7 Jeremiah received the Lord’s word: 2 Stand near the gate of the Lord’s temple and proclaim there this message: Listen to the Lord’s word, all you of Judah who enter these gates to worship the Lord. 3 This is what the Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, says: Improve your conduct and your actions, and I will dwell with you[a] in this place.4 Don’t trust in lies: “This is the Lord’s temple! The Lord’s temple! The Lord’s temple!” (Jeremiah 7:1-4, Common English Bible)
Everyone seems to love to say something to the effect of, “I really don’t like Mondays.” Hey, I get it. I understand what you mean. I am not a big fan of Monday either. It is just such a let down from Sunday. Sunday is my favorite day of the week.
I love Sunday because I love worship! Sunday is my favorite day of the week because I love worship!
What is that you said? I can worship any day of the week? All I have to do is be in the presence of God? I turns out I was wrong.
What we all too often believe is worship isn’t really worship at all. It is devotion. Devotion is what we do when we are alone. Worship is done in community.
For years I have heard people say, “I can worship God on my _______________ as I can in the church.” You can fill in the blank (bass boat, tractor, rocking chair, etc.). My response used to be, “Yeah you can, but you probably won’t.” Again, I have come to understand I was wrong.”
In my experience, when we decide we are going to try (emphasis on try), to worship on our own, it is because there is something we don’t like about the church. I don’t like the worship time. I don’t like the style of music. I don’t like the preacher. I don’t like all the liturgy. I don’t want to sing. I don’t like that person who sits on the third row. I think you probably get the idea.
Do you notice a trend there? Perhaps you need to re-read the paragraph.
All those things start with the letter/word “I.” It is all about me and what I want. Would you believe worship, by definition, isn’t about me at all. Worship is about what we bring to God! We bring our gifts (spiritual, talents, tithes). We bring minds. We bring our souls. We bring our hearts. In other words, we bring all we are.
We bring all we are and unite with other believers. We come together to worship God but it is even more than that. We come together for worship but we also come together to serve. We come together for fellowship. We come together to lift one another up, to support each other, to love each other. Remember John’s words in his first letter, “You can’t say you love God you can’t see if you don’t love your neighbor you can see” (my paraphrase).
Many have been hurt by churches. I am truly sorry that has happened to you. I wish it could have been different for you. Christians can be, and many are difficult. That just means we are all alike. We are all messed up and need the grace of God in our lives. At least to me, the place we best experience that grace is within the Body of Believers. In other words, the Church. So, each of us need to pick ourselves up and search for a place where we can worship, a place where we can fellowship and find support for the difficult times that come in life for all of us.
I ran across a story sometime ago. I’m not sure who wrote it but I want to share it with you today. It is titled, “The Lonely Ember.”
A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going.
After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.
Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs.
After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet fascination.
As the one lone ember’s flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and “dead as a door nail.”
Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.
Just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.
As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.”
So, today I am thankful for Sunday. Well, what I am really grateful for is worship, whatever day celebrate being in the presence of God as we gather with like minded believers.
That is what I am grateful for today. What about you? What are you grateful for today? Take a moment to write it down in your journal. Then share it with someone. Let them know that something for which you are grateful today.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
With Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved