Psalm 77:6 “I call to rememberance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.
A song in the night. The type of song that Paul and Silas sang as they were in the innermost part of the Philippian jail; fast in the stocks. The unexplainable joy that the true believer has which transcends the physical realm. The sincere love that one has for the Lord Jesus Christ who went to an old rugged cross to save us from eternal torment. To know that he has gone to prepare a place for us and that soon; so very soon, we shall be forever with him in a world without end. “With no less days, to sing Gods praise, than when we first begun.” I remember it as though it happened yesterday, but it was 23 years ago. The day when I woke up lost and undone, but went to bed a new creature in Christ Jesus. He is worthy of all praise, all glory, and all of our adoration as he paid for our sins with his own blood so that we could inherit eternal life. When this universe and all that it contains is but a distant memory, we’ll be singing a heavenly chorus; the likes of which no earthly voice can duplicate.
I no longer have the book as I passed it on to others, but it was an account of the Azuza street revival as told by a preacher named Frank Bartleman. It must have been written in the 1920s or early 1930s. He told about how at certain times when the Holy Ghost would move in those days, the atmosphere was so sweet and peaceful that musical instruments or voices of any kind would only be a disruption. The folks in that place had reached a place where they were completely of one mind; seeking the Lord and his will. No pre-concieved format, no self-serving itineraries, no place for pride or vain-glory. A similar revival was also taking place in Wales as the Lord was pouring out his Spirit and folks were coming into the household of faith. He also told about how both of these revivals began to unravel. It started when certain individuals tried to “regain control” of things. Folks who decided that they knew how things should be run started organizing the meetings based on human intellect. We can cause a whole lot of trouble when we start to think within ourselves that “we know what’s best.”
As I read this account, I realized that of all the churches that I’ve visited over the years, I’ve never encountered such an atmosphere as the one described by Frank Bartleman. I’ve been in many really good worship services, but none like those which transpired at Azuza street. Those moments in which I’m closest to the Lord are always when I’m somewhere alone. Frank Bartleman also lamented over the hymns that were being written at the time of his writing about these events. He stated that the publishers were too busy concentrating on “jazzing things up” instead of seeking to worship the Lord Jesus. One can only guess as to what he would think of the stuff that goes on today. (More importantly; what does God think of the stuff that goes on today?) I would love for a revival such as the one at Azuza street to transpire again. The only thing that’s preventing it is us. In this age, with the end so close and the love of many waxing cold, I’m not expecting it. Each of us who know Jesus must get as close to him as possible, and then strive to get even closer, through sincere prayer and through his word.
If this post sounds scatterbrained, it’s because I’m not sure as to where it’s going. I’m already somewhat sidetracked.
In my days as a new christian, I would often mistake noise for worship. I was lacking in discernment and so, the louder it was, the better. As far as I was concerned “all joyful noise was worship.” In those days, I really didn’t grasp the concept of worship being not so much a physical demonstration, but rather, a condition of the heart.
John 3:24 “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
Indeed, when you think on certain aspects of the Lord such as how he endured such a contradiction of sinners against himself in order to redeem us from death, it’ll tend to make you shout. For me, this often takes place when I’m driving from point A to point B. When a certain verse that you’ve been thinking on hits home in a way as never before or the goodness of God becomes real to you on a new level, there’s no containing that joy. (unless you really want to.) Thinking on the things of God and on the world to come can cause you to shout, clap, jump, and what have you. It wont need any physical “jazzing up” as it will transpire naturally.
Rather you’re a shouter or of a more reserved nature, (it really doesn’t matter as true worship is a condition within the heart) I know of one day that we’ll all be shouting. That’s the day when Jesus returns with a shout that will “wake the dead” as the dead in Christ are raised first, and those that remain will put on incorruption. We’ll all be shouting on that day. I can’t help but ponder sometimes; wondering how many are really looking forward to that day. This is another sidetrip, but it seems as though many saints are gnat-straining over every irrelevant issue that one can imagine. I don’t know if it’s because we’ve heard about the return of Jesus so much that many have become dull of hearing or it’s because the social and economic climate has many of us running around in perpetual motion. I think that both of these are factors. Nonetheless, the day of Christs appearing is approaching quickly.
True worship transcends the physical realm. A person can sing and shout; saying all of the right words at the right times, but their heart could be a million miles away. If it’s from the heart, it’s real. If it’s not from the heart, it’s just nice sounding “sound.” Likewise, you can be off somewhere and not saying a single word, but your heart is meditating and thinking on the Lord Jesus. Worship has ever so many facets from “making a joyful noise unto the Lord” as the children of Israel did after God closed the Red Sea upon the Egyptians, to “Be still and know that I am God” as the children of Israel did prior to the red Sea being parted. Each has its appropriate place.
In the natural realm, when you fall in love with another person (of the opposite sex, of course) you’ll find yourself thinking about that person when you’re apart. You might think about their personality traits, their characteristics, the way they respond to certain situations, any aspect of that person that caused you to like them. You’re not actually putting words together, but you’re “considering” those attributes. It comes from the love that you have for that person. Likewise, when you think about the Lord; when you ponder his ways and on how you can become more in line with those ways; it’s the result of the love that you have for him. Sometimes you can think about the character of God, and become overwhelmed beyond words.
I’m not sure as to how far back it is, but there’s a post on here called “Close Encounters” which talks about what happens to folks who “see Jesus.” (For Daniel, no strength remained in him, Paul was blinded, and John the fell at his feet as one dead.) He is so incredibly awesome that we don’t have adequate words to explain it. As a result, we can never praise him enough, but we can certainly praise him forever. And forever we shall. We are already living in eternity; even though we’re currently in this vessel of clay. While we’re here, It’s my prayer that folks would come to Jesus and that the saints would draw ever closer to the Lord with the passing of each day. At the end of every day, you’ll have either drawn closer to him or drifted a little. Each of us have to give this matter the utmost of attention.
This site is on the blogroll, but I’ll list it again here. It’s www.inhishands.co.uk (Maria Toth) and is a good place to go for a daily dose of encouragement. We all need encouragement as the times that we live in are growing darker by the hour.