Worship Seat-Warmers

(Today's post by Adam Cooper)

Psalm 66-67

Psalm 66 is one of those Psalms that praises God. “Shout with joy!” “Sing the glory of His name!” “Make His praise glorious!” “How awesome are your deeds!” This Psalm just boasts glory and praise to God. The notes in the NIV Study Bible say that the writer of this Psalm is unknown but it is clear from its content that the purpose in its writing was to praise God. As I read this Psalm I got this mental picture of someone standing in the court near a gate in Jerusalem shouting about the glory of God to all who would listen. He even takes a minute to remind those listening of the great deeds God did to free the Israelites from bondage in Egypt and at the end he calls everyone close for an invitation to hear his own testimony. He reminds everyone that God is there and will answer prayers if you only ask them. Psalm 67 continues the mood of praise to God and prays to God for a blessing of the harvest. It almost places the exclamation point at the end of Psalm 66 when it tells you that God will answer your prayers if you ask and then 67 is them asking. I know that it is highly unlikely that these two Psalms were meant by their earthly authors to appear together and almost complement each other but again this shows this wisdom and miraculousness of God.

If you look at the Psalms as a collection of songs and praises that were used during services during this point in history you could probably get away with saying that they were the “hymns” of that day. Songs that were committed to memory because they were sung time and time again. Songs that were meant to portray the teachings of God that had been accumulated throughout their history from men who were probably close to God. They were intended to communicate a blessedness of God to the “normal” synagogue member. But, and there is always a “but” with me, I wonder how many of them just sang through these praises emotionless and unmoved. I remember being in a church as a kid and watching everyone pick up their hymnal and then begin singing, or not, looking at the book, reading each word, expressionless, with no spirit what-so-ever. I wonder if this ever happened during the time represented by these Psalms. Had they become so separated from the great things and actions of God that they were just “keeping a seat warm” in the synagogue?

I think to the worship from this past Sunday at Eastridge. I saw hands raised. I saw tear filled eyes and tear stained cheeks. But I also saw the “seat warmers” doing what they felt they had to do to make it through another Sunday at church. How many of those were just getting their Jesus fix for the week? It is that complacency that Psalms like 66 and 67 should warn us against. They shouted to their God, they praised their God openly and publicly, they were proud to be Jews: God’s chosen from all mankind. I am sure that the next statement will shock some but when you look at it they were so proud of being Jews, God’s chosen people, that pride corrupted their souls and it caused them to overlook and kill God’s only son.

How much more should we be praising Jesus for what he has done for us? How much more should we be shouting from the rooftops about our glorious, risen God? Psalms like 66 and 67 remind me that I should never take God (Father, Son, and Spirit) for granted. He saved me from a life of certain death and destruction, he washed away years of sin and I am forever grateful for his tremendous and unfailing grace because NOW I LIVE where before I had DIED. So yes, I emotionally appeal to all who read this to renew their faith and love in our unfailing and unchanging God. “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us! – Psalm 67:1.” But wait…God HAS been gracious to us by sending Jesus to die on the cross for us who don’t deserve it and through that He HAS blessed us and Jesus’ face DOES shine upon us every single day. The Jews of that time could never say that now could they!?

Today, praise God in everything you do. Try to live the life that Christ would have you live. Reach out your hand and help someone or simply pray for them. Remember the sacrifice that was made for you and SHOUT His name to all that can hear!

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  • Lee Lester

    My wife and I are dealing with some very heavy stuff right. And, in support of a family member, we are having to attend a church where she is in a “program”. There is so much that feels “wrong” in the spirit there. The church service is so well produced that it feels fake, like a tv production. On the stage is plenty of “eye candy”. As I look at the way the service progresses, with the rapidity of quickly singing three songs, my heart is heavy. For me, I worship all week. Everything I do, from chores around the farm, to the many hours I spend on the road in support of others, to making love with my wife….EVERYTHING is worship. And, while I cannot judge the motives in the church I was referring to, I feel a deep sadness in my soul as I watch them during the worship service. We have moved away from Eastridge. I do miss the worship there. It just felt comforting to my soul to worship with you guys. I felt like I was in a room of “self feeders”. In other words, they didnt come there to be fed and to worship….it felt like they had been feeding on the Word and worshipping all week and the service at Eastridge was just the icing on the cake…so to speak. I hope this made sense. Good post Trey. I guess where I was going with this is when I attend the other church, my heart is so heavy, it takes everyhing I have got to not be a bench warmer.

    • Adam Cooper

      Lee I appreciate your willingness to open up. We have always felt the movement of the Spirit at Eastridge during the message and the worship. However, I want to focus on the other point you made about EVERYTHING being worship. I strongly agree with you and scripture even tells us that we should praise God in all things. In our culture it is hard for most people to wrap their minds around how they can make everything in their life bring glory to God. It is all in our hearts and love for God. In the church that you are having to attend currently it is important that you and your wife have the right mindset with this. You should always remember that your relationship and walk with God IS NOT controlled by what church you are in at the time. Yes the environment may give the enemy something to bug us with; but when it all comes down to it I need to check my heart and make sure that I am taking my worship with me IN SPITE of the environment that I may find myself in. You could be the catalyst that inspires others in that “dead” church to come alive and worship differently. Prayers for you and your family.

      • Lee Lester

        Adam, thanks for your comments. About the other church… my wife and I are “veteran” Christ followers. We have a prayer and healing ministry and we have walked through the valley of the shadow of death on many occasions. We also have a ministry to homeless men, drug addicts and ex-cons. I say all that to say this, we do not let a situation like this stop us from pressing into the Kingdom. What we do is back up, pray and seek God. To open up a bit further, we have been granted custody of the 10 year old daughter of the family member in the program. She only gets to see her mom when we go down there on Sundays…for that reason alone, not going is not an option. Last week, we got there early and dropped off the daughter with her mama. Then, my wife and I went looking for another church in the area where we could stay until the other service was over and then go back and eat lunch with her. We accidentally ended up in one of the most beautiful state parks in Georgia! We just got out of the car, with camera, and walked along tree lines streams and lakes and talked. We prayed. We encouraged each other. There is more to this church problem than just a superficiality to the service. The problems are spiritual and are deeply rooted. I have observed enough to write a letter to the pastors — just an honest assessment of a Holy Spirit filled visitor. This coming Sunday, while the service is going on, my wife and I are going to walk circles around the church campus and pray for it, the people in it, the church leadership, and we are going to pray against the spirits (and there is more than one) restraining what could actually become an awesome spring of living water in that community. EPHESIANS 6:12 is always on my mind. We are taking the battle to the enemy this Sunday morning and then we will see what God tells us to do next. Back to what I was saying before, if it was just the superficial aspect of the worship, I could deal with it, rise up and praise above it. This is spiritual warfare and we are going to fight it as such! Pray for us as we “gird our loins” this Sunday morning! As you worship at Eastridge, lift up Lee and Jeanine Lester. We need your prayers. Thank you.

  • Sammy O.

    Adam, I agree with your thoughts about these two powerful Psalms. God knows the heart of every person in the congregation. Their hearts may or may not be reflected in their actions (or inactions), but God knows, and we must all examine our hearts to be sure we are in tune with Him. He is truly worthy of our praise and we must never be just seat-warmers. Great message.

    • Adam Cooper

      Sammy thank you for your response to my post. God does know our hearts and I agree that there are many times when our true heart is not reflected in our actions. It is so important for everyone to find the time on a regular basis to build their own relationship with God. Through this relationship they will hopefully develop a heart of constant worship through which their true heart serves as a tremendous witness for the glory and grace of God. I remember the days when I was just a seat warmer and I thank God for the glory and grace of His Spirit that leads me to try and worship God in everything that I do. I fail. I am human. But his grace is plentiful and enough even when I mess up. God bless you.

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