Do Overs

Worship Blog January 2018

by David Foster
Petersburg IN Free Methodist Church Worship Leader

It’s a new year, the time for resolutions.  The time to resolve, to make a change, accomplish something, quit a habit or attitude, a time to start again and possibly call for a do over.

Last year, no, it was the year before; I made a resolution to write a blog about worship on a regular basis.  Writing one per month is what I believed I settled on.  The blog was to be published on the church website and the church’s Worship Facebook page.   I was on fire!  How many blogs did I write?    Two.   One in August of 2016 and another in January of 2017.  Yep, I petered out, both times.  It’s an all too common occurrence when we decide to do something.  We realize its work and quit, get busy with other things, forget, feel unworthy of the goal we’ve set for ourselves, or just get lazy.  

Still, thank God for Do Overs! That’s really what the Gospel is all about.   God knows we fail, fall short, and can never live up to His standards and do all He lays in our heart to do with full vim and vigor.   So the blood of Jesus washes us from the sin of not following through.   We get a do over.

 I’ve had to call a do over in many areas of my Christian life.  I’m holding onto these two verses to hold me accountable to my resolutions in 2018.

 

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.      A royal priesthood!?...that’s awesome! A special possession!? That should be enough motivation to do everything possible to accomplish the goals and changes needed to be more like Jesus.

Exodus 23:25 Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, 26 and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.     Anything a Christian does is worship if they do it for God or on God’s behalf.  Work, play, parenting, obeying, leading, praying, singing, learning, giving….just living.   This verse tells us what happens when we truly worship.  How can we go wrong or get off track with this promise.

  I resolve to do all God has given me to do with a worshipful spirit improving day to day.   Feel free to hold me accountable to it.    

Happy New Year!

ABRAHAM’S WORSHIP  January 2017

We all worship something more than anything else.  We bow to, yield to, and go out of our way to be with or gain access to an activity, object, place, person or people.   We spend most of our time thinking about whatever or whoever it is.     
          So what do you and I worship?
          The word worship is first used in the Bible by Abraham in Genesis 22:5 during the account of God telling Abraham to sacrifice His son Isaac as a test (Gen 22:1).  The chapter begins with the words "Some time later..." (NIV). So, we need to know what happened before "some time later"came along.  
          We go back to Chapter 21 where we read about the birth of Isaac.  God's promise to give an heir to Abraham and Sarah had finally come about 14 years after the elderly patriarch and his wife took matters into their own hands.  The bible tells us they tried to fulfill God's promise through Abraham having a child with Sarah's maidservant, Hagar. Abraham and Sarah wanted a child and was promised one, but they worshiped the promise instead of the God who gave it to them.  They wanted what they wanted, and they wanted it now.  I find it interesting that when Isaac was finally born,  there's no mention of Abraham or Sarah giving thanks to God for coming through on what He said He would do.

 After the birth of Isaac, Hagar's son, Ishmael and Hagar were sent away by Abraham at the request of Sarah because she believed Hagar to be mocking her and the new baby. Sarah was again worshiping her promise.    As Sarah did say, Ishmael was not to be the child God would use to build a nation.. yet he was still blessed by God.   (see Gen 21:8-20).
        

 

The end of Genesis 21 tells us that Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time (20:34).  Then chapter 22 starts in the NIV with  "Some time later." Other translations say "After these things."  There's no way to tell just how much time has passed.  We only know it was a long time.  Maybe long enough for Abraham to start worshiping something other than God.   Could it be he began to worship Isaac?  Did Abraham spoil his son?   Later in Genesis we learn that Isaac favored one of his sons over another.  He likely learned that behavior from somewhere.  Throughout his life Abraham followed God.  He made some bad decisions by giving in to fear and not trusting the LORD.   But he always went where he was led.  Could it be that Abraham had stopped following God after he received his promise?
        God tells Abraham to “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah and sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” (Gen 22:2) Abraham obeys.  

They travel three days and get to the mountain and that's when Abraham tells the servants who are with them, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” (verse 5)  Abraham chooses the word worship to describe what will be done, which is to bow down, lay down, sacrifice a part of himself to the LORD.

      I believe that Abraham had gotten the message before he left.  I notice here that he didn't argue with God. He chose to believe God's promise of having descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and sand on the seashore (Gen 22:17) . He told his servants that WE will come back (Gen 22:5) fully expecting Isaac and him to survive the test.  So Abraham worshiped by obeying God's instructions to lay down the son he loved. Then through the father's obedience, the son was spared.

     There is a beautiful foretelling picture here.   It's mind blowing to know that God the father did not spare His Son Jesus whom He loves, and that it was the Son who obeyed to the point of death to be the sinless sacrificial offering for us.  Now, through that sacrifice we have the power and freedom to give up those things that hinder us from being in the presence of God in worship.
            I've read this story numerous times and get something new every time.  Today I hear God's voice telling me to increase my faith and confidence of Him. Offer up what I love and go to Him and worship.

LEARNING WORSHIP

After five years of leading a worship on Sunday mornings,   It's time I began sharing what I've learned about worship.  I've been prompted (I believe by the Holy Spirit) for some time to write about worship in a blog or column, or devotional.  Recently,  I looked up how to write a blog.  I came away with less than I started.  So, instead of saying I'm flying by the seat of my pants, I'll tell you it's simply through faith and obedience that I've begun to write.

It's always good to start at the beginning, so what is worship?   My studies and experience have shown me it's what we are created by God to do.  It is the basic answer to the question, why am I here?  We are here to worship God in everything we do and say.  In every aspect of our lives.  There is not a part of daily living that cannot be considered an act of worship.  From the attitude we wake up with, to the responsibilities and leisure which occupy our time, to the mindset we lay down with at the end of our day.

Worship is defined as bowing down or prostrating and humbling ones self to God.  We can do this literally and figuratively.  It is  a response to a revelation from or about God.  It is an act of faith.   In essence, it's laying everything before Him in adoration, praise and submission while in His presence.  Worship is meeting God where He is and on His terms because of Who He Is and what He has done.  It's not about me or you.    I've heard and read many times that a worship leader's job is to lead a congregation into the presence of God. But God is everywhere. So, we are always in His presence, that is if we choose to be.  I liken it to simply stepping over a threshold into another room.  A conscious choice, a premeditated desire to be with the Creator of all things and the One who gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.  We can do this anytime and anywhere. 

We often think we have to have a "feeling" in order to worship.  Many, me included, have worked hard in a worship service or our quiet alone time with God to capture  or create a certain emotion with particular songs or words in various music, praying, speaking and preaching styles.  But we've had it backwards.  We should settle upon moving into God's presence first whether we sense Him or not.   When we find ourselves where He is, the "feeling" may, or may not come.   Just because we don't feel Him doesn't mean He's not there.  Some of the best worship times I've gone away from are the ones where I didn't feel like being there.  That's when I "found" God because I elected be with Him.  The emotion came later and continues to carry over in everyday living and worship.     Jesus said in John Chapter 4 that God is seeking those who will worship Him in Spirit and Truth.  To do that we must follow Him and His Spirit,  not our hearts,  and truly believe we are in His presence all the time. 

Well there it is, my first blog.  It's likely an oversimplified explanation of what God has revealed to me through what I've read, seen and heard.   It's not fancy or perfect... but it is an act of worship.