We resume "Pure Worship" this evening!
It is the highlight of my week.
Communicating with God. Worshipping God. Letting God's presence seep into my Spirit.
Tonight, in the devotion, I will be sharing about one way of communication that in the busyness of our lives - we have a hard time implementing.
Being still before God.
If you have walked with God for any length of time you realize that there is no prepackaged routine for communicating with God.
There are all kinds of ways and methods - just as there are all kinds of ways that we communicate with our spouses. With a verbal word. With a hug. With a gift.
It is the same with God.
God is not predictable. God is sovereign. God moves when and where He chooses. He is Lord: we are His servants.
As His servants we are to worship Him in different ways.
We are to worship God actively, with active praise. Singing, lifting our hands, shouting, kneeling.
But we are to also worship God with times of silent devotion.
While the contrast between "active" and "passive" worship is there - the motives and objectives are synonymous.
In active praise, we ask for the presence of the Lord. We enter into his presence.
We sing joyous songs. The Word confirms this: "You (God) are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel." Psalms 22:3
We sing in worship, and as the choruses come to an end, someone might pray or a message from the Holy Spirit might be given (I Corinthians 14:26).
But it can be at this moment that we can combine active praise with silent devotion. Once in the presence of God, we may be wise to learn to be silent before God, in order to hear His voice and subsequently to obey.
A mature worshiper knows when to participate actively and when to participate devotionally.
There is where we can all learn to grow in our worship. Worship does not end when the last song is sung - worship ends when we sense a release of the Holy Spirit to move on in the service.
Sometimes, the most powerful sense of God's presence can be manifested in complete silence.
David writes in Psalms 46:10, that we are to be still and know that He is God."
Let me use this analogy.
There are times that being with my earthly father brings a sense of comfort. All of my adult life, his strength and integrity have created within me a sense of security. I know that if I go to him with a question, problem, or prayer request, he will offer proper guidance and faithful prayer.
It's the same with God our Father. Being in his presence, in the stillness of his presence is comforting, regardless of the storm that rages around us.
God the Father has the ability to calm the stress and remind us of his unfailing love.
As I am still before God - I receive God's strength.
Here's the bottom line: In order to hear God speak, I must be listen. How can I hear God speak if I am doing all of the talking?
A huge part of this is done through mediation in our worship.
Now, before you immediately begin to draw negative conclusion concerning the word meditation, let me share with you that "Christian Meditation" is biblical.
It is totally unlike pagan practices which seek to focus on the inner place of our lives or contact a "spirit-guide" demonically, or escape consciousness transcendentally or hypnotically.
In Christian mediation, we focus on Christ, His Word, God's love; and we are fully conscious, alert and alive in the Spirit of God.
We are to mediate on the Word of God. The German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer recommended spending a whole week on a single verse!
That's how deep God's word is. David writes, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."
The words of my mouth - but also the meditation of my heart.
In meditation, we ask God for forgiveness of sins, both with our words and our actions.
The secret of hearing God clearly is to get to know Him better and better every day. Ht more you understand Him, the better you know Him, the easier it is to hear His voice in a split second when He wants to talk with you.
If you aren't hearing God speak to you, that is a good indication you don't have a relationship with Him. That there is a sinful attitude or action in your life that is separating the communication lines between you and God.
We also ask God for wisdom. Pastor James tells us in James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God."
We ask in faith, believing that God will give us that wisdom. Then James goes on to say in verse 5, "God gives that wisdom generously to all who ask, without finding fault."
Consecration can be a part of mediation as well. Where I once again reaffirm my commitment to God. I state my allegiance to God and His will for my life. That once my time of mediation is over, I commit myself to doing God's work through me and in me.
So, how can I actively listen to God?
By being still before God. Again, Psalms 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
Simon and Garfunkel used to sing, "Slow down, you move too fast, you've got to make the moment last."
By inviting God to speak to you. "Father, speak to me!"
By expecting God to speak to you. Have faith that God will speak to you.
By being obedient to what God has said to you.
Let me leave you with this story.
Mike Yaconelli once wrote: "I travel a lot, and I came to San Francisco one night and missed my connection back home. I was angry and upset, and I called my son on the phone. I wanted him to encourage me. I said, "Man, I'm stuck in the airport; it's been a horrible day. I've been traveling too much."
My son said, "You know Dad, if you didn't travel so much, you wouldn't have things like this happen." Well, I didn't appreciate that. I was ticked off. I said, Let me talk to your son (my two-year-old grandson). Well, I forgot that when you're two you can't talk, and when you're 60 you can't hear. This is not a good combination.
He's mumbling on the phone. I'm hoping that this is going to make me feel better. It's making me feel worse. Finally, I've had it. I hear the phone drop onto the floor. Now, I hear the kids playing. I'm stuck in the airport. I have this miserable experience.
I'm furious and angry, when all of a sudden I hear crystal clear over the phone, "I love you, Grampa."
You know what? All my anxiety, everything went out the window."
Great story. Listen to me - there are people who are so busy they are at their wits' end. If they'd only stop for a minute, they could hear the God of the universe whisper to them, "I love you."
Chinese Christian leader Brother Zhong tells this story:That is the power of a song.
"I was attending a training course for my house church network's council members and youth leaders. The Public Security Bureau (PSB) raided us the first day. All the leaders were arrested.
The prison authorities shaved our heads and interrogated us. We were warned that the hardened inmates would beat us. So with much trepidation, another brother and I entered our cell.
We were greeted by the sight of 16 other inmates, lined up in two rows and thumping their fists. My heart beat rapidly as I sent prayers up to God.
The leader of the gang asked, "Why are you here?"
"Because we are Christians," I replied.
"You don't beat people up?"
"NO," I assured him.
"Do you sing?"
"Yes," I answered.
The leader ordered me to sing a song. I wept as I sang. The Holy Spirit moved in our midst, and b y the time I finished singing, every prisoner was also in tears. To my shock, the gang leader than asked to hear the gospel.
After that, my cellmates hungered to hear the gospel every day. One Sunday, we held a worship service. The prison guard demanded to know who was behind it. He threatened to punish everyone if no one spoke up. I stood up and confessed.
I was forced to remove my clothes and stand at an inclined angle to the wall. The gang leader couldn't bear it anymore. He asked to be punished with me. All the others volunteered to do the same. The infuriated guard stormed out. I was moved by my clelmates' act. One of them, who had been there for three years, became a believer that day.