptability of worship. Have you ever stopped to ask if the worship you offer is acceptable to God? He does not want us to simply go through the motions. That, in fact, is not worship.

In Amos 5 God says that He wants justice and righteousness. He desires worship given in spirit and truth. Instead the Children of Israel were mixing the worship of God with other pagan festivals and religions. They were polluting the worship of the Most High God. They defiled worship by offering God what they wanted, or what they thought He wanted instead of what He demanded! They did things their way instead of His.

In the text, Amos writes as God speaks,

I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Can you imagine? God HATED their worship. It was self-centered and self-serving. They tried to keep proper form (feast days, singing, sacred assemblies) but had an improper motive. They approached God with unclean hands and an impure heart and as a result He rejected their worship. We must come before God on His terms, prepared to worship acceptably - and if we come any other way (rushed, with little thought or preparation) then He will likewise reject what we have to offer!

So in order to understand our duty in worship, in order to truly know what God expects and commands of us as His worshippers, we must first grasp the characteristics of worship that displeases Him. Take the time to meditate on these verses and examine these topics as we search the Scriptures for a brief outline of worship that God hates.

Charactersistics of Worship that Displeases God – Ex 20:1-11

A. Worship of Anyone or Anything Other Than or Together with God
Ex. 20:3; Ps 86:10; Rom 1:18-25

B. Worship that involves Disobedience
Ex 20:4-6; Ex 32

C. Worship that Takes God’s Name in Vain
Ex 20:7; Malachi 1:6-14; Matt 15:9

D. Worship that is not Holy
Ex 20:8-11

Worship that is not holy can be further noted to be:

1. Void of Faith
Heb 11:6; Rom 14:23

2. Full of Hypocrisy (Lips vs. Heart)
Isaiah 29:13; Jeremiah 12:2; Matt 15:8

3. Based on Lies (False Doctrine)
John 4:24; Psalm 17:1

4. Worship that is not Separated from the World
Rom 12:1-2; 1 John 2:15-17

5. Worship that Profanes
Ezekiel 22:23-31

Worship that Pleases God

We see what God rejects when it comes to worship, so what is acceptable to Him? What pleases Him? In John 4, Jesus tells us what is expected and necessary if we are to worship God in an acceptable manner. The account reads:

The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."

True and acceptable worship is to render to God respectful spiritual service. This is the definition of "reverence." Reverence is to be the main characteristic of our worship. Reverence finds us focusing on God instead of self. We do not just do whatever we feel. We do what honors God.

The two characteristics given here by Christ let us know that worship is not about "when" or "where", but it is all about "how." It is not a building, location, event, or time of the day or week that qualifies our worship as acceptable to God. It is how we worship. We must worship God in spirit and truth.

To worship God in spirit is to worship from the heart, not simply with outward form! It originates internally, not externally. If the inside (the heart) is not prepared for worship, then no matter what we say or do to worship, God will reject what we offer! He even tells us in the Word that if we come to offer God a gift (worship) and there remember that we have something against our brother or sister in Christ, we are to leave and make things right with others before we come near to God! Our heart has to be ready to worship - we have to be prepared. We have to have our relationships in order and come with a clear conscience or our worship is not acceptable.

To say it is from the heart means that it does not matter what we know or what we claim to believe that qualifies our worship. It is how we express our hearts in love and obedience to Christ! What is in the heart, after all, will come out the mouth. And if our heart is not clean and right and we attempt to worship God, we are lying! That's right. If what is coming out of our mouths does not match the thoughts of our heart, we are hypocrites of the worst sort, and just pretending to worship!

Worship in Spirit

How do we worship in spirit with a right heart condition and attitude? Let's expand our study of the Scriptures on this point. Open your Bibles and read these verses and then read how I have summarized worshipping God in spirit into the following seven points:

1. Philippians 3:3, 7-11
Worship in spirit is offered with no confidence in the flesh. The true believer views his flesh as sinful without any merit or capacity to please God without the intervention of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

2. Revelation 4:10-11
Worship in spirit is focused wholly upon God with no thought of self.

3. Psalm 95:6-7
Worship in spirit must be reverent, not loud and obnoxious, with disharmony or showmanship!

4. Psalm 96:9; 5:7
Worship in spirit must be characterized by fear and trembling! We are worshipping a thrice holy God and cannot ever enter His presence with little thought or frivolity.

5. Psalm 29:1-2; Psalm 99
Worship in spirit must be holy. To be holy is to be set aside or separated from the world. We should not worship God like the world worships its false gods. Worship should be distinct from the world and not mixed with worldly values and practices.

6. 2 Chronicles 20:18-20
Worship in spirit must overflow with humility. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less! Again - the focus is GOD.

7. Psalm 51:15-17
Worship in spirit is worship with brokenness. We must come expressing a total dependence upon God for everything we need.

Worship in Truth

Jesus also said we must worship in truth. This means that our worship must first meet the above-mentioned requirements of worship in spirit, and then added to that, it must also be consistent with Scripture and centered on Christ. Here are a few more verses to read as we look at five ways we worship in truth:

1. Revelation 14:7
Worship in truth gives God honor, reverence, glory, and expresses His worthiness.

2. Psalm 45:11
Worship in truth is based in the truth that we worship Him because He is our Lord. We don't make Him Lord. He is Lord. Forever. The question here is whether or not we obey Him as Lord since He is Lord?

3. Psalm 66:4
Worship in truth offers praise to His name. We worship Him, not His provision or creation, not His works or ways. We worship HIM, as He is characterized by His many names revealed in Scripture.

4. Psalm 138
Worship in truth is worship in lowliness. We must have a proper opinion of ourselves, a low opinion of self. We are sinners and but for His grace we would not be able to approach Him at all. Our worship of Him is all based on His doings - His salvation, forgiveness, and grace.

5. Psalm 148, 149, 150
Worship in truth is worship in ways of which God approves!

Meditate on these verses of Scripture (Bible Reading for Further Study, below) that tell us more about what God expects from us in worship, and remember, next time you gather together with other believers to praise and worship God, be prepared, and keep this simple truth in mind - worship will either please or displease God. Take the time to be ready to worship and please Him!


Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from a poem by John Bunyan titled The Building, Nature, Excellency, and Government of the House of God.

BY WHOM THIS HOUSE IS BUILT.

The builder's God, materials his Elect;
His Son's the rock on which it is erect;
The Scripture is his rule, plummet, or line,
Which gives proportion to this house divine,
His working-tools his ordinances are,
By them he doth his stones and timber square,
Affections knit in love, the couplings are;
Good doctrine like to mortar doth cement
The whole together, schism to prevent:
His compass, his decree; his hand's the Spirit
By which he frames, what he means to inherit,
A holy temple, which shall far excel
That very place, where now the angels dwell.

Call this a temple or a house of prayer,
A palace, oracle, or spouse most fair;
Or what you will: God's love is here displayed,
And here his treasure safely up is laid;
For his own darling none can find a place,
Where he, as here, is wont to show his face.

What though some slight it, it a cottage call,
Give't the reproachful name of beggar's hall;
Yea, what though to some it an eyesore is,
What though they count it base, and at it hiss,
Call it an alms-house, builded for the poor;
Yet kings of old have begged at the door.

II.

OF THE BEAUTY OF THE CHURCH.

Lo her foundations laid with sapphires are;
Her goodly windows made of agates fair,
Her gates are carbuncles, or pearls; nor one
Of all her borders but's a precious stone;
None common, nor o' th' baser sort are here,
Nor rough, but squar'd and polish'd everywhere;
Her beams are cedars, fir her rafters be,
Her terraces are of the algum-tree;
The thorn or crab-tree here are not of us;
Who thinks them here utensils, puts abuse
Upon the place, yea, on the builder too;
Would they be thus controll'd in what they do?
With carved-work of lily, and palm-tree,
With cherubims and chains adorned be
The doors, the walls, and pillars of this place;
Forbidden beasts here must not show their face.
With grace like gold, as with fine painting, he
Will have this house within enriched be;
Fig-leaves nor rags, must here keep out no cold,
This builder covers all with cloth of gold,
Of needle-work prick'd more than once or twice
(The oft'ner prick'd, still of the higher price)
Wrought by his SON, put on her by his merit,
Applied by faith, revealed by the Spirit.

III.

OF THE CONVENIENCES OF THIS HOUSE.

Within these walls the builder did devise
That there the householders might sacrifice;
Here is an altar, and a laver too,
And priests abundance, temple work to do;
Nor want they living offerings, nor yet fire,
Nor holy garments; what divine desire
Commands, it has bestowed on this place;
Here be the censors, here's the throne of grace;
None of the householders need go elsewhere,
To offer incense, or good news to hear.

A throne for judgment he did here erect,
Virtue to cherish, folly to detect;
Statutes and laws, unto this house he gave,
To teach who to condemn, and who to save:
By things thus wholesome taught is every brother
To fear his God, and to love one another.

And now for pleasure, solace, recreation,
Here's such as helpeth forward man's salvation.
Equal to these none can be found elsewhere,
All else turn to profuseness, sin, and care.
So situate it is, so roomy, fair,
So warm, so blessed, with such wholesome air,
That 'tis enticing: whoso wishes well
To his soul's health, should covet here to dwell.
Here's necessaries, and what will delight
The godly ear, the palate, with the sight
Of each degree and sex; here's everything
To please a beggar, and delight a king.
Chambers and galleries, he did invent,
Both for a prospect and a retirement.
For such as unto music do incline,
Here are both harps and psalteries divine:
Her cellars and banqueting-house have been,
In former days, a palace for a queen.
O house! what title to thee can be given,
So fit as that which men do give to heaven!

IV.

OF THE STRENGTH AND DEFENCE OF THIS HOUSE.

This house, you may be sure, will always stand;
She's builded on a rock, not on the sand;
Storms, rain, yea floods have oft upon her beat,
Yet stands she, here's a proof she is no cheat;
Fear not therefore in her for to abide,
She keeps her ground, come weather, wind or tide.
Her corner-stone has many times been try'd,
But never could the scorn, or rage, or pride,
Of all her foes, by what force they could make,
Destroy her battlements, or ground-work shake.
Here's God the Lord encamping round about
His dwelling place; nor ought we once to doubt
But that he as a watchman succour will
Those that do dwell upon his holy hill.
A wall of fire about her I will be,
And glory in the midst of her, and she
Shall be the place where I my name record;
Here I will come and bless you, saith the Lord.

The holy watchers at her gates do stand,
With their destroying weapons in their hand,
Those to defend, that in this house do dwell,
From all her enemies in earth and hell;
Safety! where is it, if it is not here?
God dwelleth in her, doth for her appear,
To help her early, and her foes confound,
And unto her will make his grace abound;
Safety is here, and also that advance,[2]
Will make a beggar sing, a cripple dance.

V.

THE DELICATENESS OF THE SITUATION OF THIS HOUSE.

As her foundation and her beauty's much;
Conveniences, and her defences such
As none can parallel, so doth the field
About her richest, rarest dainties yield.
Moriah, where Isaac was offered,
Where David from his sin was ransomed;
Where Solomon the temple did erect,
Compar'd with this is worthy no respect.
Under the very threshold of this place
Arise those goodly springs of lasting grace,
Whose crystal streams minister like to those
That here of love to her, make their repose.
Sweet is her aid, (as one may well infer)
'Cause 'tis the breathings of the comforter.
The pomegranates at all her gates do grow,
Mandrakes and vines, with other dainties mo;[3]
Her gardens yield the chief, the richest spice,
Surpassing them of Adam's paradise:
Here be sweet ointments, and the best of gums;
Here runs the milk, here drops the honey-combs.
Here are perfumes most pleasant to the sense,
Here grows the goodly trees of frankincense;
Her arbours, walks, fountains, and pleasant springs,
Delightful formerly have been to kings.

Such mountains round about this house do stand
As one from thence may see the holy land.
Her fields are fertile, do abound with corn;
The lilies fair, her vallies do adorn.
The birds that do come hither every spring,
For birds, they are the very best that sing.
Her friends, her neighbours too, do call her blest;
Angels do here go by, turn in and rest.
The road to paradise lies by her gate,
Here pilgrims do themselves accommodate
With bed and board, and do such stories tell
As do for truth and profit all excel.
Nor doth the porter here say any nay,
That hither would turn in, that there would stay.
This house is rent-free; here the man may dwell
That loves his landlord, rules his passions well.

VI.

THE WAY OF RECEIVING THOSE THAT WOULD HERE INHABIT.

And wouldst thou know the customs of this place,
How men are here admitted to this grace;
And consequently whether thou mayst be
Made one of this most blest fraternity?
Come hither then, unto me lend an ear;
And what is doubtful to thee, I will clear.

1. This place, as mercy's arms, stands ope to those
That their own happiness us'd to oppose;
Those under hedges, high-way men, or they
That would not God, nor yet good men obey;
Those that among the bushes us'd to browse,
Or under hedges us'd themselves to louze.
The vilest men, of sinners who are chief,
A fornicator, liar, or a thief,
May turn in hither, here take up and dwell
With those who ransom'd are from death and hell.

2. This place, as hospitals, will entertain,
Those which the lofty of this world disdain:
The poor, the lame, the maimed, halt and blind,
The leprous, and possessed too, may find
Free welcome here, as also such relief
As ease them will of trouble, pain and grief.

3. This place, as David's heart, with free consent
Opens to th' distressed, and the discontent;
Who is in debt, that has not wherewithal
To quit his scores, may here be free from thrall:
That man that fears the bailiff, or the jail,
May find one here that will become his bail.

4. Art thou bound over to the great assize,
For heark'ning to the devil and his lies;
Art thou afraid thereat to shew thy head,
For fear thou then be sent unto the dead?
Thou may'st come hither, here is room and place,
For such as willingly would live by grace.

5. This place, as father's house in former days,
Is a receptacle for runaways;[4]
He that, like to the ox,[5] backslidden is,
Forfeited hath for sin his share of bliss;
May yet come hither, here is room and rest;
Of old such have come hither and been blest.
Had this been false, O woe had been to David!
Nor Peter had, nor Magdalen, been saved.
Nor Jonah, nor Manasseh, nor the rest;
No runaway from God could been blest
With kind reception at his hands; return
Would here come too late, if nought but burn
Had been the lot of the backsliding man:
But we are told there's no rebellion can
Prevent, or hinder him from being saved,
That mercy heartily of God hath crav'd.
She that went from her God to play the whore,
Returning may be as she was before:
He that refuses to his God to turn,
That is resolved in hell fire to burn;
If he bethinks himself, and turns again,
May find them here that will him entertain.

6. But bring thou with thee a certificate,
To show thou seest thyself most desolate;
Writ by the master, with repentance seal'd,
To shew also that here thou would'st be heal'd,
By those fair leaves of that most blessed tree,
By which alone poor sinners healed be;
And that thou dost abhor thee for thy ways.
And wouldst in holiness spend all thy days;
And here be entertained; or thou wilt find
To entertain thee here are none inclin'd.[6]


Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

1 Comments:

Blogger ambiance-five said...

Wonderful study pastorway.

10:39 AM  

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