Time and Place For Praise!

Blessed be the Lord from Zion, he who dwells in Jerusalem! Praise the Lord!
Psalm 135:21 ESV

If you are like me you probably read through this passage assume that God dwelling in Jerusalem was just a thing for Bible times. After all Jesus told us that the time was arriving when people would no longer worship in a geographic location. God is a Spirit and that is where we should worship.

But if we look at the book of Revelation we discover that there indeed is a place where God will be worshiped for eternity called the New Jerusalem. So where is that place and why would God change His mind?

Well maybe….just maybe it is because the New Jerusalem is not just a geographic location. It is that the dwelling place that Jesus went to prepare is you and I. It is an eternal resting place for God (and us) built of all our brothers and sisters throughout all the ages who have put their trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation. We are the tabernacle of God. Our hearts are the location He has chosen to dwell in. And together as we praise and lift up the wonderful name of Jesus – God will be worshiped in Spirit and in truth forever and forever! Now what could be more worth both living and dying for than that?!

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

In the Silence of Worship

We often think of worship as something we do, sing or listen to. But as I was reading my Bible this morning I came across Psalm 105 where David lists nine attributes of a worshipper. At first He talks about the kind of worship we are all familiar with such as singing about how great God is and making sure everyone hears. But then David goes on to list four things we do in silence.

Psalm 105:3-4 Glory in His name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and His strength. Seek His face always.

In this Covid-19 year with just two days remaining till Thanksgiving it can be a struggle to focus on being truly grateful. When I came across this morning’s verse and was encouraged I saw that four silent acts of faith that matter far more to God than all the noise coming from our mouths or instruments. Today we will look at just the first two.

Glory in His Holy name – So is that like the Pentecostal church we visited years ago where we were startled by someone who suddenly stood up and shouted “Glory!”? Does it mean saying, “God is good!” when we’re in church? Or just maybe glorying in His name means something looking forward expectantly to seeing God’s glory in every small thing of my day. Those silent moments of worship are like what Jesus said about the kingdom of God being a small seed that grows into the largest plant in the garden.

Let the hearts of those who seek your face rejoice – Genuine rejoicing lips are rooted in honest rejoicing hearts. You might wonder if seeking God’s face isn’t like a religious game of hide and seek with the Almighty. No! NO! He wants us to find Him just as my wife delighted in hiding baskets filled with chocolates and colored eggs for our children to find on Easter morning. But our children had to be seeking. They had to read and follow the clues she left behind on tiny folded pieces of paper. As they raced from place to place their excitement grew till suddenly behind a doorway or inside a closet they each joyfully found what they had been looking for! Do you have a joyful testimony of something you discovered this year as you spent some of that extra Covid-19 time on seeking His face?

If it has been a struggle to set aside quiet time to just sit in the presence of God and seek Him I hope this music from Eric Terlizzi which I loved to listen to while I prayed some years back may be a blessing to you as well.