Sunday, February 26, 2017

Public Worship: Gathered and Redeemed

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 57: Today, I am grateful to be able to gather in public to worship and celebrate redemption.

From Pinterest: Artist April Crosier for Illustrated Faith
Psalm 111 is a song of praise. Verse one sounds like it is time to get up and head to church.

Praise the LordI will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly. Psalm 111:1

Do we get excited about heading to the House of God to lift us his name? Do we fuss, fight and fluster until we hit the the church parking lot and put on our "church face"? I am not going to publically answer that question and you don't have to either.

Just asking the question makes me try to reframe the "getting ready" and work on embracing the destination. Getting there can be a very real battle. Seeking his face and worshiping in His presence is where the real joy arrives.

Sometimes, I wonder if Satan loves to stir trouble in the homes of believers on Sunday mornings. If he can keep us home... he can create a separation in the community of believers. We need to share with each other. Shared joy, shared laughter, shared celebrations and answered prayers or requests. When we offer up need for prayer, there is power and intervention by "two or more" being gathered in His name. Don't miss the opportunity.

We are better together... when we keep our eyes on him. Satan wants us anywhere but in worship on Sunday morning (or Saturday and Sunday evenings if you have different worship time.)

The image is from April Crosier who inspires us at Illustrated Faith. Worship is the theme. This is her Psalm 111:9 art that set her earworm (and mine, too)... singing Big Daddy Weave's song "Redeemed".

This song infuses the air with hope. It sings of the holiness, love and brilliant work of a God who would not give up on the ones he gifted with choice and free will.

Are you stubborn? I am. So is he? We were, after all, "created in His image." He understands stubborn.

Are you hard to mold? He is the Master Potter and he is patient. Clay is too valuable to the potter... even before it takes shape. Before it reaches it's full potential, it matters to him. It is too precious in his eyes to be cast off as useless and unmoldable. None of us are finished works... but we are... and - "I am redeemed!"

Embrace these lyrics:

Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me "son
Stop fighting a fight it's already been won"

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I'll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I'm not who I used to be
I am redeemed, I'm redeemed

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, "Child lift up your head"
I remember, oh God, You're not done with me yet

Forgive me if this seems slanderous... but I honestly had that famous scene from the movie "Ghost" go through my head. The intimacy of the Potter molding the clay and the ghostly hand helping shape it. In the movie, a woman grieves for her husband, not realizing he is there holding her and helping her. 

In real life, we long for a God to help us with our struggles, not realizing he is already with us. He is quietly, wrapping himself around us and guiding our hands.It is intimate. He coaches us to press on... keep going... don't give up... and then,  

"Arise my child...arise!" - Mark 5:41

Come to me. You are redeemed. You are alive like never before. You have a purpose and a mission. Love me with a passion. Love others like a nut case... a love nut! Crack open the joy of his redemption. His name is powerful, beautiful and holy.

Does he speak promise into the clay as he molds it. You bet he does. Does it feel like we are spinning and dizzy as we are being spun and modeled? At times... yes. Does he shape our lives... if we allow him. He wants us to find our life in him... awesome life, as he is th source.

He turns ordinary into extraordinary when we submit to his hand and fix our eyes on him in love and adoration. This might sovereign God has the most amazing hands. They wait for us to submit and the belong the arms that long to welcome us home.

Great are the works of the Lordthey are pondered by all who delight in them. He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever—holy and awesome is his name. Psalm 111:2,9 (NIV)

Oh yes... the word "pondered" is there. It is one of my favorite words and actions.

Today, I am grateful to be able to gather in public to worship and celebrate redemption.

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