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Psalms 28:2 and Mike’s commentary touched me this morning. I was brought up in a very conservative Baptist church where you said nothing and made no movements during the church service. In addition, you said nothing and made no movement to draw attention to yourself if praying out in public. When I joined my present church about 15 years ago, I was uncomfortable at first when people would say “amen” during the service, or clap after a good musical presentation, or lift their hands while in prayer. I adjusted to it and it seems natural to me now for them to display their emotions in this manner but I still refrain from doing it myself. I have a dear friend who has been one of my best friends for over 50 years who would embarrass me and sometime even anger me when we were eating out because of the display she would make saying grace in a restaurant because I knew she didn’t make the same display when just the two of us would eat at her house or mine. I felt it was done for the benefit of public attention and discussed this with her. Now she just bows her head and prays to herself when we are eating out together and but I am bothered even more because I feel I have both hurt her and interfered with her way of worshipping. The thing that is really troubling me this morning is trying to deal with what it is inside of me that prevents me from being able to lift my hands in prayer when I love the Lord Jesus so dearly. For the first time I see this as a weakness in my personal faith and it is really lying heavily on my heart.

I think that the bible mentions different postures for prayer because our physical body does affect our attitude. It's harder to be prideful on your knees. It's harder to focus on your own glory when you are raising your hands to God.

I also think that there is such freedom in Christ that there is room for expressing ourselves to him many ways and our own comfort level with certain expressions or our own culture can inhibit us. I think that trying out different postures in private worship to God can free us up from wondering what others are thinking and then later in a more public setting whatever we feel best allows us to get in touch with God will occur naturally.

Before I elaborate on my own prayer life, I just wanted to say to Pat, please don't stress on this issue of lifting hands - ultimately God doesn't care if we sit still or do somersaults - it's always and only our inner attitude and stance that matters to Him. If your heart is right with Him, you'll find lifting your hands in private no problem as Micah Girl has said, and if you really wanted to 'try it out' in public, then wander back into a charismatic type service, and go for it. A few years ago when I was less ill, I used to regularly attend 2 churches - one (my Methodist) to give as they'd a low turnout, and the other was a charismatic one where I received, because I could worship in this way more freely. Don't allow something like this to disturb your inner peace to such an extent that you're not comfortable. That (in my view) only comes from one source! :)

Now, on the praying postures, similar to Pat, I was initially brought up in a quiet Methodist church where everybody sat silent and sung quietly with no outward demonstrations of worship in my eyes at all. Then I moved into a charismatic type church which was the opposite extreme - anything went & very OTT - equally uncomfortable. While I'm now back to my traditional Methodist roots, I still feel that lifting hands in worship is appropriate and I'm slowly pushing the boundaries on that one - not fully raised, but partly and enough for others to notice but not be uncomfortable with perhaps. I think those aspects of worship specifically mentioned in scripture definitely pull out the most in all of us as I now find it instinctive in my private worship to pray with hands held palms upwards to Him, and to worship with arms raised where/when I can manage it (disabled so it's not always easy). I have also knelt many times and even managed to lie fully prostrate (now that really makes you feel humble before him!), but have only ever used each position in response to how He is leading me. Some worship songs challenge or 'hit' me so strongly I just have to get down on my knees before him, but when praying now, for the most part, I do so sitting with head bowed, and eyes closed (although have had to change that recently because of overwhelming fatigue that has me falling asleep if I dare close my eyes!).

I recently listened to an absolutely awesome sermon by a Pastor David Dykstra from Lafayette Reformed Baptist Church called "Confession - The sinners approach to God" which was primarily about our attitude in prayer before THE most AWESOME Being we know. It just truly opened up my eyes to some errant attitudes I had that I wasn't really even aware of, and truly enabled me to approach God more respectfully. Sadly our Western culture hasn't done what He would have us do - look to His people for an example of how we could do some things better perhaps - the religious Jews won't speak His name, write it in full, nor dare to approach Him without due respect - fair enough they mix that up with a lot of other more ritualistic stuff which Jesus said was their downfall, but its their attitude that I think is better than ours at times. We sadly tend to either look at God as some big policeman in the sky and talk to him remotely in thees, thous and therefores with little true feeling, or else we're at the other end of the scale, and treating him like a real down to earth buddy who'll just accept us regardless, and let us away with bad attitudes, because He loves us!! Most true Christians recognise the errancy in both those extremes, but sometimes we can all be a little guilty of dabbling in each. For me, I now try to ensure I treat Him with the respect He is due, and follow biblical principles where possible (repentance, praise, worship etc) in my prayer time, but I also talk to Him easily and comfortably without fear (other than that borne out of respect).

If anyone would like a copy of that sermon as it appears to have disappeared off Sermon Audio, feel free to contact me and I'll email it to you - it's just under 5Mb in size.

Blessings. Romayne (apologies for length)

Ezra

Note: Ezra is descended from the line of Aaron, and pretty sure his great-grandfather, Hilkiah, was the priest that discovered "the book" that was given to Josiah.

Speaking of worship/praise - in Ezra 3:12 some of the older folks wept while many others shouted for joy.

Do not believe that they wept because the new temple would be less glorious than previous one. That would be hard to tell from foundation.

I believe in the spirit of worship/praise they were weeping out of joy that they would see a new temple built, or they were weeping in remembrance of the sins that had caused destruction of previous temple and the removal to Babylon.

Regardless some shouted, some wept, and it all went up to the Lord.
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Ezra 4

By their self-description it appears the people that wanted to join in the building process were Samarians. The author noted them as "adversaries or enemies".

They were rejected out of hand. Why? They claimed to be seeking "your" God just like Ezra and company. Seems kind of harsh. In the spirit of fellowship, peace and getting along maybe they should have been invited to join in and help with the temple.

[Flashback] In 2Kings17:24-41 - these people were broght in from the outside to inhabit Samaria. Things did not go well, so King sent back a "priest" to teach them about the "God of Israel". They did worship God, but also kept up with their idols and possibly child sacrifices. Via author of Kings it was being done even to this day.

So why not bring them in to help and "coach them up". Well, they had already been taught by a priest sent by Assyrian king, and that did not help. Perhaps they were not truly seeking God as much as "including" Him in with their pack of gods.

Also, Israel does not have a very good history when mixing with influences of outside world - they tend to abandon God and worship idols.

When rejected the Samarians hindered building of temple, and eventually sent a letter back to Babylon. It was a half-truth.
"True" - History of Israel
"Not known" - How Israel would act in future.
"Not Told" - That Cyrus had issued decree to rebuild. From Daniel, Esther, and later here we will see A Persian King's decree could not be rescinded even by the same King.

It worked and building process was halted for a time. The half-truth worked in the world - just like it did on charges towards Jesus, as it does today in some public religious debates. Thank God that our God is not a God of half truths.
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Eccumenical Movements

Wonder how this applies to the eccumenical movement of today. I know we are to not get bent out of shape about non-essentials, but What is the point?????[Definately Rhetorical as I am just thinking outloud]

If groups of Christians want to get together and sign a document saying they agree on "blood of Christ" and Grace comes from God - that is great. But when one group basically says to its own people: 'yes, blood and grace, but we also need to do this, this, and this.' What is the point? I think if Paul was talking to a supposedly Christian group who wanted to follow "grace plus something else designed by man" his reaction would not be pretty.

It does not seem to me that our God is a God of compromise when it comes to spiritual matters. Not in the Old Testament, not by Jesus in Gospels, and certainly not come judgment time at Christ's return.

[Note: Jesus did submit and recognize the to earthly authority of Romans and Sanhedrin, but on matters of God He did not compromise.]


1Cor2

My understanding of Paul's discussion of wisdom is that the wisdom of man (inherantly) cannot relate to God's wisdom.

There is nothing wrong with man's wisdom or knowledge regarding earthly matters. Technology is great, we have things bigger and better than past peoples, Science has made tremendous discoveries.

However, with all the technological and modern advances - sin still exists. Evil still exists. There is still war, murders, theft, etc. Man cannot solve the matters of the spirit with a new gadget or a new man-made plan.

To understand sin, evil, and understand God's ultimate solution you need to turn from inward thinking (rational, logical, reasonable introspection)to God's thinking. Trouble is "we" cannot do that on our own. To the unsaved it is foolishness. We need the "mind of Christ".

When we receive and Believe IN Christ we get a "mind of Christ" and it all starts to make sense. Through the Holy Spirit we "get it".

"This does not mean every believer has equal spiritual wisdom. And it does not mean we will understand all spiritual mysteries. It does mean every believer can understand the basics of the Christian message, which is unattainable (and undesirable) by human wisdom." - David Guzik
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1Cor2:15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:

"Paul is not saying that every Christian is above every criticism (after all, much of this letter is criticism). The point is clear: no natural man is equipped to judge a spiritual man." - David Guzik

Perhaps Bob Deffingbaugh is right - that this is a compare and contrast verse. The spiritual man is able to appraise and understand the belief system and the position of the non-believer. Yet the reverse is not true. An unsaved person cannot understand the belief system and the position of a "believer".

Seems like a Catch-22, yet God wants us to understand and provides a method for understanding. All it takes is:
"WHOMSOEVER WILL".


Wonderful comments today. Thank you everyone!

Pat

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