Category: Worship

For Me Above All?

 “I, even I, am he who blots out
    your transgressions, for my own sake,
    and remembers your sins no more.”
(Isaiah 43:25) 

A popular worship tune today repeats over and over again about Jesus: “You took the fall and thought of me above all.” But is Jesus’ death on the cross mainly a delightful personal favor to me?

Today’s verse contradicts that idea by saying that God forgave my sins for his sake; that I was saved for his pleasure rather than my own pleasure. Some people say this makes God into an egomaniac.

But look at it this way: if God saved me for my sake, then wouldn’t I need to be on my most excellent behavior to stay in God’s good graces? However, if I have been saved for his sake, then God is touching me out of mercy —- not because of anything good that I have done.

Further, if I have been saved for my sake then isn’t God obliged to keep me feeling happy? If anything went wrong, I could exclaim to God: “Excuse me! How dare you allow disaster, calamity, sickness, death, etc. into my life! I thought you were thinking of me above all!”

So, knowing I am saved for God’s sake helps me grapple with when I do not get my best life now. Say we’re being hounded to pay a bogus medical bill for money we do not owe at all. And hey, my wife and I had Covid the last couple of weeks. How does that fit into thinking of me above all? Don’t I need to be catered to?

Let’s now spotlight what God is like: He is consistent and unchanging even when events in my life are hitting the fan. Divine qualities like “God is wise,” “God is faithful” and “God is good” are true even when the day is not going just the way I want it.

I am grateful for all Christ’s provisions. But how easy it is to start enjoying them for their own sake, even so much that it feels like they are owed to me. They are not! They are a gift pointing to how great he is, not to how deserving I am.

This I Believe (The Creed)

We sang “This I Believe” in our men’s group. The song is based on the Apostle’s Creed and the linked version is from Hillsong.1

Both the Apostles’ creed and “This I Believe say I believe many times.

Is that just a list of facts to believe? You may have heard the statements in the Apostle’s Creed as cold intellectual truths. I know I used to. But there’s quite a difference between assenting to cold facts and saying “Yes!” to a truth that our life depends on.

If someone says, “Atlantic City is the capital of New Jersey,” not much is at stake in whether that is true or not. 2 But what if I were driving a fully loaded 18-wheeler towards an old one lane bridge across a deep gorge. Can it support me and my load? To go across that bridge is to trust it with my life.

That second kind of belief, trusting with our lives, is the kind of belief sung about in “This I Believe.” Full-bodied genuine Christian belief is much deeper than simply saying “Yes” to some facts, and “This I Believe” takes what might only remain as head knowledge and transforms it into wonderful warm praise.

How do we get that kind of heartfelt belief? In certain circles you are ordered to believe each point in the Apostle’s Creed … or else. You must persuade yourself to believe and confess each of the points or you are in trouble.

But that attempt at self-persuasion is futile because we can only truly grasp these truths by faith. And that faith is itself a gift from God. In Ephesians 2:8-9 it says For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

We have been rescued from sin and death by faith in what Jesus accomplished in being crucified on the cross for our sin and then brought back to life. And as we follow Christ today, we continue by faith. By faith, we trust our lives to the God who gave us the creed’s truths:

I believe in God our Father. I believe in Christ the Son. I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe in the resurrection, that we will rise again. I believe Jesus rose again. I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.

The preceding truths all focus on our personal relationship with God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But now consider these truths:

I believe in the saint’s communion and in your holy church.

Here, we have union with Christ —– we join the faith and life of everyone who has ever loved Jesus —- in the unity of the Holy Spirit. God is invisible and we demonstrate our belief in this unseen God by loving real life people. Real life people whose flaws start to disgust us — until we look in the mirror! 

That’s when the great theological truths of the apostles’ creed stop being only abstract and cerebral. God is the God who changes us. The creed comes alive as we live out the Lord’s command to Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32.)


  2. Atlantic City is not the capital, Trenton is


You’ll get a beautiful bride if you capture that city!

In the book of Joshua, Caleb promised to give his daughter Achsah in marriage to whomever captured Kiriath-sepher. Othniel led Israel to that victory and married Achsah.

Pressed by Achsah, her new husband requested and gained a field from her father. Achsah then went even further when she saw her father and asked “Give me a blessing. Since you have given me the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water.” And he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs. (Joshua 15:19) And that’s the inspiration for today’s song.

The prosperity gospel says you can speak something good into existence by naming it and claiming it, thereby cashing in on guaranteed material prosperity. That’s bogus and I avoid it. But because of my steering clear of that, I risk going to the other extreme and not asking for what God really does have for me. Sometimes it is OK to ask for, and receive, more material blessing!

“Springs of Water” includes material blessings for us but then it goes far beyond that:

O Lord, together let us overflow,
We see the harvest field shining in the sun.
Lord, let the river overflow,

We see how the blessing of God’s grace has spread beyond the original promised land in the Middle East to a worldwide outpouring!


This song’s content leads to a couple of observations on what makes a good worship song. First, it’s hard to go wrong when you put Scripture to song. You are singing timeless truths!

A good worship song has biblical imagery even when the lyrics are not quoting bible verses. Take “overflow” from today’s song. The song is not quoting a verse here, but you can indeed find the idea of overflow quite often in Scripture. For example, anyone who is growing in Jesus is
“rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7. 

The content of todays’ song contrasts nicely with the bizarre imagery often found in contemporary worship songs. It’s often so different from what’s in the Bible that it makes you scratch your head. Here’s a parody of this kind of imagery, where the worship song even includes avocados!

We first sang today’s “Springs of Water” song decades ago and it still brings tears of joy. Today’s video was sung in the United Kingdom in 1985 and the song was popular in the charismatic renewal on this side of the Atlantic, too. The link to view it is:

Finally, as a bonus, you can find a good devotion with another slant on Achsah on the website my wife and her friend keep, Dig Deeper Devotions.

Do I Worship Jesus With Awe ?

The Jewish priests were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. (1 Chronicles 23:30)

Recently, reading through the book of 1 Chronicles in my daily Bible time, I encountered descriptions of various worship services and rituals. It used to be that I’d read that old stuff and say it was not too meaningful —- after all,  now we have Jesus.

But this time through, I felt a sense of awe reading  these descriptions that I haven’t had before. For these worshipers knew that  the almighty God of the universe was present as they gave thanks and praise; this was far from being only a meaningless ritual for them !

And from our Christian perspective, as we look backwards at this Chronicles worship, we see that these  services were previews and tastes of what we would experience with Jesus Christ.

Today, we hear so much about Jesus being our friend, which is fine since he does walk with us as friend and brother.

But I want to ask :

Do we also experience Jesus as the almighty awesome God when we worship him ?

When we do, that has a real implication  for our daily lives. We experience Jesus as more than just our day-to-day buddy. We begin to get a taste of eternity in our worship. This taste of eternity reaches down to affect how we live during the day…the stuff that gets me riled up with petty feelings of annoyance somehow begins to seem less important.

Jesus is my friend but at the same time he is almighty awesome God. The more I enter into worshiping this Lord who is closer than a brother but also far above my daily life, the more what I think, feel, and do in my daily life begins to change .