The Queen, the President, and the Name above all Names

Last month Queen Elizabeth II met with President Trump for the first time. This was the 12th president that she has met with during her remarkably long reign (incidentally, the only president she didn’t meet with was Lyndon Johnson). During her 66 year reign, the Queen has met with countless other Presidents, Prime Ministers, world leaders, and dignitaries, and she will probably meet with many more depending on how much longer she lives.

The name “Queen Elizabeth II” is known and loved all over the world. She will go down in history as a great Queen, but the thing we need to keep in mind is he is just a woman. She is just a human being. It is well known that the Queen has faced family problems down through the years. Those who are closest to the Queen would acknowledge that she has personal struggles, just like you and me. And at the root of it all is the fact that the Queen is a sinner in desperate need of the grace of God.

Down through the ages, there have been men and women like the Queen – not many, but a few. They were great leaders and they had names that were revered and esteemed and praised. But as Christians, we know that there is one name that stands alone. There is One Name that is the name above all names! And that is the name of Jesus. Listen to how the apostle Paul explains in in Philippians 2.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Why do we bow down before Jesus?

We bow down and worship because He is Lord. We bow down and worship because He has the name that is above every name. We bow and down and worship because He is worthy of all our praise, honor, and adoration. We bow down and worship because He is the Savior and Redeemer of all His people.

Jesus, Jesus Jesus, sweetest name I know…….

 

 

Committing to Family Worship

As a pastor, I have discovered that just the thought of “family worship” or “family devotions” can be overwhelming to Christian parents. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is because parents think they need to duplicate the Sunday morning worship service.  The reality is that family worship doesn’t have to be complicated.

Quite simply, family worship is the family coming together to worship God. The Puritans were big on this and called the family a “little church” of sorts. They believed that the worship of God should be a regular activity, not just something that happened on Sunday. Over the past few years, we have tried to make family worship part of our daily routine. Our three kids are still pretty young so it can be a challenge, but it has also been a great blessing to our family. I can almost guarantee you that if you start doing family worship, it will have a unifying effect on your family and will draw you closer to the Lord.

There are many ways of doing family worship, but there are a few key elements that I would like to highlight for you. Husbands and fathers, as head of the family (Ephesians 5:23, 1 Corinthians 11:3) take the initiative to call the family together for worship. Begin by reading a portion of Scripture. It doesn’t have to be long, but I would encourage you to work through a book of the Bible. One day you can read half a chapter or a chapter, and then next day you can pick it up where you left off. After reading a portion of Scripture, ask the kids a few questions that pertain to the reading. Help them understand what God is saying through His Word. Don’t think you need to preach a sermon every time you have family worship, but it is your responsibility to expose your children to the word of God (Ephesians 6:4). Also, there are plenty of good devotional books that can be of help to you.

Next, grab a hymnal or a church songbook or listen to a worship cd and sing a couple praise songs to the Lord. Most kids love to sing so compliance will not be an issue here. Finally, finish off your time of worship in prayer. Offer God your praises, petitions, and thanksgivings together as a family. In these two things (praise and prayer), you are responding to God’s revelation, goodness, and mercy. If you are not already practicing family worship, I would encourage you to start. Our family worship times usually only last 10-15 minutes so it doesn’t have to be long. The important thing is to get started and to allow the Lord to direct you.

If you are a couple without any kids, then it goes without saying that you can still have times of family worship. You just have more freedom to worship in a manner that suits you. I would say the same thing to grandparents. Your kids may have left many years ago, but that shouldn’t stop you and your spouse from studying God’s Word and worshipping together. When you visit the grandkids, do what you can to teach them the Bible (Deuteronomy 6:7) and to model a life of worship. Remember that you have an important role to play in this.

As my wife reminded me this morning, we as parents don’t have a problem understanding the importance of feeding our kids each and every day. We know they need nourishment in order to grow and develop and be sustained. But the same is true of our spiritual food. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). If you want your kids to truly “live” then be sure and nourish them with the life giving manna of God’s Word. One day, they will thank you (Proverbs 31:27-28) for this.

 

What is Family Worship?

As a pastor, I have discovered that just the thought of “family worship” or “family devotions” can be overwhelming to Christian parents. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is because parents think they need to duplicate the Sunday morning worship service.  The reality is that family worship doesn’t have to be complicated.

Quite simply, family worship is the family coming together to worship God. The Puritans were big on this and called the family a “little church” of sorts. They believed that the worship of God should be a regular activity, not just something that happened on Sunday. Over the past few years, we have tried to make family worship part of our daily routine. Our three kids are still pretty young so it can be a challenge, but it has also been a great blessing to our family. I can almost guarantee you that if you start doing family worship, it will have a unifying effect on your family and will draw you closer to the Lord.

There are many ways of doing family worship, but there are a few key elements that I would like to highlight for you. Husbands and fathers, as head of the family (Ephesians 5:23, 1 Corinthians 11:3) take the initiative to call the family together for worship. Begin by reading a portion of Scripture. It doesn’t have to be long, but I would encourage you to work through a book of the Bible. One day you can read half a chapter or a chapter, and then next day you can pick it up where you left off. After reading a portion of Scripture, ask the kids a few questions that pertain to the reading. Help them understand what God is saying through His Word. Don’t think you need to preach a sermon every time you have family worship, but it is your responsibility to expose your children to the word of God (Ephesians 6:4).

Next, grab a hymnal or a church songbook and sing a couple worship songs. Most kids love to sing so compliance will not be an issue here. Finally, finish off your time of worship in prayer. Offer God your praises, petitions, and thanksgivings together as a family in prayer. In these two things (praise and prayer), you are responding to God’s revelation, goodness, and mercy. If you are not already practicing family worship, I would encourage you to start. Our family worship times usually only last 10-15 minutes so it doesn’t have to be long. The important thing is to get started and to allow the Lord to direct you.

If you are a couple without any kids, then it goes without saying that you can still have times of family worship. You just have more freedom to worship in a manner that suits you. I would say the same thing to grandparents. Your kids may have left many years ago, but that shouldn’t stop you and your spouse from studying God’s Word and worshipping together. When you visit the grandkids, do what you can to teach them the Bible (Deuteronomy 6:7) and to model a life of worship. Lastly, for those of you who are single, find another person to worship together with on a regular basis through one to one meetings. I would suggest a similar format – studying God’s Word – dialogue – prayer, and even praise if you are so inclined.

I have come back to this quote from Paul Tripp again and again, “God designed our spiritual lives to be a community project.” Whether it is our immediate family, our church family, or the global family of God, God has placed us together. We grow together, we worship together, we rejoice together, and we weep together. What a brilliant plan! But it only works if we come together for the glory of God.

The Family: “A Little Church”

Jonathan Edwards:

Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church, consecrated to Christ, and wholly influenced and governed by his rules. And family education and order are some of the chief means of grace. If these fail, all other means are likely to prove ineffectual. If these are duly maintained, all the means of grace will be likely to prosper and be successful.

Let me now therefore, once more, before I finally cease to speak to this congregation, repeat, and earnestly press the counsel which I have often urged on the heads of families, while I was their pastor, to great painfulness in teaching, warning, and directing their children; bringing them up in the training and admonition of the Lord; beginning early, where there is yet opportunity, and maintaining constant diligence in labors of this kind.

Remember that, as you would not have all your instructions and counsels ineffectual, there must be government as well as instructions, which must be maintained with an even hand, and steady resolution, as a guard to the religion and morals of your family, and the support of its good order. Take heed that it not be with any of you as it was with Eli of old, who reproved his children, but restrained them not; and that, by this means, you do not bring the like curse on your families as he did on his.

This is an excerpt from “A Farewell Sermon” by Jonathan Edwards, preached in Northampton, MA in 1750.

The Effects of Revival

What happens when God brings revival? Jonathan Edwards explains:

“This work of God, as it was carried on, and the number of true saints multiplied, soon made a glorious alteration in the town: so that in the spring and summer of 1735, the town (Northampton, Massachusetts) seemed to be full of the presence of God: it never was so full of love, nor of joy, and yet so full of distress, as it was then. There were remarkable tokens of God’s presence in almost every house. It was a time of joy in families on account of salvation being brought unto them; parents rejoicing over their children as new born, and husbands over their wives, and wives over their husbands. The goings of God were then seen in his sanctuary, God’s day was a delight, and his tabernacles were amiable. Our public assemblies were then beautiful: the congregation was alive in God’s service, every one earnestly intent on the public worship, every hearer eager to drink in the words of the minister as they came from his mouth; the assembly in general were, from time to time, in tears while the word was preached; some weeping with sorrow and distress, others with joy and love, others with pity and concern for the souls of their neighbors.

Our public praises were then greatly enlivened; God was then served in our psalmody, in some measure, in the beauty of holiness. It has been observable, that there has been scarce any part of divine worship, wherein good men amongst us have had grace so drawn forth, and their hearts so lifted up in the ways of God, as in singing his praises. Our congregation excelled all that I ever knew in the external part of the duty before, the men generally carrying regularly, and well, three parts of music, and the women a part by themselves; but now they were evidently wont to sing with unusual elevation of heart and voice, which made the duty pleasant indeed.

In all companies, on other days, on whatever occasions persons met together, Christ was to be heard of, and seen in the midst of them. Our young people, when they met, were wont to spend the time in talking of the excellency and dying love of Jesus Christ, the glory of the way of salvation, the wonderful, free, and sovereign grace of God, his glorious work in the conversion of a soul, the truth and certainty of the great things of God’s word, the sweetness of the views of his perfections.”

Edwards continues on for many more pages in his Narrative of Surprising Conversions.

The Gagging of God

In Luke’s Gospel, the passage that immediately precedes the Triumphal Entry account is the parable of the Ten Minas. Jesus began the parable by saying, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us’” (Luke 19:12-14) Now that I’ve wet your appetite, I’ll let you finish the parable account for yourself. What’s important to note is there was a rebellion against the reign of this nobleman. His citizens did not want to acknowledge his rule or authority.

Fast-forward a few verses (Luke 19:28-40) to the Triumphal Entry and the beginning of Passion Week. Jesus enters Jerusalem with great fanfare as thousands of people go crazy over His arrival. It seems as though many did want to acknowledge His reign and rule. Could this be the long awaited Messiah? Some (perhaps many) seemed to think so. Quoting from Psalm 118:26, the people shouted in praise, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38) It seemed as though they finally got it. This Jesus is not just a man – He is the very Son of God!

At the same time, however, another picture emerges. There was a group of people who had made it clear – “We do not want this man to reign over us.” They were convinced their system of religion worked just fine and there was no need for a new King. Luke gives the details of what happened next. “And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.’” (Luke 19:39-40)

Even before the time of Jesus, there was a monumental effort to silence God. The Old Testament provides a predictable pattern – God raises up a prophet to speak His Words and the people kill the prophet. Time and time again this happened because the people could not bear to hear the words of God. The words of the prophet convicted them so much that it was often easier to kill him and remain in sin than to heed his words. Little has changed since that time. Like the prophets of old, Jesus was killed so the religious leaders could protect their little kingdom, and for the past two thousand years, Christian’s have been killed for speaking God’s word. Even today there are tens of thousands of Christian martyrs each year.

What the enemy knows is that killing Christians is not always the best approach. History proves that martyrdom often increases the advance of the gospel. So the enemy does what he can to silence the word of God. Satan works hard to muzzle voice of our Christian witness. He knows that the gagging of God (I borrowed this term from D.A. Carson) is an effective tactic. Let me give you one example of what I mean. A few weeks back, Kirk Cameron appeared on CNN on the Piers Morgan Tonight show. With Kirk Cameron being an outspoken Christian, you know Morgan is going to bring up homosexuality. And when Cameron articulated his position, predictably, Morgan proceeded to tell him how wrong he is for believing what the Bible says about homosexuality. Obviously, this is an example that generated a lot of attention and we are never surprised when the media attacks Christianity and claims that Christians are intolerant and unloving. However, the efforts to muzzle and silence the word of God happen in a million different ways all over the world. Just to personalize it, think of all the times you have felt pressure not to talk about Christ with someone. I am sure you can think of many examples and Christians all over the world feel this same pressure. What we often forget is that “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) And what we need to remember is “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

Going back to Luke 19, it is clear that the Pharisees thought Jesus had let things get way out of hand. They could not stand the fact that people were praising and acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah so they tried to silence the people. Jesus knew that was simply not possible, “If these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Today, there is a halleluiah choir that resounds in heaven and all over the world. Millions of people sing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come! Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Revelation 4:8,11) No doubt Satan hates this and the world hates this, but it can’t be stopped. God will be worshipped, adored, magnified, and glorified both now and for all eternity.

What about you? Have you joined the halleluiah choir?