In the spring of 1993 my family was on the way home from a revival week that had ended on Sunday night. I remember laying down in the seat as we neared home I remember my thoughts vividly. I remember thinking that I wanted a voice like my grandfather when he preached. It could fill the room without any amplification. I then felt a difference between him and myself. He was a preacher, a true blue Christ and I knew that I was not like him. I was raised in a Christian home but I felt something lacking in myself. So at the age of eight I placed my faith in Christ and have never looked back. I’ve made my share of mistakes but the Lord has kept me from a lot of heartache and pain.
“Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? and she answered, It is well.” – 2 Kings 4:26
If you look at this woman’s situation you know that all is not well. Her son had taken upon a sudden sickness and died as he was on his mother’s lap (2 Kings 4:18-20). For many of us we would have fallen apart and never recovered. Somehow this woman had confidence. Somehow this woman had peace. She told no one and when asked why she wanted to see the man of God she said, “It shall be well” (4:23). This may let us realize that the pain of losing her child was real and not well at the moment but also that she had faith that it shall be well soon.
By faith she came to the man of God and only the servant would first and the man of God later. The servant went with her and her “it is well” faith (4:25-30). Her faith was strong in God even though her “soul is vexed within her” (4:27). Faith does not deny the problems we have but it also knows the reality of God. So to repeat, “If you look at this woman’s situation you know that all is not well ” but if you look at this woman’s God then you know that all is well.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” -Romans 8:28
If you look at her circumstances without God in the picture and what He would do through the man of God then there is no purpose. It could be said, “that’s life and a shame.” God in the picture though adds a holy purpose to this event. For those that seek God in all things will find His holy purposing in all things. God takes all things and can use them for good to us.
It may not be clear how God is using your situation but if you keep your faith as this mother God can bring good out of the situation. For her it was her son back to life. For you it may be your family back together. A new job or a new start. God will take what you are going through and use it to his holy purpose. So you to can say, “it is well.”
“She hath done what she could.” (Mark 14:8a KJV)
“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” – Psalms 122:1
In this second installment of my thoughts from revival I want to write about church attendance. Not just going and sitting in a pew, singing a few songs, hearing a sermon, a going out the same way in. I am also not writing about the attendance of an unbeliever in the worship service. There is a way for believers to enter into worship. It is with anticipation, expectancy, and reverence that has been built up by prayer, bible reading, and witnessing and fellowship.
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” – Psalms 100:4
The world has taken away our holy expectancy. No longer do we look forward to worshipping with other believers. Just as we go to the game or show we “hope” it is a good one. We “hope” to pull out the win. That’s not the mindset of the believer. “I hope its a good service” should not be part of our vocabulary when it comes to the set apart time of worship. The writer in Psalm 100 is excited about worshipping in Jerusalem. He is excited to stand before the presence of God. He is excited to be with fellow believers in worship. The writer in Psalm 122 is excited about the journey he is making. He will sing the psalms of ascent (or degrees in 120-134) as he makes his each of his journeys toward Jerusalem for four festivals a year. There he will worship and nothing has made him more glad than to say “lets go worship.”
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” Acts 2:46
“Gladness” in Acts 2:46 speaks of an unhidden joy. The word in the greek “agallisei” means “the utterance of sounds with great joy” or “exuberant delight.” Is it wrong to come with a heavy heart? A burden? Maybe the loss of a loved one has recently happened. Perhaps there are issues at home or work. Does that mean a person comes in with a fake smile or a mask to cover up there true feelings. No because happenings work with happiness and joy is of a different nature. Gladness or joy is contentment no matter what. For the believer “the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b) and “My soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation” (Psalm 35:9). Our Joy comes from God. We may be hurting from tragedy and worn from trial but our joy and contentment is founded in God.
That should impact the way we come to worship no matter the circumstances. We are coming to worship God not because we want to see something wild happen but to give thanks and praise to the One who has saved us. Not only has He given salvation but also provision. We truly have so much to thank Him for. Cherry Constance writes, “Worship is an invitation, not an invention…We don’t create worship; we don’t manufacture services. Rather we respond to a person” (Constance, 2010, p. 4). Worship is a conversation because “true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23). God has spoken in the beginning to create. God has spoken mercy, peace, and forgiveness. God has called out to us all and those of us that have answered come in worship.
The set aside time is the local gatherings set apart time to gather and respond to the Holy Father’s seeking of worship. We answer His call with thanksgiving and praise. He responds again in the preached Word. We respond again by heeding the invitation and our sending to live out the Word. Worship is never about us but always a response to God’s actions. That’s why we can anticipate and expect great things at worship. The need for us to sing pretty enough, to shout louder, to run faster, is not there because we could never attract God into our presence with that. We come before Him. He is already there. He has beat us to the gathering place. So let us walk in with joy, gladness, thankfulness, and expectation.
Constance, Cherry; The Worship Archetect; Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic; 2010
Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? (Psalms 85:6 KJV)
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. (Proverbs 31:10 KJV)
I’m wore out and tired. After two weeks of intensive courses (15 weeks of material in 1 week), I decided to get up today and help my wife have a yard sale while I trimmed bushes and did so much needed grounds keeping around the parsonage and church. I haven’t felt this good in a long time. I really have enjoyed my day being outside, even though my skin is now fried on my face and arms.
While I was out today trimming hedges, rose bushes, and a tree, I was reminded of scriptures that tell us about the trimming that needs to take place in our life.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. (John 15:1-2)
As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. (Proverbs 25:25)
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word (Ephesians 5:26)
Had a friend ask me concerning about the use of the law today. How do we view it? Why does it seem we follow some Old Testament law and not others? This was my answer and a link I found regarding this same thing.
Something that I have observed in many churches and individuals is what I would like to call, “Catch-Phrase Christianity.” I have no problem with sermons and Sunday school lessons that have to deal with a word study or a nice little phrase out of a scripture. The problem though is that many times we see this done as purely motivational. Disregarding any context in the scripture.
Teaching about the Holy Spirit is quite possibly one of the most disregarded subjects of Christianity. For many it is dismissed as a “thing” or it because of a lack of understanding. Some shy away from it because of some church cultures attaching a charismatic emotion solely to the Holy Spirit. Whatever the issue is for someone dismissing the Holy Spirit, the importance of having a correct foundational understanding of the Holy Spirit is needed. John 15:26-16:16 is a brief introduction that Jesus gives to the Holy Spirit. It is a promise of the Spirit’s coming as Jesus tells His disciples that He will leave them soon. At this last supper discourse Jesus encourages disciples in that though He is leaving (16:16) there will be One sent to continue on with them. This leaving and sending is to their “advantage” (John 16:7).
This passage shows the strong relationship of the Spirit to Christ. In John 15:26 and 16:13-15 Jesus shares with His disciples that the Holy Spirit will be a supreme witness and teacher of Christ and His truth. “Accordingly, the disciples should speak with great confidence, knowing that a Greater Witness would attend their words and bring them to bear with telling effectiveness.” In verse 26 Jesus says, “but when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth fromt eh Father, he shall testify of me.” This sending by Jesus of the Spirit that comes to the Father is a very important teaching. In reality it distinguishes the distinctions of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son while keeping the Oneness of God in tact. “The relation of Father and Spirit is described not as generation, as in the case of the Son, but as a sending-forth and a procession.” It is seen that the Spirit proceeds from both the Son and Father. From the Father it is said, “Of the Spirit it is declared that He proceeds from the Father. He executes the designs of the Father.” Also it is said of the Son, “The Third Person is sometimes termed the Spirit of Christ (cf. Rom. 8:9), which title evidently relates Him to the Second Person as One whom the Second Person sends (John 16:7), and who executes the purpose and applies the values which arise in and through the Second Person.” This is reason why the Spirit is able to declare what Jesus has already taught and more of what Jesus wants them to know (16:12-15).
This continuation of Jesus’ ministry towards the disciples and later to modern Disciples of Christ shows the Holy Spirit also has a deep relationship with believers. Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit in this passage as the “Comforter” (Greek paraklētos). “The term paraklētos refers to a legal assistant in a court who pleads someone’s case before the judge.” In other translations the word used is, “Advocate,” meaning helper or one that comes to side. The relationship of the Holy Spirit towards the believer is a beautiful and important thing. “The Spirit regenerates, indwells or anoints, baptizes, seals, and fills, thus not only creating the essential factors which together make the Christ what he is, but empowering him to walk worthy of that high calling.”
Lastly, this passage also points out that the Spirit has its dealings not only with Christ and us but also towards the world. John 16:1-4 records the words of Jesus about the suffering His disciples will endure. To Him is necessary that disciples know they will not face those trials alone. Jesus shares in John 16:8-11 that the Spirit will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment. “The Spirit is presented as the One who reproves, or enlightens, the world with respect to sin, righteousness, and judgment.” It is here that we see that the Spirit works out conviction in the heart of unbelievers to bring them to salvation. This is a witness to the world of Christ’s glorious Gospel.
Thus it is that the teaching of the reality of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of men and women, boys and girls, must be faithfully and consistently taught. For it is the work of the Holy Spirit sent by the Son from the Father that grace comes to each person for salvation. It is also through the work of the Holy Spirit that people overcome their temptation and trials. Finally it is through the work of the Holy Spirit that the message and witness of Christ continues to this day.
Dongell, Joseph, John: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, Indianapolis, IN; Wesleyan Publishing House, 1997Oden, Thomas C. Classic Christianity, New York, NY; Harper One Publishers, 1992Chafer, Lewis Sperry, Systematic Theology Vols. 1 & 2, Grand Rapids MI; Kregel Publications, 1976ibid. John D. Barry, Michael R. Grigoni, Michael S. Heiser et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012), Jn 14:26.Chafer, Lewis Sperry, Systematic Theology Vols. 1 & 2, Grand Rapids MI; Kregel Publications, 1976 ibid.