If you did a heart check, how would you describe your heart attitude this past week? In your relationships with others? How about before Sunday worship? How have you approached God privately? Do you worship God in spirit and in truth? Do you obey all the way, right away, with a happy heart?
1 Chronicles 15 & 16
Wax, Cracks & Happy Hearts
By the Way … Bless Me
In Chapter 15 we find David once again preparing to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, but this time he does it in a way that is honoring to God. Whether he spent time reading the scrolls or talking to the priests, he had learned the importance of following God’s instructions for moving it.
Sometimes we, too, have a heart to do something for God, but we jump out there and do it without really seeking to understand if it’s the way He wants it done or if it’s even His will. Instead of prayerfully seeking Him, we go do our own thing and then ask God to bless our plan.
Everything the Israelites did in regard to the ark was part of their worship, recognizing that He is God and remembering to reverence Him.
In Spirit and Truth
When it comes to worship, we can be thankful that we have a new and better covenant as the book of Hebrews tells us. We are no longer under the ceremonial law with all of its restrictions and prohibitions (like “don’t touch the ark, unless you’re a Levite”). But the Old Testament laws were given so that we might better understand who God is.
In this case, that He is a holy God and should be honored as such.
In the New Testament Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4.24).
Worship is to come from the heart, in sincerity. The word “sincere” means “without wax.” In ancient times if pottery was of poor quality, it would get small cracks. To cover them up, merchants would fill the cracks with wax. When we worship Him in sincerity—”without wax”—we do it without hypocrisy, openly, with pure hearts, honestly confessing our sins to Him, because, while we may be able to fool others by putting some wax in the cracks, we cannot fool God.
The Sweet Psalmist of Israel
In Psalm 78 the psalmist continued to extol the works of God which we have talked about before, so instead of commenting on those verses I’d like to talk about David’s psalm in our Chronicles reading (1 Chron. 16.8-36).
David is called “the sweet psalmist of Israel.” What a beautiful example we see here. Especially note the verbs and what they show us about how to praise and worship God, such as: give thanks, call, sing, talk, glory, seek, remember, proclaim, declare, give, bring, tremble, and say.
As you worship God in the days to come, it might be good to look back at this psalm and incorporate some of those ideas into your worship, if you don’t already.
All the Way, Right Away, with a Happy Heart
Verse 23a, “The fear of the Lord leads to life.”
The fear of the Lord is not the cowering fear of an abusive God who is just waiting to clobber us because we fall short. It’s worshipful respect.
But it’s, also, knowing that God is God and that He loves us enough to discipline us if we’re determined to go our own way instead of His. He does so because He knows that His way is the way that leads to life no matter how it looks to us.
Living in the fear of the Lord doesn’t just involve our one on one relationship with Him. It is how we live our lives every minute of every day. It’s how we treat others, our attitude toward authority, our motives for all that we do and much more.
Sometimes when I counsel younger children I teach them a phrase I learned many years ago from Ginger Hubbard, “Obey all the way, right away, with a happy heart!”
That’s good advice for all of us!
Stephen’s testimony before the Sanhedrin was so powerful and so convicting that rather than allowing their hearts to be convicted by the truth, they flew into a rage and stoned an innocent man. Verses 54-59:
54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
In contrast to their rage, Stephen “looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”
I recently reread some of the classic book, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. When I read stories of men and women who were willing to die rather than deny the Christ who had saved them, I’m amazed at their peace and trust in God. It’s tempting to wonder, “Could I do that?”
I trust that I could, not because of any bravery on my part, but because of the promises of God. He told us He would never leave us without the grace we need. Just as He said to Joshua:
6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you (Deut. 31.6).
9 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
And Hebrews 13:
5 … “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
Hebrews 4 gives us the key:
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
“… mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.” We don’t have the grace and courage to be martyred for our faith … because we don’t need it right now. But if God ever allowed us to be in that situation, He would give us the grace we need to bring Him glory in the midst of it!
How do you respond when the Word convicts your heart? Do you get mad? Do you reject it? Do you get defensive? Do you put it on a back burner promising yourself to deal with it later? Or do you respond with humility, repentance and obedience? Do you obey all the way, right away, with a happy heart?
Do a heart check. How is your attitude toward God and toward others?
GREAT PARENTING RESOURCES BY GINGER HUBBARD:
Do you find yourself threatening, repeating your instructions, or raising your voice in an attempt to get your children to obey? Are you discouraged because it seems you just can t reach the heart of your child? Through personal experience and the practical application of Scripture, Ginger Hubbard encourages and equips moms to reach past the outward behavior of their children and dive deeply into the issues of the heart. Ginger’s candid approach will help moms move beyond the frustrations of not knowing how to handle issues of disobedience and into a confident, well-balanced approach to raising their children.
Wise Words for Moms is a calendar-sized chart, designed to aid you in using the Scriptures in parenting. It is a tool for your personal research of the Bible, for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training your children in righteousness. Great for Dads, too!
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