How’s Your Gift?

How do you prepare your heart for the gift of gathered worship? I have to admit that I have walked into most Sundays pretty well prepared technically, but maybe not the best (or deepest) spiritually that I could have been every week. And when that has been the case, I am sure that I have missed something vital, powerful and beautiful.

Part of the problem is repetition. Social science has identified the principle of satiation—where repeated similar exposure of any set of realities tends to dull our response to them.  This is just a part of being human. Another issue is that we live in the “now, but not yet”, the age of the poorly reflecting mirror (1 Cor 13:12). This is just a part of being a redeemed human.

But both of these realities are not excuses. They are simply challenges to be overcome, battles to be fought in the power of the Spirit of God.

The idea of gathered worship as a gift that is both given and received resonates with me particularly well. So let me ask the opening question again in a slightly different way.

What kind of gift are you preparing to bring and lay at the feet of God when we gather?

The ordering of these realities (giving and receiving) is absolutely crucial. Consider this for a moment:

Our primary task when we gather, or maybe better said as privilege, is to come before the Lord and lay an offering at His feet. To give Him all that He is worth—words, honor, praise and our very lives, is our job when we gather.

As we have been exploring the No Small Matter conversation, we have identified that the root of worship lives and grows first on the inside, in our hearts. We have gone on from there to identify two main components of this heart reality—reverence and affections, towards God.

I believe that these two heart components can be very helpful for us here. If I take the time to develop a bigger understanding of God’s nature and character, am I more apt to lay before Him a bigger worship—a greater gift? Yes.

When I am careful to cultivate a good memory with regards to His acts of power, love and mercy—both individually and universally, will my gift of affections be deeper, truer? Certainly.

We come first and foremost to gathered worship with a posture of giving. Reversing our self-centered orientation in this way is a fundamental shift that points us in the direction of true worship, bigger worship. And leaning deeply into the heart components of reverence and affections is the way forward.

So, my question remains:

What kind of gift are you preparing to bring and lay at the feet of God when we gather?

But I also have a second, very important question here as well:

Are you also prepared to receive from Him the gift(s) He has for us as we gather?

Each year, when my kids set the mother lode of presents in front of me at my birthday, there is an interesting set of actions and reactions that occur. After the unveiling, it isn’t my first instinct to get up and walk away. Nor is it that I simply sit and stare at them, motionless and mute. Instead, I find myself compelled to hug them, draw them near and enjoy their love expressed to me.

God Almighty—creator and sustainer of everything, certainly has no intrinsic need for our relational interaction of love and affections. But if Jesus’ insistence on the fact that His Father is also our Father is anything other than word games, I believe there is something of the same dynamic in play when we worship well.

Jesus insisted that the Father gives good gifts to His children (Mt 7:11, Lk 11:13). Both the Law and Spirit were given in a gathered place of the people of God. I wonder at times whether we realize our Father’s desire to give us His good gifts, and to what extent we come to a time of gathered worship ready receive them with thankfulness.

It’s not as if there is an absolute sequence in all of this: we give, he gives, okay my turn again, hey that’s awesome—thanks.  It’s just more of an issue of our primary posture as we gather. Have we come first to give or to receive?

It’s also not an economic proposition. Just like all good gifts, we bring it because it’s the right thing to do, and because it’s the accurate reflection of our hearts.  And just because of Who He is the Father so graciously returns something wonderful to us.

Two actions for this week before we gather

Can I suggest two things that might help you prepare to give and receive a good gift in gathered worship this very week? First, set aside some time and re-orient yourself around the nature and character of God, as well as His very powerful acts in your life story.  

I have listed a set of Scripture references below. As you go through them, simply list the attribute of God that you see and then allow that list to grow your hearts gift of reverence. Then take some time to actually write down a list of 3-5 ways that you can see God’s hand of love, care and power in your life.  As you see His constant attention and intervention, may that grow your hearts affections towards Him. Take this finished page with you into your next time of gathering.

Secondly, come to your next time of gathered worship with this thought:

“Lord, I have come to give You everything I can—all that You are due. And I also want to receive from You the very good gifts You have for me.”

May this week be bigger, much bigger as you prepare to both give and receive the gift of gathered worship.

Wayne 

Genesis 1:1; Exodus 15:11; I Sam 2:10; Psalm 19:14; Psalm 54:22; Psalm 62:5-8; Psalm 68:5; Psalm 74:12-17; Psalm 145:8,9; Psalm 145:18; Jeremiah 9: 23-24; Jeremiah 10:10; Jeremiah 10:12; Isaiah 40:28; Jonah 4:2; John 3:33; John 4:24; John 17:2; Romans 1:20; I Cor 10:13; 2 Cor 1:18; I Cor 14:33; II Thess. 1:6; Heb 3:4; Heb 12:28,29; 1 John 1:5; I John 4:8; Rev 1:8, 21:6, 22:13.



One thought on “How’s Your Gift?”

  1. Great thoughts Wayne! It was eye-opening to think about coming to worship to receive something from God AND to bring him all that I am as a gift.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: