I picked up a short book to read over our Christmas travels – “What the Bible Teaches About Worship”, by Robert Dickie, pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Grand Blanc, MI. Impatience got the best of me and I started reading today. Now, I don’t approve of impatience, but I’m glad I didn’t wait. I’ll share two quotes to get you thinking about your worship, the first from the author, the second from Dr. R.A. Torrey.
“Biblical and spiritual worship is the soul’s longing to see the glory and the beauty of Christ…Worship is at its fullest and richest point when our souls are lost in the wonder of the glory and majesty of God…If we are to worship biblically, we must make certain that our worship on earth reflects the example and direction of heavenly worship.”
“There is no higher, no deeper, no purer joy than that which springs from the adoring contemplation of God. I have walked miles, and climbed through underbrush and briers and over crags and precipice, just to get some beautiful view, and as I have looked out upon it, and feasted upon the never-to-be-forgotten vision of mountain and valley, forest and river, village and hamlet, cloud and sunshine, I have felt well repaid for the trial and suffering and weariness. I have sat by the hour before a great painting in joyous beholding of its beauty. Earth has fewer purer joys than these, but they are nothing (compared) to the profound and holy joy that fills the soul as we bow before God in worship, asking nothing, seeking nothing from Him, occupied with and satisfied with Himself.”
It would be heaven on earth to worship on earth as they do in heaven! “Delight yourself also in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” ( Ps. 37:4 ).
How does the gospel of Jesus Christ impact your life? By “gospel” I mean the incredible news that God the Son came in flesh, lived, died, and rose from the dead to free you and many others from your sins. I’m not asking about that day years ago when you first understood that truth and responded with repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. I’m asking what it does to your thoughts, feelings, desires, plans, and actions every day.
John Paton left Scotland as a missionary to the New Hebrides islands in the South Pacific in 1858. Previous missionaries to the same people had been killed and eaten by cannibals. Within seven months of his arrival he had buried his wife and newborn baby, both of whom died of fever; he dug their graves with his own hands. He was sick almost to death at least fourteen times himself. Always under threat of attack by the natives, he often slept in his clothes to be able to run quickly in the night. Once he was called to the bedside of a dying man and when John leaned over him to pray the man pulled a knife and held it to his throat. And if the hardship wasn’t bad enough on the field, Christian friends and family in Scotland criticized him relentlessly for his foolish decision to leave a fruitful ministry there for the certain failure of this mission.
Yet near the end of his life John explained his attitude through it all. “Let me record my immovable conviction that this is the noblest service in which any human being can spend or be spent; and that, if God gave me back my life to be lived over again, I would without one quiver of hesitation lay it on the altar to Christ, that He might use it as before in similar ministries of love, especially amongst those who have never yet heard the name of Jesus. Nothing that has been endured, and nothing that can now befall me, makes me tremble – on the contrary, I deeply rejoice – when I breathe the prayer that it may please the blessed Lord to turn the hearts of all my children to the mission field and that He may open up their way and make it their pride and joy to live and die in carrying Jesus and His gospel in to the heart of the heathen world.”
I’m not saying every Christian must go as a missionary to unreached people to prove his or her commitment to the gospel. But I am saying if that gospel is truly the “great news” we say it is then it should motivate a constant, active gratitude to the One who came, lived, died, and rose again to free us from our sins. Our devotion to His service and His glory should be just as strong as Paton’s, no matter where and how we live it out.
So how is the gospel impacting you?
My fellow-pastor and I are reading Charles Bridges’ book “The Christian Ministry”. One section of the book deals with particular personal struggles pastors deal with which can cause their ministry to be inefficient. One of those struggles is not just a pastoral struggle, but a Christian struggle, maybe your struggle – lack of faith. I share Bridges’ conclusion without commentary for those who struggle with me in this area of sin.
“Our Blessed Master will make us sensible of our weakness; but He will not suffer us to faint under it. Our store of sufficiency is treasured up in His inexhaustible fulness; while our insufficiency is covered up in His compassionate acceptance. He engages to supply not only rules and directions, but ability and grace, for our momentous work. And if He enables us with a dependent spirit, a single eye, and a single heart, to make an unreserved surrender of ourselves and our talents to His service, He will overcome for us every apprehended difficulty, and we shall ‘go on our way rejoicing’ in our work. But the power of unbelief will be a matter of daily conflict to the end. We shall probably find it our chief hindrance. It will induce a faintness under (lack) of success, or self-confidence under apparent usefulness; in either case inverting the Scripture order of life and comfort, and leading us to walk by sight, not by faith…”