Our Spiritual Act of Worship

Worship is continuously living our lives individually and corporately as living sacrifices to the glory of a person or thing. This connection between glory and worship is clear in places such as Romans 11:36 (NIV).

“For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.”

In this packed section of Scripture, Paul connects a number of vital truths regarding worship. First, we hold a person or thing in a place of Glory. Second, we then Worship that person or thing. Third, our worship of that person is Unceasing, not some occasional or scheduled thing.

Glory means weightiness, importance, preeminence, and priority, or our greatest treasure, deepest longing, and fountain of hope. Whatever we hold in the position of highest glory is by definition our god. Because we were made for the express purpose of worshiping God, every person is a worshiper. The only question is what or who we worship.

The most common word for Worship in the New Testament is proskuneo. This kind of worship is a profound submission and offering of respect to the one worshiped. We must always ask ourselves if, when we worship, we are coming from this deep, heart driven place.

Jesus’ life destroys any notion that worship is a sacred thing we do at a special time and special place. All of life is to be lived as Unceasing worship; cutting our grass and cleaning our dishes are as sacred and God-glorifying as raising our hands in church. God has made us in His image, which means that we were made for unceasing communion with Him in a life of continual worship to His glory. Paul sums up the life of unceasing worship best in 1 Corinthians 10:31.

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

The Trinity is our perfect model for worship as each member gives Glory the others unceasingly and perfectly. Not only do we Worship through Jesus, we must also Worship like Jesus. Jesus is the person who has worshiped God the Father with the most glory of anyone who has ever lived. He is the perfect worshiper. Jesus lived a life of perfect Glory to His Father and thus we can look at everything in His life, from the ordinary to the extraordinary, as born out of a life of ceaseless worship that glorified God the Father.

May we all give Glory to God by Unceasingly Worshiping Him in all our ways.

Pastor Rich Holt

 

 

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The Final Gift

June 10, 2014 1 comment

“Grace be with all who love…

This church has been a blessing to me. I have had the greatest joy being your Pastor, teacher, student, mentor, leader, brother in Christ, and friend. There is so much I would like to say to you.

I could take time to reminisce about the ministry we did together, and all the joys we shared, but that wouldn’t be adequate. I could give you one last sermon, a spiritual piece of my mind for the road so to speak… but I won’t do that.

It is not the accomplishments and the sermons and Bible studies that I will take with me in memory, it’s you, the people of the First Baptist Church of Palos Verdes, that I will miss the most, the longtime members and those who have come to be a part of this church family recently. You are an amazing group of people, and the best thing is you don’t even know how amazing you are, so there is no danger of these words ever going to your head. God has truly put something unique and special in you that even churches hundred times your size don’t possess. To put it into words is difficult… I only know you are truly rich in the love of Christ.

So what can I give to a church that has everything? I give you the only thing I can, my thanks, my love, and my prayers that you will continue to grow in His grace and receive it in its full measure. Whatever you and I have accomplished together, we have done it through God’s glorious grace in Christ Jesus.

I share with you the words of Paul as I leave you to go on a new adventure.

“Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.” Ephesians 6:24

Thank you again for all the love you have shared with me

Blessings,

Pastor Joel

 

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AN OLDIE BUT A GOODY

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” Proverbs 3:5-6

 

As long as I can remember, and especially when the situation warranted it, my mother would quote Proverbs 3:5-6 to me. It was probably the second verse I had memorized after John 3:16.

 

This is also quite often the verse I recite to myself over and over when I have trouble sleeping at night. Believe it or not it has worked for me more often than not. Maybe because in times of anxiety and uncertainty its message of who’s really in charge is the reminder I need to find peace and direction.

 

Faith and trust in the Lord is our home away from home while we sojourn here during life on this side of heaven. Trust in God is the only sure thing we have when we are not sure of what lies ahead of us. As a traveler must trust his map and a sailor trusts his compass, and a pilot must trust his instruments in order to find their way, a child of God trusts God at His word as found in His Word.

 

Because this verse is so familiar to us, we may have overlooked its promise to us. We give him our whole trust regardless of what the circumstances dictate, and let go of what we think should happen, or what may happen. If we give Him precedence in all ways regarding a decision, God’s promise is He will get us to where we need to be. Complete trust is our ticket to the destination of peace.

 

These old words of a wise king still can get us to that new place in the Lord, safe and sound.

 

Pastor Joel

 

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LOST BAGGAGE

February 28, 2014 Leave a comment

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14

In recent years I have had the privilege to do some traveling especially when it involved going overseas.  But with that comes the arduous task of packing for the trip, which I find very nerve racking… In fact anything involving luggage puts me in a bit of a dither.

First comes deciding what to pack, did I pack everything I need? Did I pack too much, or too little? What’s the weather going to be like, do I need to pack a jacket, or a swimming suit? For the most part I generally over-pack and second guess myself every step of the way.

And then comes the adventure with the luggage at the airport… the inspections, the weighing, the wondering if my suit case is over the weight limit and are we going to meet up at the same destination at the end of the flight?

But the most nerve racking is waiting for my bag to appear on the carousel at the end of the flight. The longer I have to wait the more concerned I become that my luggage may have gotten lost…but then it tumbles down the ramp and we reunite and all is well.

Over packing and lost baggage are two major concerns when it comes to traveling, except if our destination is to the Cross of Jesus Christ.

During the Lenten season as we reflect on the passion of Christ and the journey He took to the cross, we realize when he struggled up the hill called Calvary He was carrying all our baggage with Him. Our baggage includes all our sins, our hang-ups, our fears and much more, and when it is given to Jesus on the cross… it is lost to us. It will never tumble down the carousel into our possession ever again.

So when it comes to packing for the cross, we need to make sure we over-pack, and we can expect for all our baggage to be lost forever… and that’s a good thing.

Blessings,

Pastor Joel

 

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The Great Romance

January 30, 2014 Leave a comment

…And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2

Okay… I’ll admit it I’m a sucker for romance. I love a good romantic tale that hooks me from the beginning, and keeps me hoping throughout the story that the star crossed lovers will overcome all their trials and find themselves in each other’s arms at the end, living happily ever after… I know… it’s corny, but like I said I’m a sucker for romance.

Quite often the stories follow the same formula. Two people discover one another, and the tension builds as they question their feelings, and after a while they discover they were destined for each other and the spark of love is ignited. Inevitably conflicts arise to test their love, and we hold on tight and hope that these two have it in themselves to overcome adversity and hold onto their love no matter the trials… and we are satisfied when Love wins in the end.

Some would say that only happens in books and stories, and reality is something different altogether. That may be so…but the truth is that love is tested and developed through adversity. Questions will arise and doubts will creep in, and hardships will come to only strengthen our resolve to Love, if that is our desire.

Right now we find ourselves, as the church of Jesus Christ, in the middle of our own love story with the Lamb of God. It did not end when we gave our life to Christ, it was only the beginning. Throughout our story we have and will endure conflicts and adversity, doubts and questions, victories and failures, great joy and great sorrow, tragedies and triumphs. But this story for us as His Bride does have a Happily-ever-after ending. Our love for Him may have its growing pains, but the love that Jesus has for us is sure and true and without question.

Our Happy ending comes with the promise that Jesus is coming again and will take us home to be with Him for eternity;

“…I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3

This is my kind of Love story… like I said I’m a sucker for a great romance.

Blessings,

Pastor Joel

 

 

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FOOT PRINTS AT CHRISTMAS

November 26, 2013 Leave a comment

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1: 14

When I was a single father with not much income to speak of, innovation and improvisation became the “Go to” tools in the Tool Box of my life… especially at Christmas time.

The expenses of Christmas can add up. Besides the buying of gifts, there’s the tree, ornaments, lights, food, and wrapping paper. With all of this, innovation becomes a single father’s best friend… It also helps if you have some helpers. My help came in the form of my three young daughters.

One year during the holidays I somehow got a hold of several large rolls of brown paper about two feet wide. These would become the foundation for my Christmas wrapping paper. The next weekend my girls were scheduled to be with me. When we arrived at my apartment, I told the girls to take off their shoes and socks before I opened the door. With lots of giggles and excitement they promptly did as I instructed.

When I opened the door to my apartment they saw the brown paper stretched out on the floor leading to the bathroom and a tub filled part way with water. Right by the door as we entered were bowls filled with red, green, and blue paint. I asked the girls to dip their feet into the paint and walk on the brown paper to the bath room and into the tub. They made several trips… and in the end we had very festive, custom made paper in which to wrap our Christmas treasures in.

Of course not all the paint stayed on the paper… but isn’t that what security deposits are for? It also took a while to get all the paint out of the tub. It was totally worth it though to experience my daughters’ joy as they walked up and down the paper in red, green, and blue feet, and seeing their unique colorful, little footprints in three different sizes emblazoned on the plain brown paper… Priceless.

One can say Christmas has always been about footprints. It’s when God came to us wearing the tiny foot prints of a baby in a manger… And when Jesus walked on the plain drab surface of this world, the Glory of God shone in every step He took, and life on this earth would never be the same again because of those footprints…  Priceless.

Blessings,

Pastor Joel

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MARVELOUS AND WONDROUS THINGS

November 5, 2013 Leave a comment

 “This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’… Jeremiah 33:2-3

When I was a young youth pastor in Pasadena, a member of our church came into my office and gave me a marvelous gift.  He started off by telling me that he was a man who loved to read, and that he loved books, he also told me that he didn’t think young people read enough books… and he looked straight at me without smiling with an expression that suggested to me that maybe he thought I was one of those illiterate youth.

And then he said “I want you to go to the bookstore at Fuller Seminary and pick out as many books as you would personally like and I want to pay for them.”  I was speechless.  No one ever gave me a gift like that.  He continued without humor as I remained silent with my mouth open, “And I don’t want you to even think about keeping it under a certain amount.  I want you to have every book you want to read.  I will cover the entire cost no matter what it is.”  Then to emphasize his point even more, his eyes narrowed almost in anger and pointed his finger and said “Do not short change yourself.  Get every book you want.” I thanked him for the gift and did exactly as I was instructed to do.

As I think about it now it was a marvelous and wondrous thing he did for me.  It was something I could never do for myself.  Because he went out of town shortly after and I moved away to take another position, I never saw him again, but his gift at the time was beyond my imagination.

I didn’t know it at the time but God was showing me a glimpse of Himself in the generosity of this man I barely knew.  I only knew he was an older member of the church… But he blessed me anyway beyond what I knew.  Jeremiah reminds us of who our God is and what He wants to do… He wants us to call on him, and He wants to show us things we have no comprehension of… in other words He wants to reach us beyond the limits of our imagination.

The generous man who gave me the books did not want me to attach a budget to his blessing.  God will not be budgeted by those who call upon Him, neither does calling on Him mean we budget our time with him, because in prayer we have unlimited access to the glorious presence of God.  We must not short change ourselves when it comes to God.  Just as the Apostle Paul reminds us…

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us… Ephesians 3:20

We must call upon Him… and wait for marvelous and wondrous things that do not yet know.

Blessings,

Pastor Joel

 

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