Worship and the Long, Inward Look

Worship and the Long, Inward Look

When I celebrate the Lord’s table on the first Sunday of the month, it is something that excites me as I sense the Lord’s presence in a powerful way. It is also a time when I need to practice personal reflection and examination before I enter the church and the sanctuary. This examination must be done sincerely, not half-heartedly, if I am to receive the fullness of the Lord’s blessing.

Do we take seriously the command to examine ourselves? Are we truly broken over our sin? Is our confession merely a momentary thing, knowing full-well we’ll revisit what we’ve just confessed?

The Lord honors a true repentance with fully-restored fellowship. If we aren’t embracing the call to genuine self-examination, what is preventing us from doing so?

Do we allow our hearts to stray from an active awareness of a God who is so holy that He struck the man Uzzah dead for merely touching the very symbol of His Presence, the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6:1-7)? Do we, New Testament believers, think God is somehow diminished in His holiness? What would our response be if God moved today against sin as He did in Acts 5 with Ananias and Sapphira? It’s true that we’ve been given greater access to His throne than even John the Baptist. Yet John’s message of repentance is still relevant to us today. Through it, we can walk in a right relation to God the Father and fulfill His Kingdom building purposes until His return.

There is never a time when He applauds sin in the life of a believer.  He loves us far too much to reward actions or thoughts that lure as away from His loving arms. Think of a loving parent’s admonition to wash hands before the dinner meal. The child cannot see the germs. The child can’t grasp the connection between invisible germs and life-threatening disease.  But the loving parent sees the risk and admonishes the little one to obey from a place of trust.

Obviously, who could love us more than the One who died to save us?

Consider the elements of the Lord’s Table – the elements of which we partake in that celebration. In John 12:24, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Consider the loaf of bread: grains crushed, made into flour, baked; pieces torn from the loaf. Think of how they speak of Christ, torn as He was from fellowship with the Father so that fellowship might be available to us!

Consider too the fruit of the vine: crushed to remove its liquid. Isaiah reminds us that “He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

O the challenge, and the beauty, of devoting ourselves to the breaking of bread!

 

To consider …

  • Jesus’s words in John 12:24 speak of dying to one’s self and to the world as a crucial process for all who would go forth bearing fruit.

It’s similar to the vine principle in John 15: If the branches are severed from the vine, both the branches and its fruit wither and die. They are of no use except to be burned.   

If we are not applying these principles and working them consistently into the fabric of our being, can or should we honestly claim to be His disciples?

  • Thinking of how Jesus was crushed for our sin, are we willing to crush sin in us – even in its embryonic stage like the egg of a poisonous snake? Or do we coddle that dangerous egg until sin breaks out and strikes us?
  • How seriously do you take your preparation for worship – cleansing your soul that you might serve God in purity?
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Comments

  1. Thanks for these sobering reminders Pastor Dave. Because I have many responsibilities on a communion Sunday, I find I must go through that self-examination process more than once before I approach the Lord’s Table. Add to that that I am serving the elements to my brothers and sisters, how much more a reason to be sure I am right before God? But, if we all are to be salt and light, vessels of the Holy Spirit to a lost culture that knows little shame, shouldn’t we all be as dillegent to walk in a manner worthy of our calling with a clear conscience?

  2. I’m so grateful that the Lord sees all. My motives. My impulse to react rather than respond. My brooding emotions. My forgetting to pray. My unwillingness to intercede for my enemies. His love constrains me to confess. The courage I find afterward compels me to walk in His forgiveness. My perspective of what I’ve been rescued from expands. With a greater view of who He is and who I am, I am MORE accountable to guard that vulnerable area by being shielded in Christ. When I allow my Maker to spiritually uncover both me and my sin by accepting conviction from His Holy Spirit, He reminds me that I am clothed in His own Son’s robe of righteousness. His call upon me is far greater than my old nature’s beckoning to wallow in depravity. I pray that there will never be a time when I approach His table of grace without perspective on what it cost Jesus to provide its elements.

  3. There is never a time when He applauds sin in the life of a believer. He loves us far too much to reward actions or thoughts that lure as away from His loving arms. Think of a loving parent’s admonition to wash hands before the dinner meal. The child cannot see the germs. The child can’t grasp the connection between invisible germs and life-threatening disease. But the loving parent sees the risk and admonishes the little one to obey from a place of trust.

    Pastor Dave, I love this. I often think of how much (imperfect) love I have for my daughter, and oh, what I would not do for her. I also often think of how many times I’d give direction, and have her ask “WHY?” My response, “Because I love you”. (She’d quite often, especially in those dreaded teenage years, come back with “Why do you love me so much?” or “I wish you didn’t love me so much!”

    It always brings to mind Matt 7:11, If you then, imperfect as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him! And to think, the GREATEST gift He ever gave us, of his Son, we didn’t even ask for!! He knew our need and met it. He chose ME to be one of HIS daughters and saves my soul! AMAZING!

    But yes, all of that leads me to feel bittersweet each Communion Sunday. I’m often in tears at the thought of all that He’s done for me, to me, and through me… one of His kids, who gets dirty in this germy, earthly playground, and comes to Him to get clean.

    • Kathryn Boisvert : February 6, 2018 at 11:51 am

      I too am tremendously thankful to be clothed in His righteousness and I never want to forget to count the cost when I approach the table !(ty Kerin)
      Great anaoligy, Karen! A grimy kid being cleaned up by my heavenly father to. be acceptable to come to his table and partake!

  4. Anne Brassard : February 6, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    I find that two things happen when I don’t with regular and consistent haste go to my Father for forgiveness. 1) it becomes easier to continue those sins WE don’t view as so terribly bad (although we know they still take us out of fellowship) and 2) it becomes harder and harder to go before our Father and ask him to clean our filthiness. But when we go as soon as the conviction fills us, we understand that he is just as quick to forgive. I can’t imagine what confessing on the day of The Lord’s Table might feel like to me without that ongoing plea in Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit within me. It also talks about cleansing and forgiveness, things we need to bring to and from the Table with thanksgiving. But we also need to keep that spirit of confession daily!

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