Our God is good, all the time!
Awhile back I blogged about the desert place in my heart and how I wondered if I was merely discontented or if the Holy Spirit was stirring me up for something more.
Well, He gave me something more today!
As I wrote previously, one of my biggest desires is to worship God with my entire self, as Jesus taught in John 4:
23Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
That happened this morning when my daughter and I visited a different church!
All of the songs we sang today had lyrics that pointed all praise and glory and honor to Jesus. One song in particular moved me so much that I found it on YouTube:
“Open up the skies
Fall down like rain
We don’t want blessing, we want YOU
Open up the sky
Fall down like fire
We don’t want anything but YOU”
We came to visit a different church due to a “chance” conversation I had with one of my husband’s coworkers. Later she and I messaged back and forth on Facebook, and she invited us to attend her church. She told me it had “spirit-filled” worship. She wasn’t kidding! The praise was celebratory and joyful and sincere, and my heart soaked it up like a sponge as I turned it all back to Jesus.
There were many aspects to the service that stirred me…from the way my daughter responded to the way the pastor spoke about growth in the church. My current church has grown tremendously since opening a new building, but is it existing for the purpose of those who attend or for those who don’t attend? Does my current church care more about “getting big” or about growing deep roots? I think it cares about both. But I leave my current church feeling as if I have been to school. I left this other church feeling as if I have encountered God.
I don’t know what the Lord’s plan is for our family, but I can’t deny that I can’t help but be excited. I feel full! Overflowing! And I didn’t do anything to deserve it; all I did was join in the singing with my whole soul and then listened to the sermon with my whole attention. I learned that they had a list of over 1,000 nonbelievers whose names they taped to chairs, believing that the Lord would call them. They prayed over those people, and today there were some new believers there whose names had been some of the thousands! This church is serious about reaching out to the community, showing love, and “making Jesus famous (as opposed to becoming just another famous megachurch in the Bible Belt).” There is a decided evangelical edge to their sincere worship. My church is serious about helping people grow into fully devoted followers of Christ. There is nothing wrong with that mission! But does that mission match up with who the Lord created me to be?
My daughter is enrolled in a special class at our church that was specially designed for fifth graders to give them a foundation of Bible knowledge. Unfortunately, she no longer gets to experience praise and worship because the church cut it out for that age group. Apparently they have too much to do and discuss in the foundational class to take time to worship. I didn’t realize how much that hurt her spirit until today. She was literally bubbling over with excitement about how she felt like she had been in the room with God. She got tears in her eyes. She raised her hands high and didn’t feel awkward about it because so many others were, too. She said it was like being a part of a big family where she was welcomed.
One of my favorite parts was when the pastor dismissed the 5th-7th graders to go to their special service led by the youth pastor. He made it a point to remind us that God has our plans marked out for us from the cradle all the way until he calls us home — and he had us clap for those preteens and teens who love Jesus as they made their way out the door to their small group and worship time.
I also learned today that one of the tenants of this other church is to lead people to a courageous faith. The pastor spoke of the story of Jonathan and his armor bearer facing off against a bunch of Philistines with only one sword between them from 1 Samuel 14:
No one realized that Jonathan had left the Israelite camp. 4 To reach the Philistine outpost, Jonathan had to go down between two rocky cliffs that were called Bozez and Seneh. 5 The cliff on the north was in front of Micmash, and the one on the south was in front of Geba. 6 “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”
7 “Do what you think is best,” the armor bearer replied. “I’m with you completely, whatever you decide.”
8 “All right then,” Jonathan told him. “We will cross over and let them see us. 9 If they say to us, ‘Stay where you are or we’ll kill you,’ then we will stop and not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come on up and fight,’ then we will go up. That will be the Lord’s sign that he will help us defeat them.”
11 When the Philistines saw them coming, they shouted, “Look! The Hebrews are crawling out of their holes!” 12 Then the men from the outpost shouted to Jonathan, “Come on up here, and we’ll teach you a lesson!”
“Come on, climb right behind me,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “for the Lord will help us defeat them!”
13 So they climbed up using both hands and feet, and the Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor bearer killed those who came behind them. 14 They killed some twenty men in all, and their bodies were scattered over about half an acre.[b]
15 Suddenly, panic broke out in the Philistine army, both in the camp and in the field, including even the outposts and raiding parties. And just then an earthquake struck, and everyone was terrified.
Courage. Now that’s something I know I need! Jonathan had it, and the Lord was faithful. The shop owner in the Dallas area who shook her finger at the would-be robber who pointed a gun at her and commanded him to leave her store “in the name of Jesus” had courage, and the Lord was faithful.
Perhaps the courage is built up in the praise. I have no clue what lies ahead of me, but I know it’s going to be for God’s glory! And for today, I am indeed singing not just with my mouth, but with my soul.