Worship as a Prelude?

            The purpose of worship. I know the pattern in many churches is to use worship to prepare the worshippers to hear the message from the pulpit. Worship helps prepare our hearts to receive, and in general I think we get more from the message if our hearts have been engaged in worship. However, I think we also need to consider worship in and of itself not as a means to an end in terms of message preparation but because of the value it inherently holds. We see that in scripture.

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” Isaiah 6:1–3 (NKJV)

8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” 9 Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: 11 “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:8–11 (NKJV)

 Worship is the pattern of heaven. The living creatures and elders are worshipping for one reason and one reason only. It is captured in one short phrase in Revelation 4:11 – ‘You are worthy, O Lord.’ Our calling to worship is not so that we can gain access to or receive something. Our calling to worship is to worship because He is worthy! David, the man after God’s heart put it this way.

4 One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple. Psalm 27:4 (NKJV)

David captured the heart of heaven.

            Scripture from Genesis to Revelation informs us that we were created for communion, worship and fellowship. In essence the whole of scripture is about what Milton titled his famous works, Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. The human journey began with fellowship with Yahweh in a garden fed by a river and it will end with the redeemed before His throne in worship in a garden with living water flowing from the throne. The river of the water of life.  

            Worship can prepare us to receive and worship can change our heart and perspective. Most importantly, worship can draw us into an intimate encounter with the one who is worthy. If we engage in worship from this perspective, I think we will find that worship can fuel our life. Let us worship the one who is worthy and be changed in the presence of a holy God. Let us worship and commune with His heart in the process.   

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:14 (NKJV)

NOTE: I recently completed writing a book. It is in the final formatting process and I intend to post it on Amazon as a Kindle book. Below is the cover, table of contents and first few pages. I will post the link when it is available.

To Behold His Beauty

Here are some verses that are designed to draw our hearts in.

1  O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. 2  So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Psalm 63:1-2 (NKJV)

4  One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple. Psalm 27:4 (NKJV)

18  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)

If we are not, or have not, experienced the reality of 2 Corinthians 3:18 it may be that we need to understand and apply the verses in the Psalms. A literal rendering of Psalm 63:2 from the Hebrew is, So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary, beholding Your power and glory. That is in fact how the ESV renders it,

2  So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Psalm 63:2 (ESV)

The word ‘see/behold’ in Psalm 63:2 is the same Hebrew translated behold in Psalm 27:4. In both Psalms there is an expression of a longing and desire to encounter our King and our God. We have David giving expression to the key longing in his life, a desire for intimacy with Yahweh.

Paul’s heart mirrors David’s but to get to Paul’s heart in 2 Corinthians 3:18 it is important to read Philippians 3:7-14 where Paul gives voice to his one ‘one thing’ longing and says he has given up everything else for his pursuit of Jesus heart. It may be tempting to assume the transformation spoken of by Paul, this beholding, is automatic, it is not. Beholding Jesus is a choice. After all 2 Corinthians 3:17 tells us that where the Holy Spirit is we have liberty. We must choose to pursue His heart and value His presence enough to be transformed.  

Is this beholding easy to do? Yes. Is it difficult to maintain? Yes. I do not know what works for everyone. I know in my own life I need to set aside distractions and by faith focus the gaze of my heart upon Him. I usually do not see anything, I do experience His presence and hear Him speaking to my heart. When I am faithful in this pursuit it spills over into other parts of my day. Others can assess whether or not I am being transformed into His image, I know I am encountering His heart.

So, find a way and time that works for you and make it a habit to come to Him with a hunger and longing. He will fill it.

This song gives expression to a longing heart. The idea of ‘waiting’ in the Old Testament is to look to Yahweh with expectation.  Waiting Here for You