Hymn of the Day
(tune: "Am I a Soldier of the Cross?"p.414)
Jesus! how much Thy name unfolds, To every opened ear;
The pardoned sinner's mem'ry holds, None other half so dear.
Thy name encircles every grace, That God as man could show;
There only could He fully trace, A life divine below.
Jesus—it speaks a life of love, Of sorrows meekly borne;
It tells of sympathy above, Whatever makes us mourn.
Jesus, the One who knew no sin, Made sin to make us just;
Thou gave Thyself our love to win, Our full confiding trust.
The mention of Thy name shall bow, Our hearts to worship Thee;
The chiefest of ten thousand Thou, The chief of sinners we.
Jesus and Shall It Ever Be - #400
Look and Live #195,
O, How I Love Jesus #483
Feelings come and feelings go,
And feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God--
Naught else is worth believing.
Though all my heart should feel condemned
For want of some sweet token,
There is One greater than my heart
Whose Word cannot be broken.
I'll trust in God's unchanging Word
Till soul and body sever,
For, though all things shall pass away,
HIS WORD SHALL STAND FOREVER!"
- Martin Luther
The past year was a time of upheaval in the world. Such times are surprising and often catch us unprepared. But it should not surprise us that such times do come even if we cannot predict them. It is in our nature to try to give significance to such times, and as believers of the God of Scripture, our explanations usually come down to, "What is God doing; what purpose does He have on this?" But none of us are prophets as in the times of the Old Testament or New Testament apostles, so we cannot know for certain what purpose(s) God is serving by these events.
But we do not need to know why God does the things He does for it does not affect how we should act. As Paul wrote, "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Philippians 1.27). It is the gospel, not the events of this world, that provides our guiding principle. This means we should not guide our conduct by panic, as many in the world do. There is an appropriate amount of caution we should exercise in the face of a pandemic, but once we have done what we can, we confidently leave the outcome in the hand of the Lord. We most certainly should not use the pandemic as an excuse to absent ourselves from the gathering of God's people. There may be some for whom it would be wise to stay at home due to special medical concerns. It is not for us to judge that matter for anyone else. But, for most, of us the time for hiding out has passed. We must not fall to the reasoning that we can "go to church on TV." We are glad for live streaming as a substitute on those days when it is not wise or possible to attend in person. But worship is not a spectator sport. We are all called to minister to one another. "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see The Day drawing near" (Hebrews 10.24,25). Such "stirring up," and "encouraging" cannot be done from our living rooms.
May this year see each of us enjoying the "days of the right hand of the Lord," as we go about our days-to-day lives in the confidence of His handling of the affairs of this world. -Joe
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. -John 4.23, 24
Much of what is called worship today has to do with touching stories, stirring appeals, or a thrilling oratory of a religious character. Beautiful anthems by a well-trained choir, rendered in such a way as to move to tears or to great joy—now, this may stir the outward man, but it will not and cannot affect the inner man.
"To worship in spirit and truth stands opposed to worshipping God with the senses." We can't worship God by looking at stained glass windows, by listening to the music of a costly organ, by smelling of sweet incense or "telling of beads." We cannot worship God with our eyes and ears, or nose and hands, for they are all flesh. "God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). "Must worship in spirit and truth" excludes everything that is of the natural man. True worship is the adoration of a saved person occupied with God Himself.
The fact of the matter is that the greatest enemy and hindrance of true worship is religion. People think that if they go to church and are reverent in their conduct, join in the singing of the Hymns, and give as the collection plate is passed, they have really worshipped. What is worship°praise? Yes, but more it's adoration coming forth from a heart that has been touched by God Himself. It's a response to His love. It's an expressing of gratitude for His unspeakable gift. It's the making of melody in our heart singing "Worthy is the Lamb". What is worship? It's loving Him who alone is worthy. It's a sinner, saved by free grace, washed in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, shouting in his heart for His so great salvation. May the Spirit of the Living God bring our hearts to true worship. -Scott Richardson