Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Talk Tuesday-The Journey of Praise

This weekend the LORD taught me a very valuable lesson. Perhaps it is one that I forgot or one that I needed to be reminded of. It was a lesson about worship. 

Have you ever felt so discouraged and overwhelmed while waiting on the LORD for an answer to prayer that it overshadows everything else in your life? Have you ever felt weighed down by the trials in life, wondering when your are going to get a reprieve? Well, the Bible tells us, "Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength," Nehemiah 8:10We are also reminded that GOD is enthroned in the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3).

So, this weekend in my heaviness of spirit, I picked up my guitar. My husband and I sang praises to the LORD and prayed. Afterwards, I wondered why I did't experience the rush that worship usually brings. The next morning I went to church and as the worship team played, I struggled to worship. I still didn't feel the ecstasy that comes with praise. On Sunday evening, I attended a worship service at our main church. They sang all my favourite songs, I danced, clapped, praised, and yet wondered why my heart felt so desperately unmoved. It was then, in the closing moments of the service as the choir and worship team began to sing, "I sing because You are good," that the Holy Spirit reminded me that worship is not for me, it is for Him. I worship Him because He IS GOOD, because HE IS GOD. Suddenly the weight of heaviness and sense of failure lifted from my heart. I realized that I didn't have to feel happy or emotionally charged to worship GOD. I am not worshiping Him because of my circumstance, I am worshiping Him in spite of it. I simply worship GOD for who HE IS. Peace and joy began to flood my heart once again.

No matter what we are going through in life we are to praise Him. It is our act of walking by faith and not by sight. It is a declaration of who GOD is and a humble acceptance of who we are. He alone is GOD and KING, we are His children. May the LORD strengthen His church by the mighty power of His hand, as we march forth singing His praises all the days of our lives until we meet Him in heaven!

"I will extol you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Everyday I will praise You and extol Your name for ever and ever. Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend Your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendour of Your majesty, And I will meditate on Your wonderful works." Psalm 145:1-5

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Talk Tuesday-Lessons from Philippi

 After 500 years of successive colonization (by the Athenians, then Macedonians), Philippi is colonized by Rome. It is promised as a final reward to the veteran troops of Rome's imperial legions upon the victory of Octavian and Anthony over Brutus and Cassius in 42 BC. It is a magnificently wealthy city, with a mixed population of 10 to 15,000 people. It is ruled by a small Roman elite, direct descendants of the imperial veterans, who control a mini-empire of 40,000 subjects in its surrounding territory.

The year is between AD 55 to 62, and the imprisoned Apostle Paul pens the Letter to the Philippians while awaiting trial on an appeal to the Roman emperor, Nero. He knows that Philippi is a city driven by Roman paganism and emperor worship. He is aware of the social pressures that the small church in Philippi faces. He knows that the majority of them, who probably did not hold Roman citizenship,  were experiencing persecution for their faith in Christ. They would have chosen not to participate in the festivities, pomp and splendour of Roman idol worship. He knows that they risk imprisonment too, just like him. He is their spiritual leader and in the midst of his troubles, he tells them:

"Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries," Philippians 1:27-28. 

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure," Philippians 2:12-13

"What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things," Philippians 3:7

He reminds them, as he reminds us, of the glorious promise of Jesus' resurrection power.

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself," Philippians 3:20

As we, like the church in Philippi, face social pressures to conform, let us stand firm in Christ and live out our days here as citizens of heaven. We see the persecution of the church in the 10/40 window, and we must pray. For the pastors and priests who are shepherding the church of Jesus Christ, we must pray. Each one of us is part of the body of Christ, let us live accordingly knowing that, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," Philippians 4:13. 

 Hello BGO community! We hope you liked this week's article. It was a little bit different. How does knowing the struggle of the early church, and the social pressures they faced, help us today in our struggles? What can we learn as we read the scripture through the lens of historical context? What does our 'heavenly citizenship' mean to you? Please share your comments by clicking on the 'comments link' below. We love hearing from you!
Cousar, Charles, B. An Introduction to the New Testamenet: Witnesses to God's New Work. Westminster John Knox Press, Louiseville, Kentucky; 2006
Zerbe, Gordon. Citizenship and Politics According to Philippians. Source: Direction, 38, no. 2, Fall 2009, pg. 193-208