Chapter OneJanuary 1
The Awesome Face of God
Psalm 29:2 Give unto the Lord the glory due His name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
As you meet with God in the light of morning, as your thoughts turn to Him in the adrenaline rush of the day, as you move into the silent sanctuary on the Lord's Day-know that He takes His place upon the throne whenever you give Him your praise. Your bowed head, your humbled heart, and your attentive spirit open the door to heaven. It's a door that swings both ways, for God comes to us, no matter where we are.
The wonder of worship is the wonder of His very real presence. It's music from another world, wonder that floods out all the darkness and the dust of death this life contains. We rediscover the innocence of children again as we praise and exalt God's name, for He opens Himself to us. It's the most awesome moment of life-more awesome than holding your first child in the delivery room, more awesome than meeting the person you're destined to marry, more awesome than seeing the earth from the window of the space shuttle. You've seen something more beautiful: the face of God Himself.
1 Peter 3:12 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers.
When you became a son-when you were adopted into His family as a son or daughter of God-He opened up for you, through Christ's death on the cross, a way of fellowship and relationship that makes it possible for you to go right into His presence.
Do you relate to God like that? Are you in fellowship with Him? The way God "fathers" us will change the way we father our own children. Now that my children are grown and out of the house, I've had to apply God's principles of being available in new ways: I'm learning to be a "long-distance" father. I have entered into a deeper "relationship" with my long-distance telephone carrier so as to fulfill my fathering responsibilities. Fathering from a distance has added some new expenses, but it is what I need to do to remain a father to my children.
Now, if I am like that as an earthly father with limited resources, how available do you think your spiritual Father is in heaven? You don't need a long-distance calling card or an 800 number. He is waiting for you to come into His presence in prayer at any time.
Trust the Character of God
Psalm 71:5 You are my hope, O Lord GOD; You are my trust from my youth.
Sometimes during trials we focus so intently on our experience that we forget to focus on God. But the psalmist didn't. Over and over in this psalm he calls to mind the character and attributes of God: His glory, His power and strength, and His faithfulness.
And five times he mentions God's righteousness. The one thing that we must never lose sight of in the midst of our own suffering is the righteousness and goodness of God. It is because of God's inherent goodness that we are able to trust Him in all things.
When you are in the middle of trials, everyone will have an opinion or a suggestion or a remedy-and if they are from people you trust, you should consider them. But after all is said and done, there is only one thing that you can put all your trust in, and that is the character of God.
Filled with the Encourager
Acts 11:23 When [Barnabas] came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.
The Holy Spirit is the Encourager. Anyone who wants to be an encourager of others must be filled with the Encourager as Barnabas was. Because of the Spirit's presence in him, he could readily yield to the leading of God. Our own ego and drive for self-promotion is so strong that only the Spirit can bring about the transformation needed to accomplish God's purposes. When we build up and encourage others, we know that God is at work in and through us.
The fact that Barnabas was good, generous, gracious, and godly was not because of his upbringing or his education or his heritage. It was because he was filled with the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit who indwelt Barnabas is the Spirit who is given to every believer in Jesus Christ. We receive the Holy Spirit when we are born again, and we remain filled with the Holy Spirit as we confess our sins and yield to His leading in our lives. God wants every Christian to be filled with the Encourager so that we might become encouragers as Barnabas was. The same glory brought to God through Barnabas' life can be brought to Him through our lives.
1 Corinthians 13:7 [Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love hopes all things." Love that hopes has a confident expectation. It is a definite, persistent, absolute truth. There is no situation that divine love within us cannot face with full hope. That's what love is all about. Love hopes.
Hope is not refusing to face the truth. Hope is having a confidence in God to see you through each difficult trial. Jesus was always the epitome of truth, but He never failed to bring hope to others. When He met the woman taken in adultery, He inspired her to hope again. When He met the thief on the cross, Jesus made sure that man left this life with hope. He told the story about the lost coin that was found, and the lost son who came home, and the lost sheep that was found. Over and over again, what Jesus said in His messages was, "There's hope!" Though He was mocked, disbelieved, and crucified, He never doubted the glory that was yet to be, and He endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. He had hope.
Love hangs on with tenacity when other hands let go in despair. To hope when faith has been disappointed is a greater thing than to have believed the sure thing. Love hopes all things.
Psalm 95:1 Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Isn't it wonderful that you could be on your hands and knees, scrubbing a filthy floor and singing the music of Zion?
Music helps you transport your spirit from mundane corners to majestic splendor. The body follows where the heart leads-and vice versa, as a matter of fact. Your prayers will be more focused and your mind more alert if you've aligned yourself on your knees. Some of your best worship might occur when you're jogging or driving a car, when your body is tensed to the task. Do you want to know how to incorporate worship into every moment of your day? Music is an excellent place to start.
Let's sing unto the Lord because it's one more way to give our bodies to His praises. Let's sing because music expresses levels of adoration we can't find in the spoken word. Let's sing because the people of the world will be attracted to our music. And let's sing because we absolutely can't help it! Our Lord reigns!
Temple on Wheels
2 Corinthians 6:16 I will dwell in [you] and walk [with you]. I will be [your] God and [you] shall be My people.
We, the saints, were never meant to be restricted to one roof. What if you began to see yourself as a saint in circulation, a temple on wheels, so that God could say, "I will dwell in [you] and walk [with you]. I will be [your] God, and [you] shall be My people." (2 Corinthians 6:16). What if you took your worship on the road, so that you rejoiced, prayed, expressed your thanksgiving, and exalted Him everywhere you went? You could think of yourself as a beautiful temple, a place fit for encasing the law of God, a place where all people could come to experience Him-for that's one essential element of a temple, isn't it? It's a place for others to come together in God's name. You may not have a ceiling and large rooms, but through you people can experience the living God just as they did in the old temple of Jerusalem. That's the very idea of having the Holy Spirit come to live within us. It isn't for the purpose of our having some private experience, but in order that we can serve God.