Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Worship’

What Is Your Heart For Worship?

In Gospel Living on August 23, 2016 at 1:27 pm

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At the very heart of worship is the sense “to bring glory”.  While broad, this encompasses the crux of the issue.  When we worship, we bring glory.  What each must be mindful of is what the object of that worship is going to be.  Today is no different from what it has been for centuries.  There are many objects of human worship, of which only ONE is worthy.

But, in reality, many of those we go to church with have multiple objects of worship and we desperately try to manage this in our lives.  In an effort to not offend and coexist, as the sticker says, we don’t fully commit and offend the ONE who is worthy.

We do this.

So did Israel.

The intention of the Psalms, though, is to provide songs of worship that bring glory to God’s Word, God’s work, and God’s promise in Jesus.  While most are not using a hymn book any longer, I grew up with one in my hands.  While Mom would be printing the bulletin on the mimeograph machine ( I have provided a link for those who are too young to know), I would sit and read through it; I would sing through it.  The ancient follower of God would sing through these songs.

What we call the Psalms, they call the “song book”, or psalter.  While written as poetry, most of them would set to music and sung as a part of worship.  As you read through them, you discover the love of God’s Word, God’s work, and God’s promise.  The focus of worship was God and His character and activity rather than OUR activity to and about God.

Did you catch the difference?

Here is a BRIEF list of the types of Psalms and what they reveal about God.

  1. Hymns – songs of praise and thanksgiving to God for who He is and what He has done (Psalm 8, 136, 150)
  2. Penitential – Confess sorrow for sin, appeal to God for grace and forgiveness (Psalm 38, 51)
  3. Wisdom – General observations on life, especially God and our relationship to Him (Psalm 1, 14, 73)
  4. Royal – Focus on the king as son of David and as God’s special instrument to rule people (Psalm 2, 45, 110)
  5. Messianic – Describe some aspect of the Messiah’s person or ministry (Psalm 16, 22, 45, 110)
  6. Imprecatory – Call for God’s judgment against enemies ( Psalm 35, 69, 137)
  7. Lament – statement of lament, trust in God, and praise to God (Psalm 3, 4, and 6)

(Based in part on the Gospel Project Summer 2016 Session 13 lesson)

The first value of reading the Psalms on a regular basis is that we learn to delight in God’s Word.  Do you delight in them?  I know we read scripture.  I know you probably have a plan chosen to read scripture.  But is it your delight?  Is it that cheat day on your diet delight?  Is it like that favorite, drink or snuggly pillow or date night with your love delight?  This is our issue.  God’s word is great to study and to live by, but is it our delight?

A second value of reading the Psalms is that it reminds us of God’s character with a call to celebrate.  I worship God because He alone is worthy, but also because I see who God is and what God has done and I am drawn to bring glory to His name; I worship.  When we focus on our feelings and activities with lose sight of God because we are focusing on ourselves.  Reading these brings to light the nature of God’s goodness and His love for us and how that is displayed for the world to see and know.  When I begin to fathom the grandeur of God compared to me I ask like the Psalmist, “What is man that you would think about me?”  When I begin to relay the works of HIS hands and the blessings provided to me by God, I am brought low.  I worship.  Do you?

A third value of reading the Psalms is that we are taught how to respond to God.  In this list above, we notice praise, thanksgiving, confession, and lament.  These are our responses, in worship, to the knowledge of God’s goodness and holiness juxtaposed to our sin and filth.  Reading, even singing, these words brings discipline to our lives.  Worship is not just hype and lights and excitement.  Worship, as seen in these songs of old, involves meeting a holy God and rendering glory to HIM.  Recognizing our sin and blurting our confession, weeping over it.

A final value of reading through the Psalms is that we are presented with the promise of God in Christ. God’s promise is the redemption of humanity to Himself.  Ultimately, God was doing this through Jesus.  The promise of the Messiah is seen on several occasions in the Psalms and calls us to faith and trust in a promise not yet seen.

As noted in a video linked above, Billy Graham is said to have read 5 Psalms and 1 chapter in Proverbs each day.  12 times a year he read through those books.  Is it any wonder God used him mightily for the Kingdom?  Make the psalms a regular part of devotional life because you want your heart and character to be aligned with the Psalmist.  Let your passion overflow to the group over which you have influence.

Fulfillment, Family, and the Multi-Tasker

In Family on September 12, 2014 at 8:28 am

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One of the joys of being a kid is singular focus.  When I was a kid, I don’t remember having to worry about juggling responsibilities.  As an adult, I have various responsibiities that demand attention.  Such responsibilities include: Husband, father, pastor, preacher, son, son-in-law, friend.  Involved in each of these responisbilities are vows/promises that have been made.  Some of these are not issue, some require time and attention, and others are downright difficult at times.

Husband – at our wedding 20 years ago, I vowed several things that will continue until death parts us.  Such things include love and honor.  However, unwritten promises also include provision of food, shelter, clothing, and shoes.  I promised to listen.  I promised to fill the gas and mow the yard.  I promised to take care of Dulcie and her needs.  Every spouse has the vocal and unwritten promises

Father – every father has made promises simply by being a parent.  We have promised to feed, clothe, and nurture them.  For someone with a teenage boy that ets all the time and grows constantly that can be difficult to maintain.  We have promised to listen, love, and learn with them.

Pastor/Preacher – I combine these here, but there are differences.  The preacher has to get sermons and presentations ready.  The pastor must shepherd.  Whatever your vocation, you have promised to fulfill duties, have integrity, work hard, be on time, and more!

Son/Son-in-law – Regardless of being in my 40’s, I am still the child of my parents and my wife of hers.  We have promised to h is more thaonor and respect.  We also have promised to call, help with computer needs, cell phones, end of life discussions for will and testiments, and other as needed items. 

Friend – everyone has friends.  We want to connect, communicate, and spend time with them.  We Facebook, Instagram, and more to stay in touch.

Most of you will have all of these same types of responsibilities in your life, written and unwritten.  How we go about fulfilling these promises is important.  The Psalmist writes,

Then I will sing praises to your name forever as I fulfill my vows each day.

Did you realize that as you go through your day fulfilling your vows that you are praising God?  Did you know that you are worshipping God as you do this?  Worship is more than the 75 minutes we spend in the sanctuary on Sunday.  In fact, that time should be “game time” for all of the practice you have done through the week as you have worshipped God by obedience.  Let us consider that what we do in church is not to fill the tank for the week, but to perform for God in the best way possible.

You will play no better than you practice.  Practice hard today!!

3 Critical Decisions to Achieve Strength and Victory

In Chrisian Life on June 19, 2014 at 10:01 am

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In his book, You Lost Me, David Kinnaman presents that our youngest generation uses different phrases to describe themselves than do the prior 3 generations.  The former generations used words like smarter, work ethic, values and morals, honest, and respectful.  Our youngest use these words:  technology use, music and pop culture, smarter, and clothes.

Did you see that?

What I am finding also is that many parents of these, in trying to stay “cool” and “hip”, are ignoring words like work ethic, values, morals, and respect too.  Though it does bother them, their guilt overcomes them and they strive to be BFF’s with their kids.

What does this have to do with God?

In Romans 12:1, Paul writes

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.    Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

No doubt he was aware of what God had instructed in the Old Testament in Numbers 28-29.  While Jesus established a new covenant, He did not want us to disregard the value of worship and the work it takes to maintain a proper relationship.  Because our youngest (and parents), do not understand work, they want a relationship with God in which they do not really have to do anything.  Here are few observations:

  • People look to get than give.  Many people attend church to get something out of it or God.  Attendance is used as leverage to acquire wants from God.  So many find a church home based on what they, and their kids, can get from the church.  If we all took this approach, there would be no workers/helpers to make this happen.  We are to look to give more than get.  Additionally, if someone does not feel they are getting enough out of this relationship with God they will find some other god to worship:  work, family, entertainment, and leisure.  Our minds are so befuddled and our hearts so black that we demand everything but give nothing.
  • People engage by convenience not commitment.  If there is nothing on the schedule, families make it to church.  Forget daily reading in the Bible, who has the time?  We are driven toward so many things and God is put on the back burner in order to complete all the other tasks that feel more pressing.
  • Definition of active member has changed. 20 years ago an active church member was defined as one who attends 3 times a week.  Today, it is one who attends 3 times a month.  For those in church leadership this does come as a surprise.  We have watched this occur and fretted over it!  While a prevailing thought would be that church attendance does not really matter, I think Scripture would disagree.  Certainly, the relationship is greater than the religion. Yet, the religion is an outpouring of the relationship.  Lack of commitment and a desire to receive marks an immaturity and lostness among our people.

For the believer and the church to be strong healthy and victorious again here are 3 critical decisions to achieve strength and victory from Numbers 28-29.

  • Daily is the goal – make time to relate with God rather than relay wants.  Dialogue with Him through prayer and Bible reading.  Every day the Israelites made a sacrifice.  It took time and cost some as well.  Trusting God with some of your best time is a step of faith He will honor.  Who knows? You might find yourself more productive.
  • Decide to be regular – God gave the principle of regularity.  They had daily, weekly, monthly, and special times to sacrifice/worship God.  When families are only making it in 3 times a month to church coupled with an irregular relationship, the unit breaks down and the individual parts crumble too.  Attend Bible Study and Worship regularly and with a cheerful heart.  Start spending moments each day with God.  Be regular and watch your joy begin to overflow and life to be more satisfying.
  • Determine to be honorable – God gave specific instructions on what and how to give.  The honorable choice was to give the best, the first, and do it with joy.  Whether we are discussing our time, our abilities, or our money are you giving your best, your first, and doing it with joy?

Blowing Your Horn

In Chrisian Life on April 22, 2014 at 9:42 am

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I live out in the country and have along driveway that used to gravel on it. Over the years it has all shifted and now there is just dirt. It often reminds me of the car driving ride at amusement parks where there is a median in the middle so you cannot swerve out of control. Because we drive the same path every day to get from the road to the house the same has been developed over the years. Our spiritual lives can get that way as well. God told Moses to fashion out 2 silver trumpets to be used in distinct ways.

  • Blow the trumpets to gather people.
  • Blow the trumpets to scatter people.
  • Blow trumpets to go to war.
  • Blow the trumpets to thank God.

Why would God want this to happen? I believe it is for two reasons.

First, blowing the horns causes the people to be mindful. How often have we gathered together to worship a powerful God, risen Savior, and mighty Spirit only to have it feel lackluster and mundane? Shame on us! Let us blow the trumpet of celebration that we can gather. I have been in many churches and several have over the exit door a sign that says something to the fact of “leaving to serve”. We gather to worship and scatter to serve God in our everyday lives. We give lengthy monologues on all we want God to do for us. How often do we spend thanking Him for the gifts, provisions, and answers? We are to blow the horn.

Second, blowing the horns announces to God that we recognize we are not in this alone. We are in a covenant. Too often we live our lives on our own by our choosing. Taking the time to blow the horns pulls us and God close together. We are in a covenant with Him. Jesus did not say he was starting a new contract, a new denomination, or new nation. He was fulfilling the covenant we broke by sin and instituting a new one by grace. We blow the horns so we all come together.

When you consider how often the trumpets would be blown, it would seem the trumpets might be sounding a lot! Each of these had different types of signals, but the point was that God wanted to people to gather, scatter, fight, and thank.

  • Do you find yourself gathering before God with others on a regular basis?
  • Are you in a position of leadership in your church so that the trumpets would be blown for you?
  • Do you live habitually for Jesus so that you would hear the trumpets if God wanted to make changes in your life?
  • Do you record and share moments of gratitude?

Which signal is sounded most often in your life?

We’ll See

In Chrisian Life, Commitment, Faith on July 1, 2013 at 9:35 am

He came in quickly asking about the latest movie that all his friends had seen.  “Can we see it?”, he anxiously asked.  His eyes had that look of desperation.  You could tell that this was something that had been discussed among everyone.  The pleading and begging started.  Dad answered, “We’ll see.”

She had just run in from a girl’s night and asked if she could get her belly button pierced.  The thought crossed her Mom’s mind that at least that wasn’t a nose ring or something worse and responded, “We’ll see.”

I find myself using that statement often these days!  With two kids, I am getting a lot of questions that get answered in the same way!  Though they might not believe it that statement does not always mean “No.”  Sometimes it does.  However, many times it depends on the attitude received and actions seen over the next few hours that determines the final outcome.  My wife and I have taken the position on extra-curricular activities that we wait to see if the topic is brought up more than once.  Our kids come home with notes nearly everyday.  Sifting through it all and examining the calendar gets difficult.  Each will run in and desire to do whatever the note is presenting.  Often we never hear of it again.  Our answer tends to be, “We’ll see.”  The more it comes up in conversation the more consideration it receives.  The final decision is not made because of nagging but what is in the best interest of them and fits within the scope and plan of our raising children in a culture set against Christ.

I am currently facing a particular challenge and am waiting on God.  I have done all that I can on my end but the answer has not come.  I have prayed.  I have cried.  I have begged.  I have pleaded.  There is no resolution yet.  It is as if God has said, “We’ll see.”

Has God ever given you that answer?

He believed in God, who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist. 18 He believed, hoping against hope, so that he became the father of many nations according to what had been spoken: So will your descendants be. 19 He considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about 100 years old) and also considered the deadness of Sarah’s womb, without weakening in the faith. 20 He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

Every day, every month, every year, Abraham would go to God and ask if it was time for the promise to be fulfilled.  God would say, “We’ll see.”  God knew when it would be the right time.  God had a plan and would not waver from that plan.  Abraham had to settle with waiting.

Are you waiting on God?  Have you begged for help? Or healing? Or a child?  Do you feel God has responded with “We’ll see.”?

Believe in God.  It all starts here.  Do we believe in the provision and power of Christ?  Do we believe that God can do all that He has promised?  Belief is not an automatic action.  We must choose to believe and often in the face of extreme challenges.  Abraham was getting old and Sarah was barren.  Your predicament is a calamity.  Your grief is deep.  Your unemployment is imminent.  Will you believe that God’s plan is best?  Will you believe that God’s power is certain?  Will you believe?

Do not waver.  The imagery Scripture gives here is like tall grass.  When grass is short it does not blow in the wind.  As time passes, the grass gets taller and will begin to blow with the wind.  As time passes on the needs of our lives it becomes easier to be like that tall grass.  We can blow with the winds of impatience, infidelity, and faulty instruction.  In these moments we must stand firm in the Word of God.  Stay focused on Scripture more than societal trends.  Talk to the Father more than Facebook.

Give glory to God.  Worship is a vital part of sticking with the plan and purpose of God.  Corporate and private worship is like finding water in a desert.  Waiting creates a parched spirituality unless we give thanks and glory regularly.

Attitude makes all the difference.  Will everything work out?  Yes.  Will it happen just like you desire?  We’ll see.

Warm-Ups

In Decisions, Jesus on December 5, 2012 at 3:02 pm

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I am working with our children for our Christmas musical.  During one recent practice I had just the script people working on memorization.  As we were going through the script I noticed it was getting flat during the telling of the birth of Jesus Christ.  By that I mean that there was no emotion, no joy, nothing.  Lines were being read but they were losing their meaning.  I stopped the kids and encouraged them to read and say the lines as if it was for the first time.  They had read these lines dozens of times.  We had gone over them many times as a group.  At this point the lines were not new.  The emotion was lost.  It was cold.  Reading back through it as if it were the first time brought joy and warmth back to the script.  We laughed and carried on but we all learned something valuable that day.

The familiar has a way of losing its meaning.

We see this problem in many ways.  A marriage grows cold as romance lessens and familiarity grows.  While you would think that the more we know the hotter things get, it actually works the opposite if we do not work at it.  The job you were so passionate to get becomes routine and boring.  The adrenaline rush you once had from attempting certain feats lessens and you have to keep doing things bigger and more dangerous.  Even in church we find ourselves yawning and looking at our watch.  Worship does not just happen to you.  Worship is what you do toward a Holy God.  We must work at it.  The Bible has become something we know but not something we let change us.  We have grown cold to the calls of the Holy Spirit through Scripture.  Even the story of the birth of Jesus Christ has grown stale for many in light of cultural standards of relativism and consumerism.

The fact that a teenage girl was visited by an angel, got pregnant and stayed a virgin seems impossible.  The fact that the guy would stay with her through it all and not sleep with her until after the birth is incredible…almost unbelievable!  In the 9th month she travels by donkey.  The bouncing probably causes her water to break.  They are frantic to find a spot to spend the night.  There are no rooms.  However, there is a barn.  There is a trough.  There is hay.  In the middle of this scene, a baby is born.  Not just any baby.  The Son of God whom Joseph would raise as his own.  Let the story touch you again this year.

Don’t allow that which is familiar to lose its meaning.  Choose to have joy.  Choose to be a follower of Christ.  Choose to bring warmth back into your life.

 

I Don’t Need Church

In Church, Commitment, Family, Leviticus on February 18, 2011 at 7:43 pm

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that statement.  “I don’t have to go to church, I can worship God anywhere”.

They are right!  You can bask in the glory of God wherever you stand.  You can praise God wherever you go.  You can read your Bible anywhere.  I have friends that seem to find themselves in the Church of the Great Outdoors during hunting and fishing season.  When the air temperature is just right and the deer, duck, pheasant, or fish are ripe for the taking.  Usually, I hear people say they worship God in the blind, stand, or boat.  Other people suggest that church is completely unnecessary, while other says it is irrelevant.  Sadly, those accusations are sometimes true.  However, we do not usually take advantage of those moments.  People are focused on the hunt not bowing to worship God.  People get too busy throwing back a cold one that they forget to throw back their lives to The One in submission and worship.

But church is different.  It is to be a place a refuge and focus.  We don’t call it a sanctuary without reason.  The place where we gather is just a big room, but the reason we gather is bigger than the universe!  A large gathering of people for one purpose meets.  Our focus is on the One True God.  Our hearts come into alignment.  Our minds clear of all other thoughts except for God.

At least, that what we are supposed to do.  Meeting God in this way is important.  We find an early example in Leviticus:

3 “If any native Israelite sacrifices a bull or a lamb or a goat anywhere inside or outside the camp 4 instead of bringing it to the entrance of the Tabernacle to present it as an offering to the Lord, that person will be as guilty as a murderer.t Such a person has shed blood and will be cut off from the community. 5 The purpose of this rule is to stop the Israelites from sacrificing animals in the open fields. It will ensure that they bring their sacrifices to the priest at the entrance of the Tabernacle, so he can present them to the Lord as peace offerings. 6 Then the priest will be able to splatter the blood against the Lord’s altar at the entrance of the Tabernacle, and he will burn the fat as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 7 The people must no longer be unfaithful to the Lord by offering sacrifices to the goat idols.t This is a permanent law for them, to be observed from generation to generation.

Leviticus 17.3

God instructs the people that it is unlawful to try to shortcut worship.  In God’s eyes it is not enough to just have some service at the rodeo, home show, golf course, or duck blind.  It is not enough to rationalize that we are too busy to leave what we are doing in order to go to church.  It is not enough to say that the family altar will do. God is serious about church and so should we.  Going to church reveals honor and obedience to God.  Going to church reveals a submission to God more than self.

Do as God prescribed for the priests.  Be cleansed.  Be prepared.  Be in attendance. Be blessed.

What are your thoughts?  Do you need church?

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