“HEAR NOW WHAT THE LORD SAYS”

BIBLE STUDY:

The Christian View Of Christian Spirituality –

For the entire past century and longer, the Christian view of spirituality has been on trial in my country.  Before Christ was born, Micah saw that his nation and every individual must find their real life, their spiritual life in trusting the Lord Jesus.

GALATIANS 5:16-26

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentlenesses, self-control. Against such, there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. !

AND IN LUKE 17:11-19…

IMMEDIATELY, in our study, THE SCENE CHANGES –

And it’s no longer a nation that must answer, but the individual. Micah.  He asks, “What must I bring – what can I offer God to avert His wrath?”

The LORD’s Case Against Israel –

The LORD speaking through the prophet, Micah here:

Micah 6:1-8 (NLT)

[1]  “Stand up and state your case against me.  Let the mountains and hills be called to witness your complaints.  [2]  And now, O mountains, listen to the LORD’s complaint!  He has a case against his people.  He will bring charges against Israel.  

[3]  “Oh my people, what have I done to you?  How have I wearied you?  Answer me!  [4]  For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

[5]  Don’t you remember, my people, how King Balak of Moab tried to have you cursed and how Balaam son of Beor blessed you instead?  And remember your journey from Acacia Grove to Gilgal, when I, the LORD did everything I could to teach you about my faithfulness.”

[6]  What can we bring to the LORD?  Should we bring him burnt offerings?  Should we bow before God Most High with offerings of yearling calves?  [7]  Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?  Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins?

What then does the LORD Require?

It is a RELATIONSHIP, not rituals, not ‘things’ the LORD wants.

This is where TRUE WORSHIP begins.

  • True Worship obeys, and to obey is better than sacrifice!
  • True Worship impacts and it changes lives and influences others!

We worship God when we obey Him–when we honor God’s Name, that’s WORSHIP! 

Samuel told King Saul ( 1 Samuel 15:22), 

“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices

as much as in obeying the LORD?

To obey is better than sacrifice 

and to heed is better than the fat of rams…”

Therefore, true worship can only come from a heart of obedience.

In true worship, we become and behave like the One we worship.  It’s not just an act (like bringing sacrifices or coming to church), it’s a LIFE!

I know, it’s not easy for us to remember, because we are so conditioned by the surroundings and by tradition, to think of WORSHIP as an event once a week.  We tend to compartmentalize our lives into different areas–church life, personal life, family life, corporate life, and social life.  That’s what we do!  And when we come through those church doors during the week, we decide…that’s WORSHIP!–an event where we are on our best behavior.  Well at least for some of us.

But WORSHIP is more than that.  Jesus tells the Samaritan woman by the well–it has nothing to do with the PLACE but the PERSON of God.

If WORSHIP is an encounter with Christ, then it happens every day and everywhere.

Each time I choose to OBEY God and do His will in my life…when His Name is honored by my words and behavior, I am worshipping Him!  I’m talking about worshipping Him every day,  It’s not just about songs we sing in the car, but our thoughts, words, and behavior.

My Christian faith isn’t an individualistic faith–it’s not just about me and God, and nothing else.

Israel was BLESSED to become a BLESSING to the nations that surrounded them.  God’s BLESSING isn’t an end in itself–it’s a witness to a lost and dying world.

It changes lives!

The question, in Micah 6:8, “What does the LORD require of you?” showed God’s expectations that God expects Israel’s faith to have changed their society, their surrounding communities.

It’s interesting to read and hear what God said to the prophet Ezekiel about SODOM & GOMORRAH:

The poor and needy are always on God’s radar screen.  People are God’s concern.

Forgetfulness:  It Can Be Hard to Remember Things.

Spanish philosopher Geroge Santayana famously stated the great truth that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

One of the greatest mistakes God’s people made in relatuionship was to forget who they were and lost their sense of identity as the covenant people of God, gradually drifting away from living their lives as God had intended for them.

God had said to them in Deuteronomy 6:12,  “be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

This happened not once, but time and time again.

The writer of Hebrews included a WARNING for New Testament believers not to make the same mistake.  But as I write this blog-study, I sense we are all in need of being continually reminded.  Only then can we fully appreciate the weight and relevance of the question presented by Micah”

“What does the LORD require of you?”

Micah sees a vivid picture of the destruction that will come about of the people beginning with their rulers and reaching unto the women and the children.

WHY?

Because JUDGEMENT was coming because the people of God were no longer living as the People Of God.  Instead, there was corruption, oppression, bribery, and injustice and all the while God’s people weren’t able to see that something had gone radically wrong.

WHAT HAD GONE WRONG?

The people of God neglected their relationship with the LORD–so much so that their hearts’ affections were overtaken by other things.  And this, in turn, was the explanation for the change in their attitudes, the way they were daily living and how they treated others.

AND THE CURE?

Not so much dealing with the symptoms but to deal with the cause.  A change in behavior would be the unavoidable outcome, returning to a meaningful relationship with the LORD.

It happens to Christians too!

We can drift away and as soon as we become cut off from the source of our life we no longer are motivated in the same way to be distinctive, nor do we have the passion anymore to do so.

Have you lost your passion?  Maybe your passion isn’t what it once was for the things of Christ!  Your relationship has grown cold; there are holes big enough in your relationship as if moth-eaten.

Micah Tells Them God’s Requirements For Getting Back On Track.  Repairing the Holes.

It’s as we are renewed in our relationship with God our Father, that we not only remember who we are in Christ Jesus, but we also take on His nature.

ACTING JUSTLY –

It wasn’t happening in Micah’s day (Micah 6:11) – “Shall I acquit someone with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights?”

Here was a society that was cheating one another, not God’s way.

In Psalm 51:6, “Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.”

In Proverbs 4:23. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

LOVING MERCY –

This isn’t just ‘having mercy’, but “loving mercy.”

Mercy is a rich and strong word, meaning loving-kindness in action.  There’s an element of unexpectedness about it.

Mercy conveys a sense of LOVE and KINDNESS that’s not expected.  It’s doing acts of kindness to others out of love.  Like in the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Bible, it was the one considered least likely to offer help who did so.  Or the story of the woman caught in adultery that teaches compassionate mercy scarcely revealed in Old Testament law.  Or the dying thief on a cross who believes.

It’s a way of life that reflects the LOVE of God for us.  It is taking on and living out Godly nature.

WALKING HUMBLY WITH GOD –

I love this quote I came across in my study this week:

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s just thinking of yourself less.” 

by Kris V.

HUMILITY is a theme of the entire Bible.  But God gives a ‘greater’ grace.  Therefore it says in James 4:6,  “But He gives us more grace.  That is why Scripture says:  “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

And in Zephaniah 2:3,  Seek the Lord [inquire for Him, inquire of Him, and require Him as the foremost necessity of your life], all you humble of the land who have acted in compliance with His revealed will and have kept His commandments; seek righteousness, seek humility [inquire form them, require them as vital].  It may be you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.  (AMP)

Have this attitude within yourselves that was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, He didn’t regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

We Walk (in the Spirit), HUMBLY when we come to Him in prayer.

I love the prayer that goes, “Dear Lord, so far today I am doing all right.  I have not gossiped, not cursed, lost my temper, and been greedy, nasty or self-indulgent.  However, I am about to get out of bed in a few minutes, and I will need a lot more help after that.”

To WALK HUMBLY with God is to “live carefully” to acknowledge that we don’t have it altogether, so we go to God for help.

1 Peter 5:6 (NIV)

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.”

To sum it all up, it’s not all about giving “things” to God.

More than “things,” God requires us to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly before Him.  We can give all kinds of gifts to our church, but God is interested in the QUALITY of our lives.

We need to reconsider the way we are living our daily lives.

We need to first acknowledge our sins and then be willing to submit to God’s Mercy.  It’s only through a humbling of ourselves that we will be allowed to walk with God.

The response of a godly heart is outward (do justice), inward (love mercy), and upward (walk humbly) giving Him glory for it.

May the LORD enable us through Christ Jesus Who is our strength to live according to His Word.

AMEN

___________________________________________________________

CREDITS:

Dictionary:  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Ols and New Testament Words.

Commentary:  Sermon Central – Micah 6:1-8 [various contributors].

Photo/Images:  Google Image Source.

Bible Translations:   New International Version (NIV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), Amplified Bible (AMP), New Living Translation (NLT).

 

Finding Answers to the 4 “W’s” of WORSHIP and More!

sing-to-the-lord-a-new-song-psalm-96-1

IS WORSHIP BORING AT TIMES? 

I love stories that can bring out an emphasis in a bible study, and this blog is no exception:

A little boy asked his mother if she could remember the highest number she ever counted to.  The mother didn’t know so she asked him about his highest number.  Without hesitation, “5,372”.  The mother was puzzled and ask him why he stopped at that particular one.  The boy responded, “Well…church was over.”

The Aspects of Worshipping:

The idea of our WORSHIP being boring, to me, is an OXYMORON, or self-contradicting phrase.

The word itself comes from “oxus”, meaning sharp–and “moros” which means dull or stupidity.  [See Footnote [i].]

Some examples of my favorite OXYMORONS would be:

  • Jumbo shrimp.
  • Freezer burn.
  • White chocolate.
  • Plastic silverware.
  • Sanitary landfill.
  • Airline food.

Another self-contradicting phrase is BORING WORSHIP.

I found some interesting surveys in my research this past week, saying when people are asked why they don’t attend church, they often replied church is too boring.

While I recognize that sometimes a church service can seem dull, especially to a non-Christian attendee, my suggestion to all is, TRUE WORSHIP is anything but boring.

The Essence of True Worship –

The very essence of what WORSHIP is, doesn’t allow us to be bored.

When we come before the Majestic God of the Universe, who has created everything and done amazing things in our lives everyday, how can we not break out in adoration?

Most importantly, WORSHIP must lead us to a response.  If we don’t respond, when we don’t rejoice and the reverence of who we are worshipping, we risk becoming hardened before Him.

A PSALM OF WORSHIP – 

I love reading in the Psalms, and because of my long musical background in singing, one Psalm in particular stands out to me presenting the basic criteria of TRUE WORSHIPPING.

PSALM 96 (KJV):

[1] O SING unto the LORD a NEW SONG; sing unto the LORD, all the earth.

[2] Sing unto the LORD, bless His name, show forth His salvation from day to day.

[3] Declare His glory among the heathen [“the nations” – NIV bible], His wonders among all people.

[4] For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.  [See Rev. 14:7; Deut. 6:5]

[5] For all the gods of the nations are idols; but the LORD made the heavens.

[6] Honour and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.

[7] Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength.

[8] Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His name; bring an offering, and come into His courts.

[9] O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness; fear before Him, all the earth.

[10] Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth; the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved; He shall judge the people righteously.

[11] Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.

[12] Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein; then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice.

[13] Before the LORD; for He cometh, for He cometh to judge the earth; He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth.

A Song of Worship –

PSALM 96 is based upon David’s anthem of ADORATION as found in 1 Chronicles 16; when the Ark of the Covenant is brought to its resting place.

If you take the time to compare the TWO SONGS, you’ll find as I did, there are a lot of repeated phrases.

The Call to SING SONGS and Break Out Into PRAISE (verses 1-3):

The verses can be read here in context of Christ’s Second Coming and glorious reign.

We SING not just because of the past and the present but because we know what is coming in the future.

When singing in choirs years ago, I always loved the words to the Praise Song, “Coming Again!”;  

Coming Again,  Coming Again!  Maybe morning, Maybe noon, Maybe evening and Maybe soon…”

It always made me reflect on the exactness of the lyrics’ motivation to praise–Jesus is coming again!

FIRST OF THE 4 W’s:  What is Worship?

TO WORSHIP means to “fall on your face or bow down,” and is found more than 170 times in the Bible.

All who are true worshippers, must WORSHIP God in “spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).

That is, TRUE WORSHIP must take place on the inside–the HEART & SPIRIT of the worshipper.  WORSHIP pleasing to God must be with sincere feelings and transparent to His “Worth-ship.”  

We then are to recognize our place before God Almighty and acknowledge His worthiness…His “worth-ship” before us.

So, how should we WORSHIP?

  • With MUSIC  (Verse 1).
  • With PROCLAMATION  (Verse 2); The MESSAGE Bible says, “to shout the news of victory”.
  • By GIVING GOD THE GLORY   (Verse 8).
  • By BRINGING AN OFFERING (Verse 8).
  • By COMING INTO HIS COURTS  (Verse 8).
  • By LIVING HOLY LIVES  (Verse 9).
  • And, by WITNESSING FOR HIM  (Verse 10).

THE SECOND OF THE 4 W’s:  The “Why’s” of WORSHIP:

  • BECAUSE God SAVED US  (Verse 2)
  • BECAUSE of His GREATNESS and His FEARSOMENESS  (Verse 4)
  • BECAUSE of His POWER  (Verse 5)
  • BECAUSE of His SPLENDOR, MAJESTY, STRENGTH, and BEAUTY  (Verse 6)
  • BECAUSE God is RIGHTEOUS and TRUE and He is coming to JUDGE.

THE THIRD OF THE 4 W’s:  The “Where’s” of WORSHIP:

  • We are to WORSHIP the LORD among the nations  (Verse 3)
  • We are to WORSHIP in His Sanctuary  (Verse 6)
  • We are to WORSHIP in His courts  (Verse 8)

THE FOURTH OF THE W’s:  The “When’s” of WORSHIP:

VERSE 2 calls us to SING & PROCLAIM (“shout out”) His SALVATION…”day after day.”

So there you have it, FOUR ANSWERS to some common questions that will arise in conversation about WORSHIP.

BUT, there’s more to understand.

FOUR ESSENTIALS OF WORSHIP:

#1. EXALT His Name –

Looking closely at Verses 1-2 above, we are called to SING to the LORD three different times.

When something is repeated in triplicate in Scripture, it is done to get our attention.  Much like “Holy, Holy, Holy” in Isaiah 6:3.

Why Singing & Shouting?

Singing to the Holy Trinity started way back at creation in Job 38:7, where we read

“When the morning stars SANG together and all the sons of God SHOUTED for joy”

There has been singing & shouting from the beginning of time with more singing at the end of the age in Revelation 15:3–The Song of the Lamb:

“And they SANG the song of Moses the servant of God and the SONG OF THE LAMB, saying,  Mighty and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God the Omnipotent! Righteous (just) and true are Your ways, O Sovereign of the ages (King of the nations)!  [Amplified Bible]

In the meantime, we are CALLED to SING to the Lord as we wait for JESUS’ return.

SINGING A NEW SONG –

I also noticed in my investigation, the importance of singing a “NEW SONG” to the Lord.

The word “NEW” can mean something that is brand new and also can mean, “delighted, precious and exquisite.”

When something is NEW, it is fresh.  If all we sing is “Kumbaya” type songs every time we’re in church, then the chances are good, we’re not growing and experiencing fresh insights from the LORD.  Remember, it is NOT our WORSHIP, it is HIS!

New Hymns and New Praise Songs Are ESSENTIAL to WORSHIP –

Nobody I think, enjoys singing the harmonies of the old hymns of the past, more than I. However, NEW SONGS are essential to meet the ever-varying manifestations of God’s character.

In the last part of Psalm 96:1. “all the earth”, we are to break out into song, EXALTING–lifting Him up–for who He is and what He has done.

The Call to Worship…

The call to worship to SING, was not limited to Israel but was intended for all the earth.

The Book of Revelation gives us further insight in Rev. 15:4:

“All the nations shall come and pay homage and adoration to You”

#2. Extend His Kingdom.

Take a close look at verses 2 & 3:

“…show forth His SALVATION from day to day.  Declare His glory among the nations”

Declaring His Glory
Declaring His Glory

We are told HOW to EXTEND His Kingdom and WHERE to PROCLAIM (“Declare”) His SALVATION.  The words in the two verses also tell us how often to do it–“day after day.” And, we’re told WHERE to do it…”among the nations.”

OUR MESSAGE is the GOOD NEWS!

We are given specific instruction during worship, to SHARE the message and our mandate is, to take it to ALL the people (Acts 1:8).

The only MESSAGE we have today is JESUS SAVES!!!

#3. EXPRESS His Greatness.

As we EXALT His name and look for ways to EXTEND HIS KINGDOM, we will be drawn into the THIRD ESSENTIAL of WORSHIP (verses 4-9).

King Over ALL the Nations…He is most WORTHY of PRAISE!

I can’t help but notice how much we praise people.  Even at our worship services; the recognition of our local sports teams in wearing articles of clothing celebrating current and former athletes.

But it isn’t just athletes, is it? We avidly support recording artists, politicians, and yes, even Megachurch leaders.  We love to applaud the attributes of others.

And yet, this Psalm brings us back to what’s most important: Only God Himself is GREAT and most WORTHY of our PRAISE.

He is FEARED above everyone and everything else.

VERSE 5 tells us that.

He has no rivals because He is the Creator.  And as such, we should WORSHIP Him with all that we have.

In VERSE 6, FOUR ATTRIBUTES Are Personified

Personified as if they were attendants surrounding the throne –

“Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary”

A year before I was married, a friend and I, took a trip to Mexico.  We saw the beautiful beaches of Acapulco, the rose gardens in Guadalajara.  But for the real history of the country, we found east of Mexico City. at Teotihuacan (“teh-oh-tee-wa-KHAN”), the place where the AZTECS said the gods were born.

Many IDOLS that had been preserved were gruesome and ugly to look upon.

gohistoric_20319_m

NOT SO with the One Who causes things to exist and where there was nothing before.

Our GOD is not gruesome, but instead, He is BEAUTIFUL, arrayed in SPLENDOR, clothed with MAJESTY and armed with POWER AND GLORY that is brighter than the sun.

A RENEWED URGENCY PRESENTED (Verses 7-9):

THREE TIMES in a row, the Psalmist challenges us to “ascribe,” or give, to the LORD what is due His name.

Recognizing His GREATNESS, His MAJESTY, and STRENGTH First…We then will want to Honor Him.

I found it interesting that even though “the nations” are found earlier in the psalm, here we are called to WORSHIP the Lord, as the “FAMILIES” of the nations; singled out to give (“ascribe”) GLORY AND STRENGTH to the Lord.

God has ordained the family unit to a special and unique creation of His and as parents today, we must do all we can to make sure our families are honoring God.

The last part of VERSE 8 gives us a practical way to do that.  When this PSALM was written, the people would take their OFFERINGS to the Temple.  The King James Version refers to “thank offerings,” or those things that people would give out of gratitude to the Lord for all that He has done.

I was amazed when I looked up the word “ascribe” (to give) in my Concordance Dictionary, finding it listed 689 times!

At least THREE WAYS we can bring and give an offering to the LORD:

  • A Living Sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2).
  • A Sacrifice of Praise (Hebrews 13:15).
  • A Financial Sacrifice (Malachi 3).

Remember, a SACRIFICE isn’t a SACRIFICE unless it costs you something!

Expect His Coming!

While we EXALT His name, we should be looking forward for the ways to EXTEND HIS KINGDOM.

This then motivates us to express HIS GREATNESS.

One last ESSENTIAL to ponder I found in verses 10-13.

The Reign of the Lord and His Coming Judgment…

In VERSE 10, the word “JUDGE” carries the idea that God sovereignly RULES over the nations and will judge everyone with fairness and equity.

In VERSES 11-12, we see that the whole creation, when reflecting on GOD’S RULE, breaks out into JOYFUL PRAISE:

The HEAVENS WILL REJOICE…the EARTH will be glad, the SEA will resound, the FIELDS: the corn and soybeans–will REJOICE, and ALL THE TREES of the forest will SING FOR JOY!

WHY?

Because, The King Is Coming!

In the meantime, we are called to WAIT & WORSHIP.

We are also told to “GO TELL OTHERS,” about the GOSPEL MESSAGE, before it is too late– JUDE 14-15:

“Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men:  See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of His holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against Him”  (New International Version).

ONE MORE “OXYMORON” –

Here it is:  A BORED BELIEVER.

If you truly understand what being a BELIEVER, AN OVERCOMER is all about, it is impossible to be “bored.”

If we are EXALTING, EXTENDING, EXPRESSING, and EXPECTING, we’ll be fired up and experience the JOY of what it means to partner with God in His kingdom work here on earth.

So, let’s stop singing the ‘same old song,’ and let’s start singing A NEW SONG OF REJOICING!

 


 

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Commentaries:   Treasury of David – Psalm 96 by Charles Spurgeon; “Why We Sing,” A Sermon on Psalm 96, Sign in the Window; Psalm 96 – Daily Devotional.

Photo Credits:    Google Images; Wikipedia photo of Aztec carvings.

Bible Translations Used:  King James Version, New International Version, Amplified Bible.

Footnote [i] – Dictionary.com -Word; Origin C17: view New Latin from Greek.