Do you long to know GOD?

Recently the LORD has been pressing on my heart to know Him.  To really know Him.  Not just things about Him.

I’ve been in ministry for over 15 years and I am convinced that when people are seeking to know Him, when they spend the time on their knees to seek Him, to understand His word and how He is personally speaking to those seeking Him, it is then that He shows up with power.

1 Thessalonians 1:5 for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

Where is this power spoken of in Scripture? I have seen the word preached and there is no response.  I have been to events and seen the worship, leaders, preachers, and event spokespeople try to manufacture a response, and still there is no power.  And I have been to events where there is something in the air.  Where there is this sense that we are on holy ground.  That God is present, with power, and at work in a mighty way in the hearts of many.

What is the difference?

I am increasingly convinced that the difference is the Spirit.  If the Holy Spirit of God is not at work in the hearts of people, you could have the same exact sermon and worship and nothing of significance will happen.  So what is the difference? Really!?!

Individuals seeking the Lord; friends seeking the Lord together; families seeking the Lord together; groups seeking the Lord together; the Church seeking the Lord together; and in all the above the people are longing to know Him better.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

This stirring and transformation begins in the mind.

So I’m reading a bunch of books right now.  As I am reading there are certain books that just absolutely get me jazzed and stir my heart and floor me.  I am reading a book right now called Discipled Warriors: Growing Healthy Churches That Are Equipped For Spiritual Warfare by Chuck Lawless.  There is a chapter on worship.  He says this:

“The Bible opens with a simple statement that calls us to worship: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).  He who created the universe–including us–has a right to expect worship from us.  Worship is the proper response of the created to the Creator: “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created” (Rev. 4:11).

“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:12-13).  He who is the eternal sovereign ruler over history, and who will be our final judge, deserves our worship.  Worship is the right response of the dependent to the Sovereign.

“Between these first and last chapters of the Bible is the story of a God who saves His own through the death of His Son (Rom. 5:8-10).  The Bible records God’s intervention on our behalf so that we might be reconciled to Him (2 Cor. 5:18-19).  Such a gracious God certainly ought to receive our worship.  Worship is the necessary response from the redeemed to the Redeemer.

“Worthy are You…for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).

“God is the sovereign Creator and ultimate judge, but He is also our loving Redeemer.  When we truly recognize who He is, worship should be the result.  The healthy church must, in fact, exalt God.  We are to love Him with all of our being (Matt. 22:37-38), and awe and praise should characterize our relationship with Him (Acts 2:43, 47).  Worship should be a lifestyle of submission and service, as the words used for worship in Scripture indicate:

  • shaha (Heb.) means to bow or stoop before someone (e.g., Exod. 4:31).
  • avad (Heb.) means to labor or do service (e.g., Exod. 3:12).
  • proskynein (Gk.) means to prostrate onself or to kiss the hand (e.g., John 4:24).
  • latreuein (Gk.) means to do ministry or service (e.g., Rom. 12:1).

“Christians badly miss the point if they understand “worship” as only a Sunday morning gathering designed to make us feel good about ourselves and about our religion.  So do those who assume that worship is an evangelistic event directed toward exposing nonbelievers to the gospel.  Worship, it seems, has become more about human beings than about God.” (pp. 64-65)

The rest of the chapter goes on to explain how Satan and his dominion has worked to confuse worship in the minds of those in the Church so that we find it difficult to worship, difficult to hear a sermon, difficult to apply God’s word to our lives.  But we are called to pray and seek the Lord working against the tactics of Satan to remain spiritually on fire and connected with our life giving source and maker.

Biblical worship of healthy Christians in healthy churches will look like the following:

  • We will encounter God in prayer and confession to make us right with each other and Him, pursuing holiness, which will in turn make worship more engaging and powerful.
  • We will be waiting on the Spirit of God to prompt us to evangelize.
  • We will seek to be equipped and the church leaders will be equipping people to spiritually prepare for service.
  • We will be seeking to edify and find edification within the church.
  • We will encourage one another and be encouraged in fellowship with other believers.
  • We will be evangelizing as the Spirit prompts us and will see power in our words as we obey His prompting.

I believe the above begins with prayer and seeking the Lord.  Satan quakes in his boots that I just wrote this.  He will do what he can to not let you read these words or to get you to dismiss them.  But as you begin to pray and seek to be discipled and worship the Lord, Satan will not know what to do and so he will start causing problems in your life and within your circles, which is all the more reason to be in prayer rebuking the enemy and drawing near to God.

This happened to me last night.  So I explained to my family this was how I was feeling, we stopped eating, and we intensely prayed.  I felt much better about two minutes into the prayer.  There was a spiritual feeling as if the Spirit was empowering my prayer.  I don’t get this feeling too often.  The last time was August 2012.  This was God at work.  I believe the more I pray in times of need and as the Spirit prompts, the more the Spirit will work mightily to exalt Jesus Christ and advance His message of repentance and forgiveness.

GODSPEED

Unashamed of the Gospel

“It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.

“But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.

“So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes!

“Worse followed. Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either—women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it—emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.

“Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way. Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded. And it’s not as if they don’t know better. They know perfectly well they’re spitting in God’s face. And they don’t care—worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best!” – Romans 1:16-32 in The Message paraphrase of the Bible

GODSPEED!

Purpose of Membership Covenants

What is a membership covenant?

First, one needs to define the term covenant. In ancient history when people would make binding agreements they would define the terms for both parties and ratify the agreement recognizing death would be the consequence for breaking the covenant. (Not so since Jesus, but follow along with what follows to see the development)

In the Bible we see several covenants made between people and between God and the nation of Israel.

In ancient history and in Bible times, the stronger nation would be the one who would dictate the terms of the covenant. In religion the god of that culture would dictate the terms of religion and religious practice.

The first covenant we see in the Bible has to do with humanity’s role on earth, to be stewards of the earth and to obey God.

The second covenant we see in the Bible is God dictating the design and purpose of marriage.

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, the cycle of brokenness and death began. But God provided grace when He did not immediately take the life of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21).

Another covenant was with Israel through Moses in that they would be a people ruled by God’s laws. Some of the laws were binding for all time, others were binding for the time they were in the desert, and some were cultural to set the people apart from other nations and peoples. But the main point of this covenant, combined with the covenant of Abraham, was to state that the people were bound together to follow God by faith.

The people proved they could not perfectly obey and they consistently fell away. But God was 100% faithful in that He stayed true to His side of the covenant, in that He would never let go, and they would always be His, and that He would continuously provide grace.

What was missing is the people needed God living in them to live how God required for them to live. And so there was a promise of a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Jesus established this new covenant as the first one with God living in Him. And Jesus called people outside of Israel into this covenant community with Israel and He called it the Church.

Those who believe in Jesus are called to voluntarily be a part of the community of Christians called the church. It doesn’t matter what denomination it is so long as the community believes in Jesus, strives to follow everything He taught, and seeks to make disciples in line with Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

The following is Grace Church’s membership covenant:

http://storage.cloversites.com/gracechurch8/documents/Grace_membership_covenant_March2011.pdf

This is based off the Bible and is orthodox in its teaching.

GODSPEED