Enter His Gates

Sunday, January 04, 2015, 6:25 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “In Faithfulness He Leads Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 100 (ESV).

Praise and Worship

A Psalm for giving thanks.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

When we think of praise and worship, what comes to mind? Generally, at least here in America, I think we think of a time of singing praise and worship songs in what is commonly referred to as a worship service, usually in the context of the organized and institutional church. Certainly singing is to be part of our worship of our Lord, whether we can sing on tune or not, or with beautiful voices or not. And, we are to offer words of praise and adoration to our Lord, too. As well, we are to do so with joyful and glad hearts, desiring to give honor and praise to our Lord and King. Yet, is that the totality of our worship?

This word translated here as “serve” also has the meaning of “worship.” The same is true with the Greek word translated “service” or “worship” in Romans 12:1-2. In Psalm 100, the word serve (worship) also means “to become bond-slaves, to work, to make a servant” (Source: biblehub.com). In Romans 12, the word service (worship) also means “service rendered to God, divine worship, or service of worship” (Source: biblehub.com). So, what this says to me is that there is a direct correlation between worship and service. This plays out in the Romans passage where it tells us, that in view of God’s mercy to us, we should offer our lives (our whole being) to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is our reasonable service of worship - no longer conformed to the ways of this world, but transformed in the renewing of our minds. Then we will be able to discern the good, acceptable and perfect will of God for our lives. This is true worship of God!

Jesus Christ, when he walked the face of the earth, had multiple encounters with the Jewish religious leaders of his day. On one occasion the Pharisees and teachers of the law were criticizing Jesus’ disciples for not washing their hands before they ate, which was the tradition of the elders. Jesus responded by asking them why they break the command of God for the sake of tradition. He told them that they nullify the Word of God for the sake of tradition. They were hypocrites. He added that Isaiah had prophesied about them when he spoke of people who honor God with their lips, but their hearts are far from him. They worship God in vain, for their teachings are merely human rules (See: Matt. 15). He also told the woman at the well that a time was coming, which has now come, when we won’t worship God in any specific location, but in the Spirit (or in spirit) and in truth (See Jn. 4).

So, what can we take away from all this? For one, I believe we should not limit our idea of worship to merely saying or singing words of praise and adoration to our Lord, or to a specific day, time, atmosphere or venue/place during the week. I believe we should worship our Lord 24/7, regardless of time or place. Our service of worship to our Lord should also be according to God’s design, not of human origin. As well, I believe for our words and our singing to be true worship of our Lord, we have to first of all be born again of the Spirit, surrendered, committed, repentant, and obedient to our Lord; pure in heart, and separated from the world of sin because we are being made into the likeness of God/Christ. We must also be bond-slaves of our Lord, meaning he is boss, and we are his servants. We must take the attitude that our lives no longer belong to us, but they belong to HIM.

We Are His Sheep

Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

We need to know that the Lord is God, not just intellectually, but deep down in the depths of our hearts and souls. We must walk in the fear of the Lord. What this means is that we must give God all the honor, respect, value, submission, obedience and surrender which he so deserves. To know that he is God means we treat him as though he is truly LORD of our lives. We don’t give our lives over to the “gods” of this world, to serve, worship and honor them. When anything in our lives takes God’s rightful place as Master of our lives, and God begins to take a back seat to our entertainment, sports, possessions, careers, houses, friends, patriotism, socialization with other humans, lust, and/or any sinful passions and desires, etc., then we are no longer walking in the fear of the Lord, but are returning to walking according to the flesh. And, then we are not acting according to true knowledge that the Lord truly is God, our creator, sustainer, Savior, sanctifier, healer and coming King.

So, what does it mean to belong to God, and that we are his? What does it mean to be his sheep? Well, for me, the first passage of scripture that came to mind was John 10:27: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” So many people like to quote the next verse independent of verse 27. Vs. 28 says: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Yet, that promise is dependent on v. 27 being true in the believer’s life. We must be ones who truly listen to God, not just with our ears, but we truly pay attention to what he says, we take it into account, and then we act upon what we have heard via obedience to what his word says, which means we then follow him in obedience wherever he leads us or calls us, or to whatever he asks us to do. We won’t do this perfectly, but we should do it consistently and as a matter of course.

Enter His Gates

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

Also in John 10 we read that Jesus is the gate through which we enter into eternal life. He is the only way, truth and life by which we gain access to heaven, to the Father, into fellowship with God/Christ, and into the body of Christ, the church. As well, we read in Matthew 7:13-14 that we are to “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” So, not only is Jesus the gate that leads to eternal life with God, but this gate is narrow. So, what does that mean?

“Narrow,” in this sense, has to do with the straight paths John was to make for the Lord in preparing the way for him. John’s message was one of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus taught the same message, and so did the apostles after him. “Straight” means “honest, law-abiding, upright, trustworthy,” etc. The narrow gate thus has to do with the means by which we gain access to life with Christ and we are born of the Spirit of God, and we become part of his family (his household). Truly it is by God’s grace, and through faith, that we are able to enter through this gate (See Eph. 2:8-10), but this faith is realized or proved genuine via us turning from sin, being born of the Spirit, and turning to walk in faithful obedience to Christ and to his teachings (instructions) for how we are to live our lives in the power of his Spirit within us, and for the praise, honor and glory of God.

His Faithfulness Endures

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

When someone is completely faithful, he is trustworthy, loyal, reliable, and true. We can depend on him to do exactly what he said he would do, and to be precisely who he said he is. Only God/Christ is absolutely faithful in all that he does, but we are also to be faithful.

God’s/Jesus’ faithfulness will never be nullified by our unfaithfulness (Ro. 3:3). God is faithful to not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear, but he will provide a way out from under the temptation so that we can stand up under it (1 Co. 10:13). He won’t necessarily remove the temptation, but he will show us how to not give in to it, but we must do what he says. He is also faithful to sanctify us and to strengthen and protect us from the evil one (1 Thess. 5:24; 2 Thess. 3:3). If we are faithless, he will remain faithful. Yet, if we disown him, he will disown us. But, if we endure, we will reign with him (2 Tim. 2:10-13).

Jesus was faithful as our high priest in making atonement for our sin (Heb. 2:17). He was faithful in paying the price for our sin so that we could go free from damnation, free from slavery to sin, and so we could be free to walk daily in his righteousness. He is also faithful to God the Father as the Son over God’s house, his church, of which he is the head, her Savior and her Shepherd. Christ is also faithful to all his many promises to us. We can always count on him. He will never leave us or forsake us.

As well, as his followers, we are to be faithful in all that we do – faithful to the truth of God’s word, faithful in suffering for the sake of the name of Jesus and his gospel, and faithful in being his servants and witnesses. We who have been given a trust – Christ, our salvation, the gospel, the Holy Spirit, spiritual giftedness, et al – must be faithful to the trust we have been given. This means that we should walk in the Spirit, and not according to the flesh; that we should do what the word says and not be hearers only; that we should be willing to suffer and die for the sake of Christ and his gospel; and that we should submit to Christ and to the Spirit within us in being who he has called us to be, in doing what he has called us to do, and in being his witnesses in sharing the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ with the world around us so that many others can know God/Jesus Christ and can have the hope of eternal life in heaven with God.

In Faithfulness He Leads Me / An Original Work / March 20, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures
(Ps. 26:3; 86:11; 91:4-5; 111:7-8; 119:73-76;
Is. 25:1,4&9; 42:6-7; Hos. 2:16-20)

Teach me Your ways, Lord, and I’ll walk in them.
Give me a pure heart. I’ll fear Your name.
Your love is always, ever before me.
Continually I’ll walk in Your truth.
You will cover me with feathers.
Under Your wings I’ll find refuge.
My Lord’s faithfulness will be my
Comfort and my shield.
The works of His hands are faithful and just.
Trustworthy are all of His precepts.

Your hands have made me, and they have formed me.
Give understanding of Your commands.
I have put my hope, O Lord, in Your word.
Your teachings, O Lord, are righteousness.
Lord, in faithfulness You have
Afflicted me so I may learn of
Your unfailing love and comfort
And Your truthfulness.
You are my husband; You have betrothed me
In love, compassion and faithfulness.

O Lord, You are my God, I’ll exalt You.
In faithfulness You’ve done wondrous things.
You’ve been a refuge for those who’re needy;
A shelter in storms; shade from the heat.
This is the Lord, we trusted in Him,
Let us be glad and rejoice
In His salvation which He
Provided through the Lamb.
Open the blind eyes; free all the captives.
Tell them of Jesus: “Be born again!”