This morning, I was late for service and was running hard from the UberPool car to the hall (part of my exercise regime, perhaps). Thank God that I didn't miss much because my pastor cut short the worship at the beginning of the service to start his message earlier and left the worship right to the end. When I went in, it was one last song, the offering and then his sermon.
My former and current pastors are not pastors who preach soft doctrines to tickle our ears. They lay out the hard truths that sometimes make me squirm in my seat.
I miss my former pastor a lot because of his humility, love, directness, grace and the powerful anointing of the supernatural in him. God probably has a different season for my church now because he sent a Word-based teacher-pastor to succeed my former pastor. Along with that came a different focus and the inevitable departure of some parts of the congregation; however, I am seeing some new faces appearing in my church and it is becoming more cosmopolitan.
This morning's message reminded me why I also like my current pastor a lot. It was hard-hitting. His main message was that true worship is giving glory to God.
He referred to the tabernacle of God that included three areas: the outer court, the inner court and the holy of holies. To get into the holy of holies, where the glory of God dwelt, there are two main keys: purification and sacrifice - a stripping down of everything that hinders us from God and an offering of ourselves to God. What can we offer to God? My first thought was a visual image of my heart in flames on the bronze altar of burnt offering. That’s what I would give.
In between, he said some things that made me laugh in my seat because they were so reflective of the modern church.
He noted that sometimes people will come up to ask him why the worship team didn’t play their favourite song or why the worship team today was not good and so on and so forth. He told us that “please... they are not singing for you, you know? They are singing for God.”
People always wanted to see him but that 99% of the time, they wanted to talk to him in order to get him to do something for them. He was wondering if God felt like that sometimes. He added that it was like a relationship where the guy wondered why the girl would want to be with him, only to realise finally that the girl was with him because of what he can give her.
True worship does not anticipate some benefit. Rather it anticipates the pleasure of God.
He ended his sermon and then we just went into such a long period of praise and worship and before he dismissed the congregation, he said “we don’t have such moments often when we can sense such a strong presence of God. I hope that this encourages you to keep persevering and going into the holy of holies because that is where God’s presence is”.
PS: I felt ministered and chastened by his message because oftentimes, I’ve sauntered into the presence of God without being serious and reverential about entering into the holy of holies, and taking the worshipping of Him lightly because of complacency about His grace. It was a timely reminder to me to be serious about worshipping God.
After the service, I think I was on a “sermon and worship were so good” high because I said “everyone, have a good day ahead” to my UberPool passengers as I alighted at Paragon and then proactively engaged in a conversation with an elderly couple while buying cakes at Chalk Farm at the basement. Totally out of character but it felt so good. :-)
1 Peter 4:7-11
2 Chronicles 6:41
1 Corinthians 6:19
Picture credit: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/robertcrosby/2012/05/what-the-wilderness-tabernacle-reveals-about-intimacy/