This week, we focused on Philippians 2:1-11, and dealt with putting others ahead of ourselves. It was a challenging message for those of us who are prone to selfishness (me!), and called us to the selflessness of Christ, who emptied Himself and became obedient even to death on a cross, so that we could be redeemed. As a result, Scripture says, God has exalted Him and given Him the name which is above all names, that at His name, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. In a similar way, the Bible says that the one who wants to find his own life must first lose it. May we all lay our lives down for the kingdom of God and His purposes, and in doing so, may we find our true life in Him.

Here’s our set from this weekend:

Pre-Service – “Happy Day” (Bb) [Tim Hughes, Ben Cantelon]
Call to Worship – Revelation 4:8, 11
“Our God” (G) [Jonas Myrin, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves]
Welcome/ Video/ Offering/ Announcements/ Prayer/ Greeting
“You Never Let Go” (Bb) [Matt Redman]
“Desert Song” (D) [Brooke Fraser]
Scripture reading – Philippians 2:3
“Lead Me to the Cross” (D) [Brooke Fraser]
Message – “An Appraisal of Attitude” [Joe Hishmeh]
Response – “Jesus Messiah” (G) [Daniel Carson, Jesse Reeves, Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash]

We began in the pre-service time with “Happy Day,” and I chose this song because it got us thinking about the cross, and what it accomplished for us. We benefited immensely because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross, yet He paid for our redemption with great suffering and anguish. He gave up His right to grasp His equality with God, and laid it down in obedience and willing sacrifice. He was generous with His own life, and had the attitude fo a servant rather than one of entitlement.

In the call to worship, practiced the command to “ascribe” praise and to the Lord. This means to attribute to God the truth about who He is and what He has done. I searched and struggled to find a passage that encapsulated this idea concisely, and I felt very comfortable with Revelation 4:8, 11 (ESV) –

Holy, holy, holy,
is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come!
Worthy are You,
our Lord and God,
To receive glory and
honor and power,
For You created all things,
And by Your will they existed
and were created.

We read this together as a congregation with this phrasing, and I think it set our hearts on Jesus’ surpassing worth and glory. I am feeling more and more compelled to point our people to Scripture and for us to read it together and respond together in different ways. I would guess that worship doesn’t get much more “Biblical” than that… I hope we begin to make the connection between these explicit worship directives and the ones that call us to worship by living our lives for our King and His kingdom, loving Him and loving our neighbor.

We immediately moved into “Our God,” because we just finished talking about the creative power of our God, and this song emphasizes some of that aspect in reference to miracles and His omnipotence. I love how this song resonates with God’s people, as we declare His greatness and power together, and then recognize that this same great and powerful God is for us. He is for His people, and He loves us, cares for us, and protects us. At the end of this song, I felt led to have all the instruments drop out as our people sang out the chorus, and it was a sweet moment that I didn’t want to end. It felt a little funny jumping from that into the announcements, but who cares?!?! We’re here to worship together, and it’s never too early to do so.

After the announcements, we led out with “You Never Let Go.” This was our third week singing this song together, and the chorus has taken on new meaning for our congregation (especially the Saturday night group) after last weekend, where we had to take shelter from funnel clouds in the area. I think we are getting this as a congregation, and God is reminding us of His faithfulness through it. Our congregation sings this song so well together. I am so thrilled with how we are responding to God together.

Then, Kelsey Thomsen led us in singing “Desert Song” and “Lead Me to the Cross.” This was Kelsey’s last weekend leading with us (for a while, at least), because she is heading off to physician assistant school this summer. It was a little bittersweet as a result, but I have enjoyed getting to see Kelsey’s heart for God’s people in worship over these past few months. I know God has great things in store for her and her ministry through worship. These songs spoke to the point of trusting in God no matter what, and obeying Him regardless of how afraid we may be. He is worthy of our lives’ obedience, no matter how we feel about it. He is worthy of our lives being give for the purpose of expanding His kingdom and His fame in the earth.

We responded to Joe’s challenging message with “Jesus Messiah,” which speaks clearly of Jesus’ laying down of His life for us. He is our model and example of sacrifice and of being a servant. When we look to Him, we see the pattern of our calling. We see what we are to be in Him. This song continues to grow on me, as I reminded of 2 Corinthians 5:21 and other verses which speak of the ridiculous gift Jesus has given us through His grace and through the cross. He is so good to us. May we be so generous with our own lives.

We had a few difficulties on Saturday night. One team member thought he was on for next weekend, and as a result, wasn’t able to get to rehearsal until an hour after we started. We ended up finishing our preparation very close to the start of the first service, and I forgot to communicate with the team that Kelsey was going to share before “Desert Song.” When I turned to look at Kelsey, the rhythm section jumped into the song, and the rest of us had to catch up. It was a minor train wreck, but we got back on track, and I believe God was glorified in spite of the problems. It has made me evaluate our lines of communication, both prior to and during the weekend. We can always improve. Sunday went very smoothly, and I was proud of how our team pressed on and kept trying to improve throughout the weekend, despite a slightly frustrating start. I am so thankful for the team of people we have here at Fellowship.

Overall, it was a powerful weekend of worship. I love it (sometimes begrudgingly), when God moves and works in our midst, when it seems like we have made it difficult. It just goes to show that we cannot manufacture worship. We cannot force it to happen. We cannot make people experience God. We are powerless to change lives at the heart level. Only God can do that. And He does. What we can do is be available and be humbled before our King, and trust that He will work in our midst. We can give Him our best and do what we can to facilitate (literally, “make it easy”) for our people to engage God in our worship gatherings. Let us serve our God and our people by trusting in our God and giving our best for Him and for them. He will take care of everything else.

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were (and hopefully didn’t have the problems we did!). Be sure to check out The Worship Community to see what other leaders and team members experienced in their worship gatherings this weekend. To God be all the glory!

In the Son,

Bill

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