H.B. Charles Jr.

On Worship

Written by H.B. Charles, Jr. |
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
No one should ever catch us doing something new when they attend our worship services. It should be the same thing every week, every month, every year. Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!

How to Worship God
In the first word of the Ten Commandments, God commanded His people to worship Him exclusively: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3). The second word is linked to the first:
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Ex. 20:4–6)
There is some disagreement about how the Ten Commandments should be numbered. Roman Catholics and Lutherans read the first and second commandments as one commandment. To keep ten commandments, they call the preamble (Ex. 20:2) a commandment or divide the tenth commandment (Ex. 20:17) into two parts.
Exodus 20:3 and 4–6 record two different commands. They are two different sides of the same coin. The first commandment is about the proper object of worship. The second commandment is about the proper mode of worship. The first commandment addresses orthodoxy (right belief). The second commandment addresses orthopraxy (right practice). The first commandment tells us whom to worship. The second commandment tells us how to worship. God says, “Worship Me alone.” Then God says, “Worship Me this way.” How we worship matters to God.
The second commandment does not prohibit God’s people from being artistic. The Lord will instruct Moses to have artisans construct the ark of the covenant with artistic elements. The Spirit of God would inspire and empower men to creatively build the tabernacle. This is not a categorical prohibition against carved images. The Lord’s concern here is liturgical, not artistic. We must not make carved images for worship.
The second commandment warns us how misguided sincerity can be. When the children of Israel danced around the golden calf, the Lord did not respond, “Look how sincere they are!” The Lord became so angry that only the passionate intercession of Moses saved their lives. God demands proper worship.
Worship God on His Terms
It is remarkable that the first commandment was necessary. After delivering the children of Israel from Egypt, God still needed to instruct His people not to worship false idols. The second commandment is a natural progression from the first. God disabuses His people of the assumption that it does not matter how we worship, as long as we worship the right God. Redeemed people can still offer unacceptable worship if it is not on God’s terms.
God cannot be controlled. That is what happens with carved images. A symbol makes visible what is invisible and tangible what is intangible. In so doing, the reality behind the symbol is tamed, controlled, and neutered. Why do you think there is so much controversy over the American flag? It is a symbol that points to a reality. How one treats the symbol is a statement of what one thinks about the reality it represents.
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Keep Your Heart with All Vigilance

Written by H.B. Charles Jr.  |
Saturday, February 26, 2022
Keep your heart useful. Nothing lives in the Dead Sea, because waters flow into it from the Jordan River, but nothing flows out. There must be inflow and outlet to sustain life. Guard the flow of your heart coming and going. As the truth, love, and grace of God flow in, obedient, service, and generosity should flow out. Be a river, not a reservoir. Pour into the lives of others from the overflow of the Lord’s goodness to you.

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. – Proverbs 4:23

Proverbs 4:23 consists of an exhortation and an explanation, a command and a reason. The verse begins with a call to keep your heart with all vigilance. Like a soldier defending his post against attack, you must guard your heart.
We typically associate the heart with our emotions. In scripture, however, the heart represents the mind, the will, and the emotions. The heart is the seat of personhood. It is one’s innermost being; the control-center of life.
The command to keep your heart reminds us of the priority of the inner self. What happens within us is always more important than what happens around us. The attitude of our hearts matters more than the circumstances of our lives. The heart of the matter is always the matter of the heart.
Keeping your heart is an ongoing responsibility. It is not like setting an alarm and trusting your house is safe, as you go about your day. It is like posting armed security at the door to protect the house against intrusion or invasion. You must keep your heart with all vigilance. Do whatever it takes to guard your heart. Practice diligence oversight of the state of your heart.
Why is keeping your heart important? The heart is the wellspring of life. From it flow the springs of life. Your thoughts, choices, and feelings flow from what is in your heart. The heart is a mighty river. Life is an overflowing stream. The flow of the river determines the life, health, and strength of the stream.
Many people struggle to experience meaningful life-change, because they deal with their problems downstream instead of upstream. They work downstream to get debris out of the water.
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Jesus Wept

Written by H.B. Charles Jr.  |
Friday, February 11, 2022
As Jesus wept, the people said, “See how he loved him!” (John 11:36) Jesus wept because he cared about the living – Mary and Martha. Jesus wept because he cared about the dead – Lazarus. Jesus wept because he cared about sin that causes pain, death, and death. The compassionate heart of Jesus has not changed. He cares for you! Peter bids us to be “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Jesus wept. – John 11:35

John 11 records the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. John tells the story in a series of conversations. The passage begins with a conversation Jesus has with his disciples about the sickness and death of Lazarus. When he finally arrived in Bethany, Lazarus’ sister Marth confronted him. In the ensuing conversation, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). Then Jesus talked with Lazarus’ other sister, Mary.
Mary fell at the feet of Jesus, consumed with grief. Unlike his encounter at Jairus’ house, Jesus does not question the mourning of the grieving community (Mark 5:39). Here Jesus was “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled” (John 11:33).
Jesus took charge of the situation, asking, “Where have laid him?” (John 11:34). They led Jesus to Lazarus’ tomb, where he would work a miracle. At this point, John reports a remarkable detail: “Jesus wept.” John 11:35 is one of the shortest verses in the Bible. The verse is short in words but long in meaning. It is an ocean of truth in a teaspoon of words. The weeping Jesus is a comforting truth.
Jesus wept as a man. John records seven miraculous “signs” that prove the deity of Jesus. Raising Lazarus from the dead is the final and climactic miracle Jesus performed that identifies him as God in the flesh. Yet the one who was God enough to raise the dead was man enough to weep with the grieving. Jesus was a real man. Jesus was a perfect man. Jesus was a divine man. Yet Jesus wept. When life makes you cry, you are in good company!
Jesus wept, despite what he knew. Well-meaning Christians say to the grieving, “Don’t cry. You knew where your loved one is.”
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The Salt of the Earth

Written by H.B. Charles Jr.  |
Sunday, January 30, 2022
Salt seasons. This is the point Jesus makes when he says, “You are the salt of the earth.” Christians are to the earth what salt is to food. Christians are kingdom condiments. Christians are sanctified seasoning. Christians flavor this insipid world. We are the salt of the world for God. Believers live for the pleasure of God to make a difference in the world. Christians are not perfect. But when Christians live as Christians, we make this corrupt world palatable to God. Let the church be the church!

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is not good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. – Matthew 5:13

Salt gets bad press. It is tied to hypertension, obesity, heart disease, and other ailments. The need for salt is questioned. The use of salt is discouraged. The presence of salt on many tables is more decorative than anything else. However, this was not the case when Jesus announced to his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth.”
In New Testament times, salt was an essential and valuable commodity. The Roman government paid soldiers’ wages in salt. A good, faithful man was said to be “worth his salt.” Our word “salary” is derived from the Latin term, solarium, which means to trade or barter with salt.
Salt served a wide array of purposes in the ancient world. There are just as many views of what “the salt of the earth” means. Consider three primary interpretations of Matthew 5:13.
Salt prevents decay. To prevent meats from spoiling, it was packed in salt. Salt slowed the process of spoiling. Likewise, Christians are the salt of the earth, without which the forces of evil would have little or no resistance in the world.
Salt promotes thirst. Saltwater intensifies thirst; the more you drink, the thirstier you become. The pleasures of the world do not satisfy. Christians should cause unbelievers to become dissatisfied with the world and thirsty for God.
Salt provides flavor. Salt seasons. This is the point Jesus makes when he says, “You are the salt of the earth.” Christians are to the earth what salt is to food. Christians are kingdom condiments. Christians are sanctified seasoning. Christians flavor this insipid world.
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Living by the Book

William Wilberforce, who led the British abolition of slavery, memorized Psalm 119. As he walked from Parliament home to Hyde Park each day, he recited the psalm to himself. We definitely and desperately need Psalm 119 today. We need to be reminded that God’s word is sufficient to meet every need of the soul.
Psalm 119 is the longest of the 150 Psalms. If psalms were considered chapters, Psalm 119 would be the longest chapter of the Bible – in both verses and words. It is longer than several books of the Bible.
The psalm contains 176 verses that are divided into 22 stanzas. Each stanza is 8 verses long. These sections are arranged into an acrostic poem, using every letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
In most Bible translations, you will find the word or symbol for Aleph above verse 1. Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Aleph begins each word that begins a line in verses 1-8. The pattern continues with Beth in verses 9-16, Gimel in verses 17-24, and so on. Legend claims David used Psalm 119 to teach his son, Solomon, the alphabet.
These literary details are all most people know about Psalm 119. But there is a reason why you should make friends with this famous psalm that goes beyond its great length, intricate structure, and poetic beauty. You should read, hear, study, meditate on, and memorize this psalm because of its surpassing them.
This psalm is about the word of God. Nearly every verse contains a synonymous reference to the word of God. Psalm 119 celebrates the fact that the word of God is totally sufficient for every season of life. the Bible is inspired, inerrant, and infallible. 2 Timothy 3:16 asserts: “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” But Psalm 119 is not about the the nature, power, and truthfulness of God’s word. It is about the sufficiency of Scripture. Many readily affirm the sufficiency of scripture. Yet they betray its sufficiency by ignoring, neglecting, and sometimes outright rejecting its sufficiency to save, edify, comfort, guide, and bless.
William Wilberforce, who led the British abolition of slavery, memorized Psalm 119. As he walked from Parliament home to Hyde Park each day, he recited the psalm to himself. We definitely and desperately need Psalm 119 today. We need to be reminded that God’s word is sufficient to meet every need of the soul.
We do not know the author, occasion, or background of this psalm. But the point of this psalm is absolutely clear: The word of God is sufficient for every season of life. This glorious theme is established in the opening stanza of Psalm 119, which teaches three aspects of living by the book.
The Delight of Living By the Book
Psalm 1:1-2 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 119 may be considered an exposition of Psalm 1. What the first psalm affirms, this psalm explains: “God blesses those who live by his word.
“Blessed” means true happiness, surpassing joy, full contentment, perfect peace and complete satisfaction in God. Charles Bridges wrote: “All would secure themselves from the incursions of misery; but all do not consider that misery is the offspring of sin, from which therefore it is necessary to be delivered and preserved, in order to become happy or ‘blessed.’” Do you want to be blessed?
God blesses sincere devotion to his word. Verse 1 declares, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless.” “Blameless” does not mean sinless perfection. If perfection is the standard, none of us could be blessed. What does it mean to be blameless? The NKJV reads: “Blessed are the undefiled in the way.” That is a helpful translation. To be blameless is to be undefiled. The standard for blessedness is purity, not perfection. Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Psalm 119:1 says, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. “Walk” is a metaphor for one’s consistent conduct. It is how you live. The blameless walk in the law of the Lord. This reference to the “law” is not limited to the Pentateuch. Here, and throughout this psalm, references to the law encompass all that God teaches in order that we may be right with him. Do not picture walking in the law as some negative, restrictive, or oppressive way of life. Picture it as the path that leads to blessings, happiness, joy, favor, and satisfaction.
God blesses steadfast devotion to his word. Verse 2 says, “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart.” Blessed people are devoted to the Bible’s sake. They keep God’s testimonies because they seek God. Why live by the Book? Scripture will draw you closer to God. It is through the word of God that we know, trust, and served the Lord Jesus Christ. the Bible is like a telescope. If you look at a telescope, all you will see is the telescope. If you look through a telescope, you can see worlds beyond.
To find God in scripture, seek him with your whole heart. Have no divided loyalties. Give God your full attention, affection, and adoration. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Psalm 119:3a describes the blessed life in negative terms: “who also do no wrong.” This is not so much about the blessed person as it is about the word of GOd. God’s word will always lead you into righteousness, never into sin. Verse 9 says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” Verse 11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Verse 105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” God’s word will lead you to righteousness, away from sin, and through your storms.
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Leading From the Pulpit

Written by H.B. Charles Jr.  |
Friday, December 10, 2021
Preaching prioritizes church health. Pastors and churches should always prioritize church health over church growth. Congregational health consists of fidelity of doctrine, holiness of lifestyle, and unity of fellowship. Preaching should reject the bigger-is-better delusion. The pulpit keeps the main thing the main thing. Focus the church on its Christ-given mission. A Bible-teaching pulpit nurtures a Bible-regulated congregation.

The preacher should live as a preacher, watching his life and doctrine. The preacher should also labor as a preacher, giving himself to the hard work of prayer and the ministry of the word. And the preacher should lead as a preacher.
The pastor is often judged by the work he does outside of the pulpit more than the work he does in it. Yet there is no biblical dichotomy between the pastor as a preacher and the pastor as a leader. Preaching is leadership!
First and foremost, the pastor-teacher is charged to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:1-2). His leadership should flow out of his preaching, not compete with it. In a real sense, expositional preaching should result in expositional leadership. As goes the pulpit, so goes the church.
Why should the pastor-teacher lead from the pulpit?
Preaching builds pastoral influence. Leadership is influence. Influence requires trust. Trust takes time. Your title does not give you credibility. Your character does. The best way to gain leadership influence is to live and preach the word. The power is in the pulpit, not the boardroom. Don’t go into meetings as if you are the C.E.O. of a corporation. Go to the pulpit as if you are the shepherd of a flock who labors in preaching and teaching.
Preaching develops biblical convictions. The primary job of the pastor-teacher is to make disciples who think and act biblically. The disciple-making process consists of teaching believers to obey the commands of Jesus. This is the heart of pastoral work. Preaching cultivates a biblical worldview in strategic ways nothing else can. Preach in such a way that helps your people understand what they believe and why they believe it.
Preaching regulates corporate worship. Many churches live with a divorced but cohabitating relationship between music and preaching. However, music in worship should be an extension of the ministry of the word (Colossians 3:16). The corporate worship of the local church should be word-centered.
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