The heart of worship.

Worship is not a spectator sport. We don’t come to sit in an audience while a group of people perform for us. There is an audience in worship, but it is not the congregation; it is God. We, the people of God, are all on the stage, and God alone is the recipient of the praise we express.

Worship is about giving ourselves to God. …Our worship does not end with the closing prayer or benediction. Worship is a condition of our heart.
|K. G. Harney, Seismic Shifts

As you sit in the pews on Sunday, what goes on in your mind?

‘How was the service?’
‘How was the sermon?’
‘How was the music?’

‘What did you think of the [preaching/singing/sharing/song selection/announcement]?’

But you… How was your heart?
Did you think yourself the audience?

What is worship? Who did you worship?
(What is the condition of your heart?)


Father, forgive us and set us right again.
And Lord, on Christmas, help us not to forget your second coming.
(You alone know the timing.)
As we sing these songs of praise of Your might, the hope in You,  of all You did and will do…
When the singing is done, let the songs remain in our hearts, and let us live with power, walking, believing the words that we have sung.

S.D.g.

Built to last.

But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness.  Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer,  for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.

| Luke 21:12-15

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He encourages them to bear up under their trials, and to go on in their work, notwithstanding the opposition they would meet with.

[1.] God will bring glory both to himself and them out of their sufferings: “It shall turn to you for a testimony, Luke 21:13. Your being set up thus for a mark, and publicly persecuted, will make you the more taken notice of and your doctrine and miracles the more enquired into; your being brought before kings and rulers will give you an opportunity of preaching the gospel to them, who otherwise would never have come within hearing of it; your suffering such severe things, and being so hated by the worst of men, men of the most vicious lives, will be a testimony that you are good, else you would not have such bad men for your enemies; your courage, and cheerfulness, and constancy under your sufferings will be a testimony for you, that you believe what you preach, that you are supported by a divine power, and that the Spirit of God and glory rests upon you.” — M. Henry

“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.  For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” |Luke 21:34-36

What should be our actings in these aims: Watch therefore, and pray always. Watching and praying must go together, Neh. 4:9. Those that would escape the wrath to come, and make sure of the joys to come, must watch and pray, and must do so always, must make it the constant business of their lives, (1.) To keep a guard upon themselves. “Watch against sin, watch to every duty, and to the improvement of every opportunity of doing good. Be awake, and keep awake, in expectation of your Lord’s coming, that you may be in a right frame to receive him, and bid him welcome.” (2.) To keep up their communion with God: “Pray always; be always in an habitual disposition to that duty; keep up stated times for it; abound in it; pray upon all occasions.” Those shall be accounted worthy to live a life of praise in the other world that live a life of prayer in this world. — M. Henry

 

Are you listening?

Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” | 1 Samuel 3:9-10

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“It’s the way You always find me
Though You see my wandering heart
Your light shines through the darkness and I
I will respond.”

All of this…
Help us turn over all of this — all we have, all we are, all we resolve to do — to You.
Let us hear You, and let us walk with You.
All the way until we are back to You.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. | Psalm 23:4

The psalmist and a hymnist shared these words:
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.

Yes, Lord.
May all our fears and uncertainty — even pain and sorrow — turn us back to You.

Let us say again, as the psalmist did in ages past, “In God [we] trust.

The mind and the mouth.

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.Luke 6:45

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Words. They have been both my blessing and bane. Often, the latter. How can something carry so much weight, yet so easily take flight once it slips off the tongue?

This week, especially today, I have seen this. Words of pride and folly float into the air, lingering in the room, swirling around us.  All the regret in the world cannot capture what has escaped.

‘Why is it that, despite my strongest resolution, at the moment of testing, I still fail?’ I asked this morning as I drove into the fog.

This verse came to mind: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41

Even our Lord felt this. And this was how He lived. Watching and praying so that we do not fall into temptation.

So tonight, for forgiveness for the words that have been carelessly exchanged.
And tomorrow, we start again. To watch and pray, for temptations may come, but with God, we will have victory over the flesh.

I’m learning still.