In Assembly God Gifts Me with His Encouragement

GodReflection: Is Worship for God or for Me?
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope (Romans 15:4).
gary portraitI don’t think it’s just me; I find life to be hard. Mr. Discouragement like a video game villain pops his head up with uncanny frequency.

The seeds of discouragement seem to be embedded both in the encouragement1humanness of my DNA and within the dark recesses of culture. “You are not good enough, you will never arrive, you must do better,” the culture shouts. “Is God really aware of the speed bumps that consistently appear in my path?” When I listen discouragement results.

As age creeps up, body deterioration with related challenges becomes a daily experience. Reality sets in and medical appointments become more frequent on my agenda than dreams and goals from the days of healthy vitality. Limitations tend to discourage.

Here is what I think.

encouragement3When I peruse my Bible, I find Jesus offers the antidote. He prescribes encouragement. The taproot of encouragement is nurtured from three springs. God gifts me with His encouragement through my closeness; to Scripture, to the Holy Spirit, and to other Jesus followers.

To the degree I open my life up to consistency on these three fronts I will find lesser or greater victories over discouragement. I want to live in such a way that Scripture, Spirit and siblings in Jesus are more than a scheduled worship encounter with the church.

However, that is not to say that I can do without the worship assembly. I have a deep need to meet God through worship for my own encouragement.

encouragement4For it is in the presence of other disciple where simultaneously I experience all three sources of encouragement. I am encouraged through the Holy Gathering from brothers and sisters. I hear from Scripture and led in the process by the Holy Spirit.

It is when I engage in communal worship that I receive through assembly a word from God and encouragement for my soul while led by the Holy Spirit of Father and Son.

In the Acts of the Apostles I discover a summation statement at a certain point in the life of the early church: Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, . . . (Acts 9:31).

encouragement8Here is what I wonder. Could it be that the worship assembly is designed to benefit me? Is it a place where in the act of the presentation of my gift to God—through all aspects of the assembly—the Holy Spirit is at work to gift me in return with the gift of encouragement?

I would love to hear your thoughts. What have I missed? Are there other ways God gifts encouragement to you?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: In Assembly God Gifts Me with His Encouragement


I Bring my Praise, Joy and Thankfulness to God

GodReflection: Is Worship for God or for Me?
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker (Psalms 95:6). Worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water (Revelation 14:7).
gary portraitLet there be no doubt. The object of worship is Holy God. In the Old Testament books, Creator God speaks clearly that He alone is worthy of worship status.

New Testament books show Jesus from birth to resurrection as the direct reflection of God’s image. As God He received and accepted worship.

Often, I have stated in this blog that a full comprehension of the blend of Creator God and Creator Jesus is beyond my little brain. Is it too much of a stretch to use the analogy of ambidextrous gifts16hands to help me understand Father and Son? It is to this Holy Duo that I bring my praise, joy, and thanksgiving in the act of worship. In this sense of the Holy Duo, worship is for God alone.

Relationship seems to be a big deal for God.
He gifts we with unfathomable grace. My participation is to be a gracious recipient and a loving son.

For worship to take place I become the giver. I give to God my praise, my joy and my thankfulness for His gifts. I doubt that worship is possible when it’s void of gratitude. Without my gifts and my participation worship cannot take place. My gifts are directed to God alone.

However, the thesis of this blog series is as I bring my gifts of praise, joy and thankfulness to the throne room I do not depart empty handed. Like my acceptance of grace as a gift from God in worship I also am a recipient.

Paul the apostle to the non-Jewish world describes the gift distribution at a worship assembly:

When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up (1 Corinthians 14:26).

In the act of the gift presentation of praise, joy and thankfulness, those assembled receive gifts of encouragement from song and instruction.

gifts3Ideally, worship is like an exchange of gifts around a Christmas tree.

Each time we meet we assemble around the “tree of life” to gift God and exchange gifts with each other.

From childhood to an age-tattered adult the gift exchanged at Christmas is for me an annual highlight. There have been years when the stack of gifts piled deep with colorfully wrapped packages dressed in ribbons and bows were so numerous they flowed away from the tree.

There have also been years with limited gift exchange.
Few or plentiful, the number of gifts are not important. What makes these times memorable is gift wrapped love that is exchanged.

I enter worship in the assembly where I offer praise, joy and thanksgiving to God. His Holy Spirit is at work. A song gifted by worshippers enriches my soul. Scripture read gift5from another believer is unwrapped just for me. I accept its word with gratitude.

When prayer is given by one who has assembled around the tree of life my gift may be a wrapped sentence or phrase that speaks to my heart and provokes a silent or vocal AMEN.

An interpretation of Scripture is a beautiful gift that adds color to my walk. I leave the gift distribution worship assembly as one who gifted God and through His Spirit was gifted by others.

Seems like worship is for God and for me, don’t you think?
What gifts do you carry home from worship?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: I Bring my Praise, Joy and Thankfulness to God.


God Presides Over Worship Through His Presence

GodReflection: Is Worship for God or for Me?
God presides in the great assembly; he renders judgment among the “gods” (Psalms 82:1). A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great (Proverbs 18:16.

gary portraitIn the 1980’s when forming church planting teams for Brazil we hit a brick wall. The Brazilian government closed entry visas for all church workers.

My colleague, Dr. Ellis Long would call upon all of his creative juices to select the exact right gift to take with him when he was allowed an audience with the President or the Vice-President of the nation.

At each encounter it was the President or Vice-President who presided over the meeting. Each presided with his presence.

presence3Through months of dialogue—with input into the nation’s constitution—we were gifted with visas for all church workers.

That gift was greater than the value of all entry gifts presented throughout the process.

Anytime I make an attempt to worship I do so as an act of submission to Creator God. It is recognition that I take a step closer to the Holy. It should always be a “take off your shoes for you are on Holy ground” moment. I should never arrive without the gifts of humility and submission.

presence5I come into the court of Holy God, bow in surrender as He presides over my gift of worship. God-worship can only take place in His presence.

Once I move myself into worship mode it is as if in a holy nanosecond God’s presence seems more intense. He stands ready to preside in a Holy Ceremony of gift reception.

Then, as Holy Presider, He accepts my gift, transforms it and returns it to me as yet a greater gift than I gave. It becomes another beautiful mosaic tile gifted by the Holy to enable my own image to reflect some of Jesus’ presence7likeness—who is the image of God—to those who cross my path.

Truth is, I notice along my way I am not very good as a reflector. I am in need of more God-mosaic tiles to increase His reflection from my life. The good news is there is a limitless tile supply where God presides. He is always ready to preside and to gift His children with reciprocal gifts.

What are gifts other than humility and submission that we bring into the presence of God as He presides over worship?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: God Presides Over Worship Through His Presence.

Both AND Worship

GodReflection: Is Worship for God or for Me?

gary portraitThank you for allowing me to reflect along with you as 2018 begins. I pray it will be a year where as I write and as we all engage we will grow more in the image of God and His Son.

Recently, I’ve began to wonder anew about worship—mostly in context of the assembly. Over a lifetime I’ve heard that since worship is to be directed toward God I shouldn’t be all that concerned when I depart from a worship service with an empty tank. After all worship is not for me.

bothAND5But is my former assumption right? Perhaps it is not selfish to expect to gain personal benefit from worship? Maybe as a community who gathers in joint worship of the Holy, we should also tune in on each other with greater expectation.

Why not expect connection to the Holy so that each of our spirits will be recharged to power our walk?

Just maybe—worship is not only for God but ALSO for me. Perhaps it matters that the worship experience is conducive for me to give worship that in the act of giving—by the designed nature of worship—God gifts me?

BothAND1Surely, God aches each time I assembly with the body to worship and leave with my spirit tank on empty. I suspect that happens because my gift was not given from the best I had to offer.

Is not the gift of worship to Father and Son a reciprocal act?

Paul the apostle recalled a lesson he had learned for Jesus. It seems to me it has application to the worship experience:

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 20:35).

Is it possible by my gift of worship to Creator God, I actually receive the greater present?

Is worship for God or for me? Is it plausible that it is a “Both AND” experience? Is it conceivable the act of worship is for God AND for me?

bothAND7Is it thinkable that in the presence of the body I am able to connect with God in a manner that is unique to the worship assembly?

Is it possible that in the very act of worship I not only connect with the Holy and those in the room but in addition I connect to every believer—past and present—who forms the body of Christ?

As I begin 2018 I want to examine what I’ve been taught, what I have taken for granted, and what I believe about worship. It may be more about me than I’ve previously consider.

After all, there is a sense that each of us are God’s projects as He give us every opportunity along life’s walk to let Him shape us more and more into the likeness of Jesus. Maybe that is what worship is all about.

I invite you to read over my shoulder over the next twelve posts as I attempt to gain clarity in my own mind on the question, “Is worship for God, for me, or is it for the both of us?

I would love to read your insights into this vital question. Do feel free to share with me your thoughts and experience.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: Both AND Worship.


Thankfulness and Blessings

gary portraitJust a note of thankfulness for being one of those from 92 countries who read over my shoulder as we close out 2017.

I consider my blogging experience as high on my list for my own personal growth. I hope in some way you too received a benefit from my personal reflection.

My prayer is that God will bless you richly during the new year and that each of us can use the time we have left on planet earth to reflect more of Jesus’ likeness to everyone we meet along our daily walk.

Thanks again for being a reader of GodReflection.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells  

He Planned Eternity for Us to Be Together

GodReflection: Does God Care Specifically About Me?
The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call (Acts 2:39).

gary portraitI’ve heard it before: “It’s great when a plan comes together.”

Disney World, London Bridge and the Eiffel Tower, each originated as an idea in the mind of a person. An idea born in the brain of one individual was shared, modified and defined over time by countless eternity11people.

To date millions of people from around the globe have stood in the reality of a plan that came together.

Somewhere in the eternal thoughts of Holy God an idea formed that would result in the design of His cherished creation—humankind.

The object was to birth daughters and sons who would united their hearts to His heart to live with Him who unconditionally loves.

Eternal God thinks in eternal terms.

In a move far beyond my little brain to understand, Satan, a rebel angel, made his subtle attack in a garden setting to short-circuit God’s plan and caused God’s cherished ones to betray their creator and His eternal plan.

Over the last multi-thousands of years divided by a cross, God is actively at work to complete His original intent and in the process, negate Satan’s destructive power.

eternity9Parallel to Satan’s destruction Father God must surely anticipate with great excitement the day when His plan comes together for unconditional love between Creator and created ones when eternal human hearts will never again miss a beat with the heart of Father God.

When I read John 14, I come across at least seven promises from Jesus that I can take to the bank. They are solid. They are backed by Father God. They give me assurance that God has planned eternity for us to be together.

Listen to the seven promises. Read through John 14. You may find others. These are the seven that help me grow in love with Father God and trust in the reality of a perfect eternity in His presence:

eternity81. I am going to prepare a place for you.
2. I will come back and take you to be with me.
3. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
4. Because I live you will also live.
5. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father.
6. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
7. I am going away and I am coming back to you.

God’s idea had no need for improvement. Its envisioned outcome was perfect as it rolled from His Holy mind. One day, millions from all history will experience the reality of Creator God’s plan that came together with all of its perfect and eternal completeness.

eternity5Once again, I find that God’s love is almost too wonderful to be true—but it is. He has planned a place for me to spend eternity with Him. I am His child. He will send Jesus to take me there. I will live in the home of Father and Son forever.

I now place my last brick in this series of twelve foundational bricks laid to help me sustain my confidence that Almighty God cares specifically about me.

bricks3Brick number twelve: He planned eternity for us to be together. Like the former eleven, I lay this brick in gratitude and humility seeking God’s power to help me become less of an “earthoholic” and more addicted to the Holy.

Amen. Come quickly Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20).

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: He Planned Eternity For Us To Be Together.

I Take Him at His Word

GodReflection: Does God Care Specifically About Me?

gary portraitI don’t think it is selective memory—but I can’t remember a failure on my dad’s part to keep a promise. Ok, He was as human as I am so I suspect there were times when he made a promised to give me x if I did y and then for whatever reason he didn’t come through.

However, I never doubted that I could take him at his word. I haven’t given it much thought but I suspect my dad’s character made it easier for me to trust God as a Heavenly Father who keeps His word.

God’s record in the promise department is unblemished. The best my finite mind can tell, He’s never broken a promise. Not bad for an eternity to eternity timeframe don’t you think?

word4When I read Scripture, I find a common descriptive storyline developed by each writer over thousands of years.

God keeps EVERY promise.

God promises Adam and Eve consequences, Cain a life on the run, Noah salvation from a flood, Abraham a son and descendants from all nations, Moses a promise land, and David a line of family kings that would stretch to eternity.

Each time God introduces a new player on the scene of history He gives a promise. On many occasions Father God gives the same person promise after promise. As each recipient obeys one promise after the other their life is described as a life of faith.

word7Such a God inspires the Psalmist to declare in the midst of life’s reality, “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life” (Psalms 119:50).

My guess is the author’s experience who wrote those lines wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. His affirmation was an attempt to make sense of life.

Throughout past centuries Father God promised a Savior. Father God promised to give me His Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ. Father God promised me life in Jesus Christ. Father God promised eternal life to those who love Him. Father God promised to restore heaven and earth free of evil where only good and right will dwell.  Father God promised eternal rest with an eternal inheritance. Father God promised a restored body freed from pain and suffering. I take Him at His word.

I read of a God who is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all He does(Psalms 145:13).word8  I read of a God who has power to do what He had promised (Romans 4:21). I read no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). I read He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23). And I read of His promise that when I align my heart to His I will receive what He has promised (Hebrews 10:36). I take Him at His word.

I follow the Good Shepherd who knows my name, sounds a recognizable voice, (John 10:3) and asks me to walk in love (2 John 6). I take Him at His word.

bricks1So here is brick number eleven of twelve: I take Him at His word. Like the former ten, I lay this brick in gratitude and humility seeking God’s power to help me become less of an “earthoholic” and more addicted to the Holy as I seek God’s reassurance that He care specifically about me.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
P.S. Fortunately, I don’t have an exclusive claim. He also cares specifically about you and has given His promises to you. You, too can take Him at His word.

A GodReflection: I Take Him at His Word.