Tag: Worship

Yahweh Sabaoth (The LORD of Hosts)

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Merciful God,
My heart is overwhelmed for
you came down from your majestic throne as a Man of war leading your armies and broke through the fortress of my imprisonment,
the cage of my captivity.

You battled the hordes of hell, the powers of darkness, in the abyss of deception and the trenches of affliction.

You took hold of the horned Prince of darkness and hurled him out of my way and lifted me up, washed me clean and set me along your glorious path.

Your wonders to perform.
Your acts to make known.
Your works to declare.
Your will to be done.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
©Deborah E. Nyamekye 21/10/ 2016

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WORSHIP-Part 1: Cain, Abel & You – Making choices that lead to True or False Worship unto God

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Read Genesis 4 : Cain & Abel.

Even though Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God and thus caused the generational sinful nature in mankind to take root, we are presented with a situation that surprises many people who read the account of Genesis chapter 4. Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve’s offspring each gave an offering to God. Adam and Eve must have taught their two sons to live a covenanted life unto God, even though they still inherited the generational sinful nature from their parents.

As long as we acknowledge we are in covenant with God which Cain and Abel did by giving God an offering, then in God’s eyes we confess Him before men and we are therefore inheritors of His promises. This fact was true in the time of Cain and Abel, throughout ancient history and is true now.  God is the same yesterday, today and forever more!

As Cain and Abel acknowledged that they were God’s, God expected them to also know what kind of offering He would expect and accept from them. Cain was a farmer “tiller of the ground” and he brought an offering from the land to the Lord. It was an ordinary offering. He did not give his best. This shows a lack of reverence and respect for God, so what was the result? The King James version states that God “unto Cain and to his offering he did not respect” (Gen. 4:5). This verse reminds me of the verses in Matthew 10 in the New Testament which states that Jesus will confess before his Father those who confess him before men (vs 32) and will deny before his father those who deny him before men (vs 33).

true-falseBrethren, the truth is that we get as much out of our covenant relationship with God as we put into it. This has not changed even since the days of Adam and Eve and their offspring, Cain and Abel.  If I say I am one who offers my life as a living sacrifice to God but I choose to disrespect or deny God, it does not affect or change the fact that He is God nor does it prevent Him from doing His works. However I will suffer the consequences of my sins against Him which is eternal damnation unless I repent.

God chose me for salvation, therefore I should see this as a privilege and be humbled to be called His child. I should in no way expect Him to feel He is blessed to have me as His child, if I do, then I am being prideful. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). I may not be having this expectation consciously but my actions towards God speaks louder than my words. I cannot hide my motives or intentions from Him for He is God and all knowing.  This is expressed in David’s counsel to his son which we should also live by:

“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever” (1 Chron. 28:9 NLT).

In addition as Cain did, I should not take God for granted. Cain had free will and chose to exercise it by serving God, but he did not give his best. Assessing what this means we can say he was lukewarm in his approach and attitude towards God. Is God looking for lukewarm worshippers? No! He is looking for those who will be true worshippers by obeying the two greatest commandments upon which all the other eight hang (Matt. 22:36-40).

“love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” (Luke 10:27 KJV).

The Ten Commandments enabled the people of Israel to know right from wrong. Although in Cain and Abel’s time the commandments as we know them were not in existence then, the expectation of God from them is the same as it was from Israel when God gave them the Ten Commandments. This is because anyone who says they belong to God are expected by Him to exercise their free will and moral consciousness by choosing to do what is right by Him or according to His Word.

Cain did not love God wholeheartedly hence the choice to give him an offering which reflected this fact. You only know what it is to love when you live cultivating a love relationship with God. This is true worship and from this position you learn to love yourself the way God loves you and you can therefore love others in the same way. Cain did not love God, nor himself and therefore he could not love his brother Abel.

Jesus during his ministry spoke as follows:

“23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24 NLT).

 True worshippers are people who live in the Spirit and abide by the truth of the Word of God exercising their free will by making choices to the glory of God and His Kingdom. The LORD alone can judge who is a true worshipper for He looks at the heart whereas man looks at the appearance (1 Samuel 16:7).

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Cain did not anticipate the consequences of this lukewarmness and disrespect towards God this is why he was very upset and “his countenance fell” (4: 6) when God did not accept his offering. He felt God should accept his offering despite it being inferior to what God expected from him. This is because Cain had no reverence for God.

Friends, if you have reverence for Almighty God you will give Him your best in relation to your time, your finances and service. After all, God is the one who not only created you, but ensures you have provision and sustains you daily.

Some people think they can take God’s mercy for granted and get away with it, to the point that they say “I will sin in this way and repent later, after all the bible says if I confess my sins God is faithful and will forgive me”. There are some who profess to live holy lives but only to deceive men, for God knows the hidden state of a man’s heart; for instance they may be part of the worship team in church but are fornicating or committing adultery in secret.

These same people being born again and therefore covenanted children of God have chosen to live lives compromising with the world and so they do not give of themselves wholeheartedly to God. However as Cain (Gen 4:6) they get very upset and their countenance falls when God does not answer their prayers or they do not experience breakthrough in certain areas of their lives despite supposedly attempting to for years. Could it be that God has rejected their offering of false and abominable worship which rises up as stench to his nostrils rather than sweet smelling incense as true wholehearted worship does?

This aforementioned example is one of several ways believers in Jesus Christ dismiss or relegate him and God to the bottom of their list of priorities while outwardly appearing holy before men and even manage to deceive themselves that they are not doing anything wrong.

Furthermore, believers in Jesus Christ have given excuses when  they disobey God or engage in sin blaming the devil or saying “I am only human” with the same lips they confess “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” or “I am more than a conqueror through him (Jesus) who loves me” so if they know they have the inner strength through Christ to overcome temptation how come they have a habit of picking and choosing when to obey God and when not to?

One might make the following excuses for Cain

  • He was the offspring of Adam and therefore the adamic sin nature was raging within him as a generational iniquity so it was easier for him to disobey God than to obey Him as it was for Adam and Eve.
  • He was very upset because he did not think he had done anything against God because the power of iniquity of separation from God (parental sin) was such that his natural inclination was not towards pleasing God but self and Satan.

Did God give Cain these excuses in the bible? He did not and would have if they applied. Unlike Cain, Abel, Cain’s brother from the same mother and father chose to please God by acknowledging God’s worth as being so great that He merited Abel’s best offering from his livestock. We can see that while one son of Adam (Abel) chose to do what was pleasing to God the other (Cain) chose not to even though they both have the generational iniquity of the Adamic sin nature. Why is it that the excuses one can make for Cain’s attitude towards God did not result in Abel acting in the same way as Cain did towards God?

Abel was able to make a conscious choice to give God the best of his livestock even then when one would easily have thought it would have been unlikely. Another reason one may have expected Abel to not give God his best offering in addition to the aforementioned excuses for Cain’s failure was because as Cain, he was a first generation offspring of Adam and one would think greatly prone to the serpent’s influence against God as his mother and father.

When we are God’s, He expects us to rise above the tendency to either give in to sin or make excuses for committing recurring sin because of the generational adamic sin nature or sins of our parents and ancestors as well as our own past repetitive sins. While in covenant with God, if we can make a choice to give ourselves as living sacrifices unto God as Cain and Abel demonstrated by giving Him an offering, we can also make a choice as to what level of worship we are willing to give Him while in covenant with Him; We can profess we are Christians but live as the unsaved (which is not worship at all), be in half hearted obedience, which means lukewarmness or compromise with the world (this is also not worship) or wholehearted worship because we love Him with all our hearts, minds and souls (this is true worship).

Brethren, the point I am making is that choices to be God’s children and the level of worship we give Him can be made without fearing we will fail in our walk with God because of the Adamic sin nature, ancestral generational weaknesses or our own recurring sins of the past. God is always with those who are His to protect, strengthen and warn us of impending danger, as in the case of Cain:

“7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” (Gen 4:7 NLT)

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Even though these were times well before laws and commands were given by God to people who were covenanted with Him as we know from scripture, Genesis 4:7 lays out God’s expectation of His creation who acknowledged him as their LORD as well as the consequences for not fulfilling those expectations and what they must do to overcome sin.

Man has a moral conscience and free will and therefore has the God given ability to make choices as to whether to do the right or wrong thing. What is right or wrong according to God is knowledgeable from God’s Word and directly from God by revelation or His spoken word, for instance God spoke clearly to Cain in Genesis 4:7. It is also a knowing which is supernaturally given to covenanted children of God. God therefore expected Cain and Abel to exercise their free will by choosing to give their offering to God based on what they knew to be pleasing to God and not pleasing to him. If one says they accept their covenant relationship with God, then His expectation is that one would exercise their free will by choosing morally to do what pleases God. However, God does not give up on us; He gives us a chance to repent and change our ways as well as cautions and warns us about the consequences of continuing in sinful ways.

God demonstrated to Cain that He loved him by showing mercy to him as He did many centuries later to His covenanted children of Israel and those through Jesus Christ. God showed mercy by counseling and warning Cain (Gen 4:7) when He saw how upset he was that God rejected his offering.

God did not take Cain’s free will from him as He never does, but as a loving Father, His words (Gen 4:7) were to make Cain realize that the consequences of not doing the right thing (not giving God his best, his lukewarm or half hearted worship) would lead to “sin” not just being at his “door” but entering and taking over his life. This warning came with what Cain  was to do to overcome which was to “subdue it and be its master”. Sadly Cain did not heed to God’s warning and killed his brother Abel (Gen 4:8).

Brethren, it is true that as Cain & Abel, we too have generational iniquities to contend with, but as God was with Cain and Abel, so He is with us and as them, we also have what it takes to sustain a life of true worship. We are also in a better place than they were in that we have the power of God through the blood of Christ Jesus to overcome (Luke 10:18-19, Romans 8:37) Satan and his demonic powers over our bloodline. We only have to believe it, declare it and live a life abiding in Christ wholeheartedly in true worship of God as an expression of our love for Him. We also have the Holy Spirit within to convict us of sin and enable us to discern what is of God, Satan or self. This is why we must consciously live a life abiding in God through bible study/meditation, prayer and singing praises to Him.

Yes it is true that we all have generational iniquities and sins passed down, and Satan does not relent to attack us even when we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour but we also have a God given conscience, free will and so the ability to make choices as to whether to serve God with all our hearts, minds and souls or do so grudgingly or half-heartedly. Therefore if we say we are truly born again then, our degree of victorious Christian living as worshippers of God, is determined by the choices we make and not by satan or anyone else and this is because

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence”(2 Peter 1:3 NLT).

You are blessed, determine to stay blessed!

Deborah Esther

©Deborah E. Nyamekye 08/01/2016

(Also posted on 8th January 2016)

WORSHIP- Part 2: Mary of Bethany, Mary Magdalene & You: No barriers to a Worshipful life unto God

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Mary of Bethany’s unconditional love for Jesus Christ is revealed by the fact that she took advantage of opportunities when he was around to express her devotion or worship of him. The two opportunities revealed in the bible are when Mary met Jesus at
1.Martha, her sister’s home (Luke 10)

While at Martha’s home, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to what he had to say while her sister was busy serving. Martha criticised Mary openly to Jesus, but he defended and commended her as follows:

“38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”(Luke 10:38-42 KJV)

2. Simon the Leper’s home with her sister Martha and brother Lazarus present. (John 12). While Mary’s sister Martha was serving, instead of helping as when Jesus was with them in Martha’s home (see point 1) Mary gave Jesus her undivided attention and took “…a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment” (John 12:3 KJV).

Judas Iscariot criticised her, again Jesus defended and commended Mary: “Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.” (John 12:4-8 KJV)

In Luke the Apostle’s account, the host criticised Jesus for allowing Mary to touch him:

39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.49 And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. (Luke 7:39-50 KJV)

Why did Mary of Bethany relate to Jesus in this way? As a woman who had turned her back on her life of sin (Luke in chapter 7, states that she had lived a sinful life in that town, in addition to the host’s words noted above in the same chapter), believing that she had been forgiven are many sins she felt compelled to express her gratitude in a very lovable focused manner and did not let the possibility that she might be criticised openly or secretly stop her. The purchase of expensive ointment to anoint Jesus’ feet was an expression of the magnitude of her gratitude and therefore worshipful life towards him.

Mary Magdalene was also as Mary of Bethany, completely devoted to Jesus in the manner of a true worshipper. Similar to Mary of Bethany, her total devotion and expressive worship was borne out of gratitude for what Jesus had done for her. Mary Magdalene had seven demons cast out of her by Jesus. Mary Magdalene was

  1. at Jesus’ crucifixion (John 19:25) with other women, Jesus’ mother Mary and her sister Mary, the wife of Clopas.
  2.  the first to go to Jesus’ tomb and found it empty (John 20:1-3, Mark 16:9-11).

Furthermore we know from scripture that Jesus went from town to village with his twelve disciples proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom and some women who had been delivered from infirmities were with him (Luke 8:1-3). Mary Magdalene was one of them, although Mary of Bethany was not mentioned in the Apostle Luke’s account, she was likely to have been one of them.
I can imagine the women being criticised by onlookers because it was not a woman’s place in that era to be taught by men or Rabbis (Teachers) such as Jesus nor was it their place to follow a man around as they did. Indeed, these were bold women who were fixed on the lover of their souls, Jesus regardless of the traditions of the day. They were not only interested in learning from him, but they also wanted Jesus to reach as many people as possible with the message of the Kingdom of God and so gave from their own means to support (Luke 8:3) him and his disciples in ministry; Oh! what a great expression of love and devotion towards Jesus Christ and his God given mission!

Friends, as we can see, Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene had Jesus on their minds and expressed their devotion to him during his ministry until he left the earth. How much more should we not be expected to live even more worshipful lives unto God than these women, for we have Jesus with us every day because of the Holy Spirit within us who testifies of Jesus and bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16). Our daily actions will also reveal to the world whether we are true worshipers all the time, some of the time or not at all.

Friends, as we know we do not have to be standing in front of people singing or playing an instrument for God’s glory to be called true worshippers of God. Anyone who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour (Romans 10:9-10/John 3) is born again and declared righteous unto God and therefore a true worshipper. It is the outworking of this declaration that takes time. The degree of victorious fulfillment of our calling as true worshipers, worshiping God in Spirit (God’s Spirit bearing witness to ours that we are children of God) and in Truth (God’s truth)(John 4) is dependent on the degree in which one abides in God or Christ through the Word, prayer and praise.

Abiding in God also includes partnering with God so that He uses us to be a blessing to the Body of Christ and to anyone or groups of people in our workplace or wherever we might be. It also includes basically thinking and focus on God from the time we wake up until we go to sleep. Yes we may have time set aside during the day to do some bible study and pray as well, but we do not have to wait for these set times, because even in our thoughts and during short pauses of a few minutes as we do our work, go shopping or whatever we are doing, we can pray and sing praises to Him. Relating to Him in this way shows that we acknowledge His omnipresence and live in the realm of His presence as true worshipers.

The New Covenant of Jesus Christ fulfills the covenant promise of God to the nation of Israel (Jeremiah 31:31-34), extended to all mankind regardless of their nationality or race as long as they are believers in Jesus:

“31Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day [that] I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:

33But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31:31-34 KJV)

“26For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if ye [be] Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”       (Gal. 3:28-29 KJV)

While we have Pastors and teachers given to us by God, there are also deceptive ones or those who are selective in what they teach so as not to become unpopular while preventing disciples from attaining the fullness of the “meat” of the Word of God. Those who depend first and foremost on what their pastors or other teachers teach them, must take note that these verses of Jeremiah 31:31-34 are in actual fact stating that through Jesus Christ in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit who is a testimony of Jesus, you are able to receive the Word of God planted in your heart without anyone teaching you. It suffices that you partner with God for the planting of His Word in your heart by reading and studying the Bible to show yourself approved unto God (2 Tim 2:15), while staying in fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

To reiterate this point in 1 John 2:26-27, John the Apostle explains that the Holy Spirit or anointing of God indwelling believers in Christ will teach them, so that they do not need anyone to teach them.

This means that you are able to live a life consistently as a true worshipper of God! If you cultivate a lifestyle of abiding in God and depend on Him for revelation and insight from His Word, it is unlikely that anyone can deceive you in relation to Christian doctrine or in other ways. This is because you are living as a true worshiper through fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Remember God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth (John 4).

Brethren, we ought to praise God every day for His Holy Spirit, a great teacher (John 14:26) and helper who reminds us of Jesus’ teachings and reveals the will of God to us directly from Him or through His Word.  As you can see our victorious life as true worshipers depends on how we relate to God and nothing else not even our church traditions or how our family related to God as we grew up from childhood to adulthood. This point is best illustrated by Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman he deliberately met at the well on the appointed day of her salvation, or her call to be a true worshiper.

The Samaritan woman said to Jesus “20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he” (John 4:20-26 KJV).

Jesus was in effect saying to the Samaritan woman that while salvation came to the world through the Jews, being a true worshiper of God was not determined or gauged by whether one worshiped upon a mountain or in Jerusalem. In other words a traditional or ancestral place of worship is not of significance, what is of significance is the state of one’s heart condition before God. In other words you are not confirmed a true worshiper in God’s eyes, solely because of either of the following:

-you have been a Christian all your life and have therefore been known to worship God and
-you come from a long line of Christian ancestors and your parents were also Christians.

As a result of either one of the above two points, you have worshiped God in a certain way or through a particular denomination.

True worshipers are those who have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, because God is Spirit and it is only when we are in fellowship with His Holy Spirit that we can know His will and ways (i.e. His truth) and live by them. Living according to the truth of His spoken or written word equates being a true worshiper.

You may have the tendency to be in likeness to either Mary Magdalene or Mary of Bethany in terms of your completely surrendered and devoted life to God, but in a way that other Christians would appear not to understand, and so criticise you, saying ‘there he/she goes again, so over the top!’

Do they know what God has delivered you from so that you live with such intense love for Him through the LORD Jesus Christ? If they did, they may refrain from their criticism, but then again they may not. Martha knew of the kind of life her sister, Mary of Bethany had been delivered from, and Judas Iscariot also knew of Mary’s past life, but it did not stop them criticising her actions.

Brethren, you do not have to justify yourself or explain at length as to why you live your life the way you do unless you are giving a testimony expressing how God transformed your life.

God will defend and commend you as He did Mary of Bethany, should people criticise you openly or in their hearts as you ascribe worship to God by expressing devotion to Him wholeheartedly because you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind as we are commanded to do (Matthew 22:37). Indeed if your heart is pure and your worship is genuine the fruit of your “love in action” or labour for His sake will be made manifest for all to see.  Also remember that your lifestyle serves as a witness to the unbeliever of who Christ is and what living for him entails. You may be the only evidence of a true Christian that someone knows and based on your genuine Christlike walk, they may decide to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.

Therefore Soldier on in faith ! refusing to be destructed from living a sacrificially worshipful life unto God.

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A WORSHIPFUL LIFE

I will lift my hands in praise
I will bow my knees in worship
I will lay me down in surrender to
my Maker
my Master
my King.

I will proclaim the Word
I will speak the truth
I will tell my story of
His adoration
His salvation
His restoration.

I will give to the poor
I will help the weak
I will pray for the sick
In obedience to
His call
His command
His petition.

“God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works
that He has prepared for us to do”

(Eph.2:10) ©Deborah Nyamekye Oct.2015 (poems blog: http://www.poetrieprose.wordpress.com)

To read: Worship Part 1-Cain, Abel & You… C lick here 

You are blessed, determine to stay blessed!

Deborah Esther

©Deborah E. Nyamekye 17/01/2016

 

 

 

WORSHIP-Part 1: Cain, Abel & You – Making choices that lead to True or False Worship unto God.

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Read Genesis 4 : Cain & Abel.

Even though Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God and thus caused the generational sinful nature in mankind to take root, we are presented with a situation that surprises many people who read the account of Genesis chapter 4. Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve’s offspring each gave an offering to God. Adam and Eve must have taught their two sons to live a covenanted life unto God, even though they still inherited the generational sinful nature from their parents.

As long as we acknowledge we are in covenant with God which Cain and Abel did by giving God an offering, then in God’s eyes we confess Him before men and we are therefore inheritors of His promises. This fact was true in the time of Cain and Abel, throughout ancient history and is true now.  God is the same yesterday, today and forever more!

As Cain and Abel acknowledged that they were God’s, God expected them to also know what kind of offering He would expect and accept from them. Cain was a farmer “tiller of the ground” and he brought an offering from the land to the Lord. It was an ordinary offering. He did not give his best. This shows a lack of reverence and respect for God, so what was the result? The King James version states that God “unto Cain and to his offering he did not respect” (Gen. 4:5). This verse reminds me of the verses in Matthew 10 in the New Testament which states that Jesus will confess before his Father those who confess him before men (vs 32) and will deny before his father those who deny him before men (vs 33).

true-falseBrethren, the truth is that we get as much out of our covenant relationship with God as we put into it. This has not changed even since the days of Adam and Eve and their offspring, Cain and Abel.  If I say I am one who offers my life as a living sacrifice to God but I choose to disrespect or deny God, it does not affect or change the fact that He is God nor does it prevent Him from doing His works. However I will suffer the consequences of my sins against Him which is eternal damnation unless I repent.

God chose me for salvation, therefore I should see this as a privilege and be humbled to be called His child. I should in no way expect Him to feel He is blessed to have me as His child, if I do, then I am being prideful. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). I may not be having this expectation consciously but my actions towards God speaks louder than my words. I cannot hide my motives or intentions from Him for He is God and all knowing.  This is expressed in David’s counsel to his son which we should also live by:

“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever” (1 Chron. 28:9 NLT).

In addition as Cain did, I should not take God for granted. Cain had free will and chose to exercise it by serving God, but he did not give his best. Assessing what this means we can say he was lukewarm in his approach and attitude towards God. Is God looking for lukewarm worshippers? No! He is looking for those who will be true worshippers by obeying the two greatest commandments upon which all the other eight hang (Matt. 22:36-40).

“love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” (Luke 10:27 KJV).

The Ten Commandments enabled the people of Israel to know right from wrong. Although in Cain and Abel’s time the commandments as we know them were not in existence then, the expectation of God from them is the same as it was from Israel when God gave them the Ten Commandments. This is because anyone who says they belong to God are expected by Him to exercise their free will and moral consciousness by choosing to do what is right by Him or according to His Word.

Cain did not love God wholeheartedly hence the choice to give him an offering which reflected this fact. You only know what it is to love when you live cultivating a love relationship with God. This is true worship and from this position you learn to love yourself the way God loves you and you can therefore love others in the same way. Cain did not love God, nor himself and therefore he could not love his brother Abel.

Jesus during his ministry spoke as follows:

“23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24 NLT).

 True worshippers are people who live in the Spirit and abide by the truth of the Word of God exercising their free will by making choices to the glory of God and His Kingdom. The LORD alone can judge who is a true worshipper for He looks at the heart whereas man looks at the appearance (1 Samuel 16:7).

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Cain did not anticipate the consequences of this lukewarmness and disrespect towards God this is why he was very upset and “his countenance fell” (4: 6) when God did not accept his offering. He felt God should accept his offering despite it being inferior to what God expected from him. This is because Cain had no reverence for God.

Friends, if you have reverence for Almighty God you will give Him your best in relation to your time, your finances and service. After all, God is the one who not only created you, but ensures you have provision and sustains you daily.

Some people think they can take God’s mercy for granted and get away with it, to the point that they say “I will sin in this way and repent later, after all the bible says if I confess my sins God is faithful and will forgive me”. There are some who profess to live holy lives but only to deceive men, for God knows the hidden state of a man’s heart; for instance they may be part of the worship team in church but are fornicating or committing adultery in secret.

These same people being born again and therefore covenanted children of God have chosen to live lives compromising with the world and so they do not give of themselves wholeheartedly to God. However as Cain (Gen 4:6) they get very upset and their countenance falls when God does not answer their prayers or they do not experience breakthrough in certain areas of their lives despite supposedly attempting to for years. Could it be that God has rejected their offering of false and abominable worship which rises up as stench to his nostrils rather than sweet smelling incense as true wholehearted worship does?

This aforementioned example is one of several ways believers in Jesus Christ dismiss or relegate him and God to the bottom of their list of priorities while outwardly appearing holy before men and even manage to deceive themselves that they are not doing anything wrong.

Furthermore, believers in Jesus Christ have given excuses when  they disobey God or engage in sin blaming the devil or saying “I am only human” with the same lips they confess “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” or “I am more than a conqueror through him (Jesus) who loves me” so if they know they have the inner strength through Christ to overcome temptation how come they have a habit of picking and choosing when to obey God and when not to?

One might make the following excuses for Cain

  • He was the offspring of Adam and therefore the adamic sin nature was raging within him as a generational iniquity so it was easier for him to disobey God than to obey Him as it was for Adam and Eve.
  • He was very upset because he did not think he had done anything against God because the power of iniquity of separation from God (parental sin) was such that his natural inclination was not towards pleasing God but self and Satan.

Did God give Cain these excuses in the bible? He did not and would have if they applied. Unlike Cain, Abel, Cain’s brother from the same mother and father chose to please God by acknowledging God’s worth as being so great that He merited Abel’s best offering from his livestock. We can see that while one son of Adam (Abel) chose to do what was pleasing to God the other (Cain) chose not to even though they both have the generational iniquity of the Adamic sin nature. Why is it that the excuses one can make for Cain’s attitude towards God did not result in Abel acting in the same way as Cain did towards God?

Abel was able to make a conscious choice to give God the best of his livestock even then when one would easily have thought it would have been unlikely. Another reason one may have expected Abel to not give God his best offering in addition to the aforementioned excuses for Cain’s failure was because as Cain, he was a first generation offspring of Adam and one would think greatly prone to the serpent’s influence against God as his mother and father.

When we are God’s, He expects us to rise above the tendency to either give in to sin or make excuses for committing recurring sin because of the generational adamic sin nature or sins of our parents and ancestors as well as our own past repetitive sins. While in covenant with God, if we can make a choice to give ourselves as living sacrifices unto God as Cain and Abel demonstrated by giving Him an offering, we can also make a choice as to what level of worship we are willing to give Him while in covenant with Him; We can profess we are Christians but live as the unsaved (which is not worship at all), be in half hearted obedience, which means lukewarmness or compromise with the world (this is also not worship) or wholehearted worship because we love Him with all our hearts, minds and souls (this is true worship).

Brethren, the point I am making is that choices to be God’s children and the level of worship we give Him can be made without fearing we will fail in our walk with God because of the Adamic sin nature, ancestral generational weaknesses or our own recurring sins of the past. God is always with those who are His to protect, strengthen and warn us of impending danger, as in the case of Cain:

“7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” (Gen 4:7 NLT)

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Even though these were times well before laws and commands were given by God to people who were covenanted with Him as we know from scripture, Genesis 4:7 lays out God’s expectation of His creation who acknowledged him as their LORD as well as the consequences for not fulfilling those expectations and what they must do to overcome sin.

Man has a moral conscience and free will and therefore has the God given ability to make choices as to whether to do the right or wrong thing. What is right or wrong according to God is knowledgeable from God’s Word and directly from God by revelation or His spoken word, for instance God spoke clearly to Cain in Genesis 4:7. It is also a knowing which is supernaturally given to covenanted children of God. God therefore expected Cain and Abel to exercise their free will by choosing to give their offering to God based on what they knew to be pleasing to God and not pleasing to him. If one says they accept their covenant relationship with God, then His expectation is that one would exercise their free will by choosing morally to do what pleases God. However, God does not give up on us; He gives us a chance to repent and change our ways as well as cautions and warns us about the consequences of continuing in sinful ways.

God demonstrated to Cain that He loved him by showing mercy to him as He did many centuries later to His covenanted children of Israel and those through Jesus Christ. God showed mercy by counseling and warning Cain (Gen 4:7) when He saw how upset he was that God rejected his offering.

God did not take Cain’s free will from him as He never does, but as a loving Father, His words (Gen 4:7) were to make Cain realize that the consequences of not doing the right thing (not giving God his best, his lukewarm or half hearted worship) would lead to “sin” not just being at his “door” but entering and taking over his life. This warning came with what Cain  was to do to overcome which was to “subdue it and be its master”. Sadly Cain did not heed to God’s warning and killed his brother Abel (Gen 4:8).

Brethren, it is true that as Cain & Abel, we too have generational iniquities to contend with, but as God was with Cain and Abel, so He is with us and as them, we also have what it takes to sustain a life of true worship. We are also in a better place than they were in that we have the power of God through the blood of Christ Jesus to overcome (Luke 10:18-19, Romans 8:37) Satan and his demonic powers over our bloodline. We only have to believe it, declare it and live a life abiding in Christ wholeheartedly in true worship of God as an expression of our love for Him. We also have the Holy Spirit within to convict us of sin and enable us to discern what is of God, Satan or self. This is why we must consciously live a life abiding in God through bible study/meditation, prayer and singing praises to Him.

Yes it is true that we all have generational iniquities and sins passed down, and Satan does not relent to attack us even when we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour but we also have a God given conscience, free will and so the ability to make choices as to whether to serve God with all our hearts, minds and souls or do so grudgingly or half-heartedly. Therefore if we say we are truly born again then, our degree of victorious Christian living as worshippers of God, is determined by the choices we make and not by satan or anyone else and this is because

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence”(2 Peter 1:3 NLT).

You are blessed, determine to stay blessed!

Deborah Esther

©Deborah E. Nyamekye 08/01/2016

next “Manna from on High” Next week, 15th January 2016

This is a Weekly Teaching/ Devotional blog