Have you ever experienced the cloud of glory descend while God's people worship and love Him together?
If you have, you know God's Presence is a remarkably special gift from the Lord to His people. It's a time when the Lord Himself comes to dwell amongst His people. We pour our love and worship out at His feet and He Himself begins to minister to us His flock.
When the Cloud of Glory fills the temple, the lives and hearts of God's people are healed, transformed and surrendered to Him. When our Lord fills the sanctuary, His people are renewed in their covenant love and devotion to Him. His glory is seen, experienced and made known!
Consider 2 Chronicles 5 and the worship the Israelites brought to the Lord. They brought the Ark of the Covenant to the Temple, they consecrated themselves and brought extravagant worship.
Second Chronicles 5 describes a time when the cloud of glory filled the temple. The trumpeters, musicians and singers all came together to sing praise in unison. Then, and only then, did the cloud fill the temple!
We as believers want the cloud of the Lord's glory filling our lives and times of worship. We work feverishly for it. But I believe we have taken the glory and grace of our Lord for granted many times. I believe we have neglected to consider what blesses our Lord first and above all else when we set out to worship Him. Maybe your particular worship community has been faithful, but the larger Church in America has followed the world or our own wisdom more than our Lord.
We often set up worship to
please ourselves. Or we rely on past blessings and means expecting the Cloud to show up again and again each time we gather. We often bypass consecration and prayer. We forget the weight and majesty of the God we profess to love and honor. We forget we are accountable to one another as part of the body of Christ. God's Presence is assumed to exist with our feelings and productions, and we begin to manufacture the worship settings according to our flesh. We may even come close to generating the look and feel of the presence of God, but the ways of getting there haven’t been God’s ways.
How should we begin our Worship? The planning? The formation? The purpose? Do we have people in our midst we haven't tended to? Have we ever wiped the slate clean and tried forsaking our worship formulas to ask what the Lord desires first of all? What blesses Him and others? Have love, justice and righteousness really flowed down like a river as we’ve sung our songs? Sounds like the book of Amos, doesn't it? Maybe Amos 5 exists for us as the modern day Israelites?
What might the brief verses in 2 Chronicles 5 teach us about when the Cloud descended in the temple amongst the Israelites? Have we consecrated ourselves before our Lord? Have we poured every ounce of energy and resource into worship of our King? Have we gathered the trumpeters, woodwinds, all voices, young and old, all string players, every instrument, every sound of praise to honor the Lord together with one voice? Or, has the world convinced us we need to have a certain look and a certain sound in order to gain "the presence" or the Cloud of the Lord with us? Have we followed the world‘s wisdom more than we have been the Church following Jesus and His ways?
In my life, again today, more and more, I do have a dream.
I have a burning fire in my soul for the Church of Jesus Christ as I read the Word and experience the Church in our day.
Many seasons ago one specific pastor would walk up in front of the congregation to begin the service with a Call to Worship. After a while, we all knew what was coming. He'd open up the Psalms right to Psalm 150 and read the whole thing, calling us to bring everything instrument and every voice to sing Hallelujah to our God. Every time.
Psalm 150 began to seem cliche to me, but it really teaches us a lot if we'd take it seriously. It commands us to do something quite contrary to what every church growth book tells us. It goes against anything we've seen the modern Church do in several decades, at least up here in the North.
Yet, do we believe the Bible is here for us and a legitimate instruction manual for our worship of Jesus? Do we believe Psalm 150 or 2 Chronicles 5 has anything to teach us about our Worship this coming Sunday?
Yes, I have a dream!
I dream of Psalm 150 being lived out every Sunday in our Christian Communities! I see ALL God's people, the trumpeters, the singers and all the musicians leading a procession of praise before our God. I see all the pettiness of the world cast aside inside the Church for the glory and honor of our God!
I see a magnificent Hallelujah Chorus of Thanksgiving being poured out before the Lord and filling the earth for the renown of our Lord Jesus. I see the Cloud of Glory filling the place where God's people dwell in His presence! I see revival! I see the Church glorifying Jesus in Love with Him and One Another! I see the Church living and worshiping in unity. I see the Church building one another up. I see a humble Church concerned with the honor and glory of God, bringing forth the Ark of the Lord's Presence with great care and in God's prescribed ways. I see the Church having a vibrant witness to a world so hungry to see a living testimony of truth in love, lived-out reconciliation and a place of real healing.
I have a dream of the Church of Jesus Christ living out Psalm 150 regularly every time it gathers to worship. I dream of worship gatherings which enable every musician and genuine worshiper to bring their praise unto the Lord. I dream of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs being treasured and shared amongst each other as we love our Lord (Col. 3:16). I have a dream one day the churches will focus on worship in spirit and truth, forgetting the suggestions and methods of the world. I have a dream of congregations who obey the heart of God even when it's challenging our own individual wants. I have a dream of a long, increasing, ever-growing crescendo of praise from every person, tribe and nation unto Jesus, the Lamb of God who is high and exalted, seated at the right hand of God the Father.
I have a dream of the Cloud of Glory descending amongst God's people as they live out Psalm 150 in Worship to our Great God every week, every season, for this generation and the next to see; for He is our Maker and we are the sheep of His pasture.
"Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Praise God in his holy sanctuary! Praise him in his stronghold in the sky! 2 Praise him for his mighty miracles! Praise him for his magnificent greatness! 3 Praise him with trumpets blasting! Praise him with piano and guitar! 4–5 Praise him with drums[a] and dancing! Praise him with loud clashing of cymbals! Praise him upon the high-sounding cymbals! 6 Let everyone everywhere join in the crescendo of ecstatic praise to Yahweh! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!" ~ Psalm 150 (TPT)
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord, all peoples!
Trumpeters, musicians, electric guitar players, cellists, oboe players, saxophonists, drummers, organists, choir members, trained singer, young people, children and dear leaders and congregation, I have a dream we will ALL join together and raise our voices in union worship to our God! Demonstrate your love for Him by your love for one another! As your praise goes up in unity, let the Cloud of Glory fall! Neglect not the Cloud already designated, powerful, resurrected and faithful in leading the Church!
"Now may God, the source of great endurance and comfort, grace you with unity among yourselves, which flows from your relationship with Jesus, the Anointed One. 6 Then, with a unanimous rush of passion, you will with one voice glorify God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 You will bring God glory when you accept and welcome one another as partners, just as the Anointed One has fully accepted you and received you as his partner."
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
And yes, bring whatever instrument you have and the voice God has given you to worship practice next time! We’re rising up to declare the glory and grace of our Triune God for He is worthy of all our praise! :)