Lift Up Those Hands!

Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord! Psalm 134:2

So I will bless you as long as I live. in your name I will lift up my hands. Psalm 63:4

Songs about lifting hands are some of my favorites to sing for my friends at the nursing home. These choruses not only lift our moods by singing God’s word, but they give us a personal physical way to be involved with the worship. After we had sung one of these today, I paused and asked the question, “Why do we lift up our hands?” It is amazing that even in the memory care unit where I was today just how engaged my friends can be.

When my dad was still alive one of his principle duties as the head usher was to quietly take attendance at church. But back in our grammar school days that task was not completed quite so subtly. I remember that when the teacher called my name, I eagerly flung my hand up in the air to say, “I’m here!” In that same way God is taking attendance of His people. When we come to worship, God is delighted when we lift our hands up straight and high and call out, “I’m here Jesus!”

Then we recalled another reason for lifting up our hands and that is for the police. When the squad car comes flying up to our house and the officers jump out with their guns drawn shouting, “Show us your hands!” we better quickly obey. They want to see evidence that we are surrendering to their authority. Of course God is not pulling up to our curb in His heavenly squad car, nonetheless, to come into His sanctuary with anything less than full surrender is to miss the greatest blessings that He has in store. “Lord I don’t understand everything that is going on in my life and I don’t like much of what I do, but I trust you. I am lifting up my hands in surrender. Whether you show me what is going on or not I am deciding to give you all my praise.

Photo by Rosemary Ketchum on Pexels.com

There are probably many other reasons we should lift up hands, but one that is most meaningful to me is from when our boys were small. After a long hard day at work, I would trudge up the stairs to our little apartment, hoping for a shower, supper and rest. But just before I opened the door, I could hear our kids shouting, “Daddy’s home!” Then as it swung wide, two little sets of hands reached up to me as they excitedly called, “Pick me up daddy! Pick me up!” When we come into God’s house, whether we are only two years old like our children or nearing ninety like my nursing home friends, we should never miss the chance to lift up our hands and shout “Pick me up Daddy!” At the cross God reached down to everyone who lifts up their hands. Then He lovingly stooped low to pick us up and hold us close to Him!

Come Bless the Lord

Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
    who stand by night in the house of the Lord! Psalm 134:1

What can I say about today’s monthly outdoor worship at Sunshine Christian Retirement Village? It was cold (by Florida standards) and we were old! The breezy not quite 60 degree weather had us shivering between hymns – but God showed up! We sang, heard each other’s prayer requests and heard from the word. At the beginning of this New Year it seemed wholly appropriate to begin by singing A Mighty Fortress is Our God. Between chattering teeth, Luther’s classic hymn reminded us that opposition to the church is not unusual, in fact it has been standard operating procedure throughout the centuries.

Then we began the praise chorus from Psalm 134, “Come Bless the Lord.” In order to understand what the Psalmist wrote it is important to know that these servants were specifically chosen from the family of Asaph and their duty was both to guard and to give praise to the Lord in the temple both day and night. In this Psalm these musicians and guards had their duties at night, so maybe you could think of them as third shift worshipers!

Are you going through a dark third shift night in your life? Maybe during this time, God is giving you the opportunity to be one of his special servants who stand by night. Maybe your praise in the nighttime seasons gives God the opportunity to show others His grace and glory in a world that so desperately needs the light of the love of Jesus Christ. If you have not heard this little chorus I have posted a fun link to listen to. It is one of my favorites. God bless you and have a blessed Lord’s day as you stand both day and night in the house of the Lord!

Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord! May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who made heaven and earth! Psalm 134: 2-3

Silence of Worship Part 2

Psalm 105:4 Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always

On Sunday the worship team did a wonderful job and when one of the leaders broke out into praise in Spanish I almost felt like I was back at our old home church where our praise alternated between English and Portuguese. But if you were following this conversation yesterday you know that we did not look at corporate praise as wonderful as that is but instead at the first two of four different kinds of silent worship in Psalm 105. While these are unseen, they are not less important than playing singing, blowing trumpets and dancing, which were all accepted forms of public praise in the Old Testament. The invisible parts of our worship life are like the roots that support trees and keep them alive and growing even through the quiet dormant seasons of the year. So this morning let’s dive into the second pairing of how we worship without words.

Look to the Lord and His strength When we come to worship the first thing we must notice is not the décor of the sanctuary, the outfits of the worship team or the appearance of the person next to us. What we need to see is invisible and that is The Lord and His strength. That is because as Corrie Ten Boom once said,

“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest.”

Worship must begin from a place at rest. Everything around us wants to take away the rest Jesus offers and replace it with some form of urgency. Our minds fill with ideas of this or that which must be done tomorrow, physical pain in our body reminds us of our human frailty or hurtful memories clamor for attention like spoiled children at a candy counter. But if just for a moment we first look to the Lord, immediately the strength of His arms will hold us and we will find rest in His presence.

To seek His face always! – When I was small I would run to my mother whenever I fell down for her comfort and if needed wait while she put a put bandage on my knee. But once mom had doctored my hurt, I ran back to my play. But seeking the face of God always means more than just experiencing His healing touch. He calls us to come and sit down beside Him, learn His plans for the day and then walk with Him every step of the way. He doesn’t want us to just seek His face when we fall down but at every moment and always!

Today I close with one of my favorite hymns sung by Tricia Brock: Jesus I am Resting Resting written by the Irish missionary Jean Pigott in 1876

Jesus I am resting resting in the joy of what Thou art

I am finding our the greatness of Thy Loving heart