Friday, May 29, 2015

May 30, 2015

"Then He said to them all: "If anyone would come after me......." Luke 9:23a

I am so encouraged to read the call of Jesus to those who would desire to be disciples!
Notice whom He addesses:

"He said to them ALL".

"If anyone will......"

Anyone can be a follower of Jesus Christ. You don't have to be wealthy or well educated or well adjusted. You just have to be willing! Consider this story from Brooklyn Tabernacle, a great church in metropolitan New York City:

Jim Cymbala preaches at a church in the slums of New York. He tells the following story: It was Easter Sunday and I was so tired at the end of the day that I just went to the edge of the platform, pulled down my tie and sat down and draped my feet over the edge. It was a wonderful service with many people coming forward. The counselors were talking with these people. As I was sitting there I looked up the middle aisle, and there in about the third row was a man who looked about fifty, disheveled, filthy. He looked up at me rather sheepishly, as if saying, “Could I talk to you?” We have homeless people coming in all the time, asking for money or whatever. So as I sat there, I said to myself, though I am ashamed of it, “What a way to end a Sunday. I’ve had such a good time, preaching and ministering, and here’s a fellow probably wanting some money for more wine.” He walked up. When he got within about five feet of me, I smelled a horrible smell like I’d never smelled in my life. It was so awful that when he got close, I would inhale by looking away, and then I’d talk to him, and then look away to inhale, because I couldn’t inhale facing him. I asked him, “What’s your name?” “David.” “How long have you been on the street?” “Six years.” “How old are you?” “Thirty-two.” He looked fifty- hair matted; front teeth missing; wino; eyes slightly glazed. “Where did you sleep last night, David?” “Abandoned truck.” I keep in my back pocket a money clip that also holds some credit cards. I fumbled to pick one out thinking; I’ll give him some money. I won’t even get a volunteer. They are all busy talking with others. Usually we don’t give money to people. We take them to get something to eat. I took the money out. David pushed his finger in front of me. He said, “I don’t want your money. I want this Jesus, the One you were talking about, because I’m not going to make it. I’m going to die on the street.” I completely forgot about David, and I started to weep for myself. I was going to give a couple of dollars to someone God had sent to me. See how easy it is? I could make the excuse I was tired. There is no excuse. I was not seeing him the way God sees him. I was not feeling what God feels. But oh, did that change! David just stood there. He didn’t know what was happening. I pleaded with God, “God, forgive me! Forgive me! Please forgive me. I am so sorry to represent You this way. I’m so sorry. Here I am with my message and my points, and You send somebody and I am not ready for it. Oh, God!” Something came over me. Suddenly I started to weep deeper, and David began to weep. He fell against my chest as I was sitting there. He fell against my white shirt and tie, and I put my arms around him, and there we wept on each other. The smell of His person became a beautiful aroma. Here is what I thought the Lord made real to me: If you don’t love this smell, I can’t use you, because this is why I called you where you are. This is what you are about. You are about this smell. Christ changed David’s life. He started memorizing portions of Scripture that were incredible. We got him a place to live. We hired him in the church to do maintenance, and we got his teeth fixed. He was a handsome man when he came out of the hospital. They detoxed him in 6 days. He spent that Thanksgiving at my house. He also spent Christmas at my house. When we were exchanging presents, he pulled out a little thing and he said, “This is for you.” It was a little white hanky. It was the only thing he could afford. A year later David got up and talked about his conversion to Christ. The minute he took the mic and began to speak, I said, “The man is a preacher.” This past Easter we ordained David. He is an associate minister of a church over in New Jersey. And I was so close to saying, “Here, take this; I’m a busy preacher.” We can get so full of ourselves.

The call to discipleship is to "all" or to "anyone who will". 

That means even people like David can follow Jesus! Or, people like you and me.

May 29, 2015


History begins with worship and it will end in worship – so what should we be figuring out in the meantime?

It seems to me we should be figuring out how to do worship in a way that pleases God. The problem is that congregations can't seem to figure out the best way to do that and in fact, often spend too much time and energy fighting over what style of worship is best.

While Christians are fighting over hymns or praise songs, choirs or worship teams, or piano and organ over guitars and drums, we have lost touch with the essence of worship.

The 67th Psalm reminds us that the style of worship God prefers and desires is - LIFE-STYLE!  He wants His people to love Him completely and live like it. Worship must be understood as something to be lived every day through thought, word and actions. When a group of people who have been loving God and living worship all week long come together on a Sunday to corporately worship God - that is world-class worship! That worship changes people and change places and changes cultures.

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE? – V. 1 -   May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us,”

When the Psalmist prayed for God to be gracious and to show His favor on him he was essentially praying to enter into an intimate worship experience with God. He is describing what worship ought to be for the one who loves God.

Worship should:

Celebrate God’s Grace and Seek God’s Face.

If this defined worship on that side of the Christ and the Cross, think how much more it should mean to us on this side of Calvary!

Celebrate His Grace

Grace is the unlimited and undeserved kindness God extended to you and me when He sent Jesus to offer Himself on the cross so He could take the guilt and penalty of our sins.

As Romans 5:8 declares, "God demonstrated His love for us in this way - while we were still sinners Christ died for us."

Grace means that when we deserved His judgment for our wretched sins, God put those sins on Christ's account and extended a pardon to each of us. He agreed to die and allow us to live.

We should never get over our amazement over the grace He extended to us. Every morning it should capture us and every day we should  contemplate it and celebrate it. His grace should ignite our spirits daily. It should control our thinking and energize our actions. Grace should be evident in all our attitudes.

God's gracious gift to us redeemed us and it regenerated us and it adopted us into His family. His grace justified us allowing Him to declare us "not guilty"! He brought us into a personal relationship with Him!

Do you celebrate His amazing grace every day? Do you express it in your attitudes and actions daily? Do you extend His grace to others you meet each day? Do you treat them with the graciousness He extended to you?

World-class worship, world-changing worship, is expressed most powerfully through one style of worship - LIFESTYLE - His grace lived out humbly and passionately through your life.