“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) PRINCIPLES OF PRAISE: Examples of Devotion (Matthew Bassford)
2) Sword Tips #12 (Joe R. Price)
PRINCIPLES OF PRAISE: Examples of Devotion
Synopsis: Biblical examples of devotion challenge us to manifest love and loyalty, constancy and commitment—in worship, in service, and in suffering.
The transition from the old covenant to the new covenant is one of the most dramatic in the Bible, particularly in its implications for worship. Animal sacrifices of the Law of Moses have been replaced with the sacrifice of Christ and the Lord’s Supper under His law. Tithing has been superseded by giving as we are prospered. The instrumental music of the temple cult has given way to speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
Nevertheless, these changes in form conceal a continuity in the heart that God wants to see from His worshipers. Decades of Bible-class generalizations to the contrary, even the Old Law never was about checking off worship boxes. Isaiah 1:10-15 reveals the lie to such mischaracterization! Instead, God expected the Israelites to come before Him, not merely with the outwardly correct form, but also with devoted hearts.
Indeed, these two things go together. Whenever anyone insists that their adherence to God’s worship commandments doesn’t matter because their heart is good, we should be deeply skeptical. If your heart is so good, why aren’t you determined to honor God through your obedience?
The converse is also true. If a worshiper only is concerned about form and doesn’t worship with heartfelt commitment, that lack of inward involvement inevitably will erode outward obedience. Tithing mint, dill, and cumin is no substitute for working justice, mercy and faithfulness!
God calls us to be devoted worshipers, inwardly, outwardly, intellectually, and emotionally. The One who has given everything for us expects us to give our all to Him. However, in this pursuit, He does not leave us without guidance. Rather, biblical examples of godly worshipers in all times teach us what devotion looks like.
The Devotion of David
One of the best examples of devoted worship in Scripture is the Israelite king David. Unsurprisingly, the man after God’s own heart revealed a heart for God in the way he praised Him. There are many texts, including half the Psalms, that reveal David’s devotion, but one of the most striking is his great prayer in 2 Samuel 7:18-29.
Contextually, this story begins with David’s misguided determination to build a permanent temple for God. God then uses the prophet Nathan to warn David away from this inappropriate if well-intentioned course (please note, by the way, that devoted worshipers do not continue in unauthorized worship once they realize it is unauthorized). David is not to build a house for God; instead, God will build a house for David. David’s lineage, kingdom, and throne all will endure forever.
This is a big deal! Any student of the Old Testament knows how important having descendants was to God’s old-covenant people. Now David knows that his line never will perish. Of course, this news is better than even David can understand fully (though he understood more than most) because it turns out to be a prophecy that his heir will be the Son of God.
In response to this unanticipated promise, David worships. However, the content of his worship is revealing. To use the language of John 4, he clearly is worshiping in spirit and in truth. He praises God emotionally, but his praise focuses in specific detail on the nature and character of God. He is deeply thankful, but does not express his thankfulness using a dozen repetitive thank-you’s. Instead, he thoughtfully explains why. Even 3000 years later, his prayer remains both enlightening and moving. All of us can say, along with him, “Who am I. . . that you have brought me this far?”
The Devotion of the Apostles
We see similar devotion expressed in the worship of the apostles in Acts 4:23-31. Like David, they are provoked to praise God, not by what God already has done, but by what He has promised. However, unlike David’s situation, their position seems considerably less promising.
The day previously, Peter and John had been doing the Lord’s work, healing the lame man and proclaiming the Christ. However, even though they had broken no laws, their good work led to their arrest, and a night spent in jail. The next morning, the high council of their people calls them to account for their “unauthorized” preaching. With the help of the Holy Spirit, Peter turns the Sanhedrin’s accusation around on them, but the confrontation ends with the same people who had killed Jesus threatening to harm the apostles also.
It is in the face of this threat that the apostles join in worship—exalting God’s power and noting that He had previously predicted the troubles they faced (Ps. 2). Yes, these wicked men killed the Anointed One, but in so doing, they only carried out God’s purpose.
The apostles then pray for boldness, but it is the unspoken rest of Psalm 2 that provides their motivation. In it, David reports that the nations will rise against the Messiah, but He will shatter them with a rod of iron. The Sanhedrin and their Roman overlords may seem menacing, but Christ will ultimately triumph.
The apostles’ behavior highlights another aspect of devotion. Their emotional, content-rich prayer shows that their whole selves are engaged, but they also are wholly focused on God. Their powerful enemies do not concern them. Only His power does. If we are as God-focused in our worship today, He will bless us as surely as He blessed them.
The Devotion of Job
God’s blessing should stir our devotion even when, and perhaps especially when, its presence is not obvious. Starting with the crucifixion of the Lord Himself, the Scripture records many episodes of the suffering of the faithful, but one of the most striking worship responses appears in Job 1:20-22. At this point, Job’s sufferings have not yet been completed, but he already has endured enough to bring any of us to our knees. This same day has seen the destruction not only of his fortune, but also of his children. I know what it’s like to lose one child. I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose all ten of them!
However, when Job falls to the ground, he does so in worship. His next words are surely among the most difficult to speak in the entire Bible. He says, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Later, Job calls God to account for what has happened to him (and God still does not charge him with sin), but his initial response is magnificent. It shows an incomplete understanding of what has befallen him (though God allowed his suffering, Satan directly caused his misery), but it also reveals a deep connection to God. Through all of Job’s tragedies, the name of the Lord continues to be blessed!
So too, our mind-and-heart connection to God in worship should not be severed by anything that happens to us in our lives, whether good (which is more of a problem than Americans think) or bad. Even on the worst day of our lives, He still deserves our praise, and if we will only seek, we will find all the reasons we need.
Worshiping with devotion is a difficult goal to achieve, but it’s an important one. From the beginning, the God who searches the hearts has wanted the hearts of His people to be lifted up to Him. The greatest heroes of faith are frequently great because of the greatness of their worship. If we too offer our entire selves wholly to God through all of our days, it will transform not only our worship but also our lives.
— Via Truth Magazine, Volume 65, No. 10, October 2021
“And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).
Sword Tips #12
Joe R. Price
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Continually be thankful to God! The greatest blessing of all is the victory we have over sin and death through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sin has been utterly defeated by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Therefore:
1) Be thankful today for God’s grace, by which Jesus died for everyone and brought salvation to all who will believe and obey (Heb. 2:9; Titus 2:11).
2) Be thankful today that you have received God’s gift of salvation by your obedient faith to Christ (Eph. 2:8-9; Heb. 5:8-9; Rom. 6:17-18).
Death has been utterly defeated by the resurrection of Christ from the dead. The empty tomb is a constant memorial to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God and that he has complete power over death (Rom. 1:4; Rev. 1:18). Therefore:
1) Be thankful today that death is no longer fearful – Jesus replaced the fear of death with confident hope (Heb. 2:14-15).
2) Be thankful today that death will be your doorway into eternal joy, peace and life (Phil. 1:21).
God gives you no greater blessing than victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ. Praise be to God!
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel — for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins. For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30). For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21). This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27). For from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian (Rom. 6:3-4). For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to…
6) Continue in the faith by living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday: 9 a.m. Bible Classes and 10 a.m. Worship Service. We also have a Congregational Song Service at 5 p.m. for every first Sunday of the month.
Wednesday: 7 p.m. for Bible Classes
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
https://thomastedwards.com/go/all.htm (This is a link to the older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990.)