Sunday, February 20, 2011

Again I Ask, Why Are You Going To Church Today?

I have asked you this question before and I am asking it again: Why are you going to church today? Is it because it is what people expect you to do? Is it your way of showing the world what a good person you are? Is it because you want to show God what a good person you are? Do you go to participate, to take part, to serve or are you there to criticize, take up space, to be noticed? It is good to check your motivation because God does. He knows exactly why you are going and what pleases him is his children coming to worship with a right motivation, the motivation of love and gratefulness. Consider the psalmist:

Shout with joy to God, all the earth! 
Sing the glory of his name; 
   make his praise glorious!
 (Psalm 66:1-2)

With joy! Oh how I want that to be the anthem of my heart today; shouts of joy to my Lord Jesus. Not because I want to prove anything to him or to anyone else but because of the gladness, the gratefulness, the love and adoration I have flowing out of me because of who Jesus is and what he has done for me. I can't do anything that would measure up to any worth to offer him but I can offer up my grateful praise this morning:

Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! 
   So great is your power 
   that your enemies cringe before you. 
All the earth bows down to you; 
   they sing praise to you, 
   they sing praise to your name.” (vv. 3-4)

Yes indeed, all praise is due him! Imagine that day when every knee will bow and every tongue will have to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all things. Imagine the praise and worship on that glorious day. I want to taste a bit of that today. I want to pour out my heart with my brothers and sisters so we can taste a little bit of his glory, the glory owed to Jesus. We worship, not to earn anything but instead because Jesus earned it; we owe it to him out of grateful hearts:

 Come and see what God has done, 
   how awesome his works in man’s behalf! (v. 5)

You know, if all Jesus did for us was to take our place on the cross so that we could receive forgiveness; if all he did was rise from the dead, breaking the power of death, so that we could have eternal life; that was enough to earn our eternal adoration. But Jesus has done even more than this. He sent us the Holy Spirit so that we could have his presence in us, enabling him to encourage us, teach us, and preserve us until his return. Think of what he has done for you this week alone. On top of that, he birthed the Church, his Bride, where we find our home, our place of sustenance, our encouragement, our support, our family. It is the place where we get trained and where we find the tools for maturing in our faith. Wow! for this gift alone I will be eternally thankful because the Body is awesome:

Praise our God, O peoples, 
   let the sound of his praise be heard; 
he has preserved our lives 
   and kept our feet from slipping. 
For you, O God, tested us; 
   you refined us like silver. 
You brought us into prison 
   and laid burdens on our backs. 
You let men ride over our heads; 
   we went through fire and water, 
   but you brought us to a place of abundance. (vv. 8-12)

Maybe you have some issues with God the Father over his refining process or perhaps his methods of correction, but not me. I want to dance and shout even louder because these things prove to me just how much he loves me, how much he cares, and how involved he is in my life. He wants me to succeed! He wants me to overcome! He has made plans to prosper my soul and not to destroy me and this overwhelms me with gratitude. Oh, what testimonies do we have to share this morning? What anthems of praise should be shouted from the depths of our hearts:

Come and listen, all you who fear God; 
   let me tell you what he has done for me. 
I cried out to him with my mouth; 
   his praise was on my tongue. 
If I had cherished sin in my heart, 
   the Lord would not have listened; 
but God has surely listened 
   and heard my voice in prayer. 
Praise be to God, 
   who has not rejected my prayer 
   or withheld his love from me! (vv. 16-20)

Oh God, all honour and praise is due you from my heart, to be spoken on my lips, because you have not rejected me! You have never withheld your love from me! Even when I deserved nothing but death from you, you covered me by your love and grace. I come before you a broken man but your love makes me whole. I come before you a wretched man, sinful from birth but your love and mercy cleanses me and makes me a new man. I come before you with nothing to offer, poor of spirit, not a thing I possess worthy enough to be an offering but your love transforms my life and produces acts of righteousness through me so that I can lay it all before you on the alter today. Father, I pray that the praise and worship of my heart is pleasing and honouring to you today and every day of my life. There is no one like you. You are my God, my Lord, my King. Let the earth declare your glory and every nation on the earth proclaim Jesus as their King!

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