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The privilege of worship

    I am continuing my thoughts on worship today, having written about Epiphany and the gift of worship in a previous blog post. 

    On a typical Sunday morning, Sweet William and I will be found at Little Flock Ministry Center on Sundays at 8:45 am.  Bill likes to arrive early, take his seat and chat with our friend Bob who always sits behind us.  Even in a large church, we find our small group, our community of believes and familiar faces.

A little before 9 am, the band begins to play the prelude.  The worship team walk out on the stage and “worship” begins.  At least it begins in form.  How often have I stood up for the songs only to be distracted by thoughts of last week, plans for next week, questions about what is for lunch today, or observations of people coming in the sanctuary and finding their places.

I may be standing up on the outside, singing songs with my voice, but where is my heart?  Is that really worship?

One such Sunday, I had an “epiphany,” an insight into the meaning of worship, a moment of  revelation.  I began to wonder at this amazing privilege called worship.  How marvelous it is to enter into the very presence of God with my praise and adoration!

My understanding of the Jewish rules of temple worship tells me the place for the Gentile was far off from the center of it all, not in the closer arena of the chosen people of God, and definitely not near the sanctuary where the priests were serving.  The opportunity to enter the Holy of holies was zero to none.   Only the high priest entered that special place on the one day of the year set aside for the Day of Atonement.    

I let that thought sink in and then consider where I am standing today.  I am being led in a worship experience by singers and band members, proclaiming loudly and in harmony that we are in the presence of Jehovah.  And I am in awe.  The Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and earth, the One who holds the universe and all of time in His hand, has extended His heart to me and invites me to come in.  The invitation is written in Hebrews 4:16.  It reads:

” . . . let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.” (HCSB)

Boldness is interpreted as being fearless and confident.

Take in those words. You and I can come to our Father’s throne room without fear and with complete confidence of being accepted because we are His children, purchased with the precious blood of Jesus.  We are members of the family, and family doesn’t need another invitation.  They are always welcome around the Father’s table.

The Jewish law instructed the people to come into Jehovah’s presence with an offering or a gift.  I read in places like Exodus 23:15 and 34:20 that God told them not to come empty-handed.

As a new covenant believer, I don’t bring the blood of bulls or goats, I don’t bring a meal or a drink offering.  What I do bring is my sacrifice of praise.  That is my gift to Him, my worship.  Just like the wise men, it should be what I offer first.

Standing there in the pew at church I realize I am afforded the greatest benefit, the most enviable of all invitations, “Come unto Me.”

I answer that request and I come, bringing my heartfelt praise, my adoration, my thanksgiving and worship. May I never take this precious privilege for granted.

Tell me about your worship experience.  Please leave a comment.

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The gift of worship

 

Today, January 6, is Epiphany, a holiday celebrated by Christians in remembrance of the wise men’s visit to the child Jesus. History tells us Jesus may have been about a year old at the time. Because the wise men, or Magi, were not of the Jewish faith, Epiphany holds significance for Gentiles. Jesus came to the Jewish people first, but we Gentiles were included in the glorious manifestation of God coming to earth.

The word epiphany has come to mean an insight into the meaning of something, a moment of revelation, usually as a result of a simple or commonplace event.

You remember the story of the wise men who traveled a long distance to find this Child who would be king. They searched the heavens for clues about His location. They eventually arrived in Jerusalem and asked the reigning king, Herod, if he could help them find the child. Guided by the star, they found Jesus with Mary and Joseph, and their joy was over flowing.

We have assumed the Magi found him on the same night the shepherds came to see the baby in the manager.  At least, that is the way our Christmas programs portray the scene, isn’t it? 

We have also assumed there were three of them because Matthew 2 mentions three gifts presented to the Christ Child, gold, frankenstein, and myrrh. It was a surprise to me when I actually searched the Scriptures to find there is no mention of how many wise men there really were.

There is something else we might overlook in the story of this strange visitation. Did you ever stop to think that there were not three gifts but four?

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11, emphasis mine) 

The first gift the Magi offered was their worship.

 The Jewish law instructed the people to come into Jehovah’s presence with an offering or a gift. I read in places like Exodus 23:15 and 34:20 how God said they should not come empty-handed.

As a child of God under the new covenant, I no longer have to bring the blood of bulls and goats.  A complete offering was made for me at the cross of Calvary.

Yet, when I come to God, my Father, I must not come empty-handed either.  The gift, the offering I bring is my sacrifice of praise. 

 Just like the wise men of old, I bow down and I worship.

 

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