"And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. Then all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground." Nehemiah 8:5-6
Have you ever felt like church is kind of a dry place to be? I've been in church my whole life and experienced these feelings at different points in my Christian life.
What I mean by that is sometimes the whole experience feels a little too routine, like we are just going through the motions of what church is supposed to be like. We get stuck in our traditions and our comfort zones, checking off the next step on our bulletin, acting and reacting as robots, too caught up in our busy lives, forgetting what church is all about in the first place.
Church is a gathering of believers given the opportunity to learn more about God and respond to Him. It is a dwelling place where we can bring our cares and concerns and be heard and understood by like-minded believers. It is a place where, if we do not come prepared, bringing the Holy Spirit with us, we will miss out on true worship.
The story of Nehemiah shows us what worship should look like. The priest Ezra gathered the people together to read the Law of Moses. Nehemiah and the men who God led to rebuild His temple and His city, along with the scribes who stood beside Ezra.
The people rested from their hard work and gathered together to listen and then meet in smaller groups with other Levite priests to discuss what they had heard and learned. When they understood what had been read, they fell with their faces to the ground in worship. Meaningful, heartfelt worship happens in response to learning about our Savior through His Word.
Sometimes I think we have it backwards. We attend church looking for the Holy Spirit to move and give us those warm and exciting feelings we long for when in reality we must bring the Holy Spirit with us, for we are the church. We must spend time throughout our week searching scripture and praying for God's Word to move us and move in us to do His will and show us Who He is in our daily lives.
"Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice;
"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!" (Rev. 5:11-12)
John describes in the throne room of heaven, as Jesus the Messiah is revealed to the elders and angels as the One who prevailed over death and could open the holy scroll. When those present realized who the Lamb was, they fell to their faces, singing His praise.
Maybe we should focus on who the Lamb is and giving Him all of our praise than to be concerned with the agenda we have built around worship. We can't place Holy Spirit in a box, we have to let Him loose; set Him free and allow Him to move us in true worship. Imagine how our church service would be if we came with a heart of worship already alive in us.
I love you & He loves you more!
Lord, Help me to hear Your Word with fresh ears and an open heart for worship. Allow me to praise You through recognizing Your holiness and power and being prepared before I even enter the doors of Your house. In Jesus' name. Amen.