RSS

A Prayer of Response to God’s Everlasting Love

God’s love for you is everlasting.  He shows His love in ways that span past, present, and future.  He depicts and describes this love for His people, Israel in Hosea 11.  He loves His people, believers in Christ, in these ways as well.  In my message on August 17 on God’s Everlasting Love, I talked about eight ways God shows His everlasting love, then ended with this prayerful response to these ways God loves us.  You may wish to use this to guide you as you respond to your loving God.

Father,

You love us with everlasting love.

When you call us, help us to answer.

When you teach us to walk, help us to take steps.

When you show us the sickness of our sin and offer to heal us with forgiveness, help us to admit our need and accept your healing.

When you gently draw us, help us willingly come close to you.

When you feed us with spiritual food, help us to receive it and grow.

When you chasten us, may we not stiffen ourselves against it, but be changed by it.

When we realize how you agonize over us, help us want to please you, not cause you more pain.

When we begin to grasp what you have promised us, may we live in confident expectation that you will complete what you have begun.

Lord, we want to know you.  You are love.  You loved us and gave Yourself for us.  You love us with everlasting love.  May we love you more and more. 

Amen.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 22, 2014 in Prayer

 

The Music that Moves Me

I find that there are different types of music that engage my mind and move my heart toward worship and spiritual encouragement in our Lord’s Day gatherings.  Here are some categories, how they impact me, and examples from a recent service at Calvary.

  • A grand worshipful anthem – A “big” song presented by a full choir and orchestra or sung by the congregation exalts my thinking toward the great and profound truths of the character and works of our infinite God. Music like this lifts my thoughts and my soul heavenward, and causes me to praise God with my whole being.  Last Sunday we were led to sing the simple chorus, He Is Lord, then segued into Holy is He and great is His glory; Holy is He and worthy of our praise.  I stand in His presence amazed and crown Him with worship and praise!  Holy is He, Holy is He, Holy is He.  Then we worshiped with the traditional, majestic  hymn, Holy, Holy, Holy, with the choir singing a descant of Holy is He on the final stanza.

  • A personal testimony – Whether an individual or group shares this type of song, or we sing it as a congregation, I find that when songs about great truths are followed by thoughtfully articulating our personal response to those truths, I am deeply moved. An example of this is after worshiping God’s holiness, the choir encouraged us to Look Up in faith to God, then the congregation sang as our testimony, You are my strength when I am weak, you are the treasure that I seek, you are my all in all.  Seeking you as a precious jewel, Lord to give up I’d be a fool.  You are my all in all.  Jesus, Lamb of God, worthy is your name.  Jesus, Lamb of God, worthy is your name.  I am also touched in heart when a soloist or small group presents a tribute to the Lord in song that is unmistakably personal to them.  A married couple sang last Sunday, God will make a way, when there seems to be no way.  He works in ways we cannot see.  He will make a way for me.  He will be my guide, Hold me closely to His side. With love and strength for each new day He will make a way, He will make a way.  This was clearly their own testimony, and was powerful to hear.

  • Personalization of a profound truth – I love it when a song guides me in praising God for a profound theological truth that intersects and transforms my life. In our evening service last Sunday we sang, His robes for mine, O wonderful exchange! Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered ‘neath God’s rage. Draped in His righteousness, I’m justified.  In Christ I live, for in my place He died.  I cling to Christ and marvel at the cost: Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God. Bought by such love, my life is not my own:  My praise- my all- shall be for Christ alone.

  • Edification and exhortation – There are some songs that tell us how to think or what to do. When we sing them, we are encouraging one another in our Christian lives.  I love to hear our church family mutually edify one another with this kind of song.  Two young ladies encouraged us last Sunday to Bow the knee; Trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see. Bow the knee; Lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One who holds eternity. And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan, In the presence of the King, bow the knee.

  • Responding to the sermon – I suppose I am moved by this kind of song because I spend the week studying the Word and then sharing the truths I have learned and encouraging our people to believe them and live by them, and I choose songs to end the service that convey our personal response to those truths. I end the sermon, pray, then invite people to respond with the thoughts contained in the closing songs. Last Sunday’s message was about Help for Our Half-Hearted Attempts to Know God, from Hosea 6.  We ended with the thought that if we will contemplate God’s love, we will love Him in return and will want to pursue knowing Him.  We responded first with a song that presents the greatness of God’s love, Here is love, wide as an ocean, loving kindness as a flood: When the Prince of Life, our ransom, shed for us His precious blood.  The chorus exults, Oh, how marvelous, oh, how glorious is my Savior’s love for me.  We then ended with our response to God’s unfathomable love:  More love to thee, O Christ, More love to Thee!

Every Sunday as we lift the final stanzas of the morning’s musical worship, I walk to the back of the auditorium and into the Atrium to be ready to greet people as they exit.  But I always stop and stand in the back before going out the door.  I listen to God’s people sing.  And I am moved.

 __________________________________

He Is Lord  
Marvin V. Frey. Traditional. Arranged by Shelly Hamilton. © 2010. Majesty Music, Inc. 

Holy Is He 
Claire Cloninger, David T. Clydesdale. © 1985. Word Music. 

Holy, Holy, Holy
Reginald Heber. John B. Dykes. 

Look Up 
Lauri Lou Jones. Ron Hamilton. Shelly Hamilton. © 2014. Majesty Music, Inc. 

You Are My All in All
Dennis L. Jernigan. © 1990. Shepherd’s Heart Music.

God Will Make a Way
Don Moen. © 2006. Integrity’s Hosanna Music. 

His Robes for Mine
Chris Anderson. Greg Habegger. © 2008. churchworksmedia.com. 

Bow the Knee 
Chris Machen. Mike Harland. Arranged by Tom Fettke. Mac Lynch. © 1997. Centergetic Music. 

Here Is Love
Steve Cook. Vikki Cook. © 2003. Sovereign Grace Worship. 

More Love to Thee  
Elizabeth P. Prentiss. William H. Doane. 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 12, 2014 in Church Life

 

How to Recognize an Idol

In last Sunday morning’s message we learned from Hosea 4 that idolatry hinders our pursuit of knowing God.  Just as the people of Israel in Hosea’s day became attached to idols (Hosea 4:17), so can we today.  Even Christians are warned about idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14; Colossians 3:5; 1 John 5:21).

Almost anything or anyone can be an idol.  What makes it an idol is what’s in your heart.  Idolatry is wanting and pursuing something other than God or more than God. An idol can be anything that hinders your relationship with God. 

You can have religious idols, such as a statue on a shelf in your house or the dashboard of your car.  Worshiping a dead saint or the virgin Mary is idolatry.

Idols can be material things or what those things represent in your life, such as a new car, an old car, a fast car, a smart phone, the latest technology in TV, golf clubs, a fishing rod, a lake house, Xbox, camping trailer, or knitting bag.

Your work can be an idol, as can the sport you like to play or watch, the health you want to preserve, or the level of fitness to which you aspire.

Your spouse, your marriage, or your friends can be idols.  A certain church culture that you prefer can be an idol.  You can idolize America, how it used to be or how you think it should be.  You can idolize your concept of what God should be like.  News, sports, Netflix, video games, smartphone apps, and social media can all distract you from your relationship with God. 

These things are not evil in themselves.  Neither was the golden calf that the people of Israel worshiped.  Calves are cute, and can even be tasty!  So how can something that is good, and not even a religious icon, become an idol?  How do you know if it is an idol?

Here is a list of questions that I gave in the message.  These are intended to help us evaluate if we are allowing something to become an idol in our lives. 

  • How often and how much do I look to this for guidance, comfort, pleasure, or fulfillment?
  • Do I give up time I should spend in the Word, prayer, and in worship and fellowship with God’s people in order to pursue this?
  • If this were taken away from me, how would I react?
  • Do I do something God forbids in order to have this? Would I sin in order to get, keep, or not lose this thing or person?
  • Do I neglect people or duties in order to have or do this?
  • What do I think would make me happy if I could have it? What can I not be happy without?  What are the “if onlys” in my life?
  • What do I desire, crave, or treasure that my mind goes to when not forced to think about something else?

Ultimately, if we ask God to show us idols in our lives, He will.  He wants our whole heart, and will make sure we know if there’s anything in competition with His rightful place in our lives.  When you identify an idol, do not despair.  Do not ignore it either.  God is showing it to you so that you can acknowledge it, turn from it, and return to pursuing knowing Him with your whole heart. 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 29, 2014 in Current Issues and Events, Prayer

 
 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 976 other followers