Monday, November 12, 2012

Close Encounters of the Holy Kind

"And Jacob awoke from his sleep, and he said, 'Surely the LORD is in this place and I did not know it.' He was afraid and said, 'How to be feared and reverenced in this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gateway to heaven!' " ~ Genesis 28:16-17 (AMP)

Jacob's Ladder, by Albert Houthuesen
Have you ever left a church service feeling empty? Ever make a quick exit upon learning your ‘favorite’ preacher or priest wasn’t preaching and teaching?  Did you walk out disappointed because you felt a sermon was boring and did not personally speak to you or address your needs, or because the music wasn’t to your liking? Have you ever gone home unmoved by and unchanged from your time at church? 

I can sincerely say ‘Yes’ to all of the above, with regards to the various churches I've attended at one time or another in my life.

Before the next Saturday night or Sunday morning rolls around, we would do well to ask ourselves:

“Why do I go to church?”

  • Out of guilt?

  • Out of habit?

  • To get to Heaven and to steer clear of Hell?

“What am I looking for when I go?”

  • An explosive, entertaining sound and light experience?

  • A charismatic preacher whose sermons are funny, engaging, not too convicting, and won’t put the congregation to sleep?

  • Tasty hot and cold refreshments, yummy baked goods, comfy seats and a good handle on their climate control?

  • Chances to socialize and network with others?

Dear ones, may I be so bold as to insist that the next time you find yourself standing before the doors of a church, whether it's a church you've been attending for most of your life, or a brand new church you're trying outplease be sure to check your heart motives.  

I know this is something I've been so guilty of NOT doing for the majority of my life, and something I plan on changing immediately. Because to be honest, over the years on most Sunday morning, after trying to herd my son and daughter out the door and into the car, and now an elderly neighbor who needs a ride to services as well, I barely make it to church on time, slipping not so quietly into my seat -- out of breath, frazzled, irritated, distracted and sans ANY expectations of a close encounter with the Holy Spirit. Sadly, I'm more desperate for a cup of hot coffee and for my world to stop spinning and calm down than anything else.

Maybe it's like that for you, too?

However, above any other reasons, we should come to our places of worship to experience a fresh encounter of the presence and power of God’s Holy Spirit; to worship and praise our Lord along with a like-minded, close-knit body of believers.

As you place your hand upon the door handle and prepare to step across the threshold, expect to find Him lovingly and joyfully waiting for you on the other side of that door, waiting to welcome you as you enter in His sanctuary with awe, humility, thanksgiving and gladness!

Coming together in one place to seek the Lord, to give Him all our worship and praise should be our highest honor and privilege, as well as our greatest delight as Christian brothers and sisters. 

Are we desperate for the touch of Adonai?  Desperate for His voice, His healing, His very presence in this place?

I have to wonder what our church services would begin to look like if we became a people of holy expectation and desperation. If we truly surrendered and abandoned ourselves to God, as we stepped barefoot onto the holy ground of our sanctuaries,  with hearts and minds completely focused on Him.  KNOWING without a doubt that YAHWEH awaited US! 

I'd like to do more than just wonder this coming Sunday. How about you?

Let's stop going through the motions of stale and predictable worship each and every Saturday night or Sunday morning. Let's get rid of our little-to-no expectations of ever having an encounter with the Spirit of the Living God. Instead, let's open our hearts and turn our faces up towards our Almighty God and Father, hungry and thirsty for a holy, close encounter with our precious Lord Jesus, desperate for the Holy Spirit's presence in our church -- and in our lives!

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name! ~ Psalm 100:4 (ESV)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...