The worshiper who strives to live a life that truly glorifies and honors God will uncover an inexhaustible resource of power and purpose that God reserves for His true worshipers. “ . . . for those who honor Me I will honor” (1 Samuel 2:30).
God’s powerful response to worship is gloriously displayed throughout the scriptures in both somewhat anticipated ways and in quite extraordinary moments. And I want to look at some of those in this series of posts, 11 Ways God Powerfully Responds to our Worship.
But before I go on, we need to remember that we don’t enter worship in order to receive the blessing of God’s power in our lives. He is God, and we worship Him for who He is to us, not what He’ll do for us. It’s not a consumer activity that says, “I give so I can receive.” But it’s one of selflessly giving ourselves to the God who selflessly gave Himself for us. That being said, . . .
To begin this series, it was a no-brainer to begin with the most amazing display of God’s power in worship – the experience of His presence.
Friends, God wants us to expect to engage with Him closely as we lift up our hearts and minds in response to all that He is. 2 Chronicles 15:2 says, “ . . . the LORD is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him.” You see, the Bible reveals a God who is constantly inviting us into His presence to worship Him.
He wants to be seen by His children. He longs for us to know Him intimately. He knows that as we enter the temple of His presence in worship, that with each glimpse of His glory and every moment of awesome revelation, He’ll gain a little more of our hearts. And He knows that our passion to come back for more grows as our picture of Him grows. Gradually we realize that with each of those glimpses, there is so much more to our God than we could ever imagine.
And the most humbling of those discoveries is that the God who created the heavens and the earth actually does love us deeply and long to encounter us closely. We shouldn’t ever cease to be amazed at those overwhelming truths. The Word’s call to us is simple:
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8a).
Yet how many of us enter our times of worship expecting nothing of the sort from God? Maybe He feels far away, or maybe the mystery is just too great, and we honestly do doubt His presence. The truth is that if you are a believer in Christ, then
“ . . . He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5b).
As a matter of fact, the reason we don’t have to go to the temple to worship anymore, as in Old Testament times, is because we each are now the temple. He indwells us as believers in the person of the Holy Spirit. As 1 Corinthians 3:16 says,
“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
So you are a temple. I am a temple. We are living, breathing, skin-clad temples! And we can expect intimacy in worship with the God who lives in us. These are the moments that He truly longs for – when we turn and engage with Him with all our being. He’s already right there waiting. We don’t have to worship God from a distance!
Let’s look at some passages to see what we can glean from some Biblical writers’ thoughts and feelings about God’s presence in their worship.
“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:1-5).
“ . . . You make him (the king) most blessed forever; You make Him joyful with gladness in Your presence. For the king trusts in the Lord, And through the lovingkindness of the Most High he will not be shaken. Be exalted, O LORD, in Your strength; We will sing and praise Your power” (Psalm 21:6-7, 13).
“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence” (Psalm 42:5).
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 1:24-25).
In each of these Psalms, the writers either sought or expected God’s presence in their worship, or they worshiped as result of experiencing God’s presence. The psalmists recognized His glory, His hand, and His movement in their lives in marvelous ways. His presence changed their very lives!
“How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You, To dwell in Your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple” (Psalm 65:4).
I must admit that as unqualified, unworthy, inept, or (pick a word!) that I felt writing my entire worship study, that inability (and spiritual battle) was multiplied many times over in the writing of the lesson on the presence of God. How in the world do I explain something so incredible, yet so indescribable – so overwhelming, yet so humbling?
There are no words that can express the depth of God’s desire for us to experience His presence, any more than they can express the depths of God Himself.
I just know that the God who sings and dances over us must relish and rejoice in those moments that we stop and pour out His praises and our adoration, straining along the way to get past the world so we can catch a glimpse of His glory.
I’m not talking about working up a bunch of feelings, though they will come at times more strongly than others. I’m talking about seeking and responding rightly to the truth of who God is in that place where He’s waiting to commune and reveal Himself a little more each time.
The thought of it leaves me speechless.
But He is faithful. He is gracious. And He will honor those who seek to be His worshipers with a clearer picture of Himself and greater taste of His presence. There is no greater privilege in this life!
“O taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8).
*This post is an excerpt from sections of my book, Worship and the Word. If you want to learn more about Worship and the Word or where to buy it, this is where you go to do that!
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