The Worship Experience: Rebuilding Our Temple
The "Worship Experience" is a term used in some circles referring to the music portion of the corporate church services . Although I’m not all-together uncomfortable with the term I believe it can have some potential implications if only applied to the corporate gathering.
An eye opening revelation is found in the book of Haggai regarding the powerful role a life of worship plays. There is a lot of history to the scene depicted in this passage but to summarize, it takes place after some of the Israelite's have returned home from exile in Babylon. The Lord releases an exhortation through the prophet Haggai encouraging the people to rebuild the Temple. Now, the Temple was the center of worship for the Israelite's.
It was the meeting place between God and His people.
God reveals to the people that the lack of blessing and “abundant living” they were experiencing was due to the fact that they had attributed very little importance to rebuilding the place of worship which had been destroyed. He exposes the heart issue of the people with this statement,
“You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.” Haggai 1:9 (ESV)
The Israelite's had become more concerned with their own “homes” and priorities than worship and connection with the Lord their God. This lack of connection was causing them to no longer experience the life of blessing their Father had planned for them.
When we lose connection with God we lose connection to the life that is found within Him.
Fast forward to today where we are post the cross and the institution of the New Covenant which changed the way worship would be done. Jesus so beautifully declared the change in His conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well captured in chapter 4 of the book of John,
“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (ESV)
In light of this you can relax – today's blog is not going to be a lengthy rebuke on attending church.
In fact worship has very little to do with going to church.
The corporate gathering serves a definite and powerful purpose but what I’ve felt Father God pierce my heart on lately from this portion of scripture is “building up” the place of personal worship and connection with God.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” John 15:4 (ESV)
You see, the Israelites were not experiencing the abundant life the covenant of their day promised because they had failed to prioritize meeting with God their Father. In the verse above Jesus states that fruitfulness comes from being connected to Him. The Greek word translated “abide” in this verse is “menō” which means: to stay; continue; dwell; be present. It is a depiction of intentional pursuit of intimacy with Him.
God is not far away. As the context of the verse above clarifies, when we receive Christ as our Savior through faith God comes and lives inside of us by His Spirit. We no longer meet with Him externally at a certain building or structure - we meet with Him within us.
We connect to God within us through re-focusing on Him which draws our hearts back to Him. Music does not need to be involved, in fact out of all the places “worship” is mentioned in the bible music is rarely mentioned. Music can be a great conduit of worship though because it engages our heart and emotions. But those who are not musical are not exempt from the incredible promises connected to continual connection with God.
Jesus stated elsewhere the Father’s plan for us is to experience the fullness of His life within us (John 10:10).
Rebuilding the temple, the place of worship and connection with God our Father, becomes the means by which we access His gift of true life.
The Psalmists capture this beautifully in Psalm 84:
“What pleasure fills those who live every day in your temple, enjoying you as they worship in your presence!” v 4 (TPT)
“For just one day of intimacy with you is like a thousand days of joy rolled into one!” v 10 (TPT)
Intimacy is what our Father desires. Worshiping Him is not meant to be a dutiful singing of songs or mandatory services.
Worship is meant to be freely given, an overflow of the heart
Our Father invites us to come, taste and see His goodness. Once we let go of religious ideas of what worship should be we find the joy of relationship with Him.
I want to encourage you to join me in “rebuilding the temple” of worship in our lives. There are no rules about how it needs to be done but here are some suggestions I’ve found helpful in connecting with God.
- writing out prayers and declarations to Him
- playing or listening to worship music in combination with singing or prayer
- listening to music without lyrics and lying still in His presence listening for His voice
- praying out scripture and listening for His response or a passage He highlights
- prayer walking
There are so many ways to meet with God the goal is simply to meet with Him. When we connect with Him we connect with all that He is – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness.
I pray you experience His presence in your day today.
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