Close Encounters Of The Best Kind
Recently my family was blessed to be part of a wedding that had us going to parties every night and then the reception went late Saturday night. Mike and I were exhausted by Saturday night. Someone told me they were not going to church the next morning followed by, "it does not take much for me not to go. I do not get anything out of it." This person was shocked that I said I was going. I went on to explain that I get excited to go to church. When I walk into church on Sunday mornings I feel the power of the Holy Spirit and I truly worship. When I leave I feel I have been refreshed and ready for the week. My spirit has been filled. I believe this is how church is supposed to be!
When we worship we are giving back to God - for all that He has given us. If we keep all of the blessings He has given us for ourselves it will rot, like the manna did when it was hoarded. Exodus 16: 20, "However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them." God will never allow us to keep spiritual blessings all for ourselves. We must give back to Him and He will use it to bless others.
Genesis 12: 8, "From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord." Bethel is the symbol of fellowship with God; Ai is the symbol of the world. Abram “pitched his tent” between the two. We need to "pitch our tents" somewhere in the middle where we can still have quiet time with God while living in the noisy world.
Worship can turn bad times into wonderful times. In the book of Acts we read of Paul and Silas, who were beaten and thrown into a cold, dark, stinking dungeon for preaching the gospel. But at midnight Paul and Silas began singing praises to God. They worshiped the Lord. As they sang, an earthquake came, and the entire prison fell apart. Your faith during worship can lift you above your circumstances!
When we worship we take our focus from ourselves and our problems to God. Even if our problems do not immediately go away like Paul and Silas' did, our problems don’t seem as significant. When we worship we reevaluate things. We are reminded of the Lord's glory, His power and His love. We worship God in spite of our circumstances, God created us to worship Him. Psalm 40: 3, "He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him." The more we honor God and are aware of His presence that is in and around us the more we recognize His presence.
Hebrews 10: 25, "...not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Theodore Roosevelt once said, “You may worship God anywhere, at any time, but the chances are that you will not do so unless you have first learned to worship Him somewhere in some particular place, at some particular time.” Worship is a commitment.
Church is part of God's plan - He came up with it. Matthew 16: 18, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." We have all heard someone say, “well, I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian.” That may be true but it is far removed from God's plan. We need corporate worship so we are not hardened by sin's deceitfulness. Hebrews 3: 13, "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness." Ephesians 4: 14, "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves,and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming." We become better grounded, spiritually, when we serve within our church.
The result of being in God’s presence is joy! The fellowship is sweet for those who walk with the Lord in obedience and faith. It is not a fleeting fellowship. It sustains us even during the tough times. Nehemiah 3: 10, "Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” In James 1: 2, James wrote, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds”. Trials produce faith and develop perseverance. After times of perseverance we prove to ourselves that our faith is real and our sense of God's presence increases, along with our joy!
I am refreshed from worship because I have encountered Jesus! He is there waiting on us. Will we show up?