Chariots of Fire

[No, this is not a blog post about the movie, but rather something even better. Yes, better than the movie, Chariots of Fire.]

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17 ESV)

I was leading a Bible study this morning and read this text for the ladies. And like every time I read this text, I got goose bumps. One minute the servant of Elisha was scared silly because they were surrounded by the enemy and the next minute he is looking at chariots of fire surrounding and protecting him and Elisha. God had opened the servant’s eyes, at Elisha’s request, and he saw the glory of God.

And I think the source of these goose bumps is the reminder that God is indeed for me through faith in Jesus. I’m not suggesting that I am going to be prosperous in everything I do. I am not suggesting that I am never going to experience suffering or hardship. What I am saying is that through faith in Jesus, THE enemy; Satan, has been defeated. And now, only through the eyes of faith, can I see His chariots of fire defending me.

And so whenever I read this account of Elisha, it’s as if he is praying that my eyes be opened as well. O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.

[Cue the goose bumps]

And you too, hear this prayer: O LORD, please open his/her eyes that he/she may see the glory of God through Jesus Christ.

Doesn’t that give you goose bumps? It does for me even if only one person is reading this.

Praise be to God!

The Pastor -|—

Awesome worship (explained)

O.K…time to share with you what happened at worship on Sunday.

I said that worship was awesome on Sunday.  Two things contributed to that:  (1) My wife and her team of singers lead worship with the guitars (with me playing as well…which I really enjoy); and (2) continue reading below…

…The Gospel text was from John 6:1-14 (The Feeding of the 5000).  This is one of my favorite miracle stories (next to the Resurrection of course).  I talked about the miracle as something that the people (the 5000 present) did not really get.  I mean…after they had eaten and realized what happened they thought Jesus was the prophet who had come into the world.  They probably likened him to Elisha who fed 100 in 2 Kings 4 (the OT text on Sunday).  In any case they wanted to take Jesus and make him king by force, but that is not what Jesus came to do.  They missed the point…they did not get who Jesus really was.

From that I moved to talking about Holy Communion…another great meal that we a lot of times miss.  We come forward for Holy Communion in a ritualistic kind of way and totally blow off the words that are being spoken.  I mean think about it…Holy Communion is about the death and resurrection of Jesus and the promise of the forgiveness of sins, but how many times do you REALLY really think about that when you receive the bread and the wine?  I urged the people on Sunday to think about this.

Then I went on to say:
When you come here to Salem on the 1st or 2nd Sunday of the month you expect to receive Holy Communion.  You know that Holy Communion happens towards the end of the worship service.  You know the liturgy and how to respond.  Well…I am going to throw you off guard today.  It may be the 4th Sunday of the month but we are going to celebrate Holy Communion right now.  I did not get permission from the altar guild, the worship/music committee, the deacons or the church council.  We are just going to do it.
I did not use the “normal” liturgy…actually I didn’t use any liturgy.  I went on to invite people to come forward whenever they felt ready to encounter a miracle.  I urged them to listen to the words “The Body of Christ broken FOR YOU…the Blood of Christ shed FOR YOU“.  I urged the people to listen to these words and hear the miracle…the forgiveness of your sins.  I invited them to pray before hand and confess if they would like and then come forward.  There was going to be nothing that was ritualistic about this celebration of Holy Communion.

Everyone came forward (except for one person) to partake in this miracle.  And after the worship I got so many comments from people who were very appreciative of what happened in worship (Praise be to God!).  I think people liked it because Holy Communion was not ritualistic.  Maybe some people were hearing for the first time the miracle of this sacrament…I don’t know…but what I do know is that is was powerful for me (and for my wife who was helping serve communion and obviously for a number of others).

Worship was awesome on Sunday.  And all I can say to summarize it is:  “PRAISE  BE TO GOD!”