Triumph Over Sin

By S.C. Shaw

I have been a Christian for most of my life. I was a terrible Christian for along time, but still a Christian. One thing that I have noticed is whenever myself or anyone I know has had a spiritual victory, been saved, prayer, reading the bible, victory over sin, is always followed up by attack. You may have experienced this already. Or maybe you have and didn’t know you were in an attack. After Jesus started His ministry, he has a huge spiritual victory, and it’s time to start his ministry. The time for Christ testing is now.

Matthew 4:1-11

The Temptation of Jesus

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,

but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God

and him only shall you serve.’”

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”

Let’s break this down:

Matthew 4:1

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

Why is He being led to the wilderness? Let’s get some context, back to Matthew 3

(Matthew 3:16-17)  

The Baptism of Jesus

“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said,“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” 

This is the “real” start for Christ. The beginning of the end to sin for those who would believe. This is the start of the most amazing event to ever come to history as we know it. 

Back to the story.

V1. Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Immediately He was taken to the wilderness. It almost seems like He was rushed to go. Christ is finally ready to start His ministry and He gets taken away. Why?

Why must Jesus be taken away to be tempted/tested in the wilderness? Let’s get to the miracles already, right? Jesus has been waiting patiently for God the Fathers perfect timing. Now, 30 years later, Jesus is ready to start His ministry.

This was the final testing for Christ to prove His worthiness to be our substitute. Jesus was already perfect and worthy to follow through with the Fathers will, but God is a God of details, and God is all about teaching us about His character. He is showing us how worthy and holy His Son is. God is giving us guidelines to live our lives more faithfully, to look to our perfect example on how to live. 

I thought of this passage for along time as “poor Jesus, what a difficult test for him”. But as I studied it, something became very clear. Jesus was going to this testing with full confidence. I think Satan didn’t want anything to do with it. The devil knew he wasn’t going to win. And Jesus knew He would win. Jesus walked into that wilderness eager to prove to all creation of His worthiness and perfection. Jesus came in on the offense. A fight between Jesus and Satan is like a fight between a boot and an ant. No contest.

V2. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. “

Why forty? You think that this was a coincidence that God is mirroring some Old Testament events? The Israelites were wandering the wilderness for 40 years. They were tested there. They were hungry. They were lead by the Spirit just as Jesus was. There are many similarities here. But the biggest one is, where the Israelites failed, Jesus was determined to obey. 

Also, fasting always comes with a time of great testing. Fasting is a great way to focus on prayer. Fasting makes you weak and strong at the same time. As you grow weaker physically, you are growing stronger spiritually. 

The word “temp” in the original Hebrew means both tested and tempted. As God the Father is using this time to test Christ, Satan is using it to temp Jesus. God can never temp you, but He will test you. What Satan means for evil, God plans for good. 

V3. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 

You see what Satan did there? “He tries to plant doubt, “If you are the Son of God”. We saw in chapter 3 that God spoke to Jesus and proclaimed His Son ship. But Satan wants to plant any doubt he can to attempt the sin of Jesus. But as we will find out, Jesus is much more powerful than any temptation. 

Satan is temping Jesus right where His gifts are. Jesus has the power to turn whatever He wants into whatever He wants. Jesus is hungry, He’s physically weak. He knows that He’s able to turn those stones into bread. How does Jesus reply to this?

Jesus looks the devil in the eyes, punches him and He defeats the devil just like that! ….

Is that what happened?

No, Jesus used the Word of God to strengthen Himself and defeat His enemy. 

V4 But He answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,

but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

I love this. Do you realize what He’s saying here? First off, He’s quoting the Old Testament. But what does it mean? Is it bad to eat? Is it a sin to be hungry? No!

Jesus is using Scripture to defend His Father and ultimately Himself because He is God. “Man shall not live by bread alone”. God made food to be a blessing for us. He could have made a square block that had every nutritional value our bodies needed. We could have no taste buds and just ate to live. God could have done that. But He didn’t. He created flavors, so many flavors, so much goodness that no one will ever be able to enjoy all in this life. What a good God. 

But what Jesus is saying here is, “I trust my Father in heaven and if He wants Me to die, no amount of food can keep me alive. And if He wants me to live, no amount of fasting can kill me”. He’s proclaiming His trust and power in the God of heaven. 

V5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple. 

V6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and “‘On their hands they will bear you up,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Satan is misquoting scripture. Now Satan is temping Jesus with the very power Jesus just uttered in the last verse. “Your God is powerful, then show it.” They are at a populated city where Jesus would become famous if He jumped off the temple and God slowly guided Him down safely to the ground. Jesus would have an instant following. Sound good right? But How does Jesus reply?

V7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 

What does that mean? Would God not have caught him? I thought God was all powerful and would keep you alive if He wanted to? To contrast verse 1. Putting God to the test isn’t some ultra way to prove your trust in God. Like going out to the desert and sitting there with no food or shelter, praying to God “I fully trust you to provide for me”. That’s not trusting in God, that’s being irresponsible with the life God has given you. For example, people have tested God in this way in the past. They have jumped off a high place with full trust that God will not let any harm come to them. You know what happened? They died. Putting God in a place that He should not have to be. Making God something He’s not. Making God do something He doesn’t.  

Also, You will always be tempted where your gifting’s are. If you are smart you will be tempted to be boastful. If you are an artist, you will be tempted to use your art to glorify yourself instead of God. Satan will use your gifts against you. Again, what God has planned for good, the enemy will try to use for evil. 

V8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 

V9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 

Finally we get to the heart of what Satan has wanted this whole time. He has wanted to be head honcho since we was an angel in heaven. This is why he was cast out. Now he gets to challenge Jesus to get what he wants. But of course Christ would not and could not do this. 

V10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God

and him only shall you serve.’”

Jesus is answering in the same way we should all face temptation and idolatry. We should not be making anything more important in our lives than God. But how hard is that for us? Our hearts are idol factories. What is an idol? Anything we put before or ahead of God. 

V11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

God brings triumph to those who remain faithful in testing. When we triumph over temptation God sends us extra blessing. We are drawn closer to Him with every victory. We are not and cannot earn our salvation with our works, but we can receive blessing from God for our faithfulness to His calling. 

When we go through trials, suffering, persecution, temptation and all other forms of seemingly bad things, know that God is working those things for good. He is growing your faith and character. When God calls you to something, just know there will be testing. God’s calls are big and always out of the realm of our strength. God is strengthening you, not to be strong in your own efforts, but being made able to be stronger in him. Knowing how to call upon His power for His glory alone. All the great men and women of God went through lots of testing before they were able to accomplish the plans God had for them. But these are all blessings.  

Remain faithful to God. Jesus was tested and proven to be our rightful sacrifice. We have every right to draw near to God because of Jesus. We have no salvation to earn for ourselves. The work has been done by Christ alone. But now we are called to a new life. To walk in a way that is proof that you are a child of Gods. But remember, this is not out of your own efforts. You draw near to God and He draws near to you! 

Closing:

Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel-saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Music StevenShaw.co

Ministry Page www.MisfitMinistry.com

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The Gospel for the Post-Christian Culture

By S.C. Shaw

I recently went to a conference with some leaders with my church. We learned some interesting statistics about our new Post-Christian culture. I wasn’t even aware that this was such a major thing of our time. We learned how the next generation of people are growing up in a world completely oblivious to the bible and the gospel in general. The only upside to this is the excitement that can come from someone hearing the amazing saving grace of God for the first time without bringing any false or just messy life stories to the gospel from their past. My attempt in this blog is to breakdown the gospel story as simple and short as I can for those who just don’t know. 

Here’s how I would explain the gospel story to people who know very little to nothing about Jesus Christ. 

The God who created everything in this world and the whole universe has created you and me. He created man and woman very different and special from all His other creations. He made them that they may be in perfect fellowship with Him forever. God wasn’t in need of anything or lonely. In fact God is so powerful and mysterious that He is Three in One. He is One God but with three very distinct persons or essence. I know that is hard to understand, but if God could be fully understood what kind of God would He be? We will never fully understand Him.

Everything we need to know about Him and His saving grace, He has given to us in His Word, the Bible. But this awesome God creates us because of His overflowing love and creativity. He simply wants to share Himself with His creation. One of the most amazing mysteries is that God has given us the ability to make choices. What God wants more than anything, what He values above everything else in His own glory. That sounds weird and egotistical I know. But remember, we are not talking about a person. We are talking about the God who has not only made all things but upholds, rules and is in control of all things. The words for that are “sovereign and providence”. That’s a good word to know. So, what else can be above God’s glory? It is only right to put His glory first. Why does this matter? Because God creating us able to make choices means; one, this shows His power and glory, two, man and woman choosing to love and obey Him is more glorious than God just making mindless robots. And notice how I’m not using the term “free will” but able to make choices. I think the idea of free will is different and not a correct term for free agents able to make choices. But that’s a whole other blog topic.

So God makes both man and woman. He creates them special, meaning they possess certain qualities and characteristics of God Himself. God made them in His image or likeness. Not bearing a physical resemblance, God is all Spirit. But we are able to know Him and understand Him more than all the rest of creation. We share similarities with God. Mainly, made for fellowship with Him but with one another as well.

There is another side of this story. That is the side of evil. Lucifer was the most beautiful angel in heaven. So much so that Lucifer wanted to be like God. He wanted to be worshiped. So God, protecting His own glory, cast Lucifer out of heaven along with some of the angels that wanted to follow him. Now called Satan, the Devil, the Tempter, the Deceiver and many other names. Lucifer would be apposed to God forever. 

I tell you this because God gave rule and dominion to Adam and Eve (the first man and woman). They had free reign of it all except for one tree they were not to eat from. Why did God do this? Because God must test man to know if they will choose Him or not? Turns out, the first test was failed by our representatives, Adam and Eve. They had a relationship with God that no one else in this world has ever experienced and they still failed. How did they fail? Satan came to them when they were in the garden and tempted them to eat of the tree God had told them not to. To make a long story short, they ate and they broke the relationship they had with God. They now know sin and have cursed all of creation with them. Doesn’t seem fair? Remember, they were far closer to God than we can ever be this side of heaven. No one would have done any better. The represented us wholly and completely. God in all His perfection can have no part in sin. Sin is the opposite of who He is. That is why the covenant was broken. Darkness, evil and sin entered to world and God must make things right again. How? By destroying sin and sinners. 

After that the world was in chaos. Now sin in abundance entered through this one sin. God makes promises and covenants to people He sees are seeking after Him. God showing undeserved grace and mercy on us from the start. God pours out His graces on His people over and over again as His people struggle with sin and idolatry over and over again. God gives them His commandments, ways to atone for their sin by imperfect and continual sacrifices through the blood of animals and other sacrifices. 

Fast forward to the New Testament (the second grouping of books 400 years after the Old Testament ends. God’s perfect timing has come for the truth and final redemption for His people. He sends Himself in the second person of the Trinity, comes to earth as Yeshua or as we know Him best (Jesus the Christ) the man. This man is 100% God, and 100% Man. God is doing the impossible to bring His beloved rebellious people back to Himself. God again constantly showing His people grace and mercy. Why would He do this? First, because He made promises in the Old Testament (the first grouping of book in the bible that ends 400 years before Jesus enters the scene). Second, God saves us because saving us shows His glory even more than destroying us would. Even though He would still be just and glorified if He did destroy us. Once Adam and Eve sinned, God had every right to kill off His rebellious creation and start over again. But He doesn’t. Instead He has planned since before He created the world, that He would save us. That’s right, God not only knew that man would sin, but He is working out all of history for His ultimate plan of glory and our ultimate good. Again, hard to understand fully I know. 

Jesus comes and is getting ready to start His ministry after 30 years on earth. He works hard and is growing in who He is, but His ministry has not started yet. There’s some cool stuff that happens but it is not till Jesus is 30 years old that Jesus actually starts His ministry. Jesus starts His ministry by getting baptized. It’s a great example of how the new Christian should start their walk with God. Baptism isn’t a means of salvation. Just like Jesus was already God and already perfect in His life, and yet He still gets baptized to start His ministry. We are saved by God and have full assurance of heaven before we are ever baptized. But just like our lives will look very different after following Jesus. Baptism is just an outward sign to everyone of your inward conversion. Just a little side note.

Let’s continue with the life of Christ. He performs many wonders and awesome things (you should pick up a bible and read John to read about Jesus life). But we are in summary form here. Jesus finds men to follow Him on His journey. These 12 men walk with Jesus for His entire ministry. Which is only 3 years. 

At 33 Jesus and His ministry are going to come to and end. One of His disciples named Judas, betrayed Jesus for a little money. Another example of a man in a position closer to God than we will ever get in this life and still chooses evil. He makes a terrible decision. Anyway, Jesus is turned over to the authorities and is crucified. But Christ crucified was always Gods plan. Crucifixion was the worst way someone could experience death. Jesus, after being beaten a lot, is hung on a tree and dies. But that’s just the beginning of the story. After three days Jesus is raised from the dead by God. He was confirmed dead by professional killers. In fact, if they were unsuccessful in killing someone, they in turn would be killed. Needless to say, they took their killings very serious. Failure wasn’t an option.

Jesus was dead for 3 days and He rose. The whole point of Jesus dying was so He would rise. This is what secures the believers eternal life with Him. We die to ourselves and rise with Him. Not only a new life here on earth but an eternal life with Him in heaven. When Jesus rose, He made Himself known to over 500 eyewitnesses and the world would never be the same again. 

Much happened after all this, but this is where I would encourage you to start reading the Bible. Once Jesus ascended back up to heaven, His people’s ministry exploded here on earth. Jesus sent His Spirit down to dwell within His those who choose to follow Him to give them all the power and wisdom they need to make more disciples. Christians aren’t special except that we admit our sin and failures, rely on God’s grace alone and He empowers us to do good, gives us a secure place of eternity with Him and the desire to be steadfast till the He returns. 

I pray this was simple and clear enough for someone who has never heard the gospel. My goal in everything is to have more people hear this amazing grace story of Christ and the salvation He offers to all. You can choose to believe or deny, but you need to know what the truth is before you decide. Please don’t hesitate to contact me and ask questions. 

I wrote a more extensive blog on the fuller Gospel story you can read here if you are intrigued. The Good News

Closing:

Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel-saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

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Ministry Page www.MisfitMinistry.com

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The Little Things Matter Most

By S.C. Shaw

The Christian needs to be more focused on the little things in our day, because that is what consumes our minds more than anything. Let me define “little things” first. I’m talking the boring, mundane, the unnoticed, and the seemingly unimportant things that happen on the day to day. These are the things that will reveal your true faith in Christ. 

Most of us will not be of much importance in the world’s eyes. We won’t cure diseases or become famous. Most our names won’t be known for our great work in the world, but Christ knows and sees all we do at every moment we do it. Therefore, we need to glorify God in all we do from the moment we step off our bed in the morning to the moment we lay down at night. Praising Him for His common graces on the world, as well as the much bigger graces He has shown to His children. 

How do you react when someone cuts you off while driving? How do you treat your parents, spouse, teachers, or friends when no one is watching? What goes through your mind when you see an attractive person? There are a million little things that come across our days that will either give us the opportunity to glorify God or shame our faith. But we rarely take notice of these things. We are overly focused on the big things alone. The big sins, the big project, the next church service, the missions trip you’ve been planning for months. All the while we’ve neglected our own bible reading, refraining from gossip, averting our eyes from lust, or just simply overly self-focused. I’m not minimizing all the big “good” things that we do to glorify God, but church services and mission trips are not the only times we glorify God and live like a disciple of Christ. 

So what do we do? Pointing out the problem is easy. How do we refocus our hearts to set our eyes to Christ so much so that our “little” sins become bigger things and our “big” sins become more obsolete? Practice makes perfect. Like Paul refers to the athletes training and discipline it takes to be ready for their sport. How much more should our every day be enveloped by the things of God. Don’t wait till you finally feel ready to do a good work for Christ. Don’t wait for those big opportunities to glorify God. The big things will mean very little unless the little things are made real big. Not neglecting the big things, but seeing all things as big things: Sin, service, giving, other people, our thoughts, our hearts and God. All things that can seemingly be small in our minds while less important things consume us all day, everyday.

As you start to focus on the small things, you’ll fail much, but never give up. You’ll get better and better until it becomes habit to react well, through the power of the Holy Spirit to honor God in all you do. 

For more Chris centered everything visit www.MisfitMinistry.com

Closing:

Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel-saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

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Understanding Worship (The way God intended)

By S.C. Shaw

When you hear the word “worship” what’s usually the first thing that comes to mind? Better yet, in what way do you hear the word worship used most?

Music right? “the worship was great, the worship wasn’t great, I think the worship went too long etc.” We are singing music to God, about God and to encourage and strengthen the saints (that’s you and I if you are in Christ). But it’s just music. In fact the term “Christian music doesn’t make any sense. But anyway… I’m going off topic. 

Even those who know better, still can’t help but think music first when we hear “worship” and then quickly move the mindset to whole life of worshiping God. Or the various aspects that can be incorporated into a “worship” service. I bring this up because worship in the bible looks very different than just music. And even more so, looked very different in the old covenant and more specifically to the Israelites. They were given the biggest form of worship ushered in by God since the garden. God again was going to dwell with His people. It’s going to look much different since the fall, but still, God making a way to be with His people is the point of our worship. 

Before we start let me define worship the way I want you to hear it in this blog. 

Worship:

A life fully dedicated, fully sacrificed, fully faithful, fully joyous and fully loving to the God who created you and sustains you. Not perfect, but striving by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Only an entire life of worship can be delighting to God. 

And of course we sing praises to Him because of all the goodness that He is. 

I’m not negating that music is a powerful way to “worship” the Lord. It’s one of the most powerful ways I’m willing to argue. But to see worship as God see’s it and the way the Israelites knew it, should help us with our daily and continuing worship in our lives. 

Worship is God’s idea, and if we can begin to understand it like God planned it, then we can begin to live out the life God has planned for us. 

Intro:

From the beginning God has always desired to be with His people. He doesn’t need us, but He loves us. We don’t fill a missing part of God. God is simply delighting in His creation from His overflowing love and glory. He wants to share Himself with people He has chosen, for His glory and our good. 

How do we know this?

God creates life, He creates the world, He creates Eden, all for man and God to dwell together. But man wanted more, and man rebelled against Gods commands. 

But God is merciful and continues His plans, rather than destroy them.

God ushers is a covenant! A promise to the people He’s chosen, a contract if you will. 

“You do this, I do that” says God. “If you obey me, then you will be kept”. Let’s do a quick overview after the fall. God creates a covenant with Noah, then with Abraham, then gives promises to Isaac, and He turns Joseph’s tragic story into a redemptive victory for all of Egypt. Then God’s people multiply greatly, then they are enslaved, and again, God turns a tragic story into a redemptive victory story. God is good and in control and is able to do anything He desires. And He desires His people. He fights for them and they win in Him.

Author Mike Cosper says:

The story of worship as told in the bible defines worship in a radically different and surprising way. It’s a story that surprises us because we discover that it doesn’t primarily feature us. The star of the story is God, who is at the center of all worship but is also at its origins in history and its origins in our hearts.

It’s all about God!

Worship is God’s idea, and if we can begin to understand it like God planned it, then we can begin to live out the life God has planned for us. 

The Israelites weren’t the first of God’s people to worship, but they were the biggest. 

The story of the Exodus is the premiere foreshadowing of Christ through the redemption of God’s people. In the wilderness, the people of God were shown how to worship, serve and atone for their sins. Just as the law was an example of God’s grace because it (instructed them how to live for God and it showed Gods heart for perfection, holiness and purity), now God gives specific instructions on how to live with God. He tells them how to create a temple, a dwelling place for God among His people, how to appoint priests for His glory and their good, how to sacrifice as to bring peace with God through His instruction.  

Little review: 

Up to this point we have had a lot of events take place since the Israelites were freed. To put it simply: God saves them out of slavery, then they start their complaining, then God’s grace, more complaining, more of God’s grace. They receive God’s law, and now know Gods standards of living a holy life. They now can attempt to live right. God has instructed them to build a dwelling place for Himself to be with His people. 

Exodus 25:1-9

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breast piece. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.”

Let us pause for a sec. If you are like me then it is really easy to lose focus when talking about such foreign things to our day. I used to feel like this stuff didn’t really matter. Not that it didn’t matter in history or in theology, but just didn’t matter to me now. When we get into the Old Testament, the Passover, the temple, we tend to have a sense of disregard or distance from their story. 

It’s much too weird to relate to us now. But we need to see that the Israelites worship means much for us today. 

So let us not go blank or wipe away the context of what we are hearing right now. 

I pray I show you Christ in all of this, but if I fail, let the Holy Spirit guide your mind to pictures of Christ throughout this whole blog.

In Exodus 25 we get to see the God of details. God is all about the details. The tabernacle or temple, is God’s way to be with His people in their ordinary lives. God starts with an offering time. Notice it’s not out of obligation but out of “every man who’s hearts moves him” v.2. A beautiful picture of worship through offering.  

2 Cor 9:7 

Each must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 

God not only wants us to give but give with a heart of thanksgiving. 

Exodus 25:10-16 

“They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it. You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.And you shall put into the ark the testimony that I shall give you.”

The Ark of the Covenant: Or Chest Inside the Most holy of holies

After all offerings are gathered, God first gives instruction on how to build the ark of the covenant. I thought it was weird that the ark is mentioned before the tabernacle. Especially because in the sequence of building, the tabernacle will be built first to house the ark.  I believe the writer is starting with the most holy piece of this whole structure known as the ark that the tabernacle will hold. 

Author Peter Enns says:

“The ark is the supreme post Sinai symbol of the Presence of Yahweh.”  

The ark is the only furnishing in the most holy place. In this most holy place the ark is the focus of God’s presence with His people. The point of contact between heaven and earth. The tabernacle is the earthy symbol of heaven. 

Exodus 25:17-22

“You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth. And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end. Of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be. And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.”

Cherubim: On the ark

The Ark is covered with images of cherubim which is a symbol of God’s heavenly dwelling. The cherubim are believed to have human faces but winged bodies. 

They are a symbol of the function of guarding the temple. There can be no images of God so they are instructed to put the closest thing to God on the ark, which are these angels. 

Footstool:

God’s location, in the most holy place, is not in the ark, but above it. 

Some scholars regard the ark and it’s pieces as God’s throne and footstool. 

This is why we refer to this as the mercy seat. The lid of the box or a more literal translation is the covering. The metaphorical propitiation that separates the dangers of God’s law with the grace or covering of God’s mercy.  

God isn’t dwelling inside the ark, God’s law resides there. 

Peter Enns 

“God’s supreme self-revelation to his people, is kept inside the ark also indicates that the ark is the center of gravity of God’s presence with his people.” 

The Table: In the holy place. V.23-25

“You shall make a table of acacia wood. Two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. You shall overlay it with pure gold and make a molding of gold around it. And you shall make a rim around it a handbreadth[d] wide, and a molding of gold around the rim.”

The table’s one function was to hold the bread of presence. This section about the table is a little mysterious. Even the name, Bread of presence most likely means, Bread in the presence. Not to be confused with the bread having some kind of magical presence of God. We aren’t given much more info on what exactly takes place at this table. It could be as simple as the priests sharing in fellowship in eating together. 

The Golden Lampstand: Or Candlestick v.31

“You shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand shall be made of hammered work: its base, its stem, its cups, its calyxes, and its flowers shall be of one piece with it.” 

The lampstands are made of pure gold, unlike what we have heard so far, acacia wood covered in gold. There is no clear or symbolic meaning to these lampstands. 

It simply says in verse 25:37, “light the space in front of “. Are these lampstands simply to add a warm glow in the holy place? Although the matter of tending to the lamps is serious business. The priest would tend to them day and night. 

There are lots of theories about what all this symbolizes but the bible just is not clear on this. Some say it’s a symbol of Israel being a light to the gentiles or God’s light for His people or even later symbolizing Christ being the true light to the world. 

It could be as simple as the priest needing light to do their work, as the tabernacle would be pitch black inside the heavy curtains. 

Author Peter Enns says:

The fact that there is mystery may be precisely the point. What the lampstand represents is something God may or may not be pleased to reveal. And even if such significance is hidden from Israel, it has no bearing on how they are to behave. 

The lampstand is to be made as he said and the light is to be kept burning. 

Tabernacle: Temple, Tent Ch 26

The tabernacle is basically a series of curtains and frames.

In the tabernacle there are the outer tent and the inner tent, the holy place and ultimately the holy of holies where God would uniquely make is presence shown. Many religions at this time met in temples. But this was to be very different. 

This is where the God of all creation was going to meet with humans face to face. 

G.K. Beale speaks on the language of the bible and “how the temple echoes descriptions of life in the garden. The continuity is no accident. These two places serve the same purpose. God choosing to be with his people and allowing his people to enjoy Him.”  

Back to the tent:

The curtains were made of fine linen and colored yarn. The curtains, like the ark have Cherubim worked into them. Again, a reminder that the tabernacle on earth represents the heavenly tabernacle. It’s structured in a way of lesser to greater degrees of holiness. With all the precise details God lays out to make the tabernacle, we must not disregard them as just God being into details and commands. I believe this to be a symbolic re-creation of creation itself. Using Gods beautiful creations, fine fabrics, precious metals and stones just reiterate the goodness of God’s created world. You can see this as, in the fallen world, God is creating another Eden in a sense. “A building project that is nothing less than a return to pre-fall splendor.” 

God is creating a place free from sin and containing His holy presence. Again this is just one thought of what the “Tent” can mean.  

The Tabernacle was the place that God’s appointed priests would be able to come and make sacrifices for their people. They would sacrifice on their people’s behalf as well as on their own. After all, they were imperfect people as well. This form of sacrifice and worship was a continual process of atonement. Notice as we move on, there are no seats in the tabernacle. The priests work was never complete there.

The tabernacle was also an invitation to the broken world that needs to return to their Creator.  

Pause:

Do you ever get frustrated like me and think as I read this kind of stuff in the bible, “Why all the details? Why is God so choosy about every little detail? Can’t He just come and appear to whom He pleases however He wants? Just build a tent and let that be the place for God, after all, isn’t God glorious enough by Himself?” Then we have to stop and ask, “But what is this telling us about God?” And then actually ask, “why does He desire this stuff in this way?” I believe it to be a process first and foremost. It’s God using every means possible to ensure that we know He cares, that He deserves the best, at this time, the sacrifices needed to be made to appease Him, and to echo through the ages of how this all points to Jesus. And last but not least, God is giving His people the blessing of being able to worship! God is so glorious that He must have much preparation in order to be in His presence. Plus, it needs to be safe for man to come to Him. Remember, before Christ, no man can just come to God. This is another grace we get to glory in on this side of the cross. 

Worship: 

The Alter of Burnt Offerings: Ch 27

At this point I’d like to point out something. God seems to be giving His instruction from most important to less important, most complex to less complex. First comes the Ark which is the holiest part, lampstand in the main part of the tent, then God’s instructions go from parts of the tent and goes to the tent it self. Once outside the tent we get the alter in the courtyard. The symbolism is clear. The closer we get to Gods presence the more holy and perfect we see him. The alter is to make the physical sacrifices for God. 

The Courtyard: Ch27: 9

“You shall make the court of the tabernacle. On the south side the court shall have hangings of fine twined linen a hundred cubits long for one side.”

This was the biggest part of the tabernacle. The tent of tabernacle was much smaller than this outer area that sacrifices would happen and where the people could be.

Oil for the Lampstand: read v. 20-21

“You shall command the people of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive oil for the light, that a lamp may regularly be set up to burn. 21 In the tent of meeting, outside the veil that is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening to morning before the Lord. It shall be a statute forever to be observed throughout their generations by the people of Israel.”

Again, there is much thought about what the oil symbolizes here but there’s nothing explicitly explained in the bible. One thought I did like that would go along with the Lampstand was the oil representing the Holy Spirit. But more important than assuming meaning or placing meaning where it shouldn’t be, let’s ask this question then. What is the Tabernacle?

What is the tabernacle? 

What God is revealing about Himself through the tabernacle is God is at the center of all of it. God saying, “I am your God and you are My people. I will raise you up as an example to all the world, so that everyone knows you are loved, you are Mine, and you too can be My children.” God was never under any obligation to save them or even be with them. He has every right to leave them in their suffering and eventually death, but He doesn’t. He, out of His own good will, dwells with them, saves them and calls them home.

What does is represent for the people of Israel?

Israel’s worship was their sacrifice. And this wasn’t just one type of sacrifice for one type of sin. There were sacrifices for dedication of priests, dedication of the temple. 

There were the everyday sacrifices and the special once a year sacrifices. There were sacrifices for the priests and sacrifices for the poor, for the sick, for the healed, for the children and babies. Worship in Israel was bloody and costly. In this day wealth was measured by flocks and fields. What God demanded of them was a sacrifice of their hearts over and over. There was a clear, strong and bloody reminder of the high cost of their sin. 

Why did the Israelites need it?

Without this holy place there would be no way to atone for their sins. There would be no meeting with God. And their lives would spin wildly out of control without the hope that God is giving them.

Why did they build it?

Their first act of worship was following God’s instructions to a tee. Taking pride in every skillful work they did with the skill God had supplied in them.

Why should I care today? Hebrews 3:5-6

“Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. 

And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” 

We live today in the New Covenant of grace brought in by Christ work on the cross. 

God no longer lives in places made by hands. God dwells inside of His children. But just like the 10 commandments, being able to see God’s heart in what the tabernacle symbolizes making our response to God much more meaningful today.

What does worship mean both in the Old Covenant (OC) and New Covenant (NC)? 

Worship virtually means the same thing for both the OC believer and the NC believers. We have been called by God. We have been shown mercy and grace. We have been supplied with everything we need and now we live our lives dedicated to making Him known. For His glory and our good. 

As I was preparing for the end of this blog and was reading through some of Hebrews, I found myself getting caught up reading Heb 9-10. I couldn’t stop because it was so good. I’ve read it before and even spoke on it a couple years ago. But to be so enveloped by the OC ways of worship and then to be able to read, “But Christ”, literally brings tears to my eyes and breath to my lungs. I want to share that with you guys, so we are reading selections from both chapters right now. 

Heb 9-Heb 10:

All of Ch 9

Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come,  then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Hebrews 10:1-4

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Ch 10:9-18

then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

“This is the covenant that I will make with them
    after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
    and write them on their minds,” then he adds,

I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Ch 10:19-25

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

As Mike Cosper says:

“This is the song of Israel. It begins with starlit hope or patriarchs as they sing bleary-eyed songs of their promised future. It becomes a slave song, sung in chains of Egypt, and evolves into the road song of a tribe in the desert. Once they settle into the promise land, it becomes a declaration: “God lives in Israel! It’s a violent song, written with fire and bloodstains, and it’s a song of failure and reconciliation. The song of Israel is a broken one. The worship of us today is imperfect and looking forward to God’s return. Yet even with all our imperfections then and now, and rebellious habits, God still continues to call us to Himself. To invite us to worship Him.”

So what? How does this change how we approach worship?

First I pray you begin to think of worship as much more than just singing or various elements the church does on a Sunday. And move to see that God’s plan for your worship has been developing since the dawn of creation. God has always been at the center of His creation and has been working for our salvation from the fall. 

Technically the gospel starts in Chapter 1 verse 1 of the bible. 

In the beginning of verse 1.

Gen 1a

In the beginning, God…

Beginning of what? The story of His rebellious creation that He will love and bring back to himself through His own sacrifice. 

Derick Zeulner says:

“God cares passionately about his people being able to worship him properly, if you think a lot of detail and effort went into preparing the tabernacle, think about how much more went into sending of Jesus, his life, his death and his resurrection so that you may be ushered, not into the outer courts, not the holy place, or even the holy of holies with the footstool of God… but into the very presence of God… a life of worship lived unto him.”

We were made for worship. Our lives aren’t complete without worship. In this life there are many things you can worship, but all lead to an empty and unsatisfying life except worshiping the One we were made by, for and through, God. Only worshiping the One who created you for worship, has lasting joy and everlasting life. 

Worship is God’s idea, and if we can begin to understand it like God planned it, then we can begin to live out the life God has planned for us. 

Next blog will be on how these truths should affect our corporate worship. If you would like to read on musical worship now here are some previous blogs.

Worship Intensive

Humanistic Worship vs Biblical Worship

Why We Worship God

What is Congregational Worship?

Closing.

Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel-saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Music StevenShaw.co

www.TheShawsMusic.com

Podcast www.MisfitMinistry.com

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When Patriotism Becomes Idolatry

By S.C. Shaw

This is a follow up blog to my last entitled “Pro-God, Pro-Gun, Pro-Life…?”

This topic needs to be addressed because I see an alarming, disturbing and much contrary group calling themselves Christians and it is contrary to the Gospel. What I am talking about is when American pride takes place of Christ centered love for all. Now, hear me correctly, I know I am blessed to live in this country. Nothing is by accident with God. God is sovereign meaning; He is in control of everything. We are all here because God willed us to be here. It is a wonderful common grace God has bestowed upon us. What is common grace? It is the grace God blesses all people with like breathing. Every breath the believer takes as well as the ones who curse God’s name is all common grace. The providence of God is His upholding or sustaining all things. The hands that will evil against another are sustained by God’s common grace. That doesn’t diminish His goodness of holiness, it’s just who He is. Powerful and in control. The fact that you were born in America is grace. For any American to be overly proud of their lot in life is as ridiculous as being overly proud of the next breath you take. As if you have any control of how many breaths you’ll take in a lifetime. You can and should thank God for each breath, but it is only “your” breath as long as God plans on your life span. This country is only yours because God choose to allow you to enjoy its many blessings. 

What I see happening in the hearts and minds of the American believer, is contrary to this truth. We have been so ingrained with “American Pride” that we’ve lost sight of boasting in Christ alone. What happened to loving the foreigner and sojourner? What happened to putting everyone, not just Americans, but everyone above yourself? Your ideals as a proud American are disturbing and ignorant to the greater things God has planned in the life of true believers.

At this point here are a few things you are going to say.

“God favors this country because we are a country under God. Founded by Christians. “

“We need to respect the people who gave their life for our freedoms.”

“If we don’t regulate immigrants coming into our country it will destroy our system.” 

“Minority issues are their own issues, and we shouldn’t be bothered by them. After all they are destroying themselves so why should we care?”

Or the most popular one “All Lives Matter”. 

So, I beg to ask you, show me in the Bible where you can back up any one of these claims. Again, don’t hear me wrong. I am so thankful for the men and women who have fought to give us these freedoms. I believe we do live in a great country. I believe we once did find favor as a country because of our belief in God. But, those days are over. We are no longer a Christian country. Christianity no longer reigns as the majority religion. In fact, every year it becomes more and more far from the loving truth of the Gospel. 

On the other hand I can show you 100’s of verses that command true believers to die to yourself and live like Christ. Loving all people. Giving of ourselves for the good of everyone. By celebrating our differences, learning and loving from one another. And when a group of people are telling you there’s a problem, we shut our mouths and listen instead of fight back with ignorant statements. Instead, you know what I see? I see people who call themselves Christian who have such a pride in their land that in negates the Bible. It steps on the love Christ showed us. I see people loving their ideals much more than the grace of God. I see people loving all their comforts above the love of others above themselves. I see people living in fear that their way of life might be disrupted. Shame on us. 

This brings me to the main point. I am talking about the Christians blind eye to the still racial injustices going on. I know I hit this point in my last blog but this point stems into the reason why. Our ideology of our country, church, government, etc. There’s a real ugly version of Christian out today and actually has existed for along time now. It is the Christian that holds their government just as high as their God. They hold their freedoms as an American just as high as the freedoms offered to us by the Gospel. But wake up! These are not interchangeable. These are not one in the same. In fact, most of what you believe because of your political beliefs makes you a walking contradiction to the Bible. You are making God’s truth filth to the on looking world. Your political party on either side is lacking in more ways than it is correct on Godly issues. You think because you are pro-life, go to church and eat at chick filet that you are doing your part, but you are a hypocrite. Your life has no living example of Christ’s great call on the true Christians life. And if you are getting upset at me right now, I am probably talking to you. 

Now I know I am being a little dramatic but I am also being truthful. These people exist in a far greater number than should be. But a lot of you fall into this next category. I believe you are a real believer and truly try to live by Christ’s example. But there is still a major problem. Recently there has been lots of buzz around the NFL and the taking of a knee from many players. The outrage by proud Christian Americans have been pouring out and so has the revealing of ignorance. No one is talking about the real issues here. The real issue is why the players are taking the knee. The many racial injustices still occurring all around America is a real problem. Racism is still a huge problem in the hearts that hate and the hearts that just don’t know. Yes, willful ignorance is still a racial problem of discrimination. As white American Christians, it is your job to step up and speak up about these issues. They are not disrespecting the vets, nor are they claiming hatred of America. In fact, they are exercising their rights won for them by those vets. And yet they are being unfairly ran through the ringer like the very injustices they are silently protesting. But instead of listening and being aware of what is being said, we throw out rationalities that make us feel better about ignoring them and for us to feel comfy and justified in our thoughts. All the while not ever giving a glance into the world the African American has been living in since they were forced into this country. Instead, we continue to segregate and lump everyone in the same spot in our minds.  We wipe away any convictions that their life and all its potential messiness has anything to do with you. Well not sorry to say but WAKE UP! We need to make this personal. If you call yourself a Christian, then this is your fight. We are called and commanded to fight for justice. To care for all the oppressed and needy. You subconsciously think you are better then them. We are all born with racial bias. We need to pinpoint it and kill it. You believe they are the least of these? Read what the bible has to say about the least of these. There is not part of this story that allows you to lay in your ignorant comfortable bed anymore. I know I am being harsh, but I am speaking to my own ignorance. It took “making it personal” in my own life for me to wake up and learn. 

Now you may be thinking, “He only cares because his kids are black”. Yup. Couldn’t agree with you more. But that’s the problem. This stuff was not on my radar until it was personal. Now I want to fight every injustice I can to ensure that my precious little children won’t grow up in the world we are currently living in. They will be judged, not liked or unfairly treated simply because they look the way they do. Do you see the ridiculousness of that?

So, make it personal. We are commanded to live until it hurts. We are commanded to die to ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Yeshua (the real name of Jesus).

Closing.

Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Good Mourning

By S.C. Shaw

Before we start, it is important to point out that the bible is speaking to confessing, professing, proclaiming followers of Christ. People who have submitted their life to Jesus and are seeking to know Him more and to make Him known to everyone, are the people the Bible is mainly talking to. If this is not you than this isn’t going to make sense to you because it doesn’t even apply to you until you make the decision to follow Christ. And it is a decision you must make before you can experience the true love of God. 

I say this because of the continual concerns I hear coming from non-believers targeted at God and I must clarify this point. God is under no obligation to answer the prayers of the unrepentant. He’s not obligated to answer anyone’s prayers, but He does anyway, for His children. Why am I talking about prayer in a blog about suffering? Because when people suffer, they tend to feel helpless and or hopeless. This is when the majority start depending on God or at least a god of their own understanding. 

What is prayer? Is it strictly and only when you get down on your knees, close your eyes, put your hands together, bow your head and start asking God for stuff, or complain about things? No! This form of prayer isn’t really seen in the Bible either. Prayer in simply talking with God but with the point of aligning your heart and mind with His. Prayer is everything from exalting (very high regard; think or speak very highly of), exulting (expressing joy or extreme happiness), petition (requesting), praise (acknowledgment of goodness and honor), adoration (deep love and respect) and much more. I like to remember the way Jesus taught us to pray.

Matt 6:5-14 “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”

I have a blog where I break down this whole prayer. You can read that here.

Breaking this prayer down is important because it brings much into proper perspective before we start asking the wrong questions. 

But let’s get started:

I am writing this because we cannot let the circumstances in our life or in the world dictate what we (the Christian) think we know about God. God transcends all understanding and puts our most wise to shame. God defines all good things. We don’t impute our definitions on Him. We change our understanding to fit who He is and what He tells us in His Word. This is why any good pastor, or any good Christian will tell you to read the Bible. This isn’t a religious thing, this is the very Word of God and if we don’t know it, we don’t know God. The Bible is truth and is powerful. If we don’t know God, how He has chosen to reveal Himself in His Word then we will fall for every lie we hear. 

When hard times, trials or suffering comes into our life, we look at God with anger, or we turn our eyes away from Him completely. When we read God’s Word, we see that the people who follow Him go through the most suffering. Jesus Himself was called the “Suffering Servant” and “Man of sorrows”. That’s not a title I would volunteer for. But our hope and future are not found in this world. We are to strengthen our eternal perspective and set our eyes on things above. Our life with Christ is the goal. This life is simply to get us ready to enjoy Him forever and to make Him known. Any other perspective is 2nd best and most the time weak or false. 

I am a musician, worship leader and pastor. I love teaching and stretching people’s understanding of who God is and what our proper response to Him is. I am very picky about the songs we sing in a congregational setting. I think the westernized church needs a lot of help in this area. The worship songs I write are usually unpopular topics for your contemporary worship songs. I wrote a song called “Weeping prophet”. The song lyrics are from the book of Jeremiah. But the highlight of the song is my friend’s sermon that I interwove into the song. I made a transcript of the parts I used from the sermon for the song because what my friend draws out from the scriptures is powerful and needs to be shared as much as possible. Why? Because if we don’t understand that we (the Christian) are going against the grain of the world when we follow Jesus and that means a very tough life if you are faithful. But that’s not to be discouraging. We have the author of life and the creator of all things inside us, all around us and ruling from His Throne in heaven. His peace and joy are incomparable to all the pleasures this world has to offer combined, believe me because I’ve experienced them. As Paul so correctly writes in Philippians 3:8-11” Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith– that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

Do I have that kind of utter dependance and love to know God more? I pray that I do more each day.

Let us dig in:

Sermon Parts by Derick Zeulner

Where is Gods response? We wonder will suffering then have the last word? Will despair be triumphant in the life of a man dedicated to obeying God? God says in Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I set you apart, I appointed you a prophet to the nations. But, why is He not acting? If we don’t have a theology of suffering, if suffering doesn’t fit into our idea of what Christianity is, then we’ll say, “better had I died in my mother’s womb” Job 3:11.

Ephesians 1:4 “for He”, God, “chose us in Him” Christ, “before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight”. Chosen to be happy did it say? Chosen to be comfortable, chosen to walk on easy street? No, God has chosen you to be holy. Set apart for Him without blemish or stain of sin. And He is working that out in your life right now. He is able to use the pain, sin and suffering of this world, that even the works of the enemy to accomplish His task. It’s not your happiness, but your holiness. So that you might be able to dwell with God eternally. He has the end goal in mind. He knows what He’s working towards. And it’s in that way the He will be most glorified. Paul, writing from prison expresses that the church, in Ephesians he says, “It is able to manifest Gods glory to world, particularly brightly because of how we handle suffering, and handle the troubles of the world.” But how? How can we be sure? How can we be sure that God is able to take oppression and suffering and turn into our good and His glory? Because we have the cross. Jesus Himself is the best example of this. He understood His calling. In the upper room He says, “I will not speak with you much longer”, He’s saying I don’t have a lot of time. “For the prince of the world” we call him Satan, “is coming”. “Don’t worry he has no hold on me” He can’t handle me. “But the world must learn that I love the Father, and I do exactly what my Father has commanded me”. Perfect God who took on humanity so that He might show perfect obedience, take on our sin and punishment that we deserve, conquer the power of sin and death by rising again. And yet God used it for the greatest good possible. The redemption and justification of His people. Your redemption, my redemption, which results in Gods greatest glory.

Those are some beautiful and powerful truths. We rest in Christ because Christ is enough. Not just enough to die and satisfy God’s holy wrath on sin, take away the sins of those who follow Him and return to judge evil one day. But He is also enough for our lives here and for eternity. If that sounds too foreign to you then that’s the problem. Not to be legalistic or cast guilt, but this is the place we need to be to be able to take on the world and its myriad of problems. When you see God for who He is more and more, this all starts to make sense because He is beautiful, He is what we were created for. When we live for the purpose intended by God, we will be most satisfied and ready to live this life to the fullest. Namely, to glorify Him in everything we do. And that is only because He is our fullest. 

Verses like this one in Ecclesiastes, has given much comfort to those who are unsure about God’s plan or uncertain about a future that looks dark. Ecclesiastes 3:11” He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.”

No matter what, we know God is planning all things for good for His children. Whether we get to see that beauty in this life or the next. We can trust Him who is sovereign (in control and has planned everything from start to finish) over all things. For those who will not trust, then God has words for this too. In Job, God helps change the perspective of Job as Job is complaining to God. Here are some highlights from chapter 38.

Job 38 Selected verses:

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this.You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great! Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth? “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you? Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’? Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind? 

And Job responds in a proper way. 

Job 40:4

“Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.”

But God doesn’t just leave us in our time of need. God has offered His children peace beyond understating. He has given us His Spirit. We have all the peace, joy and security within us that holds witness and strengthens us when we call upon Him. In Matthew 11 we get to see God’s desire to help in our rest. Not as in a lazy slothful kind of nothingness. But a rest from the burdens of the world. The faithful Christian is swimming upstream. Swimming the opposite way of the world is what we are called to do. But that gets very difficult and tiring. But He is with us every step of the way. Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

We get to draw from His strength. We get to rest with full confidence and peace that we are living in the way we were meant to live. We get to rest in knowing that God is delighting in our good fruit. Only in Him is there true rest, peace and joy. 

So, no matter what you have gone through, are going through or what is to come, God has got you. And by “you” I am talking to God’s children. If you have not yet repented and submitted your life to Him then you are left to your own strength and devices and are still under the wrath of God. This isn’t a fear tactic or dooms day warning. But a solemn call to respond to this great love with which Christ has shown us. There is fewer things more dangerous than people headed for eternal punishment with a false assurance of God’s love for them. God is clear about the unrepentant person in His Word and it is nothing good now nor in the future. But He has provided the way to forgiveness, to Him and to an eternity in heaven. But you must respond, and that response leads to a life that looks almost nothing like your current one. You are dead in your sin, but Christ offers life in Him. So, answer that call and follow Jesus today so this message of hope applies to you.

For the struggling faithful Christian, I have two words. 

First, we must recognize the inevitable consequences of our sin. If you are suffering because of your own sin, then that isn’t God’s problem. You are forgiven, but there are natural ways in which our decisions must play out. There are natural consequences to our decisions. Get through it, still within the power of God but get through it and draw from the Holy Spirit and do better. Second, if you are suffering for being faithful to God, find joy in this. We see Paul continually being beaten and imprisoned for preaching the Gospel. And he speaks of the joy of suffering more than anyone. Let us stay the course and persevere because not one minute is outside of God’s control and what He is working for our good and His glory will last for eternity. The world will be destroyed but God will build a new and perfect one, free from all pain, sadness and suffering.

I know that tough times are tough. But take it one day at a time and know that God is working out something good for you and for others in this tough time. Besides, what’s the worst that can happen? You die. So what? Then you get to go to your real home in paradise, face to face with the glorious God who loves you for eternity! See, so pray with hope, cry with hope and rejoice in the hope that God has declared in you and for you for His glory! Amen!

Closing.

Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Music StevenShaw.co

www.TheShawsMusic.com

www.MisfitMinistry.com

Instagram @stevenshaw.co @fitcore @theshaws

Reckless Love (The Good, Bad & Ugly)

By S.C. Shaw

I started a series of blogs that will look into various worship songs and talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of what we are singing in church. With that being said, I don’t want these blogs to be seen as a high and mighty naysayer giving his opinion. So let me say this, most of these songs we sing and will continue to sing in church. I may change or add things to have a clear conscience about leading them, but not all are “all bad”, but I feel the need to give a voice to the unclear.

First and foremost we must always ask the questions: “How does this song help the Word of God dwell richly within me?”And, “Does this song glorify God in Biblical truth.

Reckless Love

(The Good, the Bad, the Ugly)

Lyrics in full

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so, so kind to me

(Chorus)

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me

(Chorus)

Bridge:

There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me

(Chorus)

This is a song that has been well disputed in the Christian world since the day it came out in 2018. It has been the subject of many conversations and social media blasts because it deserves to be. Not because the greatness of it, but because the need for clarity within it.

I remember I didn’t like this song the first time I heard it because it was weak theologically and unclear biblically. I am one that believes that all corporate congregational worship songs should follow a certain guideline. That guideline being able to answer these simple questions; Does this song “Let the word of Christ dwell in me richly?” And, “Does this song  glorify God in Biblical truth?”I know even that statement can be up for interpretation. Let’s start there.

First of all, here’s the whole verse, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” Ephesians 5:19. There aren’t many verses in the Bible that talk about worship in the style of singing. At least not in the order of command or instructions on how to execute and guidelines for a corporate worship song. However, we are told to worship in “Spirit and in truth” John 4:24.  And contextually, the Bible leaves no room for less than excellent worship to God. So we must, as leaders in the church and even part of the church body, strive to be as intentional as we can to be God-honoring, Christ exulting and Holy Spirit empowered in everything we do. Unfortunately, I fear we are more driven by comfort, habit, and survival.

Let me explain.

Comfort is easy for just that reason, it’s comfortable. It takes thought, planning and effort to step out of the easy and comfortable place we find ourselves in each week.

Habit comes alongside of “comfort”. Habit is taking what we are comfortable with and letting autopilot take over. This is a terrible place to be when we have the Gospel of God to proclaim.

And survival is what every person on a Sunday morning experiences at some point if not the main point. When we are in survival mode we are showing up and trying to get through the day. “There’s much more to be concerned with than this Sunday morning meeting” Is easy to tell ourselves. That means if you’re part of the church staff or part of the gathered body, we all experience this. Our goal here is to be intentional enough to experience this as little as possible. To be preparing our hearts and minds all week, to come together on the Lord’s day and experience the multitude of blessings that are given and received.

I bring all this up because this isn’t an issue concerning a less than an accurate song. It has to do with a mindset for Christ and desiring God enough to long for faithful service in a powerful way to aid His children in being in awe of Him more and more. The song at hand is lacking in many ways but has some strengths as well. Let’s start positive.

The Good:

I have lead this song once in my 15 years of leading music at church. I lead it for a youth program at my church. I threw it in as I was trying to show my heart to submit to my pastor and play more popular worship songs. This is not my strong suit, but as I grow in Christ I want to be more and more like Christ and submission is a big one. Turns out the night I lead this song was a very powerful moment. I was surprised. I did change the bridge to an old hymn, which made me feel better about playing it and helped the clarity of the song in a biblical mindset. The song is written very congregationally which is its strongest point. But since then I have had a growing concern about this song. I have been silent for a couple years now but must start sharing my convictions. So let us tear this one open for a bit.

Reckless Love (The Good, the Bad, the Ugly)

First verse:

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so, so kind to me

(This is a beautiful thought of the mightiness of our God who has created us and is sovereign over us since before we were created anything.)

The Bad:

(Chorus):

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

(I’m on board with the overwhelming thought of God’s love. In fact, everything we ponder about God should be overwhelming. There is never a time to see and behold God in any way and say, “cool.” God is weighty, big and awesome. When we get to “never-ending” though I have issues. I can see how God’s love at times can seem reckless to us because Gods ways are higher than our ways. And Gods love is indeed never-ending for His children. But much of the time Gods love is quite simple and clear, not seeming reckless at all.)

Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine

(I do appreciate the main idea here, of, God seeks us, not, we chase God, which is a popular theme of some unhelpful worship songs. God seeks His children and saves them even as they are pursuing sin. And even after our conversion we still are prone to wonder. But once we have trusted in Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are found, never to be lost again. Sure, even the redeemed can experience a time of falling back or being caught up in various sins for a time, but God can never lose the “one’s” He has chosen to save. And that slip of sin does not last forever. Christ Himself is sustaining His people and He is mighty to save. Plus I’m not convinced the majority of Christians would even get the reference of “the 99”.)  

I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away

(Again, love this thought. This is the most biblical you can get. The wretchedness of man and the holiness of God. That is the Gospel! We can do nothing to earn it and we certainly don’t deserve it. “You give Yourself away” is one of those grey lines. It’s not technically wrong, but it seems wrong focused in the context of the song. As if the driving power of Gods love is us. We are not the main thing to God, God is the main thing to God. He does all for His own glory first and foremost. That’s the main thing wring in this song. There’s no sense of the glory of God.)

When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me

(Again, solid verse. Glorifying God in His greatness and not ours.)

(Chorus)

The Ugly:

Bridge:

There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me

(The bridge is less than wanting. I see the point trying to be made here but it wasn’t given enough time or care to stay biblical. The song strays from the biblical point. The glory appears to be to God still but the focus is clear, “We are so precious and important, God cares only for us and nothing else.” The biblical reality is that God is all-powerful, mighty, glorious, perfect, holy, never changing and sufficient without any one of us ever adding or giving Him anything. On top of that, the most important thing to God is His own glory. This is what drives everything about Him. It drives everything He does. His glory is an attribute of His attributes. He isn’t most concerned with us. We aren’t first on His mind. He is. In fact, the first name we get for God is “I am” in Genesis 3:14. He is saying, “I Am everything that is important. I Am the first and the last, the beginning and the end. The King of kings and the Lord of lords. I am what I glorify above all else. I seek my own glory before all” (Writers commentary). This can be hard to hear, but for the child of God, this is where we get our assurance and security. God’s glory is so important because nothing can break His character, His will, plan, goodness, holiness or love for His chosen. What else could be placed before Gods glory? Nothing, hallelujah! This jealousy He has for His own is what gives us eternal life and hope for everything. So, to minimize all this to “kicking down walls, because He loves us more than anything,” is not ok.)

So what do we do with a song like this? Some try to change words or add things to it as I did, but we must stop and ask, “why?” Why so much work to play this song, or songs like it? Because you sound really good at singing it? Your band really preforms it well? Because your church loves it? Because you want to be relevant to people? None of these reasons are biblical and we are playing on dangerous ground when we give in to this way of thinking. There are so many great songs to choose from. Branch out and seek the hundreds of great songs written well and supremely biblical to truly strengthen your church rather than stretching to make an emotionally driven song work because you perform it well. We can all get complacent when all we are hearing are these types of songs. Seek out other, less well-known bands and music teams. There is some fantastic music being created that is not being heard.

With all this being said I feel I must mention this; the main worship team at my church plays this song. I have mentioned that I have played this song before and would again if my pastor asked. These are just my convictions about the faithfulness in our music in church. I am not the final word nor think that I should have any authority over you because after all, this is just my opinion.

After all this talk, read through the words of this other song. Sometimes the best way to see what is wrong is to compare and contrast. This is the clear dynamics and distinction between amazing and average or false. Note here, there are many old and new hymns I could throw down, but to keep this all contemporary let’s choose something newer and in the style of the current culture.

Grace and Peace (Sovereign Grace Music)

Performed by (The Shaws) Live Version

Grace and Peace

Grace and peace, oh how can this be

For lawbreakers and thieves, for the worthless, the least

You have said that our judgment is death

For all eternity without hope, without rest

 (Chorus)

Oh, what an amazing mystery, what an amazing mystery

That Your grace has come to me

 

Grace and peace, oh how can this be?

The matchless King of all paid the blood price for me

Slaughtered lamb, what atonement You bring!

The vilest sinner’s heart can be cleansed, can be free

(Chorus)

Grace and peace, oh how can this be?

Let songs of gratefulness ever rise, never cease

Loved by God and called as a saint

My heart is satisfied in the riches of Christ

(Chorus)

Bridge:

Oh, what an amazing love I see, what an amazing love I see

That Your grace has come to me, Your grace has come!

(Chorus)

Did you catch a difference in focus, reference, and reverence? I have tested this kind of thing on myself on many occasions. I begin to make rationales for what I would like to do and then get set straight by something solid like these words. The focus is on God and His greatness, not our desperate needs or emotional desires.

Before the “naysayer” comments begin. Let me say this. There is nowhere in the Bible that is written to the individual. The New Testament was written to the church. On top of that, when we are given a charge and or encouragement in corporate worship, it is always given with a reason and point for that charge. God speaks action. And that reason is always God-focused, not our desires or emotional intentions towards Christ. Very few times does the bible refer to us loving God (at least in the Psalms). But, it mentions God’s love for us hundreds of times. Does this mean we are not special? No, this means all glory to God because He is our everything, our all and deserves all. Our only good is Christ in us.

Here is a blog I did after attending Bob Kauflin’s “Worship Intensive.” Some great take a ways and very on point with what I am talking about.

Worship Intensive Blog

Closing.

Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Music StevenShaw.co

www.TheShawsMusic.com

Podcast www.MisfitMinistry.com

Instagram @stevenshaw.co @fitcore @theshaws

 

 

Who You Say I Am (The Good, Bad & Ugly)

By S.C. Shaw

I have decided to start a series of blogs that will look into various worship songs and talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of what we are singing in church. With that being said, I don’t want these blogs to be seen as a high and mighty naysayer giving his opinion. So let me say this, most of these songs we sing and will continue to sing in church. I may change or add things to have a clear conscience about leading them, but not all are “all bad”, but I feel the need to give a voice to the unclear.

First and foremost we must always ask the question:

How does this song help the Word of God dwell richly within in me? And, “Does this song glorify God in Biblical truth?

Who You Say I Am (In Full)

Who am I that the highest King would welcome me?
I was lost but He brought me in, oh His love for me, oh His love for me

(Chorus)

Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God, yes I am

In my Father’s house,

There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God, yes I am

Free at last, He has ransomed me, His grace runs deep
While I was a slave to sin, Jesus died for me, Yes He died for me

(Chorus)

Bridge:
I am chosen, not forsaken, I am who You say I am, You are for me, not against me, I am who You say I am, I am who you say I am.

(Chorus)

 Who You Say I Am (The Good, Bad & Ugly)

 The Good:

Who am I that the highest King would welcome me?
I was lost but He brought me in, oh His love for me, oh His love for me

(Love love love, these first lines. Amen all around. The Gospel is here. We are nothing before Christ, only deserving of wrath, judgment, and eternal punishment. But those whom God has chosen since before the foundations of the world are free once their hearts are awakened by the Holy Spirit and life in Christ begins.)

(Chorus)

Who the Son sets free, Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God, yes I am

In my Father’s house, there’s a place for me
I’m a child of God, yes I am

 (This song is truly about election, which I love because we don’t get that in most popular contemporary Christian songs. Some Christians want to fight this fact because it seems difficult to comprehend and seemingly hard to share Christ with non-believers, but that shouldn’t be our theological ploy. We need to be seeking out biblical truth no matter how hard it is to understand or how much it might make us uncomfortable. And speaking from experience, it will get very uncomfortable. I have wrestled with various hard truths for years before I began to grasp it and accept it with worship and adoration to our sovereign, holy, perfect and good God. God has chosen some and not chosen others. That is plain in scripture. There is nowhere in scripture that points to a different conclusion. This is an even bigger reason to praise Christ for His work in your life and a continued life to glorify Him in all we do. This is called being justified and the continued work of being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.)

Free at last, He has ransomed me, His grace runs deep
While I was a slave to sin, Jesus died for me, Yes He died for me

(Free at last! We don’t even know we are captive until we are set free! Once we are free in Christ we see the chains that bound us. Being free isn’t living how you want and doing what you want. In fact, the Bible tells us that doing whatever you want is called being a slave to sin. True freedom is found in living like you should. That is in Christ and learning to be more like Him every day through the power of His Word and te Holy Spirit within you.) I wrote a blog about our lives before Christ called “The Walking Dead”. I dive deeper into this theme.)

(Chorus)

Bridge:
I am chosen, not forsaken, I am who You say I am,

You are for me, not against me, I am who You say I am

(Again, election, chosen and not forsaken. But who does God say we are? This would be a good thing to explain as a song leader in the church. Who does God declare us to be? Those in Christ are, chosen to be His children, we are saints in Christ, we are made to understand the great mysteries of this life and the next. We are loved and are the righteousness of Christ. This is just the start. But giving Gods people that clarity and reminder would be really helpful before singing this song in a church setting.)

(Chorus)

The Bad:

There’s not much bad to say here except there is no clarity on who is chosen. Not that we know who are the true children of God in any given worship service. But to sing this song with and ignorant assurance of election is dangerous. This is nothing the songwriter is responsible for. This is the responsibility of the individual and a faithful Gospel preaching church will help in this. If we are not continually laying out what the life of a true believer looks like than many will head to their eternal pit none the wiser. Read 1 John, and if you don’t feel the sting of conviction, I say that’s a warning sign. Remember, we are never earning our salvation or favor from God in our actions. But the Bible leaves no room for continued life or sin and ignorance to the things of God whilst proclaiming Christ.

The Ugly:

This truth will seem ugly to the unregenerate or the immature Christian. I am not calling anyone names, but speaking through Biblical authority. But no matter how faithful and great men and women of God stress these points, they will always be debated. Even by other faithful and great men and women of God. But let us never stop learning and growing through each other’s love of Christ with all respect as to edify and strengthen one another in the eternal promises of Christ who is our God.

I wanted to do a blog on this song because I didn’t want these blogs to seem as if I am just taking popular contemporary Christian songs and tearing them apart. I really meant for these to be insight into all kinds of songs. Helping others understand powerful truths in faithful Gospel songs only fits to strengthen the believer.

Closing.

Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel-saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

Music StevenShaw.co

www.TheShawsMusic.com

Website www.MisfitMinistry.com

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Come and See (acoustic chronicles)

I recently released a new album (acoustic chronicles) and wanted to give everyone a breakdown of what these songs mean. They are all very deep and biblical so I wanted to make sure and explain them so I have a place for anyone who wants to know all the meaning behind them. Most of the lyrics are old hymns that I revamped to fit my melodies. This one is from a hymn by Isaac Watts called “Come and See”.  Here is my version in full.

Come and See 

Jesus the Christ, prepares our rooms,
Well supplied with care, for all our wounds:
His Word declares, His grace is free,
Come, needy sinners, “Come and see.”

“Come and see.”

He left the Father, and courts on high,
Came to His world, to bleed and die;
Jesus the Lord, hung on a tree,
Come, thoughtless sinners, “Come and see.”

“Come and see.”

(Chorus)
Come, and see His grace upon you!

Our sins did pierce, His bleeding heart,
Till death had done, its dreadful part,
His boundless love extends to thee,
Come trembling sinners, “Come and see.”

“Come and see.”

His blood can cleanse, the foulest stain,
Can make the vilest, sinner clean,
This fountain open, stands for thee,
Come, guilty sinners, “Come and see.”

“Come and see.”

(Chorus)
Come, and see His grace upon you!

 

This is a sweet hymn of resting and yet being convicted of what Christ had to do for our sin on the cross. We rest in the grace He has bestowed upon us, but we are faced with the fact that our sin put Him on that cross. That is in fact what we need to be able to come and see grace. It is also an invitation to know God and enjoy Him forever. None of Christ blood was shed in vain, therefore, those who do not live a life submitted to Christ do not reap these benefits of grace from Him. Jesus blood was enough to cover the sins of the world, but we are not covered unless we accept His invitation to “Come and see”.

 

Listen to the song here: Come and See

Perfect Law (Psalm 19) acoustic chronicles

I recently released a new album (acoustic chronicles) and wanted to give everyone a breakdown of what these songs mean. They are all very deep and biblical so I wanted to make sure and explain them so I have a place for anyone who wants to know all the meaning behind them. Most of the lyrics are old hymns that I revamped to fit my melodies. But this is one of the songs I wrote from Psalm 19. Here they are in full.

Perfect Law (Psalm 19)

The law of the Lord,
converting the soul
The truth of the Lord is sure
The statutes of God,
rejoicing the heart
Commandments of God are pure

More to be loved are they than gold,
Yes, than much fine gold
Sweeter also then the honeycomb
Is Your perfect law alone

The fear of the Lord, making us wise
The judgments of God are true
Let the words of my mouth,
be pure from my heart
Acceptable in Your site.

More to be loved are they than gold,
Yes, than much fine gold
Sweeter also then the honeycomb
Is Your perfect law alone

Christ came for the law,
fulfilled what we can’t
The glory of God in man
Now we stand right,
before a good God
Whose standards are
perfect and high

More to be loved is He than gold,
Yes, than much fine gold
Sweeter also then the honeycomb
Is Your perfect Son alone

 

I really enjoyed writing this song. It is unique in style and theme. My journey of sanctification started a while ago, but the more I learn about God, the more I learn how everything He does is a form of grace to His children. Christians don’t usually think of the law, or God’s commandments to be a gift, but they were and still are today. God gave His chosen people the commandments as a way for them to know His heart, to know how to be in fellowship with Himself. God is always trying to be with His people. However, He doesn’t just show up in all His glory, (cause that would kill everyone) but also loves us to share in His work. That’s why He still calls and uses people today. He needs us for nothing and yet gives us everything. But this song isn’t ultimately about Gods law, but about Jesus. The law was given to Gods people but could never be fulfilled by us. But Jesus lived the perfect life, securing His children’s place with Him for eternity.

In this song, we begin singing right out of Psalm 19. A person after God is a person after Gods law. To desire to live in a way that God can delight it. Read through the Psalm in full.

 

Psalm 19 (ESV)

The Law of the Lord Is Perfect

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voicegoes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
     which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rulesof the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

 

This was written way before Christ enters the scene. But you see David’s love and praise to God for what He has done for him and who He is. What David understands is that God deserves full praise for eternity just for being Him. But He has given us so much more to praise Him for. But He didn’t leave us here. He sent His Son, the Man Jesus Christ who gave us His life. In the last verse and chorus, we go from singing about the law to singing about Christ. I was really excited to have this tension and dynamic in a song. The glory of God is forever and perfect, and I hope this song helps capture a deeper understanding and love for Him.

You can listen to the song here. Perfect Law (Psalm 19)

For more from me about Christ visit MisfitMinistry.com