Who Can Rescue?

Daniel 3:15

Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

There is perhaps no more ironic statement in all of scripture than Nebuchadnezzar asking what god could save from his hand.  Psalm 2:4 tells us, “The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.”  Certainly that was happening in heaven as Nebuchadnezzar makes this boast.

Of course the answer to Nebuchadnezzar’s hypothetical question is that the Lord can rescue from any situation.  In many parts of the world Christians are forced to choose between facing persecution and even death or denouncing their Lord.  God can rescue from even the worst situations.

Nebuchadnezzar thought that he was all powerful.  He would soon learn that God was truly all powerful.  The next devotion deals with his reaction when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were rescued.

Sometimes we get worked up over politics and stupidity or corruption that occurs in our capital cities.  At times it appears that laws are made unfairly or immorally.  We need to remember that God placed those people in power and can humble them just as quickly as they rose to those positions of authority.  God can rescue from the hands of anybody and we do not need to compromise to meet the demands of anyone.  Trust in God alone.

Enemies or Friends of God?

Isaiah 19:23-25

In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together.  In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth.  The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.”

This passage from the book of Isaiah is a bit strange and obscure and isn’t studied often.  It is a prophecy that Egypt and Assyria will one day be saved alongside of Israel.  Prophetically speaking, the groundwork has already been laid with a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in 1979.  Assyria covers parts of Iran, Iraq, and Turkey, none of which are friendly towards Israel however.

Jesus instructs us to pray for our enemies and this passage is a testimony as to why.  No person, family, or country is so far gone that God cannot touch them and bring them to salvation.

It is a true testimony to God when people who were hopelessly lost are found worshipping the Lord.  Josh McDowell writes of his father, the town drunk, becoming transformed at the end of his life. The transformation was so apparent that over 100 people in the community gave their lives to Christ in the last 14 months of his dad’s life because they saw what God had done to change the life of the town drunk.

There is no greater testimony to the power of God than to worship next to someone who used to be an enemy.  There is no person who is so lost that God can’t grab hold of them and turn their life around.

Holy, Holy, Holy

Isaiah 6:3-5

And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

Holiness is key to our worship.  To be holy is to be set apart.  Isaiah recognized this when his eyes fell upon the Lord.  God is set apart from us because our sin is a barrier between us and God.

Basically anything can be worshipped if we put it in a place of importance.  We give special significance to it by the amount of time we spend with it or the money we spend on it.  We place our trust in it to make us happy or comfort us.

Only God may be worshipped as holy however.  Each of us has a God shaped hole that TV, sports, family, reading, or anything else can’t fill.

When we recognize God as holy, we realize like Isaiah did, that we’re not holy.  Only God can make us holy.  Isaiah’s lips were ceremonially made holy by the touching of a hot coal to them.  We are literally made holy by the washing away of our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ.

When we recognize that God is holy and that He can make us holy as well, that is a real reason to worship and sing holy, holy, holy just like the angels.

Instrumental Worship

Psalm 150:3-6

Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,

 praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,

 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.

While I believe “worship wars” as I like to refer to them have died down some now, people still get worked up over what instruments are acceptable in a church setting.  This usually has more to do with personal preference than what is truly acceptable but it is presented as if something is sacred about whatever preferences a person has.  And yes, it goes both ways – “We need guitar to reach out to young people,” and “The church shouldn’t have drums, we’re not putting on a show” are two common complaints.

We don’t necessarily use the harp and flute in our worship today, but it is acceptable to do so.  Psalm 150 lists probably all of the instruments available at the time.  The point is that we’re to praise the Lord and use every means necessary.

Instruments are cultural.  Some instruments are not going to fit within a certain culture.  The kettle drums or bagpipes probably aren’t going to go over well in your church but there would be nothing wrong with them in Jamaica and Scotland.

If you have a preference for the guitar, drums, piano, or organ, that’s great.  Don’t make any of them sacred however.  The church should be focusing on reaching the lost, not arguing over what instruments are proper within the walls of the church.

Singing Before God

Psalm 100:2

Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.

We all know people who can’t carry a tune in a bucket.  The only musical instrument they can play is the radio.  But this doesn’t exclude them from worshipping.  Maybe they wouldn’t make the best song leader but it doesn’t change their heart at all.

Our worship should be filled with joy and gladness.  In fact, there isn’t any other way to worship.  Maybe it won’t be jumping around with excitement all of the time because we’re tired or maybe even having a bad day.  But when we worship, we’re thanking God for who He is and what He’s doing.  If we’re not the least bit excited about that, then there is no point in worshipping because we’re not worshipping at all.

When we hear the word worship, singing is the first thing that comes to mind because that is the part that we play the most active role in.  While there are many other parts to worship, if this is the part that we are most active in, we ought to do it with all of our heart.

At a conference once, we had times of singing and some people complained about the music being too loud.  While that partly comes down to a matter of preference, the reason given for it was a good one.  If the music is loud, we can sing out without being self conscious about others hearing.  Sing out before God and don’t worry about what others think, only what God thinks about your singing.