All posts by Webster

Committed to Worship – Saturday

Enter his gates with thanks;
enter his courtyards with praise!

Thank him! Bless his name!
(Psalm 100:4)

How thankful are you?

What do you have that you are thankful for? What possessions? What people? What experiences? What has brought joy to your life?

You may think of many things. List them on a piece of paper, or share them in the comments. If you can’t think of anything, take a moment to consider: Are you focused on the wrong things? Are you so overwhelmed by negative experiences that you cannot be thankful for what you do indeed have? Do you love coffee? Do you love ice cream? Be thankful for those things! Even the simplest experiences and most commonplace objects can be a perfect occasion for thanksgiving.

Next time you enter a place of worship, bring with you those things in your life that you are truly thankful for. Tell God what they are. Give thanks. This simple act will transform your experience in worship. Though it may be only a trickle at first, it will turn on the faucet of joyfulness in your life and may eventually grow into a flood.

God, help me to know you as you truly are,
and to experience you in fullness of joy. Amen.

From Committed to Christ: Tweets, Posts, and Prayers by Ben Simpson, Copyright © 2012 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

Committed to Worship – Friday

So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies,
I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice
that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service.

(Romans 12:1)

The word “worship” brings to the imagination an event, most notably a standard church service. But the biblical notion of worship moves us beyond an event and thrusts us forward to a constant way of life. The worship of God is not only marked by the words we say and hear, but is defined by action.

One of the sayings of the Desert Fathers, a group of fourth and fifth century Egyptian monks, reflects this sentiment well: “Abba James said: We do not want words alone, for there are too many words among people today. What we need is action, for that is what we are looking for, not words which do not bear fruit.”

Our worship of God should transcend what we do when we gather with other saints for the celebration of liturgy, the singing of hymns, the hearing of a sermon, and the praying of prayers. Worship of God should permeate every action undertaken in both our ordinary and extraordinary moments. Our bodies should be a “living sacrifice,” offered continually in service to God’s purposes for our world.

Lord, I want others to see you and come to know you.
Use my life to draw others to you. Amen.

From Committed to Christ: Tweets, Posts, and Prayers by Ben Simpson, Copyright © 2012 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

Committed to Worship – Thursday

“But the time is coming—and is here!—
when true worshipers will worship in spirit and in truth.
God is spirit, and it is necessary to worship God in spirit and in truth.”

(John 4:23-24)

In John 4, Jesus encounters an astute theologian: a Samaritan woman, whom he meets at Jacob’s well. Their conversation touches on a wide range of topics, among them the difference between the worship of the Jews and the Samaritans. Jesus reveals himself to her as the Messiah of Israel and announces that through him, worship of God has undergone both a renewal and a transformation.

Jesus is not only concerned with the fervor and passion of our worship; he is also concerned with the subject of worship. Jesus instructs us that “it is necessary to worship God in spirit and in truth,” a puzzling phrase that grabs our attention. What does it mean? Jesus calls us to know God as God, thus worshiping truthfully. We are also to experience God as God truly is, resting our spirit upon our heart’s true home.

True worship engages the whole person, enabling us to increase in our knowledge of God and our love for God. We are then sent into the world to serve God with our hands, putting what we have received on display, pointing others back to Christ.

Holy Spirit, renew both my mind and my heart,
so that I might worship you in spirit and in truth. Amen.

From Committed to Christ: Tweets, Posts, and Prayers by Ben Simpson, Copyright © 2012 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

Committed to Worship – Wednesday

“You will know them by their fruit.
Do people get bunches of grapes from thorny weeds,
or do they get figs from thistles?
In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit,
and every rotten tree produces bad fruit.
A good tree can’t produce bad fruit.
And a rotten tree can’t produce good fruit.
Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit
is chopped down and thrown into the fire.
Therefore, you will know them by their fruit.”

(Matthew 7:16-20)

Jesus makes an observation: Good trees produce good fruit, and bad trees produce bad fruit. By making this observation, he is posing a question: What kind of tree are you? Character, Jesus says, is determinative for how we speak and act. We produce fruit in accordance with our character.

The worshiping community, the church, is the space we enter to be trained as disciples of Jesus. Worship, rightly focused upon God, renders us new creatures. Our hearts are transformed. We are made holy. And our lives then begin to evidence this transformation before the world. Worship is not behavior modification but renovation, all to God’s glory.

Loving and Merciful God, help me to turn my entire life over to you,
so that my actions might bring you joy. Amen.

From Committed to Christ: Tweets, Posts, and Prayers by Ben Simpson, Copyright © 2012 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

Committed to Worship – Tuesday

Let’s also think about how to motivate each other
to show love and to do good works.
Don’t stop meeting together with other believers,
which some people have gotten into the habit of doing.
Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near.

(Hebrews 10:24-25)

You may be tempted to live your life as a solitary Christian. You may believe church gatherings are empty forms of religion and are of little spiritual benefit. But that simply is not true.

Christians gather each week to do more than sing songs, offer prayers, and hear a sermon. They come together to become holy and to imagine new ways of evidencing for others God’s work of redemption, which has been accomplished in Jesus Christ. We are to “think about how to motivate each other to show love and to do good works.” We do not gather simply so that we, as individuals, obtain benefit. We gather so that we might bless one another and the city, township, or village within which God has placed us.

Community should serve the purpose cited by the writer of Hebrews, to “motivate each other to show love and to do good works.” When that purpose is being served, we exhibit health, and when the worshiping community engages Jesus in this way, doing what he commands, then holiness follows.

God, help me to live in community and worship you alongside others. Amen.

From Committed to Christ: Tweets, Posts, and Prayers by Ben Simpson, Copyright © 2012 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

Committed to Worship – Monday

I will praise God’s name with song;
I will magnify him with thanks.
(Psalm 69:30)

In worship, we sing hymns and praise songs to express our faithfulness and devotion to God. The songs chosen for worship are as significant as the sermons preached and the prayers prayed. They capture important points of doctrine and teaching, but they also stir the soul and awaken the affections. They help the people gain a deeper love for God.

Through singing, proper doctrine is imparted to the hearers, and truth moves from the head to the heart. Christian truth should not only enable right thinking, but also right feeling. Combined, right thinking and right feeling yield right living, or a transformed life. For those committed to Christ, all dimensions of the human person are changed through discipleship, and one avenue for discipleship runs through the singing of songs.

Praise God’s name with song. Magnify your praise with thanks. And rejoice as God transforms your heart in accordance with Christ-likeness.

Jesus, let me look upon you and discover the motivation for worship.
Help me to sing to you in such a way that my love for you is deepened. Amen.

From Committed to Christ: Tweets, Posts, and Prayers by Ben Simpson, Copyright © 2012 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

Committed to Worship – Sunday

Greatness and grandeur are in front of him;
strength and joy are in his place.
Give to the Lord, all families of the nations
—give to the Lord glory and power!
Give to the Lord the glory due his name! Bring gifts!
Enter his presence! Bow down to the Lord in holy splendor!

(1 Chronicles 16:27-29)

Worship is not so much a matter of willpower as it is the realization of wonder. If you struggle in your desire to worship, it may be because you have yet to grasp God’s love as revealed in Jesus Christ.

According to the passage of Scripture above, the glory we ascribe to God is not something that we conjure in our imaginations; it is something that is deserved. It is God’s “due.” What might this mean?

The church proclaims Christ through the gospel—the announcement of forgiveness through his death upon the cross. This forgiveness is available to anyone by faith, regardless of age, race, economic status, or any other classification that divides us. But this “due” is something we can never fully repay, for the magnitude of the gift is infinite in scope. Therefore, our wonderment expressed in worship should never cease, for the gospel will always contain some hidden dimension that we can newly ponder and appreciate.

Christ is the rightful object of your desires. Christ is “just what you’ve always been wanting.” Look upon him. Let him stir your soul.

Holy and Blessed Father, you are worthy of all glory and praise. Amen.

From Committed to Christ: Tweets, Posts, and Prayers by Ben Simpson, Copyright © 2012 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

Committed to Bible Reading – Saturday

Therefore, let’s make every effort to enter that rest
so that no one will fall by following the same example of disobedience,
because God’s word is living, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword.
It penetrates to the point that it separates the soul from the spirit
and the joints from the marrow.
It is able to judge the heart’s thoughts and intentions.
(Hebrews 4:11-12)

God’s word found in Scripture is powerful. The philosopher Emile Cailliet once called the Bible “the book that understands me.” As he read through the Bible, he was amazed at how the stories and commands recorded in Scripture cut right to his heart, exposing his wrongful motives, challenging his assumptions, and inviting him to a good and beautiful way of life.

The writer of Hebrews described God’s word as “living, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” God’s word cuts through the fluff. When you read the Bible, don’t simply read it to understand what it says. Let it read you, so that through reading it you can better understand yourself. Let it not only be the book you understand, but the book that understands you.

Father God, as I read the Bible I find words that convict me deeply.
Help me take action; make me new.
Help me discern every wrong motive and root it out.
Put in me a new heart,
a heart that desires to do as you have commanded in the Bible. Amen
.

From Committed to Christ: Tweets, Posts, and Prayers by Ben Simpson, Copyright © 2012 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

Committed to Bible Reading – Friday

You must be doers of the word
and not only hearers who mislead themselves.
(James 1:22)

The Bible is filled with messages and reminders that guide us in wisdom and faithfulness. We are not only to read them or to hear them, we are to do them. We are charged to “love the Lord with heart, mind, soul, and strength,” and “to love our neighbor as ourselves,” along with many other commands.

But as James says, we must not only hear the word, but do it. Tend to the message of the Bible. Pay attention to the countless reminders of what Scripture commands, and put what you find into practice.

Today, be kind to a stranger. Smile at someone you don’t know. Hold a door. Offer a meal to the homeless man you pass each day on the way to work. Serve at a soup kitchen. Tell a teenager that you value her. Encourage a friend. Contact someone from your church and invite that person to join you for coffee. Tell your spouse one thing he or she does that you are thankful for.

Don’t just be a hearer. Be a doer.

God, your word is eternal and sure. I can stake my life on it. Ignite my passion for your truth as it is found in the Bible, and help me to live in accordance with what you have commanded me to do. Amen.

From Committed to Christ: Tweets, Posts, and Prayers by Ben Simpson, Copyright © 2012 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

Committed to Bible Reading – Thursday

The word of Christ must live in you richly. (Colossians 3:16a)

My identity as a disciple of Jesus is dependent upon stories, culture, and practices. The stories are given in Scripture. The word of Christ is contained within the Bible, a text that points beyond itself to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Bible must be read, experienced, and understood. And the best place for that to happen is within the culture and practices of the church, the people of God.

As you make Bible reading a daily practice, you will obtain a deeper understanding of the story of Israel and the words and work of Jesus. In this way, the “word of Christ” will come to “live in you richly.” You will grasp more fully the hope of Israel, and will see how Christ himself is the realization of that hope. If you read prayerfully, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit your reading of the Bible should result in a deepening love for God and neighbor.

As the Bible shapes your identity in Christ, Jesus points you to others, to serve, to share, and to witness.

Let the Bible lead me to Christ.
Then, let Christ in me thereby lead others to himself. Amen
.

From Committed to Christ: Tweets, Posts, and Prayers by Ben Simpson, Copyright © 2012 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.