Category Archives: God

HOW CAN I KNOW HOW TO PROPERLY WORSHIP GOD?

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Worship can be defined as the act of honoring and loving a deity, idol or person in a “selfless” manner. The act of worship involves the total self in giving praise, thanksgiving and reverence to that deity, person or material object. It is not a half-hearted affair, and it is only after we distinguish between that which is and isn’t worship, with regards to the divine objective, that we can begin to answer the above question more fully. True, biblical worship, as defined by the scholar A. W. Pink (1886 – 1952) in his exposition of the gospel of John, says this: “It is a redeemed heart, occupied with God, expressing itself in adoration and thanksgiving.” Likewise, A. W. Tozer said, “True worship is to be so personally and hopelessly in love with God, that the idea of a transfer of affection never even remotely exists.”

So, the true worship of God is distinguished by the following criteria: first, it comes from the redeemed heart of a man or woman who has been justified before God by faith and who is trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness of sins. How can one worship the God of heaven if his sin has not been dealt with? Never can that worship be acceptable that proceeds from an unregenerate heart where Satan, self and the world hold sway (2 Timothy 2:26; 1 John 2:15). Any worship, other than that from a “washed” heart, is vain.

Second, true worship of God comes from a heart that desires Him alone. This was precisely where the Samaritan people erred; they sought to worship both God and idols (2 Kings 17:28-41), and this is reaffirmed by the Lord Jesus Christ when He discourses on the subject of true worship with the Samaritan woman who came to fetch water from the well. “You Samaritans worship what you do not know” (John 4:22). These people worshiped God “half-heartedly” because their total affection was not set on God. It is possible for even true believers to fall into this second error. We might not assent to having physical idols, like the Samaritans did, but what absorbs our will, our time, our resources most of all? Is it careers, material possessions, money, health, even our families? Let us cry out, like King David in Psalm 63:5, “My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips, my mouth will praise you.” Nothing less than God should satisfy the heart of the regenerate man, and his response to that divine satisfaction, comparable to the best food ever, is the fruit of lips that sing God’s praise (Hebrews 13:15).

Third, true worship of God is the desire to continue to build up our knowledge of God. How we have lost that desire in these days! Apart from the Bible, which we should be reading daily, we need to supplement our knowledge by reading other good books, too. We need to fill our minds constantly with the things of God; God should always be on our mind, and everything we do should be done with reference to Him (Colossians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 10:31). It is interesting that the Greek word for “worship” in Romans 12:1 can also mean “service.” So, our daily lives should also be considered as worship. Every day we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. The church is supposed to be impacting the world by its worship of God. Far too often, it’s the other way around.

Prophet Nathan Emol

PRACTICAL WAYS TO DEPEND ON GOD ALONE:

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Depending on God is basic to the Christian life. We trust in, or depend on, God for our salvation (Ephesians 2:8–9). We depend on God for wisdom (James 1:5). In fact, we depend on God for everything (Psalm 104:27) and in everything (Proverbs 3:5–6). The psalmist teaches the Lord’s reliability with the three-fold description “the LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer” (Psalm 18:2).

Depending on God alone does not mean we act foolishly. Jesus did not need to jump off the pinnacle of the temple to “prove” that He depended on God (Matthew 4:5–7). There is a difference between trusting God and putting God to the test. Depending on God alone doesn’t mean we dispense with God’s gifts. For example, a person with strep throat may refuse to go to the doctor, saying (hoarsely), “I am going to depend on God alone to heal me.” Or a person driving a car may close her eyes and release the steering wheel, saying, “I am going to depend on God alone to drive me home.” These actions would be foolish. God has provided us with doctors and medicines to help heal us. He has given us the wits to steer a car. We can still depend on God as we visit the doctor, knowing that all healing ultimately comes from God; and we can still depend on God as we drive, knowing that all safety ultimately comes from God.

We depend on God all the time, and there are times we can do nothing else. The Lord gives us the faith we need to make it through those times. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego couldn’t sway the will of the king, and they couldn’t lessen the intensity of the burning fiery furnace. They only knew that they could not bow down to a false god. They were thrown into the fire depending on God alone for the outcome (Daniel 3).

Here are some practical ways to depend on God alone:

1) Pray. Prayer is, among other things, an acknowledgment of God’s power, promises, and provision. When you pray, you demostrate dependence on God. The biblical command is to “present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

2) Honor the Bible. The Word of God has information, instructions, examples, and promises for New Testament believers. Read from the Bible every day. Check everything against the truth of the Word (Acts 17:11). And when there is a conflict between what the Bible says and what anyone else says, go with the Bible. “I will listen to what God the LORD says” (Psalm 85:8).

3) Do right. At all times, in all situations, do what you know is right, and leave the results with God. Jochebed did right by saving her baby, Moses (Exodus 2:1–10). Daniel did right by defying the king and praying to the Lord (Daniel 6). David did right by standing up to Goliath (1 Samuel 17). In each case, their dependence on God alone was rewarded.

4) Be a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1 says to offer up your body as a “living sacrifice” to God. Acceptable sacrifices are purified from sin and dedicated to God. When you become a living sacrifice, you live for the Lord. You cease fighting for your own rights and give up trusting in your own strength. As you learn to become a living sacrifice for God, you will discover the truth that, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

5) Abide in Christ. The Christian life is not a now-and-then rendezvous with God. It is making God your dwelling place, living with Him. Jesus put it this way: “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4). Depend on Christ as a fruit-laden branch depends on the grapevine. The branch attached to the vine is fulfilling its purpose.

6) Refuse to worry. God cares for His children, even more than the grass that He clothes with flowers and the birds that He daily feeds. Yes, you have needs, but “your heavenly Father knows” (Matthew 6:32). Learn to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Keeping some of the anxiety on yourself is to doubt God’s care.

One day, the disciples asked Jesus who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus answered with an illustration: “He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:2–4). One quality of children is that they are dependent on others for their well-being. God’s children should share that quality of depending on their loving Heavenly Father for everything they need.

Prophet Nathan Emol

LET GO AND LET GOD:

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“Let go and let God” is a phrase that cropped up some years ago and still enjoys some popularity today. Actually, the Bible never tells us to “let go and let God.” In fact, there are so many commandments about what we are to do that it completely contradicts the way most people interpret “let go and let God.” The popular idea of “letting go” is to adopt a sort of spiritual inertia wherein we do nothing, say nothing, feel nothing, and simply live, allowing circumstances to roll over us however they may.

The Christian life, however, is a spiritual battle which the Bible exhorts us to prepare for and wage diligently. “Fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12); “Endure hardship . . . like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3); “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11). Letting go, in the sense of sitting back and watching events unfold however they may, is not biblical.

Having said that, though, we have to understand that the things we are to do, we do by the power of God and not on our own steam. The truth is that working at “letting go” is just as much as an effort-filled work as anything else we try to do for God and not nearly as easy to do as some things. So let’s look at the Christian life and see exactly what we are to do.

To begin with, Jesus was clear that, apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). The truth being imparted here is that we can do nothing of eternal value apart from Christ and the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We can do lots of “stuff” and assume we’re doing it for God, but if we are doing it on our own power, we get the credit, and there is little or no eternal value to it. The picture of the vine and the branches in John 15 is very appropriate. Christ is the vine; we are the branches. Everything branches need to bring forth fruit comes from the vine—water, nutrients, the genetic material of life itself—while nothing is provided by the branches. The branches are simply something to hang the fruit on. The same is true of the Christian life. We are a conduit through which Christ displays His (not our) fruit.

So what has all this to do with “letting go”? Many people believe that, if we are truly in a state of “letting go,” we will be able to cease from striving and struggling. But Jesus said that we are to “strive” to enter the narrow gate to eternal life (Luke 13:24), not to sit by and wait to die so we can gain heaven. By striving, He means that we should be diligent, active, and earnest and that we should make every effort to overcome our sinful tendencies, in order to prove that we are truly His children. We are also to strive to do the work of the kingdom, whatever form that takes in our lives. This is the reason He gives us spiritual gifts, so that we can edify one another and bring glory to Him.

Furthermore, when we struggle, we assume the problem is that we are not letting go and letting God. The reality is that we struggle for a variety of reasons. One is that we have a weak faith. We just don’t have enough confidence in God to rest in the reality of His nature and have the peace that comes with a strong faith in Him. For instance, when trials come or we experience illness, financial ruin, or the death of a loved one, do we really believe that “God works all things together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)? If we don’t know God intimately, it’s very hard to trust that He is working all things together for good. But if we do know Him, if we have spent time digging into His Word and meditating on His works and His nature, we have faith in His plan and purposes, His love for us, His sovereign control over all circumstances in life, and we rest in the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). But if we don’t know Him, we will always struggle against life’s hard circumstances.

On the other hand, there is a positive reason for struggling—it is good for us and is God’s plan to grow and mature us into the people He wants us to be. Struggles are just one of the ways He strengthens us for the hard things life throws at us. Each one enables us to be stronger and better able to handle the next one. Trials are designed to show us and others that our faith is real. “Your faith will be like gold that has been tested in a fire. And these trials will prove that your faith is worth much more than gold that can be destroyed. They will show that you will be given praise and honor and glory when Jesus Christ returns” (1 Peter 1:7). In Christ, we can face the trials of life with grace and good humor and complete faith that whatever God has for us is ok. This comes from years of walking with Him, trial upon trial, struggle upon struggle.

Prophet Nathan Emol

WAIT UPON THE LORD:

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The command to wait on the Lord is found extensively throughout the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, it is more about waiting for the Lord’s providential care, but most New Testament references relate to Christ’s second coming. In all cases, it is about waiting expectantly and with hope. Fundamental to being able to wait is trusting God’s character and goodness.

Waiting on the Lord is something the godly do. It’s about holding on tight, hoping with expectation and trust, knowing that our Lord is not making us wait just to see how long we can “take it.” There are times when God will delay His answer, and we will at times wonder why He seems so reluctant to intervene in our affairs: “I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God” (Psalm 69:3). But, knowing the Lord, we trust that He will come at the perfect moment, not a second too soon or too late.

Waiting on the Lord necessitates two key elements: a complete dependence on God and a willingness to allow Him to decide the terms, including the timing of His plan. Trusting God with the timing of events is one of the hardest things to do. The half-joking prayer, “Lord, I need patience, and I need it RIGHT NOW,” is not far removed from the truth of how we often approach matters of spiritual growth and the Lord’s will. To wait on the Lord produces character in the life of the Christian in that it involves patience (see James 1:4). Waiting involves the passage of time, which is itself a gift of God.

The word wait in the Bible carries the idea of confident expectation and hope. “For God alone my soul waits in silence . . . my hope is from him” (Psalm 62:1, 5, ESV). To wait upon the Lord is to expect something from Him in godly hope, “and hope does not disappoint” (Romans 5:5). We wait on the Lord in a way similar to how we wait on the arrival of out-of-town relatives, with loving anticipation of seeing them again. All creation eagerly awaits God’s restoration: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed” (Romans 8:19). Those who wait for God to keep His promises will not be disappointed.

Waiting on the Lord involves being at rest in the Lord. Psalm 23 provides a lesson concerning being still. Sheep will not be at peace near rushing water, but they will lie contentedly by “still” water, and that’s where the Good Shepherd leads us (Psalm 23:2). The words “He makes me lie down” can be translated “He causes me to rest.” When we, like sheep, are still, we are resting in the Lord and trusting our Shepherd.

Being still means we have ceased from following our own agenda or ingenuity; we have stopped trusting in our own strength and will power. We are waiting upon the Lord to exchange our weakness for His strength (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). The apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh,” and, as he gains spiritual insight, he understands that the affliction is a protective suffering meant by God to keep him from sin. As a result, the apostle is content to rest in God’s grace. God does not remove the thorn; He gives Paul a place to be still in the bearing of it. Paul learned to be still and wait on the Lord.

To wait on the Lord is to rest in the confident assurance that, regardless of the details or difficulties we face in this life, God never leaves us without a sure defense. As Moses told the panicky Israelites trapped at the Red Sea by Pharaoh’s army, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14). The heavenly perspective comes as we focus not on the trouble but on the Lord and His Word. When it seems God has painted us into a corner, we have an opportunity to set aside our human viewpoint and wait upon the Lord to show us His power, His purpose, and His salvation.

When we don’t choose to wait on the Lord, we solicit trouble for ourselves. Remember how Abraham and Sarah did not wait on the Lord for their child of promise; rather, Sarah offered her maid, Hagar, to Abraham in order to have a child through her. The account in Genesis 16 and 18 shows that their impatience led to no end of trouble. Any time we fail to wait on the Lord and take matters into our own hands—even when we’re trying to bring about something God wants—it leads to problems. When we “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33, ESV), we can allow God to work out the rest of the details.

This doesn’t mean we sit idly by as we wait on the Lord to act on our behalf. We should not spend our time doing nothing; rather, we should continue to do the work He has given us to do. Psalm 123:2 says, “As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy.” That is, we should look to God with the constant anticipation and willingness to serve that a servant shows to his master. The idea of waiting on the Lord is not like waiting for the dentist in the waiting room (thank goodness!). Rather, the sense of waiting on the Lord is somewhat akin to what a waiter or waitress does in a restaurant. Our attitude and actions should be as those of a waiter anticipating and meeting the requests of the one he’s waiting on. Our waiting on the Lord is not biding our time until we finally get the service we’ve been waiting for; it’s filling our time with service to the Master, always on our feet, ready to minister.

The command to wait on the Lord means that we are to be near Him and attentive so that we may catch the slightest intimation of what He wants for us. We naturally think of ourselves as self-sufficient. We turn here and there and expect help from our own ability, from friends, or from circumstances. But in the spiritual life we are taught to distrust self and depend upon the power of the Holy Spirit.

Waiting on the Lord involves the confident expectation of a positive result in which we place a great hope—a hope that can only be realized by the actions of God. This expectation must be based on knowledge and trust, or we simply won’t wait. Those who do not know the Lord will not wait on Him; neither will those who fail to trust Him. We must be confident of who God is and what He is capable of doing. Those who wait on the Lord do not lose heart in their prayers: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14).

Waiting on the Lord renews our strength (Isaiah 40:31). Prayer and Bible study and meditating upon God’s Word are essential. To wait on the Lord we need a heart responsive to the Word of God, a focus on the things of heaven, and a patience rooted in faith.

We should not despair when God tarries long in His response, but continue to patiently wait on Him to work on our behalf. The reason God sometimes waits a long time to deliver is to extend the goodness of the final outcome. “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him” (Isaiah 30:18, ESV).

Prophet Nathan Emol

RELYING IN GOD’S POWER:

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We often hear about the power of God, and Scripture is full of examples of His power in action. He is “the great God, mighty and awesome” (Nehemiah 9:32). We are taught to rely on His great power to get us through trials such as a job loss, a sticky divorce, bankruptcy, hateful persecutions, a debilitating illness, or the loss of a loved one. Learning to rely on the power of God is part of living the Christian life.

The apostle Paul gives us a glimpse of the power of God when he writes of “his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority” (Ephesians 1:19–21). The Greek word translated “great” is megethos, which means “strong” or “great,” and it appears only here in the New Testament. This word obviously wasn’t sufficient for Paul to express God’s great power, so he adds the word incomparably or, in Greek, hyperballon, related to a verb that literally means to “throw beyond the usual mark” or to “excel or surpass.” So, the full idea of the expression hyperballon megethos is that of a power beyond measure, a super-abounding or surpassing power, power that is “more than enough.”

Greek authorities tell us that, because the term megethos is found only here in all the New Testament, this reflects the outreach of Paul’s mind when he sought to describe the power of God. Paul was “stretching at the seams” as he tried to describe the power of God and pour more meaning into his words. What Paul is really telling us is that God’s power exceeds or surpasses everything—it is unimaginable power. God spoke the universe into existence, raised Jesus from the dead, and “placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church” (Ephesians 1:22), and He has power far beyond any possibility of being measured. Paul simply could not say enough about the greatness and majesty of God, and he had difficulty finding the words to express his thoughts about the power of God.

How can we learn to rely on the enormous power of God? First of all, we choose to remember the things that God has done: “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced” (Psalm 105:4–5). Every miracle recorded for us in the Bible should give us encouragement that His strength is more than enough for our need.

Also, to rely on the power of God, we must learn to cease trusting in our frail efforts and hand our resources over to the One who can do anything. God’s power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). The disciples were at their wits’ end trying to figure out how to feed the 5,000; it was not until they brought the small amount of food they had to Christ that anyone was fed. Joshua stood helpless before the walls of Jericho, but he learned to trust the Lord’s battle plan. Zerubbabel faced the daunting task of rebuilding the temple, and God reminded him that the work would be done “not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6).

Prayer is a vital part of relying on the power of God, as we pray, “Thy will be done” (Luke 11:2, KJV). Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7–8). It was after a prayer meeting in the early church that “the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31). It was during a prayer meeting that Peter was miraculously released from prison (Acts 12).

The resurrection of Jesus certainly demonstrates the great power of God and is the great hope of all believers. Because He lives, we will live also (John 14:19). Peter said we have been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” (1 Peter 1:3–4, NASB). No matter what happens in this world, we have the power of God and Jesus’ resurrection; the Lord will grant us an inheritance and sustain us through eternity. We “through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (verse 5). As Martin Luther sang during the Protestant Reformation, “The body they may kill; / God’s truth abideth still.”

No matter how weak or ill-equipped we may at times feel, we can rely on the power of God. We have the assurance that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). We have confidence that ultimately God will accomplish His good in our lives: “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Prophet Nathan Emol