Passion Week 2011: A Heart of Worship

     Passion Week is always a great time for reflection and renewal.  Not necessarily a time for what some sell as “self-help” and “self-improvement.”  No, I am talking about reflecting on the Lord Jesus Christ and allowing Him, by the power of His Holy Spirit, to renew us in His image.  That’s the priority.

     As of late, I have come to learn that God is showing me some things; some new things.  You know, He is all the time trying to teach us, lead us, nurture us, cultivate us, encourage us, and love us.  It never stops.  Even in the midst of the valleys and the schemes of the enemy, God is a real and present help in a time of trouble (this is Biblical…find it).  During this Passion Week, God has been speaking to me on worship.  I don’t really know why — that is not for me to know anyhow, but it is interesting because I am not a musician or a singer by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, and at best, all I can do is “make a joyful noise.”  And for whoever would listen, I am sure they would add, “and it’s really not all that joyful to listen to.”

     But that’s not the point, is it?  God has been showing me that worship happens because of His mercy.  Think of it this way:  God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us — for you and for me.  This fact alone should cause us to praise God!  Specifically, the Apostle Paul wrote that we worship God by being “living sacrifices” (Rom.12:1-2).  At one time, several years ago, I stumbled right there.  I asked:  What does Paul mean, living sacrifices?  In the Old Testament, people offered up animal sacrifices as a way to honor God and be forgiven of their sin.  So, if we are living sacrifices, then every part of our lives — body, mind, heart, behavior, attitudes — should be given to God.  To me, this doesn’t sound like something that only happens on Sundays for an hour or two.  Worship is something that should, and must, occur every day.  Worship happens, and a worshipful life is lived, when we give God glory in ALL we are and do.

     Some have given priority to individual worship.  You know what I’m talking about because you’ve heard people say before:  “I don’t have to go to a church or a worship service to be a Christian, or to worship God…”  The statement is correct in that we should ALL worship God moment-by-moment as individual believers, but it neglects the reasoning for the corporate gathering together (as believers and belongers) for worship.  And yes, it is important to God that we gather, and love, and serve, and worship together!

     Our God exists and functions in community:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — separate Persons, but One God.  So if we are to be like God in our worship, we must come together in community to worship our God.  Follow that?  God has always desired for His people to gather for worship.  He commanded His own people, the Israelites to worship together:  adults, children, servants, priests, travelers, orphans, and widows (Deut.16).  At that time, the people would gather together at the place where God dwelled.  At first, His presence was in the Tabernacle.  Literally, God lived among His people as they journeyed.  Then, during Solomon’s kingship, God’s presence moved into the Temple.  And it was the Temple that became the primary place of worship for God’s people.  When Jesus took His last breath on the Cross, the curtain that divided the temple courts and the Holy of Holies was ripped — an act that demonstrated and communicated that God’s presence was no longer confined to the Temple.  Now, God’s people are to worship Him anywhere and everywhere.

     The Early Church continued the pattern of worshiping in community.  They gathered together to listen to the apostle’s teach, to eat together, to fellowship, to pray, and to praise God (Acts 2:42-47).  For me, one of the most powerful and awesome references to community worship in the Word of God comes from the Book of Revelation.  The Apostle John was given a vision of what worship will be like when all of God’s children, sons and daughters, live with Him for eternity.  It begins with a few creatures and elders, then, the angels who are too numerous to count, join in the chorus:  “Worth is the Lamb Who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise” (Rev.5:12).  And then, the greatest worship gathering of all time will break out as every creature in Heaven, on earth, under the earth, and in the sea will unite in song.  Friends, can you imagine this?  I think we can kind of picture it somewhat in our minds — but I believe that it is much clearer in our hearts, as we yield and surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord of our life!

     Worship is important.  It is important to worship God personally (in each and every moment); and it is likewise important to worship Him corporately (with the family of God, the body of Christ).  When we gather and come together during the week — in a small way — we are living out what has happened in the past and what will be in our future with God.  Today and this week, let us worship Him for Who He is and what He has done.  Hope is Alive!  Hope is Available!  And Hope has a Name…His Name is Jesus!

For His glory,

Pastor Porter

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