Monday, July 14, 2014

MIGHTY WARRIOR, THE LORD IS WITH YOU! By David Ritter

Judges 6:1-12  Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.  2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds.  3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country.  4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys.  5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it.  6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help.  11 The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.  12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”

The Lord woke me up in the middle of the night recently with the verses, Judges 6:1-12, emblazoned on my mind.  The premise of this section of the Old Testament is how the Lord reminded Israel how He brought them out of slavery and gave them a promised land, yet they still turned to other gods.  The 12th verse is especially poignant...the Lord appeared to Gideon saying, “The Lord is with you mighty warrior,” which Gideon found it difficult to accept.

This message to Gideon is a clear statement of consecration for today’s Christians:

1.  Remember from whence you've come! (He has brought us out of darkness.)  (Verse 8)

2.  Remember all the things He’s done!  (He cleansed us by His blood.)  (Verse 9)

3.  Remember the Lord your God is one!  (God is calling us to separate ourselves apart for Him.) (Verse 10)
           
The call is for consecration, to “put aside” the things that hold us back from lifestyle worship. We need to “put aside” endless pursuit of pleasures, along with unhealthy relationships, television, videos, music and books that do not glorify Jesus Christ. I believe God’s heart is that we separate ourselves from the gods of this world.  Until we make a concerted effort to remember these 3 things, we cannot know the fullness of His presence. 

As it was with Gideon, may the Lord approach each of us as “Mighty Warriors” and declare, “The Lord is with you!” AMEN!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WHAT EXACTLY IS SPIRIT AND TRUTH WORSHIP? David Ritter

The Bible is replete with Scriptures about worship. I have been searching the Word for years now, trying to discover what God expects from us as worshippers. In my research, I have found the three key verses that cover all aspects of worship along with their Greek meaning:

1) What does the Lord require of you? Micah 6:8 says, “Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” In other words, do what is right, be merciful to others (even when they don’t deserve it), and live in humility with God and towards others.

2) Jesus said that, Those who worship God, must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). What is spirit?  Spirit in Greek means “pneuma” meaning “breath” or “the evidence of life.” Our spirit communing with God’s Spirit, and prompted by the Spirit of the Lord. Our spirits are made alive by God’s Spirit when we are born again, allowing us to interact with God at all times.  This would eliminate non-believers from worshipping God unless they have a relationship with God and are born again by God’s Spirit.

3) What is truth? The Greek work for truth is “al├ętheia,” which means divine truth revealed to man. To worship in truth would mean we must approach God without blemish, deceit, or improper attitude.

4)  Finally, Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are to “Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to, “love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37). In other words, worship God with ALL that you have been given!

The Bible tells us that no one is without sin (Prov. 20:9). Even when we confess our sins and repent, it’s not too long before evil thoughts and actions come back into our lives.  We all need continual cleansing, moment by moment; and God is willing to forgive us. We must make confession and repentance a daily part of our life with God…especially before we enter into worship.  Being right with the Lord and walking in repentance before you worship is what we call worshipping God in Spirit and in truth! 


Before entering into worship, let’s consider what the Lord requires of us. Jesus said that if we have not made things right with others and with God, then our sacrifices are unacceptable. The Lord is calling us to search our hearts and see if there are any wicked ways in us, and once we’ve repented, He will wash us, cleanse us, and make us whiter than snow. In Psalm 50:23, the Lord says, “He who offers acceptable thank offerings, honors me, and prepares the way so that I may show them the salvation of God!”  When you worship God in Spirit and Truth, He promises that He will reveal His salvation to you, and guide you in HIS path!

AMEN!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

GRATEFUL


By David Ritter

 “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!  For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”  (Psalm 107:8-9)

We are the most blessed nation on the planet, yet probably the most ungrateful.  There’s only one name for those who continually take without giving thanks...a spoiled brat!  How disillusioned we are to think that we are blessed because we deserve it...what arrogance!  However, being grateful not only promotes God’s Glory, but develops faith and humility in us as well.

Then there’s this concept of praising God during tribulation.  God is not asking us to pretend that nothing is wrong.  He’s not asking us to believe that adversity in itself is good, but rather, HE is good!  King David was known as a man after God’s own heart, yet he would never have earned that reputation had it not been for his thankful heart in the midst of afflictions. It was during some of the darkest times of his life that the Psalms were composed, giving us the impetus, inspiration, and content for much of today’s Christian music. Even the apostle Paul suffered from “a thorn in the flesh” and although he prayed to be released from it, the Lord responded by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness, therefore, I will boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me!” (II Corinthians 12:9)

It seems difficult to hear the voice of God when “all is well” in our lives, particularly because we become complacent, and we often take credit for the good we experience.  Yet, I can tell you that having had five back surgeries and living in chronic pain daily, that it’s through the fire of adversity and pain that God speaks to me with a megaphone!  I have learned more about the Lord and His heart for my life in the last 8 years than in the previous 40...the suffering I have endured has only served as a catalyst for drawing me closer to the Lord, making me a “God Chaser.”  Malcom Muggeridge, a godly, famous journalist and author once said, “Indeed I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my 75 years in this world, everything that has enhanced and enlightened my experience, has been through affliction and not through happiness.”  And so it is for all of us if we seek God in the midst of trouble.  

The Lord never promised us that we would escape all misery; rather, He would be with us “through adversity,” just as He was with the three men in the fiery furnace, and even in the “Shadow of Death,” comforting and guiding us with His “Rod and Staff.”

It is not easy task to be thankful for trials and difficulties, yet the Word encourages us in 
I Thessalonians 5:18 to give thanks in all circumstances, because this is God’s will for our lives.  The Lord desires that we have grateful hearts in spite of our situation, because He is literally zealous to reveal Himself to us in the midst of “ill winds.”  Another great serendipity or “bonus” about giving thanks is that it causes the enemy to flee from us. 

A paraphrase of Ephesians 5:4 says that a heart of thanksgiving will dispel evil thoughts.  What a great promise!  I implore you to offer praise and thanks for your afflictions...not only will it defeat evil, but God will reveal Himself to you as well!  Be grateful!


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

WHOM GOD APPOINTS, HE ANOINTS!

Talent...use it or lose it. Hey, we’re taught that principle from the time we first started Sunday School, or just from reading the Bible. What we often miss, however, is that God is never impressed with our talent. Unfortunately, there is a lot of “talent” worship, but what really impresses God is when the attitude of our hearts is pure. It’s that simple. You don’t need a degree in theology to understand that this is probably the most critical element of the Music Ministry. On the flip side, when we exalt talent over attitude, we compromise the integrity of that Music Ministry. How many times have we fallen into the perfectionist mode, often forgetting our first obligation...to worship God in Spirit and in Truth? Because God expects the very best from us, we must sacrifice everything else to provide Him with nothing less than our highest level of musicality.


I have yet to meet a minister of music who has not fallen into this "perfectionism trap" at some point in their ministry. In fact, I fell for it recently while I was teaching the choir the correct rhythms for the song “Change My Heart O God”. I got so caught up with fixing their mistakes that I totally missed the writer’s intent, and the scriptural premise behind it; not once did I even mention that this was the kind of prayer that captures God’s attention. Big mistake! In the wee hours of that same night, I literally felt the anguish of the Holy Spirit as He reminded me that my priorities were not in sync with His. He also revealed the Truth behind my inordinate demand for flawless presentation...I wanted to make sure that the choir was singing perfectly so that I would look good! 

That following Sunday morning, I asked for the choir’s forgiveness for “missing the mark.” What I didn’t realize was that this was Communion Sunday and that God was going to use this as an opportunity for all of us to “check our hearts, so that we would not partake of the elements unworthily.” Attitude trumps talent any day!