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Archive for the tag “Worthy of worship”

Re-imaging Worship

Several years ago, my Pastor had a vision for the future of the Church. He believed the Church would once again be as it was in the beginning – small gatherings in homes; studying scripture, singing praises and then eating together – sharing life together. Soon after the vision, he began a teaching program called Solutionary – to help the membership (well, those who signed up for the classes) learn how to lead a house church. Through the years since, the vision has morphed into missional communities – small groups meeting together regularly, driven by a single purpose to help the community in a specific way.

As I was contemplating this Easter without any of my family – either my biological or my church family – I realized this maybe the first of a new normal. This thought brings some real grief. I have ever been without my family for an Easter celebration. I also realized during this season of forced solitude, I don’t do worship well by myself. I join the online experience, but I can’t seem to get into a worship rhythm with the worship team. This new normal feels wrong somehow. Worship is supposed to be a joint effort, right?

The thought of a house church really appeals to me right now. How about you? But what if we’re months away from another in-person gathering? What if our new normal is small gatherings where we are forced to stay within twenty or less people? What if I have to worship alone for another few months? That’s a lot of what ifs and I can get a bit freaked out if I think about the possibilities too long.

My spirit has felt a bit dry lately even though I have been in God’s Word every day for the last fifteen years or so. I have been in Bible studies. I have going to the church building for our weekly gatherings up until these last couple of weeks. However, something seems to be missing. Maybe I am just going through the motions without really connecting with God. Maybe this forced solitude is to reconnect with my Lord and Savior. Maybe this is a great time to refresh and reconnect and to learn to worship properly without the others around me to influence my worship.

I was reminded a week or so ago from a message by Francis Chan about the worship experience being an act focused on God, not us. He said breaking bread and drinking from the Cup was central to the act of worship in the early Church. It is an act of remembrance of what Jesus did for us on the cross. His body was broken for us. His blood was poured out for us. Jesus told His disciples to remember Him in this way.

Communion should not be taken lightly. This is an act of reverence for what God did for us. He sent His Son to the cross for us. And Jesus’ death was a harsh by suffocation alone, but He was brutalized by flogging and beaten with sticks before He was nailed to the cross. I don’t think we get how offensive sin is to God. Jesus’ death should be our evidence of what God thinks of sin. If not for Jesus, we would have to suffer an eternal punishment for our sins.

According to God’s Law, sin is removed by a blood sacrifice of a perfect lamb. Jesus’ blood had to spill in order for our guilt of sin to be paid. Jesus said from the cross – it is finished – an accounting term meant “paid in full.” One and done. The Perfect Lamb was sacrificed and our sins were washed away. No more eternal punishment for those who believe in Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins! Praise Jesus for what He has done for us!

However, we have to own up to what we’ve done. It’s our sin debt Jesus paid. We have to agree with Jesus – we did not meet His standard. We are guilty. Every time we take communion we come to the table acknowledging our sins before Jesus. But as we lay those sins down, we pick up the bread give thanks for what He has done for us and drink His offering of the Cup that was poured out for us. We come to the table humbled before Him. We go away from the table cleansed by His blood.

Worship should not be taken lightly either. Francis Chan explained in his message, we are actually joining the angels and the ones in heaven in their worship time. We come together to worship, but we are actually slipping in through the back door to join in the worship of God the Father and worshiping Jesus as Lord. The angels are already doing this worship experience non-stop in heaven.

Revelation 4 and 5 show us their worship experience. One day we will be in that crowd of worshippers. But today, while still here on earth, our voices join theirs. They are already on their knees singing Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty. We are the backup singers. And our worship should be God-focused. He is worthy. Our hearts should be turned in His direction. Our voices are lifted to the throne room of God.

We may have to do our worship experience a little differently this year, but it is still an act that pleases God. I may be alone in my living room, but I am joining together with the rest of the Body. It’s a spiritual act and one I should not take lightly.

We don’t know how long we’ll be forced to stay in this solitude time. But until God sees fit to release us from this time out, we will have to re-imagine worship – including communion and remembering all Jesus has done for us. It’s a time of humbling ourselves before our great and almighty God; recognizing we have fallen short of His standards, and confessing our sins before Him. Once we come to the place of repentance, I believe God will heal our land and our spiritual Body will be better for it.

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:26-28

Think About This

Do you ever wonder what it would have been like to live when Jesus walked the earth? What would it have been like to be in the crowds listening to Him preach the Word of God? Would you have walked away when the teaching got hard? I might have. I would like to think I would have been as attentive as Mary sitting at His feet. I would like to believe that I too would have followed Him even if it meant I would die for my beliefs. I know many people followed for a little while then many left because He wasn’t what they had envisioned as their Messiah – a war hero that came to conquer Rome.

Since the Christmas season, something I read during that time has been marinating in my brain. The story of the wise men visiting the baby Jesus is the seed of thought. When the wise men inquired about the place of birth for the King of the Jews, they asked the sitting ruler of the region, King Herod. The King didn’t know the answer, so he called the chief priests and the teachers of the law. The men knew the answer because it was written by the prophet Micah centuries ago.

The wise men told the King the star had risen in the east and they followed the star so that they could worship the king of the Jews. The king was disturbed and all of Jerusalem with him (Matthew 2:3). I understand why the king was disturbed – he didn’t want to be replaced by another king. His lifestyle would have changed; his position would come to an end; maybe even his life if a new king was crowned. But why was Jerusalem disturbed? Also, why is it when the wise men set out for Bethlehem, they went alone? Wouldn’t the chief priests want to see their Messiah and worship Him too? Weren’t they curious?

These were learned men. They had been taught from very early in life and memorized everything written in their Scripture. Yet, they missed the best thing about the Word – the Word came to life that day. The chance passed without one thought toward it because they kept missing Him.

The next time we read about Jesus, we find Him old enough to sit in the temple listening and asking questions of the teachers. Luke records everyone was amazed at His understanding and his answers (Luke 2:47). But no one seems to have been aware that the Messiah was in their midst. If these teachers were in the crowd that day at King Herod’s palace when the wise men came to visit, they didn’t seem to recall the Messiah had been born. Surely the Messiah would show up one day in the temple where everyone was expected to visit – especially during their high Holy Days. They obviously didn’t connect the dots.

The next time we see Jesus, He’s a grown man and ready to change the world. He visits the temple in His home town. But they couldn’t get passed the snotty little kid that they had known from years ago to this learned scholar who knew things that they didn’t understand. And they had no understanding how He came to be so knowledgeable. They missed the greatest thing to ever come out of Nazareth. They missed the Messiah – their King. They actually got angry with Him and tried to kill Him (Luke 4:14-30).

Scripture tells us many were amazed at His teaching. Crowds followed Him eager to hear Him speak and see the miracles He performed. They probably left every time and spoke about Him to everyone they met because word spread throughout the region. Yet, the chief priests got angrier and angrier as the years passed by. Jesus didn’t follow the rules. Jesus came into their midst and they missed His significance even though they knew the Holy Scripture that spoke of Him through every verse they had memorized. How can this be? How can they be so clueless?

Hindsight always gives greater insight so I can’t be too harsh with them. I might have been just as bad. I might not have liked His hard teaching to turn the cheek or give my coat to one who did not have one or any of the other teachings that got me out of my comfort zone. After all, I have those same words before me today and I can be just as stubborn as the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law. I can ignore those teachings just as they did. At times, I am no better than them. And I guess that thought is what is disturbing me since Christmas. I have a lot to consider about my actions or lack thereof if I truly want to follow Him like He desires.

It’s never too late for any of us to consider these things and change. What a different world we would live in if we would truly take these things to heart. I think revival of the church body begins with each of us. We all have to consider where we stand with Jesus. Are we following closely, at a distance or have we walked away feeling let down because He wasn’t what we had anticipated? Where do you stand today?

Jesus is the answer we seek, even though it may be different from our expectation. He is the total package – the real deal. Let’s not miss Him being in our midst. Sit at His feet and listen, then go and do as He instructs. Let’s change the world.

“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:20b-21; 25-26

David’s Heart

A couple of weeks ago, someone posted a video on Facebook of a four-year old worship leader. He was quite cute. The boy was on Steve Harvey’s show Little Big Shots (I think that’s the name). Soon after that I heard a couple of messages about worship. All this has me thinking about worship, and my effort to honor and glorify God through my worship time. God created us to worship. It’s naturally in us to worship.

One pastor mentioned that our worship is not about us but about God. We get it all wrong when we think we’re supposed to “get something” out of our Sunday morning “service” – it’s all about what we feel as we listen to the music or hear the word preached – did it move us? Instead, we should be more concerned with how we are worshiping – is our heart in it? Is our focus on God? Is the heart moved by the presence of the Holy Spirit? Do we feel an overflow coming from our hearts?

Another message focused on worship as a lifestyle. Worship is more than just singing. Worship is really living our lives in response to who God is and what He has done. Everything that we do can be a way of worshipping God. When we live our lives, fulfilling our God-designed destiny with the gifts and talents He has given us; we worship Him through our surrender lives. Worship is so much more than a Sunday morning experience. We glorify and honor God because of who He is and what He’s done. Having a life of worship makes me think of King David. He modeled the life of worship.

Whenever David poured out his heart to God, David either started the Psalm with praise or ended the Psalm with praise or both. He never let the opportunity pass without offering praise to God. He was after all the man after God’s own heart. But David was not perfect – far from it. Yet, God was pleased with David because of David’s heart. David pursued God with all his heart (as we all should). We are told in Deuteronomy 6:5, to love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. This is the heart of worship. When Jesus was questioned, which is the greatest commandment? He replied with the passage from Deuteronomy 6:5.

Our desire is to worship. Sometimes though, we get it wrong. Our hearts chase after the wrong thing. It’s so easy to do in this day and age. We put too much emphasis on people or things. Sports teams, sports stars, movie stars, husbands, wives, children, etc. We fail to understand people and things will always let us down. Worship is said to come from the term “worth ship” – there is only One who is worth worshipping.

I remember a time in my childhood when my grandparents took me to a church conference. While everyone was singing, men and women were running around the room praising God. It’s a very vivid memory; and at the time, scared me a bit. I remember asking my Grandmother “what’s wrong with that man?” as an older man dressed in white clothes ran down the aisle beside us. She reassured me with a pat on the leg and everything was alright.

My time of worship is nothing like that. Sometimes I think of that demonstration and wonder why I can’t be as enthusiastic as that man? Not that I would get up and run around a room. But I should in my heart! I should have a heart that would chase God around the room! What would our lives look like if we had that kind of passion for God?

It reminds me of the passage in 1 Chronicles 15 where David is escorting the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. As the procession enters the City of David (Jerusalem), David skipped about and was full of joy. His wife Michal, looked on him with contempt for his undignified demonstration. David replied to Michal (found in 2 Samuel 6:21) that he was dancing before the Lord because of what the Lord had done for him. The Lord had given David a promise. The Lord had promised that a forever king would come through his line. And David believed God’s promise. And it was eventually fulfilled through Jesus Christ – the promised heir in the forever Kingdom.

We might not have a promise as great as the promise given to David, but God is faithful in all His promises – great and small. We can count on God. He is worthy of our praise. He is worthy of our worship. He will never fail us. He is trustworthy. Our lives are a reflection of what we believe about God. What we do with those promises, how we live in reference to our beliefs; this is truly our worship as we respond to who God is and what He has done. Worship is an overflow of the heart. Just like David, we can be men and women after God’s heart. Chase Him down!

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.

Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
Exult in his holy name;

rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
Search for the Lord and for his strength;
continually seek him. 1 Chronicles 16:8-11 (NLT)

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