In just a few DAYS now, New Life will celebrate 20 years as an incarnational presence in this community!
With that in mind I have felt impressed to do two things:
Glance back at some of our history, and that…
In order to help remind us what is the focus of our future.
I cited an article that established: "It's normal to forget things from time to time…"
Which helped me affirm it's a good idea to have important details and directives put before us on occasion… as REMINDERS!
We spent some well invested time exploring one significant Bible precedent for Memorials…
Taking a look back, to find courage for the future, is alright with God!
Now, our text for this teaching helps tie all of this together:
Hebrews 13:8- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
The Jesus that kicked this off in 1997 is here in the same power 20 years later and will be the same power in 2037 as he tarries!
It's very doubtful i'll be your Pastor in 2037, but I trust, for sure, Jesus will be your LORD and Savior then!
The record of the "Days & Times of Jesus" are much more than a History lesson.
As we explore the Bible accounts of Jesus Everyday Life… we have reflected to US the Lifestyle we are to emulate.
One of the things Jesus said, as His 'parting-shot' was this:
Matthew 28:19- Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…, 20- and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…
So, by revisiting what Jesus did we can discover & understand what our lives as Jesus Chasers is to consist of.
Knowing that, nearly 20 years ago the founding leaders of NLCC developed a Statement of Purpose… a simple document - based upon the Bible's timeless truths - which outlines what we believe to be our guiding principles:
There are five such directives ensconced in this document, one of which we taught on last week… today, the Lord willing, I'm going to unpack the second one.
There is somewhat of a preamble to the Statement of Purpose that begins:
"Believing that God has ordained the establishing of NLCC we purpose to make disciples of Christ…"
Every ministry activity we propose, promote and engage is ultimately toward the end of assisting persons in becoming devoted followers of Jesus… or that is to say a Disciple of Jesus.
What I'm putting before you are the Biblical mechanisms we believe God has purposed for us to engage in order to realize the fulfillment of this goal.
Just how is it that NL has felt impressed to "make disciples" for Jesus?
To set the tone, last week we revisited the most logical & rational element of our S.O.P. … the very first bullet point:
PREACHING and TEACHING God's Word
I pointed out to you how Jesus engaged both Preaching & teaching, but obviously favored Teaching much more as teaching involves more personal interaction.
This is vitally foundational in helping us to establish the other directives.
They all come forth from the Bible so its important to start there.
So, with that, the second element of our S.O.P. is:
EXALTING GOD through worshipful praise.
Question: Is exaltation and worshipful praise something a disciple of Christ should be concerned with?
Short Answer: Yes!
Beloved, not only is God to be exalted, but more importantly God will be exalted!
Here's a Bible truth that needs to be proclaimed for all to hear:
Isaiah 45:23- By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. 24- They will say of me, 'In the LORD alone are righteousness and strength.'" All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame.
And please be reminded; Paul reemphasized & reestablished this great truth for the New Covenant Saints:
Romans 14:11- It is written: "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'"
Can you realize the imagery of bowing before someone… beloved, God says at some point in time EVERY knee will bow before HIM.
The picture is that God will literally be Higher than all the rest as signified by all the rest bowing low before HIM!
And, who better to do it than God's people?
One of my favorite declarations of this truth is found in Psalm 57:11
Psalm 57:11- Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.
*(This is not the only place this sentiment is rendered in the Bible…)
In addition are the similar sentiments alike those coming from those mystical beings of Revelation 4:
Revelation 4:8b- …Day and night they never stop saying: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."
Likewise, the twenty-four elders worship him who lives forever and ever. As they lay their crowns before the throne they are heard to say:
Revelation 4:11- You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.
The original Hebrew word for Exalt sounds like 'room'
Very simply it means to "Lift Up"
A convenient illustration is when Aaron & Hur "held up" the arms of Moses during battle.
Exodus 17:11- As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.
The symbolism is pretty obvious… so long as Moses hands were exalted / lifted up, the Israelites would advance against their enemy…
However, When Moses hands fell down, the Israelites would be pummeled by their enemy.
Consider: Moses was the representative of God before the people… even so, he was human, and as the battle waned on his arms became tired…
So, Aaron & Hur found a big ol rock for Moses to sit on and they actually helped him Exalt his arms until the victory was secured.
So, there's a rather graphic example of what it means to Exalt - it's to lift up!
Q- Do you Exalt or Lift-up God? How do I do that?
A- The instructions are in the Bible!
First, it must come forth from the heart, indeed it starts in the heart, we even hide it or guard it in our hearts… but we don't leave it there to suffocate.
One of the primary means for accomplishing this necessary gesture is in the expression of WORSHIPFUL PRAISE. Reverential Praise.
Our worshipful praise Exalts or lifts up God to His rightful position.
It starts in the heart but eventually it must find its way to our mouth for a purposed outward proclamation!
The very center of the Bible:
Psalm 118:8- It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.
At the very CORE of the Word of God is a simple proclamation instructing us to "…take refuge in the LORD". WHY? *I'm gonna show you :)
Interestingly - the longest chapter (119) and the shortest chapter (117) flank this central chapter of 118.
Now, lengthy & complex things may impress you, that's ok, but for me, simple and succinct things impress me… primarily cuz I can't seem to be brief…!
Psalm 117:1- Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. 2- For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD.
(Any questions??? :)
One of the primary means for accomplishing this necessary gesture is in the expression of WORSHIPFUL PRAISE.
Psalm 30:1a- I will exalt you, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths…
Psalm 30:4- Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name.
Psalm 35:18- I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among throngs of people I will praise you.
Psalm 47:1- Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. 2- How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth!
Psalm 63:4- I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
Psalm 66:16- Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue.
Psalm 70:4- But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in your; may those who love your salvation always say, "Let God be exalted!"
Psalm 89:1- I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
Psalm 92:1- It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High,
Psalm 98: 4- Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;
Psalm 98:5- Make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing,
Psalm 146:2- May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
Psalm 150:4- Praise him with tambourine and dancing,
You do not have to lift your eyes/head in order to exalt God.
You do not have to clap your hands in order to exalt God.
You do not have to raise your hands in order to exalt God.
You do not have to raise your voice in order to exalt God.
You do not have to dance in order to exalt God.
You do not have to play a musical instrument in order to exalt God.
You do not necessarily have to engage your tongue in order to exalt God.
But, why in the world would any MWBG that has been redeemed by the blood of the LAMB refuse to exalt God by any & every means prescribed?
Both inwardly and outwardly - certainly the two should be in alignment.
If you glean by careful study of God's Word that these are ways to Praise- then tell me, why look for loop holes or exceptions.
I can't help but notice, the overwhelming majority of "Worshippers" today, fail to worship by these Biblically prescribed means.
I even hear some say; I don't do that… or we don't do that her - which prods me to ask: who / what gives us the right to substitute our own methods in place of these God ordained methods?
And, what right do we have to call ourselves Disciples of Jesus when we insist that its okay for us to demand that Jesus yields to our preferences & insecurities instead of trusting him to help us follow after His example.
Sometimes as people get older they naturally get quieter…
How many know Nursing Homes are quieter than the Birthing Center or Day Care facilities.
It's okay for Disciples to get older and to have some quiet time…
It's also commanded that we Exalt God, through Worshipful Praise.
I would urge you disciples to reconsider these truths - as we age… we need to be reminded!
One of the things that fascinates me about "Church" is how some folks come in with preconceived notions and then no matter what is taught or preached from the Bible that contradicts their preconceived notions, they dig-in and stick with the notions.
On this front, wouldn't you dearly love to watch an old spiritual caterpillar metamorphosize into a wonderful, godly butterfly and come apart from their notions in order to experience God!