There are many religions throughout the world. They range from a belief in one god, a belief in many gods and sometimes a belief that we are god ourselves. As Christians, we look at this and see clearly that these religions are false and those that follow them are blind.

          But still, there are millions of people who are dedicated to diligently seeking their god, worshiping in vain, never realizing their mistake. They do not know what they are doing. They are deceived. They cannot see clearly because they have not heard the word of truth and received the Holy Spirit.

          Let’s examine John chapter 4:

John 4

7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” (NKJV)

          Here we see an example in the Samaritan woman. Jesus had just asked her for a drink of water. He was thirsty in the natural. Later he tells her of the living water and that she would never thirst again. Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit, but the woman only saw in the natural realm. She longed for the water so that she would never have to come to the well again!

          Jesus then convinces her that he is a prophet by seeing her five husbands and the man she is now living with. Even with her natural mind, she is unable to escape that he is prophetic and is convinced to listen more.

John 4

19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 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. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  (NKJV)

          Spirit and Truth. What does it mean?

John 14

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (NKJV)

          Here we see that Jesus is the truth. He is the only way to the father and everlasting life. There is only one God and one way to him. Jesus.

Ephesians 1

12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. (NKJV)

          So, if we substitute the word truth for the one who is the truth, we get “after you heard the word of Jesus… you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Receive the truth (Jesus), be sealed with the Holy Spirit.

          Now you have Spirit and Truth!

          The Holy Spirit and the Truth (Jesus) are working together at all times for the good of those who believe.

John 14

6 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. (NKJV)

1 Peter 1

22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, (NKJV)

          We who have believe the word of Jesus and received him as Lord and savior have been sealed by the Holy Spirit of Truth. Our worship, if we will only offer it to Him, will be received, no matter where we are or what time of day or night it is. The only sacrifice is a sacrifice of praise. We may come boldly to the throne of grace whenever we choose.

          We may worship God in Spirit and Truth. We see in John 4:23 that the Father is seeking such to worship Him. What are we waiting for?

PRAYER FOCUS

          Lord, I thank You that where I once was blind I now see, because of the Truth of the Word of Jesus and the presence of Your Holy Spirit. Please increase the presence of the Spirit in my life, that I may worship You and lead the lost to You. Open the eyes of the blind, Lord. Use me to shine a light in their darkness.
DAILY DARE

          Knowing that you, having believed the word of Truth, are sealed in the Holy Spirit of promise, go before God with gladness today. Be bold in Your faith. Shine a light in the dark places of the world that you encounter today, knowing that in all you do, you have a helper in the Holy Spirit. Share His love with a Samaritan you meet along the way.

          Have you ever heard the term “You are what you eat”? Whenever I hear that said I can almost see myself as a taco or a cheeseburger! It is sometimes a silly thought, imagining myself as Bob the Tomato or Junior Asparagus from Veggietales. (Although the cheeseburger would most likely be my fate.)

          However, as silly as this sounds, we all know the idea behind the phrase and the health implications it raises as to the way our diet affects our bodies… but did you know there is a scriptural reference that supports a similar idea applied to our worship?

Let’s have a look at Psalm 115:

1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us
       but to your name be the glory,
       because of your love and faithfulness.

 2 Why do the nations say,
       “Where is their God?”

 3 Our God is in heaven;
       he does whatever pleases him.

 4 But their idols are silver and gold,
       made by the hands of men.

 5 They have mouths, but cannot speak,
       eyes, but they cannot see;

 6 they have ears, but cannot hear,
       noses, but they cannot smell;

 7 they have hands, but cannot feel,
       feet, but they cannot walk;
       nor can they utter a sound with their throats.

 8 Those who make them will be like them,
       and so will all who trust in them.
(NIV)

          Simply put… We become what we worship.

          Among the countless examples of this truth, especially with adolescents, are the impact of pop stars and movie and television personalities. The emulation of these idols can be seen in their style of dress, changes in speech and their general attitude in life.

          This fact does not, however, excuse adults from the same disturbing truth. One person may have an extreme devotion to a sports team to the extent that their personal happiness depends on the outcome of a game. Another may be addicted to internet social networking sites to the point where it interferes with human interaction.

          The shaping influence of adoration is undeniable.

          Now, I am not saying there is something wrong with enjoying sports, keeping up with friends on Facebook or enjoying a movie or a concert. The question is this: Are we becoming what we worship? Are we allowing an influence other than God to dictate and direct our actions in ways, however slight, that are in the end not pleasing to God? Are we settling… choosing idols for ourselves that are made by the hands of men when the God of the universe desires to fill us with His power and love?

          The good news is that we can change the object of our affection and main focus of our lives toward Jesus and achieve the same results in reverse. We will have eyes to see the needs of those around us. We will have ears to hear his voice. We will have hands and feet that are eager to go and do His will… and His word will be in our mouths.

          Let us turn our focus toward Jesus… and become like Him.

PRAYER FOCUS

        Lord, I bow before you and ask that you mold my will to Yours. I want to become like Jesus. I want to hear and see and speak like Jesus, so that I may do Your work by the power of Your might.

DAILY DARE

          Examine yourself. Are you becoming like something that is unbecoming in the eyes of the Lord? Cast down any Idols that have been erected before Him and repent. He is our goal and our source. He must sit on the throne of our lives and all other things must kneel before Him.

Day 17 – Unveiled

Posted: April 30, 2010 in The Worship Dare

Veil –

1.     A piece of opaque or transparent material worn over the face for concealment, for protaction from the elements or to enhance the appearance.

2.     Something that covers, separates, screens or conceals.

3.     A mask, disguise or pretense.

          When I think of a veil, two images come to mind.

            The first thing I think of is a magician. There are countless magic tricks that use a veil. They always cover up an assistant before making them disappear or cover an empty cage before saying the “magic words” and removing the veil to reveal that the cage now has a tiger in it!

          The other image is that of an art gallery or perhaps a car show where the new masterpiece is hidden from the public eye, awaiting the appointed moment when all will see the revealing.

          In both instances the veil has the same job… to cover up and hide something. Whether for purposes of protection or for disguising a true intent, a veil can get the job done.

          What does this have to do with worship? Let’s look at Exodus 26.

Exodus 26

31 “You shall make a veil woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen. It shall be woven with an artistic design of cherubim. 32 You shall hang it upon the four pillars of acacia wood overlaid with gold. Their hooks shall be gold, upon four sockets of silver. 33 And you shall hang the veil from the clasps. Then you shall bring the ark of the Testimony in there, behind the veil. The veil shall be a divider for you between the holy place and the Most Holy. (NKJV)

            In God’s covenant with Israel, the ark was to be kept in the Most Holy place. This was a place that could not be entered by just anyone. The one who entered must be a levitical priest, must be dressed in certain attire, must be spotless before the Lord. Only he could enter and make sacrifices to God for all of Israel.

          The veil was used to protect God’s people who were not able to stand in his presence.

          We see another use for a veil in Exodus 34.

Exodus 34

 29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai.

 33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever he entered the LORD’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD. (NIV)

            The veil, in this case, was used to hide Moses’ face. Why did he hide it from the people?

2 Corinthians 3

 12Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. (NIV)

          Just being in the presence of God was enough to make Moses’ face shine with God’s glory. It seems from this passage that he didn’t want anyone to see the radiance leave his countenance, so he concealed his loss from any and all onlookers. The radiance of God’s glory was desirable to Moses and he hated to see it depart even though it would return when he returned to God’s presence. Perhaps he grieved it’s departure and didn’t want to show his anguish.

          A veil is not always referred to in a positive light in scripture, as we see in Ezekiel 13 when God condemned false prophets.

Ezekiel 13

20 ” ‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds. 21 I will tear off your veils and save my people from your hands, and they will no longer fall prey to your power. Then you will know that I am the LORD. (NIV)

          This reference deals with a veil of deceit. Those who masqueraded as true prophets of God, concealing their desire to trap people with false words and lying visions. The people could not see through this veil of lies. God uncovered their trickery of the false prophets to save His people.

          A veil can be thick and impossible to see through… or it can be thin enough that some images can be seem vaguely… but either way, the veil impairs vision.

          God’s desire is for us to be free of the veil so that we may see Him clearly!

Matthew 27

50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. (NKJV)

          The coming of Jesus and His great sacrifice for us has done more that just saved our souls from eternal damnation… He has made it possible for us to go into the Most Holy place! For those who receive Christ, the veil is gone!

2 Corinthians 3

14But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (NIV

          We, who have unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory!

          But why does that matter?

2 Corinthians 4
1Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. (NIV)

          The veil remains on those who, without Jesus, are perishing. We can plainly see this veil over their faces. We sense that they don’t understand our devotion. They think we are foolish when we refrain from sin and seek holiness. They need their eyes opened to the truth.

          But what about us? Why would we, who have had the veil removed from our face, not take full advantage of our opportunity to approach God? With no veil separating us from the Most Holy, why do we remain in the outer court?

Hebrews 4

14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (NKJV)

          The veil is removed and the offer is extended for us to come boldly to the throne of grace, without fear of banishment, directly into the throne room. There is a king on that throne. He is worthy of praise and blessing and adoration. We have freedom to enter his presence and live!

          When are we going to start living?

PRAYER FOCUS

          Jesus, I uncover myself before you. I am happy that the veil is no longer in place between us. If you have removed Your veil, I certainly will not try to hide beneath mine.
DAILY DARE

          Live before God today in complete honesty. Your veil has never concealed the secret places of your heart and spirit from Him anyway. Confess your heart to God. There is no need to hide behind a veil. Be unveiled before him and let him light your face with His glory!

 

          72 degrees. That’s what feels right to me.

          I’m talking about the thermostat setting in my home. I know there are a lot of people out there who would say it should be 68 degrees in the winter and as high as 75 degrees in the summertime to conserve energy. That’s okay for them, but I’ll pass. To each his own… but give me 72 degrees every time.

          Of course, we know what a thermostat is, but just for kicks, here’s a definition:

Thermostat – A device that monitors and automatically responds to changes in temperature and activates switches controlling devices such as furnaces or air conditioners.

          Every thermostat has a thermometer built in to determine what the temperature actually is in a building at any given time… and since it was so much fun the first time, here is a definition for thermometer.

Thermometer  – An instrument for measuring temperature.

          This being a study on worship probably has you wondering; Why all this talk about temperature? How does a thermostat, or a thermometer for that matter, figure into the equation?

          Well, the words hot and cold are used throughout the bible to describe not only temperature, but the human condition. Being hot usually refers to a desire to go after God and live a life that pleases Him while cold would be descriptive of someone who is not concerned with what God thinks. We see this in Matthew 24.

Matthew 24

12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, (NIV)

          We also see a strong example of hot being a positive in 1 Peter 1.

1 Peter 1

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls. (NKJV)

          Gold tested by fire is an excellent metaphor referring to the refining process of gold. When gold is refined, it is heated to an ever increasing temperature. During this process, impurities will come to the surface of the vat where they can be skimmed off the top. All of the minerals that were mixed in with the gold will separate themselves from this most precious metal.

          The last metal to separate from the molten gold is silver. Silver, of course, is a precious metal in and of itself… but it is not gold and in order to have pure gold, it’s got to go!

Revelation 3:14-19

 14“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
      These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.

 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!

16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

17You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. (NIV)

          Here is another reference to the pure gold refined in the fire. This does not mean actual gold, but is symbolic of the purification process within ourselves that comes from being earnest and repenting.

          We also see a new temperature mentioned; Lukewarm.

Lukewarm

1. moderately warm; tepid.
2. having or showing little ardor, zeal, or enthusiasm; indifferent:

           Lukewarm – neither hot nor cold. This condition is very displeasing to God. It is clear that he would prefer one to be cold rather than to be   lukewarm. So… with all this talk about God’s temperature preference, it is certain that the church needs to adjust the heat and bring ourselves up a few notches.

          As we mentioned earlier, we need a thermostat to increase or decrease the temperature… but it appears that the church has become a collection of thermometers. We are quick to judge the preaching, the music, the children’s programs… we could write dissertations on the condition of our churches and report accurately on any aspect of ministry as we have observed it… just like a thermometer.

          The only problem with a thermometer is that it is powerless to change the temperature; It can only report on the status quo, and no matter how accurate it is in its readings, it will never make a difference in the climate.

          That’s why the church needs less thermometers and more thermostats!

          How does a person become a thermometer in worship? Will power!

Psalm 34

 1 I will bless the LORD at all times;

         His praise shall continually be in my mouth. (NKJV)

Psalm 16

 7 I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel; (NKJV)

Psalm 18

3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised;               

So shall I be saved from my enemies. (NKJV)

Psalm 49

3 My mouth shall speak wisdom,

         And the meditation of my heart shall give understanding.

 4 I will incline my ear to a proverb;

         I will disclose my dark saying on the harp. (NKJV)

          By exercising our will power and determining to worship our God in spirit and in truth, we are helping to set the thermostat in our worship services. We can choose to be cold, turning away from Him and pursuing other concerns, or we have the ability to turn it up and chase God in hot pursuit of His presence.

          Or we can be lukewarm, content to tread the tepid water of worship with indifference, a constant reminder to all, complaining that it’s too hot or too cold for our liking.

          It’s time to be a thermostat. God likes it hot!

 PRAYER FOCUS

          Lord, refine me as gold. The heat must rise and many impurities must come out… but I will shine with Your Glory. Skim everything unpleasing off the top of me Lord, as I melt in Your presence.

DAILY DARE

          Take control of your spiritual atmosphere. Only you are able to turn up the heat of your worship by aligning your thoughts and actions to God’s will and way. Exercise your God given freedom by agreeing with His recommendations for the settings on the thermostat of your life.

          In Genesis 12, God begins speaking to Abram and gives him a promise of blessing. In Genesis 15, God makes a covenant with him. In chapter 17, Abram became Abraham and his wife Sarai became Sarah. Abraham was 99 years old.

          In chapter 18, a son is promised to Abraham. The descendants of Abram had already been promised, but now was the time for the son to come. Abraham and Sarah were both very old. They had already tried to help God along by having Abraham conceive a child named Ishmael with Sarah’s handmade Hagar. But God does not need the help of man to perform His miracles, so in chapter 21, Sarah conceived and bore a son named Isaac. This was the son of promise, through whom God would fulfill his covenant with Abraham. At long last, the desire of Abraham’s heart had been given to him. The son God had promised him had miraculously come.

          Beginning in chapter 12, we see God speaking to Abram and Abram doing what God has spoken. He went when God said go, even though he knew not where he was going. He took a new name for himself and his wife as God had asked and became circumcised along with his entire household. In chapter 18, he saw the Lord appear before him and prepared a meal for Him, walking a while with the Lord as he left on his way… and God shared his plans with Abraham

Genesis 18

16 Then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way. 17 And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, 18 since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” 20 And the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”
22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. 23 And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? 25 Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
26 So the LORD said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”
27 Then Abraham answered and said, “Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: 28 Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?”
So He said, “If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it.
29 And he spoke to Him yet again and said, “Suppose there should be forty found there?”
So He said, “I will not do it for the sake of forty.”
30 Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?”
So He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
31 And he said, “Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose twenty should be found there?”
So He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty.”
32 Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?”
And He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.” 33 So the LORD went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place. (NKJV)

          Because of Abraham’s relationship with God, he was able to ask for mercy for as few as ten righteous in the evil city of Sodom. God said of Abraham “for I have known him.” All is good in Abraham’s life at that moment.

          Then we hear from God again in chapter 22.

Genesis 22

1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!”
And he said, “Here I am.”
2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (NKJV)

          Bad day.

          Abraham, who had found favor in the sight of the Lord, had walked with Him, had eaten with Him, had asked for mercy on the behalf of others and seen God agree?

          This same Abraham who had left his home, changed his name and witnessed the miracle birth of his son Isaac, would surely question God and plead for an answer to the thousands of questions that surely were flooding his mind?    

Genesis 22

3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. 5 And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” (NKJV)

          This is the first time the word worship appears in scripture.

          There was no singing. There was no harp playing. Abraham without a doubt carried a heavy heart as they made their way to the spot God had picked out for them. There was nothing but obedience.

          God had given him everything. He had always done what God had asked and God had always fulfilled his promises, but I am sure Abraham dreaded what would happen next.

Genesis 22

6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. 7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!”
And he said, “Here I am, my son.”
Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.
9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

          He took the knife to slay his son. This was the worst moment of his life. His son would not only die, but he would die at his father’s hand.. the father who loved him. He took the knife.

          Abraham made a worship decision. He didn’t understand why he had to do what God had asked, but he didn’t question God. He didn’t try to get out of it. It didn’t add up in his mind, I’m sure. Why would God ask Abraham to destroy the promise that God had Himself made and fulfilled? Abraham was about to kill the dream. How could he go through with it?

          Let’s see Genesis 22:5 again:

Genesis 22

5 And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” (NKJV)

          Abraham has revealed his understanding here. He didn’t understand why he would have to sacrifice Isaac, but he understood the covenant.

          God had promised his descendants would outnumber the stars… and that the promise would be fulfilled through Isaac. He knew that God could do all things. He knew that even if he killed Isaac and burnt his body on the altar, as horrible as it would be and beyond his comprehension, that God would resurrect Isaac… because God would keep his Word to Abraham. He knew that once this bad scene was over, He and Isaac would return.

          … we will come back to you.”

          He took the knife…

Genesis 22
11 But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”
So he said, “Here I am.”
12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” (NKJV)

          Abraham was relieved.

13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”
15 Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, 16 and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— 17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” 19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they rose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba. (NKJV)

          We have all been blessed because Abraham decided to worship God. He could have thrown up a roadblock on the spot and declared “Whoa! I have done everything that You have asked of me and this is how I am rewarded? No thanks. This is where I draw the line!”

          And what about the son? Surely he could have escaped the old man! How on earth was Abraham able to bind him up and get him onto that altar while he was kicking and screaming, “Get away from me, you crazy old coot!”

          Well, I submit to you that Isaac didn’t resist his father.

          Abraham had no doubt told him until Isaac thought his ears would fall off over and over again about the goodness of the Lord. He had told him of the miracle of his birth. He had told him about the covenant that God had promised to keep through Isaac’s lineage. Most of all, he did more than tell him these things… he passed his faith in God on to his son. Could it be that Isaac was willing, knowing too that God would come through no matter what?

          Whether Isaac was willing or not… Abraham was.

          Thankfully, God does not make a practice of asking us to sacrifice like this. He has done it for us, but sacrificing His only son once and for all, the only way to the father!

          But I wonder… do you have an Isaac in your life? Is there someone or something that you hold dear to yourself that you would deny the Lord?

          Only when we give ourselves fully to the Lord will we enjoy a relationship like the one Abraham had. Everything we have is the Lord’s anyway. All good things have come from him. Examine yourself, and dedicate all that you have to Him and see the hand of God work in your life as it did in Abrahams.

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (NKJV)

PRAYER FOCUS

          Lord, may my worship to you be pleasing. Even when I don’t understand the circumstances and situations I find myself in, I know that you make all things work together for my good… and I will worship you with obedience, that I may be called according to Your purpose.

DAILY DARE

          Take that one thing that sticks out in your mind right now that should belong wholly to God and give it to Him. God is not planning your downfall, but to give you hope and a future. Just as he did with Abraham, he will keep his end of the bargain. We have nothing to fear if we walk with Him.

          Have you ever hosted a party?

          I must say, hosting a party is a lot of work. The preparation of the food, the house cleaning, the planning of activities, the decorating… sometimes it can take days!

          How about being a party guest? It is so nice just to be invited, then when you arrive and everything is just right, it warms your heart to see the  smiling faces of the host and hostess. There is a comfortable place for you and each guest. All is well.

          Have you ever hosted a party and everything went wrong? I’m sure we can all relate to that in one way or another, but imagine if the guest of honor was the presence of God. This is what happened to David.

          We know from scripture that the ark of the covenant was taken by the Philistines (I Samuel 4). It had been taken unworthily into battle without the Lord’s direction, so the Lord allowed the defeat of Israel and the capture of the ark. After the philistines had captured the ark, they soon found that they were ill equipped to host the presence of the Almighty God. He could not be treated as one of their false gods. They didn’t know what to do

          God caused the Philistines to release the ark, sending it on its way, allowing two cows to pull it on a cart until it came to rest in Beth Shemesh (1 Samuel 6). The men of Beth Shemesh rejoiced when they saw it stop in a field. They removed the ark from the cart, looked inside and took out a chest full of gold offerings (tumors) placed there by the Philistines hoping to appease God. The Lord struck down fifty thousand oxen and 70 men, because they had looked inside the ark.

          So the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh contacted the people of Kirjath Jearim. They agreed that they could take the ark.

1 Samuel 7

1 Then the men of Kirjath Jearim came and took the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and consecrated Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD.

          Here the ark remained for many years. Throughout the entire reign of King Saul, it had never been sought after. When David became king, The Lord put it in his heart to return the ark to Jerusalem.

          They journeyed to the house of Abinadab. placed the ark on a new cart and set out for Jerusalem. The oxen stumbled. Uzza stretched out his hand to steady the ark… and Go struck him dead.

          David was afraid. He knew something was wrong, so he cancelled the party.

1 Chronicles 13

13 So David would not move the ark with him into the City of David, but took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 14 The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house three months. And the LORD blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that he had. (NKJV)

          The ark was taken aside to Obed-Edom’s house. He was not expecting company… certainly not the earthly presence of the Almighty God, but he did the bet he could to please the king and made a place for the presence of God. David returned to Jerusalem, probably sulking and pouting. He didn’t understand what went wrong.

          But David heard what was happening. The past three months as the ark had been at Obed-Edom’s house, he and all that he had was blessed. So David researched what had gone wrong and learned the proper way to carry the ark. Then he made plans to retrieve it.

Chronicles 15

17 So the Levites appointed Heman the son of Joel; and of his brethren, Asaph the son of Berechiah; and of their brethren, the sons of Merari, Ethan the son of Kushaiah; 18 and with them their brethren of the second rank: Zechariah, Ben, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattithiah, Elipheleh, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom, and Jeiel, the gatekeepers; 19 the singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were to sound the cymbals of bronze; (NKJV)

          Notice a familiar name here?

1 Chronicles 15

24 Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah, and Eliezer, the priests, were to blow the trumpets before the ark of God; and Obed-Edom and Jehiah, doorkeepers for the ark. 
25 So David, the elders of Israel, and the captains over thousands went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the house of Obed-Edom with joy. 26 And so it was, when God helped the Levites who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that they offered seven bulls and seven rams. (NKJV)

          So David retrieved the ark and placed it in the tent he had prepared for it. Then he assigned worship ministers to remain with the ark, day and night.

1 Chronicles 16

4 And he appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to commemorate, to thank, and to praise the LORD God of Israel: 5 Asaph the chief, and next to him Zechariah, then Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, and Obed-Edom: Jeiel with stringed instruments and harps, but Asaph made music with cymbals; 6 Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests regularly blew the trumpets before the ark of the covenant of God. (NKJV)

          There is Obed-Edom again.

1 Chronicles 16

37 So he left Asaph and his brothers there before the ark of the covenant of the LORD to minister before the ark regularly, as every day’s work required; 38 and Obed-Edom with his sixty-eight brethren, including Obed-Edom the son of Jeduthun, and Hosah, to be gatekeepers; 39 and Zadok the priest and his brethren the priests, before the tabernacle of the LORD at the high place that was at Gibeon, (NKJV)

          And again!

1 Chronicles 26

14 The lot for the East Gate fell to Shelemiah. Then they cast lots for his son Zechariah, a wise counselor, and his lot came out for the North Gate; 15 to Obed-Edom the South Gate, and to his sons the storehouse. 16 To Shuppim and Hosah the lot came out for the West Gate, with the Shallecheth Gate on the ascending highway—watchman opposite watchman. (NKJV)

2 Chronicles 25:23-25

23 Then Joash the king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash, the son of Jehoahaz, at Beth Shemesh; and he brought him to Jerusalem, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the Gate of Ephraim to the Corner Gate—four hundred cubits. 24 And he took all the gold and silver, all the articles that were found in the house of God with Obed-Edom, the treasures of the king’s house, and hostages, and returned to Samaria. (NKJV)

          There he is again!

          Obed-Edom started out this journey receiving a surprise guest into his home and ended up being found guarding the treasures of God when it was under attack. What happened?

          Obed-Edom hosted the presence of God for three months… and his life changed forever. He was from the line of levitical priests. He had the knowledge of how to properly stand before the Lord. He treated the ark of the covenant with respect and saw the power of God at work in his life, blessing his house and all that he had.

          Then we see him accepting an assignment as a gatekeeper. Then he is moved to being a doorkeeper of the ark. Then he becomes a Levite minister of music before the ark. Finally, he is found protecting the treasures of the house of God from those who were seeking to capture them.

          Obed-Edom’s life took on a new direction, all because he had hosted the presence of God.

          Once he had been in the presence of God, he had found it so wonderful that he couldn’t bare to be apart from it. The king had the right to remove it from his home, but he didn’t want to remain in his home without the presence of God… so he did the only thing he could do; He went to where the presence was going.

          He accepted whatever position that the king asked of him, just as long as he could serve and be near the presence of God. He had been changed. He had become a servant of God.

          Today, the presence of God is not in a box. It is not behind a veil. We do not have to be from a certain heritage to approach God. All we have to do to have access to the same presence that Obed-Edom had is to be a born again believer in Jesus Christ. The presence of God will be with us wherever we are… but we must still be a good host.

          The Hebrew word for God’s presence is the Kavod. It means “heaviness” or “weightiness”.

          Once I heard a story. It was about a man who was extremely overweight. He was not a glutton, but had a certain medical condition that had increased his weight to a little north of 400 lbs.

          He was a well loved man and had many friends. Sometimes when he was talking with some of his friends, they would invite him to stop by for a visit. At first, he had dropped by gladly… but over time, his visits became fewer… and when he did stop by, he would only stay for a brief time. The man became somewhat of a loner and appeared sad and depressed.

          After a while, one of the friends, being concerned for the man, asked him if anything was wrong. The heavy man was reluctant to talk about it, but after a while he began to open up.

          “Many times I have been invited to your house”, he said. “I love you and would love to come in and stay for a while, but I am unable to do so.”

          “Why not?” asked the friend.

          The heavy man answered, “I have been to other’s homes and tried to stay a while, but I have found that I am unable to remain there for long because I am too heavy. I can see the furniture in their house and can easily tell that they have nothing there that will support my weight. How can I stay, embarrassed, standing while others are at rest. I can only stand in the doorway for a short time and greet my would be hosts, pretending that I am on my way to another engagement before saying my goodbyes and leaving.

          The heavy man shook his head, fought back the tears and asked, “Why  do you invite me to someplace where there is nowhere I can sit? I would love to visit you… but I have broken my last chair…”

          Are we good or bad hosts when it comes to God? Do we prepare an atmosphere where He can be comfortable? Are we content to keep our “social club” atmosphere where all are welcome, but have not prepared a place for our God?

          Is there a seat for God in your house?

PRAYER FOCUS

          Lord, I desire to be a host to Your presence. Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me, that Your holy presence will find a heart at rest, where You can be at rest. Strengthen me where I am weak with your perfect strength, that I may carry Your presence with me wherever I go.

DAILY DARE

          Ask God to tell you what needs to be removed from your life in order to create a place where he can sit. If there is something that you know of already, remove it first before asking for the unknown. In His presence is the fullness of joy that is found in no other but Him. Seek His presence and be filled with His joy!

Day 13 – Gates and Walls

Posted: April 27, 2010 in The Worship Dare

          Imagine if you will, God’s kingdom is a place on earth. It is a city that we can visit. We can travel over land and sea and arrive at a physical destination, a city with high walls and gates, where God dwells. We could just walk up to the gate and go inside… maybe.

          There will come a time when we will not have to imagine. One day heaven will be on earth. The new Jerusalem will come down out of heaven and Jesus will reign on an earthly throne over all the nations of the world. What a great time that will be!

          If we read Isaiah Chapter 60, we will find a description of that time when all glory is restored to Zion. Particularly interesting is verse 18:

Isaiah 60 

 18 No longer will violence be heard in your land,
       nor ruin or destruction within your borders,
       but you will call your walls Salvation
       and your gates Praise. (Tehillah)
(NIV)

          We all can see the city with the great walls surrounding it on all sides. We can envision the gathering of the kings of nations coming to serve our Lord. We can imagine the beautiful gates, but notice the names given here. Could this have significance for us today? I believe so.

          It would appear that in order to go through the walls of salvation, you have to enter through the gates of praise. Could praise actually be a gateway to the presence of God? Let’s look at Psalm 24.

Psalm 24

Of David. A psalm.

 1 The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
       the world, and all who live in it;

 2 for he founded it upon the seas
       and established it upon the waters.

 3 Who may ascend the hill of the LORD ?
       Who may stand in his holy place?

 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
       who does not lift up his soul to an idol
       or swear by what is false.

 5 He will receive blessing from the LORD
       and vindication from God his Savior.

 6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
       who seek your face, O God of Jacob.
       Selah

 7 Lift up your heads, O you gates;
       be lifted up, you ancient doors,
       that the King of glory may come in.

 8 Who is this King of glory?
       The LORD strong and mighty,
       the LORD mighty in battle.

 9 Lift up your heads, O you gates;
       lift them up, you ancient doors,
       that the King of glory may come in.

 10 Who is he, this King of glory?
       The LORD Almighty—
       he is the King of glory.
       Selah (NIV)

          Has anyone ever seen a gate that had a head on it? No! The gate in this passage is referring to us. As in verse 6, we should be the generation that seeks the face of the God of Jacob. We are the gates! We are the entrance that allows the King of Glory to enter in!

          You see, the kingdom of God is within us. One day it will be an actual physical city, but for now… we are the kingdom of God on earth. If we will lift up our heads to Him, he will come in and dwell with us.

          God, being all powerful and able to force His will and way on each of us has chosen not to do so. He longs for interaction with us… from the garden of Eden to this very day. He is willing to commune with us, if we are open to Him.

Revelation 3

20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (NIV)

          God wants to come in, but he will not kick down the door… even to His own house.

          So if we combine the references mentioned in these verses, our praises are the gateway to the presence of God. If we welcome Him, he will come in. Establishing a building and calling it a church does not attract the presence of the Lord. There are magnificent church building all over the globe that are spiritually dead. Their walls are not called salvation… because their gates are not called praise.

          Many people are content in such settings. They feel at ease attending services and fulfilling their “duty” as a “believer”. The water is never choppy, the boat never rocks… the gates of praise are not open. The King of glory is not invited.

          What is the big deal anyway? If I am happy doing things my way, what’s wrong with that? I’m not a bad person. I am a believer in Christ. I have been saved since I was ten years old. I don’t want to get involved in all this worship stuff. I am on my way to heaven and that’s all I am worried about…

          What about those who are lost?

Isaiah 62

 10 Pass through, pass through the gates!
       Prepare the way for the people.
       Build up, build up the highway!
       Remove the stones.
       Raise a banner for the nations. (NIV)

          If we are the gates to the walls of salvation, we are preparing the way for others. We can choose to build a highway through the gates passed the walls of salvation into the presence of the living God. We are removing the stones from the path to make the way easier for others to reach their destination. We are raising a banner for all to see. Look! Our God is here!

Come and marvel at his majesty!

Isaiah 60

11 Your gates will always stand open,
       they will never be shut, day or night,

       so that men may bring you the wealth of the nations—
       their kings led in triumphal procession. (NIV)

          One day the gates will always be open. But for us, the presence of God is now. Eternity is now… forever has already begun. We are invited to come boldly into his presence. (Hebrews 4)

          We have the key to the presence of God. We can unlock the gates and enter in for ourselves and to show the way for those who don’t know the way.

          Or we can lock up the gates and go about our business. It is our choice.

 

PRAYER FOCUS

          Lord, remove the lock from this gate! Let it never be shut, day or night. May I be a carrier of your presence… an open door to your realm wherever I may be that others may see your Glory and enter in.

DAILY DARE

          Become a gateway for worship today. Do you know of someone who needs to get into the presence of God? Share with them something you have learned about worship. Maybe give them a worship CD that ministers to you. Open up the gates of praise. It could be that they were looking for a way inside all along.