Day 31: Overcoming Worship Challenges
Before we begin today’s spiritual excursion, please take a few moments to breathe! Take three slow, deep breaths, expanding from your abdomen; try not to raise your shoulders. As you inhale, whisper, “We will glorify You…” As you exhale whisper, “…with one voice.”
Slowly read aloud the following Scripture
(Feel free to pause at any time during your reading to reflect on, thank, praise, or acknowledge God’s stirring in your thoughts and emotions.)
[The Apostle Paul wrote,] We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to [accommodate] ourselves. Let each of us [accommodate, make room for] his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me” (Psalm 69:9). For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of
God. (Romans 15:1-7, ESV)
For further exploration:
Loving Father, You are the force that holds us all together. Thank You for being compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. Thank You for Jesus who prayed that we would all be one, even as He is one with You. Thank You for gifting the Body of Christ with apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to equip us to do the work of the Lord and build us up until we come to unity in our faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Father God, You are our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. We praise Your Name! We stand still before You, knowing that You are God. You will be honored by every nation throughout the world. May the nations of this world recognize You, Lord. We give You the glory You deserve!
Omnipotent Father, this day we commit as a Church Family, to search for You and for Your strength continually. We declare that we will not be afraid, for You are with us. We will not be discouraged, for
You are our God. You will strengthen and help us.
You will hold us up with Your victorious right hand. We know that for the life of God to thrive among us, there must be harmony and unity between us. We refuse to bring sorrow to the Holy Spirit by living and operating in a way that is outside of Your will.
We assert ourselves as a body of believers to rid our Church Family of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. We will demonstrate that we have passed from death to life by loving our Christian brothers and sisters. We confess that we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit and we all share that same Spirit. Therefore, we decree and declare that we will not be selfish or try to impress others. But we will be humble, thinking of others as better than ourselves. We will not look out only for our own interests, but we will take an interest in others too. We will build each other up in our most holy faith. We will pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and we will await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ who will bring us eternal life. In this way, we will keep ourselves safe in God’s love.
Holy Spirit, show me how I can defeat strife and division within our Church Family today:
Holy Spirit, remind us as a Church Family that we are to be holy just as God, our Father, who chose us is holy. He has commanded this of us. Give us the strength to think clearly and to exercise selfcontrol. Help us to release past and present offenses and to be willing to forgive one another just as God has forgiven us. Teach us how to dwell together in unity. Walk us through the steps of rebuilding loving fellowship between us. Help us to obey Your command to “love your neighbor as yourself” so that we will not self-destruct by always biting and devouring one another. Give us a willing heart to allow You to guide our lives so that we won’t do what our sinful nature craves. Show our leaders how to mend broken relationships and restore balance to our Church Family.
Merciful Father, forgive our many sins. We have sinned against You and against one another. Forgive us for holding onto grudges and for seeking vengeance upon our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Forgive us for leaning toward our own understanding and failing to acknowledge You in all our ways. Forgive those amongst us who are being false witnesses, pouring out lies and sowing discord in our Church family. Forgive those of us who have stood by passively allowing sin and deception to go unaddressed. Forgive us for not heeding the warnings of the Holy Spirit and being hesitant to obey Your commands. Lord, forgive me for (list any sins that You have committed).
Holy Spirit, remind our Church Family of those they need to forgive and help them to be quick to forgive. As for me, Holy Spirit, bring to my remembrance those I need to forgive.
(Take a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal names or faces of people that You may need to forgive. As He reveals them, say, “I forgive name of person(s).” Now, trust the Lord to heal any wounds in Your soul caused by unforgiveness.)
Holy Spirit, help us as a Church Family not to yield to temptation but deliver us from the evil one.
Magnificent King, You reign forever, executing judgment from Your throne. You will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness. We listen carefully to the thunder of Your voice as it rolls from Your mouth. It rolls across the heavens and Your lightning flashes in every direction. We are in awe of the tremendous voice of Your majesty. You do not restrain it when You speak. Your voice is glorious in the thunder. We can’t even imagine the greatness of Your power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture References for the Written Text: Psalm 103:8, John 17:21, Ephesians 4:11-13, Psalm 46:1, 10, I Chronicles 16:28-29, Psalm 105:4, Isaiah 41:10, Ephesians 4:30-31, I John 3:14, Philippians 2:3-4, Jude 1:20-21, I Peter 1:13, 15, 17, Galatians 5:14-16, Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 6:19, Matthew 6:13, Psalm 9:7-8, Job 37:2-5
Concepts to Consider
Frustration in American worship services often manifests itself in two basic forms: 1. the consumeristic refrain of, “this sermon/music/style, etc. just isn’t doing anything for me,” or 2) the seasoned worshiper dilemma, “come on, why does it seem that I’m one of the few people actually worshiping the Lord, here? Why are you just sitting there?!”
In our Scripture passage today we see the call to “give glory” to the Lord (worship) with “one voice” by making room for those who are less mature in the faith, and to “build up” one another so that we learn to pull in the same direction (“live in harmony”) with similar dedication in the Body of Christ.
The historical word for organized worship is “liturgy” (from the Greek word “leitourgos”) which basically means “the work of the people,” in “accordance” with the “Opus Dei” or “work of God” as exemplified to us in Jesus Christ. He is the confluence of human and the Divine interaction. It is His Spirit that moves first and initiates worship. It is we who respond in community and encourage one another, no matter where we are along the spectrum of spiritual maturity.
It may be helpful to think of a worship service as being similar to a Greek galley ship (Trireme) (which contrary to popular belief and the movie Ben Hur, was NOT populated by slave rowers, but by free, trained military professionals.) Each ship required many skilled people to pull and row in the same direction, at the same time, with near-equal effort, all while listening intently to 1) the musician (auletes) who played a pitch or tune to ensure rowing precision, 2) the captain (trierarch) who gave the orders for the direction and speed of the boat, and 3) the “encourager/exhorter” (keleustes) who relayed the commands down to the rowing crew so everyone could hear clearly and keep time. If some of the rowers got out of sync or stopped rowing with the same effort, then the ship could no longer move effectively or efficiently. It would slow down, go off course, or potentially stop dead in the water.
From Romans 12 forward the Apostle Paul sought to situate our life in Christ within a worship motif. After all of the teaching, correction, and admonition, he culminates his letter in chapter 15 with a word of consolation and encouragement around the worship of our Lord. Those who are more mature in the faith and more experienced worshipers should lovingly encourage and train those who are weaker in the faith. And all are bidden to listen intently to the voice of the Holy Spirit who calls out and keeps us in time with the Mission of our Father, steered by the Guiding Son as we all learn to “row together” on this “Gospel Ship.” (http://bit.do/GospelShip)
Larger Image available here: http://bit.do/trireme
Personal Reflection: How does realizing that we are called to “row together” in worship help put individual agendas in perspective?
Kingdom Reflection: We worship not to get something from God, but to give Him the praise due His Name. How does worshiping the Lord “clear the deck” for Him to work in the world?
Optional Time of Centering/Soaking:
If possible, take some time, perhaps 5 to 15 minutes, to get into a comfortable position and simply allow the Lord to minister to you at a deep level (Psalm 42:7). Turn off or put down all distractions. Close your eyes. Hold in your thoughts a meaningful word, phrase, or image from the Scripture you read today. Release all other thoughts and concerns into the Presence of the Lord. If your thoughts wander, that’s okay, just gently return to your Scriptural word, phrase, or image. You may want to set a timer.