EXCITEMENT AND CELEBRATION!

What excites you?  What causes a sense of celebration and joy for you?

 

A child at a birthday party anxious to see what the package holds?

Excitement
Excitement at a birthday party!

 

Watching fireworks at the park?

Fireworks 2
Fireworks after baseball game!

Going on a vacation?

Cruise ship at distance
Cruise ship at a distance.

Going outside?

Okay, that question is really related to our MinPin daughter, Snickers, who cannot stand at the door to go outside.  In her exuberance for getting outside, she, in all her 8 inches of height, will jump higher than the doorknob while she waits for us to open it.

 

 

What makes you glad?  What excites you?

 

Scripture tells us of a time when David exhibited extreme excitement and joy in 2 Samuel 6.  The cause of his excitement was that the ark was being returned to the City of David, and it had just arrived from the house of Obed-edom.   Scripture says that David “danced before the Lord with all his might” [ESV] or “with great enthusiasm”. [Amplified Bible]   When his wife, Michal, saw him dancing, she became angry because she thought his actions were undignified.  She confronted him with his conduct and David responded, reading from the Amplified Bible:

So David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord that I did this, who chose me above your father and all his house, to appoint me as ruler over Israel, the people of the Lord.  Therefore I will celebrate in pure enjoyment before the Lord.”

2 Samuel 6:21.

 

In the New Testament, Jesus talked of His joy:

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

John 15:11.

 

And then also we read what Paul says gives him joy:

I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.

2 Corinthians 7:4.

This same verse is translated as follows in the Amplified Bible:

“Great is my confidence in you, great is my pride and boasting on your behalf.  I am filled to the brim with comfort; I am over flowing with joy in spite of all our trouble.”

Having joy in spite of the troubles that confronted him.  Wow!

 

The disciples, at the ascension of the Lord, watched Him go up into the clouds after He blessed them.  Then we read, in the Amplified Bible, at Luke 24:31-32:

And they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy [fully understanding that He lives and that He is the Son of God], and they were continually in the temple blessing and praising God.

 

Worshipping with great joy.

  • That doesn’t sound like being the “Frozen Chosen” on Sunday Morning, sitting in the pew with dour faces, never smiling and singing through clenched jaws!

Rather that description sounds like:

  • people who are thankful to God, and to Him alone, for their salvation, who recognize how great the mercy was when the Holy Spirit touched their hearts through His grace alone!
  • people who put God at the center of worship and not their own feelings and opinions.
  • people who celebrate and praise God for His goodness through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
  • people who want to spend time with each other, who speak to and encourage one another!

 

So, I ask you, how do you worship the Lord and the Father Almighty?  With great joy or with a sense of obligation or dread?  Do you love meeting with other believers and fellowshipping with them because of your common bond in Christ, or do you spend the smallest amount of time possible at church because other “more pressing matters” are calling to you!

 

Worship is exciting because in it we are ushered into the throne room of God.  Because of Jesus’ atoning work on the cross, and the work of the Holy Spirit in illuminating our hearts to the reality of our sin and to the blessing of His mercy.  While in our own strength and power we would be cast out from before His presence because of our abject sin and spiritual poverty, because we stand before God in the righteousness of Christ, we can call the Holy One, the Creator of all things and the Lover of our Soul, “Abba, Father”.

 

I pray that we would have a renewed appreciation of worship and fellowship in the life of the Christian Church.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:34-35.

 

Worship and love – they go hand in hand.  Worship denotes the reverence of and for God, stressing the feeling of awe or devotion. And, our devotion to the Lord should be evidenced in the love that we have for one another and for the world around us.  Indeed, worship and love of one another are means of grace given to us through the Holy Spirit … let us not ignore them!

 

This week, may we remember that the worship of our God is exciting and is a joyful experience.  Then, when we leave the worship service, may we continue in an attitude of love toward both our fellow believers as well as each person that the Lord puts in our path.  Love one another — surprise them by your love and then point them to Jesus.

 

Father, forgive me when I have approached worship with a sense of obligation rather than with excitement about being in your presence.  May your Holy Spirit touch my heart and may I come with reverence and awe at your majesty, power, omniscience, glory, and love.  May I be accepted before You as I stand covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, my Savior.  May I love You with my whole heart and may I worship You daily.

 

COMMANDED TO LOVE

 

Love is a hot topic in our world every day.  We speak of “falling in love” or “having lost my love” as if love is something that just happens, whether we want it to or not.  While the concept of marriage is under incredible attack in today’s world, love is still a hot topic.

 

We read in the tabloids of love between two people and then, one paragraph later, we read of the separation of two others.  We celebrate the many years of marriage of one couple while we are hurting for another couple going through separation and dissolution of their marriage

 

Then, too, as parents, we love our children.  And, as adults, we love our children and their children, and we love our parents, and miss them when they are gone.

Alice, Harold and Linda (C)
My Mother and Father reading my Golden Book, circa 1950

 

And, if we look carefully, there even are times when our children love each other!

USED Brother and Sister
Siblings showing affection, at least one is!
USED Brother and infant sister (C)
Brother giving baby sister some “love”.

 

While the children may not be as demonstrative as they get older, loving sibling relationships are precious.

 

We say that we love flowers.

USED Flower garden
Beautiful flower garden.

 

We love food.

Chocolate covered strawberries
Anyone for some chocolate covered strawberries!

 

We love to travel and take vacations, like a cruise going to faraway places in style.

USED Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Ship
The Grandeur of the Seas cruise ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet, seen from a distance.

 

And, it goes without saying, we love our pets.

USED Skipy hiding under the bed
Skippy, our Lhasa Poo, peeking out from under the bed, gave us 18 blessed years..

 

USED Goldie on sofa in rv
One of our retired racing greyhounds, Gold E Locks, otherwise known as Goldie, graced us with her presence for 11 years.  She loved riding on the sofa in the RV.

 

And now we have our two canine MinPin daughters, Snickers and Cuddles.

USED Snickers wishing camera flash would stop
Snickers in dreamland on her favorite blanket.

 

USED Cuddles and her boy (C)
Our grandson and Cuddles, sound asleep, with just a little doggie grin, next to him, because he is  “her boy!”

 

Our love for people, animals, objects and activities is a love that is conditioned on various factors.  We love those related to us in a different way than we do our generalized acquaintances.  We love some flowers and not others, and some like to eat lobster and others wouldn’t touch it!  In other words, there is self-motivated volition involved in our love of things and others.

 

In stark contrast, this is not how we are to love our God.  We are COMMANDED to love the Lord our God, and not just a little bit or for a limited time!

 

In Deuteronomy 6:5 we read:

 

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

 

That essentially covers everything!  It is repeated elsewhere in the Old Testament, for example:  Deuteronomy 11:1 and 13:3, and Joshua 22:5.

 

We cannot shrug our shoulders and mumble, “Yeah, but that was okay thousands of years ago, not for us 2016!”  Rather, Jesus reiterated that this was still a commandment for us in Matthew 22:37 when He repeated these exact words.  But Jesus didn’t stop there — not only are we to follow the command in Deuteronomy, Jesus expanded it in Mark 12:29-31 by commanding us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

 

Jesus takes love out of the mental/spiritual world and puts it into the physical/material world.   This turns love into action, not just thought or emotion.  We see our neighbor and we are to love him/her.

 

Loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves means to serve others as Jesus Christ exampled for us, as He lived, and as He died in complete obedience to His Father.  We surely cannot live a sinless life and comply with God’s will in all things as He did, but we can keep His commands on a day to day basis as we are enabled by the Spirit.  We can love God; we can read His Word; we can meet with fellow believers and worship Him regularly; we can love others, if for no other reason than because He tells us to do so.

 

Note that our obligation to love our neighbor does not depend on whether the neighbor is either lovely or loveable – it is a command to Jesus’ followers that has no qualification as to the one being loved.  It is between us and the Lord.  “If you love me, keep my commands.”  John 14:15.

 

There is no wriggle room. It is an “if … then” statement.  If you love me, then you will keep my commands.  Or, stated another way, if you do not keep my commands, then you do not love me.

 

This is not optional – it is not a suggestion.  It is a direct command that indicates whether

  • I do or do not love my Lord and Savior,
  • I will or will not allow His Spirit to guide my steps through the day,
  • I will or will not follow His direction.

 

If I say that I am His, do my actions support my statement or do they undermine it?

 

What about you?  Prayerfully consider these questions and seek the Lord’s face as you look at your life, your speech, your actions, your thoughts, your motives, etc.

 

“If you love me, keep my commands.”   Am I one of His disciples or not?   Are you?

 

Everything depends on the answer to that question!

 

Father, I pray that the meditation of my heart is acceptable to you this day.  I pray that your Word would be used by the Spirit to illuminate the hearts of those who do not know You.  I pray that you would forgive me when I have failed to love You with my whole heart, soul and might.  Thank you for calling me to Yourself through the atoning work of your Son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.