And God showed up

“…and God showed up.”  I have heard this phrase used by many who want to indicate a special sense of the Lord’s presence among worshipers at a given service, at a revival, a concert, or at some other special event planned with spiritual refreshment in mind.  To my knowledge I have not used those words myself, but I can certainly relate to the spirit of that terminology, even though it gives me pause to evaluate the total picture that the phrase may communicate.  I am a bit concerned that saying “God showed up” brings up questions I probably do not really want to create in the minds of worshipers, much less unbelievers.  For instance, Does that mean we sometimes have worship and God doesn’t “show up?”   What did we do differently if that is the case?  And how is it we claim to know one way or the other whether He is or is not present?

The point I would like to make in this week’s newsletter and blog is that when we gather to worship God is present.  He is not present because we gathered to worship; rather He is present because He is God. The psalmist says that God “does what he pleases.” (Ps 115:3) Scripture reveals His nature, His character, and His power.  That is why it is crucial that we center our worship in the Word of God, and make it our heart’s desire to offer Him what He desires of us, rather than always seeking what He can do for us.  I am writing about this now, because we have crossed the threshold of another new year, in fact a new decade.  We need to lead worship of a God Who is present.  We made it to 2010, and it seems despite many problems, concerns and challenges, life goes on.  The Lord is still on His throne.  I have a song to sing and a Word to declare.  “I will sing praise as long as I have breath.” (Ps 104:33)  I did not feel the change from ’09 to ’10, it just happened.  In our worship gatherings our need is not so much to try to “feel God” and thus be able to proclaim he “showed up,” as it is to faith God, and to proclaim He is!  We need to pronounce His presence, His sufficiency, and the Truth of His Gospel in our worship, both gathered and beyond.  The issue in our worship gatherings is not a question of whether God shows up nearly as much as it is one of whether we show up!  God is completely true to His promises, His Word, His covenant made through the shed blood of Christ.  We are given to break our promises as sheep who have turned their own way, and fallen quite short of the glory of God.

Our faith is in Christ.  As we faith God’s presence in Christ through the Holy Spirit in our worship, we will more effectively proclaim the Truth of His presence.  When we “show up” week after week, year after year, we follow the admonition to “forsake not the assembling of yourselves as the manner of some is.” (Heb 10:24)  As ministers who proclaim the Gospel in song we need to have a certainty about our demeanor and spirit as we gather with brothers and sisters in Christ.  We need to be certain that when we are at worship, that we have really “shown up” ourselves.  That is to say that we are really present in the moment of worship with a confidence that God is with us. If we will allow it to, such a realization changes the way we sing, pray, listen, give, and respond.  The Lord’s presence among us in worship may not become apparent to us in an “aha” moment, or in a dramatic thrill that stirs our emotion.  It may be made known after the gathering has ended when we think differently about someone, or something than we did before.  We may realize the work of the Spirit long after the last note has sounded and we are recalling a pointed word of a sermon, or a deep lament of a prayer, or a resounding “Amen” of spirited singing.  We may come away from a worship gathering on a given week thinking it was “just another Sunday,” when actually we were joined by brothers and sisters in Christ, members of one body in a communion of love, united with Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.” (1 Thes 3:12-13)

The grace and peace of our Lord be with you,

Paul

Explore posts in the same categories: Worship Reminders

8 Comments on “And God showed up”

  1. Bob Matthews Says:

    Paul,
    Thanks for sharing your insight. I agree that we must focus on the responsibility of the worshiper to “show up” because God is already there! When I teach about worship I use a very practical definition of worship (out of the thousands available) that says, “worship is meeting with God and experiencing His presence.” This definition frees us from the requirement of certain worship styles, philosophies, methods, etc. in order to experience true worship- AS LONG AS WE EXPERIENCE GOD’S PRESENCE.
    Your article also reminded me of the story about the little girl who was saying her prayers on Sunday night. She had attended church that day and in her prayer she was giving thanks for the great music, the beautiful choir anthem, the great solo, the inspiring sermon, and wonderful fellowship. She conluded her prayer by saying, “and Lord, you should have been there!
    As your article so eloquently pointed out- HE WAS!

  2. Gary Carrier Says:

    Amen! I hear the phrase “God showed up” often, and it usually comes from worship leaders – pastors and other staff people. I have never used the phrase, because I was taught that God is always present. I am concerned when I hear heart-wrenching stories of folk who are in the throes of some a circumstance that is humanly impossible to overcome – but, God showed up! – That’s the rest of the story! Some of us are in positions that make it difficult to speak up and correct a theologically wrong statement!

    Thanks, Paul, for sharing great insight to an area that apparently needs lots of attention.

    • pclarkjr Says:

      I appreciate your response, Gary. I especially appreciate your sensitivity to the reality of people who are “in the throes of some circumstance that is humanly impossible to overcome.” The people in our pews face real life issues. Thank you for your insights.

  3. Wes Voorhees Says:

    Thank you for drawing my attention back to the REALITY that our worship is to the everpresent GOD of the universe! I desperately need to remember that worship is to be never-ending in my life (praying without ceasing, meditating day and night on God’s Word, presenting my body as a living sacrifice).
    I may not use the words “and God showed up,” but often my actions proclaim that very notion.

  4. Bill Morris Says:

    Dr. Paul:

    AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!

    Thank you for your vision.

  5. Ron Foster Says:

    Thanks Paul,
    I’m in a situation that sometimes craves worshipers to show up. I am always pleased when I am joined in worship by the body of Christ. I too have had issue with this very statement that “God showed up” and an unease in my spirit even the first time I heard it. God is always there. And He never left. I have however equated the people not being there to worship as Him not showing up. My fault and should not be my focus. I am to worship Him.He is there. And it’s not up to me to make sure the body shows up….. But why do we as worship leaders take on that responsibity.

    Growing in Christ
    Hopefully finishing strong.
    Ron

    • pclarkjr Says:

      Ron,

      Thank you for your comments and transparency. I believe we fall into the trap of our culture that is consumed with self-satisfying personal experience. It is certainly not very satisfying to try to lead a people that are not present (even if they are sitting in the pew), or who are assigning you that responsibility of providing them with motivation, inspiration, or a kind of “spiritual entertainment.” The result of our personal frustration can lead us eroneously toward feeling we are failing as a worship leader. Our worship is at all times completely reliant upon Jesus anyway. Our faith is in the triune God, who was, and is, and is to come. Take heart and lead with the confidence as a child of the King! Grace and peace of our Lord be with you, dear brother.


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