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Coop's Column - A Heart-Stoppingly Grand Invitation

In his Word God declares that it is he, the Almighty Maker of heaven and earth, who welcomes his creatures into his presence and invites them to worship him.

Many folks nowadays suppose they're doing God quite a favor by paying him some attention every now and then. When they show up for worship on Sunday morning and, for good measure, toss a dollar or two into the offering plate, they rather expect that God, marionette-like, ought to come through with his smiling approval and hearty applause. After all, it is they, so they think, who have taken the first steps to initiate the rendezvous. It is they who have graciously carved out time for him and invited him into their presence for an hour of human-Divine encounter.

But the Bible declares otherwise. In his Word God declares that it is he, the Almighty Maker of heaven and earth, who welcomes his creatures into his presence and invites them to worship him. Given who God is and who humans are by comparison, the invitation he extends is heart-stoppingly grand.

Imagine that your morning's mail contained an elegant envelope with the return address "The White House." You opened it—very carefully—and discovered an invitation:

President Barack Obama
is pleased to invite you to be one of his conversation guests

on

September 1, 2010, at 2:30 p.m. in the Oval Office.
A formal dinner will follow in the White House Dining Room.

How would receiving such an auspicious invitation make you feel? If you're like me, you'd be delirious with excitement. Everything routine would become utterly unimportant. And when—at long last—you made your way to the White House and military sentries escorted you through its labyrinth of corridors and into the presence of the President of the United States of America, your tongue would be three inches thick and your knees would be like water.

Such an imaginary meeting is but a faint—extremely faint—shadow of what actually happens in church on Sunday morning. There the Sovereign Lord deigns to welcome his people and bids them bring their worship.

How can human beings ever enter God's presence except "By Invitation Only"? And how can they properly tune their hearts to sing his praise, except that they first have heard his eager, beckoning welcome: "Enter his gates with thanksgiving"? Then—only then—can worthy and right worship be offered to him.

Which is why I, for one, appreciate a worship service that begins with more than a polite "Good morning" from the lips of the worship leader. How good to hear her say to me, speaking on God's behalf: "O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker, for he is our God." Such words put me in my place again. They remind me that though I'm small and undeserving, my Maker and Redeemer really wants me there.

O, the immense favor God shows us by showing up for church before we do.

And by welcoming us when we arrive to worship him together.

Prayer

This is the day the Lord hath made; He calls the hours his own.
Let heav'n rejoice, let earth be glad, and praise surround the throne.
Hosanna in the highest strains the Church on earth can raise;
The highest heav'ns, in which He reigns, shall give him nobler praise.

Isaac Watts

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