In a week I celebrate my first year as pastor of Historic Berean Baptist Church. I’ve learned a lot of about people. I’ve learned a lot about myself. A church is a bouquet of personalities, different flowers, weeds, both exotic and weeds. There are thorns and annoyances; there are blossoms and young shoots still pressing their way through tough times and grounds. You have to press your way through tough situations, seasons and times and when you do; when you can celebration don’t be afraid to…Say So.
Right now, our country is going through a tough time, right now, our state and city are going through challenges. Right now you may be going through a season of struggle and testing. There may be times when everything you do seems to turn out wrong. Regardless of our prayers and consecration, adversity will come. You can’t pray away God’s seasons. The Lord has a purpose in not allowing us to be fruitful all the time. We need seasons of struggle. These times break us down, put our pride in check and make us lean not to our own limited understanding and wait on God.
When the winter winds blow, when it’s cold, when it’s dark, when you are all alone in your mess, trust God. We don’t like the cold, the wind or the dark, and no body likes to be alone all the time but even this is for an appointed time. David wrote my times are in thy hand. (Psalm 31:15)
Every stage has its purpose. Even when you can’t see it. What do you know anyway? Think about it, all that you know you learned second hand or are still learning it. Who created knowledge? Who created everything?
I had a challenging time this past couple of weeks. My patience ran low. I almost said something to a couple of people that always speak out of turn, out of order, and I still might but it wasn’t time. You know how you expect more from someone and when you don’t get it, you feel like what is the use? Why do I even bother? Frustration. Once frustration touches you, you want to quit, throw up your hands. But if we are not careful, we will do that with God. First it’s our parents. Then people we should respect. They let us down. Then its friends, and eventually its church people. People who are gracious, but fake, artificial, facsimiles of what Christianity represents. And you get frustrated. You want to quit.
You ever been there? But guess what? It’s just a test. We need to hear a big recording like we do for the Emergency Broadcast System that says “Please stand by this is only a test.”
The real test of faith is facing the silence of being on hold. When we call a business, we get a voice mail, or sometimes a prompt. If you want to reach billing, press one. If you want to reach customer service representative press zero, if you want service upgrades press three, if you want to exit press star. You don’t hear that when you pray to God. Sometimes you don’t hear anything. But don’t quit. Just wait. He heard you.
But when you faith is being tested, it’s not that easy. Stuff just happens to you. And depending on what is going on in your life, in your mind, you respond.
David wrote in verse 7 “…he delivered them out of there distress”.
That is where praise and worship come in. Worship can be a bone of contention, a deal breaker for someone seeking relief from the world. Worship touches on tradition, culture and classism. I am going to raise some points here and then tell you my viewpoint at the end. Amen? OK,
Listen to this:
We have names for worship like it belongs to us. How many in our churches think that worship is for them?
Over the years we have become critics, judgmental and connoisseurs of worship. We even have categories for it. Well, this message is for someone in here right now that is wondering about their place.
Some call their worship Contemporary because it relates the younger crowd…
The may call worship blended if it relates to a mixed crowd…
They may call it traditional if it is to the older crowd…
How can WE call it anything? We do this as if worship is a radio station to be tuned into OUR OWN preferences. Worship is about and for the creator. It belongs to him and is done by the heart when it’s poured out beyond our comforts, likes, and desires. I am amazed at the selfishness of the church when it comes to God’s possession and one of our only gifts to him… worship. That is right. WORSHIP is the only you can give God that HE doesn’t already OWN. He doesn’t need your tithes. He doesn’t need for me to be dressed any better than anyone else or ride in a better car. I have heard it said that worship is: “making God big and me small” I don’t believe that happens when OUR hearts and focus is on our worship and is about the crowd liking it…
“God inhabits the praise of his people”
Spiritually, praise and worship is the devils bone of contention. He used to lead praise and worship in heaven and then thought he wanted some of that adoration. He wanted to stand up in the crowd and folks look at him. THAT IS WHY THERE IS SO MUCH ATTACK AND DIVISION ABOUT IT.
Is worship about singing out loudly and raising hands? Is that truly worship? Isn’t true worship a matter of the heart that is focused on God?
How about the show boaters? You know the ones that like the attention. They kick a shout like worshipping God is a joke. The ones that is going to shout every week. Doesn’t that make us judge everyone? Or how about the guy that is one way on Sunday and different WAY every other day of the week.
How about the people that don’t think you have to do all of that. They might believe that there needs to be a sense of awe when we enter God’s presence. I agree with some of that. But yet, that same person will make a bigger deal over a politician, or someone in authority than they do to GOD. They will do the wave at a football game, scream at the TV for the Redskins, or make sure they get recognized at some event.
Well, what does pastor think? Pastor thinks it should be truth. Pastor thinks it should be your real heart. Pastor thinks it should be whatever and however you want to express your thanksgiving to God.
Just don’t play with God. God is not mocked.
I’m learning that I have my own preferences. And I am going to try not to judge the way you honor God. And that even goes for those that don’t say amen, halleluiah, or praise God. I am going to leave those people alone. You know when you have a party, a celebration; you want the fun people, the live people, and the people that get it? Same with me. I am no longer going to get upset, if I preach a good Word and no body says anything. I am no longer going to feel defeated if folks turn their backs on me or hide their faces in the Bible while I am speaking. I am going to try to keep my joy after Sunday when the flow of worship is dampened by a crazy announcement or unnecessary speech done just because they can. Psalm 31 verse 17-18 says
“let the wicked be ashamed. Let them be silent in the grave. Let the lying lips be put to silence. Which speak insolent things proudly and contemptuous against the righteous.”
Why? Because if you haven’t been saved from something then maybe you can’t praise God like I can. Maybe you have nothing to give God glory about. If you have had a pretty calm life, if you haven’t wanted for much, if you haven’t been where I’ve been blessed,
If you haven’t struggled
If you haven’t gone through,
If you haven’t been bought with a price
If you haven’t been snatched out of the hands of death
If you haven’t almost lost your mind, from all the worry, sickness, death and destruction that happens out here,
You probably can’t praise God any better than you do. And I am not going to be mad with you.
But let the redeemed of the Lord say so.
Whom he has redeemed from the hand of the enemy-