And he will be their peace

 

I’m currently reading through Micah, and as I read through chapter 5 these words called out to me as clear as day:

“He (Jesus) will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,

in the majesty of the Lord his God.

And he will be their peace.”

The Old Testament is full of messianic prophecies, and I believe knowing them is a great discipline to have (much like knowing the promises of God to His people). It keeps us mindful of Christ at all times, constantly remembering his sacrificial work on the cross to forgive us of sins.

But oh how easy it is for us to be distracted by worldly circumstances. We are concerned, now more than ever, about our appearance, health, wealth, relationships, careers, hobbies – everything in the world. The world has become so comfortable to us that Paul’s words in Philippians 1:21 seem quite disturbing, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain”. Heaven is no longer our home – wherever we find the most satisfaction in ourselves is. We might even say that we’d prefer to stay here a little longer, enjoy ourselves more, before making our way to our Saviour; trusting our own sense of what true joy is, over God.

Really?

We choose the pleasures of the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16) – over the pleasures from God, which are at His right hand forever (Psalm 16:11)?

“Blessed are the pure in heart,” Jesus said, “for they will see God”. But do we want to see God? Can we honestly say that we’d prefer heaven – a place without sin, without pain, without death, where we will be free to wholly worship and glorify and enjoy God our Creator and Redeemer and Father, for all eternity? Or would we rather ponder our next date, our next holiday, our next promotion?

To make Christ my peace, I must first make Him the source of my contentment. If He is not, then I will not know the peace that transcends human understanding, which comes from God (Phil. 4:7). I will be making a more intentional and prayerful effort to do this – to have Christ and His magnificence in mind, more often than my current endeavours and circumstances – and I encourage you to as well! For whatever is pure, whatever is noble, whatever is excellent and trustworthy – we ought to think of. And nothing, no one, is more worthy of our thoughts and worship as Jesus.

“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ,

who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God,

cleanse our consciences from useless rituals,

so that we may serve the living God!”

Hebrews 9:14

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Power, Fear and Glory: a Meditation on Daniel 3

 

We all know this story, from Daniel chapter 3: King Nebuchadnezzar had set up a tall, golden image of himself, and had issued a decree that when anybody heard any kind of music, they were to fall down in worship of the image. Three Jewish men, however (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) refused to comply; even though they faced a penalty of burning in a furnace for their defiance. This outraged the King, particularly when the men answered the King’s specific command to worship the image:

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Livid with rage, the kind had the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual, and had the men bound and thrown in. The furnace was so hot, in fact, that the soldiers who threw them in died.

Upon inspecting the furnace, the king found that not only did the men appear to be alive and well; but a fourth man was also present with them. A man who “looked like a son of the gods” (v 3:25). So he called the men out, and responded in awe and praise at the power of the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego:

“Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”

What an awesome God we serve! And there are some really amazing things to take away from this chapter:

1. Our God is Mighty to Save

Probably the most obvious, and most awesome, lessons to be learned from this particular story is that God is completely capable and powerful enough to save us from any and every situation. God upholds the righteous, and saves us from trouble; either temporarily, from worldly suffering and tribulations; or ultimately, when we go to be in heaven with Christ.

2. Our God is Whom we should Fear

This story reminds me of Jesus’ words to His disciples in Matthew 10, when He is advising them regarding men who will hate and persecute them:

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell”. Matthew 10:28

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn’t fear the soldiers, the king, or the furnace – no, they feared disobeying God more than burning in a furnace. That is absolutely incredible! I wonder what kind of fruit we would bear in our lives if such a powerful, godly fear took hold of our hearts in pure, undivided worship to our God above all other earthly pursuits.

3. Our God is Worthy of the Glory

The bravery of the three Jewish men in the face of death as penalty for their faith is incredible as it is – what is even more astounding, however, is their acknowledgement that even if God did not save them from the fire, they would still not serve other gods. This is because they were secure and confident in the worthiness and power of the one true God to receive worship and glory, and the idea of persecution – while certainly painful and terrifying – to them was not worth comparing to the glory that would God would receive in light of such true faith and devotion from these godly men.

Our sacrifice may end up in earthly success – much like it did for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – but other times, it may not. But even if it doesn’t, our loyalty to Christ leads to His glory. Our delight in and desire for God to be glorified among the nations is a firm stronghold against fear of the world, leading to weak faith and idolatry. Let us instead pray that we would be filled with and strengthened by a true, pure, fear of the Lord – this will sustain us unto a fortitude and power in our faiths that we otherwise wouldn’t experience!

Some questions to consider:

1. Do you trust in God’s ability and power to save you – from sin, trouble, temptations and the like?

2. Do you tend to fear people or things more than God? Does there need to be a shift in what you find most reverent and awesome in your life?

3. Is God’s glory your highest priority? If not, what is your highest priority? What do you need to pray for/experience so that you will be completely devoted to Christ and His Kingdom?

Women’s Roles in the Church: God’s High Calling for Women

 

*This is a repost of an article from Desiring God at Bethlehem Church: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/a-challenge-to-women

I’ve been asked to lead a Ladies Night tomorrow for a bunch of lovely young women who are visiting the Gold Coast to evangelise to the school-leavers who are partying all week. In preparation for what I would talk with them about, I sent out a quiz to gage what they themselves would like to hear that would be interesting, relevant and spiritually beneficial for them. Among the topics that were offered, “Women’s roles in the Church: God’s High Calling for Women” was one of the least known about, and was chosen as one of the most popular. I had promised the girls that I would try to write posts about the most popular topics that wouldn’t make it to the main talk, so here goes!

In searching for a resource that looks specifically at ministries within the church that women can and should serve in, I found this article really helpful. I’ve copied and pasted straight from the page below, because I feel that the way the author put across our godly, wonderful privileges and responsibilities as women of God was exceptional. I hope it encourages you, and gives you the opportunity to pray through some of these, seeking God’s wisdom and confirmation about how you can be serving God’s people! 🙂

A Challenge to Women

  1. That all of your life—in whatever calling—be devoted to the glory of God.
  2. That the promises of Christ be trusted so fully that peace and joy and strength fill your soul to overflowing.
  3. That this fullness of God overflow in daily acts of love so that people might see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven.
  4. That you be women of the Book, who love and study and obey the Bible in every area of its teaching. That meditation on Biblical truth be the source of hope and faith. And that you continue to grow in understanding through all the chapters of your life, never thinking that study and growth are only for others.
  5. That you be women of prayer, so that the Word of God would open to you; and the power of faith and holiness would descend upon you; and your spiritual influence would increase at home and at church and in the world.
  6. That you be women who have a deep grasp of the sovereign grace of God undergirding all these spiritual processes, that you be deep thinkers about the doctrines of grace, and even deeper lovers and believers of these things.
  7. That you be totally committed to ministry, whatever your specific role, that you not fritter your time away on soaps or ladies magazines or aimless hobbies, any more than men should fritter theirs away on excessive sports or aimless diddling in the garage. That you redeem the time for Christ and his Kingdom.
  8. That, if you are single, you exploit your singleness to the full in devotion to Christ and not be paralyzed by the desire to be married.
  9. That, if you are married, you creatively and intelligently and sincerely support the leadership of your husband as deeply as obedience to Christ will allow; that you encourage him in his God-appointed role as head; that you influence him spiritually primarily through your fearless tranquility and holiness and prayer.
  10. That, if you have children, you accept responsibility with your husband (or alone if necessary) to raise up children who hope in the triumph of God, sharing with him the teaching and discipline of the children, and giving to the children that special nurturing touch and care that you are uniquely fitted to give.
  11. That you not assume that secular employment is a greater challenge or a better use of your life than the countless opportunities of service and witness in the home the neighborhood, the community, the church, and the world. That you not only pose the question: Career vs. full time mom? But that you ask as seriously: Full time career vs. freedom for ministry? That you ask: Which would be greater for the Kingdom— to be in the employ of someone telling you what to do to make his business prosper, or to be God’s free agent dreaming your own dream about how your time and your home and your creativity could make God’s business prosper? And that in all this you make your choices not on the basis of secular trends or yuppie lifestyle expectations, but on the basis of what will strengthen the family and advance the cause of Christ.
  12. That you step back and (with your husband, if you are married) plan the various forms of your life’s ministry in chapters. Chapters are divided by various things—age, strength, singleness, marriage, employment choices, children at home, children in college, grandchildren, retirement, etc. No chapter has all the joys. Finite life is a series of tradeoffs. Finding God’s will, and living for the glory of Christ to the full in every chapter is what makes it a success, not whether it reads like somebody else’s chapter or whether it has in it what chapter five will have.
  13. That you develop a wartime mentality and lifestyle; that you never forget that life is short, that billions of people hang in the balance of heaven and hell every day, that the love of money is spiritual suicide, that the goals of upward mobility (nicer clothes, cars, houses, vacations, food, hobbies) are a poor and dangerous substitute for the goals of living for Christ with all your might, and maximizing your joy in ministry to people’s needs.
  14. That in all your relationships with men you seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in applying the Biblical vision of manhood and womanhood; that you develop a style and demeanor that does justice to the unique role God has given to man to feel responsible for gracious leadership in relation to women—a leadership which involves elements of protection and care and initiative. That you think creatively and with cultural sensitivity (just as he must do) in shaping the style and setting the tone of your interaction with men.
  15. That you see Biblical guidelines for what is appropriate and inappropriate for men and women in relation to each other not as arbitrary constraints on freedom but as wise and gracious prescriptions for how to discover the true freedom of God’s ideal of complementarity. That you not measure your potential by the few roles withheld but by the countless roles offered. That you turn off the TV and Radio and think about…

The awesome significance of motherhood

Complementing a man’s life as his wife

Ministries to the handicapped

  • hearing impaired
  • blind
  • lame
  • mentally disabled

Ministries to the sick:

  • nursing
  • physician
  • hospice care—cancer, AIDS, etc.
  • community health

Ministries to the socially estranged:

  • emotionally impaired
  • recovering alcoholics
  • recovering drug users
  • escaping prostitutes
  • abused children, women
  • runaways, problem children
  • orphans

Prison ministries:

  • women’s prisons!
  • families of prisoners
  • rehabilitation to society

Ministries to youth:

  • teaching
  • sponsoring
  • open houses and recreation
  • outings and trips
  • counseling
  • academic assistance

Sports ministries:

  • neighborhood teams
  • church teams

Therapeutic counseling:

  • independent
  • church based
  • institutional

Audio visual ministries:

  • composition
  • design
  • production
  • distribution

Writing ministries:

  • free lance
  • curriculum development
  • fiction
  • non-fiction
  • editing
  • institutional communications
  • journalistic skills for publications

Teaching ministries:

  • Sunday school: children, youth, students, women
  • grade school
  • high school
  • college

Music ministries:

  • composition
  • training
  • performance
  • voice
  • choir
  • instrumentalist

Evangelistic ministries:

  • personal witnessing
  • Inter Varsity
  • Campus Crusade
  • Navigators
  • Home Bible Studies
  • outreach to children
  • Visitation teams
  • Counseling at meetings
  • Billy Graham phone bank

Radio and TV ministries:

  • technical assistance
  • writing
  • announcing
  • producing

Theater and drama ministries:

  • acting
  • directing
  • writing
  • scheduling

Social ministries:

  • literacy
  • pro-life
  • pro-decency
  • housing
  • safety
  • beautification

Pastoral care assistance:

  • visitation
  • newcomer welcoming and assistance
  • hospitality
  • food and clothing and transportation

Prayer ministries:

  • praying!!!
  • mobilizing for major Concerts of Prayer
  • helping with small groups of prayer
  • coordinating prayer chains
  • promoting prayer days and weeks and vigils

Missions:

  • all of the above across cultures

Support ministries:

  • countless jobs that undergird major ministries

How do you Worship?

 

I haven’t posted in a while – mostly due to a very busy weekend, and also due to the fact that I’m working on a talk I’m giving next week at a Ladies Night during a mission trip to Schoolies. Ministering to women is probably my favourite way to serve, and I’m so excited and honoured to have the opportunity to speak into and build up other women of God!

One of the things I got up to on my busy weekend was going along to a young adults worship night at church. I hadn’t been to one before, since my husband and I live so far from our church and it’s hard to work out a time that suits. But I’ve been desperate to go, especially in lieu of my son’s impending birth.

It was incredible. Looking around the dimly lit auditorium it had been rearranged so that we could all sit together as one, and worship our Lord in fellowship with one another. It was a night of beautiful music – new and old. We sang together, prayed together, and shared together. It was like a movie-trailer preview of what heaven will one day be like. And it got me thinking about how we respond to worship – what do we do exactly, when a song comes on and we hear the praising voices of our Brothers and Sisters? How do you personally worship and connect with God? Do you look around you for clues as to what the ‘right’ way to worship is? How do you experience and enjoy God while worshiping in truth?

For me, my richest and most natural response to worship is to write out a Psalm of praise and thanksgiving. I find it to be a process that snuffs out my worries and concerns for myself, and instead turns my soul’s attention to the greatness and glory of God. And I wanted to share that with you; I hope it will encourage you to think about worship, and the way you best respond that magnifies His glory and magnificence to you.

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

Colossians 3:16

A Psalm Unto The Lord

God is the one who holds the sun, and its light, there is none beside Him!

I am blessed and humbled to shine His light in a dark world; He is Almighty God, I am His servant.

No one can fathom the depths of the Lord! No one can fathom how worthy He is; of love and glory and honour and praise! How great is the Lord! How Almighty is His Name! How unsearchable is His wonderful love!

O Lord, I love praising you – together with all the saints. Father, my heart longs for the day when we as your holy church will sing together for you in worship, in your glorious presence, forever! How wonderful it is to sing to the Lord! How warm He makes my heart when I enjoy Him in worship.

Be one with the Lord, be one with Him in all your heart and mind. In all your prayers be true to Him – for He is so faithful, and full of love. The Lord is strong to take your burdens; He will uphold you in your trouble. Be real with God and He will strengthen you with unimaginable strength and fortitude. By His sustaining grace shall He sustain you.

You are God our great defender! Strong in love, forever faithful – we are yours, and we will trust in you!

Now my soul cries out! Hallelujah! Praise and honour unto thee, Lord! Blessed be your holy Name!

O God be my everything, my delight! Be Jesus my glory, my soul satisfied!

O Lord, may I ever draw near to you. My soul, my soul! Do you now know the Lord? Your Creator and master, your redeemer and friend. O soul, do not be dismayed, and pay no mind to evil men, do not indulge the passions of the flesh, do not try yourself with fear and doubt.

The Lord is good in all He does – He is good to those who love Him. Those who trust in the Lord have a happy home – their hearts find true rest. O Lord, that I would enjoy you day and night – this is my desire. Cast out my sinful heart – restore me in godliness and righteousness. Be ever with me, my faithful God and Father.

For your goodness is ever before me – in your holy Word I find your heart. In Scriptures are treasures great and true – words that cannot contain your greatness. In worship I am happy – I am filled when I love you. You are just amazing – could I ever have enough of you? Your grace abounds to me.

Replace the lamp of my first love with holy fear.

Lord, I love worshiping you – let me never forget that! O soul, don’t be distracted – love the Lord with a pure and undivided heart.

The waves and wind still know His Name! He is so mighty in power beyond all comprehension. His eyes are set on those He loves, His heart set on the saints! His power and goodness upholds us – so it is well with my soul! He is all powerful, Almighty God – who can withstand the love of the Lord? His love is amazing! None can fathom its depth.

Glory in Praise

 

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever! Cry out, “Save us, O God our Saviour; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, that we may glory in your praise. Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.”

1 Chronicles 16:34-36

There is a plethora of information about worship out there. What is worship? Who can worship? How do we worship? Why do we worship? But the articles/blogs/podcasts/books, while they are helpful, are written by man, drawing us away from the ready-made manual that God has already given us with everything we need for a godly life, including worship (2 Peter 1:3). In order to worship in spirit and truth, we need to first know the real truth – which only comes from God’s Word.

I have found no better revelation regarding worship other than in the Old Testament, particularly the above passage. 1 Chronicles 16 sets the stage for a heavy, expectant atmosphere. All of Israel had hurried together as one nation, to witness the ark of the Lord finally being placed into a tabernacle that King David had built. Every person in the crowd received from David a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins – in economical terms, this was close to a week’s worth of wages, handed to them in one day for the purposes of celebration. You can imagine the excitement and reverence with which the people were gathering!

And then, the chorus begins – and the people follow in worship!

I think verses 34-36 capture the true mode of worship perfectly. Here’s why:

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!”

Worship has been, and always should be, God-centered. Worship is not for us. It is for God! (Romans 11:36). Worship should exude out of our hearts as a desire to acknowledge and praise the perfect, holy character of God. We do this by meditating on and adoring His justice, mercy, grace, provision, wisdom, benevolence, power and more. If we can truly say with the Psalmist, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” (Psalm 103:1), then are we wholly worshipping the only One who is truly worthy of praise.

“For His mercy endures forever.”

Have you ever been so overwhelmed by someone’s kindness, that you couldn’t thank them enough? Has someone ever amazed you, made you proud of them, or inspired you – so much so, that you couldn’t help but express that in thanks or compliments? That comes from a desire to worship. The more we revel in who God is and what He’s done through reading and hearing holy Scripture, the more we learn about Him – and the more we know of Him, the more we can worship about. Our lips should be constantly dripping with praise, and not just on Sunday mornings: ” I will praise the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.” (Psalm 34:1). This is proper for us, God’s holy people.

“Cry out, “Save us, O God our Saviour; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we might give thanks to your holy name,”

In the John MacArthur Study Bible, the note under Psalm 106:47 (which contains a similar passage to the one above) reads, “the psalmist pleads, on behalf of the nation and in light of the Abrahamic Covenant, for the nation to be regathered in Israel. He remembers what the men of Moses’ day forgot, i.e., God as their Saviour. Even though the tribes of Judah and Benjamin returned to Israel in Ezra and Nehemiah, this text looks ahead to the regathering of Israel at the time when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to rule over the promised Davidic millennial kingdom on earth”. So we also, then, when we worship must look ahead to the coming of Christ, eagerly awaiting His return, to be gathered together into the Kingdom.

“that we may glory in your praise. Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.”

Lastly, our worship should leave us with a sense of awe of God in His vastness. Our finite minds cannot fully comprehend the wonder of the Lord, His eternity and majesty, but O, we should try nonetheless! This should so decrease us and magnify Him in our hearts, causing our mouths to cry out in acknowledgement and praise. Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!

If you struggle to find words or affections to worship, why not let Scripture guide you? Here are some helpful passages: 1 Samuel 1, 1 Chronicles 16, Psalm 86, Psalm 91, Psalm 145, Psalm 146, Isaiah 25. For more study, I highly recommend this sermon by Pastor John MacArthur: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/90-354/The-Kind-of-Worship-God-Desires-Part-1