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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Blessed by God's Presence

Psalm 84:10 (ESV)
10  For a day in your courts
is better than a thousand elsewhere.
  I would rather be a doorkeeper 
in the house of my God
  than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

Why do many people who claim to love the Lord have such a hard time going to church? They complain if the worship service is too long. They talk more about the temperature in the room than what God said to them. There seems to be a disconnect between people and God. Too many of them tell me that they have never heard from God. I wonder what they believe in. How do you believe in a God with whom you have never had a conversation?

I personally love Sundays. I love to come to worship. I love to come very early, go into the sanctuary and pray before the service. I love to hear the Word of God being read. I love to sing and preach. I ask God to anoint me with the Holy Spirit. God does things within me that makes me realize His grace.

Worship is seeking the blessing of God's presence. His presence reveals who He is. He is the Almighty. He is our Father. He is the One who loves us. He is the One we love. He is the One who answers our prayers.  He is the One who grants us wisdom. He is the One who answers our every need. He is awesome.

What could I do that was more important than worshiping Him? To whom would I go who is greater than Him? Who else cares for me as much as Him? Who else can provide for my needs? Is there anyone wiser than my God?

So, I would rather be in the Lord's house than to attend a professional sporting event. I would rather be in the Lord's house than sit on the beach. There is no where else I would rather be because worship is an act of faithfulness which provides the blessing and grace of His presence.

What can I do to bring others to know Him in such a way that they would not miss worship? I guess I can't imagine being in their shoes so I don't really know what to do. I don't' have it all together. I am not perfect. That's why I love His grace. I know how far down He reaches to bless me with His presence.


Anthony Chia said...

You are NOT perfect; I am NOT too. If God were to use only perfect ones, He would have no one to work with! It is despite our imperfection, He still uses us. God looks at our hearts and our actions, and He, I believe, counts out righteousness to us.

The concept of God counting out righteousness to us is NOT about the one-off imputed righteousness that came from our entry into salvation. It is about God counts it to us, when we act with faith, upon the truths of His Word or directives.

I am NOT surprised that God would accept our actions of faith from our perception of what would please Him in line with His Word. What we do may NOT be ideal, may NOT be that effective, and may NOT be that great, maybe even at times, somewhat “off-target”, but when our heart is right and our action are faith driven, God does NOT let everything to go to waste. The critical question to ask is still, do you and I, really love God or are called according to His purposes. If we are, chances are that God would work all things {the things we do} for the good of those who love Him or are called according to His purposes (from Romans 8:28). In any case, it is difficult to imagine how we can be having it all together all the time; you are in good company! That you think about this, and still “put your hand to the plough”, and always wanting to please the Lord, you are a valuable servant of the Lord.

The manner we worship God can be quite subjective, even personal, but whether or NOT we worship Him, is NOT subjective to God; He objectively knows if you worship Him or NOT. We know NOT the heart of another man; only God knows, and so, it is NOT easy, maybe next to impossible, to be able to orchestrate everyone in a congregation to worship in the most awesome manner; just confining worship to praise and worship (worship comprises much more, on the mega scope). Some people would sing loudly and sing like this is the last time they can sing to the Lord, like yours truly, some people would sing softly, some people don’t like the fast and contemporary “noisy” singing, and some people will kneel down from time to time, in a worship season, some would NOT, at all. But clearly, for people who frequently give, going to church services, a miss, it is a suspect if they have a God worshipping posture. Also, like love, how can we compel worship?

The church does NOT need new gimmicks to make people to love God or worship Him. For example, these are NOT it:

1. A preacher with more persuasive words. The Apostle Paul said it: 1 Cor 2:4 – And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of
the Spirit and of power:

2. A more stylish and modern church building. So what if you have a new building, shopping malls spring up in the tiny island of Singapore every year, and we will see people flock to the new malls, and then, everything will be back to be as before, too many malls, NOT enough people to go round; and this phenomenon is colloquially called, “people will tend to use the new toilets, and after they have used them, that they are no longer new, it will lose its appeal!” Actually, many just visit the new malls only to window-shop; they do NOT really shop. Yes, a new church building has certain attractions, but does it necessarily lead to a more worshipping congregation, in the true sense of the word, worship? I am NOT saying we shouldn’t renovate old church building; we should, and for the appropriate reasons.

In the earlier days, for China, believers worshipped God in farm huts, in caves, with little or no amenities, and after days of travelling by foot, too! Reports and videos of such worships should make us ashamed of ourselves.

3. Shorter services. We cannot please everybody. What is the ideal length? You make it too short, I would NOT be surprised you can get this response, too: “It is a waste of time to come to the service; what can you do in such short time, before you could warm the seat, it is time to go!”

4. Shorter worship time. That is NOT it either.


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

5. The kind of music and songs. How can you please them all?! When you are on assignment overseas that crosses the weekends, would you go to a church to worship God? Would you go still, to a local church, if the service isn’t in English or in a language you can understand? And if you do go, what is your posture? Do you go there with a heart to worship God? So, when the locals sing and praise God, what do you do, in the worship time? I tell you what I did, in my earlier days, when I did travel in my work; in Thailand, I went to a Thai language church service, and when the local worshipped in Thai, I worshipped, too; I worshipped in tongues! In heart, I joined the locals in corporate worship of God; that was and is how I see it.

We can take note of such things as above, and more, even, but it is we can only do and should do what is reasonable to be expected of us, so as to accommodate the demographic of the people; but even so, whatever we do, we must, at all times, bear in mind, the focus must be on the object of worship, God; everything else is secondary and peripheral.

Is there nothing we can come up with, that would encourage worship of God? There are, and these are some:

1. Allow for testimonies. Testimonies let people know God is working in their midst. They encourage faith, and let us see our God is caring, and He is Almighty, to say the least. They touched our heart to make it into a thanksgiving-postured heart; and from it, praise and worship of God can come forth. No doubt, we worship God for who He is, yet we also praise and worship Him for what He has done in our lives, and in the lives of fellow brethren and men.

2. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. We got to teach on the person of the Holy Spirit, His role, His gifts and fruit, and such topics as the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and that all believers are to be attentive to the Holy Spirit so that we do as led by the Spirit, as far as possible. One thing, I learned and still trying to put in practice is to obey more precisely what and how the Spirit wants to do things. If we know the path (where you are going) [application of the “light unto your path”], and the steps are shown, too (the immediate steps to take) [application of the “lamp unto your feet”], we have to take the steps indicated by the rhema word or the Spirit. Often, even in the church setting, people let the frivolous desires of themselves as to the steps (or approaches or manners) to take precedence over what the Spirit wants to do and indicated. When we are dull to the Spirit, we either miss the revelation by the Spirit or we do things NOT according to the manner He wants done. Yes, there is the time to be observed, and the service liturgy to follow; still if it is all about Him, isn’t it appropriate if He wants to vary things, we let Him have His way?! If we believe that Jesus was led by the Spirit, why is it inconceivable that it was the Holy Spirit whispering to Jesus, “Now, I want you to pick up some dust from the ground, and spit on them, and then apply the paste on the blind man’s eyes”, and Jesus did as desired by the Spirit! I am NOT suggesting we be crazy and do all the crazy stuff without discernment, but consider if we are boxing the Spirit of God so much that God, to people, is more like a mere paper God. People want to worship a real God, but are we hindering God to be the real God that He is?!


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

3. Practical ministering to others. It is doable, to minister to people in a church service. It has been done in my church. I am NOT prescribing a new thing or a gimmick. In the days of old, if you were a preacher, what would you do, and what did God said He would do, when His Word was being preached? Now, in our modern living, how many preachers and pastors are preaching or are able to preach in the streets so that we would have God coming in a practical manner, to minister to people, like healing the sick or breaking bondages where people can witness them and glorify God. Almost none for many modern places; behind the four walls of the church is where it is done, but only the preaching. Do we NOT still want to give room for God to do His ministering to people? “Bro Anthony, in Scripture, it was Jesus who was ministering to people?!” So? We are the disciples of Jesus, and we are to do the same, aren’t we being told? Jesus sent His disciples out to do the whole works, didn’t He? The Word even recorded it as Jesus saying, we will NOT only do the same, greater works we will do. If it is NOT going to be done out there, at least let God have the free-hand to do it in the church gathering or congregation. Jesus, by the Spirit, is in us; God can use us just as He used Jesus in the time of old. Over time, the thanksgiving posture of the body rises, and along with it, the praise and worship of God.

4. Quality of preaching. By this, I don’t mean enticing words of men’s wisdom; but the careful preparation and preaching of the words in season, as led by the Spirit.

5. Loving one another. Practical ministering to others in a service is one way, but there are more ways we can let God’s love move through us to love another. I push for the understanding that we love one another with God’s love. When people understand and appreciate, it is NOT a brother is loving him/her out of his love, but it has been God loving the person through the brother, thanksgiving and praise and worship will be directed to God (Of course, we should honor the brother, as well).

Indeed in God’s presence, we are blessed; and where there is true worship, God is present. The house of God is no house of God if there is NOT atmosphere of worship of God. Truly, better is one day in the presence of God than a thousand elsewhere.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions