Sunday, 8 January 2012

Exuberance and Extravagance

Sometimes we get the idea that our devotional life needs to be quiet. The still small voice. Candles. Hushed voices. Songs sung unaccompanied, in unison during worship. And that’s all true, but our experience of God can also be exuberant and our giving of ourselves to Him extravagant:
·         God is our model. He is exuberant in all He does:
  • In creation (Gen 1). Gen 1:20-22  
  • In mercy and grace Exo 20:6 showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. Exo 34:5-7  5 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD.  6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin…"
  • In his relationship with His people – His covenant with us, His faithful love.
Also God gave himself extravantly in Christ for us Gal 1:3; 2:20; Eph 5:25-26. (See also 1Ti 2:6,14; Philippians 2 ‘Who being in very nature God…’).
·         We are extravagant in our giving and exuberant in our worship because that is how we have been made. If we weren’t those things in worship we would be in something else that matters to us (cycling, golf, football…)
o    A mission worker, single lady, was retiring to the UK after many years of service in the Bhutan. It became known that she didn’t know where she would live, but someone in the church gave her a house. A whole house to live in!
o   Gifts needn’t be large – they can still be extravagant and life-changing. John Bechtel, a missionary in Hong Kong, wanted to start a Christian camp to reach people for Christ. A bankrupt multimillion-dollar hotel and conference center became available for sale. He made an offer to purchase the property and then traveled around the world to raise the millions he would need. But no one was willing to help and he returned to Hong Kong discouraged. Then one day he got a letter from a young girl that included $1 and a note saying she wanted him to use this to buy the camp. John Bechtel prayed and took the girl’s $1 to the real estate closing and the corporation decided to accept the $1 as full payment! Since the camp first opened, over a million people have come and over 100,000 have accepted Christ.
o   Here's an example of some football supporters showing some exuberance!
·         Prayer and worship are spiritual warfare – hence the ‘battle-cry’ (Teru`a) in Psalms:
6 Then I will hold my head high
above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the LORD with music.
3 Sing a new song of praise to him;
play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.
5 God has ascended with a mighty shout.
The LORD has ascended with trumpets blaring.
15 Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship,
for they will walk in the light of your presence, LORD.
5 Praise him with a clash of cymbals;
praise him with loud clanging cymbals.
o    PSA 27:6; 33:3 ;47:6; 89:16; 150:5 respectively (Hebrew verse no.s) all from NLT. Amazing that each is translated differently because of the different contexts.
o   Psa 41:12; 47:2; 60:10; 65:14; 66:1; 81:2; 95:1f; 98:4, 6; 100:1; 108:10 have the word rawa` which is a shout with joy or triumph. Likewise rina and ranan.
o   So lots of words for loud shouting, and I think these need to be taken into account when we lead worship, however unpopular it may be with some folk who aren’t used to it.
Conclusion: let’s be extravagant in all we do in service of God. Worship should be loud. Joyful. Giving (time and money) extravagant. Our times with God should be as envigorating as a 5-mile run. You should feel pumped afterwards. If you don’t, maybe it’s time to up your game!

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