Serving God in the Assembly of His People

This chapter concentrates on passages dealing with congregational ministry and seeks to relate them to Paul’s teaching about the nature and purpose of the church (p. 195). As believers in the church age, believers follow an order of service in their local congregation. It serves them for congregational worship. Paul’s teachings help to frame in the belief in order sift through any false teachings that can make their way into a body of believers.

False teachings have been around ever since there were teachings of truth. Something false had to come from something true. Making something false takes truth and twists it into some else. Paul solidifies the message of Christ. His teachings are all about Christ. In Paul’s later life, he lived for Christ and ultimately died for Christ.

Looking to the temple in the Old Testament is much like looking at the temple in the New Testament. However, the only difference is that the Holy Spirit dwells in that temple. That temple is the person of Christ. Within a congregation the Holy Spirit can be present for worshiping God. Actually, worship would not take place unless He is present. The point of gathering in the church is to build each other up in the Lord. It is to encourage other believers to continue their walk with the Lord. It also creates a corporate worship experience.

Biblical foundation for studying worship from the point of Scripture is helping me in my own walk with the Lord. I found myself actually encouraged by reading this book because it is pointing me to the Word of God. It is having the same affect that Paul’s writings have on readers who follow Christ. I don’t say that to hold this book up to the same level as Paul’s. I only say it in that way because this book is all about Christ. Christ is the central focus of Paul’s teachings. Christ is the central focus in Peterson’s book. Hopefully, my thoughts point to Jesus.

It has been difficult working in churches because of man’s interpretation of the Bible. I don’t see the point of arguing over interpretation. I do however support weeding out any false teachings. I know that working in the church is a huge responsibility because you are dealing with a person’s belief system. If it is grounded in Christ then things will work out.

I have learned to follow after Christ and keep Him central in all I do and say.

Reference

Peterson, David. Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press. 1992.

Advertisements

Paul and the Service of the Gospel

The aim of this chapter is to uncover the substructure of worship theology in Paul’s writings. The following chapter focuses on his teaching about the gathering of the church (p. 166). After Paul came on the scene many things changed. His life was changed with a cause for Christ. From his changed life, he wrote to the church. He like Stephen, would die for what he believed.

The writings of Paul have served the church for almost two thousand years. It had given support to this new covenant structure of worship. His writings have guided the church into what it is today. It has served generation after generation of follows of Christ. It has created a lifestyle of worship for those who convert to Christianity. The death and resurrection allowed man’s worship to be accepted by God without following the Law of Moses. Paul’s teachings all point to Christ.

Now the believer could follow Christ and do what the disciples did. The Holy Spirit has led many to perform things that were only done during or shortly after Christ ascended into Heaven. Each believer had a gift and ministry to accomplish. Under the new covenant, people were allowed to be who they were in Christ and not what the old covenant demanded they be. Paul wrote about freedom in Christ.

I grew up in the church and have always heard and read about the teachings of Paul. Different times in my life I have relied on Paul’s teachings to understand a problem in the church. There have been other times when I would ignore the writings of Paul and just study the Gospels. Further study shows that Paul is actually giving structure to the belief system in following Christ. He has given order to public worship.

I believe that the old covenant gave structure to a belief system of worshiping God, but the nation of Israel didn’t get it. It all pointed to Christ, but many didn’t even notice. Without Christ, there would be no teachings from Paul. Without Christ, the Law of Moses still existed in many lives. Under the old covenant, the people worship according to the Law. Under the new covenant, we worship the Messiah.

I have learned to keep Christ central to every part of my life.

Reference

Peterson, David. Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press. 1992.

Temple and Community in the Acts of the Apostles

As with the gospels, there is a need to ask more fundamental questions about the theology of worship in this New Testament book (p. 136). In this chapter, the author sums up the gospels by focusing on the book of Acts. He focuses on the community of believers who met together after the death and resurrection of the Lord. He pointed out that this community still met around the temple. It still served their beliefs. The transition from the temple to Christ would take time. It wouldn’t happen for some time. Things start to transition with Stephen.

In the temple area, Stephen stands on trial and tells of seeing Jesus next to the Father. He ultimately dies for Christ. His willingness to die for what He saw had a ripple affect on this young community of believers. Everything made sense to them. They began to understand what Christ taught them. Stephen’s defense is designed to point Israel away from the temple to the resurrected and glorified Son of Man (p. 142). He focused on Jesus being exalted to the highest position because of the sacrifice he made. From that point, Peter went with the message of the resurrected Christ. Soon after that, Paul entered for the cause of Christ.

The Holy Spirit was at work in the lives of these men. He directed them, gave them power, and changed the hearts of people forever. This world was changed because of His work. This ultimately led to the new covenant. Followers of Christ worshiped God under this new blood agreement. Christ’s blood was the payment for this new worship agreement with Israel. It was the central reason for believers to gather together. It was the glue that held the fellowship together. They had a purpose and drive to change the world with the message of Christ. For the first time in the history of Israel that anyone was able to come to God.

I sure am glad that things happened the way they did. My life actually depends on it. I am not Jewish. I did not grow up in that culture. I grew up with Christ as the central point of life belief system. I believe that the community of believers set the stage for the church, as we know it today. It created the framework for our establishments. However, I don’t think we do church the same way the first century believers did church, but we still do worship God.

Sharing the same name as the first martyred believer puts a bit of pressure on me to be willing to die for my faith. I should not be afraid of what I believe. I should not make excuses for what I see in life. I need to be bold like the one I share the name with.

I have learned to be bold for Christ.

Reference

Peterson, David. Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press. 1992.

Jesus and the New Covenant

Salvation, temple, covenant and acceptable worship are intimately linked in biblical theology (p. 108). Here the author continues to shift towards Christ in the gospels. He points out that Christ Himself was in relation to God. When Christ was tempted by the devil in the desert Christ had to make some major decisions. Satan attacked areas in Christ’s life that had to do with worship. Since Christ was grounded in Scripture, he was successful against any attack.

The author Luke starts his gospel out with Christ’s birth. After the birth story the attention is shifted to Christ’s upbringing in the Hebrew ways. He visited the temple as a young man. He started His ministry in the synagogue. He taught and used the Law of Moses as reference. Christ was in the system. He had His starting point. He knew the Word because He was the Word.

The entire worship system that was in place served Christ well. He was able to teach from any point and show that the Law supported Him. It pointed towards Him. It was created for Him. In Him was life. However, it would cost Him His life. While Jesus observed Hebrew worship He offered Himself as the final sacrifice. He was the perfect lamb for the slaughter.

I’m excited to learn about the old system pointing to Christ. My faith is growing because of this book. My heart is open to God’s word. I had trouble starting this book, but found it refreshing as I continued to read it. My faith is strengthened because of reading about Christ. I know I will be a better follower of Christ because of this book.

With most books that I read, I get excited about methods of ministry. However, I know this book is directly looking at the Word of God and explaining Christ. He is the central person in history. He is why the system of worship found in the Old Testament was created. Ultimately, our relationship with God needed the sacrificial slaughter of Christ. My life depended on it. I exist because Christ chose to die for me. He didn’t stay in the grave, but was resurrected for my freedom. It wasn’t enough for Christ to die for my sins, but rather get me out of spiritual prison. That was accomplished when He walked out of the grave alive.

I have learned to love Christ more now for the sacrifice He made for me.

Reference

Peterson, David. Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press. 1992.

Jesus and the New Temple

The gospels are firmly set within the framework of first century Jewish piety. The sacrificial rituals continue to be maintained by the official priesthood in the temple at Jerusalem (p. 80). Jesus was born into a time of the Old Testament system. He would have grown up observing it too. However, everything in history up to that point was directly setup for the coming of Christ. The ritualistic ways of worshiping God all proved its purpose when Jesus came. Even the Magi, who were not even Hebrew, knew where to look for the Messiah.

Jesus coming to Jerusalem throughout his life showed that He would worship in the temple. So when he came and cleared out the temple, it became symbolic for the nation of Israel. It showed that Christ would replace the place of worship. The place where God spent time with His people was now replaced with Christ being the center of worship. The writer Matthew made this his point of writing to the Jews. John on the other hand focused on Emmanuel, which meant that God was now with the people through Christ.

Christ didn’t come on the scene alone, but He brought with Him the Holy Spirit. He would teach the people a new way to worship God. Jesus didn’t come to destroy the system of worship, but rather came to show that it all pointed to Him. He was now the only way to God. He lived and died to show how to build the relationship with the God of the Universe.

I’m glad I live during the time of Christ. I don’t know how I would have done living during the time of the old system. I’m not one for systems or even institutions. Worshiping God through Christ means everything to me. I can’t imagine living during the time without Christ. It would have been a very extreme shift in worship. A man now became the temple! I praise God that I didn’t have to undo a history of temple worship in order to come to Christ.

When I came to Christ, I just had to accept Him into my heart. I chose to follow Christ because I knew in my heart it was simply a decision to make. At the age of four, I didn’t have too much to change. I was still new to the world when I made a decision for the Lord. I love the idea of looking at the Old Testament and study it through New Testament eyes. It is always easier to know how the story ends and then start reading from the beginning. Knowing Christ after He arrived helps me read from the start of Scripture.

I have learned to keep my eyes on Jesus when reading the Old Testament.

Reference

Peterson, David. Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press. 1992.

Honouring, Serving and Respecting God

Peterson wrote, …time to investigate the meaning and significance of certain key words and to explore more fully what it meant for people in Old Testament times to engage with God (p. 55). Worship usually refers to a behavior of given something up much like making a sacrifice. It means that someone submits his or her lives to something or someone. To the Old Testament individual it meant that they submitted their lives to God by making sacrifice. There are different aspects to worship to those who lived in the Old Testament time.

Worship can be seen as an act of service. Serving God to the Israelite explains their relationship with Him. When the Lord freed them from Egyptian slavery He regained the praise. It was then that there was willingness for service towards the Lord. The nation of Israel worshiped God in reverence. He was their God who deserved their respect because of what He did for them.

Worship is an attitude of adoration. Followers adore the God of creation. Adoration was not a form of intimacy with God or an indication of special affection towards him, but rather an expression of awe or grateful submission…(p. 73). God deserved their adoration because of who He was in their lives.

Many times I have asked God to show Himself to me. Many times God has demonstrated himself to me through a situation or circumstance. He has showed His majesty to me. He has given me proof of His awesome power. He has revealed Himself many times. I long to be close to the Lord. I love the idea of worshiping God because of what the word says about Him. I don’t love God because of what He has done for me, but rather who He is to me.

He has been a constant presence in my life. I don’t make sacrifices to Him by work or deed, but rather with my attitude. My attitude is to be judged by how I think, feel and act. I know God looks at my heart to find my worship towards Him. This chapter talked about the meaning of the word worship. The author defined it by looking at Scripture through the eyes of history. He searched the ancient text for meaning.

I have learned that worship has is measured by attitude.

Reference

Peterson, David. Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press. 1992.

Engaging with God in the Old Testament

For many Christians, the Old Testament remains a mysterious and seemingly irrelevant book (p. 23). Those living during Old Testament time could only worship God in the temple. They worshiped according to the Law ordered by God. Only the high priest could approach God on behalf of the people. By paying close attention to this system helps the New Testament believer understand the heart of God.

After Christ, a person could meet with God anytime and anywhere. However, up until that time, a person had to meet God at a holy place. There were key places to meet with him in ancient times. God made covenants with man at specific places. Those who followed could go to those places and know they were holy. The Old Testament is filled with stories of such events in the history of the nation of Israel. The worship of God’s people in the Bible is distinctive in that it is regularly presented as the worship offered by those who have been redeemed (p. 26).

For many the word redeemed fits in the New Testament rather than an Old Testament. It obviously holds meaning throughout Scripture though. Through faith, an entire nation could be redeemed. God spoke to people throughout history, but chose to do it in different ways. With God there is order. Out of that comes a system of how to worship Him. He gave a system of sacrifice for His worship. God chose specific people to teach the system of worship. God provided specific places for His worship. Worship usually took place in the temple in Jerusalem.

This is challenging book. I found myself struggling to get into it. It is heavily grounded in Scripture. I understand that it must, but I am not used to reading books that incorporate so much from the Bible. I commend the author for his time and study of the Word of God to do this book. Not that God needed any help on teaching His people to worship, but Peterson obviously helped repackage the subject of worship.

I must admit that I grew up on the New Testament. I knew the Sunday school stories from the Old Testament, but not much past that until I got to college and took classes like Old Testament Survey. It’s sad that I wasn’t taught how to worship God through the Old Testament. I understood you praise God with the Psalms, but that was about it.

I have learned that the Old Testament can help any New Testament believer how to worship.

Reference

Peterson, David. Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL.: Intervarsity Press. 1992.

Becoming the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow

Looking at a piece of art can inspire people to act in certain ways. A leader can do the same. To be a servant leader must be an act of God. It is not natural for a leader to be a servant. Most humans have it in their nature to be selfish. The change comes when the heart is affected to act the way God would want a leader to act. God uses some different things to help develop a leader and help them become a servant leader.

The first thing He uses is the community. The leader’s relationship with it is important. The leader must look for people who they can trust and inspire. There must be honesty in that relationship. The leader must be willing to grow with help from others.

Help from others comes in different ways. One of the ways that a leader’s character is developed is from a group of people they involve themselves. That community can be any group. The environment the person spends their time can make a difference. While climbing the character ladder, God will make different plans for different people. It all depends of the purpose needed. God will use relationships to help direct the leader.

I have always found it hard to trust people. I have a high standard in my own mind of what qualities a person must possess before I will be vulnerable with them. I have done that since I was younger. I once told a buddy something personal and he shared it with others. Since then I have been guarded. There are just a few relationships that I can be completely honest in. I treasure those relationships. This is both a benefit and a curse.

It is a benefit because I still trust some people and remain in those relationships. That still makes me interdependent. However, it becomes a setback because I may struggle with making new friendships. That struggle comes from making investments in others. Finding potential relationships is hard, but needed.

I have learned to remain open to God working through the people around me.

Reference

Thrall, Bill, McNicol, Bruce and Ken McElrath. The Ascent of a Leader: How Ordinary Relationships Develop Extraordinary Character and Influence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999.

Keeping Your Balance: Seven Challenges of the Fifth Rung

A leader at the top of the ladder must continue to stay focused. The challenges will continue once there at the top. Just arriving at the top of the ladder does not mean that things will be easier on that leader. It does mean however that the leader can accomplish some great things there because he or she have learned what it takes to work hard. During the process of climbing to the top, the leader focused and stayed on task. There was a motivation that drove them there.

Once there at the fifth rung, the leader can become complacent in his or her leadership. The accomplishment of getting there is now gone while the leader must continue looking for new areas to serve others. The leader must face a new challenge and that challenge is continued growth. For the leader, the continued growth must be the new focal point. He or she must look to please God and not others to remain there. There must still be involvement in the community and less on self. Also, the leader at this level must continue to nurture relationships. Lastly, the leader must continue to fine-tune his or her flaws.

As long and as hard as it was for the leader to get to the top the fall off the top can be quick and painful. The leader must balance there. While that takes place the leader must continue learning. Along with learning he or she must remain teachable.

A leader’s goal is to reach the top. A lot of information has been given throughout this book about getting to the top. It is exciting to watch leaders who are successful. It’s also hard to watch those who are not. I have loved reading stories of those who have climbed to the top. I’ve loved reading autobiographies on successful leaders. I also loved good stories of those who fell from the top and were able to get up, wipe off the dust, and climb back up to the top.

In my own leadership, I have had trouble continuing to serve others. It is difficult to stay focused on other’s needs. It’s not that I don’t care, but just looking at the position keeps my attention. Bringing this to mind and being aware of it will always help me continue in my leadership.

I have learned to grow and keep focused no matter where I am in leadership.

Reference

Thrall, Bill, McNicol, Bruce and Ken McElrath. The Ascent of a Leader: How Ordinary Relationships Develop Extraordinary Character and Influence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999.

The Fifth Rung: Discovering Your Destiny

If a leader has made it this far up the ladder then they have remained focused on the goal. Reaching for and actually pulling one’s self up to it is a great accomplishment. To get there has taken all the leader has to accomplish the task. Here at the top the leader is to realize his or her future.

Others get to share in that breakthrough when the leader climbs up the character ladder. The achievement should be shared because the leader did not climb the ladder alone. Here at the top of the character ladder, is a place for all who followed that leader’s ascent. A greater award awaits the one who climbs the longer ladder.

Climbing the longer ladder with a leader’s character still in place is the best choice. It may have not been the easiest choice, but still the best. This happens at the right time though. At the top of the ladder, God reveals Himself. The leader has hopefully relied on God’s timing and not their own ability to ascend.

The joy of reaching the top is a great accomplishment. The celebration of that moment when it happens is a great thing. Much like a sports team winning a championship. Not only will the team enjoy that moment, but also all who helped and supported them will participate. The difference at the top of both ladders is how it happened.

While reading this chapter, I thought of all the athletes who play at the professional level. It doesn’t matter what sport they play the results are still the same. The individual’s leadership can be known. Some athletes have gone on to break individual records and could not accomplish it alone. It takes many to help them ascend to the top.

I have learned that it takes people to help the leader ascend to the top of the longer ladder.

Reference

Thrall, Bill, McNicol, Bruce and Ken McElrath. The Ascent of a Leader: How Ordinary Relationships Develop Extraordinary Character and Influence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999.