There is no higher or more meaningful worship experience for those of us who are Christians than when we come to The Lord’s Table to take the bread and cup. No one should ever participate in this special hour of worship without giving serious thought to the price Jesus paid that we might be redeemed.

I will never forget a Lord’s Supper service that I scheduled several years ago in a Wilmington nursing home. Knowing how long it had been since Christian residents there had been able to celebrate communion, I carried the elements one Sunday morning especially for them. Sitting before me in wheel chairs were about twenty-five residents. After sharing what it means to take the bread and cup “in remembrance of Christ,” the elements were passed. Sitting on the front row side by side were two ladies, one white and one black, both well above eighty. The white lady, a wealthy Episcopalian, was a college graduate; the black lady, a Baptist, possibly had not finished high school. Both had tears streaming down their cheeks. Beautiful! Powerful!

There were so many differences between them – their background, their level of education, the color of their skin etc. But as believers in Jesus Christ they had all things in common. In taking the bread and cup, they were sisters, family members. I remember that Lord’s Supper service as vividly as if it were yesterday.

The Lord’s Supper will likely be scheduled in your church prior to Easter Sunday. I pray that you will attend, and that you will grasp the full meaning of those deliberately chosen words spoken by our Lord to His disciples the night before He was crucified, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me” (II Corinthians 11:24). And likewise the words He spoke as He passed the cup, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me” (I Corinthians 11:25-26).

God’s Word says that those to sit at The Lord’s Table should first examine themselves. Your worship experience will have its greatest meaning if, prior to taking the bread and cup, you will ask yourself the following questions, all of which are based on the seven cardinal sins:

Pride: Have I failed to demonstrate genuine humility? Been self-assertive? Self-indulgent? Opinionated? Done anything that would damage my church? Been scornful or contemptuous?

Anger: Have I been impatient with my family or with others? Been overbearing, cruel or sarcastic? Hurt others in any way, bodily, or spiritually? Yielded to vengeful or jealous thoughts – sullenness, hatred, rage, or irritability?

Lust: Have I entertained impure thoughts or been involved in impure acts?

Sloth: Am I diligent in my work? Am I addicted to laziness? Indolent in thought? Slack in devotion? Faithful in attending worship? Careless or casual in fulfilling my responsibilities?

Envy: Do I show love to persons around me? Or do I cherish grudges, old scores, and hatreds? Discontent? Peevishness? Nagging? Resentment of all unfairness? Sour disposition? Cynicism?

Avarice: Have I acquired anything, money or goods, by unfair or unjust means? Failed to pay anything that should be paid? Kept any possession belonging to others? Failed to give God what is due Him in time, money and service?

Gluttony: Have I been guilty of overindulgence? Spent too much on self? Neglected self-discipline?



Lloyd John Ogilvie, former pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, California, in The Bush is Still Burning, relates the story of the time he asked one of his parishioners this penetrating question, “What do you feel is the deepest need in your life, and what can I do to help?”

His parishioner’s response was immediate and direct. “I need a new God!” he replied. “What I know about God I learned from my family, my friends and the culture in which I was raised. I’ve thought about God as a judge, or as a heavenly policeman. He has been up there or out there somewhere. And I couldn’t believe that He either knew or cared about me and my struggles.”

His answer accurately describes the way too many Christians in today’s world view God. They were taught and have come to think of God as an absentee landlord – aloof, distant, and nonexistent insofar as knowing about the daily problems they face or having genuine concern for them.

As a Christian minister I have spent my life trying to minister to people: leaders and followers, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, young and old, married and single. Most of them have two things in common: they believe in God, and yet they have persistent struggles in their lives.

I have watched some of the people I have served fold under the pressure during times of strain and struggle. Often the reason they caved under the pressures they were facing is that they needed a new God other than the one they had fashioned in their own mind – or at least a new and clearer view of the one true God.

We all have times of insecurity and self-doubt, times when we lack self-esteem, times when we feel so overloaded that we struggle, times when we do not know which direction to take, times when we have exhausted all of our resources. Anxiety is a stranger to none of us. Fears and frustrations track us like a birddog tracking a covey of quail.

We have all had and still have periods of discouragement, disappointment, and times of emotional letdown. Worry knocks on everybody’s front door. The trouble begins when we open the door and invite it inside. Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrows; it only robs today of its strength. To worry about what we can’t change is useless; to worry about what we can change is stupid.

Not all of our struggles are internal, however. We all face difficult situations at work and within our families. Progress is sometimes slow, circumstances vary, and conflict seems inevitable. Everyone at one time or another has to deal with impossible people. Each day presents us with a new edition of bad news, or with a difficult challenge we have not faced before.

The reason we have difficulty facing such things is often that we have a diminutive God of our own making. We need to believe in and personally experience the true God who knows and cares and intervenes and acts, who is present and powerful, who makes things happen!

We need to know that we do not have to face our struggles alone. The God of the Bible is the God of the past, the present, and the future. He is infinitely able to make good things come to pass. Knowing this offers no help unless we know Him personally.

That is why “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14). He has promised to walk with us every mile of the way and to make us adequate for any hour.

I have known God personally for seventy-eight years, and I have never faced a need or problem in which He and His promises were not the answer I needed most. His answer has not always been the answer I initially would have preferred, but it was always the one He knew I needed. I have often failed Him, but He has never failed me.

Do you need a new God?


Having been born in 1931 most people in my home town did not have a surplus of material “things” – often referred to as “stuff.” In the next two or three decades the economy greatly improved and more stuff became available. People saw it, wanted it, bought it, displayed it, and compared it with other people’s stuff. When compared to what people owned during the early 1930s most of us now have a great deal more.

Currently in our country there are more than 30,000 self-storage facilities containing more than a billion square feet of space where people can store their accumulated stuff. Sixty or seventy years ago self-storage facilities did not even exist. Americans spend $12 billion every single year just to store their extra stuff.

Just one citizen, William Randolph Hearst, businessman, politician, and newspaper publisher, became an expert at accumulating stuff. He built a residence containing 72,000 square feet to house his stuff. It contained 3,500-year-old hand-carved Egyptian statues, medieval Flemish tapestries, and some of the greatest works of art of all time. It was located on 265,000 acres.

Multiplied thousands of people now go through Hearst’s house, and they all say the same thing: “Wow! He certainly had a lot of stuff!” What happened then? After acquiring an ungodly amount of stuff he died. One out of one dies. It happens to everybody. We ultimately leave all of our stuff behind – for our kids to divide among themselves, or to be sold in order to pay Uncle Sam who is waiting in line for his portion.

Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19). It is not wise to attach one’s greatest value to things that do not last. It is much better to attach supreme value to that which is eternal – God and people.

Small children find it easy to say of the things that are given to them, “Mine!” Adults know that small children do not earn any of their stuff. It is all provided for them, a gift from someone much older and wiser than they – parents, grandparents, or other members of their family. As a general rule they don’t always take good care of what is given to them. Nevertheless, like adults, they become very attached to their stuff.

Consider a few statements from Scripture: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1). “When God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work – this is a gift from God” (Ecclesiastes 5:19). “How much better it is to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!” (Proverbs 16:16).

I have been a Christian minister since 1949. When it comes to being a Christian steward of the material wealth God has given to us, would you care to guess what is probably the most asked question I have been asked about tithing? It is, “Do I have to tithe on the net or on the gross?” When translated this means, “How little can I give and still be on good terms with God?” Expressed another way it means, “How much of my stuff can I keep for myself?” It is like going to your mother the week before Mother’s Day and saying, “Mom, what is the least amount of money I can spend on your present and still be assured that you love me?”

Every one of us will one day have to give an account of how we have handled what God has entrusted to our care. It can be an occasion of great joy or one of deep regret. God only loans to us the stuff we say is ours, but it all belongs to Him. Only what we give back to Him and to bless others will we be able to take with us into what Jesus called “the Father’s House” (John 14:1-4).


Most senior adults – in other words, people anywhere near my age – will remember the old TV show, The Lone Ranger. He, and his sidekick Tonto, would show up in town when law and order was threatened and handle the situation. At the end of each show as he saddled up and rode out of town, someone would say, “Who is that masked man?” In the distance you would hear him say, “Hi ho, Silver…away!”

The only masks I have seen anyone wear in the last several years were worn by children who knocked on my front door at Halloween to say, “Trick or treat!” Jesus warned those of us who are His followers against hiding behind a mask, pretending to be someone other than who we are. The word He used was “hypocrisy.” In warning us against hypocrisy He was saying, “Don’t hide behind a mask. Be real.”

Luke’s Gospel tells us, “When a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: ‘Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy’” (Luke 12:1). Yeast is a rising agent. In the Bible it is always symbolic of evil. Hypocrisy works in secret with penetrating power, starting small and working its way through our lives. It is easy to rationalize a sinful act, telling ourselves it is just one time, but it then leads to other things.

Hypocrisy is futile and foolish, and Jesus explained why: “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs” (Luke 12:2-3).

Simply put, there are no secrets with God. Whatever we try to hide will surface one day. The Pharisees were more concerned about their reputation than with their character. This says to us as Christians that what other people think about us is not as important as what God knows about us. He is not impressed by our outward display of “being religious”. He considers what we are inside (see Luke 11:39).

Are you putting on a good front while harboring sin in your life? Maybe the sin is something you are doing – participating in pornography, an adulterous relationship, or some other wrong behavior. Or maybe it is an attitude – bitterness, envy, anger, jealousy, forgiveness, or something else. Whatever it is, remember that God knows. He loves you and wants to help you overcome. As you confess your sin to Him and become willing to turn from it, He will forgive you and give you strength to overcome.

Perhaps you have heard the story of the man who might have made it through an intersection as the traffic light was turning red, but stopped at the crosswalk. A tailgating woman behind him slammed on her brakes, dropping her cell phone and makeup. She furiously began honking her horn, screaming in frustration, because she had missed a chance to get through the intersection. As she was in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up to see the face of very serious police officer.

He ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched and fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a holding cell. After a couple of hours she was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal affects. He said, “I’m sorry for the mistake. When I pulled up behind your car, you were blowing your horn, making lewd gestures at the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ bumper sticker, the ‘Choose life’ plate holder, the ‘Follow me to Sunday School’ bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk . . .I naturally assumed you had stolen the car.”

Ask yourself, “Am I just a Sunday morning Christian?”


In an effort to boost circulation, the St. Petersburg, Florida, Times a few years ago ran clues to a treasure hunt for two hundred dollars that had been buried somewhere in the greater St. Petersburg area. Two thousand people gathered in front of the newspaper building on the day the final clue was printed.

During the next thirty minutes several unusual things happened. Six people were injured in automobile accidents. A number of women passed out in the crowd gathered in front of the newspaper building. Four people had to be rescued from waist-deep mud. The stakes on a building site were torn up by the crowd in its mad search for the hidden treasure. The newspaper’s stunt succeeded: circulation increased five percent.

A popular pastime in America is to get something for nothing. The search for what is called the good life is often an all-consuming passion that leads to all sorts of unusual and odd behavior, some of which is pathetic, humorous or tragic. Since Christ knew this to be so, He dedicated much of His time to the search for the good life. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:19-34 He deals with this subject in a direct manner. He states that the good life is a life of wise investments, unwavering loyalties and simple trust:

A life of wise investments: Too many of us believe that piling up treasures on the earth should be given high priority. Christ realized that our attitude toward things, regardless of whether we have much or little, determines the direction of our souls and the destiny of our lives.

Henry Chapin Smith, an 84-year-old man who died in abject poverty, was buried in a pauper’s grave in New York. Several days after his burial, the city authorities discovered a fortune of more than $500,000 belonging to him in a Brooklyn warehouse vault. He was a graduate of Harvard, had been a classmate of Robert Frost, and a friend of the philosopher Henry James. His life is a mute reminder of the futility of placing our trust in money or in the things that money can buy.

Jesus taught the wisdom of laying up treasures in heaven. Deposits in the bank of heaven are made every time we offer forgiveness and understanding to others who need it, every time we meet human needs in the name of Christ, and every time we turn away from deeds that are shoddy and cheap and wrong.

A life of unwavering loyalty: There is nothing intrinsically wrong with being wealthy, even very wealthy – so long as what we own does not own us. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you.” This is not a prohibition against wealth; it is an admonition to get our priorities in order. Divided loyalties make for disturbed minds and confused goals.

How can we develop a life of unwavering loyalty? The apostle Paul had the right idea when he said, “This one thing I do” (Philippians 1:13). When we focus our attention and power on a single worthy objective – on following and serving Jesus Christ, the door is opened wide for the living of the good life.

A life of simple trust: The antithesis of trust is fear and worry. The Living Bible translates Matthew 6:34 to say: “Don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrows too. Live one day at a time.” Trusting God implicitly means that we do not have to waste our time worrying about what we shall eat, or drink, or wear. We can be certain that God knows every one of our needs and will supply them.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus does not argue against planning, or saving, or working. He is not advocating that we neglect our responsibility or that we be slothful. Rather, He asks that we trust our lives and our days into the hands of God. Living the good life on the earth gives way to a better life hereafter.


Henry Francis Lyte was an elderly man, and he was approaching the end of life’s journey. His doctors had told him that he had only a few months to live. He was tired and very ill. One day he sat down at his desk and picked up his Bible. It fell open to one of his favorite passages and he read: “Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent . . .” (Luke 24:29). Lyte read and reread those words. Suddenly he was tired no longer. Words, thrilling words, began to fill his mind, and he began writing the words we sing in one of our great Christian hymns:

Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide!
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me!”

It was for him a mountaintop spiritual experience. He gained marvelous new strength in the realization that he possessed something that would abide throughout eternity.

Study the material things that people today seek to gain, and you will discover that most of them are temporary – clothes that will be out of style next year, automobiles that will wear out, and countless other treasures that “moth and rust corrupt.” We are often disappointed in these things after we possess them. We realize that we cannot totally enjoy them because they do not last.

Every material blessing we have will one day be gone. Physical strength diminishes as we grow older. The years steal away our strength and/or beauty. The most brilliant and successful career will come to an end. The most thunderous applause will ultimately die into silence. Even if we are completely satisfied today, it is possible that we will not be satisfied tomorrow.

When you accept Jesus Christ by faith as Savior and Lord, you possess a treasure that abides forever. God’s grace plus our faith equals eternal life – that is God’s promise (see John 3:16). And no one and no power can take eternal life from us (see John 10:27-29).

But what is faith? There are many definitions, but essentially it is to believe certain truths. One of the grandest statements the apostle Paul ever made was when he said: “I have kept the faith.” Life had dealt him some very harsh blows – he was shipwrecked, scourged, threatened, and faced numerous other difficulties — but through it all he held on to his faith. When you remain true to what you know to be the highest and best, you are keeping the faith. Thus, faith in God basically means three things:

First, that He created the universe. In other words, He is behind all that exists. It may seem at times that evil will ultimately triumph, but we remember how Christ said: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end“(Revelation 1:8). We have read what God’s Word says about history and how it will end.

Second, that He cares. His Son took the penalty for our sins upon His own body. He died and rose again. And He is coming again to take His children to the home He is preparing.

Third, that He is with us, and will never leave us. We are not alone . . . and will never be alone.

Dwight Bradley, in Leaves from a Spiritual Notebook, defined worship with these beautiful words:

“For worship is a thirsty land crying out for rain,
It is a candle in the act of being kindled,
It is a drop in quest of the ocean,
It is a voice in the night calling for help,
It is a soul standing in awe before the mystery of the universe,
It is time flowing into eternity,
… a man climbing the altar stairs to God.”

We can worship anywhere and at any time. We may worship God privately or along with others in our churches. When we worship in church on Sunday, we confess our sins through spoken words and pledge our love and loyalty to God. Some of the most significant words in the Bible are words of pledge and promise from the lips of individuals who were committing themselves to God in an act of worship. For example:

Joshua, as he stood on the banks of the Jordan River with the Children of Israel poised to enter the Promised Land, renewed his commitment to God by saying to the Israelites, “Choose this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

King David, when confronted with the enormity of his sins, cried out, “Cleanse me, O Lord, with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of your salvation. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you” (Psalm 51:7-13).

When the prophet Isaiah was in the Temple on the Sabbath day and heard the Lord calling for someone He could send to proclaim His message, he cried out, “Here am I, Lord, send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

On one occasion as Jesus walked through Samaria an enthusiastic young man rushed up to Him and cried out, “Lord, I will follow you wherever you go” (Luke 9:57).

Simon Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, I will lay down my life for you” (John 13:37).

All of these are words of commitment. However, words alone do not constitute commitment. There is a degree of precariousness in making such verbal commitments. We know this well by our own innumerable failures to translate the words we have spoken into obedient activity in everyday living.

Nor did Peter follow through with heroic commitment to the words he had spoken to Jesus – that is, not until the hours following Christ’s resurrection when he was restored to a loving and obedient relationship with the Lord. He later became a martyr for his faith. The words of commitment we speak to God in times of worship must be not only sincere but followed by obedience.