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How do you define worship?

I know how I use the word most often. Usually, when I use worship in a sentence, I’m talking about the twenty minutes to an hour (depending on what church you attend) of singing at the beginning of the service. After all, the people who stand before us are called worship leaders, or worship pastors. So what they are leading us into must be worship.

Or perhaps it’s the entire Sunday morning event. Church. (Yes, we should talk about that word too, I suppose.)

But I have another idea.

But first a picture:

In Isaiah 6 we get a glimpse of the throne room of God.

We see the six-winged creatures.

We hear their fearful and wonderful voices calling,

“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” - Isaiah 6:3

We smell the smoke as it fills the temple.

We feel the floor beneath us tremble as they cry out.

Then, we see Isaiah, one of the LORD of host's own prophets, lying on his face on the trembling floor. He too is trembling.

Then he speaks,

“Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." - Isaiah 6:5

Now, one of those terrifying six-winged creatures, reaches into the fire burning on the altar before the Lord, and, using tongs, selects a burning coal. He places it in his magnificent hand and touches it to the lips of the broken man lying on his face before the Lord.

Strangely neither the winged creature nor the prophet seem hurt by this burning coal. The truth is, this fire-brand is an agent of healing and restoration for the man. The fire consumes only the dross, the rubbish, and leaves the man with a vision, with a testimony. A man ready to serve.

The next thing we hear is the voice of the Father of Creation Himself. The coal given up by the altar broke through the silent ceiling of heaven, that veil of brass that makes us feel like we’re talking to ourselves. Now Isaiah can hear the voice of the Lord, the voice He longs to hear.

"Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" - Isaiah 6:8

Now—pay attention to what happens next. It is the answer to our question. The next moments from the life of Isaiah define worship. He answers the Lord’s question,

"Here am I. Send me!" - Isaiah 6:8 NASB

In my mind, he first whispers it, testing to see if his voice still works after the coal's effect on his lips. He then repeats it, a bit louder. And finally, he calls out in full voice,

“Here am I. Send me!”

There it is—worship. Did you see it?

Paul did.

He defines worship for us in opening lines of Romans 12. After eleven chapters of talking to us about deep spiritual truth, Paul turns his letter to the Roman church to practical matters. He begins to address how we should live in light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. - Romans 12:1

We like to separate what we do with our bodies in the physical world from what we do with our hearts in the spiritual realm.

Nope—Can’t do it.

Isaiah learned that his spiritual act of worship before the actual throne of God involved what he would do for the rest of his days. He would serve the Lord of hosts as His messenger.

“Here am I, send me,” is the greatest worship cry the world has ever known.

It is, after all, the response of Jesus, to the Father’s call, too.

Jesus, who embodies the fullness of the Godhead, stepped into time as an act of worship in response to the call of His Father.

So today, my prayer is,

Lord, touch my lips, burn the mess out of me, and send me.

Join me?

Thanks,

Ben

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Fence

If she is a wall,
We will build on her a battlement of silver;
But if she is a door,
We will barricade her with planks of cedar.

Song of Songs 8:9 NASB

I’ve been thinking a bunch about walls and doors of late. Or more precisely as fences and gates. I’m replacing the fence in my backyard with some fence given to me by a brother. He’s in the fencing business, and was replacing a fence that was only a couple years old. When he learned that much of my fence as falling down, and deteriorating he offered to drop off this old fence to my home. What a huge blessing. Neighbors were starting to complain about my dilapidated (and altogether missing in some spots) 40-year-old fence. They are thrilled to see a new fence going up.

In the process, I have had to plan where the gates would go, and how I was going to lay it all out to make the best use of what I’ve been given. How do I  connect the gate, and ensure that it will open and close, let people in or out, and still enclose the yard properly.

Now back to the Song. The bride chats with the Shepherd King about the discipleship of her little sister. Their discussion comes around to how best to prepare her for ministry. She talks with her partner in ministry about those she is bringing along in the faith.

Before we get to doors and walls, think about this conversation. We’ve said the bride is a mature saint and her partner is the Lord Jesus Christ. They are partners in the making of disciples.

Before Jesus left for heaven, he gave some instructions to those who would follow Him.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. - Matthew 28:19-20 NASB

He did not command them to make converts.
He did not require them to create laws to demanding righteous living from those who did now know Him.
He did not ask them to build buildings, and create programs.

He commissioned them to make disciples, to take what He had taught them, and teach it to others.

As this plays out, they find that the Lord plants in different people, different gifting. They learn that some have a call on their lives to bring people into the kingdom - a gifting in evangelism. Others are bent more toward pastoring, nurture, and protection.

At times we can all do both, and in a sense as we make disciples, we are doing both. We are bringing those we win though the gates, and then helping to build walls for their protection.

Paul speaks to some of the “walls” of Emphasis, when he is leaving them for the last time.

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. - Acts 20:28-30 NASB

One more observation.

The Great Commission, to make disciples of every nation, was not given to one person, but to the group of followers at His ascension. It was not meant to be carried out by one person, or by one local church, or by one denomination.

No - this commission was given to the whole Church, and the promise was that as we carry it out, He would be with us.

So here He is with the bride as she is making disciples.

It’s a beautiful picture of Christ and us together, raising up young christians in ministry. We look together at how they were formed, their giftings and callings, their bent. We help them to move into what God has formed them to be.

Are you a wall or a gate, or more of a combination?

benheadshot1Thanks for stopping by today.

Have a great weekend.

Ben