Sunday, September 25, 2011

With All My Heart

I like setting aside my regular blogging to simply consider God's worthiness of our praise on this day of worship. I just wish we treated the day and it's purpose with greater respect. Yes, we must worship our God every day but this day is different as we gather with his people and join in corporate worship. Things happen when God's people get together, but often we miss it because we are not attentive.

I am sure that there will be things that will happen or have happened this morning that will try to interfere with the purpose of this day. You will probably arrive at church a bit ruffled or rattled as you rushed around getting ready. You probably spent too long online, checking out FaceBook, Thumblr, YouTube or chatting with friends and left the house late, rushed. You probably arrived at church in a whirlwind and allowed yourself to be distracted by a hundred different things that were going on. You probably had the best of intentions for this day but you end up squeezing God in between a bunch of other stuff.

Even while you are at church your mind is probably racing with different thoughts or you are thinking through plans for things you have to do after church. Oh, you are singing and you are giving it a good effort but to be honest you have to admit it isn't with all your heart. You want it to be but your life is full of so much "stuff". Sunday just becomes an overflow day, where everything you didn't get done during the week ends up filling up Sunday. I'm here to tell you that as important as all that other "stuff" is, you need rest from it. You need a day when you can let the world go screaming by while you simply rest in God's presence. You need this holy rest to keep balance and perspective to guard your heart and mind, so that Jesus remains your everything. So quiet yourself today.

Through the psalmist the Spirit calls to us:

“Be still, and know that I am God;
   I will be exalted among the nations,
   I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalm 46:10)

Even in the worse turmoil in our lives the Spirit brings us to a place of rest and calm as he ministers to the deep places of our inner being:

He makes me lie down in green pastures,
    he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he restores my soul.
(Psalm 23:2-3)

It is a Sabbath day, a day of rest, a day of being restored. During the week we worship, spend time with the Lord, he is always with us, but special things, important things happen when God's people come together to worship. The things of the week fall away, things that have stuck to us, the ugliness, the smelly stuff. We get to take a deep long breath and fill ourselves with the sweet smell of God's holy presence. We get to lift up holy hands together and cry out with one mind, one heart and one voice to honour and glorify Jesus.

It is in this place of rest that we remember the greatness of our God. We remember his works and our hearts are filled with thanksgiving. It is a day of giving thanks through the praises of his people. The psalmist expressed this longing:

Shout praises to the LORD!
   With all my heart
   I will thank the LORD
   when his people meet. (Psalm 111:1, CEV)

With all his heart. That's the point being made here. We can't come into corporate worship with a double mind and a heart that is plagued with the busyness of life. We need to set aside the "work of our hands" for a day. Take this rest and allow your heart to be fully possessed by our spirit's desire to worship with our entire being. Stand in the assembly of God's people and be consumed by his love for you and yours for him. Drink in his restoring presence and focus your mind on his great works of love, mercy, grace and compassion. Allow your heart to be transformed by gratefulness and thanksgiving.

Show your gratefulness to the Lord by setting all your work aside. You have six days to work hard, to study, to watch TV and play your video games. You have six days to chat online, to fill up your FaceBook with all your news, to watch videos, to create. You have six days to clean your house, to do laundry, to wash your car, to mow your lawn, to repair the broken things. You have six days to wear yourself out and one day to rest. I encourage you to set this whole day aside for the purpose for which God gave it to us. Jesus said man was not created for the Sabbath but the Sabbath was created for man. This should not be used as an excuse to disregard the reason why the Sabbath was created.

Just an idea: why not extend the purpose of this day beyond the 1 hour church service? Plan some extra reading time with the Word. Go on a prayer walk with your spouse or with a friend. Have some people over and enjoy some rich fellowship. Have some family time worshipping with your children or have some friends over for the purpose of sharing some favorite worship songs. Whatever you decide to do make it special, different from the other days of the week. Honour Jesus and enjoy some much needed rest in his presence. Be restored as you quiet your heart and allow him to lead you to those green pastures and quiet waters. Enjoy the Sabbath.

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