Wait, WHO’S worthy of worship!?!

August 16, 2012 marked the 35th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley.  He died in 1977 of heart failure at the age of 42.  I remember very well when he passed away.  I was 13 years old and the news of his death affected me.  I cried, watched the news, cried, listened to his albums, cried, watched his movies, and cried.  He was an icon and everyone in the nation knew who Elvis Presley was.

A couple of weeks ago, I watched a documentary about Elvis on television, and something struck me while I was watching it.  Many people (especially women) worshiped him, they became weak in his presence (some even fainting), many were screaming and shouting out that they loved him, and one woman in particular was lifting her hands (like us church folk do during worship)!  I am sure that even some men would have loved to be him or live the life he was living.  How many people would wait in line to see Elvis in Vegas and spend their money for airfare just to see “the king” as they called him!  How many were not embarrassed to scream his name, act like a fool and become all undone!  I read that around 75,000 people travelled to Graceland for the anniversary of his death!  (A wise pastor once told me, “If you really want to do something, you will find the time, money, and energy to do it”.  How right she is!)

In Luke 4:8 it states,  “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”  Exodus 20:3 says “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”  We must worship God and put Him first.  It is so easy to put family, ministry, a job, money, our own will, preachers, church, entertainment (fill in the blank) before the LORD.  Anyone or anything we put before GOD, is the thing we worship.

Why is it so hard for us to put GOD first?  It is our human nature, our sin nature.  I believe that is why so many of us Christians struggle.  We don’t give GOD the rightful place He deserves.  We might say that we do, but do we  really?

Who is the only One who can forgive our sins?  Who is the only One who took our punishment?   Who is the only One who will never leave us forsake us?  Who is the only One who is our Comforter, Healer, Friend, and Provider?  Who loves us unconditionally?  Who is the only One who gives us true hope?  Who is the only One who made a way for us to enter into heaven?   Only the LORD JESUS CHRIST!  I do not know of one person, ministry, television show, or preacher who can do any, let alone all, of these things.

JESUS ALONE DESERVES OUR WORSHIP.

If we ask anything in His Name He said that He will do it.   We must ask Him to help us put Him first, to help us not have any other gods before Him, and to help us worship Him wholeheartedly.

Ask anything in My Name and believe that you have already received it.  (John 14:14)

Dear Brothers and Sisters, the LORD has already made a way for us.   Let us give Him the glory due His name!  With His help it is possible!

Mary, Guest Contributor

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The Lord Our Righteousness

““1 Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the Lord. 3 “But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 4 I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,” says the Lord.

5 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. 6 In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called:

THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

– Jeremiah 23:1-6, NKJV

Verses 1-2:  Jeremiah opens his prophecy with a rebuke from the Lord.  He continues by warning the “bad shepherds”, those who were ruling Israel at the time, of the judgments that would befall them if they continued leading God’s people astray.  These evil leaders were leading the people of Israel, but instead of leading them in the direction God wanted, they were taking them down in the opposite direction.

Who are the people God has placed in your life to lead?  Are you being the role model that God wants you to be?  Let us make sure that we are leading God’s flock in the right direction, while remembering that we are accountable to God for our actions.  Because if we do not attended to His flock, He will attend to us for our evil actions!

Verses 3-4: Jeremiah continues his prophecy by stating that God will gather His remnant to Himself, will lead them, comfort them, and bring them into a time of blessing where they will, “Be fruitful and increase.”

The Lord knows what He is doing─ He knows what we need, He will take care of us, and He will bring peace to our souls.  So we have nothing to worry about or to fear in those times of testing because the Lord WILL take care of His Sheep.  In verse four, the Lord says that He will set up good shepherds in place of the evil ones.  Shepherds who will love on us, feed us the word of God, and lead us in the right direction.

Verses 5-6: Verses five and six add a new layer (or theme): Messianic prophecy.  We are shown the difference between the corrupt leaders and the coming Messiah who IS Loving and Powerful.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd who will do away with the corrupt leaders once and for all.  Jesus will rule as the Most High King of Kings and His name IS, “The Lord our Righteousness.”

Guest Blogger

mechanical outline…

This week I have a slightly different kind of post.  It’s a quasi-tribute to my Lancaster Bible College (LBC) career.  Since it was during my career at LBC when I learned about creating mechanical outlines of Scripture.  Sounds strange?  Yeah, that was pretty much my thought exactly when I first saw the mechanical outline assignments in the syllabus!

So what is it?  A mechanical outline is essentially a grammatical analysis, whereby the literary mechanics, or basic parts, of a select text are diagrammed─ typically according to clauses─  in order to gain greater understanding of how they function collectively to convey a message.  Yeah, it sounded like it would be intimidating to me too!  But let me tell you, it’s not so intimidating and in fact is rather beneficial.  Let me show you…

This is my rendering of a mechanical outline of Ephesians 4.20-24 (NASB95):

Sometimes I even find it helpful (and always fun) to emphasize select interesting words, concepts, ideas, etc., in the outlined passage of Scripture.  How is that helpful?  Well, for one thing, it provides my study with some structure─ some points of reference.   And for another thing, it aids in recall─ increasing my ability to remember the Scripture.  My ’emphasizing’ of the same passage in Ephesians as above looks like this:

So where do you go from here?  Into sub-studies, with the help of those emphasized reference points…

  • ž   “if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him” (v.21)

­          –  hearing entails more than merely hearing some noise, but attending to, acknowledging, and acting upon what is heard

­          –  many times in the Gospels Jesus spoke the phrase, “he who has ears, let him hear”, communicating the imperativeness of refusing to ignorantly refuse hearing (as defined above) the truth of the message of the Gospel

­          –  a paraphrased version captures the indicative, “ἀκούω” (Gk: akouō), well, “You learned Christ!  My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to Him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus” (MSG)

  •  ž   “lay aside the old self” (v. 22)

­          –  the key is that it is OLD, ” pertaining to that which is…obsolete, and hence inferior” [2]

­          –  must be altogether removed

­         –   the New Living Translation puts it this way, “throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life… ” (Ephesians 4:22) [emphasis added]

­          –  concept also thoroughly communicated in Romans 6

  • ž   “put on the new self” (v. 24)

­          –  in contrast to the old self, is NEW, “pertaining to that which is…superior ” [3]

­         –  superior because has been created in the likeness of God, who IS superiorly Perfect Righteousness and Perfect Holiness

­          –  the old self is not merely removed, but replaced ─ referring to the parallel concept in Romans 6, we are dead to sin so that we might walk in the newness of life(also see Eph. 4:28)

There you have it─ a brief example of a mechanical outline of Scripture.  A tactic that you too can use as a great launching pad for your Bible studies!

Victoria

Still sounds strange?  Or want to learn more?  Email us at TrueHopeMinistry@aol.com with your questions and/or requests, please put “With True Hope Mech-Out Blog” in the subject line.

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1 It is important to note the context within which the passage of Scripture is found.  The immediate preceding verses ─in Eph. 4:17-19─ discuss the former manner of life, defined by futility of mind, inability of perception/understanding, exclusion from the life of God, ignorance, hardheartedness, callousness, sensuality, and impurity with greediness.

2 & 3 Louw, Johannes P.. & Nida, Eugene Albert.. “Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains”.  Electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. New York: United Bible Societies. 1996. Page 593.

God Sightings (part 2)

I learned so much during my time in Africa.  In particular, I learned a lot about relationships – both my relationship with God and my relationships with other people.  It was absolutely awesome to experience the unity of the family of God through meeting my fellow brothers and sisters from the United States AND those who live over 8,000 miles away yet feel like, and love them like, I’ve known them forever!

My MisDis* Family with Momma Ruth (Children’s Home Manager of BMS*)

Photo Courtesy of Monica J.

While I was in Bulembu, I had some pretty rough days where I was not feeling well.  I even ended up using a meal time as a nap time.  (And for those of you who know me personally, you know that I had to be pretty sick to take a nap AND to chose that nap instead of a meal!)  Then my fellow family members, including those whom I had known not much longer than 48 hours, lovingly rallied around me and lifted me up in prayer.  It was beautiful!  I was witnessing the fulfillment of the Gospel!

Romans 13:8 informs us, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law [or the Scripture]” (NASB95).  Isn’t that remarkable!  TO LOVE is the single obligation we ought to have to one another.

But how can I know how to do this when it seems that everyone has their own definition of what it means “to love”!?!  Because the Scripture simply AND deeply explains exactly what it means “to love one another”…

Jesus said in John 13:34, “Love one another, e v e n  a s  I  h a v e   l o v e d  y o u” (NASB95).

Oh how we should ever increasingly desire to be more and love more like Christ!  But how in the world is it possible to do so!?!  Certainly not of ourselves!  It is only when the very the Spirit of God, who is Love, works within us─ conforming us (Rom. 8:28), transforming us (2 Cor. 3:18), and renewing us (Col. 3:10)─ to produce in us the capability to be more and love more like Christ’s disciples.

My fellow disciples and family members, will we fervently seek to fulfill the Gospel, being conformed and transformed and renewed by the Spirit of God so that we may be more and love more like Christ?

Victoria

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* MisDis= Mission Discovery; BMS= Bulembu Ministries Swaziland

God Sightings (part 1)

Sanibonani to all of my siSwati speaking friends!  The greeting, “sanibonani” is just one of the Siswati words which I learned during my stay in the African country of Swaziland.  Swaziland is an independent (as of 1968) monarchy currently ruled by King Mswati III.  It is a small landlocked country within southern Africa, with the Republic of South Africa to its north, south, and west and the Republic of Mozambique to its east.

I spent most of my stay in Bulembu which is a border community in the Highveld of northwest Swaziland (in the Hhohho district) separating Swaziland from South Africa.  During my stay in Bulembu,  I had the privilege to partner with Bulembu Ministries Swaziland to serve alongside Mission Discovery in Bulembu in the name of Jesus Christ.

Yes, those are my feet on the African ground.  And yes, I do have a reason for posting this seemingly odd photo 😉

Each night my team was able to spend sweet time together worshiping the Lord in song, reading His Word, and sharing our sightings of His incredible work.  Our time of sharing was called, “God Sightings”.  During one night’s “God Sightings”, our project coordinator, Maury Buchanan shared a profound reminder of God’s incredible presence.  He asked us to look at our feet and simply state, “I am here…”.  While continuing to look at our feet, we were then asked to state the simple yet profound phrase, “…And God is here”.  An immediate hush stilled each one of us, as a fresh revelation of immense comfort and awe swept through the room.

“I am here…AND God is here.”

There is just something ─ something so thought provoking yet equally relieving in knowing that God is with you every step you take.

Joshua 1:9 says, “This is my command─ be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged.  For the LORD your GOD is with you wherever you go” (NASB).  The LORD your GOD is with you wherever you go!  Isn’t that incredible!  God is always with you!  He will NEVER withdraw, NEVER leave you helpless, but will ALWAYS make good on His promise to be with you wherever you go!

“The Lord of host is with us” (Psa. 46:11, NASB).  Jesus  spoke to them, saying, “lo, I am with you always” (Mtt. 28:18,20, NASB).  It is definitive, “He will be with you” (Deut. 31:8, NASB).  So how could we possibly miss sighting God in every place where our feet step?

Victoria