The Lord is present when “two or three” gather in His name. “In His name” clearly means they are either worshiping or working for Him. And we should count on His presence. I do not claim to understand how He could be “more present” than when I am here in this kitchen typing on a laptop with no one else in the house. But it seems to be the case. In what we call “corporate worship”—meaning, with the full body of believers—something special happens.
—And with outsiders.
“About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. And the other prisoners were listening” (Acts 16:25).
They are always listening, checking to see what we are doing and what it means; what it says about us and about our God.
Let them see something of eternity in us, something divine, something of the living God.
David said, “I waited patiently for the Lord and He inclined unto me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the miry clay and set my feet on the solid rock, and made my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:1-3).
We do not worship God to put on a show for those who “see and fear and put their trust in God.” But they are watching, make no mistake.
We owe it to them to make sure that what they see is a true child of God worshiping in Spirit and in truth.
8) Worship is permanent. An hour in His presence does something lasting.
I’m not quite sure how this works, but I believe it.
When in the house of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany, our Lord sat and rested and began speaking, Mary stopped whatever she was doing and sat at His feet. She was worshiping. When Martha interrupted this little “service of worship” to call Mary to get up and come help, and accused the Lord of not caring, Jesus said, “You are full of cares and worried about many things. But only one thing is needful. And Mary has chosen that one good thing, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42).
Notice that: Shall not be taken away from her.
Everything Martha was doing would have to be repeated the next day. All the cleaning and cooking and household chores never end. But an hour spent at the feet of Jesus is eternal. We are forever different. And that time can never be repeated, duplicated or removed.
9) In worship, we begin by giving the Lord ourselves.
“I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, wholly and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
When Paul praised the churches of Macedonia for their generosity in giving to help the starving Christians of Judea—see the early verses of 2 Corinthians 8—he adds this line: “They didn’t do it the way we expected. First, they gave themselves especially to the Lord, and then to us by God’s will” (8:5).
First, to the Lord.
That’s how it’s done. The rest of it—worshiping, bringing an offering, praising and remembering and giving thanks and praying—flow from that initial gift of oneself.
And, as in the rest of worship, we do it unto the Lord but the blessings all flow toward us.
If we do it for the personal payoff, it will not pay off. But if we do it unto the Lord, we are blessed.
This is why Paul told the Corinthian church, “I will not burden you; for I am not seeking what is yours, but you” (2 Corinthians 12:14).
Does the Lord have you? Nothing else matters until you can answer in the affirmative.
10) There are 999 other dimensions to worship. I wish I knew what they were.
“There’s more. So much more,” says a wonderful gospel song from years back.
A radio commercial yesterday said, “And now, here’s a special message to the canines in the audience.” Dead air. Then, “The dogs heard that!”
Animals have more acute hearing than we humans. And their olfactory senses are hundreds of times sharper. The eagle has vision that puts ours to shame.