Sunday, September 7, 2014

This Is the Day

Somehow autumn (15 days away, but I’m already there) is turning out much busier than summer was. When things are like this I’m always nervous that something critical is going to fall through the cracks, so I try to have the foundations laid for every sermon or Bible study I have coming up for several weeks. Heeheehee. “Fall through the cracks.” Get it? “Fall”? “Autumn”? Ah, well.

Anyway, with regular sermons and Bible studies along with special events (our 2nd Annual Bible Conference and a once-a-month Bible study in which the participants want a lesson on the millennium), sometimes I get so organized about the upcoming weeks that I lose sight of today. I woke up this morning and went through my first basic routines. “What day is today?” Sunday. “What am I preaching on this morning?” Ummm...when it takes longer than five seconds to answer that question, I know I need to start out by getting in this day – not just mentally, but spiritually and emotionally. Get out of bed, head to the coffeepot. Find the Psalms. Force myself to read through them slowly, even mouthing the words quietly (no one else is awake here in the dark pre-dawn). I’m following the routine my pastor taught me decades ago. Read the Psalm that matches today’s date (my first thought of the day, remember, was to figure out what day it is). Then add thirty to that number and read that Psalm. Add thirty to that number and read the next Psalm. Gets me through the Psalms in a month. Gets me praying in the Spirit (He inspired the Psalms, they are prayerful songs, they cover the range of human emotions/experiences without sinful selfish thoughts). Gets me in this day, which the LORD has made (Psalm 118:24) and is the Day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). This is where I need to be, regardless of what the schedule holds for the next month.

It is the Lord’s Day. We will gather in His blessed Name and sing songs old and new. We will greet one another in love. We will read Scripture aloud and pray. We will give an offering for the furthering of His work in this world. We will gather at the Table and proclaim the Lord’s death until He returns. We will worship Him in His Word in the moment of the sermon. The people who will be there will be the exact people He intends for this particular Gathering, and in that sense it will be a uniquely designed moment unlike any other in all of human history. He will be Lord of the Gathering, we will be His gathered people in Christ, and that moment deserves to be respected, treasured, and savored for what it is. I want to be there fully.

One of today’s Psalms:
“God be gracious to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us - Selah.
That Your way may be known on the earth,
Your salvation among all nations.
Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy;
For You will judge the peoples with uprightness
And guide the nations on the earth. Selah.
Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.
The earth has yielded its produce;
God, our God, blesses us.
God blesses us,
That all the ends of the earth may fear Him” (Psalm 67:1-7).

Gather, Church, not for what you can get out of the Gathering, but so that His Way and salvation may be made known to the world (67:2), that He may be the song of more and more souls (67:3-6), and that His righteous judgment will become the primary guide and motivator for humanity – starting with us (67:4,7). It’s not about His face shining on me and my personal, private, existential feelings/experience in the “worship service,” but about the grace and light of His Presence for us (67:1), His congregation of the eternal Church which is His Body, “the fullness of Him Who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:23). Outside of this He has given, how could I ask for more? This is where I want to be.

In response to His blessings, I want to be the first to fear Him (67:6,7), that I may slowly and awkwardly continue on the Way of wisdom (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10), that I may humble myself more in my relationship with other believers (Ephesians 5:21), that we may know the comfort of the Holy Spirit even more (Acts 9:31), that I may seek to proclaim the reconciling message of Christ to the lost more (2 Corinthians 5:11)...I can do none of these things if I do not fear Him, and the Psalm says that His blessings should motivate me to fear Him more. And I am certainly blessed.

The Psalm, with its repetition of “Selah” (67:1,4), a word probably invoking meditation of what’s just been said, purposely short-circuits the nervous busy-ness that threatens to master me in these early moments of the day.

If we are not present in the Gathering, how can we expect to impact the world for the Kingdom? This Psalm inseparably connects the two ideas. No “go” unless it pours forth from the Gathering. I cannot forget that or cheat it. We need to rest here.

This is where, the when, I want to be. It is His, and He has promised to be in the Gathering today.

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