The Ingredients of Worship (4): Adoration – A.W. Tozer

Tozer-Missing-JewelsIn an article on worship titled “Missing Jewel” (January, 1968), pastor A.W. Tozer wrote these words about some of the “ingredients” found in true worship, especially as it relates to prayer:


We must love God with all our power, with fear, wonder, yearning, awe. Yearn for God with great yearning.

At times this will lead us to breathless silence. I think that some of the greatest prayer is when you don’t utter one word or ask for anything. Now God does answer and He does give us what we ask for. That’s plain; nobody can deny that unless he denies the Scriptures. But that is only one aspect of prayer, and it’s not even the important one. Sometimes I go to God and say, ‘God, if Thou dost never answer another prayer while I live on this earth, I will still worship Thee as long as I live and in the ages to come for what Thou hast already done.’ I’m already so far in debt that if I live one million millenniums I can’t repay God.

We go to God as we send a boy to a grocery store with a long written list, ‘God, give me this, give me this, and give me this,’ and our gracious God often gives us what we want. But I think God is disappointed because we make Him no more than a source of what we want. Even our Lord Jesus is too often presented as ‘someone who will meet your need.’ That’s the throbbing heart of modern evangelism. You’re in need and Jesus will meet your need. He’s the Need-Meeter. Well, He is that indeed; but He’s infinitely more than that.

Published in Essays on Prayer by A.W. Tozer and others (Inter-Varsity Press, 1968), pp.5-6.

Prayers of the Reformers (8) – J. Calvin on Worship

JCalvinPic1The following prayer of John Calvin for purity of worship is found in the profitable collection of prayers titled, Prayers of the Reformers, compiled by Clyde Manschreck and published by Muhlenberg Press in 1958 (p.60).

This too is fitting as we end the Lord’s Day in God’s house of worship.

Grant, almighty God, inasmuch as Thou hast deigned to gather us into Thy church, that we may never turn aside in the least from the purity of Thy worship. May we always regard what pleases Thee, and learn to direct our doings and our thoughts in obedience to Thy truth, and worship Thee purely both in spirit and in external forms that Thy name may be glorified.

May we retain that purity which Thou commendest to us, that we may be indeed members of Thy only-begotten Son.  As Thy Son has sanctified Himself on our account, grant that we may also through His Spirit be made partakers of the same, until He at length will gather us into His heavenly kingdom, which He has obtained for us by His own blood. Amen.

The Ingredients of Worship (3): Admiration – A.W. Tozer

Essays-on-prayer-Tozer-1968In an article on worship titled “Missing Jewel” (January, 1968), pastor A.W. Tozer wrote these words about some of the “ingredients” found in true worship:

     We must appreciate the excellence of God. Man is better qualified to appreciate God than any other creature because only he was made in God’s image. This admiration for God grows and grows until it fills the heart with wonder and delight. ‘In our astonished reverence we confess Thine uncreated loveliness,’ said the hymn writer.

The God of the modern evangelical rarely astonishes anybody. He manages to stay pretty much within the constitution. He never breaks out from our bylaws. He’s a well-behaved God, very denominational and one of us. We ask Him to help us when we’re asleep. The God of the modern evangelical isn’t the God I respect. But when the Holy Ghost shows us God as He is, we admire Him to the point of wonder and delight.

Published in Essays on Prayer by A.W. Tozer and others (Inter-Varsity Press, 1968), pp.3-4.

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The Ingredients of Worship (2): Awe – A.W. Tozer

Tozer-Missing-JewelsIn an article on worship titled “Missing Jewel” (January, 1968), pastor A.W. Tozer wrote these words about some of the “ingredients” found in true worship:

     Also I think we ought not talk too much about Jesus just as Jesus. I think we ought to remember who He is. ‘He is thy Lord; and worship thou Him.’ And though he comes down to the lowest point of our need and makes Himself accessible to us as tenderly as a mother to her child, still don’t forget that when John saw Him (that John who had lain on Christ’s bosom), he fell at his feet as if dead.

I’ve heard all kinds of preachers: the ignorant boasters; the dull, dry ones; the eloquent ones; but the ones that have helped me most were the ones that were awestruck in the presence of the God about whom they spoke. Some had a sense of humor, but when they talked about God, they used another tone of voice; this was something else, something wonderful.

I believe we ought to return again to the Biblical concept of God that makes God awful and makes men lie face down and cry, ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.’ That would do more for the church than anything else (p.3).

Published in Essays on Prayer by A.W. Tozer and others (Inter-Varsity Press, 1968).

The Ingredients of Worship (1) – Confidence – A.W.Tozer

Tozer-Missing-JewelsIn an article on worship titled “Missing Jewel” (January, 1968), pastor A.W. Tozer wrote these words about some of the “ingredients” found in true worship:

     What are the ingredients in worship? First, boundless confidence. Confidence is necessary in order to respect, and respect is necessary to trust. You can’t worship a Being you don’t respect or trust. Worship rises or falls in any church depending upon the attitude taken toward God, whether we see God as big or small.. Most of us see God too small. When David said, ‘O magnify the Lord with me,’ he wasn’t asking us to make God bigger. You can’t do it. But you can see Him big.

Worship rises or falls with our concept of God; that is why I don’t believe in the half-converted cowboys who call God The Man Upstairs. I don’t think they worship at all because their concept of God is unworthy of God and of themselves. And if there is one terrible disease in the church of Christ, it is that we do not see God as great as he is. We’re too familiar with God.

Communion with God is one thing; familiarity with God is another. I don’t even like to hear God called ‘you.’ ‘You’ is a colloquial expression. I can call a man ‘you,’ but I ought to call God ‘Thou’ and ‘Thee.’ I know that these are old Elizabethan words, but I also know that some things are too precious to cast lightly away. When we talk to God we ought to use respectful pronouns (pp.2-3).

Published in Essays on Prayer by A.W. Tozer and others (Inter-Varsity Press, 1968).

Book Alert! “150 Questions about the Psalter” – Bradley Johnston

150-Questions-Psalter-Johnston-2014As book review editor for The Standard Bearer, we recently received a complimentary copy of a new publication from Crown & Covenant Publications titled 150 Questions about the Psalter: What You Need to Know about the Songs God Wrote (2014, 112 pgs., $9.00). The author is Bradley Johnston, a pastor in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, an exclusive Psalm-singing denomination.

The publisher provides this brief summary of the book on its website:

Who wrote the psalms, and why? Can we find Jesus in the Psalter? How do these ancient songs matter today?

In the style of a catechism, this books draws you into the majestic, meditative depths of the inspired songs of God. Divided into seven short sections, 150 questions and answers address the content and arrangement of the Psalter, Psalm genres and groupings, the historical context of the author, the Psalms relationship to the rest of Scripture and the life of Christ, and their use in private and public worship.

With appendixes that feature worksheets and charts, quotations from theologians and church fathers, this resource helps individuals, families, and churches understand and embrace the psalter for themselves.

This is a fine little book on the OT Psalter of the church, with the 150 questions and their answers giving Christians and the church today ample reason to sing the Psalms yet today, whether exclusively or predominantly. Think of it as a “catechism on the Psalms.” In addition, there are seven appendixes that treat special topics relating to the Psalms, such as “The Psalter in the New Testament”, “Martin Luther’s Favorite Psalms”, and “Arranging the Psalter in Your Head.” Charts and lists in this section add to the profit of the material covered.

As an example of the type of questions asked and answered, we quote two of them here:

8 How is the Psalter helpful to Christian saints?

There is no one book of Scripture that has been more helpful to Christian saints in all the ages of the church than the Psalter, ever since it was written. When we sing the Psalms we join our voices with true worshipers among the nations and throughout history who lift their souls to the Lord in faith (Psalm 25:1).

9 Why should Christians sing the Psalter?

Christians should sing the Psalter because the new covenant is like a marriage bond between God and his people, bringing joy and delight. But the main reason we ought to sing Psalms is because this practice is commanded by God through the apostles (p.4).

The Mercy of Hearing God’s Voice – A.Mohler

deuteronomy-6-4-5This morning before our worship today I post some thoughts of Dr. Al Mohler on passages in Deuteronomy emphasizing how Israel heard the voice of God when He delivered the law to them through Moses on Mt.Horeb.

Our men’s Monday night Bible study has started studying the book of Deuteronomy and in looking for a new Journal for our Seminary library, I discovered that the December 2014 issue of the Southern Baptist Theological Journal (the Seminary of which Mohler is president) is entirely devoted to this OT book.

Mohler’s fine article is titled “Has Any People Heard the Voice of God Speaking… And Survived?”, a reference to Deut.4:33. In this first part that I quote, Mohler has referenced verses 11-13 of that chapter. And he writes concerning this:

As will be made clear in the Second Commandment – this is not a God who is seen, but a God who is heard. The contrast with the idols is very clear – the idols are seen, but they do not speak. The one true and living God is not seen, but he is heard. The contrast is intentional, graphic, and clear – we speak because we have heard. And the voice of God is not something Israel deserved, nor do we. It is sheer mercy.

We have no right to hear God speak. We have no call upon his voice. We have no right to demand that he would speak. We are accustomed to pointing to the cross of Christ and glorying in the cross of Christ – as we ought always to do – and saying of the cross, ‘There is mercy!’ But at Mount Horeb, there too was mercy! There is mercy when God speaks. This is the mercy of God allowing us to hear his voice (p.10).

As he further explains this passage, Mohler makes eight (8) points of application, the last of which is “If God has spoken, we must witness.” I appreciated his final comments under this – fitting for us today as we will also hear God’s voice – and the church will proclaim that Word that she has heard.

The difference for the church is that we understand what it means to gather together as the ones who by the grace and mercy of God have heard. Under the authority of the Word we gather. We are not making this up as we go along. Our task is not to go figure out what to teach. Our task is not to figure out where to find meaning in life. It is to be reminded continually that we have heard the voice of God speaking from the fire and have survived, and thus we teach.

This is the mercy of God, to hear and yet survive. It is the mercy by which we live every day and experience every moment and evaluate every truth claim and judge every worldview and preach every sermon. We work and we live under that mercy. I cannot help connecting Deuteronomy 4 with Hebrews 1. The experience of Israel – hearing the Lord God speak from the midst of the fire and yet surviving – ties in so beautifully with the prologue of the book of Hebrews: ‘Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world’ (vv.1-2).

We are here because God has spoken, not only in the fire, but also in the Son – in whose name we gather as the church and in whose name we serve. The voice at Horeb points to its ultimate fulfillment in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Word of God incarnate. For beyond the miracle of Israel hearing God’s voice and surviving, we can now know the Word of God made flesh and be saved (p.17).

True Religion Before God and the Father – H.Hanko

faithmadeperfect-hhanko-2015The Reformed Free Publishing Association has recently published a new commentary on the epistle of James by Prof. Herman Hanko (emeritus, PRC Seminary). It carries the title Faith Made Perfect: Commentary on James (RFPA, 2015).

Doing some reading in it this morning led me to these two quotes that are also fitting for us on this Lord’s Day when we are called to practice “true religion and undefiled before God and the Father” (1:27). And that is contrast to a religion that is “vain” because we do not bridle our tongues (1:26).

Here is some of what Prof.Hanko says about these verses in the end of James 1:

The word translated as ‘vain’ [1:26] is not kenos, which means empty, but mataios, which means aimless. It refers to a religion that is without purpose, without fruit, without any goal, when the goal of one’s life ought to be the glory of God and praise to him who is alone worthy of it. Everything he does in the practice of religion is purposeless. His singing in church, his giving alms, and his careful attention to religious practices – all are without purpose, for they are only outward. God is not praised; nothing that man does is of any benefit to himself or to God, all because he does not know how to bridle his tongue. That is a devastating indictment (pp.78-79).

And then on the next verse, v.27, Hanko has this to say:

The addition of ‘Father’ is remarkable. It immediately puts all worship in the context of a father-son relationship. Worship is family fellowship – fellowship between a Father and his children. It is a relationship of love and mutual joy. It is a confession, with all that is implied, that worship is conversation between our Father in heaven and his children. It is conversation between our Father in heaven and his children on earth. Thus true religion before the Father is also religion that preserves the proper ‘space’ between the almighty and eternal God and creatures who are very, very sinful children. True religion is praise to God for his love for us in Christ (pp.79-80)

Honoring the Lord’s Holy Name – Iain Campbell

You Shall Not Take the Lord’s Name in Vain by Iain Campbell | Reformed Theology Articles at

TT-June 2015This month’s issue of Tabletalk (Ligonier Ministries devotional magazine) is devoted to the theme of keeping the law of God (ten commandments – more on this in another post this week).

Last week I read two more of the feature articles on the first four commandments, those which define our relationship of love to our loving, redeeming Father in Christ Jesus. One of these explained the third commandment, where God calls us not to take His glorious name in vain but rather to honor and magnify it.

Here is part of Dr.Iain Campbell’s explanation of it as found in this issue (for the full article, use the link above):

The ethic of Jesus is the ethic of the Ten Commandments. He taught His people to live by that rule, and He did so Himself. He is the very embodiment of obedience to God; nowhere are the Ten Commandments personified and manifested in their fullness as they are in the life of Jesus.

As the law of God requires of us not to take His name in vain, so Jesus teaches us to pray, “Hallowed be your name” (Matt. 6:9). Prayer expresses our desire to keep the third commandment. It also expresses our need for the grace of God to that end. Prayer is a recognition that what God requires of us, He also provides for us.

…John Calvin is correct, therefore, when he comments on the third commandment that “it becomes us to regulate our minds and our tongues, so as never to think or speak of God and his mysteries without reverence and great soberness, and never, in estimating his works, to have any feeling toward him but one of deep veneration” (Institutes 2.8.22). That sense of veneration in connection with God’s name is what characterizes a life of holiness and a worship that is genuine. Both in our service and in our worship, we are to think on the things of God with adoration and reverence, knowing that the fact that God has revealed Himself to us by name is itself a great act of grace.

By naming Himself, God not only discloses who He is, but He does so in such a way that we might know Him personally. To live by the terms of the third commandment is to recognize and confess that God deserves the highest honor; that He has singled us out by putting His name on us; that we would be entirely lost were it not that for the sake of His name He keeps and protects us; and that He calls us to live after the example of Jesus, glorifying God on earth. We are the bearers of the name of God; may all our conduct show it.

Good things for us to ponder on this Lord’s Day, as we come into our Father’s presence and use His Name in our worship. And good things for us to remember as we enter the work-week with that great and gracious Name on us and in us.

Resting on God – “The Valley of Vision”

ValleyofVisionBookToday is the Lord’s Day, the day we mark the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ by worshiping our great and glorious God in His house with His people. It is the day of rest, as we rest in the finished work of our Savior Who has fulfilled the rest of the OT sabbath and given us perfect peace and rest.

As we begin this day of rest, this Puritan devotional from The Valley of Vision (ed. by A.Bennett,; Banner of Truth, 1975) is certainly appropriate. May it remind us, as Augustine stated long ago, that our hearts are restless until they rest in God.

Resting on God

O God, most high, most glorious, the thought of Thine infinite serenity cheers me, for I am toiling and moiling, troubled and distressed, but Thou art for ever at perfect peace.

Thy designs cause thee no fear or care of unfulfilment, they stand fast as the eternal hills.

Thy power knows no bond, Thy goodness no stint.

Thou bringest order out of confusion, and my defeats are Thy victories: The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

I come to Thee as a sinner with cares and sorrows, to leave every concern entirely to Thee, every sin calling for Christ’s precious blood; revive deep spirituality in my heart; let me live near to the great Shepherd, hear His voice, know its tones, follow its calls.

Keep me from deception by causing me to abide in the truth, from harm by helping me to walk in the power of the Spirit.

Give me intenser faith in the eternal verities, burning into me by experience the things I know; Let me never be ashamed of the truth of the gospel, that I may bear its reproach, vindicate it, see Jesus as its essence, know in it the power of the Spirit.

Lord, help me, for I am often lukewarm and chill; unbelief mars my confidence, sin makes me forget Thee. Let the weeds that grow in my soul be cut at their roots; grant me to know that I truly live only when I live to Thee, that all else is trifling.

Thy presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong and happy. Abide in me, gracious God.

If you prefer to listen this devotional read, you may find it here on YouTube.


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