The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “The people of Israel shall camp each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers’ houses. They shall camp facing the tent of meeting on every side.” (Numbers 2:1-2)
While they were encamped at Mount Sinai, God gave Israel this instruction to show them that worship was to be their ultimate priority. Everything about the arrangement of their camp in the wilderness was meant to be oriented around the tent of meeting, facing toward the place where His presence dwelled.
This means that each morning, when the typical Israelite family would walk out of the entrance of their tent, they would be greeted by the site of the tabernacle. This was to be their clear, daily reminder of what was most important: worshiping the One who had rescued them from Egypt and who had covenanted to be their God.
In the same way, worship ought to be our ultimate priority. We too must orient our lives around God’s presence, that we might live for His glory and praise; for He has called us to be “a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5).
So before we gather to worship God this Sunday, we need to honestly evaluate our hearts before Him. Do our daily lives revolve around His presence? Is worshiping Him our all-defining priority? Are we heeding the psalmist’s exhortation to “seek His presence continually” (Ps. 105:4)?
To figure that out, we must look at the way we live—our finances, calendar, talk, attitude, entertainment choices, relationships, etc. If we aren’t allowing it all to revolve around His presence—if we’re holding out on Him in some area of life—our church experience will be less likely to have its intended effect on us.
On the other hand, a church that actively hungers for God’s presence in all of life is highly attractive to Him. We certainly can’t “make” God show up powerfully in our worship gatherings. We cannot in any way conjure up His presence through our own efforts. Let’s not make that mistake, as some have. But at the same time, when we gather, let’s not fail to bank everything on God’s gracious promise: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (Jas. 4:8).
After all, God is not stingy with His presence. He delights to show Himself in our midst. But we must want Him there. We must desire Him above all else. In fact, that’s what He’s asking each of us right now as we consider how we might worship Him this Sunday: “Do you desire Me? Do you want Me more than anything else?”
Ultimately, we don’t answer that question with our words only, but with our whole lives. Therefore the songs we sing and the prayers we pray when we gather must be an actual reflection of our daily living. God saved us by the blood of Christ so that everything about us would revolve around His presence, just like the arrangement of Israel’s camp in the wilderness.
If we too will arrange our lives that way, we will not be disappointed. God’s manifest presence will exceed our expectations every time. His glory will simultaneously satisfy our hearts while leaving us longing for more. That’s somewhat paradoxical, I know. But it’s the truth.
It’s like Saint Augustine once prayed, “I want to enjoy You […] with a satisfaction I can’t get enough of.” Indeed, His presence is so satisfying that we can’t get enough of it. Are we living like we really believe that?
Set List for Sunday, November 05, 2017:
This Is Amazing Grace by Bethel Live (J. Farro, J. Riddle, P. Wickham)
Man Of Sorrows by Hillsong Worship (B. Ligertwood, M. Crocker)
O Come to The Altar by Elevation Worship (M. Brock, C. Brown, S. Furtick, W. Joye)
Jesus Is Better by Austin Stone Worship (A. Ivey, B. Land)
O Praise The Name by Hillsong Worship (B. Hastings, M. Sampson, D. Ussher)
You can also listen to a playlist of LifePoint’s current song rotation on Spotify.