We held our third night of collective community worship events last Sunday evening. As the musicians prepared and rehearsed, we looked a little at what worship is and what it is not. I shared a devotional with them which included an excerpt from How To Worship A King by Zach Neese on pp. 13-14. The author shares a poignant lesson from God regarding worship and discusses how he was forever changed because of this encounter.
In all candor, this worship event was the most difficult to plan and execute to date. While we have met challenges such as losing a musician or last minute venue changes in prior events, this time, we were assaulted for a lengthy period of time leading up to being together in corporate worship.
There was the initial struggle of finding enough musicians. Then, throughout the week before, we started to work through losing an instrumentalist (with the potential of losing a second from our already skeleton-like band), a vocalist, and a worship flagger due to various complications. We also experienced additional emotional strain from extended family circumstances. For the second time, there was inclement weather forecasted for the day we had scheduled to hold the event outdoors. In addition to all the above, I could hardly get out of bed.
Overcoming Problems with Sacrifice
This posed a pretty big problem since I typically lead the group. Mark prayed over me before heading to church to help with the praise team, Sunday School, and morning service. I was so physically depleted, he was running alternative scenarios through his mind, although he admitted none of them were very good. He decided that regardless of who did or didn’t make it, there would be worship that evening.
Recognizing this was a spiritual attack by the enemy, I continually got up in short spurts to work towards getting ready. I probably topped out at 20-30 minutes before going back to bed at each attempt.
As I was in bed, the Lord and I were talking about what was going on. Through past experiences, Mark and I know that resistance is almost always an indication that God has something big and awesome in store. So, we tend to have some level of excitement mixed in with the need to walk through the difficult circumstances.
I managed to keep some saltine crackers and ginger ale down by 2:00 that afternoon. And, as I got up and around, it became easier to get dressed and load up the last few items of equipment needed for the evening.
Laying Our Isaac Down
At the event, I read Hebrews 13:15 in the ESV. “Through Him”….there was no other way I was able to be present and lead. I like the ESV and NLT versions of this verse so I’ve included both for your reference.
Hebrews 13:15, ESV: “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”
Hebrews 13:15, NLT: “Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.”
I shared that offering a sacrifice of praise can come in a variety of ways:
- Worshipping when you can hardly lift your head and get out of bed (check)
- Worshipping in the midst of grief in various contexts (check)
- Worshipping even when it’s inconvenient in your schedule or when you’re tired
- Worshipping when you know it will impact your body negatively [i.e. blisters, aches and pains from standing so long, waving a flag, or from the weight of holding an instrument] (check)
- Worshipping even when it’s a style you don’t typically enjoy
- Worshipping through submitting to a fast prescribed by the Lord (partial check–ginger ale and crackers aren’t very filling)
- Worshipping through the act of service in the form of manual labor
- I’m sure you can think of something else that applies to you that could go on this list.
See, when we remember that praise and worship isn’t for us, it’s easier to place our “Issac” on the altar. God designed worship for His pleasure. It is our privilege to minister to Him through devotion, music, dance, flags, etc.
Make A Joyful Noise
He can even take pleasure in something we would label a “train wreck” if our hearts are in the right place. Worship isn’t performance. Worship is coming before Him and being in His Presence. It is all about Him. He takes pleasure in a joyful noise when our hearts are submitted to Him. Which is a good thing, since we had one of those train wreck a.k.a. joyful noise moments in the midst of the songs Sunday night.
Psalms 98:4 ESV Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
Psalms 100:1-5 ESV Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
Mark said you’d never know I had been so sick and feeble earlier in the day based on what happened at the worship night. We did excerpts from 42 songs as we worshipped through the decades for over 90 minutes. I give all the credit to the Lord for giving me strength, energy, endurance, and a strong voice; none of which should have been possible physically speaking.
The hardest event to date was also the most powerful and intimate in coming before the Lord. I believe He was pleased with the offering of our praise and worship. You were born to worship; even when it requires bringing your sacrifice of praise!
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