When I Worship—God Smiles and I am Warmed

GodReflection: Is Worship for God or for Me?
The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love (Psalms 147:11). For the LORD takes delight in his people (Psalms 149;4).

gary portraitOver a lifetime I’ve met countless people from diverse nations. At any given time throughout my walk many of them have joined with me under the canopy of community.

As I think how that community has fluctuated with its ebb and flow there is a special group that comes to mind. It is a cluster of lifers who have walked with Jesus for enough years that his traits shine through their expressions.

All harshness has vanished. Warmth, twinkling eyes, insightfully appropriate smiles and a dash of humor combine to make up their presence.

smiles9When I interface with these people I recognize Jesus and catch a glimpse of Father God.

There are occasions when the combined orchestration of a worship assembly has connected me to such an image of God. Unfortunately, not every time when I enter a public worship does the ideal picture come to mind. Most likely, I failed to properly prepare my heart.

Here is what I think.

What if during the worship of the church I would envision God as the ultimate image of the Good Father. He is absolutely dependable. He is Just and above all He is Holy Love. He delights with His children.

smile14Some of my fondest dad and mom memories flow from their presence in their recliners.

When children or grandchildren were in the room the presence of others brought delight.

They didn’t have to be  vocal participants in all that was going on around them. Their delight was evident by their demeanor.

Warmth, a twinkle from their eyes, an insightfully appropriate smile and a dash of humor from time to time stood witness to their delight. The room was warmed.
That is an image I need to bring with me into the Throne room when I assemble with believers to worship.

smile11One brings a song and another brings a need. Someone reads from Scripture and another leads the assembled in prayer. An exhortation is brought to the believers. Encouragement trickles and flows from fellow disciples. Children animate. AND God smiles.

I am often impacted with the words of Psalm 103:

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love . . . he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust . . . But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

How could I leave an assembly of the Saints without warmth flowing from my soul to the bottom of my feet and knowing I made God smile?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: When I Worship—God Smiles and I am Warmed.


God Speaks to Me by His Word

GodReflection: Is Worship for God or for Me?
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching (1 Timothy 4:13).

gary portraitI see a huge disconnect.

Those who have followed this blog through the years have heard my declaration of arrival on the church pew shortly after departure from the maternity ward. Over seven decades I’ve made some blessed as well as some rather anemic attempts at congregational worship.

There have been times when I exited the assembly confident God was worshipped and I was blessed. Other times not so much.

speak1However, I’ve always been perplexed about one aspect of my group worship experience.

If Scripture is indeed inspired by the Holy, why doesn’t oral Bible reading play a more significant role in the assembly of God’s people?

I remember far too many times when entrusted with the organization of the assembly I arrived and passed out paper slips to those who entered the door. “Will you lead a hymn or prayer?” Will you assist with the Lord’s Supper?” “Will you read a Scripture?”

Wow, what planning on my part. Hopefully, church worship has progressed beyond that.

At the same time, I still wonder if we’ve progressed to the point of a more prominent place in our assembly time to hear the written Word of God?

speak7Group worship provides a wonderful opportunity to set the stage for God to speak and send us back into our daily grind as richer people.

Three passages from Scripture seem relevant:

The Hebrew preacher reminds discouraged Jesus followers of an important role Scripture serves as an alive and active word from The Holy. It is the voice from Scripture that works on my thoughts and attitude. It is the voice of Scripture that convicts. As I listen my eyes and heart move toward Jesus.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

speak15After Jesus’ resurrection Luke recounts the stealth encounter of the Risen Lord with two disciples. When they arrived at their destination in Emmaus Jesus revealed his identity over shared bread.

Upon his abrupt departure the disciples make a powerful observation about Scripture recorded in Luke 24:32.

“Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Doesn’t the potential exist to have my heart moved in the assembly by the oral reading of Scripture? I want my heart to burn more.

A third passage that seems relevant for a worship assembly reminds me of Paul’s instruction to Timothy.

speak21All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

If Paul’s statement is indeed true don’t I need a steady diet from Scripture? Isn’t this a God designed way for public Bible reading within the worship of congregated disciples to bless each participant?

Here is what I think.

speak18Not everyone is gifted as a reader. I see why little kids might fall asleep as they listen to a bedtime story from a tired parent. Surely, God cringes when His inspired word is read to the congregation like it was a dose of sleep medication.

What if in our worship assemblies, we were to substitute more capable reading of Holy Scripture in the place of a portion of our sermon time or in place of one or two of our ten to twelve songs?

Might that be a game changer that sets the stage for God to speak and send us back into our daily walk as richer disciples?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: God Speaks to Me by His Word.



God’s Holy Spirit is Active in Worship

GodReflection: Is Worship for God or for Me?

gary portraitI sometimes wonder if the traditional way I’ve understood the Holy Spirit is less than helpful. Let me explain.

Truth is the word trinity is not found on the Bible’s pages. Nor are Father, Son and Holy Spirit ever used together in a specific Scripture text as three distinct personhoods.

Rather than the view of Father, Son and Spirit as three different Holy Beings, what if I envisioned the Holy Spirit as the earthly presence of Father and Son? Isn’t that more in line with the New Testament? My copy of Acts and the Letters paint the picture of Father and Son actively at work through believers who composed the church—the body of Christ.

In Acts chapter sixteen Father and Son desired the message of God’s grace to enter the continent of Europe. We read this account:

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.

However, note verse seven:

When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to (Acts 16: 6-7).

It is the Spirit of Father and Son that dwells within the heart of believers and guide their steps.

spirit1I don’t believe Scripture ever tells us to worship the Spirit as a third member of the Godhead. Whereas worship is always directed only to Father or Son. The Spirit of Father and Son are present to receive worship.

When Paul the apostle writes to a group of believers in the city of Thessalonica he makes the connection between Father and Spirit as one and the same: Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 4:8).

Let me lay one more foundational stone to my thought process. It comes from the conversation of Jesus with a woman at a well in Samaria. Jesus’ response is focused on God’s Spirit in worship:

“. . . Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).

Ok, here is what I think.

Perhaps the Holy Spirit is simply the presence of the Spirit of God and Christ.

spirit6When I engage in the worship assembly the spirit of Father and Son not only are present in my body but are also present within every believer in the room.

We are in the combined presence of the Holy.

Where could be a better place to be convicted or to encounter forgiveness and healing than in the presence of the Holy? That is intensified through the joint presence of Holy-indwelled siblings.

spirit7In silence I look around the room. It isn’t difficult to envision the weakness and defects of all us human types. Then I think of the contrast beyond comprehension that is palpable. In contrast to all my weakness stands the strength of the Holy Spirit. Father and Son are present and active.

We have had the joyful audacity to bring our sin and defects into the Holy Presence. Perhaps that alone is the picture of God’s Holy Spirit active in worship.

Isn’t that a blessing that comes through joint worship for God AND for me?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells




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



The Secret Body

GodReflection: God Shares His Secret—We are Body

“This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19) “. . . for we are members of his body”. (Ephesians 5:30)

garyguarujaJesus, on the eve of his crucifixion spoke of his body gift for the disciples. I doubt that any of them had a clue at that point what he meant.

I wonder who the first person was to use the body analogy? The apostle Paul was the first to express it in written form but I wonder if he heard it from fellow apostles or from Jesus himself? Perhaps, it was a Spirit inspired idea given directly to him.

Doctor Luke, as he summarizes Jesus post resurrection activity cites from his eyewitness research: He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)

body22I am curious how much Jesus told them as he spoke about the kingdom of God? Did he tell them about his plans for his church that would cover the face of the earth? Did he tell them that his body would remain on the planet in the form of his church?

It was a secret held by the Holy for thousands upon thousands of years.

The revelation came shortly after the ascension. The Godhead announced the body secret with the prelude of a loud roaring wind sound and with flames aglow above the body12head of each disciple as a visual aid.

Before it was all over  three thousand men and women repented of their sin, identified with the Son of God, and submitted their lives to Jesus through the death, burial and resurrection in baptismal waters.

And . . . Viola! The church appeared. It was them and they were it.

Twenty-plus years later—for the first time in Scripture—the apostle Paul uses the analogy of the body as a visual for this ever-expanding assembly.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. (Romans 12:4-6)

Yes, to be clear he wants all of us who make up the church to understand, you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27)

body15And, our corporate body has only one head the risen Christ who is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. (Colossians 1:18)

I don’t know if Paul was the first to share the secret that the church—you and I—are the body of Christ. However, I have to believe it is a shear genius idea from the Holy.

Here is what I think:

It doesn’t matter if I am a big toe or a little pinkie. I am body. I am to function as designed. It is not my role to judge you or your function. I am a vital part of the whole body4just as you are a vital part of the whole. I united with you and you are united with me because we both belong to Jesus.

The body operates with cleansing blood. When any member of the body aches, I feel the pain.  At any given time, a portion of the body hurts and so do other members. Through Jesus the body is always in the process of healing.

The big toe and little pinkie are united by the Holy Spirit. When one pumps Jesus-blood it flows from a healthy member toward another member. Together we are a work of art. Together we grow in wisdom and understanding. Together we grow toward immortality.

body14The headline for all to read is that the secret body functions as one unit because Jesus is the head. Whatever function I may have I am not the head. Only the Christ functions in that role.

The head too is part of the body. My role is to seek to know what the head is thinking and march in unity with those thoughts.

Fortunately, the Gospels show me his thought process.

I want to tune in as a body member.  The head thinks forgiveness. The head generates love. The head serves and wants me to follow in his steps.

The head values peace. As the big toe or little pinkie, I’m not to be jealous because your body17function is the smile or the beautiful eyes. We are both holy because Christ leads.

The former body of Jesus was broken for me. With him as my head and my example, I am willingly broken for others. With him as the head we are to function out of a spirit of thanksgiving.

And just think, His invitation remains open to join His secret body.

Yep, I have to believe it is a shear genius secret direct from the Holy.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on The Secret Body

Gary@GodReflection.org   www.GodReflection.org  www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com



I Believe What You Believe

GodReflection: God Shares His Secret on Unity

garyguarujaI would sometime joke when asked how to raise funds for a Non-Profit Organization: “It’s easy just begin by telling a prospective donor, ‘I believe what you believe.’” Obviously, a person of integrity would never make such an assumption nor believe such an outlandish declaration.

Because each human being is wired and gifted by the Creator as a one-of-a- kind creation and is formed differently through years of unique experiences no two people believe exactly alike.

unity3So how is it possible to live in unity with another person who cannot mirror my belief system—much less attempt unity with millions of individuals who claim to follow a man called Jesus? Especially, when each one differs in the details of the life and worship of a Christ follower.

In Jesus’ last garden prayer, he prayed for the unity of all believers:

Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one . . . I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:11&23)

In one sense his prayer was answered, in another sense it was not.

unity17His church stands unified in belief of Creator God. We share unity in our affirmation that Jesus is the Christ.

The church is in agreement that Jesus is the only means of salvation and we his disciples are his ambassadors to all the earth.

The church is united on belief in the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus and the hope found only in him.

Should I take the time and the space to do so, I’m sure I could compile a rather long list to demonstrate the unity and “oneness” we now experience as a fulfillment of Jesus’ John chapter seventeen prayer.

unity26However, we sin when we divide his body into rival church tribes, apply the war paint and throw spears and Satanic missiles at other Christ followers.

When I catch myself in this posture I stand as a roadblock to Jesus’ prayer.

It concerns me when I find myself as a participant in disunity through my own likes, dislikes and prejudices. I am ashamed when I promote a lack of Christ-like behavior by a commitment to my own unbiblical opinions.

unity22I would like to think I am making progress in being less of a disharmonizing person.

It continues to be an enigma to me how on the one hand I know we are all wired differently and think differently and then on the other hand expect others to embrace my opinions as their own.

Could it be that one purpose God has for our walk on earth is to help us gain wisdom in failures; and gain joy in our successes when we see Jesus’ garden prayer being fulfilled in small ways?

Could it be that a primary purpose of my walk on earth is to learn how to, make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3) so that I can look forward to my next life when unity is the natural Holy-state of all eternity?

unity8I have a current role within God’s revealed secret of His desire for unity. I am to LEARN and to LEAN on His Spirit to be a man of peace.

In my struggle to do so, I am to share with my fellow travelers the secret of peace and unity found in Jesus. A secret learned and expressed through compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

And, all of that because He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and unity16blameless in his sight . . . God did what He had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan He had already decided to complete by means of Christ.

This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head (Ephesians 1).

And, Jesus’ garden prayer will be answered in full.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on The Secret of Unity

Gary@GodReflection.org     www.GodReflection.org