Psalms of the Day

Psalm 135

psalmsoftheday
Idolatry is the act of trusting in anything or anyone to bring satisfaction to the deepest desire of our longing hearts. Our God speaks to that deep desire. The idols of any age “have no breath within them.” God offers to breathe life into our hearts with a vision of His glory. If we insist on our idols, we risk becoming like them: deaf, blind, mute and lifeless. Jesus offers so much more!

Psalm 135

S)  “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them.” (Psalm 135:15-18 ESV)

H) In this Psalm, God is celebrated as the Creator and the Lord of all history. The Psalm consists of 4 sections:

V.1-4 All of God’s servants are urged to give Him great praise

V. 5-14 Reasons to give God praise. Focus is on His creative power and His acts of redemption toward Israel

V. 15-18 The uselessness of idols and the danger of becoming like them.

V. 19-21 A return to the call to praise. Blessing the Lord is exhorted 5 times.

Are you familiar with cover bands? They are music groups that “cover” the songs of popular artists. They may put their own spin on them but the lyrics remain the same. Sometimes they will do a medley, covering  pieces of several songs and presenting them as one piece. The unknown author of this Psalm has done just that. He has his own take on things but the psalm is largely the content of other scriptures woven into a new piece.

A) The characteristics of idols in the OT is that they are deaf, dumb and blind. The main idea was that they were dead. “…nor is there any breath in their mouths.” The idols of any age are only empty dead ends.  The scriptures tell me that Jesus is a living “life-giver.” (John 5:21; John 6:33; John 6:39-40; John 6:54; John 6:57; Romans 8:2; Romans 8:10) My instinct for self-preservation is not simply a desire to not die but is rooted in my deepest desire to be fully alive and united to Jesus in His eternal life. So why do I so often trust in things that cannot give me life? I feel the tension that is always with me – “this will satisfy you more than prayer…this is more vital than your Bible…this will give you immediate pleasure, why wait for some pie in the sky?” Variations of these fiery darts seem to always be assaulting my shield of faith in one form or another.  I am reminded in this Psalm of two things. 1) God’s reputation is good. He has a track record. He will deliver those who trust Him. 2) Praise is a means to keeping my heart anchored to God’s faithfulness. When I drift from the cross, when my praise turns to complaining and I begin to doubt God’s faithfulness, I am ripe for idolatry. The more I bow before whatever that idol may be I will become more like it. Deaf to God’s voice, blind to God’s truth, muted instead of giving thanks, and ultimately courting death. I want to choose daily to direct my affections toward God and trust in His faithfulness.

P)  O God, you are my life! I bless You for are true and faithful. You are the great creator of all things and the sovereign over all of life. There is nothing in this world that can breathe life into me other than you. Keep me alert to the snares of death. Help me to cooperate with Your Spirit’s promptings and set my heart continually upon You. Give me an ever growing desire to feast on Your truth so that my shield of  faith may stand strong against the lies of the enemy of my soul. In Jesus name, Amen!

E) God’s reputation is good! He is worthy of your trust and praise.

 

The Psalms of the Day for the 15th are: 15, 45, 75, 105, 135

Reading the Psalms of the Day is a very helpful way to energize and broaden your prayers. You can learn more about praying the psalms here. You can download a chart of the daily readings here. Learn about the S.H.A.P.E. Method of engaging with scripture here.

 

Approaching Death with Joyful Hope

grandma devotionMy wife’s grandmother turned 106 on April 3rd. A fall has resulted in a broken hip and her health is declining rapidly. She will be with Jesus sometime soon. Can we have a joyful hope as we are approaching death?

Romans 8:30 gives us the promise that the One who called and justified us will also glorify us. Paul reminds us that to “be absent from the body is to be present, to be home with the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:8) His promise is sure and will not fail.  A couple of days ago Kitty Yancey​, my wife’s cousin, read the following devotion to Grandma. I thought it was so lovely and poignant that I wanted to share it will all of you.   We have such a great hope! Be encouraged.

We know that when Christ comes, we will be like him, because we will
see him as he really is. 1 John 3:2

When you arrive in heaven something wonderful will happen. A final transformation will occur. You will be just like Jesus….

Of all the blessings of heaven, one of the greatest will be you! You will be God’s magnum opus, his work of art. The angels will gasp. God’s work will be completed. At last, you will have a heart like his.

You will love with a perfect love.
You will worship with a radiant face.
You’ll hear each word God speaks.
Your heart will be pure, your words will be like jewels,
your thoughts will be like treasures.
You will be just like Jesus.
You will, at long last, have a heart like his.
Just Like Jesus

-Max Lucado

Martin Luther on the Eucharist

Gm_1570 0001It’s interesting to read Luther’s views on the Eucharist. This material comes from his Larger Catechism

Now, what is the Sacrament of the Altar?

Answer: It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in and under the bread and wine which we Christians are commanded by the Word of Christ to eat and to drink. And as we have said of Baptism that it is not simple water, so here also we say the Sacrament is bread and wine, but not mere bread and wine, such as are ordinarily served at the table, but bread and wine comprehended in, and connected with, the Word of God.

It is the Word (I say) which makes and distinguishes this Sacrament, so that it is not mere bread and wine, but is, and is called, the body and blood of Christ. For it is said: Accedat verbum ad elementum, et At sacramentum. If the Word be joined to the element it becomes a Sacrament. This saying of St. Augustine is so properly and so well put that he has scarcely said anything better. The Word must make a Sacrament of the element, else it remains a mere element. Now, it is not the word or ordinance of a prince or emperor, but of the sublime Majesty, at whose feet all creatures should fall, and affirm it is as He says, and accept it with all reverence fear, and humility.

Let My Life be Filled, Packed and Crammed!

C.H. Spurgeon(Charles Spurgeon, “Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden” 1883)

“When men have much to say in a letter, and perceive that they have little paper left, they write closely.”

Looking at the shortness of life, and the much that has to be written upon life’s tablets–it befits us also to do much in a short space, and so to write closely.

“No day without a line!” is a good motto for a Christian.

A thoroughly useful life is very short, for it is but a span–but how much may be crowded into it for God, our souls, the Church, our families, and our fellows!

We cannot afford wide blanks of idleness. We should not only live by the day, but by the 20 minutes, as Wesley did. He divided each hour into three parts.

So scanty is our life’s space, that we must condense and leave out superfluous matter–giving room only to that which is weighty and of the first importance.

Lord, whether I live long or not, I leave to your discretion. But help me to live while I live, that I may live profitably. You can give life more abundantly. Let me receive it, and let my life be filled, packed and crammed, with holy thoughts and words and deeds to Your glory!

“But this I say, brethren, the time is short!” 1 Corinthians 7:29

Always grateful to Grace Gems for their excellent contributions.

Eucharist: A Cure for Isolation and Loneliness

serving communion

“In communion, our entire covenant community is brought closer to our God and subsequently, to each other because our Christ is our commonality, and the sacrament is our common sign. As all believers possess God’s Spirit, we are personally fed, repaired, and strengthened. But that communion is not a privatized, one-dimensional experience.

All of Christ’s Church enjoys the presence of the Holy Spirit, so we cannot experience true communion in isolation. The sacrament that is experienced is always done in plurality with other brothers and sisters… We are brought out of isolation into a community that rallies around an identity that is not consumed with melancholic introspection or shared backgrounds. Once defined by our sin, we are now defined by the person and work of another – Jesus. We are now defined by his righteousness, not our own. As we corporately approach the table, it is a group of righteous people who still sin, a group of righteous people who hate their sin, and a group of righteous people who long for the day when they will not sin.

What a relief to many that there are others who are disgusted with themselves. We are morally frustrated, and yet, also long for the perfection found in Christ’s work – not increased fervor or promises. The Table once again unites a fragmented people. Unified, we come. Sinners who have been made righteous attend this Table. We do not come through varying acts of goodness, but through One Person, applied to his people by One Spirit. The Sacrament of the Lord’s Table is, yet again, the cure for loneliness and isolation.”

– Tim Lien

This Is for You (The Means of Grace)

 

A Spiritual View of the Prepared Kingdom for Prepared Hearts

Colossians-3-2Bob Yarbrough is a retired pastor, a dear friend and a man of prayer who seeks the Father’s company. This is the first of many of his articles that will be reproduced on this blog. 

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” Matthew 25:34

Perhaps you will remember the recorded story of Jesus that is introduced with the caption: “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” He pictured a prepared banquet and an invitation that read: “Come, for everything is ready.” Jesus proceeded to speak of the preoccupations of would-be guests that caused them to miss the feast. The first invitee says: “I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.” [Lk. 14:15-18].

Strange, that a man would buy something he had not seen! Perhaps Jesus was using his wit to accentuate the irrationality of the secular mind! Let me pivot on that to the Spiritual mind. Let us not think it strange that those who are told by “Good News” messengers that they are blessed by the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with the inheritance of a long-prepared Spiritual kingdom should have a strong desire to go and see it! The really strange thing is to treat that reality as unworthy of serious investigation! A “so what?” indifference belies our confession!

In these meditations, I call you to “prepare your minds for action” [1 Pet. 1:13] in pursuit of the vision of what is given us in Christ! If you, in your resurrection union with Christ in the Spirit, will take the time to “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” [Col. 3:2], you will surely find what you seek, for the Lord declared it! [This promise of Jesus recorded in Matthew 7:7,8 is for us…and all whom He calls!]

By grace you have been placed at “the right hand” of the King of Heaven, who is set there by the Eternal Father to reign until every enemy is put under His rule. Hear now your King as He speaks to your heart: ‘Come, blessed ones…take your inheritance!” Paul comes alongside and entreats you, “Fight the good fight of the faith, take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession…”

Your confession is that “ In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you. Wouldn’t you like to see it? Is that possible?

If we believe the testimony of Paul to the Corinthians, he indeed, as “…a man in Christ…was caught up into Paradise…” There he “heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell” [2 Cor. 12:2-5]. This capacity in Christ to receive “revelations” by the Spirit beyond what natural eye can see, ear hear, or mind entertain is undoubtedly what he prayed the believers at Ephesus would experience: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…”

Down through the ages, some have entered into the answer to this prayer. The secular closed mind tends to label these as “mystics,” not to be believed. For those willing to bear that reproach – “outside the camp” of cultural religion – for the surpassing joy of entering “the mystery” of the kingdom, I tell you who “knock at that door,” you will not be turned away.

Because of your birthright as a New Creation being you are invited to both “see” and “enter” the Kingdom of God! [Jn. 3:3,5] Will you receive my witness? Will you press on to “take hold of that for which Christ took hold of you”?[Phil 3:12] By this witness, Jesus is asking you, “What seek you?” If your heart says, “Master, where do you dwell?” Wait then in faith; He will say to you: “Come and see!” [Jn. 1:38,39] .

media

Bob Yarbrough is a retired pastor, a dear friend and a man of prayer who seeks the Father’s company. This is the first of many of his articles that will be reproduced on this blog. 

Questions about “My Dear” by Bethel Music

There is a sweet spot in writing worship music that keeps songs on the mark. What’s the mark? It’s the intersection of doxology and orthodoxy. It’s best described by the combination of passages in Ephesians and Colossians that speak to singing to the Lord.

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart… (Ephesians 5:18-19 ESV)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” – (Colossians 3:16 ESV)

The intersection here is one in which doxology and orthodoxy are tied to one another. The result should be songs that both point the church to God in praise while enriching the church theologically.  When we wander off this axis we end up promoting worship that can sit at the dead end of intellectual snobbery or the off road rabbit trails of romanticism. The post previous to this highlights the song “Now Why This Fear?” released by Sovereign Grace Music. It’s a great example of the intersection resulting in passionate praise that is theologically rich. It’s worship that lifts the heart and grounds the soul.

When I came across a song today that was released recently by Bethel Music, it raised some questions for me. The song is called “My Dear.” I’ve watched the video and read the lyrics several times. These people are great musicians and capture much of what’s popular from the Coldplay “whoa-ohs” to the Mumford and Sons instrumentation.  The people in the video exude the kind of joy and ardor that I’ve come to expect from those associated with Bethel Music. Here’s the question: Is the song intended as a performance or is it a song developed for the church? If it’s an artistic performance piece then I would just leave it alone. On the other hand, if it’s for the church then it deserves scrutiny. Bobby Giles of Sojourn Music recently asked, “why do pastors and theologians pick on songwriters?”  His answer was short and to the point:

“We put words in people’s mouths, which they will sing in church services as well as their homes, cars and other places throughout the week as they worship God. If you don’t feel the weight of this responsibility, you should. You must.”

So, if I am evaluating a song like this as a pastor as well as a worship leader, my conclusion is that it would not be used in our worship. Why? Because it wanders away from that sweet spot towards sentimental romanticism.  I’m not suggesting that every song has to be a theological treatise. Indeed, we need songs that allow us to focus our hearts, close our eyes, lift our hands and sing with abandon. However, there is a point in which a lyric can deteriorate into little more than romanticized words repeated ad nauseam.  It’s catchy to say the least, but referring to God as “My Dear” over and over again highlights a growing tendency towards feminizing God the Father and helping to distance an already alienated male culture within the church. The word “ravish” shows up in this song as it has in a number of others. It’s a word used once in Song of Solomon and Proverbs, and it’s  questionable because ravish is a word often used to describe overpowering someone sexually. It’s a kinder word than rape and that’s why it shows up in trashy romance novels quite a bit.  It’s current usage in our dictionaries is overwhelmingly negative and should at least cause us to consider our use of it.

Nice tune. Well played. Great lyrics? Useful to the church?  I’d be interested in what you think.

My Dear
Hunter Thompson
Bethel Music

I am Yours and You are mine
I am ravished by the sight
Of one glimpse into Your eyes
My lover’s coming for His bride

For there is none upon the earth
That I desire before You, Lord
For You’ve been faithful all my days
Your love endures, it’ll never fade away

I need to say what my soul is singing
I need to say what my heart is screaming
I need to say what my soul is singing
I need to say what my heart is screaming

That I love You my Dear,
That I love You my Dear, my Dear
That I love You my Dear,
That I love You my Dear, my Dear

You’re everything I ever wanted
Everything I ever needed
You’re everything I ever wanted
Everything I ever needed
You’ve ravished my heart, You’ve ravished my
You’re everything I ever wanted
Everything I ever needed
You’ve ravished my heart

That I love You my Dear,
That I love You my Dear, my Dear
That I love You my Dear,
That I love You my Dear, my Dear

Quotations for Crossroads

1) A comprehended God is no God. – John Chrysostom

2) “God’s emotional life is infinitely complex beyond our ability to fully comprehend. For example, who can comprehend that the Lord hears in one moment of time the prayers of ten million Christians around the world, and sympathizes with each one personally and individually like a caring Father (as Hebrews 4:15 says He will), even though among those ten million prayers some are broken-hearted and some are bursting with joy? How can God weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice when they are both coming to Him at the same time – in fact are always coming to Him with no break at all? Or who can comprehend that God is angry at the sin of the world every day (Psalm 7:11), and yet every day, every moment, He is rejoicing with tremendous joy because somewhere in the world a sinner is repenting (Luke 15:7, 10, 23)? Who can comprehend that God continually burns with hot anger at the rebellion of the wicked, grieves over the unholy speech of his people (Ephesians 4:29-30), yet takes pleasure in them daily (Psalm 149:4), and ceaselessly makes merry over penitent prodigals who come home?”
– John Piper

3) The saints in heaven…will not be so enlarged as to be capable of contemplating at once, or in detail, the whole excellence of His nature. To comprehend infinite perfection, they must become infinite themselves. Even in Heaven, their knowledge will be partial, but at the same time their happiness will be complete, because their knowledge will be perfect in this sense, that it will be adequate to the capacity of the subject, although it will not exhaust the fullness of the object. We believe that it will be progressive, and that as their views expand, their blessedness will increase. But it will never reach a limit beyond which there is nothing to be discovered, and when ages after ages have passed away, He will still be the incomprehensible God.
– John Dick

4) As well might a gnat seek to drink in the ocean, as a finite creature to comprehend the Eternal God. A God whom we could understand would be no God. If we could grasp Him, He could not be infinite. If we could understand Him, He could not be divine. – C.H. Spurgeon

5) “What do we learn about God’s glory from this account? What is it about the crossing of the Sea, the salvation of the Israelites and the destruction of the Egyptians, which lends itself to God’s glory? As background, we need to recall who Pharaoh was. He was the most powerful human ruler in existence. He had the power of life and death. He was vastly wealthy with armies at his beck and call. With his wealth and power, he would have been considered glorious to human eyes. Let us also recall who Pharaoh and the Egyptians thought he was—god. Pharaoh was an important god in Egyptian religious thinking. So his glory, as thought of by the Egyptians, would have extended to his purported divinity. In a word, the crossing of the sea was understood as the continuation and pinnacle of God’s war against the Egyptian gods that began during the plagues (Ex. 12:12). Pharaoh’s presumption (hard heart) would not allow him to surrender to Moses’ demands, and so the conflict escalated until the point of the action at the sea. Indeed, this fit with God’s plan. Not only did Pharaoh harden his heart, but God hardened it as well (Ex. 9:12). It was part of his plan to display his glory to the world (Ex. 9:16). God’s glory was thus displayed by shattering the pretentious glory of Egypt and its Pharaoh by the dramatic means of separating the sea to allow the Israelites to go through to safety and to close it in judgment on the Egyptians. God’s saving and judging actions thus demonstrate his glory with the result that the Israelites worship him: I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. (Ex. 15:1)” – Tremper Longmam III

6) What is the preeminent passion in God’s heart? What is God’s greatest pleasure? How does the happiness of God manifest itself? In what does God take supreme delight? I want to suggest that the preeminent passion in God’s heart is His own glory. God is at the center of His own affections. The supreme love of God’s life is God. God is preeminently committed to the fame of His name. God is Himself the end for which God created the world. Better still, God’s immediate goal in all He does is for His own glory.

Sam Storms

7) So is God selfish and vain [to pursue His own glory]? No, for while it would be sinful for sinners (like us) to promote our own glory, it would be wrong if God acted for any purpose less than His own glory. Giving preeminence to any purpose other than Himself – since all things are less than God – would make God an idolater. God can give us nothing greater than Himself in all His glory, so it’s to our advantage for God to glorify Himself above all. – Don Whitney

8 ) How could we describe God as righteous and good if He ever failed to pursue and preserve what is supremely valuable and of greatest worth? That is why God must take ultimate delight in His own glory or He would be unrighteous. It is incumbent on everyone to take delight in a person in proportion to the excellence of that person’s glory. Whose glory can compare with that of God’s? If God were not to delight supremely in God He would not be God, or at least He would be an unrighteous one and thus unworthy of our delight. – Sam Storms

9) God’s pursuit of my praise of Him is not weak self-seeking but the epitome of self-giving love! If my satisfaction in Him is incomplete until expressed in praise of Him for satisfying me, then God’s effort to solicit my worship is both the most loving thing He could possibly do for me and the most glorifying thing He could possibly do for Himself. For in my gladness in Him is His glory in me. – Sam Storms

10) “This is not megalomania because, unlike our self-exaltation, God’s self-exaltation draws attention to what gives greatest and longest joy, namely, himself. When we exalt ourselves, we lure people away from the one thing that can satisfy their souls—the infinite beauty of God. When God exalts himself, he manifests the one thing that can satisfy our souls, namely, God. Therefore, God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is the most loving act, since love labors and suffers to enthrall us with what is infinitely and eternally satisfying, namely, God. Therefore, when God exalts God and commands us to join him, he is pursuing our highest, deepest, longest happiness. This is love, not megalomania.” – John Piper

11) God’s pursuit of his glory and our pursuit of our joy turn out to be the same pursuit. This is what Christ died to achieve. “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). When we are brought to God as our highest treasure, he gets the glory and we get the pleasure. – John Piper

12) God glorifies Himself toward the creature also in two ways: 1. By appearing to…their understanding. 2. In communicating Himself to their hearts, and in their rejoicing and delighting in and enjoying the manifestations which He makes of Himself… God is glorified not only by His glory being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. His glory is then received by the whole soul, both by the understanding and by the heart.
– Jonathan Edwards

13) The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.
– C.S. Lewis

14)  “By what right do we become “a royal priesthood”? By the right of the Atonement. Are we prepared to leave ourselves resolutely alone and to launch out into the priestly work of prayer? The continual grubbing on the inside to see whether we are what we ought to be generates a self-centred, morbid type of Christianity, not the robust, simple life of the child of God. Until we get into a right relationship to God, it is a case of banging on by the skin of our teeth, and we say – What a wonderful victory I have got. There is nothing indicative of the miracle of Redemption in that. Launch out in reckless belief that the Redemption is complete, and then bother no more about yourself, but begin to do as Jesus Christ said – pray for the friend who comes to you at midnight, pray for the saints, pray for all men. Pray on the realization that you are only perfect in Christ Jesus, not on this plea – “O Lord, I have done my best, please hear me.”

How long is it going to take God to free us from the morbid habit of thinking about ourselves? We must get sick unto death of ourselves, until there is no longer any surprise at anything God can tell us about ourselves. We cannot touch the depths of meanness in ourselves. There is only one place where we are right, and that is in Christ Jesus. When we are there, then we have to pour out for all we are worth in this ministry of the interior.” – Oswald Chambers

15) We begin with one fundamental fact about worship: at this very moment, and for as long as this world endures, everybody inhabiting it is bowing down and serving something or someone-an artifact, a person, an institution, an idea, a spirit, or God through Christ. Everyone is being shaped thereby and is growing up toward some measure of fullness, whether of righteousness or of evil. No one is exempt and no one can wish to be. We are, every one of us, unceasing worshipers and will remain so forever, for eternity is an infinite extrapolation of one of two conditions: a surrender to the sinfulness of sin unto infinite loss or the commitment of personal righteousness unto infinite gain. This is the central fact of our existence, and it drives every other fact.

– Harold M. Best. Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts

16) “We were created continuously outpouring. Note that I did not say we were created to be continuous outpourers. Nor can I dare imply that we were created to worship. This would suggest that God is an incomplete person whose need for something outside himself (worship) completes his sense of himself. It might not even be safe to say that we were created for worship, because the inference can be drawn that worship is a capacity that can be separated out and eventually relegated to one of several categories of being. I believe it is strategically important, therefore, to say that we were created continuously outpouring—we were created in that condition, at that instant, imago Dei.” – Harold Best

17) Worship may ebb and flow, may take on various appearances and may be unconscious or conscious, intense and ecstatic or quiet and commonplace, but it is continuous. When we sin, worship does not stop. It changes directions and reverts back to what it once was, even if only for an instant. Repentance-the turning from and (re)turning to-is the only solution. – Harold M. Best

18) “Spiritual sacrifices are sacrifices from Christ and through Christ and for Christ. They get their power from the Spirit of Christ, they get their content from the Word of Christ, and they have their goal in the glory of Christ. And they flow only from a heart devoted to His power and His word and His glory. And that is the only kind of worship God accepts!” – Piper

19) “See what Jesus Christ has made of you who believe in him; by the incorruptible blood and the incorruptible seed, he has brought you into a heavenly priesthood, and you are to-day to stand at the spiritual altar, and “to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” Will you not pray, will you not praise, will you not love? These are sacrifices with which God is well pleased.” – Spurgeon

20) “There is never found in our sacrifices such purity, that they are of themselves acceptable to God; our self-denial is never entire and complete, our prayers are never so sincere as they ought to be, we are never so zealous and so diligent in doing good, but that our works are imperfect, and mingled with many vices. Nevertheless, Christ procures favor for them. Then Peter here obviates that want of faith which we may have respecting the acceptableness of our works, when he says, that they are accepted, not for the merit of their own excellency, but through Christ. And it ought to kindle the more the ardor of our efforts, when we hear that God deals so indulgently with us, that in Christ he sets a value on our works, which in themselves deserve nothing.” – John Calvin

21) Did you know that Jesus is our true worship leader? [Christ says to the Father,] “I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.” (Heb. 2:12 NIV) As followers of Christ, we don’t have to worship by our own power. Jesus Christ Himself, our Mediator, faithfully leads us in God-pleasing worship. See, when we come before the Father, God views our worship as coming from His own Son, with whom He is well pleased. Our efforts may seem bumbling to us, but when we are submitted to our divine Worship Leader, God is also well pleased with us. Our worship is fragrant to God. The fact that our worship is not by our own might, but Christ’s, does away with all human pride about “doing worship right.” We never will. Worship wasn’t our idea. But Jesus knows how to worship God. He is Worship Perfected, and only through our attachment to Him can our worship satisfy God—and it does. – Whaley, Vernon M.

22) “There is only one way to God, through Jesus Christ. This means that God sees and hears all of our offerings perfected. God sees and hears as no human being can, all because our offerings have been perfected by the giver. The out-of-tune singing of an ordinary believer, the hymnic chant of the aborigine . . . the open frankness of a primitive art piece, the nearly transcendent “Kyrie” of Bach’s B Minor Mass, the praise choruses of the charismatic, the drum praise of the Cameroonian-everything from the widow’s mite to the poured-out ointment of artistic action-are at once humbled and exalted by the strong saving work of Christ.” – Harold Best

23)  All our offerings are humbled by the work of Christ because they would be unacceptable to God without him. All our offerings are exalted because when they are joined to the atoning sacrifice of the Savior, God accepts them as though his own Son were offering them. Nothing against skill, practice, complexity, nuance, musicianship, or sincerity, but only the finished work of Christ makes our offerings of worship acceptable in God’s eyes…  What a relief! That doesn’t mean what we do in corporate worship is unimportant. But when we overemphasize our own actions in worship, we can inadvertently create the impression that our contribution makes our worship acceptable to God. We think God is persuaded to listen to us because of our sophisticated musical arrangements, our polished performance, or even our heartfelt sincerity. It’s not the excellence of our offering that makes our worship acceptable but the excellence of Christ. We cannot worship the eternal Father apart from the eternal Son. He was able to offer his own righteous life as a perfect offering because he had no sins of his own to die for (Hebrews 7:26). Even now he intercedes for us, saving us “to the uttermost” (Hebrews 7:25). Our worship is accepted not on the basis of what we have done, but on the basis of what Christ has done.

Kauflin, Bob