Saturday, June 29, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "Wonders Without Number"

The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…

"Wonders Without Number"

     Frances and I are currently working on a major repair project in our house.  I'll spare you the details, but suffice to say that we started out with contractors who did a good bit of work (not always good, actually!).  We are finishing, however, with the grace, wisdom, fortitude, and knowledge of God as revealed in my wife.  I am working too, and have contributed quite a bit.  However, Frances is doing the brain stuff and the hardest work.  Yet again, therefore, I have the privilege of witnessing the Lord Jesus Christ as He walks and works in my wife to my sheer amazement and awe (I am going to get pinched big time for this!).  

    God… doeth great things past finding out, yea, and wonders without number" (Job 9:10).

    I discovered Frances's gifts early in our relationship.  When we courted in the late 1970s, I worked in the recreation building of a local church.  Frances often visited me while I tended to people in their activities and took care of the facilities.  She helped me when possible, and blessed me just by being there with me.  One evening, she found some modeling clay, the kind we all played with as kids, and decided to form an interesting scene.  As I worked, she shaped the clay into a depiction of the empty tomb, along with a Roman soldier lying beside it, dazzled by the angelic visitation (Matthew 28:1-4).  I entered the office area where Frances worked and was amazed at how vividly the scene portrayed the place where our Lord once lay.  Her work looked like a photograph in clay, so vivid were the details of the tomb and the soldier.  As I looked closer, my wonder increased exponentially.  On the face of the dazed soldier, Frances had carved his features into exactly what you might expect of one who had witnessed the glory of God.  The soldier's face was minuscule, but you could literally see the bewilderment in his eyes, and the open mouth wherein the man had sought to catch a breath before fainting.  "How did you do that????" I exclaimed in wonder.  I don't recall Frances's response, except that she didn't seem to think it was that big a deal.  She confirmed this after I left the office.  Rather than preserve the scene for posterity and a place in the Louvre, she wadded up the clay and proceeded to some other venture of genius.  I couldn't believe it.  "What???   It's gone!!!!"  To this day, I wish we still had that masterpiece in more than just my memory and heart.

   Thankfully, I still have the artist who shaped the masterpiece not only in my memory and heart, but in my presence.  These days, I think of that evening long ago as Frances yet again does her thing, this time with sheetrock, wood, caulk, tools, nails, and screws.  More importantly, I think of the person she is in heart, devoted to God and people in countless ways space does not permit me to describe.  As a young man, I could not process how marvelous a gift God had given me in my future wife.  Nor as an older man do I fully realize the grace of His generosity.  However, I am at least a little more cognizant of the fact that our Heavenly Father gave me a gift long ago, again, the gift of seeing Christ walk in a woman devoted to His love, glory, will and Word.  It is an amazing scene, far more so than the empty tomb and Roman soldier that left me in awe all those years ago.  "Wonders without number" - this has been and remains the undeserved and ongoing chronicle of grace I have witnessed in my Lord and His daughter.  I recall something Solomon wrote about wives, and believe with all my heart I know the meaning of his words more than he did.  Because while our brother of old had many wives, the Lord gave me one, the very best He had to give...

"Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord."
(Proverbs 18:22)

Weekly Memory Verse
     "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly."
 (Proverbs 18:24)



Friday, June 28, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "Control? Coordination!"

The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…

"Control?  Coordination!"

     "God… worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:3;11).
    I've used the term many times, as perhaps you have: "God is in control."  By this we mean that the Lord's purposes will be fulfilled, and He presently moves history toward its ultimate Christ-centered destiny of glory to God and the fulfillment of His will.  However, is the word "control" really what the Bible means by the affirmation of our Heavenly Father's working "all things after the counsel of His own will?" (a hint at the answer: Scripture never speaks in such terms regarding  God's working in history).

    A better term for such Divine operation may be "coordination."  Scripture clearly teaches that in the normal sense in which we use the  term, God does not "control" everything that happens.  However, He certainly coordinates and fits together all things into His purposes.  

    "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man… Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good" (James 1:13; Genesis 50:20).

    Clearly our Lord is not so in control that our sins result from His determination.  He allows them, however, and as with Joseph and his brothers, coordinates human unbelief and disobedience into the fulfillment of His purposes.  Even more to the point, regarding our redemption we see our Heavenly Father working in a "determinate" manner, but also through human sins He does not and cannot determine according to His nature and character.  "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness" (Acts 2:23; Psalm 5:4).  Thus, the notion of "control" does not precisely reflect the way in which our Lord presently works in His creation.  "Coordination" better describes the Divine operation whereby God somehow weaves every moment of history into His Story, as it were.

   Such truth speaks to a far wiser and more able God than the notion that He must control all things in order to fulfill His purposes.  A fatalistic view of the Lord is indeed fatal to our understanding of Biblical doctrine, and to our proper understanding of His character and ability.  How weak He would be in relative terms if it were required that He merely control the movement of pieces on a chessboard, particularly regarding human hearts?   Conversely, how wondrously glorious if God has the ability to coordinate trillion upon trillions of choices and actions, whether good or bad, into the fulfillment of His eternal purpose in Christ?  I find this latter perspective to be a breathtaking contemplation of One so gloriously wise and able that it stills my heart every time I ponder its truth.  As in this moment

    If the term "God is in control" suits your perspective, go ahead and continue to use it.  I won't fuss at you!  However, let us be sure that we do not err by failing to understand that our normal usage of such terminology does not completely reflect the teaching of Scripture.  "Coordination" on a scale of nearly infinite proportion  far better chronicles the wonder of God's working in all things.  This especially relates to His loving involvement in the lives of His trusting children in Christ…

"For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."
(Romans 8:28)

Song - "All Things"  

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe “The Things We Know"

The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…

"The Things We Know"

    Sometimes the paths of life lead us into uncertainty and even bewilderment.  We don't know how to proceed, or perhaps even if we will proceed.  In such times, we fall back on that which we do know.

    "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deuteronomy 30:20).

   What do we know to be true as born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ?  Many things, actually.  We know He is present.  "I will be with thee."  We know that in our troubles, He is "very present."  We know that He is active on our behalf, regardless of appearance or how things may seem.  "God worketh all things after the counsel of His own will."  We know that "all things work together for good to them that love God."  Most importantly, we know He is lovingly devoted to our bests interests and our conformity to the spiritual and moral character of the Lord Jesus.  "If God be for us, who can be against us?"… "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Isaiah 43:2; Psalm 46:1; Ephesians 3:11; Romans 8:28; 31; Philippians 1:6).  These and numerous other Scriptural assurances glimmer with God's light along dark paths as the things we know guide us through the things we don't know.

   We fill our hearts with the Word of God in order to see Him in venues of the obvious and the obscure.  He is there in both, lovingly present and dynamically active regardless of our sight and understanding.  This we know because it is true.  "Thy Word is truth" (John 17:17).  Moreover, the Holy Spirit bears witness in our hearts.  "The Spirit beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God" (Romans 8:31).  And this we know because every believer has a backlog of confirmations that we venture upon no path that does not shine with God's light, whether we can see it or not.  "The Light shineth in darkness" (John 1:5).

   We've shared this narrative on numerous occasions.  It seems appropriate again:

    The little boy could not believe his ears when one evening, his father announced, "Tomorrow, son, tomorrow it's time for you to go into the deep, dark woods!"

    The boy had often watched his father venture into the vast stand of trees that surrounded the family property. One of the things he loved and admired most about his dad was the man's seeming fearlessness concerning the dangers that might lie in the woods.


    "Uh, Dad, did you say you think I should go into the deep, dark woods?" The boy gulped as he replied, barely looking at his father because he so feared that he might have correctly heard his dad's words.

    The man replied without hesitation, even smiling as he did so. "Yes, son, tomorrow's the day. I have no doubt you're ready, and I'll wake you up at the crack of dawn for a good breakfast, and then, and then a journey into the forest!  Your first journey!

    The boy slept little through a long, restless night.  When he did, nightmares of what might lie in the forest startled him to wakefulness.  How could it be that his dad thought he was ready for the deep, dark woods?  What might really lie in their fearful depths?   What was his father thinking???  

    Just before sunup, the boy heard a knock on his bedroom door.  His father's voice followed.  "Son, are you awake?  It's time.  Today's the day!  It's time for you to go into the deep dark woods!"  Once again, the little boy heard excitement in his dad's voice.  "Yes, Dad, I'm awake" he responded.  "Great son," said the man.  Get your clothes on and come to the kitchen.  I'm making a big breakfast for you so you'll be ready for your big day!"

   The little boy arose and began to get dressed.  As he put on his clothes, he thought about his father.  First, he remembered again the courage and bravery of his dad.  But then, he considered even more of how much his father loved him.  He knew this was true!  His dad showed him every day!  So there must be something his father knew that the little boy didn't know.  "If Dad thinks I'm ready, well….  I know I can trust him!"

     The boy ate little of his breakfast as the sun rose on what would be a fateful day. "Not hungry, son?" asked the father. The boy looked at his dad, still feeling uncertain about things ahead, but also trusting the man even more as he looked into his eyes. "No sir, not really" said the boy, barely speaking above a whisper. "I guess I'm just thinking about the trip into the deep, dar… The boy cut his sentence short, not even wanting to say the words.

    His dad smiled.  "Ok son, get your backpack.  I'll meet you out by the poplars," referring to the stand of hardwoods where an opening allowed entrance into the forest.


     When the boy arrived at the spot, his dad was not yet there. This gave him time to look into the woods. They were beautiful, no doubt, especially as the rays of the rising sun shone through the branches and leaves.  The forest has fascinated him for as long as he could remember, from a safe distance, and he often lingered as he watched his dad disappear into the trees for his trips. How brave was his father!  And how much the little boy felt he was not like him!  He felt great shame and disappointment with himself.  Tears formed in his eyes just as he heard his father's footsteps approaching.  He gulped hard, and thought to himself again, "I can trust my dad!"

    The man reached his son, and put his arm around the boy's shoulder. "All right, son, are you ready?"  The boy quickly wiped a tear and looked up at his father. "Yes, Dad, I think so. I think I'm ready." 


    The father replied with great enthusiasm.  "Me too, son!  I've been waiting for this moment since the day your were born! There are so many things in these deep, dark woods I want to show you.  So let's get going!"

    The boy's father set out toward the opening in the poplars.  His son, however, stood still, frozen in his tracks by the words he had just heard. Once again, he could barely speak, but as best he could, the boy called out to his father.   "Dad… Dad, are you going with me?"

     The father stopped and turned to face his son.  He smiled and reached out for the boy in a motion that invited him to come and join him. "Of course I'm going with you, son!  You're not yet ready for a journey into the deep, dark woods by yourself.  Someday you will be, but this is not that day.  No, not yet. Yes, I'm going with you into the deep, dark woods.  We're going together, and I'm going to show you things I could never describe to you with words.  It will be wonderful, and like I said, I've been waiting for this moment since the day you were born!"  The man looked into his son's eyes. "Are you ready?"

    The little boy was ready!  In an instant, everything had changed in his heart.  His dad was going with him!  Now he was more ready to journey into the deep, dark woods than anything he had ever pondered doing.  His brave, strong father would accompany him every step of the way,  The vast forest no longer portended of fear and uncertainty, but rather promised the wonder of discovery and awe. "Yes, I'm ready, Dad" the boy almost shouted. "I'm ready to go into the deep, dark woods!"
    Whence we go, we go not alone.  Our Heavenly Father journeys with us every step of the way.  It matters not whether we venture unto shining summits and vistas of beauty, or into deep, dark woods that threaten with seeming peril.  Whence we go, we shall not go alone. "I am with you always" promised the Lord Jesus, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).  In Christ, God gives to us Himself.  Thus, we can face anything and everything with the assurance that the Lord Jesus will be all we need Him to be.  Always with us, never to leave us - this is the promise of He who cannot lie.   "Are you ready?" He asks.  Let us respond,  "Oh yes, Father, I am ready!"

"The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge."
(Psalm 46:7)

Weekly Memory Verse
        "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly."
 (Proverbs 18:24)



Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "That Must Be Him!"

The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…

"That Must Be Him!"

    The ongoing discovery of our Lord's infinite goodness most results from His love revealed through us rather than to us.

    "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).

   This is not to discount or minimize the wonder of how gracious God has been to us in personal terms.  "I will praise Thee because Thou hast heard me and art become my salvation" exulted the Psalmist in the realization of how good the Lord had been to him (Psalm 118:21).  Eternity will not be long enough for born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to full thank our Heavenly Father for the abundance of grace and mercy He has bestowed upon us.  A primary hallmark of every believer involves the awareness that we are the recipients of a grace that by definition means undeserved and unexpected favor.  Wonder indeed, and wonderful as we grow in the realization that God gives to us everything Christ deserves because on the cross of Calvary, He gave to Christ everything we deserve.  "He hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:21).

    However, the salvation of the Lord Jesus does not merely result in forgiven sinners, but in loving saints.  God does not leave us in self-centeredness when we believe, but rather inhabits us with His own character and nature.  "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us… Charity (love) seeketh not her own" (Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 13:5).  Graces results in the work of the Holy Spirit to turn us inside out, as it were.  He works in us and walks in us to motivate and empower unselfish devotion to God and others.  "Freely ye have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8).  As He does, we realize that we think thoughts, speak words, perform actions, and make sacrifices that would never begin to occur were it not for His blessed presence in us.  We play a role in the  relationship as we trust and submit to Him.  We know, however, that the inward and outward expressions of grace we witness originate not in ourselves, but in Another.  As such glory occurs, usually in small, everyday matters, we behold the love of God as it moves through us to honor the Lord Jesus and bless others.   Yet again, we wonder as we discover the marvelous goodness of God in ways that do not leave us in self-centeredness, but liberate us unto the selflessness of His devotion to others.  "It pleased God… to reveal His Son in me" (Galatians 1:15; 16).

    What marvels of grace will we witness today as we devote ourselves to the Christ who dwells and walks in us? (II Corinthians 6:16).  God only knows.  But of this we can be certain: as we trust and yield to the Lord Jesus, we will discover how amazingly good He is.  We will realize that in one so prone to selfishness apart from Christ, His presence within us turns us inside out to selflessly love others.  "That must be Him!" we declare as we freely give the grace we have freely received.  It is Him, and because the love of God known as it comes to us shines even more brightly as it moves through us.

"But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
(I Corinthians 15:10)

Weekly Memory Verse
        "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly."
 (Proverbs 18:24)



Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "Applied LIght"

The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…

"Applied Light"

    Regarding most people we encounter, we know nothing of what we might call their "backstory."  Where are they from?  What was their upbringing?  What blessings have they known?  What hardships, heartaches, and even heartbreaks?  What is their relationship to God and His truth?  We do not know, nor do we begin to fully comprehend the history of those closest to us.  How then can Christians begin to share our Lord and His Word in a pertinent manner that speaks to the issue of where people are, based on where they have been?

    "Thou, o Lord, knowest me" (Jeremiah 12:3).

    There is One who knows every history and backstory, as well as every present condition of hearts.  Our Heavenly Father possesses perfect awareness of where every one of us have been, from the moment of our conception until now.  As we seek to relate to people in a manner that influences them for the Lord Jesus Christ, we must therefore trust and submit ourselves to God for His leadership.  Certainly we have a general idea of what others need in the sense of Christ and His truth.  Specific application of appropriately conveyed Light, however, requires the Holy Spirit's direction.  Like Nathaniel, instantly transformed from skepticism to faith by the Savior's perfectly applied administration of Truth, human hearts must witness Light shining through us that causes them to think some has been reading their mail (John 1:45-51).  Because Someone has.  "Thou God seest me" (Genesis 16:13).

   If we desire to effectively exemplify and communicate the Gospel of the Lord Jesus to others, we must live and speak in a manner that addresses both the backstory and the present condition of human hearts.  Little wonder that the Apostle Paul felt completely overwhelmed by such a challenge: "Who is sufficient for these things?"  However, Paul also knew he could trust the One who knows: "our sufficiency is of God" (II Corinthians 2:16; 3:5).  Thus, we devote ourselves to Him in order to fulfill our devotion to people who need to see Christ exemplified and communicated by us in a manner that applies to where they have been and where they are.  Someone knows both the backstory and present reality of every human heart.  That Someone promises to lead and empower us to shine perfectly applied lasers of Light as we affirm with the Apostle, "our sufficiency is of Him."

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver."
(Proverbs 25:11)

Weekly Memory Verse
        "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly."
 (Proverbs 18:24)



Monday, June 24, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "Friends"

The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…


    One of my dearest friends left our area nearly sixteen years ago.  He and his wife moved to Tennessee, where he serves as a Biblical counselor in a medical practice operated by Christian doctors.  Tom shares the Lord Jesus Christ and His truth with troubled people referred to him by the physicians, and also helps to teach others how to provide godly and Biblical counsel to hurting hearts.

   I share this with you because when Tom and JJ moved away from Mobile, we committed to stay in touch.  We had been close friends for a number of years, and greatly enjoyed each other's fellowship.  Tom also had been a blessing and help to our family in numerous ways.  He is one of those people who will always be there when he knows someone is in need, and we were often the beneficiaries of such grace (remind me to tell you the story of how he found our missing daughter and dog!).  So, as Tom left for Tennessee, I surely looked forward to maintaining a close connection.  You know how that goes, however.  It is easy to commit to staying in touch, but far more difficult to actually do so.

   Not for Tom.  For more than fifteen years, nearly every Monday and Thursday as he travels to work, he calls me.  We spend five minutes or so catching up, talking about the Lord, our families, and sometimes the ministry opportunities we both experience.  I look forward to his calls, and take from them not only personal blessing, but also the example of what friendship really means.

    "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly" (Proverbs 18:24).

    By "friendly," Solomon refers to far more than simply attitude and a kindly manner.  He rather speaks of the mutual nature of relationship, namely, that God made human hearts to involve and engage ourselves in communion with Him, and with each other.  "We love Him because He first loved us… Love one another" (I John 4:19; John 13:34).  As the old saying goes, "to have a friend, we must be a friend."  With our Lord, this means He He seeks us, and then we seek Him in response, as led and enabled by the Holy Spirit.   "When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face, my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek" (Psalm 63:1).  With people, we realize the giving and receiving nature of genuine fellowship.  Believers rightly seek to emphasize the giving aspect as the love of Christ constitutes the glory of God and the needs of others as more important than our own - "let each esteem other as better than themselves" (Philippians 2:3).  However, we may also properly expect to receive in every true relationship if that bond is to be all our Heavenly Father intends it to be.  This is especially true and necessary in our walk with Him.  And it also characterizes all true friendship.

    Tom clearly knows this.  He practices it.  So, our fellowship and friendship in Christ endures to the glory of God and surely my personal blessing (haven't figured out yet what Tom receives in the matter!).  I am grateful for my dear brother and friend, and for this opportunity to let his example encourage all of us to devote ourselves more fully to our walk with the Lord and with people.  We were made for this, and as the Spirit of the Lord Jesus walks in us, we will seek to engage ourselves as fully as possible in every gift of fellowship He provides whereby we seek to give, and rejoice as we receive.

(P.S. - a further point.  A number of you who receive these messages were referred to them by Tom.  So you know by personal experience the blessing of his friendship).

"Our friends salute thee.  Greet the friends by name."
(III John 1:14

Weekly Memory Verse
        "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly."
 (Proverbs 18:24)



Saturday, June 22, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "Bare Faith"

The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…

"Bare Faith"

    Much of the Christian life consists of what we might call "bare faith."  

    "We walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7).

    Our Heavenly Father works mightily and incessantly  to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts and along the pathways of our lives.  The expectant believer will see many evidences of such grace as the Holy Spirit confirms and affirms God's living presence in countless bestowals of Divine goodness.  However, even the most trusting Christian must live much of life with no overt evidence, emotion, or experience.  Our present existence in a fallen world precludes constant sight of the truth that "God… worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 3:1; 11).  The physical realm composed of trillions upon trillions of atoms that form the physical structure of all things reflects the spiritual reality we consider.  We cannot see atoms and their wondrous composition, energy, and movement.  They nevertheless exist as the substance of the entire universe.  Just like their Maker, who dwells in the entirety of His creation with loving and living involvement whereby He "upholds all things by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:3).  Indeed, if our eyes could see in finer detail the myriad of atoms that compose the universe, our senses would be overwhelmed.  Even more, if we could perceive God's reality in greater awareness, His presence and working in all things would overwhelm our spirits.  "God... doeth great things past finding out, yea, and wonders without number" (Job 9:2; 10).

   The life of faith consists of discovering the glory of God's heart more than the power of His hand.  This requires our "walk by faith, not by sight."  If we constantly witnessed our Lord's doings, we would become enamored and titillated by His capability rather than His character.  What He can do would supersede who He is.  In our present existence, much sensory deprivation is required in order to reveal that "this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).  This means "bare faith," or many moments when we cannot see, feel, comprehend, or sense in any manner the Great Fact of our existence.  We nevertheless believe, based on God's Word and His Spirit working in our hearts.  The way is hard.  But to those who realize that our Heavenly Father offers His heart to all who will trust Him in both light and darkness, the reward is great.  The gift of Himself - this is the glory of grace awaiting  us as we trust His heart when we cannot see His hand.

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."
(Hebrews 11:6)

Weekly Memory Verse
  Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.
(II Peter 1:2)



Friday, June 21, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "The Essence of Worship"

The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…

"The Essence of Worship"

    What is worship?  For many, singing praises and thanksgivings has become increasingly identified with worship, particularly in church services.   The Bible, however, teaches that while song can certainly be an expression of worship, it is not synonymous with it.

    "I am thy fellow servant, of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book.  Worship God" (Revelation 22:9).  

    Certainly a correlation can exist between worship and singing expressions of devotion to our Lord.  "All the earth shall worship Thee, and shall sing unto Thee; they shall sing to Thy name" (Psalm 66:4).  However, the fact remains that worship and music are not one and the same thing.   Indeed, one can worship without singing, and one can sing without worshipping.  This does not minimize the blessing of song, nor does it imply disregard to the command, "Sing unto the Lord, o ye saints of His" (Psalm 30:4).  As one who leads the singing of thousands of hymns each year, I rejoice in the joy of musical expressions of affirmation to our Lord.  What a gift to our hearts, and as I frequently mention, "Can you imagine a life without music?"  Indeed, those who lose their hearing  all attest that one of the greatest difficulties experienced in such loss involves the absence of hearing song and singing.  Nevertheless, the truth remains that worship and music must not be viewed as synonymous.

   Worship, in its essence, should rather be defined in accordance with its first mention in Scripture.

   "And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt (test) Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you" (Genesis 22:5).

   No Biblical record exists of Abraham and Isaac singing as they ventured to the mount of sacrifice.  They rather journeyed for the purpose of trusting and obeying God.  This is worship in its stark and holy essence, namely, to do the will of God regardless of any sacrifice that may be involved.  Sometimes such devotion involves music.  Often it does not.  Abraham and Isaac worshipped not by singing praises, but by doing God's will at the highest cost.   Abraham obeyed God, Isaac did not struggle, and Scripture, in its first reference to worship, provides one of its most beautiful foreshadowings of God sacrificing His Son, and of Christ being "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Phillipians 2:8).  Indeed, Calvary witnessed the greatest act of worship that has or will ever occur.  "Not My will, but Thine be done" said our Savior to His Father before journeying into the mount of sacrifice (Luke 22:42).  This is worship in its holy essence, which occurred with no record of song or singing.

   I love music.  I sing it.  I play it.  I compose it.  But I do not mistake it for worship.  Certainly we can worship by singing, even as battered Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God in their prison (Acts 16:25).  However, we can sing the finest hymns with the most seemingly ardent feelings of devotion, but not approach the true altar of worship.  As with Abraham and Isaac, worship involves God calling us to trust and obey Him at whatever cost by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes we will sing as we worship, and sometimes we won't.  Most importantly, let us never equate the essence of worship with anything other than God-enabled faith and faithfulness.  As the Lord Jesus declared to Satan in the wilderness temptation, "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve" (Luke 4:8; emphasis added).   Yes, to serve God, as led and enabled by Him, at whatever cost.  This is worship in its blessed and holy essence.

"O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; fear before Him, all the earth."
(Psalm 96:9)

Weekly Memory Verse
  Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.
(II Peter 1:2)