Tag Archives: worship

My Theme for 2016

I abandoned the notion of the New Year’s Resolution several years ago, and 2016 is no exception. But as I sit here in the wee hours of the first morning of the new year, having been awakened by a squeaky dryer and a yearning for a good cup of coffee, two things come to mind that I choose to set as my theme for this year. One is a passage from Scripture and the other is a quote from a well known country & western singer.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” ~ Micah 6:8 NASB

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” ~ Brad Paisley

What does a Micah 6:8 man look like? And how can I make Micah 6:8 the overriding theme of my 2016 book?

God says through the prophet Micah that He requires three things of me:

  1. IMG_3045

    Memorial Lutheran Church, Katy TX

    To do justice. When I think of justice, I think of fairness. I think of treating others as I would like them to treat me. While these things are true, justice is a far weightier concept than that. Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23) As leaders in the synagogue, the Pharisees were often more concerned with how others perceived their practice of religion rather than leading their congregation to a broader understanding of God. They elevated themselves above those whom God had called them to minister. Justice here puts each of us on an even plane. Yes, I am to practice the disciplines of my faith, not to glorify myself but to align myself more closely with God. At the same time, I must seek to serve and minister to others in whatever way and by whatever means God calls me. The Bible says that we are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God (see Romans 3:23). A Micah 6:8 man never seeks to elevate himself above those around him – in church, in his family, at work – anywhere, any time.

  2. To love kindness. Jesus also said, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) How do I want others to treat me? I bet we all want pretty much the same things: to be treated with dignity and respect under any and all situations and circumstances. What would this world look like if each of us put these words of our Lord into practice? What would it look like if each of us actively sought to help meet the needs of others as they seek to help us meet ours? If each of us sought to live our lives under this mandate of Jesus’, kindness would abound. Isn’t it worth a shot?
  3. To walk humbly with your God. The Pharisees, seeking to trap Jesus, asked Him what is the greatest commandment in the Law. Jesus replied, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40) Notice who these two greatest commandments are NOT about: they’re not about me. They are about Him and His creation. Even the Ten Commandments reflect this, as the first four address our relationship with God and the last six address our relationship with others – our neighbors. A lifestyle of walking humbly with my God demonstrates a focus on Him and the people He has placed into my life. It does not seek a position of superiority over either.

IMG_3046As I look back over the pathway of my life thus far, I am thankful that God has chosen to gift me with a vibrant and an ever-growing faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. I look forward to continuing that journey with Him during 2016 as He wills. For my part, I will seek to be in His Word daily, converse with Him through daily prayer and meditation, worship with fellow Christians each Sunday, and seek to live out Micah 6:8 in all areas of my life. 2016 is a leap year, thus we all have an extra page to write in this brand new, clean book we’ve been given. With God’s help, my 2016 book will be pleasing to Him and to those around me.

Happy New Year!

Our Day of Rest ~ Jeremiah 17:19-27

“But it will come about, if you listen attentively to Me,” declares the LORD, “to bring no load in through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but to keep the sabbath day holy by doing no work on it, then there will come in through the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and this city will be inhabited forever. ~ Jeremiah 17:24-25

English: American Airlines Boeing 737-800 taki...

English: American Airlines Boeing 737-800 taking off from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in October 2007. Français : Un Boeing 737-800 décollant de l’aéroport international de Los Angeles (LAX) en octobre 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What does it mean to keep the Sabbath? This passage hits home for me this weekend, as I am on a rare weekend business trip. Today is Sunday and here I sit in a Chicago-area airport hotel preparing to travel home. The timing of my return flight early this afternoon juxtaposed against the worship schedules of local churches is keeping me from worship. Can I still honor God in this situation?

In this passage God tells Israel that they must rest on the Sabbath; doing so carries a promise of blessing while ignoring this command carries a consequence: “But if you do not listen to Me to keep the sabbath day holy by not carrying a load and coming in through the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem and not be quenched.” (17:28)

Keeping the Sabbath day holy is the third of God’s Ten Commandments delivered through Moses:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11)

Why did God command we keep the Sabbath? He answers that question in the Exodus passage above: God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Therefore He declared the seventh day of the week to be a day of rest, so important that He made it holy. God knows the needs of His creation; we need to rest from our daily toils. Rest is so important that God commanded we take it.

English: The Sabbath Rest

English: The Sabbath Rest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I study this question, my mind recalls a show or movie I watched on TV many years ago as a child. I remember the show was set in the 19th century. The family lives in the country. After attending church on Sunday morning, they sit in their chairs at home, Bibles in hand. The family’s children keep asking to go outside and play and the parents repeatedly tell them “no”. It’s the Sabbath and they must rest. The children are miserable. Is that what God intended?

To coin a popular phrase (I almost hate to do this, but in this context I will), “What Would Jesus Do”?

Here are two clues from Mark’s Gospel:

They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He (Jesus) entered the synagogue and began to teach. ~ Mark 1:21

Jesus addressed the Sabbath when confronted by some Pharisees:

And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:23-28)

Based on these passages, it would appear that the Sabbath has two main purposes: (1) It is a day on which we deliberately take time to focus on the things of God. Jesus went to the synagogue and began to teach. Presumably, there were believers at the synagogue ready to study and learn God’s Word. So it is permissible to travel to the synagogue and exercise our brains in worship and study. On the Sabbath we worship, we study, we pray, we congregate with fellow believers to be refreshed and reenergized through worship and the reading and teaching of God’s Word; (2) It is a day on which we rest from the chores of daily life. It’s OK to tend to and provide for our daily needs. Lightning won’t strike us if we rise from our chair and do something physical. This Sabbath, this day of rest, was not intended to be a millstone around our necks; it is a gift to us from our loving Heavenly Father.

Travel Bible study. Taken 9.15.2013, Chicago, IL

Travel Bible study. Taken 9.15.2013, Chicago, IL

In Jeremiah, God is angry at Israel because they have set Him aside in exchange for a worldly lifestyle in which they seek after false gods. Every day looks the same. The true God has been shoved into the background as they pursue their lives of sin. I can relate to that, can you? God’s stressing to them the importance of keeping the Sabbath is a reminder to all of us that we must deliberately seek Him. We must take time from our daily routine to focus on Him and His Word. Setting aside a day in each week for these purposes – worship and rest – allows us the opportunity to recharge our spiritual and physical batteries so we are equipped to face a world enamored with sin.

As I spend this Sunday morning packing and preparing to fly home, I will do so with holy music filling my hotel room. My plane ride home will be a time of Bible study. I will miss my time of corporate worship this morning, but I will set aside my work today to consider all that God has done for me. First and foremost, I will remember and confess my sins and rejoice in the hope of eternal life in the presence of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Ponder this: Do I take enough time during the week, and even on each day, to consider the things of God?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, as I travel home today I pray that You will guard and protect me. Let my mind focus on You and Your Word as I rest from my daily toils. Forgive me of my sins, and help me to honor You with this day of rest. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.

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