Christ Exalted is Our Song

The news today will not exalt Christ. It will not promote the kingdom of heaven. The news is only intent on reporting on the vile depravity that oozes out of the hearts of men and women around this world.

Today, I encourage you to turn off the news and focus on Jesus Christ. Do not keep your eyes on that which will not edify your soul and make you more like the Savior.

The Glorious Christ

Today, June 14th is Flag Day in America. Many are celebrating with flags being waved, displayed on their cars, or being flown in front of their homes.

For millennium, flags or banners have been waved for many different reasons. But this beautiful hymn from Sovereign Grace reminds me that the banner of Jesus Christ will always wave across His kingdom. As Solomon wrote, “His banner over me is love.”

Truly, our Lord, our King, our Saviour, our Redeemer, our Messiah, our Prince of Peace is worthy of praise. He is glorious above all things.

Glorious
Lord, You are glorious
Shepherd and King, forever You’ll be glorious
Holy and here with us
Let every heart declare that You are glorious

Kneel to God Alone

As true believers, we kneel before God alone. He alone is worthy of our worship, our honor, and the One we seek when we need to ask forgiveness.

The world can demand all they want, but our allegiance is to the King of Kings.

In case, you have forgotten today with all that is happening, then Behold Our God!

Built on Nothing Less

In this day of turmoil, upheaval, and outright blatant disregard for God-appointed government, I wanted to encourage our hearts with the beautiful reminder that the true AND only hope for a sin-cursed, totally depraved world is built on nothing less than the blood of Jesus Christ.

Dear believers, no matter what happens, we stand secure on the Solid Rock which is Jesus Christ. ALL other ground is sinking sand.

Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah

This beautiful hymn is a wonderful reminder of the Creator whom we serve with joy and gladness.

Four times in Psalm 107, we are told these words by the Psalmist David.

Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31 – “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! … 15 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! … 21 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! … 31 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!”

Book Review – A Praying Church

The weekly prayer meeting is the gauge of the spiritual health of a church. – Dennis Gundersen

Available Online

The sovereign purposes of God can be difficult to understand. However, there are times when we are going through a difficult time and the right prompt or post brings a word of encouragement to the heart.

With all that has recently transpired in the world with Covid-19, I have done a great deal of reading. This has also been a time where the Lord has burdened my heart more than ever for the need of prayer in the local church.

Being an avid reader, I have read many books on the matter of prayer through the years. Dennis Gundersen though points out in the first chapter that books actually dealing with the prayer meeting itself are rare. Personally, I cannot ever remember seeing or reading a book about prayer meetings until I purchased this book.

Our family had the privilege of meeting Dennis Gundersen many years ago when he pastored a Bible church near Tulsa, Oklahoma. He owns Grace & Truth Books.

The book was brought to my attention by one of our contributors, Sony Elise, when she read a chapter of the book online. The first chapter alone is worth buying the book.

Sadly, many churches are doing good to have one service a week and rarely do churches include a time of corporate prayer. Our country is in a mess and we need to implement the recommendations of this timely book and get back to prayer — personal prayer as well as corporate prayer.

The book is only 170 pages and could easily be read in a couple of settings. It contains six chapters taking the reader through the first 70+ pages of the book. The remainder of the book is 30 short devotionals on prayer. These devotionals can be used by church leaders and teachers as an aid to helping restore corporate prayer in local assemblies.

The Chapters cover —

1. The Priority of Meetings for Corporate Prayer
2. Everyone Together: Pray for Me, and Me, and Me
3. How Should We Pray in Prayer Meetings
4. Proposals for Focusing a Prayer Meeting
5. A Biblical Case for Regular Prayer Meetings
6. Prayer Meetings and Those Who Lead Them

Personal Recommendation: Purchase this book. You will be glad you did. It will challenge you, but it will also encourage you in your walk with the Lord.

Pastors and church leaders, I will end with a recommendation from the back cover of this book written by Derek Melton, a pastor in Oklahoma.

“The prayer meeting is the most necessary but neglected facet of Divine worship. Dennis Gundersen has written a practical and biblical guide to assist pastors in implementing or improving their corporate prayer meetings. I highly recommend it.”

A Praying Church, subtitled “The Neglected Blessing of Corporate Prayer”, can be purchased at SONY ELISE CHRISTIAN BOOKS.

How Should a King Come?

Today starts the remembrance of Passion Week. This week we remember when King Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, and He came for the sole purpose of dying. The people did not know this when the Triumphal Entry took place, but in just a matter of days the hearts of the people were revealed in all their depravity.

Yet, despite the fact that He did not come to defeat the Romans riding on a white horse, He still came. He defeated sin, hell, and death. Glory be to God!

Christ our Glory

The last two weeks have been extremely trying. The normal lives we thought we had, along with the comfort and ease, was cruelly crushed beyond recognition. This is particularly true to those in the Western world.

Yet, it may be at this time that the eyes of all true believers needs to be turned away from the cares of the world and refocused on Jesus Christ, who alone is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He is our glory and we, the Bride, are His.

Sovereign Grace Music has another hymn entitled “Christ Our Glory” that I have never heard until the last month or so. These words resonate in light of what we are currently experiencing.

“Our rest is in heaven, our rest is not here
Then why should we tremble when trials draw near?
Be still and remember the worst that can come
But shortens our journey and hastens us home!”

“No hours should be wasted on seeking our joy
And placing our hope in what will be destroyed
We look for a city that hands have not raised
We long for a country that sin has not stained!”

Turn Your Eyes – Hymn of Praise

The theme at Truth In Grace this last couple of weeks has been to focus our eyes away from the world and our sin. We need to set our affections on things above which ultimately is the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is our glory and our prize.

True believers should long for the day when we will see Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith, but we will do so without tears, sin, or death to stain our eyes, hearts, or souls.

Consistent Inconsistency – Part 5 – Children & Church

Let us consider another inconsistency, but let me first warn the reader that it may cause some real heart searching, especially if you have children.

The scene is the same just about every week. Families struggle to get up on Sunday morning. Many have not bothered to prepare their hearts throughout the previous week, and especially the Saturday night before. This quickly becomes obvious as the rest of the morning progresses.

Breakfast is rushed and the parents are shouting at the kids to “Hurry or we will be late to church.” With a final flurry of activity, everybody runs out and jumps in the appropriate vehicle. On the way, the driver is pushing past the speed limit and hoping that a policeman is not sitting over the next hill with a radar gun. In the back, the children begin to bicker and then fight. The parents both threaten to stop the car to take care of the problem that does little to straighten out the children. The little ones are mostly immune to the threats because they have already figured out long ago that the parents don’t really mean what they say.

Every now and then, a word of wisdom may grace the conversation. One of the parents will remind their offspring that “we all need to settle down as we are going to worship the Lord.”

Arriving at their chosen place of worship a few minutes late, the parents send their children off to a little classroom. In the room, they only manage to get through 45 minutes due to the seemingly endless supply of snacks and juice. During the class, they may receive a pithy little lesson which may come complete with puppets and pages to color.

Stated otherwise, this means: Continue reading

You Are…

You are my Glory and my Hope
Perfect in all Your ways
You are the One in Whom I rest
You are my Hope and Stay

You are my Wisdom and my Rock
The Blesser of my soul
The Hearer of my painful cries
You’re holy and faithful

You are the One in whom I trust
The Strength’ner of my heart
You are my Shield and Protection
You’ll never more depart

You uphold all your righteous ones
You are my Hiding Place
You are the One Who gives me food
My Light, my Truth, my Grace

You are Alpha and Omega
You are the First and Last
When You come back to take me home
My sin will all be past.

Words by Violet Escalera – January 2017
(Can be sung to the tune of Amazing Grace)

If You Love Me…Part 2

The last section we dealt with loving and obeying the Lord by obeying His Word. Now, let me hasten to add that obedience to the Lord should not cause us heartburn. 1 John talks about loving the Lord and chapter 5:1-3, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”

It should be our joy to obey the Lord in all things. He is our Father and His great love for us should give us joy to know we please Him when we follow His will, not ours. If His commandments aren’t grievous to us then the joy should bound through our lives and within our hearts as we do His will.

lovegod

Does this mean we won’t experience heartache or that we have to paste a smile on our face and pretend we are something that we aren’t? Of course not! The tears of sorrow and heartbreak will flow for us as it does for unbelievers. The only difference is that the Lord will comfort us in the midst of our sorrows and heartache. He will give us peace while we continue on our earthly pilgrimage. You see, loving the Lord doesn’t mean that we always will do what is right.

The psalmist said in Psalm 37:23-24, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and He delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for He upholdeth him with His hand.”

The Lord is with us and will always be there to give us strength in His path. No matter how difficult the way may seem, it’s a lot easier than trying to make it without the Lord. Family and friends will fail but our love should be always on the Lord and following His will. In fact, some of the worst enemies can be those within our own household because they have to live with the guilt and shame of their own sin by watching us seeking to live a life pleasing to Him.

Yes, we will also fail at times and probably respond in ways that are ungodly and not Christ honoring but the difference should be seeking forgiveness despite our failure. Loving the Lord is not mere sentimentality that makes our hearts feel warm and fuzzy on a cold day. We are in the midst of a long, hard battle that won’t end in this life. Part of that battle is following the Lord’s will in every area of life. Put on the whole armor of God, not just part of it.

Psalm 73:25-26 give us a very clear understanding of what the Lord should be to us. “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? There is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee.” No matter what the thing or person is here on earth, no one and nothing should mean as much to us as the Lord, whether in heaven or earth. He is the only true God and worthy of all praise, honor, and glory! Love the Lord at all cost because He is the only One who can satisfy you!

From Everlasting To Everlasting

There is no subject greater than the subject of God. He has such attributes and characteristics that we can contemplate on them and still never be able to understand Him. So many things in the Bible talk about how great God is and yet He was able to do the opposite. When He was on earth He was fully God and fully man. He died on the cross for our sins yet raised Himself up from death. He is everywhere all the time yet time is no problem with Him. A thousand years are as one day to the Lord and one day is as a thousand years to Him. 2 Peter 3:8. He has always been alive and always will be alive.

One of my favorite meditations on the Lord is that He has always been and always will be. Psalm 90:1-2 Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

psalms-90-4

I like to start off with a smaller number of a thousand and think back past that. A thousand years ago the Lord was alive. I haven’t even been alive 100 years. Beyond that is the time the earth was created. What an amazing time that would have been to see the universe created out of nothing. A million years ago, which was before the earth was created, God was alive then and no one around. After that is a trillion years and I can’t even comprehend how He could have been alive and nothing was needed on His part to sustain Him.

He is also to everlasting. He has always been and will always be. Yes, we will live for eternity after we die but how are we able to think of time in such tremendous numbers? Forever is a very long time and it goes in such a way that there is never any end. Yet the Lord was forever and will be forever. Can you bring your mind around such awesomeness? No one can because God is way beyond our understanding.

As I continue back and forward in the contemplation of time I can’t help but wonder at the complexities of our Savior. There is nothing that can compare to Him and all that He is. We hear the word ‘awesome’ bandied about as if the things of this earth are awesome but the things this generation says awesome about are not. They may be really good or something we like a lot yet that term can only be applied to the Lord in its truest sense. He alone is awesome! He alone is worthy of all praise!

Praise the Lord For He is Good!

Praise ye the Lord! O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: and His mercy endureth forever. Psalm 106:1

The Lord is worthy of all praise. Whether we are going through easy or rough times we know that He alone is the worthy one. As the days draw nearer to the end times we see the world falling apart. Praise the Lord for He is good! We see people we thought were godly and standing for truth suddenly fall away to heresy. Praise the Lord for He is good! We see an ungrateful generation who think they are owed everything. Praise the Lord for He is good! We see a generation that has no natural affection and are truce breakers and unholy. Praise the Lord for He is good! We see loved ones turn on us and break our hearts. Praise the Lord for He is good!

praisethelord

Whatever we are going through, we, as true believers, are told to give thanks to the Lord and praise Him no matter what happens. How can we be thankful to the Lord when the hard times keep rolling our way? Give thanks and praise to the only One Who deserves it. Learn contentment even in the midst of trials. Let’s look to the Lord when our heart is breaking and there is no one who will listen to us or when we can’t tell anyone what is going on in our lives. Praise the Lord for He is good!

As we go through life we can’t expect we will be trial free. Sometimes the trials feel like they are more than we can bear but we must cast all our cares on the Lord. He knows what we need and He will give us strength to make it through. Don’t wait until life is falling apart before you praise the Lord. Do it in the good times and the bad. Do it whether you feel like it or not. Praise the Lord for He is good!

Bending Our Will To His

As we pray to the Lord, His power changes our lives. I can’t remember who said it but someone made the comment that when we pray to God we don’t pull Him to us to do our bidding but He bends our will to His. This is similar to anchoring a ship to the land. You don’t pull the land to the ship. Instead, the land holds the anchor and the ship is then pulled to the land. I like this analogy as it reminds me that prayer is one of God’s means of changing me to become like Christ not changing Christ to do what I want. As we pray, the Lord changes us and gives us a view of Him that we wouldn’t otherwise see.

In this body of sin, it’s so easy to forget Who is in control of all circumstances and think we have to be the ones controlling the situations to force everyone to do what we think is right. It’s like the little girl, who is a master controller and manipulator, going into the kitchen and telling her mom, “I’m making up the food today and you will sit down.” That, instead of asking her mom if it would be alright for her to make the food and would Mama like to sit down and rest awhile? That is fine between adults but a little child has no business demanding that her parents obey her anymore than we have the right to order God around, even if we think it’s for a good cause.

godswill

We should be so contented with the Lord’s dispersion that our hearts go out to Him in worship and praise through each situation. Of course, we cannot simply sit there and say, “Que sera sera!” We are commanded to pray and do it fervently. James 5:16-17. We are commanded to be kind to our enemies and pray for them who despitefully use us. Matthew 5:44. We are to do many more things because we love to obey the Lord’s commands but our contentment should be found in Him and not in ourselves or this world.

May our hearts be so overwhelmed with the Lord that we can say with the Psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever!!” Psalm 73:25-26.

Power Of Prayer

Having looked at contentment in general and thankfulness, I think we have to be careful that we don’t forget about prayer. This is a fantastic way of coming to know the Sovereign of heaven. We really cannot be content or thankful without the Lord giving us that ability. As it says in Acts 17:28, “For in Him we live and move and have our being.”

Prayer is the power of the true believer but not in the way people think. We don’t pray to God and expect answers as if He were our genie…you know, rub the magic lamp and He will grant all your wishes. It is beyond that! Think of it like this: when I have a relationship with someone I don’t just give them my wish list and say, “This is what I want. Give it to me.” On the other hand, I don’t hide away from them and pretend I don’t know them. if I truly want a relationship with someone I will go out of my way to work on that relationship.

As we pray to the Lord, His power changes our lives. We grow in the Lord just as a baby grows. We wouldn’t expect a baby to stay little the rest of his/her life and neither should we stay a babe in Christ. Somewhere in the middle of that growth we stop fretting and our contentment in Him grows. The peace that passes all understanding fills our hearts which allows us to guard our hearts and focus on the Lord instead of things around us.

prayer

Does this mean it will happen overnight and we will never fret or worry again? Of course not! For some it will be a steady growth uphill and a believer who grows strong quickly. For others it might be a slower pace with lots of ups and downs, then for others it could be very slow growth but each true believer will grow. In 2 Peter 3:18, he tells us, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen.”

This is just one reason for our thankfulness towards our Heavenly Father, Who loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins. What a lovely picture this is and how appropriate that each thing we are commanded to do fits so perfectly together! Let us show Him our love by spending time with Him.

I love Romans 11:33, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” He is beyond our understanding, yet how beautiful He is and our praise towards Him should fill the heavens!

Are You Leading Worship or Entertaining?

My brother travels across the country, ministering in a variety of churches, and I have the blessing of traveling with him. There are times, though, that I look around and think, Something is missing.

A few years ago, I was beginning to worry about myself. I felt like I was becoming one of those stodgy old women who refuses to accept modern praise and worship music, because they are not hymns. Now don’t get me wrong. I love hymns and am saddened by the fact that many young people (if not most) will never know the lyrics that have stood the test of time. But I finally realized that my objection is not so much the songs that are sung (although some leave much to be desired); it is the way they are sung.

People complain about the old 7/11 songs but, today, churches introduce songs that are not only shallow; they were not written to be sung by a congregation. They may be great for a praise & worship singer to sing in concert, but they are very difficult for people to sing along with.

praiseworship

Often on Sunday mornings, I am tired. Especially if I’ve been on my feet at a convention all weekend, Sundays can be very hard. I rely on God’s strength to get me through the day, and I look forward to worshiping with His people, but some weeks, I don’t really get that.

There are exceptions, of course. Some churches are full of the presence of the Lord the moment we arrive. It’s obvious the people there love the Lord and each other, and they are eager to see what God is going to do in their midst. This is what the Church should look like.

I would love to see more churches do a mixture of hymns and praise and worship songs. The key to worship is singing songs that honor our Lord while focusing on Him, not the people around us. At the same time, the leader must be in tune with those around him or her. Are they singing? Praying? Worshiping? Or are they merely watching? The difference between a worship service and a concert is that the former should not be a performance. It is not a contest of vocal or musical ability. It is the gift of seeing those who have had a rough week, who are discouraged, who wonder why they are even there, and leading them into the presence of the Lord. Once there, they can leave their burdens at the altar and better hear the message God desires to speak to them.

A true worship leader is just as important as a pastor who preaches the Word without compromise. Together, they will help to build a church that God can use in a mighty way.

Praise: A Sacrifice?

I grew up singing “We bring a sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord” but I confess that I did not understand what a “sacrifice of praise” was until a few years ago. Praising God is fun … at least for me … so how could it be a sacrifice?

I am reading through the Book of Psalms right now, and it tells us a number of times to offer up a “sacrifice of praise” or a “sacrifice of thanksgiving.” Reading it translated as “thanksgiving” has caused me to ponder this even more.

praise

My family and I have entered a season of life recently that, honestly, I have been dreading. In it, I am going to have to die to self and forgo some of my plans this summer. That’s not easy for me but I know that, in this, God is performing His perfect work. Because of this, I do find myself thanking Him. I don’t always feel like it but, as I praise Him and thank Him for what He is doing in each of our lives, I feel more peace and more grace, and I know that, because of Him, I’ll never walk alone.

No matter what you are going through today, don’t stop praising Him. You may not always like the changes that God brings your way or the tasks He calls you to but, if you are willing to lay down your life and surrender to Him 100%, you will find that peace that passes understanding, and you will grow even closer to a God who loves you so much more than you can think or imagine.

rose

Is Jesus Culture Just Another Christian Band?

Following one of our recent posts on the Passion 2013 conference, one of the issues that came to light is the concern over the worship group “Jesus Culture.” This group has grown immensely in popularity among evangelical youth. Yet many are not aware of the fact that they originate out of the Bethel Church in Redding, California which is known for its false teachings about signs and wonders and is part of the heretical “New Apostolic Reformation” movement. The following video does a very good job exposing the background of Jesus Culture and why discerning Christians should be very concerned about them. Please take the time to watch and learn.