Is God here?

by John Quek

“Is God here?” He asked during the assembling of the saints on a Sunday.

Often the question as to how one ought to worship crops up when meeting together as a church today. There is no doubt that most would have some ideas on what worship would be or what would be expected of us during worship.  Almost always, we instinctively do just what we are used to when we meet on this special day. However, when coming together on the first the day of the week, do we have a proper mindset or framework of what it requires? Do we remove our thoughts away from the worldly issues when we meet to worship? There is often the need for reminders as to how we spend those few hours of our time when we meet to worship God.

We must always remember how to properly acknowledge Him when in worship i.e. to worship Him in spirit and in truth. And in worshipping, due reverence and respect to the Almighty God should be the key to proper worship. Let’s look at the event that took place during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah,

“And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” Neh 8:5-6 (KJV)

One of the noticeable aspects of the assembly when Ezra opened the “book” was “all the people stood up”. It would not be because they could not see Ezra or what he was doing as Nehemiah recorded as Ezra opened the book it was “in the sight of all the people” which would mean all were aware as everything that went on was visible for all to notice.

All at that assembly in unison said “Amen, Amen” to the saying of Ezra when he blessed the great God and followed by the lifting of their hands and bowing their heads towards the ground in reverence to the Lord as they worshipped Him.

One can observe that those that met on that day were in awe of the God for their faith in Him and there was an obvious sense of reverence for God and His word.

There seemed to be no fear or respect nowadays for God – be it at work, or in school, at home or even during worship on a Sunday. One commented about this delinquent attitude of the worshippers of not showing reverence during worship as tantamount to as if Moses having no need to remove the shoes from his feet when he was to meet God today because we do whatever we want or do whichever we think is best for God and it is God who just has to adjust accordingly. Changes are made by man who decides what God prefers or wants.

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.”  Ex 3:5-6

God’s simple instruction to Moses was to remain where he was and to remove his sandals; and Moses obeyed the commands of the Lord without question. Did he argue with God why he shouldn’t go nearer or further? Did he ask God why it has to be the sandals? Or maybe even challenge God about the logic as it would dirty his feet?

Sometimes many are guilty of showing irreverence to the great God  that  Ezra  referred to Him  as.

Our actions and attitude in worship speak volumes of our faith or lack of it. Our very defiance in not wanting to listen to calls for proper behaviour and conduct in worship only denies our faith in God and His presence in the midst when we congregate. It is disturbing to see blatant outward disrespect when one continues to talk with his neighbour whilst the preacher is speaking; when one disengages himself on the significance whilst partaking the Lord’s Supper; when loud conversations continue without any due regards when singing songs of praise to God has started. We need to remind ourselves not to repeat the inappropriate behaviour of the Corinthians in which eating and drinking became a prelude to Sunday worship (1 Cor 11:17ff).

Remember Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu. They fell dead for offering profane or strange fire which was unauthorized (Lev 10:1-2). This was for their act of disobedience and for disrespecting God.

Instead of following in the acts of worship, today substitutions can be seen in the various new “acts” of worship like a wandering mind; busy thinking of many things other than worship; waiting for calls or SMS on the My-phone; succumbing to the participation of “culinary food and drinks” culture when worship has already started; chatting away and giving no thoughts as to why they were there in the first place and the question is – are these not similar acts of disobedience and irreverence demonstrated by Nadab and Abihu? Are these acceptable?

Quoting from an article on giving reverence, worship and Christian life:

“Reverence is stated to be immensely significant and beneficial in the Christian life, but it must begin with worship. If worship is stripped of reverence, then reverence will be stunted in all other aspects of Christian living. What begins in worship spreads into the whole Christian life. If worship is more like a performance, with showing off, imitation of the world, sensation-seeking, much noise, and everything for my pleasure, then reverence will not be found in any other department of life. How cruel it is, then, for churches to abandon reverent worship! The members will be seriously hurt and disadvantaged for their personal spiritual lives.”*Dr. Peter Masters – Reverence Begins in the Place of Worship

How true?! There MUST be a conscious effort from all wishing to come before Him to come with reverence and godly fear as written in Heb 12:28-29: “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”

It is time that we make conscious effort to prepare ourselves for the Sunday worship. It is time that we take notice that our services to God must be one that is acceptable and one that gives Him the glory and honour. You and I must realize that we may miss the mark if we do not change.

Yes! God is here! She answered.