It is always a challenge to put together a service that falls on a national holiday. This weekend we remember, Memorial Day, is a day of remembering those who lost their life for the freedom that we have here in the United States! We showed a video this morning that honored their memory well http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/31170/We-Remember I love the ending of Scripture John 15:13 “No greater love than this, that one lays down their life for their friend”. I said this morning that there is no one who understands that more than God does, as His Son was the ultimate sacrifice for our sin! Such love!
Pastor Mike’s message this morning spent time talking about Abraham’s faith! As we read in Scripture and know how God has been faithful to them, we also know that God doesn’t change and He is faithful today! Faith is a genuine action! We see all through the Scriptures God’s faith! He is good, this morning through the music we are reminded of that goodness…His faithfulness! So as we sang this morning, the attributes and characteristics of God that we sang of remind us of how faithful He is! At the end of the song set we are challenged with a great hymn of the church “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place”…such powerful words! Do we believe that. As I was singing this morning I found myself worshipping during this hymn in such a way that it I blocked out the fact that I was leading. It was so important to me that I had completely focus on what I was singing, the words that were coming from my mouth. Now you may say, “shouldn’t your focus be on God completely Pastor Scott as you worship?” Please understand my job as the worship leader, I am responsible to lead the congregation, vocal team and band, as we worship, so it is a juggling act many times! This morning though, I took a break as we sang “My faith has found a resting place not in device or creed, I TRUST THE EVER LIVING ONE HIS WOUNDS FOR ME SHALL PLEAD. I need no other argument I need no other plea. It is enough that Jesus died and that He died for me!” As we went into that chorus of “My faith has found a resting place” I was taken to the throne of God in worship! Thank you God, I have faith in YOU!
It is my prayer as each Sunday morning we worship together, that our time goes beyond songs, and style…but that the words we sing carry a lot of meaning and hold great truths of the attributes and character of God! I trust that you are engaging not with the worship team, but with God! I trust that the words you sing ring true as you sing such a great commitment to God such as “My faith has found a resting place”!
Who do you put your faith in?
When I am putting a worship set together I do my best to take many different things in consideration: Songs that will lead people into worship; what is the theme for the day; what songs work well together to affirm an attribute of God that we are singing about. Then there are weeks that songs all come together and the connection point hits me on Sunday morning first service as we are in the midst of the set!
I have been reading the book “Worship on Earth as it is in Heaven…Exploring Worship as a Spiritual Discipline” by Rory Noland. The book is broken into two parts one that talks about the personal discipline of worship and then the corporate discipline of worship. He used the book of Revelation and what John saw to give us insight on what worship will look like in heaven. Noland makes these points:
Worship in heaven will be loud. Revelation 5:11-12 “Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angles, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice…” Revelation 11:15 “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying…” Revelation 19:1 “After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heave, crying out…” Heaven is not going to be a quiet experience all the time, the styles will vary, the language will not necessary all be English.
Noland also talked about repetition as well siting Revelation 4:8 “Day and night they never cease to say ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’” So this morning as we are singing the set I am looking at all the songs and how they work together and I catching a glimpse of what John was talking about in Revelation!
As we finished singing “Famous One” at the beginning of the service, Pastor Mike challenged us to think of someone in our lives that needs Jesus! God, began to weave in my mind the major connection throughout this morning that worship experience in Heaven and the need to share my faith with others. Life is incredible being a follower of Jesus Christ! Why wouldn’t I want to share that? Who am I sharing that with? The sobering reality of this morning for me was that fact, a fact I sang about as a child: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…Hide it under a bushel NO! I’m gonna let it shine!” Do my friends who don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ see a difference in my life? The glimpse of heaven this morning…am I going to hide that from those in my life who do not know HIM?
What a beautiful morning together as a church family!
If my heart has grown cold
There Your love will unfold
As you open my eyes
To the work of Your hand
When I’m blind to my way
There Your Spirit will pray
As You open my eyes
From the song “Oceans Will Part”
What incredible words, what an incredible challenge! This morning we were reminded from Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for he good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Are we tuned into His whisper? Are you looking for hope? The past couple weeks I have been talking about the fact that we often default back into taking control of our lives! We forget what we sang about this morning that He is the God of the Ages “He is the first and last the One who matters most!”
It boggles our minds doesn’t it, this God, God of the ages is a friend of sinners! Maybe this morning you needed to hear that. Maybe this morning you are in the process of making bad decisions or you are having a hard time letting go of bad decisions that you have made! This morning you need hope, or you know people that need hope. I pray you were challenged either way. God is our healer…He is our portion…He is all that we need! In fact He is more than we need, He is all sufficient for everything and anything we face in life!
May I remind you of the bridge of the song “Healer” that says “Nothing is impossible for You, Nothing is in impossible, Nothing is impossible for You, YOU HOLD MY WORLD IN YOUR HANDS!” Again I want to remind you of the video last week called “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave. You may be reading this and accepted this redemption or you may not have…you may have forgotten about what Christ did for you, how He redeemed you! I pray you have walked away this morning with the reminder that you have been redeemed!
When I saw this video clip, I was just so overwhelmed by that fact the…I am redeemed! It was a great perspective as we approached communion, to spend some time focusing on the cost of our redemption, our salvation! Jesus paid the ultimate price for our salvation; He died on a cross, a gruesome death so that we could have life. He is truly mighty to save because there is no way we could achieve salvation on our own!
During the month of April we had a series called “I Am Second” where we heard the stories of various famous and not famous people of how God impacted their life and changed them! When I watched the video “Redeemed” I just couldn’t help but feel that it would resonate with many of us this morning! We each have a story, don’t we? Often, no one knows what our stories are because we don’t share them often. This morning was a reminder of our stories, life that we have been redeemed from! The life we have been healed from. No matter what you have done, you have been redeemed if you choose to receive that redemption. Pray that God will open your eyes if you have lost sight of what He has done for you! If you don’t fully grasp what He has done for you then please ask someone from church to share with you their story!
Wow, it is so great to be back! Special thank you Chris and the whole team for filling in while I was on vacation with my family! There is nothing better than to know that while you are away that we don’t miss a beat! THANK YOU!
Victory is our theme today, we have victory in Jesus! He has overcome the world! But does that mean we won’t face struggles or go through trials? I don’t know about you, but I have days where I feel like I’m all alone on this journey in life! Alone, abandoned…but are we? Absolutely not! Whatever we may be going through God is there, He is there all along. And it is in those times that we are to lean on Jesus even more! Amy Grant wrote a song early in her career that said this “I love a lonely day, It makes me think of You”, is that what you think of on a lonely day? I am always challenged by those words when I feel alone. It is in these times that we should trust God…these times when the wheels fall off in life, when we are betrayed, forgotten, abused, God is there! We are the ones that lose sight, we lose focus on God! We get caught up on ourselves, selfishly we look only at our situation and soon it becomes poor me! We need to wake up, I know often I need a wakeup call, and stop being so self-centered! We need to challenge one another to see the bigger picture, to help each other see that God is in control!
Everything belongs to God…He is in control…He is right there through your life! Each step that we take, He is there! Not only is He there, but He also wears the Victor’s crown! It is our prayer that through the journey we have been on in the life of Joseph that you can take hope in the fact that Jesus wears the Victor’s crown!
After experiencing this morning’s service I can’t help but be moved! We were challenged by our own people to be second! The ultimate story, the one that was played out by Jesus Christ has inspired so many other stories! God is so good! What is your story? What is God doing in your life? This morning we spent some time being challenged through worship that “God is Able”: “God is with us He will go before He will never leave us, He will never leave us” Our God can get you through your story, He can be actively involved in our story if you allow him to. Are you allowing Him control from the inside out? If you are, then you have a story! If you are not, then why not consider giving Him control today? Your story can start today…the world needs to hear it!
Wow what a morning!!! As we sang about patience, during rehearsal, our projection screen was not cooperating. As a worship leader it’s not only my job to lead worship, but to also lead my team and remain calm and patient. BUT MY HEART IS WANTING TO SUCCED, TO MAKE SURE THAT EACH PIECE OF THE MORNING WAS JUST RIGHT!!!
BUT I HAVE TO SAY THAT GOD IS SO GOOD, BY THE TIME THE SERVICE STARTED ALL WAS GOOD.
You know when we strive to take control it never works out right…we never succeed do we? I tried to put together a set of music that would help us to see the importance of reminding ourselves that we are SECOND. Life is the way God intended it to be when we put Him FIRST!! In “Better Than Life” we are challenged why wouldn’t you put the Creator of the universe first! We are “safe and secure” when leaning on God. That doesn’t mean that bad things won’t come our way. The Christian walk is not easy, it comes with struggles of all kinds, but what makes it different is that we have Jesus to trust, that He is there and we can find peace in him! He is “holy and righteous faithful to the end!” He is our “Saviour healer Redeemer and friend”. The promises He makes to us He keeps them each and every one! This morning as we were singing such truths, the impact was amazing…especially after seeing how God worked out all the technical details!
I love the phrases in verse 2 of “The Same Love”: “You take the faithless one aside, And speak the words you are Mine, You call the cynic and the proud, come to me know.”
God first! I am second!
“Lift up you heads, Open the doors, Let the King of glory come in, And forever be our God!”
P.S. Thank you to a great tech team (near and far) who remained calm this morning and with God’s strength was able to get everything up and running! Praise God!
“Hallelujah You have overcome!” PRAISE GOD! As we focus on struggle this week I put the set together with victory in mind! Everyone struggles—big and small we all struggle. We see it throughout the Scriptures and we see where God healed the struggling, not only heal them but encouraged them to tell their story to impact the world for Him.
Starting off the morning I wanted us to focus on the season that is approaching. “Chris is Risen” reminds us of His victory! “O death where is your sting, O hell where is your victory, O church come and stand in the light, The glory of God has defeated the night”…AMEN! You’re going to see a lot of exclamation points in this blog because it is so amazing what God has done for us. We need to be reminded, we need to constantly be looking around us and even in our own life…God is at work!
“Awake My Soul” we are challenged to wake up, God has given us the resources to have a growing and thriving relationship with Him! The ability to have a personal relationship with Him, to have the Scriptures to dive into any time we can, not to mention His Holy Spirit! In the midst of struggle we can often move ourselves first, when we need to be reminded that we are second! God’s “Amazing Grace” reminds us that He is to be first! “The Lord has promised good to me, His Word my hope secures, He will my shield and portion be, As long as life endures.” Draw upon the Lord, in the midst of your struggle right now, draw upon the Lord. He is your foundation, solid foundation…with Him first in your life “When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace, In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil”. Over this past week I wanted clarity to this phrase so I did a little research and found this insight via the internet mixed with my thoughts as well: What it means to say “My anchor holds within the veil”. Who or what is my anchor? ……. The Lord is our anchor! Then I thought… really is He, or do I just really, really hope He is. After so much “life” has happened I can say HE IS. Yes there are moments that I have to say “remember who your anchor is”. So I know who my anchor is, but what is my anchor. What is my description of “anchor”? Well the definition is: something to hold another thing securely. Synonyms are: comfort, defense, fastener, foothold, grip, hold, hook, mainstay, pillar, protection, safeguard, security, stay, support. Not only does this sound true, it feels true. The veil is the place of the holy of holies. Guess what, I get to enter into it! I did something that gave me that privilege. I asked Jesus to be Lord of my life, my whole life. I put Him first in my life and He took my life and gave me his eternal life and by grace, His grace, I am held in the holy of holies. I’m not holding my anchor, my anchor is holding me. He is not holding me over a cliff either. He is holding me in the most sacred place where his glory shines all around me. He is holding me in a place where the impossible is possible. He holds me in a place that the world only dreams exist. Hebrews 6:19 says “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.”
VICTORY! In the midst of your struggle there is victory! Jesus wears the Victor’s Crown! He if fighting for you, He is your help and defender, in His presence fear is silenced! “Hallelujah You have overcome, You have overcome, Hallelujah Jesus You have overcome the world!”
Isn’t it so easy to give up sometimes? Like this morning, before I even got out of bed I was looking forward to crawling back in bed! And if we are all honest we have all had days like that! Courage, we need it each and every day!
The choir started us off this morning with “Wonderful Merciful Savior” …a great song that encourages us in verse 2 “Counselor Comforter Keeper, Spirit we long to embrace, You offer hope when our hearts, Have hopelessly lost the way”. We often lack courage, because we often lose focus. Our focus should be on Christ, He gives us courage and hope each and every day!
The video “Contend” challenges us from the Scripture to be strong: http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/22534/Contend God is so faithful, He is our provider! We do not have to do life alone, but yet we often do! I love verse 3 of “Great is Thy Faithfulness” where it says “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow”! Take courage!
This week we started working on a new song “Awake My Soul” that challenges us to depend on God: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALW1AwdKEnM Depending on God and His Word gives us courage to face each and every day with purpose and meaning. Are you open to that? Do you depend on Him? Do you realize that He is our Cornerstone. The cornerstone is the stone in that give a building stability, is He your cornerstone? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWHgvkEPJiQ
We finished the service with “Our God”. During staff meeting this week, pastor Mike was sharing with us and Romans 8 came to mind and the lyrics of “Our God” at the bridge where it says “And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us, And if our God is with us then what could stand against us, And if our God is for us then who could ever stop us, And if our God is with us then what could stand against!”
WHAT A DAY! It is a very personal day for me as I had the opportunity and privilege to baptize my son Maxwell today! I can remember the day, actually the week that Maxwell asked Christ into his life. We were doing our morning devotions as a family and the subject matter was Christ’s sacrifice so that we can have everlasting life with Him. The terminology that was used was “asking Jesus into your heart”…well for an 8 year old that is scary. Max asked about it, he was very curious and understood what Jesus did, but he was a frightened with the thought of having Jesus in his heart. His response was that it would hurt. Becky and I both wanted him to pray so badly that morning, but we knew he wasn’t ready. We then spent the rest of the week explaining to him further that it wouldn’t hurt to invite Jesus in your life! One week later Max was ready and in our kitchen standing in a circle holding hands as a family we had the opportunity to lead Maxwell to Christ together! Now Becky and I could have stopped there and thought “awesome, both our children are believers in Christ, we can check that off our list!” But that is not the case as parents, yes Lauren and Maxwell are believers in Christ…NOW starts the journey of becoming developing followers of Christ. You see we as parents have a responsibility to help that journey along, especially in its beginning! And so another journey begins for my son today, and that includes the body of Christ as they too take part in this journey with Max!
I guess what I want to remind you of today as a parent, but not just to parents, but to grandparents, friends, church members we all have a part in the spiritual journey of one another! We all need to encourage, help, and walk along side each other as we strive as developing followers of Christ!
WHAT A DAY! To spend time focusing the worship on the challenge as we sing “this is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior, All the day long!” God is our hope, He deserves our worship all day long, every day! “Sing like never before, Oh my soul!” “And on that day when my strength is failing, the end draws near and my time has come, still my soul will sing your praise unending! Ten thousand years and then forever more!”
WHAT A DAY! What a day that will be when we find ourselves before the Savior! Before the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! We ended the morning of worship focusing on the return of Christ, but also being challenged that our worship must happen ALL THE TIME, in everything that we do and say! I have included the story behind the song “Days of Elijah” because it helps you understand more clearly that as followers of Christ, when we make that decision, we have decided to live a life of worship, worshipping God each and every moment!
Robin Mark, the author and composer of “Days of Elijah” explains this incredible song as “generally and principally a song of ‘hope.’” At a young age Robin Mark was very influence by the Old Testament people and their stories…how these stories can be used to teach and represent the character of God.
I quote: “So, in essence, it was not written as a prophetic song, or to reflect Biblical prophecy as such—it was written using the ‘foreshadowing’ (to be a sign of something to come) events and peoples of the Scriptures as representatives of the days we now live in”.
While watching current events on television Robin was moved by the truth that God “was very much in control and that the days we are living in are special times when He requires Christians to be filled with integrity and to stand up for Him just like Elijah did, particularly with the prophets of Baal.
‘These are Elijah’ days!’” Elijah felt alone and isolated in his culture, but God told him to stand up and speak for Him! We also need to be a holy and just people, thus the reference to the “days of your servant Moses”, meaning that righteousness and right living is important in all our attitudes and works. Remember we live under grace and not law, but the righteousness that comes by faith can be no less than the moral law that Moses brought direct from God. Our righteousness is in Christ and in Christ is the fulfillment of the Law.
“Days of great trial, of famine, darkness and sword” is a reflection of the apparent times in which we live when still thousands of people die every day from starvation, malnutrition, war, and disease!
The second verse refers to the restoration of unity. Unity of the body of believers, this is what Jesus prayed for—“that they may be one even as I and the Father are one…” by the reference to Ezekiel’s prophetic vision of the valley of the dry bones becoming flesh and being knit together.
Robin says “There are lots of interpretations of this picture, but one of a united church rising up in unity and purpose, is a powerful call on us in these day.”
Think about that for us here! Especially for us here at First B…a UNITED CHURCH…IMAGINE THE IMPACT WE CAN HAVE UNITED IN THIS COMMUNITY!!!! AND WORLD!!!!!
When the song refers to David “rebuilding the temple of praise” he is referring to the fact that David was used by God to introduce a revised form of worship, praise, and thanksgiving. First, David’s little tent which he pitched around the Ark of the Covenant, the presence of God, and then the temple that Solomon built. This worship, unlike the Mosaic Tabernacle, involved many people being able to come into God’s presence and worship Him openly. Praise and worship before the presence of God just like David enjoyed!
Finally the “days of the harvest” points towards what the purpose of the Christian is to do, to go into ALL the world and make disciples of all nations!
The song culminates with the words “There’s no god like Jehovah” which Robin did not explain, but I think you can look at the body of the song and take what he said earlier in his explanation: “God is still in control today as He was then…I look at it as a point in the song where proclamation is merited and there is no god like the God of the Old Testament, New Testament, the same God as today!
SO HERE ARE THE THEMES OF THE VERSES:
DECLARATION…RIGHTEOUSNESS…UNITY… AND WORSHIP!
The chorus is the ultimate declaration of hope…Christ’s return!
Theologians and Bible commentators believe that Israel never properly celebrated this particular 50th year jubilee, and that it will only be properly celebrated when Christ returns. Robin says “The might be true, but I reckon that a Jubilee is an apt description of what happens when Christ comes into anyone’s life at any time; debts are cancelled and a captive is set free!
Now, if that doesn’t convince you that God used Robin Mark to write this incredible song…consider the fact that he wrote it in 30 minutes between the two services, in the kitchen of his church, and the congregation sang it during the second service.
Robin concluded his remarks on the song with this: “I believe I wrote what God was telling me to write and He seems to have used the song in many ways for many people.”
A SONG OF HOPE…
FOR OUR TIME, FOR US HERE…
A HOPE THAT WE CAN DECLARE…
A HOPE THAT WE LIVE RIGHTEOUS LIVES…
A HOPE THAT WE COMMIT TO UNITY BOTH HERE AS A FAMILY AND WITH FELLOW FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST…
A HOPE THAT WE WORSHIP GOD…NO MATTER WHAT THE STYLE OR PREFERENCE…
WE MOVE BEYOND THAT AND REALIZE THAT ALL THAT WE DO IS DONE AS WORSHIP!