Psalm 134 – The True Worship – Part 2

For some of us Sunday morning is the most special time of the week. We go to church, we have fellowship with our brothers and sisters, and we worship God. We sing songs and hymns, we pray, and we listen to the Word of God preached and explained.

For a growing part of the population this is a foreign feeling. Sunday is just a day to rest and watch a game. They stay home, eating, watching TV, and relaxing, in other words, getting ready for Monday.

The people that sang this Psalm (134), had other priorities. They would journey miles and miles, sometimes many days, to go to Jerusalem to worship God. In this Psalm we learn important lessons about the True Worship. The first one is THE DEFINITION OF TRUE WORSHIP.

That is the first thing that we need to do. If we are going to worship God, we need to define true worship. By that I mean to understand the elements of true worship.

In verse one we have this: “[1] Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord.” We learn five elements of true worship. Let us take a look at them.

            A – The Action – Praise  The first thing that we need to define in worship is our action. In worship we praise God. We recognize who God is and we thank Him for being and doing so many things for us. We speak of His excellence.

            B – The Direction – To the Lord – The second thing that we need to define is the direction of our worship; we worship God, the Lord. He is the one who brings us together and deserves our praise. God should be the main reason for us to come to church.

            C – The Agents – All the Servants – We also need to define who is supposed to worship, the agents of the worship. The psalmist says that they are the servants, all the servants. We all are servants of the Lord; therefore, we all should be participants on His worshiping. He is the Lord, we are His servants.

            D – The Place – In the House of the Lord – After that we need to define where we should worship the Lord. The psalmist says that we should do that in the house of the Lord. In the Old Testament that was the Temple; in the New Testament it is wherever the church (the people of God) meets.

            E – The Time – All the Time – Finally, we come to the definition of time. The psalmist says that the people should be available to worship God any time, even during the night. Sometimes they would arrive at the Temple at night, the ministers would be there to welcome them and praise God with them. 

My friend, it is important for us to understand that we should worship God alone and with our brothers and sisters. We are servants and He is the Lord and the King. If you cannot, by any good reason meet with the body of Christ that you are connected with, you should praise, worship, and study the Scriptures anyway. The Worship is an expression of our heart. We were created to worship God.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Psalm 134 – The True Worship – Part 1

My church in Brazil was one of the first ones in our city, which is the third largest city in the country, to put a drum set in the sanctuary. What seemed to be something simple became a nightmare. We had problems with other churches and with the Presbytery (The Presbyterian Regional Governing Body). It was a sad time, and I almost was disciplined by the Presbytery.

I wrote a book about that whole ordeal, but I have not translated it into English. It is called, A Doutrina da Gravata (The Doctrine of the Tie). One of these days I will put it in English.

What is the proper way to worship? Do you have any preference? The Christian community has been invaded by loud sound, a variety of instruments, light, dance, etc., and some of the members really do not know how to respond or react to that.

Today the biggest dispute in the church is still the WORSHIP STYLE, Contemporary, Traditional, or something in the middle, what is called Blended. Churches have split over this discussion. Some people do not like one style or the other, and they fight to prove that their way of worship is the right one and the best one.

We think that this discussion is new, but it is not. This discussion has been present for a long time. That was the same discussion that the Samaritan woman raised with Jesus at the Jacob’s well in Sychar. Here is part of the story: “John 4:20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 

John 4:21 Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. John 4:22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. John 4:23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”

I understand that some of us feel uncomfortable with different kinds of service and worship, because we are not used to it. What is important for us to understand is that the form can be different but the substance must be the same in any kind of service.

It does not matter how we worship, it is the content that makes a difference. The music can be more upbeat in one than in the other. The instruments are different. But we must have the same worship in both of them.

Psalm 134 is the last Psalm of Ascents. It closes the series with worship. It could not be different. Worship is the most important thing in Christian life. It is the most sublime thing that a Christian can do.

This is why we have this psalm closing the songs of ascents. When the people arrived in Jerusalem, they would go to the Temple to worship God. The whole journey was to Worship. They faced adversities, travelled long hours, just to worship God.

This psalm will help us to understand important lessons about the true worship. And it does not have anything to do with style, instruments, day, time, etc. It has to do with our hearts.

My friend, do not forget that when you gather together with your brothers and sisters, the most important thing is to Worship God. That is the main thing. The other parts are details, and personal preferences.

Worship God, and God alone!

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Psalm 133 – The True Christian Fellowship – Part 3

Do you have a Facebook account? How many friends do you have there? How many are really your friends? Facebook has around 2.3 billion monthly active users around the world. More than 1.5 billion people on average log onto Facebook daily. Now, this next number you will find interesting, there are 83 million fake profiles, and you probably are a friend of some of them.

Facebook is not only revolutionizing how we connect with people, but it is also making us to think about friendship and fellowship. Among my friends on Facebook, I have people that I never met; I have people that I would like to meet one day; I have people that I knew a long time ago; I have family; and I have very good friends that, thanks to Facebook, I can keep in touch. Facebook can be a wonderful tool, but also can be a terrible weapon.

Psalm 133 helps us to evaluate our friendships, the real ones. In this wonderful psalm we learn one more lesson about the True Christian Fellowship – IT IS FRUITFUL. That is the final aspect of the Christian Fellowship, it produces fruit. Our fellowship will produce results, will grow.

This is what David writes in the last verse: “[3] It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”

In this verse David compares this kind of fellowship with the dew that comes from the Hermon falling on Mount Zion. That dew would bring life, and fruit in the whole region.

When we have a real Christian fellowship, sharing our spiritual and physical/material experiences, the Lord will anoint us; when He does that we will grow and be fruitful.

This is what happened with the first church in Jerusalem. In Acts 2:42-47, we have this beautiful description of the life of the first disciples: [42] They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. [43] Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. [44] All the believers were together and had everything in common. [45] Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. [46] Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, [47] praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” As you can see the Lord bestowed his blessings, and people were able to see that kind of life and had the desire to be part of that.

My friend, this is what happens when we have the true Christian Fellowship. We share our lives, all aspects, material and spiritual, with our brothers and sisters; we are anointed by God in a way that would refresh our lives and make us smell good; and we finally, will be able to be fruitful in our Christian lives, we will grow and produce fruits for His kingdom. All of this starts with fellowship.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Psalm 133 – The True Christian Fellowship – Part 2

Have you ever entered in a church and was welcomed by a stench? A smell so bad and strong that your first thought was to turn around and run for the parking lot? Maybe you had that experience in a different level. You enter the church and you sensed that something was wrong, because you were new you could not put your finger on it, but you knew that something was out of place.

It is common for people in the church to think that visitors will not notice that there is division, animosity, and bad feelings among the membership. They are wrong, people, even the first-time visitors, can observe when something is going on.

In Psalm 133, David is sharing with us about the True Christian Fellowship, and in verse 2 he tells us that IT IS ANNOINTED BY THE LORD.

That is the second lesson that we learn from this psalm, the fellowship that God wants from us is anointed by the Lord Himself. This is what David wrote: “[2] It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes.” 

He compares this fellowship with the anointing oil from the Lord. Here is the text describing that special oil: “Ex. 30:22-25 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Collect choice spices—1212 pounds of pure myrrh, 614 pounds of fragrant cinnamon, 614 pounds of fragrant calamus, and 1212 pounds of cassia—as measured by the weight of the sanctuary shekel. Also get one gallon of olive oil. Like a skilled incense maker, blend these ingredients to make a holy anointing oil.” (NLT).

He also commanded Moses to anoint Aaron and his sons: “Ex. 30:30 Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests.” The anointing was done by pouring this special oil on the head of the person, in this case Aaron, the priest and his sons.

When we share our spiritual lives and our physical and material things; the Lord will anoint our fellowship. That oil was refreshing, because of all the substances that were part of it.

That oil, also, would produce a wonderful smell. People would know that that person was anointed with that special oil.

That oil also was a mark of the presence of the Holy Spirit. When we walk together, share together our lives and spiritual experiences; the Lord will anoint us with the presence of His Spirit. People would know that those people are different, separated by the Holy Spirit for the ministry and service. Our Reformed Tradition confesses the priesthood of all believers. We are all part of the ministry, we all have something to do in His Kingdom.

That anointing would bring a refreshing sense and smell so good that people would know that the friendship and fellowship was produced by God Himself.

My friend, you should know that it is possible to experience this kind of fellowship right here and right now.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Psalm 133 – The True Christian Fellowship – Part 1

Please, ponder these questions:

  1. What are the activities that you do with your friends?
  2. How often you do them?
  3. Are your friends of the same age?
  4. How many people from the church are part of your inner-friends circle?
  5. Do you share your spiritual life with them?

These are simple questions that help us to check the level of our Christian fellowship. In an era when relationships are built up through the internet and phone messages, it is crucial for us to evaluate our friendships and fellowships.

Psalm 133 is one of the shortest psalms in the Scriptures, but it is also one of the most beloved. The lessons that we learn from this short poem are among the biggest ones.

People who were traveling long distances to Jerusalem for the Festivals would form a bond. They had to trust in each other; they had to help each other; they had to learn from each other. That experience would bring them together for life. That bond was so strong that we could compare it with the bond that people have in the army, or in a long mission trip.

In this kind of trip, you share not only things, but also your life; and that would take the fellowship to another level. 

The psalmist here teaches us important lessons about fellowship. Let us see how that works.

The first lesson that we learn is that the True Christian Fellowship IS A HOLISTIC EXPERIENCE. That is the first thing that we learn here in this psalm. It is more than just a superficial connection. It involves a spiritual and physical experience.

In that kind of trip, you have to share things with each other, but also you would share your spiritual life. Because they were going to Jerusalem for the Festivals, the topic of the festivals certainly would come up, the meaning of the trip, the expectations, etc.

David states: “[1] How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” He uses two words to express the spiritual aspect of that fellowship, the first one is “good” and the second one is “pleasant”.

The fellowship in our Christian community should be good and pleasant. We, as Christians should feel good to have these brothers and sisters around us. We also should feel pleasure to have this kind of fellowship with each other. That kind of fellowship does not appear out of nowhere, it is made, constructed.

Besides the spiritual aspect we have the physical aspect. The psalmist gives us two ideas about this, the first is “to live together” and the second one is “in unity”.

We need these two things to have this kind of fellowship. Only living together will not do it; we need to live in unity. They were together, walking in the same direction, to worship and serve God. That is the aspect that we need in our lives.

My friend, we all need this kind of fellowship. The church was supposed to be a place where this fellowship would be facilitated and implemented. We cannot take the Christian journey alone. We need brothers and sisters that will go with us, no matter how difficult the journey. 

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Psalm 132 – The True Church – Part 4

Jesus said that He would build His church, Paul wrote that the church is the body of Christ. We are the body, He is the head. As you can see, the church is a combination of Christ and His people. There is no church without redeemed people, and there is no church without the Redeemer.

Psalm 132 helps us to understand that the church needs the participation of people and God. In the last verses we will find more actions from GOD’S PARTICIPATION.

            E – God Strengthens His People – God is not only going to save you, He also will strengthen you and your faith, so you can walk with Him and in His ways. We cannot save ourselves and we cannot live the Christian life by ourselves. God promises to empower us to live the life that He expects from us. In the first part of verse 17 we read this: [17] “Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for my anointed one.”

            F – God Brings Light to His People – God will also bring light to your life. He will guide you during the dark seasons of your life. He will help you to understand His Word so you can obey Him fully. In the rest of verse 17 we have this: “[17] “Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for my anointed one.”

            G – God Gives Victory to His People – Finally, God will give victory to the true church. If we want to be the true church, we will have many battles in our lives; but God promises that He will be with us during those times and He will give us victories. In verse 18 the psalmist has this to say: 

“[18] I will clothe his enemies with shame, but the crown on his head will be resplendent.”

As you can see the TRUE CHURCH is an amalgamation of God and His People. You cannot have a real church without both of them. We also learned that we, as His people, have some attitudes we must demonstrate to be a true church and God has His participation in it too. We must do our part, knowing that God will do His part and also will help us to do ours.

In these two verses we learn an extremely important lesson for present day: [11] The Lord swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke “One of your own descendants I will place on your throne–[12] if your sons keep my covenant and the statutes I teach them, then their sons will sit on your throne for ever and ever.” In the first verses of this psalm we learn that David committed himself to build God’s house. In these two verses that we mentioned above, God is committing to David to build his house and to extend his kingdom. 

We learn that every time that we commit ourselves to build God’s house, He commits Himself to build ours. This should give us the desire to make our local church a TRUE CHURCH.

It can be done!

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Psalm 132 – The True Church – Part 3

Why is it so hard for us to grasp that the church is more than a building or an organization? Christianity in the west has this mindset that a building defines a church. A church, the real church is formed by people and God. The church is the encounter of redeemed people with their God. 

In Psalm 132 the psalmist shares with us, among other things, amazing lessons about the true church. In our last message I wrote about the participation of people. Today we will learn about GOD’S PARTICIPATION – verses 11-18

The other person that makes a church to be the true church is God. God has to be involved in the life of the church, if not she will be only a social service or a social club. Let us see what we can learn about God’s participation in the life of the church.

A – God Chooses His People – In this second aspect of the true church we learn that God is the one who chooses her members. You are not a member of the church because you like the church and feel comfortable there. You are a member of the true church because God decided that you should be part of her. The decision is His not ours. Verse 13 says this: [13] For the Lord has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling:”

B – Jesus Is the King of His People – The next aspect of God’s participation in the life of the church is that Jesus is the King, the boss, and the owner. It is very important for us to understand that. The church is not a true church unless Jesus is the Head of the church and her King. The psalmist makes that clear in verse 14: [14] “This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it—”

C – God Blesses His People There – The next participation of God in the life of the true church is the blessings that He dispenses to His people. A true church is a church blessed by God. In verse 15 we have this: [15] I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor will I satisfy with food. Yes, God will give her abundant provisions and feed the ones who do not have the ability to feed themselves.

D – God Saves His People – The next involvement of God is the salvation of His people. We cannot be a member of the church if we are not saved. We can have our names in a particular church, but the true church has only room for redeemed people. In verse 16 we read this: [16] I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints will ever sing for joy.” Salvation and its first fruit, gratitude are marks of the true church.

This is not everything that God does in the life of the church. Next week we will see more aspects of His participation in the life of His people.

My friend, are you able to identify the presence and participation of God in your church? Is He part of your life? Are you involved in the life of your church? 

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Psalm 132 – The True Church – Part 2

We are more and more witnessing the individualization of our culture. We are isolating ourselves from people and we think that social media will substitute personal interaction. Believe it or not, this attitude is already present in the churches today. People think that they can attend church by sitting in front of a computer or a cell phone. No, we cannot. Church is more than that.

There are two ways to look at the church, from the top down or from the bottom up. In Psalm 132 the psalmist starts by the latter. He will look at the church from the perspective ofTHE HUMAN PARTICIPATION. From verses 1 to 10, the psalmist describes to us the first participants in this special body that is the church, the people. In these verses he gives us some important aspects of that participation. Let us see what they are.

            A – Firmed Commitment – The first participation from us is a strong commitment with God. The psalmist says that he will make an oath and a vow. This is what we do in our baptism and profession of faith. For each one of us to be part of the church we made a commitment. The challenge is that most of us forget or neglect that commitment. Here is what the psalmist wrote: [1] O Lord, remember David and all the hardships he endured. [2] He swore an oath to the Lord and made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob:” 

            B – Incessant Seeking – The second thing that we have to do is to seek God incessantly. The Christian life cannot be done and lived only on the weekends. We are the church every day of our lives. Being the church is a fulltime endeavor. The psalmist said: [3] “I will not enter my house or go to my bed– [4] I will allow no sleep to my eyes, no slumber to my eyelids, [5] till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

            C – Humble Adoration – The third attitude is a humble adoration. We do this when we recognize who God is and adore Him. This is the internal attitude, it comes straight from our heart. The psalmist said: [6] We heard it in Ephrathah, we came upon it in the fields of Jaar: [7] “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool–[8] arise, O Lord, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might.”

            D – Righteous and Anointed Leadership – The next aspect of the church is a righteous leadership. Church is the most important business of our life. Because of that we must have the best leadership possible to conduct the life of the church. The psalmist is clear on this: [9] May your priests be clothed with righteousness; may your saints sing for joy. [10] For the sake of David your servant, do not reject your anointed one.”

            E – Joyful Worship – Finally we express our adoration through a joyful worship. When we sing, WE SING; when we pray, WE PRAY; when we confess, WE CONFESS; we express our happiness with everything that we have. “[9] May your priests be clothed with righteousness; may your saints sing for joy.”

My friend, I hope you are a member of the church, and if you are, I hope these characteristics are part of your involvement in the life of your church.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment