What causes worship?

 “They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the LORD they shout from the west. Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD; in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One. But I say, “I waste away, I waste away. Woe is me! For the traitors have betrayed, with betrayal the traitors have betrayed.”” (Isaiah 24:14–16 ESV)

What produces worship?  Worship is produced when we see God for who He really is.  When we see God in majesty, we worship.  Men need Majesty.  The best auditorium, song selection, band, lighting, vocalists are all powerless to produce authentic worship.  Give people the pure, unadulterated majesty of God and they will worship – wherever they are!  Show them who God really is and they will worship!

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Grace scares us to death

“The truth, whether we admit it or not, is that grace scares us to death. It scares us primarily because it wrestles control and manageability out of our hands–introducing chaos and freedom. And so we find creative ways to qualify it. We speak and live with a “yes grace, but” tone. We’re afraid to simply let it be as drastically unsafe, unconditional, uncontrollable, unpredictable, and undomesticated as it truly is.”
-Tullian Tchividjian, Grace Without Buts and Brakes

“For the grace that comes to us in Jesus Christ is not measured. This grace refuses to allow itself to be tethered to our innate sense of fairness, reciprocity, and balancing of the scales. It is defiant…However much we may laud grace with our lips, our hearts are so thoroughly law-marinated that the Christian life must be, at core, one of continually bathing our hearts and minds in gospel grace. We are addicted to law. Conforming our lives to a moral framework, playing by the rules, meeting a minimum standard—this feels normal. And it is how we naturally medicate that deep sense of inadequacy within. The real question is not how to avoid becoming a Pharisee; the question is how to recover from being the Pharisee we already, from the womb, are.

Law feels safe. Grace feels risky. Rule-keeping breeds a sense of manageability; grace feels like moral vertigo. After all, if all that we are is by grace, there is no limit to what God can ask of us. But if some corner of our virtue is due to personal contribution, there is a ceiling on what God can ask of us. He can bring us only so far. He can only ask so much.

Such is not the call of Christ. The Jesus of the Gospels defies our domesticated, play-by-the-rules morality. It was the most extravagant sinners of Jesus’ day who received his most compassionate welcome; it was the most scrupulous law-abiders who received his most searing denunciation. The point is not that we should therefore take up sin. The point is that we should lay down the silly insistence on leveraging our sense of self-worth with an ongoing moral record. Better a life of sin with penitence than a life of obedience without it.

It is time to enjoy grace anew. Not the decaffeinated grace that pats us on the hand, ignores our deepest rebellions, and doesn’t change us, but the high-octane grace that takes our conscience by the scruff of the neck and breathes new life into us with a pardon so scandalous that we cannot help but be changed. It’s time to blow aside the hazy cloud of condemnation that hangs over us throughout the day with the strong wind of gospel grace. “You are not under law but under grace” (Rom 6:14). Jesus is real, grace is defiant, life is short, risk is good. For many of us the time has come to abandon once and for all our play-it-safe, toe-dabbling Christianity and dive in. It is time, as Robert Farrar Capon put it, to get drunk on grace. Two hundred-proof, defiant grace.”
Defiant Grace: The Suprising Message and Mission of Jesus by Dane Ortlund

God Saves

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” (Romans 8:28–33 ESV)

Listen to God Saves by Matt Chandler:

A Living Hope

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” (Revelation 21:1–7 ESV)

There is coming a day when God will make all things new.  Do you have an enduring & living hope?  Listen to The New Heaven and the New Earth by Tim Keller

Has your affection toward God grown cold?

Why does Jesus say that you can’t pursue both worldly treasure and eternal treasure?  Are you attempting to chase them both?  Does this help explain why being spiritually disciplined is difficult or your affection for God has withered and your soul has grown dry?  (Matthew 6:22-24)

The primary reason that most of us have little spiritual discipline or affection for God is because what we really treasure is here – it is transient.  You cannot pursue both earthly and heavenly treasure for they are mutually exclusive – you have to make a choice.  Our tendency is to try to pursue both which reveals our natural proclivity to be double minded.1  The point is that our ultimate affection should be toward God and nothing else, which is one of Jesus’ common themes in His teaching.2  Jesus is personifying the pursuit of wealth and tells us that we have to choose who we will serve.  We can’t serve two masters – our lives aren’t compartmentalized.  Just as no one shares a slave, because the same degree of devotion to both masters is not possible, “since a slave is the sole property of one master, he must give the master exclusive service.  A disciple’s loyalties cannot be divided—that is, one is either a slave to God or to money.”3  You can’t have two treasures on the throne of your heart.  There is nothing wrong with nice things – but where is your mind’s affections on these things?  Do you have to have them?  Do they identify you?  Is your hand closed around them?  Can you honestly say, “I don’t need that?”  Do you have them or do they have you?  We’d rather hedge our bets and have the best of both worlds, but the best of the eternal kingdom requires an absolute abandonment of the pursuit of the things of this world.  A slave is able to follow two masters as long as they travel together, but when they take separate paths, he can no longer follow both – he must make a decision.  It is far easier to make that decision before you come to the fork in the road.  You can only chase one thing at a time.  When money masters us, God becomes the means to bless us.  When God masters us, money becomes the means by which we proclaim the Gospel.  You can’t chase both.  Are you trying to serve two masters and attach God’s name to it?

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1 “he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8 ESV); “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8 ESV)
2 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26–27 ESV); “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37–38 ESV)
3 “Serve (Gk. douleuoœ) indicates the work of a slave, not an employee. Since a slave is the sole property of one master, he must give the master exclusive service. A disciple’s loyalties cannot be divided—that is, one is either a slave to God or to money.”  Lane T. Dennis and Wayne Grudem, eds., The ESV Study Bible (Accordance electronic ed. Wheaton: Crossway Bibles, 2008), note on Matthew 6:24

What you treasure reveals what your heart is really pursuing

What are you spending your life pursuing and building – worldly, transient treasures or faith?  (Matthew 6:21)

Matthew 6:21 is the focal point of this section; Jesus tells us,“for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  What you treasure reveals what your heart is really pursuing.  We reveal what we treasure by how we spend our time, what we pursue, what we spend our resources on, and what consumes the majority of our thinking.   Regardless of what we tell ourselves and others, these things reveal what we really treasure in life.  How we view our money just reveals what is really going on in our heart – what we really think is worth chasing.  Do you see life as if this is all there is or do you see a future economy?  Would the way that you spend your time, money and pursuit bear witness to this?  Instead of viewing worldly wealth as the end goal of our pursuit, we need a shift to occur so that we use it to invest in eternal things – to advance the gospel, care for the poor, investing in a future economy.  What do you dream about?  When you say, “If only I had ____,” or “if only ____ were true,” or “if only _____would do ____,” you reveal what you really treasure.  What we treasure is where our hearts really are, which drives disciplines, desires and behaviors.

Transient treasures

Are transient treasures the measuring stick that you use to determine how well you and others are doing in life?    What captures your interests, consumes your energy, do you fantasize about; are these transient or eternal?1

Using worldly things to define us means that they end up controlling us.  We want to create the impression that everything is ok, that we’ve got it all figured out, that we are a success; so we continue to pursue transient things in an attempt to define ourselves.  Worldly wealth is the primary vehicle that most people use to build their identity, significance and worth.  We control how others view us by what we drive, what we wear, where we live and what we do for a living.  Could it be that the pace of our lives has gotten so fast because we are pursuing so many things that we think will make our lives work better, but in the end they are all transient?  Maybe we shouldn’t spend all of our time chasing those things which are transient.  The more earthly treasure we have, the more maintenance they require.  Be careful not to set your focus on the applause of men or the treasures of this world.

Heart Matters

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1Matthew 6:19-24