Feeling Shame

Feeling Ashamed

The Bible teaches that there are some things that we should be ashamed of and there are other things that we should not be ashamed of.  Ezra was ashamed of the sin that Israel had committed against God.  He said: “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens” (Ezra 9:6).  David was ashamed of the transgressor.  He wrote: “Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause” (Psalm 25:3).  Isaiah was ashamed of idolatry.  He wrote, “They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods” (Isaiah 42:17).  We should be ashamed of some things.

There are things for which we must feel shame.

There are things for which we must feel shame.

However, there are other things of which we should not be ashamed.  The Psalmist wrote: “Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.” (Psalm 119:6).  Paul said: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).  He wrote to Timothy: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

The world tries to deny the shame that God has placed within sin.  It tries to live with sin and without shame.  Such a distortion of God’s creation brings shame upon the sinner whether he realizes it or not.  However, God does not want us to live in such shame.  He gives us His word so that we can live without shame.  When we love and obey God, accepting the forgiveness that He offers through Jesus, we have no reason to be ashamed.

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Respond to the Master’s Calling

Respond to the Master’s Calling

The world of Mary and Martha had been turned upside down. Lazarus, their only brother, was sick, and they sent a message to Jesus. We are not sure exactly where Jesus was in Galilee, but he could have been more than 70 miles from these two godly women. When Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Martha heard that the Lord was approaching their home, and she went out to meet Him. “Lord, if You had been here my brother would not have died.” Can you sense the emotions in her words? Her sister said these same words to Jesus when she went to meet the Lord. Martha was the one who told Mary that the Lord was there. Her words, “The Teacher  (the KJV has the word “Master”) has come and is calling for you” (John 11:28). Consider this sentence and how it applies to each of us.

Will run to the Master's calling?

Will run to the Master’s calling?

The Master…” What a title to describe the Lord. He who had mastered the storms in Galilee and had mastered temptation of Satan was now there with them. They knew of His power over sickness, for He had shown it repeatedly. What they failed to see was that He could also master death. He is truly the King of all kings and the Lord above all lords and the conqueror of death, the grave and Hades.

The Master has come…” The coming of the Supreme Master and Teacher had been prophesied by the Old Testament prophets, and He now stood outside the home of these two sisters. It was not a fond dream that some might have had that He would come—they were there and heard Him. They saw the impact of His words, “Lazarus, come forth.” How blessed they were, and even more, how blessed we are that God has fulfilled His promises about the coming of the Master.

“The Master has come and is calling…” We sing so many songs that speak of His calling. “Hear the sweet voice of Jesus say, ‘Come unto Me, I am the way.’” We have called on Him because we heard His call saying, “Come unto Me all you who labor” (Matt. 11:28). Mary heard that Jesus wanted her to come, and she ran from the house to meet Him.

“The Master has come and is calling for you.” Think of how tragic it would be if the Lord was selective in choosing those He wants to come to Him. Just suppose He had invited every person to come, except you. Think of what you would have lost. However, He longs for all men to come. He died for all, and most importantly He died for you! How have you responded to His call?

Mary had the right to ignore the message from her sister, but think of the great blessings she would have missed. Of even greater importance, think of what you lose when you fail to respond to His call. God, help us to run like Mary!

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Let the Word of Christ Dwell in You

Let the Word of Christ Dwell in You

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Colossians 3:16

This verse gives us several reasons why we sing in worship to God:

  • It’s a way the word of Christ dwells in us richly.
  • It’s a way that we as Christians teach and admonish each other in all wisdom.
  • It’s a way to show our heart-felt thankfulness to God.

I know it’s easy for me to forget this as I sing in worship.  I think a lot of us forget this.  I think that’s why musical worship has gotten so far removed from what God said in his Word that he would have it to be.

Does the love of the Lord dwell in your heart?  Does it come out in song?

Does the love of the Lord dwell in your heart? Does it come out in song?

We tend to go to two extremes when it comes to music in worship.  First, we might be so self-centered in our subconscious desire to be entertained that we either turn the worship service into a concert atmosphere with choirs, hand-clapping, pianos, guitars, drums, singing, and dancing in the aisles.  Reverence to God and making God the focus goes flying out the window, as does any desire to simply give him what he asked as revealed in this verse.  Even those who recognize the sinfulness of the instrumental additions to the music God prescribed in the New Testament and the error of the entertainment, concert-like so-called worship may still be guilty of focusing on self in our more reverent a cappella singing.  We do this when we focus on whether the song chosen is a song we like, or putting undue emphasis on making sure that we get the altos and tenors to harmonize more.

When our focus is on what entertains and pleases us in the song, does the song really help the word of Christ to dwell in us richly?  When we are focused on “rocking out” to the cool guitar accompaniment or making sure that we’re singing the bass part just right, how can we pay attention to any teaching or admonishment that we may need to hear in the lyrics of the song?  When the choir does something really entertaining and it makes us laugh while they sing a lyric that talks about all that God has done for us, will we even think about being thankful to God?

The other extreme we tend to gravitate towards is the exact opposite of the concert atmosphere:  somber, mournful ritualism.  A song of thanksgiving such as Amazing Grace or Sing and Be Happy is sung with the sorrowful tones and mood that would be appropriate for Night With Ebon Pinion.  Song leaders regularly report of seeing somber, moody, sorrowful faces in the pews as they lead singing, no matter how joyful the lyrics of the song may be.  Many song leaders themselves look mournful as they lead singing, showing none of the enthusiasm or happiness which, if seen, might motivate those in the pews to feel likewise.  I believe this approach to worship comes from not only a desire to avoid the concert/entertainment atmosphere, but also from a ritualistic approach to worship that is equally wrong.  We tend to take for granted what we do with regularity for long periods of time.  When we know that week after week, Sunday after Sunday, we will sing a song, then pray, then another song, then partake of communion and give of our means, then sing two more songs, after which comes the sermon, and then the invitation and closing song, followed by the closing prayer…well, it becomes easier for our minds to wander while we sing and pray.

Jesus condemned this kind of worship (Matt. 15:8), and rightfully so.  When our hearts are far away because we’ve been lulled by how easy it is to think of other things during this familiar ritual in which we are participating, how can the word of Christ dwell in us richly in that moment?  If we know the lyrics and melody of Angry Words by heart because we sing it all the time and so our mind wanders as we sing it, will we truly be taught and admonished to control our anger and watch what we say to others?  How can we be filled with the gratitude that the lyrics of It Is Well With My Soul call for when we’re not even thinking about what we are singing?

I have found that true worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24) requires discipline and self-control (Gal. 5:23; 1 Cor. 9:27).  I have to make the conscious decision to focus on each and every sentence of every song.  I have to make the conscious decision that I’m going to ignore my own personal preferences about the choice of song, or how fast or slow the tempo is, or getting that tenor part exactly right.  I have to make the conscious decision that my focus is going to be on giving God as much honor and reverence as I know how while I’m singing this song.

Guess what always happens as a result?  I find myself being reminded of passages of Scripture as I sing certain lyrics.  I find myself being taught and admonished to do better in certain aspects of my life as I sing a particular song.  With other songs, I find myself filled with gratitude and thanksgiving for all that my Redeemer has done for me.  Everything that God wants to happen as shown in today’s Scripture is taking place within me.

How about that?

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