Monday, August 30, 2010

Prosperity – No friend of prayer

Associate Pastor Cambridge Baptist - Jonathon Ruthven

II Chr 7:13-15
Deut 8
Zech 13:8,9


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Some of the material used in this sermon was taken from John Piper'smessage on John chapter 16 which can be found at www.desiringgod.org.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What is joy? What is blessing?

By Odon Bulamba (26 September 2003)

The Bible says that when two or three are gathered together to serve the Word, God is always with us. And the Spirit of God is here to lead us and teach us more. Blessed are those that believe in the Lord because the Lord will trust them. Blessed are those that believe in the Lord because they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who believe in God because the kingdom of God belongs to them and I am very happy because we believe in Him and because we are going to reap the fruit of all these blessings. We are going to talk a little bit about blessings but before talking about blessings I am going to ask about joy. What is joy?

God’s joy comes from the depth of your heart and there is also joy that is showed by our physical being and when God’s joy is with you, you sometimes don’t even feel hungry. And that is why some people can fast for 50 or 60 days without dying, they can fast for 20 or 30 days without eating or drinking anything. They completely forget about hunger because they are joyful and when a human being is joyful, all the body is excited, he will have a smile on his lips and everything around him will please him and he will forget about his problems and will feel something is boiling in his heart and this makes him happy.

Who doesn’t need joy in his life? I’ve never found someone who is an enemy of joy but always enemies of anger or mistrust. When you don’t have joy you feel sick. Sometimes even your body doesn’t want food and what is pleasing to the eyes doesn’t even attract you when you are in distress because you don’t have joy. But when you have joy, even if you break glass, this is a small problem.

This is the first point to help a Christian to solve his problems. If you have a problem and need a solution, try to find joy in the Lord first. Joy in the Lord will make your problem very small and when this problem is minimised you will have enough time to think about it and act accordingly. So when you have a problem, don’t accept this problem to lead you to distress because if you lose your joy you will be very annoyed and you might not even find a solution to your problem. Joy also helps in times of temptation. When you are tempted and you have the joy of the Lord you will always feel victorious and feel that God is with you. You will understand that this small problem will pass and you will be victorious. Many people when they have joy they don’t fear death. They say even if death would come now I would be ready to go and I would be in God’s kingdom today, because of joy only.

We won’t talk too much about joy but we are going to talk about blessing. What is a blessing? Every day people say God bless you, what is it?

If we look at blessing, a blessing first of all is eternal and difficult to define because it is very big. It has a few dimensions. As for us Christians today, God has called us to bless. A blessing might be a prayer, it might be a wish, a prophecy, and it might be also a will of a man towards a man. If I want for example God to bless your work I am ready to kneel down and I will tell God that my will is that Michelle’s work might be blessed and because God said that every word that comes from my mouth might be considered, from there you will be blessed.

In Genesis 24:35 we find an example to see how God blesses His own. This is Abraham’s servant that talks, ‘God blessed my master and he found material goods’. We can all ask God to find material things. God is able to give us material things if we ask him and this will be a blessing. So when I need clothes or a house or a car, or camels, I am entitled to tell God, ‘I want you to give me this to me. I won’t buy it or ask anyone but I want you, God, to give it to me’.

How does God give us material things? Sometimes through other people and sometimes miraculously. So if I need something and I need to be blessed by God it means I need an abundance in these things. When I tell God I need shoes, God can give you one pair of shoes but when you ask God, I want a blessing to find shoes God might give me ten pairs of shoes and that is what makes the difference between a prayer. Many Christians pray and say give me the gift of the Spirit for example and God is able to give you one or two gifts or give it to you for a short time. But if you really want God to give it to you always tell God, bless me, I need your blessing by receiving your gift of the Holy Spirit. Because an eternal blessing I will be with us forever.

Another example, someone asked God to give you work. It is good to ask for work, but maybe you will work for one or three years and then it will be over. But if you asked God for the blessing of the work, God will open the doors of blessing, you will have this work and everything that you do at this work will be blessed. And God will always be with you. This is the first way and through that, people will start testifying that you are blessed. People will never say, ‘Colleen knows how to find money’, they will say, ‘Colleen is blessed, Sylvie is blessed, Michelle is blessed, everybody is blessed’, because we don’t find it with our own means. When men look for things there are always limits. But when God blesses, men get more and the blessing too can be given to our families.

God bless my children so they might know you. God bless my husband so he might be saved. God bless my brother or sister so they might see God’s hands in their lives and this is a prayer of freedom. Freedom comes from blessing. When you want to set free someone who is sick, or in distress, of course to use the name of Jesus is good but ask for God’s blessing first. Say to God, may your blessing be in the life of this person.

Genesis 1:32, when God met Adam He said, be blessed and multiply and this multiplying keeps going today. Up to today we keep seeing Adams descendents but Adam had a problem at the beginning and his problem was that he couldn’t find some one that was similar. He was annoyed with that and God gave him a wife. God knew that with only one wife they wouldn’t be happy. When they argued, who would intervene and when they will be in distress, nobody would comfort them. So God said, here it is, I give you the blessing of multiplication and when God gives a blessing, nobody can stop it. The devil can never stop it and men can’t either. So please ask for the blessing every time you pray and there you will be really victorious.

Psalm 103:1,2. First of all God blesses man and it is up to us now to bless God. What does it mean to bless God? To thank him for everything He has done in your life; physically and spiritually. Tell your soul, my soul bless this Lord. Bless the Lord for all he has done for you.

Before telling your soul, bless the Lord, you must know what your soul is. What is your soul? It is life. Our lives must bless the Lord and to bless the Lord is to be thankful for what He is doing. When we see the sun in the morning we must bless the Lord. When for example we have a rest during the night, we must bless the Lord. When we walk we must bless Him and everything that breathes must bless the Lord. So the soul that is alive must absolutely bless the Lord. Why don’t we bless the Lord in our actions? Because often we don’t realise that God needs a blessing.

This is God’s principal; if you want more you must give. If you give Gods blessings, God in His time will bless you too. But if you don’t bless the Lord, you will be blessed of course but not to the point you will be very joyful. And the Bible says that whoever will bless Israel, I will bless him also. We have already talked about Israel - it means to fight with God. And when you bless this step of this fight between you and God, God will bless you too. When you go through difficulties and you want God to do something and you bless God during that time, you will be really blessed.

Isaiah 65:16, Whoever asks the blessing for himself the blessing will be given to him. It is written that what was in the past won’t be there anymore, it is going to disappear. So when you ask for a blessing you must get expect a change. Tell God, bless me Lord, for eg bless my studies and I will pass with 90% this year, last year was 70% and the year before was 60% but this year I want 90% so bless me in that. And I believe that the past is the past and I believe in something new and God will do something if you bless yourself.

Who would not like to bless yourself? Every day we say God bless me, so say today in Jesus name bless me. In Jesus name I bless myself. Because my son does not believe in Jesus Christ, today I will bless him and what was past was past and from now on I see him as a Christian so I bless myself with that prayer. At work for e.g. you go through a difficult time, bless your time, bless your surroundings and bless yourself and you will see how God will do something.

Genesis 31:55, in the morning Laban woke up to bless his children. The first thing was the blessing. I’m going to ask you a question; Colleen, when you wake up in the morning, what do you tell your husband? Colleen said, “Are you awake”. Sylvie when you wake up in the morning what do you tell Michael? Sylvie, “I say, I love you Michael”. Early in the morning we must absolutely bless others. Oh God bless this man, bless my wife, God bless my family, my children, I bless you, my husband I bless you this morning may God be with you during the day. Because a blessing is a door and you will never enter a house if you never open the door. You must open the door first so that you might find your way. And if you leave the door closed you will not go through. So it is better to bless our families in the morning. It’s better to bless our children, our husbands and wives and every body else with us in the morning without forgetting God. Amen!

Isaiah 2:20, when the morning came people started throwing away every thing they offered to idols because it was a new time, it was a time when they realised that they didn’t have to keep this anymore. They discovered it was not the right time to keep what they had any more. So we must think about the rats and the bats. We must throw away everything we have as idols and when we speak the blessing we must reject the curse. And the curse represents things that are like idols, the curse represents everything that comes from the devil, it represents hatred and jealousy and every power of man. We must throw it away as the bible says to the rats and the bats. We have already talked about the bats here and who knows what the rats are?

It’s a very clever animal and it is a destructor, it doesn’t care about what man likes. The rat doesn’t say sorry and his teeth are always here to destroy. And the rat will never be afraid to destroy your clothes and you will never know if a rat is happy or angry and sometimes rats attack people. When you sleep at night the rat comes and attacks often the heel, he smells and then he eats the man’s heels. And when you move it stops so that you might not feel the pain and then it keeps eating. This is the principal of the rat. The rat always hides what he is doing. He will put his nose underneath the cushion of a chair, he will hide his nest in a place where man can’t see. And his nest will be built with clothes or books and he does everything to destroy.

And we know some people have rats as their friends and as pets. They eat with rats and walk with rats and spend money on the rats. But the rats will never spend anything for you. They will only be there to destroy. And there are people who give opportunities to the devil and don’t want blessing in their lives and they want to use lies. They prefer to use deception and hypocrisy and using things that are not really blessed and all these just eat up their souls. But if we ask the blessing from God we are asked to throw all this away and ask ourselves what I am doing, is it a blessing or not, isn’t it idolatry? Even if it is gold, diamond or silver or something valuable, am I not worshipping another god apart from my God.

Once when I was praying to God, God told something to me through Jeremiah 2:22. Even if you use soap, even if you clean yourself for five days with soap your sin will still be there. And many people wash their body and use deodorant and use nice soap, they wear make up but this doesn’t change anything before God. What is the role of soap? I think we use it to clean and to kill germs. But for God that is not enough. It’s like the blood the Israelites used to clean themselves, the blood of animals was not enough, it would only cover sin.

Only the blood of Jesus is sufficient to purify. That is why last time I told you that the Bible is a holy book. When we talk about holiness we see straight away sanctification and sanctification is something very useful in the Christian life. We have talked about sanctification superficially but I think we will talk about it more in depth so we might understand what it means to be holy, so we might understand what soap means for the Christian life.

When you are holy, whenever you ask for a blessing, the blessing will be given to you. When you are holy, whenever you go through a problem, God will always be with you. When you are holy, even if people laugh at you, at the last minute God will raise you up as He did for Job and others. Blessing doesn’t cost anything and doesn’t require a 15 minute prayer; it’s just a question to open your mouth and talk, that is it. If for example, my friend is a sinner, I can tell God, ‘I bless this girl, may her sin be erased. I bless this girl’s life and may her life be changed immediately’ and her life will change abundantly.

Eventually we are going to read Numbers 6:23-27, so if you want the name of the Lord to be on the life of your brother or sister, if you want your life or surrounding to be blessed, the formula is there. It is very simple. It doesn’t take 15 minutes of prayer and if you don’t know this one by heart, open your Bible and read it and you will tell God, I want to bless Sylvie, oh Sylvie may the Lord bless you. May the Lord shine on you, may the Lord give you his peace, may the Lord give you his grace and may the Lord’s hand be with you and that is it. This is the blessing that she gets, whether she wants it or not, she gets it. She might accept or not, but this blessing is given.

Blessing is like rain, when the rain falls even if the rain is ready or not to receive this water, the ground will get it. Even if the ground says I am wet, that is enough, the rain will come and water will never reject water. And when the rain falls even if there is thunder, thunder will never stop the rain. Maybe people will be scared but the rain will never be scared, the rain will keep going and that is the same thing with blessing.

The Bible says that satan makes the noise of a roaring lion but the noise it makes will never stop the blessing because the blessing is like rain. Even if you bless someone who is in satan’s camp or if you bless a problem that is so big to you, nobody will stop this blessing and God will be over this person and God will be over everything that you blessed.

Do you know the little secret Moses had? When Moses talked, God would always manifest Himself; when Moses would say make this water turn into blood for example, God would just do it and this is the secret of the blessing. Open your mouth, talk and it’s up to God to do it, that’s it. Don’t minimise yourself, don’t say no for me it won’t work. Try and you will see. And if you want it tonight, try it and you will see the result. Blessing is not a gift from God, to say that I don’t have this gift, to say this gift belongs to Michael only, it’s not mine, no blessing is for everyone. If you believe in God you are here to bless and your blessings will be blessings. The blessings you give will really be given and God will fulfil.

We are going to pray and bless whatever and whoever you want, bless your family or whoever and we will see what God will do.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What Is Worship?

By Shari Bhandal

reference: www.gci.org

Many Christian churches have different worship styles. With our own experiences, we have different impressions and reactions to worship styles. I’m going to examine what the Bible says about worship. Let's look at the way God’s people worshiped before Moses, after Moses, and after Jesus. Then let's see how that biblical insight can help inform our worship in the modern world.

This is a purpose for which we are called: "You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9). We were called for the purpose of praising God, worshiping God. That is one of the job descriptions of a Christian. We should declare that God is worthy, worth more than everything else put together.

Definitions: The Bible doesn’t give a formal definition of worship but let’s look at the biblical words. In both Hebrew and Greek, there are two major kinds of words for worship. The first kind means to bow down, to kneel, to put one’s face down as an act of respect and submission. Our body language is saying, I will do whatever you want me to. I am ready to listen to your instructions and I am willing to obey. The other kind of biblical word means to serve. It carries the idea of doing something for God — making a sacrifice or carrying out his instructions.
Of course, word meanings don’t prove what worship is, but they do illustrate three kinds of worship.

There is
1. worship that involves speaking, and
2. worship that involves listening, and
3. a worship that involves doing.

We need all three types of worship. Some people focus primarily on speaking or singing praise to God. Praise is good, but if all we do is praise God, without ever listening to what he says, we have to ask whether we believe the words we are saying. If he is really all wise and all loving, then we need to be attentive to what he is telling us, because he is worth listening to.

Similarly, all talk and no action does not show God the respect he deserves. Actions speak louder than words, and if our behavior isn’t changed by God, then our actions are saying that God isn’t important — he’s a nice idea, but not relevant to our day-to-day lives. When we really believe that God is worthy of every praise, then we will be willing to listen and to change the way we live in response to such a worthy God. We will trust him and seek him and want to please him as much as we can. Worship should affect our behavior.

Response with all our being

Another point is that worship is a response to God. We can’t know God’s worth, much less declare it, unless God reveals himself to us. So God initiates worship by revealing himself to us. Then we respond, and the proper response is worship. The more we grasp his greatness, his power, his love, his character, the more we understand his worthiness, the better we can declare his worth – the better we can worship.

Our worship is a response to what God has revealed himself to be, not only in who he is, but also in what he has done and is doing and will do in the future.

We can worship God all by ourselves. But it is also something we do together. God has revealed himself not just to me, but too many people. God puts us in a community, he reveals himself to a community and through a community, and the community together responds to him in worship, in declaring that he is worth all honour and praise.

Moreover, God promises that whenever we gather in Jesus’ name, he will be there. We gather in his presence, and because of his promise, we expect him to be with us. He is the One who calls us together, who reveals himself to us, who initiates the worship and is the object of our worship.
One important method we use to worship God is that of music. In church, we have someone called a worship leader, who leads us in singing hymns and spiritual songs. So a worship leader is a song leader, and because of that some people automatically think of music when they hear the word worship.

Music is important, but worship is not just music – it involves our entire relationship with God, all our heart, mind, soul, and strength – it involves all the ways in which we can respond to God, all the ways we can praise him by what we say and do, all the ways we can demonstrate that God is worthy of all praise and honor and allegiance.
Worship before the time of Moses

In the Bible, we will see a wide variety of methods that God’s people have used to worship him and express their devotion to him. Some of these methods were done by specific command from God; others seem to have been the choice of the persons involved. We see this pattern throughout the Bible: some things are commanded and some things are optional.
We don’t have to read the Bible very far before we encounter a story about worship. Genesis 4 tells us that Cain and Abel brought an offering to the Lord. We aren’t told why – we are just told that they did it. A few chapters later, we read that Noah built an altar after the Flood, and he sacrificed some animals.

Later, Abraham made sacrifices. He built an altar at Shechem, another at Bethel, then at Hebron, and at Mount Moriah. As part of his worship, Abraham also prayed, circumcised and tithed. Isaac built an altar at Beersheba and he prayed. Jacob set up a stone pillar at Bethel and poured a drink offering on it, and he poured oil on it as some sort of worship. He built an altar at Shechem, and one at Bethel. He vowed to tithe and he prayed. What conclusions can we draw from this?

• First, no one needed a priest. Everyone built their own altars, sacrificed their own animals and did their own worship. The head of the household acted as the religious leader for the family. We see that in the book of Job, too: Job made sacrifices on behalf of his children. There was no special priesthood. Each person could worship without a priest.

• Second, there aren’t many commands about the worship that the patriarchs did. God sometimes told his people where to build an altar and what to offer, but for the most part, the altars and offerings seem to have been initiated by the people. There’s no mention of special times or special days or special seasons. There doesn’t seem to be any restriction on place, either. The patriarchs stayed away from Baal worship, but other than that, they worshiped the true God wherever and whenever and however they wanted.

• Third, not much is said about method – the people could pour out wine or oil, totally incinerate an animal, or roast it and eat part of it. Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not limited by time, location or method. The key word is flexibility. The detailed rules that God gave through Moses did not apply to the patriarchs. They were not restricted by rules about special places, people, rituals and days.

One thing was important – probably the greatest commandment about worship, the most important rule about worship no matter who we are or when we live. The first and greatest commandment is this: You shall worship no other gods.

Moses and the tabernacle

In the days of Moses, worship went from very little structure to very specific and very detailed structure. God specified exactly

• when sacrifices were to be made,
• how they were to be made,
• where they were to be made, and
• who was supposed to make them.

Worship became much more formal. Under the law of Moses, there were holy places, holy people, holy animals, holy rituals, and holy times. God designated certain things for certain uses in worship.

The tabernacle was a holy place. It was somewhat holy in the outer court, more holy in the inner court, and extremely holy behind the veil. The design of the tabernacle communicated something important about God: that he was holy. You just can’t walk up on him every day. You had to be a very holy person on a very holy day in order to walk into the Holy of Holies, and you had to go through special rituals in order to do it. The tabernacle was a symbolic message about God.

For worship in ancient Israel, there were holy people. The Levites were holy and assigned to work with the tabernacle. There was a priesthood between the people and God. For many acts of worship, the priests had to perform the actions. There were also holy animals and holy plants. Every firstborn animal was holy, dedicated to the Lord. The first-ripe fruits were holy, set apart for worship.

There were holy times. Every week, one day was holy. Every year, some extra days were holy. Every seven years and every 50 years, a whole year was set apart for special use. These designated times gave structure to the Israelite worship. The who, the what, the when, and the where were all spelled out. Everything was structured, organized, formalized.

Most of those details are obsolete, but the most important principle carries over into today’s worship, too. Only God should be worshiped. It’s not that he should be worshiped more than other gods are. It’s that he is the only God worthy of worship. He is so great, nothing else is even close. There is no god like our God. Nothing can compare with him, so we give him exclusive worship. We do not divide our loyalties between him and Baal, or between him and self. All allegiance and all worship go to him alone.

Worship in ancient Israel was not just at the tabernacle – it was also in the heart and in the home. God did not want people to think that they could do the rituals and then live as they please. It was not enough to "do" the worship – a person’s honor and respect for God should be genuine, in the heart, which meant that God was to be praised in all of life.

In Deuteronomy 6, Moses told the Israelites to put God’s instructions in their hearts, and teach them to their children, to talk about them when they sat, when they walked, and when they lay down. They were to write these instructions on the doorposts, to immerse themselves in God’s way of life. All of life is worship.

Some of the later prophets build on this theme. Samuel told Saul that obedience is better than sacrifice. God wants a right attitude more than he wants correct rituals. In Jeremiah 7:22, God says, I didn’t bring you out of Egypt because I wanted sacrifices. I just wanted you to obey me, and sacrifices are only a tiny part of what I commanded.

Isaiah is even stronger – saying, in effect, "I’m sick of your sacrifices. I’m sick of your sabbaths and holy days." In Isaiah 1:11-17, The people were doing rituals, bringing animals, keeping Sabbaths and festivals, even praying, but despite all that, there was something seriously lacking in their worship.

The problem was that their lives were full of sin. So Isaiah counsels: "Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean.... Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow."
Their sacrifices, prayers and praises were not accompanied by performance in their day-to-day lives. They had worship rituals, but they did not obey God’s commands for how to treat their neighbors, and the result was unacceptable worship. As Jesus said, quoting Isaiah 29:13, their worship was in vain. It was hypocritical to do the worship if it wasn’t changing the other aspects of their lives.

For worship to be acceptable to God, we must have obedient lives. The ritual is not enough – the attitude is what is most important. God does not want hypocritical worship, people who say he is great but do not act like it. Perhaps this is commandment number 2 regarding worship – that it must be sincere. If we are going to say that God is worthy of all worship, then we should believe it in our hearts, and if we believe it, it will show in our actions. Real worship changes everything we do, because it changes who we are. Worship must be in the heart, not just at the place of worship.

The early church

Acts 2 tells us how worship was done among the people who saw Jesus’ example and followed it. "Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about 3,000 were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (vv. 41-42). This is their response to God, their devotion, their worship: they accepted the message — they believed, they were repentant, they were baptized — and they devoted themselves to

• being taught,
• sharing with one another,
• breaking bread, and
• prayer.

Luke is giving a summary description, not a formula for worship services.
"Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people" (vv. 46-47). They worshipped in the temple, and they worshipped in their homes. They praised God, they were happy, and they were sincere.

Worship services

In our worship services today, where is the worship? It’s in the songs, in the sermon, and in the attentiveness that we have in listening to the sermon. But there is also worship in the work that goes on behind the scenes. People who get the building ready may be making sacrifices to God that are pleasing to him. Those who help with refreshments may worship as they work. When we do good and share with others, we are giving the kind of worship that God wants.

People who work with children are worshiping as they help children understand the good news about Jesus Christ. In their actions and in their words, they are praising God. They are showing that he changes our lives, and he changes our priorities. We no longer live to please ourselves, but to serve others. This is a form of worship.

One of the longest passages about church meetings is in 1 Corinthians 14. Some unusual things were happening in the church at Corinth, and Paul had to give them some guidance about it. Most of the chapter is trying to bring some control to a situation that had gotten out of control. Paul summarized their situation and provided a focus in verse 26: "What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church."
The church meeting included songs, teaching, and the use of spiritual gifts. Of all the things Paul mentions, what is the most important? Notice what he says in the last part of verse 26: That all "must be done for the strengthening of the church." In verse 31 he says the goal is "so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged."

That’s the priority: Everything should be done in such a way that the church is instructed, edified, built up, strengthened. It doesn’t matter how many songs we sing or what spiritual gifts we have — if we aren’t helping anybody, we are missing the point of gathering together. Songs, sermon, and service: All three are forms of worship, and all three are important.

Worship today

Worship involves our entire relationship with God: our words, our attitudes, and our actions. Our words may be normal conversation, songs or prayers. In any style of speaking, we can declare God’s praises and express our faith reliance on him.

God wants worship not only on our lips, but also in our hearts. He wants our worship to be sincere — he wants to be the most important thing in our lives, that we are truly submissive to him. He wants our worship to affect our behavior, that we make sacrifices, that we put to death the deeds of selfishness, that we seek justice, be merciful and humble, and help others. He wants us not just to obey him, but to serve in ways that go beyond specific commands. We are to worship wherever we go, doing all things to God’s glory, praying always, giving thanks always, never ceasing to be a temple of the Holy Spirit.

There are also actions that are more specifically times of worship. We might call these private devotions, or spiritual disciplines. These are habits and actions of worship we do individually, as opposed to worship when we gather as a church.

Worship is not restricted to a specific place and time. The best thing that has ever happened to us is that we have God in our lives. The best thing that’s happened to us this week is that we have God in our lives. We have reason to celebrate all the time. When we live each day praising God in our hearts, it is natural that we praise God when we gather together, when we speak to one another about the best thing that’s ever happened to us. We worship all the time, but we also worship together at specific times at meetings designated for that specific purpose.

What should be involved in our worship services?

1. Our first act of worship is gathering together. Simply by gathering, we are showing that God has worth. Where two or three are gathered in his name, he will be present in a special way. When we gather, we gather in the presence of God. As the Old Testament says, we appear before the Lord. It’s like an ancient throne room, and we are invited to be with him.

In our worship services, we want God to be present. We specifically ask him to be present. He promises to be present. And if we are sincere about this, we should expect him to be present. And when we sing in God’s presence, we are singing to him. It’s not just a song about God — it is a song to God. These are words spoken to him. Like many of the psalms, the hymns we sing are often prayers set to music. He is the audience; we are the participants.

2. Like the psalms, our music comes in a wide variety. Some songs express positive emotions, such as adoration, praise, thanksgiving, confidence, faith, joy or excitement. We should always be happy that God is in our life. Even when we have trials, we are to rejoice. The psalms tell us to come before him and rejoice, to praise the Lord, to sing a new song unto the Lord. Praise him in the heights. Praise him, praise him, praise him. Our joy in him should spill over into praises. Our worship should be dominated by praise.

But joy is not the only legitimate emotion we can have with God. The psalms also have prayers of confession and supplication. Some of our hymns are more meditative than celebrative. Some ask questions, some express sorrow, or anguish or fear. All of these are legitimate emotions we can sing about.

3. Our worship services usually contain several prayers, too. They include praise, usually a request, sometimes a confession. When someone near the beginning of services asks God to be in the service, to inspire the service, this is something we all want. We join in the prayer not as an audience, but as participants. When we say "amen," we are saying, That’s my prayer, too. I want God to be here, too.

When we express our dependence on God, when we give all our requests to him, it shows his worth. When we want to be in his presence, it shows that he is good. When we confess our sins to him, it shows his greatness. When we give him thanks and praise, it exalts him and glorifies him. We worship when we participate in the prayers.

4. A fourth major part of our worship service is the sermon. The sermon is a communication of God’s word to us. It explains to us what God’s will is for our life. We expect God to speak to us through his Word, by inspiring the speaker, and we listen for what God is telling us. God’s truth affects our lives and our hearts. It affects real life, and it demands a heart-felt response. The sermon should therefore appeal to our mind and to our emotions.

In the sermon, we are not just an audience — we should also be participants. We should actively think about the Scriptures, think about the sermon, think about what it means in our lives. This isn’t just information about God — it is information about how God wants to change our lives. Part of our worship, part of our respectful response to God, is listening for what he wants to teach us and how he wants to change us.

We have to listen with the expectation that the sermon contains something God wants to tell us. It may be different for you than it is for me. The point is that we have to participate in the listening. Just as we participate in the music, and we participate in the prayers, we are all supposed to participate in the sermon, too.

5. As we listen, we should also be ready to respond to the message. The response can come in many different forms, depending on the message we have heard. One way to respond is to do what God is telling us to do. Some people are doing this by serving in various capacities within the church. Others respond with service outside of the church, and some may respond by telling others how good and great God is — worshiping him by doing the priestly duty of sharing the good news of salvation — and hopefully all these responses will be common.

Sometimes the proper response is more in emotion than it is in action. The most important response is that of faith – a willingness to believe what God has said. The response may include thankfulness, sometimes expressed as an offering during the worship service. Sometimes the appropriate response is simply joy. Sometimes it is repentance, a change in behavior or a change in attitude toward other people.

Sometimes silence is the best response. Sometimes we are simply dumbfounded at God’s greatness, or his mercy, and we just don’t have the words to say anything intelligent. So we cover our mouths and sit in awe of God. We are speechless at how utterly different God is from us, how holy, how righteous, how perfect, how powerful, how completely beyond limitations of time and space he is. And we are awe-struck that he has been so humble as to care about persons such as ourselves. Overwhelming awe is one of many possible responses to God, depending on how he reveals himself to us.

No matter what, we should expect God to affect both our emotions and our minds. Our relationship with him involves all our heart, mind, soul and strength. God wants all of us, not just part of us, as we worship him.

The real test of worship is not what happens at church, but what happens at home, and on the job, and wherever we go. Is God important enough to make a difference in the way we live, in the way we work, in the way we get along with other people? When the Holy Spirit lives in us, when we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, worship is a part of everyday life.
So remember these 3 questions regarding worship practise:

• Does it glorify God? That is one major purpose of worship.
• Does it build up the body of Christ? That is another major purpose.
• And third, does it help us be what God wants us to be in the world? Does it have practical results in our lives?

Monday, August 23, 2010

God’s Rest

By Hayley Boud

(MATHEW 11:28)

“Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me
For I am gentle and humble in heart
And you shall find rest for your souls
For my yoke is easy and my burden light”


“Come to me”; Jesus is inviting us to come to Him. When we feel weary and over-loaded, Jesus Christ invites us to come to Him. He doesn’t tell us to see a counsellor, or see your husband, or see the bank, He tells us to come to Him. It’s not bad to seek advice from others or to share the load with your brothers and sisters in Christ but we have to FIRST seek God.

“Weary”; The dictionary says that it means to be very tired, especially due to hard work. How often do we feel physically tired and/or spiritually tired? Sometimes we feel exhausted. What makes you tired? Kids, work, people, temptations, worry....

“Heavy-laden”; makes me think of something that we carry, something that is heavy and it weighs us down. For example, sin, disappointment, anger, sorrow/sadness, bitterness, negative thoughts, worry....can you tell me anything else that weighs us down?

“I will give you”; It’s only Jesus Christ who can give us the solution to our weariness and burdens. He is the only one who can give us rest from these. So when we are feeling weary, tired, when people are pushing us to the limit, when time is running out, when money is not enough, when kids are making us scream, when anger is brewing up, when worry is boiling up, when we can’t sleep at night, when fear and doubts start to control our thoughts and actions, when sadness is bringing us down, when we can’t remove bitterness and we can’t seem to forgive that person for what they did, when disappointment is wearing us down, when life seems too hard....Jesus is the only one who can give us rest from all of this.

“Rest”; I think we have to be clear that God is giving us a certain rest and we have to be careful and not misinterpret what kind of rest He is giving us. On the 7th day, God rested. But He didn’t stop working! He continues to hold the world together and He continues to support us every second. He hasn’t stopped working. This is the same for us. We can find rest from things that are wearing us down (as above) but we don’t stop working. We must continue to run the race day after day and we must continue to fight every second. God is giving our souls a rest but not our bodies and not our spirit. Our bodies must keep working until Christ comes back and our spirit doesn’t have the right to sleep.

The Bible says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). We can never let our spirits fall asleep because the devil is ready and waiting to attack the moment we close our spiritual eyes. So our spirits don’t rest, our spirit must never stop working, in the same way God doesn’t stop working.

When we rest in God it doesn’t mean we take a break and no longer need to fight against temptations and we no longer need to work (reading the Bible, praying etc). No, it’s the opposite. We are resting from sin...meaning, we decide to not sin anymore. We are not resting from fighting against sin, we are not taking a break from fighting temptations, we are taking a break from falling into the temptations which actually requires work on our behalf but we can find rest in Jesus Christ and say, “today Jesus, I take a rest from bitterness, I decide today to forgive that person for what they did against me.”

Rest according to the dictionary means “relax” and “to be supported”, eg. I rest my head on my hand. Today God is saying to relax and let Jesus Christ support you...in every area of your life.

“Take my yoke”; We have to take it. It’s our job to take the yoke from Jesus Christ. He’s not going to force us to. It’s up to us to take it.

“Yoke”; a yoke is a wooden object that connects to working animals together (usually oxen) so they can carry a heavy load together. We are taking this object and we are connecting ourselves to Jesus Christ and together we will carry the load. We are also connecting ourselves to other believers and together we are running the race. By carrying the load with Jesus Christ and with others, the load becomes lighter and easier to carry. We are sharing the pain, sharing the work, sharing the joy, sharing the Christian walk and by doing that our worries become lighter, our temptations become easier to overcome, our fears become less scary, our ability to forgive others becomes easier and the Christian walk becomes more enjoyable.

“Learn from me, I am gentle and humble”; we need to learn from Jesus Christ how to be gentle and humble. When we have humility, we can easily find rest because it’s usually pride that is making life tiresome and heavy. E.g. we often say, “why me?” and this makes us complain and life harder but we should say, “why not me?” We are often too proud to ask for help, or to admit our sin, or to say sorry, or to forgive someone (especially if they haven’t apologized). Pride is attached to the fear of man, worrying about what others think of me, or wanting to always give a good impression...these things can wear us down. But if we have humility, it will be easier to rest in God.

“Easy”; meaning that something is not difficult to do. We can remember that whatever we are facing, God has a solution and it’s not too difficult for us to do. Sometimes it might feel difficult but we can remind ourselves that he promised it will be easy. E.g. sometimes my law assignment seems too hard to do, so I can remember that God promised His yoke is easy and trust that I will be able to complete the assignment. Or when I have to sing in front of others and fear and doubts rise up, I can remember that God has said it will be easy and all I have to do is relax and remember God is with me, we are doing this together (yoke).

When temptations come, we can remember that, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it”. (I Corinthians 10:13) We just have to walk in the path He is given for us to escape the temptation.

Isaiah 28:12, now we have rest we have to give to others. We have to refresh others = visit, txt, phone, email, share Word of God, share burdens, etc, etc.

Friday, August 20, 2010

God needs our testimonies (part II)

By Odon bulamba (26th Decemember 2003)

Last week, we had three things to do; to glorify God for all that He has done, praise God for all that He has done and thank Him and when we put all these three things together, it is what we call a Christian testimony.

A testimony without praise is not a testimony, or a testimony without the glory of God is not a testimony and a testimony without thankfulness is not a testimony. That is why many people when they want to testify they will start by saying praise God or Hallelujah so that every body will answer Amen.

We must draw people’s attention first, Hallelujah brother, Hallelujah sister and when you answer Amen the glory is given because hallelujah means praise God. Here it is my brothers and sisters in the Lord, by Jesus Christ’s love I am alive, God did this and this for me and I praise Him for all that He has done may His name be glorified forever, may His power be manifested forever in our group. Really this God is different from all other gods I thank Him for this, this and that. This is a testimony.

For example when Ange got this child I was there and I thought Leah might talk today and say mummy talk, you got me freely you must be proud of me so praise God because of me. Or her father could do it. Or someone else could do it. But when we say we have to testify for God, what did God do for me, and our memories go blank and I can’t think of anything, what could I say? So I say, I praise God because I had something to eat yesterday but I can’t say that because people will think I am greedy. If I say praise God because I got the money, many people will ask me for money and I cannot give, so what will I say? I lack testimonies and I have nothing to say. I will start thinking oh let Michael finish it’s too long, let’s stop here and start to eat and you wait for the food.

This God who gives to you, when He will not give to you anymore, who will force Him to change His mind to give to you what He doesn’t want to give. I don’t think there is anybody.

I visited Michelle’s house a few days ago and I saw Teresa’s fish and when I looked at this fish it was different to all other fish, it is like a lizard with legs. Is your fish beautiful to look at Teresa? Yes. But if I ask Michelle? No. And maybe everybody will have his own point of view. This fish just lives where it is and that is it, it can’t go outside of the tank because its life is controlled in this fish tank and when this fish talks, if Teresa doesn’t want to answer, nobody will answer. It’s up to Teresa to think I have to feed this fish, if Teresa doesn’t give this fish any food, this fish doesn’t have any strength to force Teresa to give him food and it can even die of hunger, even if the food is beside it, because Teresa is the owner of this fish.

Teresa is there to decide about this fish and this is the same thing with our God. We are in a box and our life is very limited on four corners and with our own effort we cannot do anything. And God is there looking at us and if He wants He gives to us and if He doesn’t want, He won’t. But this will never push us to say that God is not good, or God does not give to us. If Ang has not testified for Leah, if Michelle has not testified for Zoe or if I have not testified for anyone, this does not change anything for God but this changes something in our lives because God will look and find out that we are not grateful.

When your child is not grateful what do you do as parents? The parents will force the child to say thank you and it is a teaching, willing or not the child has to do it and if you are not willing it will finish with a punishment and the love the mother or father has for the child will decrease because you lack thankfulness. We have to be really thankful to God.

For these ten minutes that are left we are going to testify for what God has done for us, we’ll testify for what God has done for us yesterday and today only and each one will talk for 3 minutes. And we’ll start with Michael and then Peter and so forth.

Michael, “God gives me strength and peace and joy and helps me to stay faithful. We talked to Benedict for four hours yesterday and one today and she has been a Christian for six years and she has many Christian friends.”

Doesn’t God deserve praise for that? So praise God for that.

Peter, “God gave me joy in the morning and protected us on the road and we could spend time with Ang’s family and praise God because of the three new baby’s in the family (Leah, Callum & Loren) and one of Ang’s cousin’s was suicidal last year and she has been transformed and praise God because I could share this year with Christians and today I could buy some material things and I could find time to pray and read the Word and He’s given us shelter, clothing, food etc. Inwardly we are being renewed each day and tonight we are here together to share the Word.”

Colleen, “God forgives all our sins and He is the God of second chances and I praise God for the efficiency of the cross, He has brought me to the cross and He has humbled me and He is teaching me and I praise God for my husband who lives with me in peace and that God is drawing him. Yesterday I was able to go freely to church to worship.”

Nathanael, “I read the Bible and went to church yesterday and had lunch with nice food and drink, and Chinese for dinner and today we ate and went to the pools and to the warehouse and dinner”

Sylvie, “I praise God for my husband and the way we really help each other. I praise God for what we are going through, him and me and how much we can love each other. Praise God for our meetings here also and for what we go through and He teaches us. We can read our Bible’s freely and speak freely. Praise God for our lives and our health and for everyone here and for all the people who came on Friday. God is rich and He gives freely. Praise God for all the answered prayers and healing for different people. Praise God for the hard times we have and the good times.”

Zoe, “ Today we had fish and chips and for christmas and for my presents and my scooter”

Michelle, “I praise God because we woke up safely and for our family and I got a present from Teresa and Zoe and because I could spend some time with Odon’s children with Zoe and I praise God because I was invited to spend Christmas with Odon’s family at Oscars and I praise God because yesterday I could sleep and for all the nice food and we found a good deal today on scooters at the warehouse for the kids and I saw Pete and Sylvie and Michael and Nathanael.”

Ang, “God is teaching me to obey his commands is not a burden, I praise God because I used to be afraid of doing exhortations but now I’m not and He helps me to prepare. I wasn’t able to have children and so I praise God for Leah and she is healthy with no defects and she is such a joy and I have lots of people who can help me look after her and I praise God for my husband. I asked God for Pete to put a love in him for me and I asked God for Pete to talk to me first and God answered and He is a good husband and father. My cousin was depressed last year and suicidal and I praise God because she has been transformed physically and spiritually and it’s by God’s grace and I praise God for his financial help and He is rich and provides. I praise God for living with Michelle and Hayley and Teresa. And for our house and the amount that we pay for rent. Odon being sent here and our group.”

Teresa, “for all my presents I got yesterday, for the food and I enjoyed my day”.

Odon, “I praise God because He is God and I praise Him because He keeps putting us together and nearly everything that He said has been fulfilled. Maybe materially we haven’t seen the result yet but the answer has already been given and for that I really praise God. I still praise God that He revealed to me this morning something good for our group and this was a joy for me. And I praise Him for this night’s message and our presence here and may glory be given to Him and we are going to walk together hand in hand to show the world that we really love one another and this will be our arm for next years victory. Try with all your strength to love your neighbour and your brother and sister and to cooperate and this will help you to go forward.

Thank you very much I have a lot to praise God and to testify but in all this I say God may your name be praised. Little by little I will thank you maybe. And finally I think of all those who will take a trip, may God be their guide and protector and I praise Him for the plan of travel ahead and for those who stay behind I praise God because we will keep meeting together even if we are two or three, God will be with us and we will keep holding those who will be away and I praise God infinitely for Benedict. God knows what He does, and nobody can contradict Him and I praise God for the Bhandal family too, God is at work and we just need to give Him a little bit of time and while we wait for God to realise we must be together and be one. Like Jesus promised, be one like Me and the Father who are one. Let’s try to be one and we will see God realise His promise.

Every morning and every evening testify something to God. Tell God, God you kept me through the night and it is a miracle I am alive. God is very happy with that, if you want God to keep holding on to you, glorify Him that is all.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

God needs our testimonies (Part I)

By Odon Bulamba (26 December 2003)

I praise God for the way we meet tonight because it is a grace to meet together and while we are talking together many people are on the road travelling, many people are flying or sailing in boats and others are around the table sharing a drink of beer and others have useless discussions and others play games in the casino. The time of the end of the year is the worst time for the Christian life because this is the time when everyone is excited to do evil.

If you have children at home, these children will be on holiday and you have to know what to do with them and if you don’t know how to control them very well, the children will control the situation better than yourself and this won’t be in the right way. And when you have young people they will tell you that they don’t like staying home and they like to go here and there and where they will go they will drink and smoke and for them they think that this is they way to have fun but this will destroy people’s souls.

As for the adults, when they are on holiday they find a good time to be with their family and friends and they meet together in the night clubs and because everybody needs money to have a good time at Christmas and at the end of the year, that is the time when corruption comes back, the time when thieves rob and it is the time when prostitutes are on the road, all the evils come back at once. All the lost souls, all the demons, they work hard in the month of December because they know that people are free from their usual activities.

Satan knows if Michael goes to work, it won’t be easy to tempt him there because his work will distract him but if he is at home and he has nothing to do, that is the right time to attack him and push him to do something. That is why as Christians we have to pray a lot, especially in the month of December, there are many accidents, many murders, lots of diseases, lots of problems. Sometimes there is also peace but there is only peace for those who look for peace and this peace can only be found in the Lord.

So what do we do normally at the end of the year because it is a dangerous time for the Christian life. That is the time when we must commit our lives into God’s hands and say, God help us, control our lives and our paces so that we might start a new year with joy and blessing. And it is the time when Christians come close to God to thank Him for all that He has done. And when God finds out that you come close to Him to thank Him, it won’t be long before He opens His hand to give you more blessings.

Last Friday we were all here and the servant of God stood up to say this is the time to testify and we were here and we didn’t have testimonies to give God. We couldn’t find anything to tell God about thankfulness. It was as if God had done nothing for us through the whole year and if we are not thankful in the small things, will we hope to have great things. I don’t think so. God was a little bit jealous and He didn’t want that and tonight when I prayed before coming, two verses were given to me and the first one was in I Chronicles 23:30.

We are to stand every morning and every evening to thank and to praise the Lord and when we talk about morning; that is the time when we can see the glory of God or life that is perfect. And when we talk about evening; that is the time when things are starting to get a little bit difficult and sometimes we fall into temptation or sins. God needs praises at that time, God needs to find glory that comes from us but unfortunately we were not ready to glorify God.

What prevented me to glorify God on that day, was is unthankfulness, was it pride, or shame or something else? If I was not thankful for all that God has done for me during the year, what was the source of the lack of thankfulness that I had. If for example I was ashamed, what was the source of this shame? The Bible says that the one who will be ashamed of me in front of people, I will be ashamed of them in front of my Father. Will I be ready to stand in front of Jesus when He will say, Odon I am ashamed of you in front of my Father. I think that will be very difficult for me and what would that have cost us to open our mouth to say God thank you because you kept us this year. Or God thank you because we meet here together, or thank you God because I am alive or thank you God because everything that is around me is going well or thank you God because I have a present or thank you God because this house was full of people that night, there was 1001 things to glorify God about. But unfortunately we were not thankful.

When God blesses, nobody can stop Him. It doesn’t depend on our will, it depends on Him. I’ll give you an example, our sister Ang was barren and with prayer the servants of God prayed for her and Ange was healed and she conceived and today we have the first daughter of Ange. Isn’t it something to praise God for? Last time we were here with Keith and we had prayed to God that Keith would come close to God and little by little God drives him to Himself. It’s like putting a pin on the table and a magnet underneath and when God moves through the system, Keith can feel that he doesn’t want to move but he is already drawn, he can feel the power of the Christian life through our sister and he was here that night and wasn’t it a glory for God. It was a glory!

Sylvie prepared her house, she prepared lots of things for us, we ate, we drank, Michelle and others brought lots of other things; couldn’t we thank God for all these people? If Sylvie hadn’t organised her house for example how could things have worked? And if Michelle couldn’t have taken something or Teresa, what could we have eaten that night?

God was not happy about what happened; so what can we do? It is God who gives birth to the day and the same God gives birth to the evening. When He says here is morning, morning is there. And when it is evening, it is evening. Although human beings find the electric lights, this bulb will never replace daylight. The obscurity in the movie theatre will never replace night. Because what God does is always perfect and what we feel, even if it looks correct it is not correct.

I am going to ask a question, Michael do you pay the power? And if you pay how much do you use per month? About $100. During the day Michael doesn’t turn on the lights because God gives us the sun during the whole day. God gives us a river for the power for the electricity and we don’t pay this river. No body pays for the sun or the power of the sun. Although He gives the light in our house and outside our house, we don’t pay Him and He keeps being good to us, why wouldn’t we be thankful to Him. This was the first thing God needs; our glory, God needs to be glorified by us and He needs us to praise Him every morning.

What does it mean to praise God? What does it mean to glorify God and is there a difference between the both of them? We have to keep studying to remind our hearts and souls what the meaning of praising God and glorifying God is. David said my soul praises God, isn’t the mouth able to praise God? Are my hands unable to praise God but David talked about his soul praising God. And in Psalm 150 it says to praise God with all the instruments. What are these musical instruments, the cymbals, drums and others? What do these things represent, what does this noise mean and why does He want to be praised?

When you praise the king or queen what do you do? You shout. When you make noise and say, long live the king, is it praise or is it glorifying? And when you meet the king or queen and you say majesty and you kneel down what does that mean? Is it praising or glorifying? So we have to know the difference between these two things so we might come forward and glorify God in the right way.

So that day Michael said, ‘who is here to testify’, and everybody would look at one another and some people were there as visitors and these visitors were waiting for others to say something. And other visitors would look around and say the landlord is here maybe he will do something so we have to find this courage to testify for Jesus.

The second verse given to me was in I Timothy 4:4. Do you understand what this means, everything that God created is good and nothing is to be rejected and everything is to be received with gratitude. So how many things has God given to us and we have praised Him and how many things have we rejected? When our situations are difficult, sometimes we reject this difficult situation that God gives us. And when we have lots of joy and are blessed, sometimes we forget to glorify God. Each time, we must receive everything with gratitude. Either a small or big thing, we must say thankyou.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I am fearfully and wonderfully made

By Angela Bhandal

I am fearfully and wonderfully made…what does this mean and do we believe it?

Psalm 139:13-14

I recently went to a plastic surgery conference and learnt how amazing the body is and how difficult it is to repair it when damaged or sick.


Psalm 139:14 reads; "I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and my soul knows very well."


In the original Hebrew text, the word 'fearfully' means: with great reverence and heart-felt interest and respect. The word 'wonderfully' means: unique, set apart, uniquely marvelous.

What does God see when He looks at us? What really does he see? God helped me understand this question by analysing ourselves. When we look at our children what do we see? I marvel when I look at my three beautiful girls that have been created by myself and my husband. I am constantly amazed at how they grow and the things that they say or how they interpret the world. How did they get from being a baby to a 7 year old? How did their legs stretch/their bones grow along with their skin? Amazing.

In Ephesians 2:10 God talks about us as being his masterpiece or workmanship - something of great worth and to show off and be proud of.


Amazing Facts About the Human Body System

There are thousands of these human body facts which are bound to leave you spell bound and wanting more. We have listed some of the most interesting ones for you below.
• The human head measures approximately one-quarter of the total body length at our birth, but one-eighth of the total body length by the time we reach adulthood.
• As adults we have fewer bones than what we had as babies. During infancy, there are 350 bones present in out body, but as we grow the bones fuse and by the time we reach adulthood, we are only left with 206 bones. Read more on how many bones are in the human body.
• The length of blood vessels in our body would sum up to about 60,000 miles if they are laid end to end. Around 2000 gallons of blood is pumped through these vessels every day.
• The human lung contains around 3000 million tiny blood vessels known as capillaries. If these blood vessels were laid end to end they could stretch over an area of 1500 miles.
• Skin is the largest organ in the human body. The skin of an adult man can cover an area of approximately 20 sq. ft.
• Talking about the cells, the largest cell in the human body is the female egg, while the smallest cell is the male sperm.
• A man's testicles produce around 10 million sperm cells every day. These are enough to repopulate the entire world within a period of 6 months
• The acids present in our stomach are strong enough to digest zinc. If our stomach was not capable of continuously producing new stomach lining, these strong acids would have digested our stomach. Read more on anatomy of human abdomen.
• Every one knows that the human brain is very sharp, but not many people know that a single cell of the human brain has the capacity to store as much information as the information in 5 Encyclopedia Britannica's. Read more on facts on the human brain.
• When it comes to supporting weight, the human bone has immense power. A single block of human bone, the size of a matchbox, has the capacity to support a whopping 9 tonnes.
• One of the most amazing facts about the human body is that it can give off heat enough to boil a gallon of water within half an hour.
• Although the human nose is not as sensitive as dogs, it can remember around 50,000 different scents with ease.
• Each of our fingernails and toenails take around 6 months to grow from its base to the tip.
These were some of the most amazing facts about the human body for kids and adults alike. You liked them! Didn't you? OK, you can also have a look at some of the most interesting facts about the nervous system and some of the most fascinating facts about the digestive system.

Useless Facts About the Human BodyIf the amazing facts about the human body weren't enough, here are some more interesting facts about it. They may not be of much use for us, but that doesn't mean they are not interesting.
• Each square inch of human skin has approximately 32 million bacteria on it. Wait! You don't need to panic as most of them are harmless.
• Skin shedding is not restricted to animals, human beings also shed copious amounts of skin in form of skin flakes. In fact, every individual sheds around 40 lbs of skin throughout their lifetime.
• There are around 500,000 sweat glands on a pair of human feet, which can produce around a pint of sweat everyday.
• Although, all the organs of human body stop growing after we cross a particular age, the ears and nose continue growing.
• Interestingly enough, an average individual produces around 25,000 quarts of saliva in his lifetime. That can fill two average sized swimming pools.

Amazing Facts About the Human Body courtesy of Buzzle.com

Monday, August 16, 2010

How to be Free From Bitterness

by Jim Wilson

http://www.armenianbiblechurch.org/food%20corner/how_to_be_free_from_bitterness.htm


Preface
The first part of this little book on getting rid of bitterness and forgiving others has been presented many times over the last twenty years at many retreats and Bible conferences. Hundreds of the taped messages have been distributed, here and abroad. Several years ago our oldest son, Douglas, had his secretary, Chris LaMoreaux, transcribe one of these tapes and after much editing printed 1000 copies of it as a book. Since that time about 32,000 have been printed, most of which have been distributed to people who have requested it.

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Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Eph. 4:31-5:2).

In our text we are instructed to get rid of all bitterness. Before we begin discussing how and why this must be done, it is crucial to realize that the basis for all our actions in this regard must be what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross. In all our actions, we are to be imitators of God.

In the Old Testament, there was a woman whose name meant Pleasant. Her name was Naomi and she had moved from Israel to another land with her husband and sons. But her husband had died and within the next ten years both of her sons died. She made some comments to her recently widowed daughters-in-law about it.

Ruth 1:13b: "... it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!" She was comparing in order to determine who had the right to be more bitter.

And in Ruth 1:20-21: "So she said to them, 'Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?' ''

Her bitterness was toward God. It was God who had taken away her husband; it was God who had taken away her sons, and she held it against Him. Five times in these three verses she held God accountable for her bitterness.

There are many people like this today. Not only are they bitter, they enjoy being bitter. They somehow like it, and they feed on it. They wouldn't know what to do if they got rid of it; they wouldn't have a purpose for living. They like being bitter.

We know people like that in the world, and we know people like that in the church. It is easy to recognize when somebody is bitter. You can see it in the eyes and in the lines of the face -- even if the person is young. You can see it in their mouth, you can see it when they're smiling or laughing. They are bitter and you can see it. You can hear it in the tone of their voices. You can hear it when they protest that they are not bitter. The bitterness is central and pervades everything.

There are bitter people in the Bible besides Naomi. In fact, there are quite a few. For example, Jonah was a bitter man. The Lord said to him, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?"

"I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die" (Jon. 4:9).

He thought he had a right to his anger. I like being angry. God, you are wrong to forgive people. I don't want you to forgive people.

People enjoy holding things against other people. But our text requires us to remove all bitterness and to maintain a tender heart. Here's the question: Is it possible to be kind, compassionate, tenderhearted and yet bitter at the same time? These are all interior attitudes. Tenderheartedness, by definition, involves a tender heart. Bitterness is also on the inside. But it is not possible to have two different, contradictory attitudes on the inside.

Paul says to get rid of all bitterness and to be kind and compassionate one to another. Therefore, the bitterness must go. But before it can be removed, it is necessary to know what it is -- and that it is there.

It is relatively easy to see when other people are bitter. But it's not so easy to see it in ourselves. It is therefore important to have a good understanding of the Bible's definition of the problem.

Let us suppose that a Christian commits a sin. He tells a lie, for instance. Now when he tells this lie, does he feel guilty or does he feel bitter? The answer is guilty. When we sin, we feel guilty. It is straightforward. Now let us suppose that someone told a lie about this same Christian and spread it all over town. What does he feel now -- guilt or bitterness?

Guilt is what we feel when we sin, and bitterness is what we feel when others sin against us. The very definition of bitterness points to the action of another. If we had committed the offense, we would feel guilty and would know that we had to confess and forsake our sin.

We might not confess the sin, but not because we did not know what to do. But what do we do with the guilt of others? Bitterness is always based upon someone else's sin -- whether real or imagined.

Consider the imaginary sin first. Many times we can be bitter toward someone for what he said, when in reality he did not say it. We heard a false report, and now we are bitter. We wait for an apology which he cannot offer. Shall we remain in bitterness the rest of our lives because he never says he is sorry for something he did not do?

Incidentally, many bitter people cannot imagine the possibility that they are bitter over imaginary sins. As far as bitterness is concerned, the other person's guilt is always real. For such a person trying to be free from bitterness, it is acceptable for them to assume the real guilt of the other person, so long as they get rid of their own bitterness.

But what about genuine sin? There are many bitter people who really were mistreated by the offender. So how do we deal with a genuine offense?

Bitterness is based on sin that somehow relates to you. It is not concerned with how big the sin is; it is based upon how close it is. For instance, if some great and gross immorality occurs in Iran, Iraq, El Salvador, or Columbia, what do we do? We read about it, but we will not feel guilty. We read about it, but we will not feel bitter. We might be appalled or amazed, but we do not feel guilty, and we do not feel bitter. Nevertheless, it was an awful sin, and someone actually committed it. So it does not depend on how great the evil is, it depends on how close the other person is to me. Bitterness is related to those people who are close.

Who are likely candidates? The answer is simple: fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, children, boyfriends, girlfriends, roommates, immediate superiors, immediate subordinates, co-workers, business partners, and maybe some other relatives -- grandparents, uncles, and others. There are even many people who are bitter against God.

We do not get bitter towards evil outside of our own immediate contact. Bitterness is based upon somebody else's sin who is close to us, and who did something to us. It might be minor. It does not have to be great, it just has to be close . Does he pick up his socks? No? Can you get bitter over that? Well, no, but what if he does it 5,000 times?

You may think you have a right to be bitter. But the Bible does not grant anyone the right to be bitter. The text says to get rid of all bitterness .

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many (Heb. 12:15).

Here it describes bitterness as if it were a root. A root is something that is underground and cannot be seen. But there can be visible evidence of its presence, as when sidewalks are lifted.

Roots do other things. The fact that you cannot see roots does not mean they are not there. Neither does it mean you will never see them. They drink in nourishment, and they do not stay roots. Eventually they come up.

The fruit that is born bears a direct relation to the root producing it. The roots of an apple tree provide us with apples. If there is a bitter root, it will bear bitter fruit.

That is what this verse is saying. Beware lest any root of bitterness spring up, cause trouble, and defile many people, which means to make many people filthy. Have you ever seen bitterness go through a church? Bitterness can go through a congregation like a prairie fire. It can go through the work place or a dormitory. Why is this? Somebody decided to share. He was bitter, let the root come to the surface and bear fruit. He shared it and many people became bitter. The author of Hebrews warns us about this. He says beware of missing the grace of God. When you allow it, bitterness comes up and defiles many people. It makes many people filthy.

What happens to a person if he keeps bitterness on the inside for many years? What happens to him physically? Can he get physically sick? Suppose it is bitterness toward some member of the family. He's kept it inside, he has not shared it. He has not defiled many people -- he has kept it down inside. When he keeps it inside for some years, he finally begins to hurt. He goes to the doctor and the doctor says, "You are right, you are sick. But your sickness is not the kind I deal with. I am going to send you to the other kind of doctor."

So he sends him to the psychiatrist, and the psychiatrist agrees. "Yes, you are sick all right. And I know why you are sick. You are sick because of 20 years of bitterness towards your father. You have kept it suppressed all these years and it's just rotted out your insides. You have kept this poison within and this acid on the inside has made you just physically ill. So what I want you to do is I want you to go home and share it with your father. Why keep it in and get sick? Let it out. Get everybody else sick."

So the world has two solutions. Keep the bitterness in, and make yourself sick, or let it out and spread the sickness around. God's solution is to dig up the root. Get rid of it. But this takes the grace of God . A man must know the Lord Jesus Christ to be able to do this. He is the source of grace.

The world's solutions for bitterness shouldn't be used by Christians. When Christians copy the world, they have two poor choices. The Bible says to get rid of all bitterness. You must not keep it in and you must not share it. Surrender it to the Father, through the Son.

But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such 'wisdom' does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice (James 3:14,15).

When I was a young midshipman at the Naval Academy, I thought that the pettiness and jealousy I observed would give way to maturity. I thought the higher you got in rank, the more mature you became, the less this sort of thing occurred. But as I grew older I found out that the jealousy just got more intense. Bitterness accumulates . Unless there's a solution to it, people do not get less bitter with maturity. They get more bitter over the years. It gets worse and worse.

And if you harbor bitter envy, evil practice will result. It does not come from heaven. It is straight from the pit and is of the devil. Every evil practice results from this attitude. As should be obvious, we have a real problem. How do we get rid of bitterness?

Before we can get rid of bitterness, we have to realize that we are bitter. How can we tell if we are bitter?

One good rule of thumb is this: Bitterness remembers details . You have had thousands of conversations in your life, most of which you have forgotten. But this one took place five years ago, and you remember every single word, his intonation and the inflection of every part of his voice. You know exactly what happened -- which means you are bitter.

Someone might object and say that it is also possible to have a good memory of a wonderful conversation. Is this possible? Yes, but not likely. Why is this? Because memory is helped by review, review, and more review . People do not usually mull over the wonderful things as much. But they do go over and over and over the bad things. I have done quite a bit of counseling with people who are in the process of getting divorced. I have known some since the time they were married, at a happier time in their life. But at the time of the divorce they cannot remember a single happy time. All they can remember is that which they have gone over and over. They are bitter.

This doesn't mean there were not happy times. It just means that they have concentrated on how right they were and how wrong the other person was. If someone has a sharp, detailed memory for things which happened years ago when he was a child, or a young man or woman, and that memory is at all accusative of anyone else, then it is an indication of bitterness. And the solution for bitterness is to get rid of it.

I had a wonderful experience one time in Dallas, Texas. I was speaking on a Saturday night at the home of an old friend. Because I was going to be in Dallas, I wrote notes to several people that I'd known from different parts of the country at other times, and they showed up at this home.

My host asked me to speak on bitterness, which I did. Afterwards, a couple came up to see me. I had known them eight years before in Pullman, Washington. The wife came up to me and said, "We have been married for eight years. The first year of marriage I was so bitter toward my mother that I laid it on my husband every single day. Our first year of marriage was just awful because I kept sharing this bitterness toward my mother with my husband."

She then told me that seven years ago I had spoken on bitterness and she had gotten rid of hers. One day she saw another woman who was really bitter towards her mother. She thought, "I can help that woman. I can share all the common experiences. I went to her to share this, and I couldn't remember any of the details. My detailed memory had gone. All I could tell her was I used to remember things, and I do not remember them anymore." The Lord had really taken care of her bitterness.

Another time I was teaching a four-week course on marriage. I had put a notice in the paper and did not know who would show up. A woman came who had been referred to the class by a doctor. She came in and I can honestly say that I have never seen anybody more bitter in appearance in my life. She had forty years of accumulated bitterness. She got rid of it that night and made an appointment to see me the next day at the bookstore where I worked. She came in the store, and I did not know who she was. She looked so different . I had just met her the night before, but she was clean inside now.

What is the problem? Why is it we do not get rid of bitterness? If I tell a lie, I can confess it and be forgiven. In order to get rid of it I have to bring it back to my own heart. We need to bring the realization of bitterness back to our own hearts. Instead, the temptation is to look at the offender. Look what he did. That is the nature of bitterness. In order to get rid of it, I need to recognize it is my problem before I can confess and forsake it.

But you say, "I am not bitter. I just get hurt easily." But the symptoms of getting hurt are very close to the symptoms of resentment. Do you know what instant resentment is? You might say. "It is not bitterness -- it is just hurt feelings." But there is a close relationship between being hurt and being resentful. Someone gets hurt and he gets resentful. There is another very close connection between resentment and bitterness. Resentment turns into a deep bitterness.

Bitterness is just resentment that has been held on to. It has become rancid and rotten. It is kept in and it gets worse. The links in the chain continue. There is a connection between bitterness and hatred, and a very clear biblical identification between hatred and murder. What I am saying is that hurt can lead to murder. Some might object that this teaching is too strong. But the strength of it is from the Bible.

What we want to do is make it apparent how sinful bitterness is . The bitter person must first recognize that he is bitter, and secondly, that it is a gross evil. Again, the reason people do not deal with this sin is that they think it is the other person's sin. The devil says, "Well, when he quits lying, or he quits doing this or that, or when he says he's sorry, then you will feel better."

But suppose he does not quit? Suppose he never quits? Are you going to be bitter the rest of your life because someone else insists on being in sin? That does not make any sense at all. You may say, "I will forgive him when he says he is sorry, but not until then. I have a right to my bitterness until then. When he says he is sorry, I will forgive him and everything will be fine." You keep this wall of bitterness up, and one day he comes to you and he says, "I'm sorry." Can you now forgive him? No, because bitterness doesn't forgive. In order to forgive this person when he says he is sorry you have to be ready before he says he is sorry. And if you are ready to forgive him before he says he is sorry, then it doesn't depend on whether he says he is sorry or not. In other words, you get rid of bitterness unilaterally. It does not matter what the other person does.

Earlier the point was made that bitterness seems to stem from the other person's sin -- real or imagined. That is only how it appears. In reality bitterness is a sin that stands alone. The bitter person decides to be bitter independently of the offender.

But you say, "No, he sinned against me, and when he says he is sorry everything will be fine." But this is not true.

I've known situations where an apology was offered and the person is still bitter. Suppose the offender is dead and cannot apologize. I know people who are extremely bitter and the bitterness is toward their parents who died years ago. But the bitterness has not died. Bitterness is the sin of the bitter person alone, unrelated to anybody else.

One time I went to the Walla Walla State Penitentiary to spend the day with the inmates. It was around Christmas. I spent about six hours there. During the afternoon, I was in maximum security, talking about and teaching evangelism.

This one fellow asked about reaching the really hard-core criminals. I thought he was really interested in such evangelism and talked to him about it. Then I spent time in minimum security, protective custody and other places. In the evening I was back in maximum security, and thought I'd talk on this subject of bitterness. I figured there were probably some bitter people there.

This same fellow who asked about evangelism in the afternoon asked me another question. He said, "How can you get rid of bitterness towards somebody who beat up your three-year-old son unmercifully?" So I told him how, and then I said, "You know, when you get rid of your bitterness you can help this person so that he won't beat up other little kids."

He said, "No, this guy cannot be helped."

I said, "Sure, he can."

"No, no."

"Why not?"

"He is not with us any more."

This inmate had murdered him. He had murdered him because of what he had done to his three-year-old son -- that's why he was in prison. But even though he had killed the man, he was still bitter . In other words, expressing it did not get rid of it.

When somebody else says he is sorry, it does not get rid of our bitterness. The only thing that gets rid of it is confession before God because of the Lord Jesus Christ's death and resurrection. This is the only solution .

We must not keep it and we must not share it with others. There is only one thing to do and that is to confess it as a great and evil sin. We must be as persistent in the confession as necessary.

Once I was speaking at Monterey, California, at the U.S. Naval Post-Graduate School. There was a man there who had a great reputation as a Bible teacher. He was a line officer in the Navy, but he had been passed over for the command of a submarine. He did not have command of a submarine and he was bitter. I spoke on confession of sin and bitterness, and he was really wiped out. He came and saw me and got rid of this bitterness. The next morning, his wife said to me, "I've got a new husband." He had been bitter toward the Navy. But it was his sin, not the Navy's.

Amy Carmichael has a note in her little book If . "For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted. " If it is full of sweet water and is jolted, what will come out of the cup? Sweet water. If you gave it a harder jolt, what's going to happen? More sweet water. If someone is filled with sweet water and someone else gives him a jolt, what will come out? Sweet water. Jolts do not turn sweet water into bitter water. That is done by something else.

Jolts only bring out of the container what's already in the container. If you're filled with sweetness and light, and you get jolted, you're going to spill sweetness and light. If you're filled with honey, the honey will come out. If vinegar comes out, what does that prove? It shows what was already in the container. In other words, much bitterness is not based upon what the other person did at all. It is the result of what we do and are.

Many years ago, I was working in our bedroom at my desk. My wife, Bessie, was reading in bed. Whatever I was doing wasn't going well. Bessie said something to me and I turned around and let her have it. It was something unChristian. She looked at me in amazement and got up and left the room. I sat there thinking, "She should not have said it. Look what she said. Look, look, look." I did that for around 10 minutes, maybe longer. I was bitter toward Bessie, but all she did was jolt the cup. What was in the cup came out of the cup.

If I had been filled with sweetness and light, it would not have made any difference. I sat there and thought about what she did. I knew better, because I had already learned this truth about bitterness. Still, I thought about her "sin" because there is enjoyment in accusing the other person. Some people do this for years.

I sat there for a while and then got up and went over to my side of the bed, got on my knees and said, "Lord, I was the only one at fault. It was my bitterness and my sin. I am confessing it, forsaking it, and please forgive me."

I got up off my knees and said, "But look what she said." I got back on my knees.

"God, I'm sorry for what I did. I accept the responsibility. It was my sin and mine only."

I got up off my knees and said, "God, you and I know who is really at fault." I knelt back down. I stayed on my knees for 45 minutes until I could get up and not say, "Look what she said."

I do not remember now what she said, and I do not remember what I was doing at the desk. I do not remember the details. The only thing I remember now is getting up. But I also know that if I had not taken care of the bitterness I would know to this day exactly what she had said . That is the nature of bitterness.

In order to get rid of it, I have to see that it is evil and that it is my sin and my sin only. I do not get rid of it through the other person saying he is sorry. I do not get rid of it if the other person quits or dies. I do not get rid of it any other way except calling it sin against the holy God, confessing it and receiving forgiveness.

The difficulty is in getting my eyes off the other person's sin. But just the fact that I think it is his problem shows that it is not. If it were his problem, and I was filled with sweetness and light, and not bitter, then I would be concerned about the other person.

I could say, "That poor guy! Look what he did. If I did something like that, I would feel awful. He must really feel awful. I think I will go help him." But if that is not my response then I am bitter, and it is my sin, not his.

I believe that this sin is a major hindrance to revival in this country. When Christians start confessing their sins, they will be able to forgive the sins of others.