When my wife and I were deciding on what names to give our children, we determined that at least one of each of their names would be the name of one of their relatives. We thought it would be good for each of those names to be carried on to the next generation. Little did we know that each of their names would correspond with either a physical or character trait that each of them would possess. We named our first born daughter Amber. We used the name Amber because of the description Ezekiel gives of the brightness in which God appeared to him (Ezekiel 1:4, 27, 8:2). Imagine the surprise when she was born with amber colored hair. No one in either of our families has that color of hair.
Prophetic voices all across the world agree that we are in the last days before the coming of the Lord Jesus. In Acts Peter is recorded as saying, For he (Messiah, Jesus) must remain in heaven until the time of the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his prophets. (Acts 3: 21 NLT) In other words Jesus is literally held hostage in heaven until all things are restored. So, in these last days, God is about the business of restoration. I believe he is revealing and restoring the biblical concepts of worship, evangelism and the Kingdom of God to a temple of people whose one desire is to see his will done on earth as it is in heaven.
In his gospel, Luke records a story of a woman who was not ashamed to display her affection toward Jesus.
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.
I have been leading worship in small groups and corporate settings for many years. No one loves worship leading more than I. The rush that comes when the band starts playing and the audience begins to respond can only be described by those who have experienced it. While leading worship in small groups I have seen the floors of dens and living rooms covered with people on their faces in the presence of God. On many occasions I believe we could have sung Mary had a Little Lamb and God would have shown up.
I began playing football when I was in the third grade. Year after year I suited up in the spring for spring drills and again in July to prepare for the season. For ten years (that’s a professional career for some folks) I banged heads with my fellow team mates vying for a starting position. The off season was spent running and lifting weights to stay in shape in hopes of gaining an advantage when the season started. All the benefits of that hard work were realized on the opening kick off of the first game.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV)
In chapter thirteen of Hebrews the writer offers us a definition of sacrificial praise. Hebrews 13:15 reads, Therefore by him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name. According to this definition a sacrifice of praise consists of two things; the fruit of our lips and giving thanks to his name.
We live in a day when our world is inundated with song. Song is a common thread that runs through every global civilization. Here in America alone we have Rock-n-Roll, Rap, Country, Pop, Head Banger, Heavy Metal and probably others I haven’t mentioned. Each of these song classifications carries with it a certain message and the power to drive that message into the hearts and minds of its listeners.
Surely the wrath of man shall praise you; the remnant of wrath you will put on like a belt.
(Psalm 76:10 ESV)
In the book of 2 Kings, chapters 18 and 19, we read of an event which took place in Judah during the reign of King Hezekiah. Sennacherib king of Assyria fought against all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. When he set his sights on destroying Jerusalem, Hezekiah tried to appease Sennacherib by giving him silver and gold which he took from the house of the Lord. Sennacherib was not deterred by the gift and sent an envoy with a message for Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem.
In England during the 1500s, especially during the reign of Queen Mary, the Christian church came under terrible persecution. Many Christians including clergy were excommunicated and/or executed for refusing to denounce their beliefs and adhere to the teachings of the state church.