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Posts Tagged ‘Worship’

Scripture: “… from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15 NKJV)

 

Observation: from a child—literally, “from an infant.” The tender age of the first dawn of reason is that wherein the most lasting impressions of faith may be made.

wise unto salvation—that is, wise unto the attainment of salvation. Contrast “folly” (2 Ti 3:9). Wise also in extending it to others.

through faith—as the instrument of this wisdom. Each knows divine things only as far as his own experience in himself extends. He who has not faith, has not wisdom or salvation.[ Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (2 Ti 3:15). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]

 

Application:  One of the most important things that you can do with your child is to read to them. Literacy development is the number one predictor of academic success in children. And, the number one thing that you can do to impact literacy development is to read to your child every day. Yes, this takes time. But, the rewards not only help assure academic success, they just may be eternal.

 

Why not combine reading to your child every day with having daily family worship? Think of the opportunity that you have!  Consider the choice of available reading material. You may read those precious Bible stories of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, Noah’s Ark, or David and Goliath. You can take an entire week of family devotions, read the same story each night, then do various things each night to make that story come alive for your little one. As a family you may reenact the story, make the various voices, illustrate the story in a family mural, have a puppet show, write a song etc.

 

Dedicate a specific time each day to family worship. Make sure everyone in the house knows the time and the place they will meet. It should be at the same time every day so that it becomes a daily habit for everyone in the family. Don’t allow busyness to push it aside. You will never regret time spent worshipping together as a family.

 

Make sure those Biblical lessons and stories are age appropriate for your child. Family worship should be something that they look forward to all day long. Involve them in selecting the weekly story of emphasis and in planning the activities. Those simple stories that a young child listens to you read to them will become great life lessons they will carry with them into adulthood.

 

A Prayer You May Say: Dear Lord, help me as a parent teach my child to love Your word.

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Scripture: (2 Chr 31:20-21 NKJV)  Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the LORD his God. {21} And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered.

Observation: From the time Hezekiah became king of Judah he began a reform of a spiritual nature throughout the nation but also a physical restoration of the temple and its services.  Not only did he order the repair of the temple, with everyone’s contribution, but he also destroyed the worship of other gods and moved the people to rededicate themselves and their children to the worship of the true God.

Application: So you hear or read how critically important it is to lead by example in the worship of the Lord, particularly in the life of our children.  And you may think that since you have not been doing it – you have not been praying with and for your children, or you have not been having daily worship with them, or you have not been spending time every day studying God’s will, seeking His will or following His commands – so you may feel guilty and maybe tempted to give up and simply continue the same pattern for your and their lives.
The story of Hezekiah’s reforms can teach us that it is never too late to begin again, it is never too late to make changes in our personal devotional life or in the family worship of our God.  So why not begin today.  You can talk to your family, confess that you have not been faithful to His commands in that you have not been leading them by example in the worship of God, and share with them that you intend to begin again, and to invite them to join you.  Explain that you are making a new commitment to pray with and for them every day, and that you will be studying a portion of the Scriptures, and that you would  like to gather with them each day to have family worship time.   The honest confession on your part will show them that you’re transparent with them and are willing to show them your human nature, that you’re not perfect but also that you want to do your best under God’s guidance.  Don’t let the devil defeat you and continue in the same pattern of disregard for God and His worship.  Think of yourself as the Hezekiah of your home, making personal and family reforms in order to bring a revival of the faith to your family.  While you may encounter some resistance, if you do it kindly and lovingly, and persevere, the results will be better than continuing to neglect your personal and your family devotional life and daily commitment to God.

Prayer: Father, forgive us for neglecting our time and communion with You and for not leading our family in a daily experience of prayer and worship with You.  Help us to begin again, to make things right with You, and to bring about this reform and revival in our lives and that of our children.

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Scripture: (Judg 2:10 NKJV)  When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.

Observation: After the death of Joshua and the people of his generation had passed away, things changed very quickly in Israel, but not for the best.  The rapid decline in their spirituality reflects the rapid abandonment of God’s will for them.  First of all, the Israelites stopped their conquest of the Promised Land from going as far as God intended it should.  Secondly, they left entire cities, and their inhabitants, alive and established relationships with them.  And finally, they began to worship the Baals of the people of the land.  This rapid decline is what God had tried to prevent by commanding them to destroy the people of the land, but in just one generation they went from following God to worshipping Baal.

Application: I can attest to how fast things change, in one generation, when you abandon God.  My mother’s parents were the first Seventh-day Adventist converts in the city of Bucaramanga, where we were born, in the country of Colombia, South America.  When my mother was a young girl, her mother died leaving her husband to raise five young children by himself; my grandfather never remarried.  Weighed down with the heavy responsibility and with a large hospital bill after his wife’s death, my grandfather, a very responsible man, made whatever payments he could on that hospital bill but in the process he didn’t return God’s tithe faithfully; shortly after that, he stopped going to church altogether.  Eventually all but one of the children, including my mother, ended up out of the church (one died at a young age, still believing and living his faith).  As a young lady, about to graduate from high school, my mother met my father, who together with his family  was Roman Catholic.  In order for my mother to be able to marry my father she “converted” to Catholicism; in her own words, while she did everything in her power to accept, believe, and practice her new religion, she confessed to me many years later that she never really could come to believe it because the seeds of Bible truth remained deeply ingrained in her heart.  Nevertheless, she raised her children as Catholics, attending church every Sunday, and performing the rituals, or “sacraments,” required by the church such like infant baptism, “the First Communion,” “Confirmation,” etc.
As a young boy, after my first communion, I became quite active in the church and was chosen to be one of the altar boys in the church near to where we lived and where we worshiped regularly for many years.  I remember as a young boy wearing my bath robe and standing before the kitchen sink, with a slice of bread, dipping a piece of it in a glass of orange juice mixed with some water, role-playing what I saw the priest do on the altar during mass – by the way, my own “mass” was not the best as the juice was too watered down, and the bread soaked in this mixture tasted horrible.  If the priest had seen me doing this he probably would have said that even at an early age I demonstrated a vocation for the priesthood; I might say that even in the darkness was already beginning to show me a glimpse of the ministerial career I would one day follow.
In my family, all of us grew up catholic, and faithfully did the things required of good Catholics like repeating the prescribed prayers to Mary and to bow down before the many images found in churches, cathedrals, and even road side shrines.  While my mother’s brother and his family were Adventists, we never completely understood what they were or why they lived like they did; we only knew they did strange things like not watch TV on Friday nights and Saturdays, or not eating what we considered to be delicacies and which now I myself find distasteful, even disgusting.  It was only after the death of my father, and our move to the United States, that my mother returned to the Adventist faith and she and I were baptized the same day in a church in Silver Spring, Maryland.
As we reflect on our portion of the Scriptures for today, some may wonder how quickly the Israelites abandoned the faith of their fathers after all the powerful miracles He worked on their behalf.  I witnessed how easy it is to do so as with my mother’s departure from the faith as in just a few short years she went from being a Sabbath-keeping, second-coming-expecting Christian, to a Sunday-keeping, idol worshipping Catholic, and as a result, with the birth of each of her children, we were one by one introduced to the worship of these idols  and it became a simple part of our lives.
If we as parents can see how easily and quickly children learn, we would be so much more careful with our actions and words.  I am amazed at parents who don’t bring their young children to church or those who have told me that they don’t want to force them to believe as they do but want to give their children the freedom to choose what to believe only to see how quickly their children abandon the faith their parents wish they would hold as their own.  I’d like to encourage every parent to hold dear their faith and live it and teach it to their children from the time they are born that they may grow up in it from their earliest days; if we as parents don’t live our faith, we will quickly loose our children and many generations to come.

Prayer: Father, help us to live daily our faith and may we transmit it faithfully to our children and for generations to come.

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Scripture: (Josh 24:14-15 NKJV)  “Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! {15} “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Observation: This is one of those well-known passages in the Bible and it comes in the latter part of Joshua’s life, as he recounts for the Israelites what God has done for them and again reminds them to not enter into relationships with the people of the land lest they “become a snare” for them.  Here he challenges them with his own personal example.  If, after all God has done for them, they still choose to worship other gods, so be it.  Crazy as it seems, so be it.  But as for me and my family, God forbid that I’d leave Him to worship worthless pieces of wood, stone, or metal.  We will serve the Lord.  It is his own example that leads the people to respond the way they did: (Josh 24:16-18 NKJV)  So the people answered and said: “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; {17} “for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed. {18} “And the LORD drove out from before us all the people, including the Amorites who dwelt in the land. We also will serve the LORD, for He is our God.”

Application: We can never underestimate the power of our decisions on what other people, particularly our family, do.  Joshua understood that, which is why, at the dusk of his life he challenged the children of Israel with the words of our text.  We can challenge our children as often as we want to, but if our actions don’t match our words, the challenge will not only go unheeded, it could well drive them to make the opposite choice of what we would have wanted for them.  That’s that mean that if we live correctly all the time (or at least most of the time), that our children will follow our steps all the time (or most of the time) as well?   I wish I could tell you that is the case.  The reality is that everyone has the same freedom of choice and even the most godly parents have experienced the pain of seeing their children leave the faith in which they were brought up and the God to whom they were dedicated as babies.  As parents, however, we must consider that without a good example on our part the chances that they will choice a different path increase greatly.  From our part, then, we must dedicate ourselves and our family to God, live uprightly with God’s help, pray for and with them daily, and then leave the rest to them and to God expecting that ultimately His grace will be sufficient for them, as it is for us.

Prayer: Father, in Your goodness you allow us to make our own choices.  This day, we choose You as our God and Savior and ask that You come close to our children, that they may sense Your presence in their lives, and that they, too, choose You this day as their God, their Savior, and Lord of their lives.

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Scripture: (Josh 10:12-13 NKJV)  Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” {13} So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

Observation: One of the most powerful miracles ever had just taken place after Joshua prayed that the sun would stand still; it is recorded that the sun indeed stood still for about a day.  Then the kings that had joined to try to defeat Israel were captured and executed, and later buried.  These wholesale destructions of entire cities is what has caused some to question God and even to come to be afraid of or bitter toward Him.  We need to consider several things:
1. Israel had no home, and God wanted to provide them with a home of their own where they could live in peace and worship Him and become a witness to the whole world.
2. These nations had become so depraved by sin that their corrupting influence was not only spreading, but it could, and in some cases did, become a hindrance, a temptation, and a stumbling block to God’s people.
3. The way these people dealt with their own was dehumanizing and deadly.  They had temple prostitutes, the women were treated as objects to abuse and mistreat, children were abused and at times offered to idols; God could not permit this abuse on the innocent to go on forever – or until they’d destroy themselves, but in the mean time generations of innocent people would suffer.
4. Without the presence of Israel as a nation, the world was rapidly becoming like the world before the flood, and even though Israel was not always faithful to God, its presence gave the rest of the world an opportunity to know God and gave them a lease on life.
In reality, these destructions were more an act of mercy than an act of anger on the part of God.  Yes, He was angry with those nations and peoples, but yet they were also His children and by putting an end to their wickedness God was saving countless others yet unborn.

Application: In thinking about the sun standing still, I just recently I received an e-mail with a story (whether it is true or not, I don’t know), about the time when NASA scientists were working on plans for future launches when they ran into a problem.  They entered all the information into the computer, but the computer could not compute correctly, it gave an error message, and the NASA people could not find out what the problem was, all they knew was that there was one day and about forty minutes missing that they could not account for.  Apparently a Christian among them told them about this event, they changed their calculations and sure enough, they were only missing about forty minutes.  Then the Christian told them of the time when King Hezekiah asked for a sign that he would be healed, and the sun went back what would be the equivalent of . . . forty minutes.  Once that time was also accounted for, their calculations matched perfectly.
These stories remind me that God’s miraculous power on our behalf is still available to us as families and as couples.  We may not get the sun to stand still, but maybe he will make the time that we have more manageable so we can spend time learning about Him and worshiping Him, time together as families, time with our children, time for work, time for leisure, time to evangelize, time to rest.  And all along, God also helps us to deal with those things that are destroying our families – negative influences on our children, not spending enough time together, not spending enough time with God in prayer and for God in praise, not spending enough time to study His word, not spending enough time working for the salvation of others.  We don’t need the miracle of more time; what we need is the miracle of learning how to manage properly the time that God already gives us every day.  Much like we don’t understand how when we return God’s tithe we seem to have more than before, so when we dedicate our time to Him, He can help us accomplish more in the time we have than if we tried to manage it ourselves, without Him in it.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the time You give us.  Help us to manage it wisely for You and others.

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Scripture: (Exo 34:12-16 NKJV)  “Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. {13} “But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images {14} ‘(for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), {15} “lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods, and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice, {16} “and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods.

Observation: While it may seem strange to us that God would tell His people to go into the land He was giving them and completely wipe out all the people already living there, we must understand the reasons.  The basis for this command is found in the text for today.  The BKC explains: “Making a treaty with idolaters would lead to involvement in their sacrificial communal meals (34:15), to intermarrying their daughters (many of whom were spiritual and/or physical prostitutes to their gods; cf. Hosea 4:13-14), and even to making molten images (Ex. 34:17; cf. 20:4) as they had already done with the gold calf (32:4). Tragically Israel did not heed these warnings and they did in fact become involved in worshiping the Canaanites’ and others’ false gods. Ultimately this led to Israel being exiled.”
It wasn’t only the danger of rejecting God and accepting idols, it was rather what the worship of those idols would, and indeed did, lead them to do.  Many of the pagan practices included not just the worship of idols but temple prostitution and ultimately the sacrifice of children in the fire to those idols.  God knew how low such compromises would lead them and was trying to protect them from such horror.  Sadly, in their blindness and stubbornness, the Israelites disobeyed God, didn’t destroy all the people, entered into relationships with them, accepted their gods, and did sacrifice their children and their altars, both spiritually and physically.

Application: The application for us as parents today should be as clear: don’t compromise principle, choose carefully what you expose your children to.  I am amazed at how lightly parents today take the issue of Adventist education as opposed to any other.  It’s as if we have been so blinded that we don’t see what harm our children could experience if they went to a public school or a Christian school of a different faith, or what problems may arise if they become close friends with non-Adventists, or what problems may exists if they marry them.  And yet, all of us know from personal experience so many people who have indeed taken these steps and now they or their children are no longer Adventists or even believe in God.
So, watch carefully what you expose your children to – what they read, what they watch, who they associate with, where they go to school, etc.  Those decisions could have eternal consequences.

Prayer: Father, today as during the Exodus we as parents need all the wisdom You can possibly give us to make the right decisions.  I may not be anymore challenging to be a parent today than in other times, but this is our time, these are our challenges, and those are the decisions we have to make.  So, please endow us with the courage, the strength, and the wisdom to do what is right, even if it’s no popular with our children or others.

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