Encountering God Through Worship – Lindale
Encountering God Through Worship
A Study on the Psalms of the Ascents

Worship is the first core value at Grace, and for good reason.  All of life – every breath, step, and thought, is an opportunity to respond to God and say, “We value You most, Lord.”  Worship is so much more than our church gatherings on Sunday mornings.  We want to help you worship God between the times we meet.  Learning to worship God with our lives is what we call “discipleship;”  and discipleship is the process where we learn the skills of faith from Christ.

There is a songbook in the Bible that our worship staff has been contemplating for most of 2015.  This songbook is found inside the book of Psalms, and it deals with varying aspects of the Christian life.  Psalms 120 through 134 make up this collection of great songs that are called “The Psalms of Ascents.”  From all over, Jewish pilgrims came to Jerusalem for their annual feasts.  These faithful people would sing these psalms as they “ascended” up to Jerusalem as it was the highest city in Palestine.

Eugene Peterson wrote a book based on these Psalms of Ascents entitled, A Long Obedience In The Same Direction.  In it he states, “It is not difficult in such a world to get a person interested in the message of the gospel; it is terrifically difficult to sustain the interest.”  I am a terribly impatient person.  A good friend used to say to me, “Jon, you’re the kind of guy that wants something done 10 minutes ago.”  And he was, and is, exactly right.  Enjoying the process is something God is working on in me.  Our world is very now-centered, isn’t it?  However, growing and learning in Jesus is something that takes time, patience, and submission.  Discipleship is not microwaveable.  It is a pilgrimage, and Jesus is our Guide as we ascend in this pilgrimage.

Today the Psalms of Ascents are appropriate for Christians because of their raw depiction of the duality of the life of a disciple of Christ.  Even on this side of the life of Christ, there is turmoil.  These psalms depict pain, despair, and weariness as well as confidence, hope, and joy.  Our worship staff has been writing songs that are designed to help us worship God Between the Times of our Sunday mornings together.  One of our songs says,

With darkness all around,

     Will I walk in fear?

With Your blood on the ground,

     Will I see the goodness here?

– from the song, “You Alone,” based on Psalm 125

Everyday we choose.  Will we live in fear?  Will we live in darkness?  Will we see that the blood from the body of Jesus will make even our most difficult trial good?  It is these experiences that make up the process of worshiping Jesus with our lives.  No matter what difficulty we face, we can rejoice with great confidence even in the midst of trying pain.  May you find patience in Christ as you move through the process of acquiring the skills of faith.

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