Man become God, God become Man? A poem of reflection on the birth of Christ

matthew2“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.” Matthew 1:18

We can forget just how astounding this statement really is. God becomes a man who is born? God, in the person of Jesus Christ, will actually experience birth?

We should be astounded that such a mighty God can come as such a helpless babe! While not wanting to rush the Christmas season, teaching through Matthew on Sunday mornings brought me to ponder for a few moments the weight and majesty of this verse. Here is my attempt to order those reflections into a brief poem.

Man Become God, God Become Man

God holy, man lowly
God exalted, man exhausted
God eternal, man temporal
God all-knowing, man know-it-all
God reigns majesty, man toils futility
God surveys starry realms, man travails sodden helms

Two worlds collide
One lives, one died
Met together in a manger bed
To save a world already dead

What shall we say to such love as this?
Come, Lord Jesus, come, come and kiss
That mankind be made anew
All heaven and earth join in too

This Jesus Christ with outstretched hand
Constricts all evil’s withered plans
Reconciles a world unmanned
Man become God, God become man.
Daryl Pepper, Associate Pastor

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It’s All Worship!

Electric_guitar“First we had worship, then a prayer, offering, a sermon, then some more worship.”

Every heard someone describe a worship service this way? Maybe that someone was you?
Certainly we worship through music. Absolutely no debates there. But remember, worship can be anything that shows worth and devotion. So, let’s make sure that our definition of worship is broad enough to include prayers, offerings, baptisms, communion, and the sermon.

Prayer is Worship

Maybe this one goes without saying? But, let’s make sure we’re on the same page.  Prayer is not a mere kickoff for songs or sermon. Prayer is not a time for the congregation to get settled in and quiet. Prayer is an act of worship. Prayer is our way of communicating to our Father, and communication shows worth. Think about it. When we are angry at someone, one of the first things we may do is give them the silent treatment. Or if we really enjoy being around someone we give them our attention.

Notice that even in the Psalms some of the titles are referred to as prayers. This is the case in Psalm 17, and in the first two verses David admits that God hears his prayers.

A PRAYER OF DAVID. Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit! From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right! (Psalm 17:1-2)

Offering is Worship

Offering as worship? Of all the elements in a worship service, the offering quite possibly the easiest to dismiss as simple administration–the business of the church. Keep the lights on, keep the staff paid, give money to the missionaries . . . .

But offerings should be part of our worship. When we give our money to the to the Lord, that act is a declaration of war and of worship. Of war because we are warring against our selfish nature that wants to be indulged, that screams and kicks and fights against our natural demands to be at the center of our spending. Of worship because we are declaring that God is greater, that He is worthy, that we can trust him to meet every need.  WE announce that we can keep our life free from love of money, and be content with what we have, for God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5). When we give generously, we show Christ as our treasure of greatest worth.

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! (Psalm 96:7)

I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD. (Psalm 116:18)

And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need (Acts 2:45)

Baptism & Communion as Worship

Baptism and Communion can often be dismissed as a liturgical tradition, and therefore never actual realized as meaningful worship. Yet both are really the only two elements that Jesus has commanded us to do. Baptisms are most certainly worshipful for those who are being submersed to declare their faith publicly, but it can also be worshipful for those who are witnessing it. It is worshipful because we are able to give thanks to God and celebrate His transforming power through the gospel. We acknowledge that Jesus saves sinners and that He is making all things new—starting now!

Communion is worshipful in many ways, one of which is by remembering the Lord. The Lord’s table allows us to fix our minds upon Jesus’ work on the cross and what that means for us. Much like the child who cannot wait to open his Christmas gift, when we fixate our thoughts on something we show that it has worth and meaning to us. When we fix our thoughts on Christ gift to us, we show that His death, resurrection, ascension, and return are something that matters to us. Moreover, the Lord’s table is also a way for us to declare the gospel to a watching world!

And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me”. “In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).

For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:26).

Sermon as Worship

The sermon as worship? Many people, like the quote states, believe that the sermon is something separate from when God’s people receive His Word.  But that’s not the way the scriptures, particularly Psalm 119, describes God’s revelation. Here’s just a sample.

Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare
      all the rules of your mouth.  In the way of your testimonies I delight
      as much as in all riches.  I will meditate on your precepts
      and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes;
      I will not forget your word.  Psalm 119:12-16

This week when you encounter these elements, give special attention to them as worship. Focus on how you can give Jesus worth through them.

Then, maybe we can change our language about worship? 

“At church today we sang, presented our offerings, celebrated a baptism, feasted on God’s Word, and reflected during communion.  It’s was all worship!”

Chris Adkins, worshiper and worship leader

Worship in Lots of Ways!

Sung along to the radio lately? audio book

Listened to any good audio books?

Taken any good walks?

Watched the evening sky after a thunderstorm?

The above list may sound like conversation starters between friends. And, that’s just what they are–but maybe a bit differently than you think.  These are all ideas people list as ways they spend time with God.

In another blog post, we listed ways to write out our praises and prayers to God. This approach usually involves the more traditional ways to enjoy our Savior–Bible open, pen and paper in hand.  Maybe a cup of coffee?

But, there are all sorts of ways to enjoy being in the presence of God!

Maybe your morning routine is filled with getting kids out the door and dropping them off at school. Even in this hustle and bustle, some praise music can be playing; and, I know more than a few parents who pray for their kids on the way to school. What a great way to get the kids–and you–started.

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14

Other believers are not dropping off or managing kids, but may have a bit of a commute–what a great time to listen to the Bible or worship music or enjoy a great Christian audio book. Recently I picked up You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis & Lisa Chan. What a joy to turn the drudgery of running errands into a time to go deeper into Christ and improve my marriage! (As an added bonus, this audio book is on sale for $5 at LifeWay right now.)

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2

Other folks turn off the iPod, satellite radio, news, or whatever else and simply enjoy the silence and solitude. They meditate on Scripture, pray, ask God to simply allow them to enjoy his presence, ask for correction, instruction and wisdom.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. Psalm 131:2

Sometimes Lee Ann and I take a walk and pray for each other and for our children. It gets us outside, exercising, and engaging in prayer together.

Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Psalm 150:1

How’s the weather? As believers, we can even allow the weather to lead us in worship. Ever thanked the Lord for a good breeze on one of these humid afternoons? Or, seen the evening sky after a thunderstorm?

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  Romans 1:19

What else? Surely there are hundreds of other creative ways to spend time with the Lord.  What are some of your favorites? We’d love to hear from you–feel free to comment on our Facebook page, or in the comments section below.

Daryl Pepper, Associate Pastor

Scooching Over as an Act of Worship! An FAQ with Jeff about the Coming 10:15 FLC Service

chairsWhen you’ve ever attended the 10:15 worship service at GHC, you’ve probably been asked to “scooch over” to make room for more worshipers, right?

Soon you 10:15 attenders will be asked to do a major scooch over–all the way to the Family Life Center (FLC).

This post allows us to catch up with Jeff Noel, GHC’s very own lead pastor, to do a little Q&A about this new service.

There’s another service coming to GHC. Where? When?
We are starting another worship service at 10:15 in the Family Life Center in the CORE youth worship area.

What is the first Sunday it will be available?
Sunday, September 13.

Why start this service?
Have you been to the 10:15 worship service? It’s more than a bit crowded and has been for about 2 years. This service allows us to make room for more worshipers! For many reasons, this is the worship service that most people choose to attend. If we do not make more room, some guests will simply not stay or just conclude that we are too big.

How are you going to preach in both places at the same time?
As much as I’d like to, I just can’t! The sermon will be displayed on a large screen in the FLC. It will be the exact same sermon preached in the other services.

What about the worship team?
The 10:15 FLC Service will enjoy their own worship team who will sing the exact same songs as the 10:15 service in the worship center. We have an amazing team of talented worship leaders who will alternate in which venue they lead.

Why not just add onto our current facility?
Millions vs. thousands. Our current worship center is designed for us to expand by making the fan shape even bigger by going toward the back parking lot. But, that comes with a big price tag for construction, carpet, chairs, sound & lighting, an entire new roof, retro-fitting sprinklers into all of the existing facility . . . can you hear the cha-chings?

What about student small groups on Sunday mornings?
They will still meet at 9 a.m., just like always.

How many people can attend the 10:15 FLC Worship Service?
We will have about 250 chairs in that venue. And, this brings up a huge way to serve! We are in great need of people with the gift of chairs. I’m not sure that’s in the New Testament, but the gift of hospitality is! We need a team of people to set up the chairs every Sunday morning and then to stack them after this service and set up the tables and chairs for Wednesday Night Alive—our mid-week youth celebration.

So we need people with the gift of chairs?!
Ha. Well, it really is a way to minister in a very real way. Imagine a new family registering their children, grabbing a cup of coffee, and then actually having space to worship and focus on the worship because some very kind people moved chairs!

What happens when this service gets too crowded?
We can simply start an 11:30 FLC Service! We already own all the technology and have the tools and know-how to make it happen.

Where else do you need help?

  • Greeters at the doors in the FLC
  • Greeters at the doors to the CORE to hand out bulletins
  • Servers for communion
  • Hosts for offering
  • Servant leaders to make coffee & serve in the FLC lobby
  • People to give technical help in our media ministry

If you’d like to help, call our office at 270-769-1808 and let Teri know how you’d like to jump in.  We will get you in contact with the right ministry leader.

Jeff Noel, Lead Pastor

Come Lord Jesus: a Sunday Morning Prayer

Lord Jesus,praying

Thank you, God of the universe, that you condescend to make yourself known to low-lying, undeserving sinners in words we may understand and comprehend. Amazed that You made Yourself known in the very expression of Your Son.

To this great God we plea: “Come, Lord Jesus.”  Until your grand entrance, grant us . . .

a quiet resolve to grow in the disciplines of grace,

a humble orthodoxy that transforms our hearts and minds,

a sweet savor to come, taste and see that you are good,

a soul desire for rewards in heaven,

a steady contentment in the simplicity of earthly needs met,

a growing dissatisfaction in worldly gain,

a delightful rejoicing in the celebration of the Spirit,

a considerate weeping with those who weep.

a holy restlessness when anywhere else but in Your presence,

a deep yearning for seeing you in heaven and for your promised return,

May we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

Writing as Worship: crafting a psalm

psalm-writingAs we pursue the Psalms in a series this summer, “Worship Together, Focusing on Jesus,” we find that they are mostly written by King David. Other writers include Asaph, sons of Korah, Solomon, and Moses.

Q: Have you ever written a Psalm?  No? That’s okay. Here’s why you might want to.

Let me be clear at the outset: you will not write a “Psalm.” Sorry, the Scriptures are written–signed, sealed, delivered (Hebrews 1:2).

But, you can write a psalm–really!

A psalm is simply a song to the Lord. And because I am now reaching beyond my creative abilities, I’d like to introduce a friend, sister in Christ, and enthusiastic worshiper, Iris Heeter.

As Iris reads and meditates upon the glory of Scriptures, she will then write out her heart in prayer to her Savior. These pieces now fill a 3-ring binder which I was recently given access to.

Recently we covered copying Scripture as an act of worship. Here, we cover writing out prayers, crafted in prose and poetry, as worship.  Thank you, Iris, for these gorgeous songs.

Father,

Your goodness is overwhelming
Your kindness leaves me
breathless
choking back
tears of gratitude

Fill me, Lord,
fill me to overflowing
every nook
every cranny
nothing but You

May my countenance
resemble Yours
may I walk daily
in the knowledge of
Your sacrifice

Resting assured of Your love
Soaring on the wings of
Your victory.
Selah.

GHC, November 2, 2014, ©Iris Heeter

Oh Jesus,

We worship You
we glorify You
You alone are worthy
You alone are holy

There is no other

We adore You
You alone are awesome

You take our breath away
You fill our hearts
with eternal gratitude
Your grace abounds
Your mercy is unending

Fill us, Lord,
Let us be Your vessels.
Selah.

Grace Heartland Church, August 24, 2014, ©Iris Heeter, 2014

Pour me out, Lord
Let me be a drink offering
Use my life for Your glory

Let Your light shine brightly through me
Let others see my Lord and Savior in me
Let me be about Your work

I yearn to glorify You
Laying down my ego for You
Letting go of my pride
Making my heart Your home

That I may walk in Your footsteps
That Your words may be my sustenance
That Your Spirit may fill my soul

That You may be my everything.
Selah.

February 9, 2014 ©Iris Heeter, 2014

Want to write out your own psalm/song? Go ahead. God’s blessings. Send a copy to Iris and me.

Author credit tag detail: this blog written mostly by Iris Heeter with just a little help from Daryl Pepper

Writing as Worship & Worship by Writing

Struggle to pay attention in personal worship?journal_pen

Or, maybe you just want a new way to worship?

Try this: write your way to worship.  I recently asked a group of mature Christian adults: What are some of the best Bible study tools?  They listed a study Bible, concordance, commentaries, Bible dictionary, maybe some software?

But sometimes we overlook the simple tools–pen & paper. Yep. Two of the best Bible Study tools. Ever.

So, if you’re struggling to pay attention while having a devotion. Or, you just want a change-up in how you pursue God, try writing.  Here are a few suggestions.

Copy Scripture.

That’s just what it looks like. Open the Word, find a chapter, copy. Writing Scripture word for word engages other senses–hand and eye join heart and soul. This easy-way to engage with Scripture slows down the quick read, forcing you to pay attention to words, structure, order. It will allow you to see descriptions and begin to ask questions.

As prayer naturally follows Scripture reading (or copying or both), feel free to write out your prayers in response to what God is saying.

Beyond the basics.

Sure, you can use the basic logo-stamped ball point pen rescued from the kitchen counter and some notebook paper.  That works. But, if you try this a few times and like it, why not add some style and art to your writing?

My wife prefers a crisp, sharp No. 2 lead pencil with angled sides, not round. For me, nothing beats a fountain pen–and if it’s a family piece or one I picked up cheap in an antique store and rehabed, even better.

Then, there’s the paper–I like a journal with a leather cover and quality paper with lines.  I’ve seen the more free-spirited among us using brightly colored pens and unlined paper. Highly unstructured, but very artsy!

Something about the italic nib brushing bright blue ink over an ivory page slows me down, gets me out of the digital zoo and focuses, at least to some degree, my distracted soul. Perhaps it allows my inner-artist some fleeting release?

Want to try it?

I hope so. Open to Psalm 1. Copy it entirely, word for glorious word. Then, look at it again. Reflect. Ask good questions. Pray as you reflect. Jot down some of your prayers.

Be careful!

There’s more to you than you think. Here’s what I mean–you may well find that this way of engaging with the Lord brings things to the surface you did not know were there. The Lord uses this process to affirm what He is doing in your life. He can also convict, correct, and instruct as well as encourage.  He will free your soul to worship.

And in the worship we glorify Him. So, try writing out some Scripture word for word. If this works for you in a Psalm or two, try tackling an entire book–many of the letters in the New Testament are just a few chapters.

Let me know how it goes.

Daryl Pepper, journal junkie, fountain pen lover

How Long, O Lord?

honestWhen my wife Jessica and I were first dating, she spent a summer in an inner-city homeless program in the heart of Louisville, Kentucky. The program was partnered with Sojourn Community Church, a local church that seemed to reach a broad spectrum of folks. She was required to attend there during the program, and I would occasionally come with her.

I will never forget the songs they wrote and sung in worship. They were so honest, and used very raw language that I was unfamiliar with when singing to the Lord. They enabled me to sense a greater connection to the Lord, because the language allowed honest expression, with all of my messy self.

As I began to study the Psalms more and more, I realized that their songs were nothing new. David and the other Psalm writers have always expressed themselves–regardless of how messy it got.  Psalm 13 is one such Psalm that David wrote for corporate worship. The Psalm shows us 3 ways in which we can worship the Lord in the midst of hardship:

Honest With Your Feelings

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me? 
How long must I take counsel in my soul
    and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? (Psalm 13:1-2, ESV).

David is on the verge of despair. He feels God has forgotten him in his current circumstances. He feels God is deliberately hiding from him and forcing him to face the situation alone. This doesn’t mean that God has abandoned David, but it certainly felt like it. David does not hesitate in venting his anger, worries, and doubts in worship.

Many of us are afraid to be completely honest with God in the way we feel at times. We revert to cliché statements like “God works in mysterious ways.” And, we completely miss the opportunity to deepen our worship and relationship with the Lord through unbridled sharing of our raw, honest hearts.

This is the same kind of honesty we see in Moses when he pleads for the Lord’s presence: “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here” (Exodus 33:15). The Psalms show us that God’s desire for us is to express our feelings–even when they are messy. This honest expression brings us before God as we are, not a facade.

Cry For Help

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
    light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
    lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken (vv. 3-4).

Looking at all of David’s Psalms, a great majority of them plead for God to intervene in his current circumstances. Not only were his pleas honest, they also let God know what the outcome will be if he doesn’t intervene. Here, David tells God that if he doesn’t act then he will die and his enemies will celebrate.

While we probably won’t have enemies that are seeking to kill us, or armies encamped against us, we certainly have enemies that can feel just as devastating. You may have a broken marriage, financial turmoil, or a recurring sin that make you feel like there is no hope unless God shows up. God wants us to cry out to Him. He wants us express there being no hope for victory outside of His intervening.

Reaffirming Your Trust

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation
I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me (vv. 5-6).

While it is important for us to be raw, honest, and cry for help, it should never stay there. Our honesty and cries should fix our gaze upon the Lord’s character. And his character should always lead us to praise Him. David had experienced the steadfast love of the Lord, and he knows that the Lord will come through in His faithfulness again and again. The Psalm shows us that even in the midst of our hurt, doubt, anger, and worries, God is faithful and worthy to be praised.

We can often either neglect honesty in our worship, or neglect praise in the midst of trouble. The Psalms call us to both.

Application

  • Incorporate a Psalm a day into your Bible reading and prayer. By letting the words of the Psalm become your words, you will broaden your biblical expressions of worship.
  • Seek to not only be honest with your feeling in worship, but also to praise God in the midst of your troubles.

Chris Adkins, Worship Pastor

Why Study the Psalms?

psalmsIs there any value in a study of the Psalms to teach us how to worship together?

In my last post, the focus was about why we worship together.  In this writing, let’s consider why the Psalms are still so important to our worship experience. In the coming weeks, our sermon series will focus on the Psalms: Worship Together—Focusing on Jesus.

Worship Together – The Psalms

The book of Psalms was the hymnbook of old covenant worship. The collection of 150 Psalms are poems, readings, responsive readings, songs and more which are divided into sections and written by multiple authors. Most of the Psalms were written by David, but Moses and Solomon were among some of the other authors.

These songs were used to

  • worship,
  • celebrate,
  • lament,
  • cry out to God,
  • ask for mercy,
  • demand justice,
  • coronate Kings, and
  • declare the glory of God!

In truth, it is a textbook for corporate worship and its value is priceless.

But under the New Covenant we know that the “Presence” of God is not limited to a place or even a time. Acts 2 is the record of the birth of the Church and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on believers. Now the “Presence” of God is with His people not in a “temple built by human hands.” The bodies of believers are the “temple of Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor 6:19)

So, yes, people were free to worship in His Presence on their own wherever they desired!

Yet, we see that the practice of the early church was to meet daily “in the temple courts and in their homes” (Acts 2). Why? I think the reason is clear, there is something obviously different about gathering together in worship and it cannot be substituted with personal or individual worship experience.

There is no question that a personal worship discipline is important – even essential – but it is not a replacement for gathering with the people of God. The first church gathered regularly for “teaching, breaking of bread, fellowship and prayer.” (Acts 2:42) The writer of Hebrews encouraged early believers not to “neglect the gathering together” (Hebrews 10:25). All of this happened because we–the believers of today–need to be together in worship of the Lord!

When we gather together in worship we proclaim that the Lord is God and that He is “our” God. Psalm 1 & 100 trumpet the necessity of this practice. The need for that did not die with the institution of the New Covenant of Christ.

  • Together we are the “Body of Christ” on earth.
  • Together we experience His Presence in a way that is multiplied because we all come with our shared experiences and testimonies of His work and ministry in and through our lives.
  • Together in worship of Him we encourage one another to faithfulness in our walk, healing of our sickness and strength in our battles.
  • Together we proclaim to the world that God is and that He created the universe!

Primarily we need to gather together to worship God to be reminded that we are here for His glory. Psalm 134 even declares that our corporate worship is a “blessing” to Him! We literally bless the heart of God as we gather to exalt His name and declare our love for Him and our devotion to His mission on earth.

So, what about the Psalms?

What is the advantage of studying the Psalms for New Testament worship? I believe we need to study the Psalms for two reasons. First, they teach us the reason for worship. Second, they reveal the focus of worship. I have already stated the reason for worship – to exalt the Lord and to be encouraged as His people through our corporate gathering. But the focus of worship is Jesus!

The Psalms speak of the glory and majesty of God. They tell of His deliverance and love for His people. They speak of His judgment and wrath on His enemies and His mercy and grace for those who turn to Him. Every one of these promises and claims, each pronouncement and every prophecy is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. The one and only Son of God is the answer to every question and every lament. He brings fulfillment to every word of the Psalms. The Israelites saw these promises fulfilled through a King or the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…and they were correct but they never imagined Jesus. In truth, nothing prepares us more thoroughly to worship Jesus than the Psalms because He is the fulfillment of every line and every promise proclaimed in the corporate worship of Israel and every worship service of the church. Let’s worship Him . . . together!

Jeff Noel, Lead Pastor

Worship Together?

“I can worship God anywhere.”TRworshipanywhere
“I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian.”

Heard these excuses before? Yeah, I have too. Far too often.

Usually, they are given as explanations of why someone does not attend worship services. Can we worship God anywhere? Sure. Can someone be a Christian and never go to church? Maybe.

There is no doubt people question the practice of attending worship services. And, certainly, there is a bit of truth to these statements.

But, is it really accurate to think a personal experience with God in nature, or in the comfort of one’s home, is a valid substitute for gathering together with the people of God?

Granted, this is often an excuse for not wanting to attend worship! And, I am certain the “private worship experience” never occurs in many cases.

Instead of teasing out all the reasons the above excuses may or may not work, let’s ask some better questions.
1) What is the purpose of gathering for worship?
2) Is there any value in a study of the Psalms to teach us how to worship together?

What is the purpose of gathering for worship?

From the establishment of a covenant between God and man, the people of God have gathered to worship Him. The ancient Israelites worshiped Him in the Tabernacle then continued that practice when the Temple was built.

Why? Because, corporate worship happens in God’s presence.

Second Chronicles chapters 5-7 detail the account of the dedication of the Temple. Solomon asks God to hear the prayers of His people when they pray to Him “from this place.” God responds by promising, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear their prayers and forgive their sins and heal their land” (7:14).

The scene that follows is incredible! The Spirit of God falls on the Temple and inhabits the Holy of Holies making it the place on earth where the people of God can gather in His presence to worship Him! Those few chapters demonstrate the value of the Temple to the nation of Israel. In the Temple:

  • praises were offered,
  • sacrifices were made,
  • forgiveness was sought and received, and
  • worship was experienced together.

Gathering together for worship was the way of the people of God. It still is. We still gather to worship our God and to cry out to him.

Do you see how pathetic those excuses look now?

  • “I can worship God anywhere.”
  • “I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian.”

And notice this—we don’t use this reasoning anywhere else! Can you even imagine people applying this lunacy to other things that we love:

  • “I don’t have to go to the Yum! Center and watch the games to be a UofL fan.”
  • “I don’t need to go outside to be a great outdoorsman.”

While UofL fans can watch games on TV, they’d rather gather with thousands of others who wear red & white and cheer loudly. True outdoorsmen are rarely seen inside—rain or shine, they are outside hunting, fishing, camping—whatever, so long as they are outside!

So, we don’t “have to” go to church to be a Christian or to worship; but, we “want to” go to church and to worship. We “want to” gather for worship just like those saints of old wanted to worship:

  • we offer praises
  • we make sacrifices
  • we seek and receive forgiveness, and
  • we experience worship together.

They gathered for worship in a specific place—the Temple. And, they gathered for worship to sing certain songs. We still have that song book—the one we call the book of Psalms.

In the next post, we will look at the question:

Is there any value in a study of the Psalms to teach us how to worship together?

And, in coming Sundays we will start a new sermon series: Worship Together—Focusing on Jesus.

Until then, invite someone to worship! And if they give you that line about not having to go to church to worship, well, you know what to do!

Jeff Noel, Lead Pastor