Confession: I spend a lot of my free time watching ridiculous videos. Cat videos – I love ‘em. I could watch them for hours. Wedding fails – some of my favourites. A couple of nights ago, Mike, Elliot and I were watching America’s Funniest Videos and one of the videos was of a couple midway through reciting their wedding vows. The couple was looking lovingly into each other’s eyes, while the pastor prompted:
Pastor: for better for worse
Bride: for better for worse
Pastor: for richer for poorer
Bride: for richer for poorer
Pastor: in sickness and in health;
Bride: in sickness and in health;
Pastor: to love, cherish,
Bride: to love, cherish,
Pastor: and to obey.
Bride: and to- …
Pastor: and to obey…
Bride: … *crickets chirping in the background* …
“Obey.” So much weight attached to such a small word. Nobody likes having to be obedient to someone else. We like to be able to do what we want, when we want to.
This morning, I was reading an article about how we come into God’s presence in worship. Often times it can be difficult to come to church on a Sunday morning and be excited about giving God our praise. Sometimes it can feel like a chore or an obligation – one we’d rather avoid. But in the midst of the reluctance we sometimes feel, the writer of the article said these words,
“Obedience often precedes joy.”
Read that one more time.
“Obedience often precedes joy.”
“Well, yes, Jolene, that sounds super Bible-y, but what does that mean?” you might ask. Or, at least that’s what I asked myself. The words resonated with me, but what does that mean for me practically?
For me, it means I enter into worship with what I know to be true, instead of just what I feel to be true. It means I recognize God’s attributes – his love, his mercy, his grace - even when I find it difficult to see them working in my life. It means I follow God’s command to bring Him my worship, because He is worthy.
Revelation 4:11 says “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
Our God is worthy of our worship, and I truly believe that as we lift up his name, as we bring him our praise (even when we don’t feel like it) in obedience to Him, He will fill us with joy! Joy in His strength, joy in His compassion, and joy in the salvation we have through his Son, Jesus Christ.
I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
Jolene Sanders, Worship Director
So, the worship team has been working through a devotional over this past month or so, using a plan titled “What Does it Mean to Worship?”. Over these past weeks, we've looked at the definition of worship, why we worship, and different ways that we can worship. This week we're looking at what it means to worship God by serving.
The opening quote of the devotional says this, “It is impossible to serve God without serving one another” (Allistair Begg).
Which seems right, right? It does.
Unfortunately, that doesn't make it easy.
The truth is - for me at least - there are times when it is incredibly difficult to serve others.
Just to illustrate, I'm going to share with you guys a snippet of the vows Mike and I made to each other on our wedding day (taken from the book “Blue Like Jazz”... yeah, that's how cool we are)
“I will love you like God, because of God, mighted by the power of God. I will not expect your love, demand your love, trade for your love, game for your love. I will simply love. I am giving myself to you, and tomorrow I will do it again.”
No pressure, right? No big deal, this is exactly the kind of love I show to Mike every. single. day. Because if there's any person in your life that should be easy to serve, it's your spouse, right??
Nope! (sorry Mike!)
I get lazy, and I get selfish.
Even the person I've vowed to love and cherish for the rest of my life I find difficult to serve, and I even like him!
What do I do about the people that rub me the wrong way? The ones who say inappropriate things at inappropriate times? The people I'd rather avoid?
Further into the devotional are these words, “We'll never lock eyes with someone whom God doesn't adore. Those are the people we get to serve.”
Man, that's tough. That's REALLY tough! But it's only tough until I realize the undeserved love I have in my life from the one who gave me life. It's tough until I am humbled to the fact that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. It's tough until I remind myself that we don't serve others to glorify ourselves or the people we are serving, we serve to glorify God!
And that makes it a little easier.
The devotion closed this way, and I'll leave these words with you.
“Our aim in serving God is to bring Him glory. Whatever it is and however we're able, we can serve God by serving others. Let's commit ourselves to making a difference in the body of Christ with our gifts, abilities, and traits. It doesn't have to be a full-time job, but it should be our full-time calling”.
“Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23-24).
Jolene Sanders, Director of Worship
Oh man, how great was Impact Sunday?? That's a rhetorical question, because I already know it was amazing! It is so encouraging to hear stories of how God is working in and through His church. As I was planning out the music for the service last week, I just kept thinking of how important it was that the service not be a celebration of our own achievements, but instead recognize how God is working powerfully through His people. At our Wednesday practice we talked about how God is the ultimate Creator; that anything we are able to do is because He has enabled us to do it. Anything we can make, anything we can imagine is only possible because He has known it first.
He is the one who gives us life (and life to the fullest)!
This Sunday, we are going to learn a new song together that continues on that same theme. The song is called “Yet Not I, but Through Christ in Me” by CityAlight, and the words of the song remind us that whatever we have, whatever we do that honours Him, we can only do through the work of Christ in us. The words of verse three are especially significant in light of some of the testimony we heard this past Sunday, and they say this:
No fate I dread I know I am forgiven
The future sure the price it has been paid
For Jesus bled and suffered for my pardon
And he was raised to overthrow the grave
To this I hold my sin has been defeated
Jesus now and ever is my plea
Oh the chains are released I can sing I am free
Yet not I but through Christ in me
The gospel message summed up in a beautiful picture of our freedom and forgiveness in Christ. I'm so excited to sing these words with you on Sunday as we worship Jesus together in victory!
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2
Jolene Sanders, Director of Worship Ministries
Each week we post about a range of things from the Christian life, faith and more.
In these posts we hope you'll catch a glimpse of ordinary people who serve an extraordinary God.