Ushered Into The Holy Place

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By , May 27, 2013 2:31 pm

I am delighted to welcome Jean Costner Thomason as our guest writer for this week’s post. Once you read her amazing insights into the essence of worship, you’ll want to mark your calendar to attend our study this June, “Drawing Near to the Heart of God.” Jean will teach at our kickoff on June 3rd at 7 p.m.




“This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalm 118:24

There – that is a verse I have known as long as I can remember (thanks mom)… I quote it, I sing it, I use it to correct my children, I speak it over negative or frustrating circumstances, and I mean it…most of the time.  Amazing how I can forget the POWER of that verse – especially those 2 words, “I WILL.”  I WILL – meaning, I choose, I DO…it’s a verb; something we DO. And that, for me, is the beginning of understanding PRAISE TO GOD…which leads us into WORSHIP.
My life changed when I was in college and was impressed by the Word of God. “Impressed” is a good word…”pressed in,” like a cutter into dough. The verse the Holy Spirit impressed was this,
“He has put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.” Ps 40:3
Well I was singing all kinds of songs as a voice major, and when I pondered what a “song of praise” might be, I was stumped. At that time the only “praise” song I knew was the Doxology I had sung every Sunday of my life. By the way, it is a good praise song,
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
So I began a journey, all those years ago, into what God says is PRAISE. Today, we hear the words “praise” and “worship” lumped together all the time – but biblically, they are different.  The essential difference is this:
Praise is something we DO… a verb we WILL ourselves to do.
Worship is the “whole of life” given to God.
The word “worship” comes from an Anglo-Saxon word, “worthship” and actually means “to come near to kiss.” While “praise’ is an offering (Heb 13:15), “worship” can be an attitude, a place. Praise is an action and/or posture which leads us into “worship.” When I made the observation of these differences, it helped my understanding of what pleases the Father, and how that can change our very lives!
God gives us a “diet” of praise, that is, he gives us a choice, and these are a few of the specific types of actions we can do that please the Lord, and when we do these, WE reap benefits! I like to start with my favorite word, HALLELUJAH.  Now, if you have lived a few years in the Christian community, or just in the South, you know we throw this word around casually.  But God gave this word as a command… an imperative!  When you read your Bible and it says, “Praise the Lord!”, that is “HALLAL” in Hebrew. It is a command, something we are to obey. And it is a holy privilege!  Here is the meaning:
HALLAL = boast, rave, laud, celebrate, leap, dance, twirl, to be full of joy, clamorously foolish, with reckless abandon!

Well – THAT should shake up the “frozen chosen” 🙂 Apparently God loves our celebration of HIM! YAY!  AND, that is not all…He also encourages lifting hands, throwing out the arms in surrender, kneeling, bowing, shouting, playing stringed instruments, drums and cymbals, and (best of all I think) SINGING!  So, God tells us what He likes, and we then WILL ourselves to DO the action.
Here is the best definition I know of Biblical PRAISE from Bruce Leafblad:
“Praise is celebrative worship in which believers magnify and exalt the Lord, through expressive acts; enthusiastically proclaiming the unrivaled excellence of His name, His actions, and His character, in a spirit of UNINHIBITED REJOICING!”
So, we know WHAT it is, now we decide to DO IT. I love that King David talked to himself … he said, “Bless the Lord, o my soul, and all that is in me, bless His holy name” (Ps 103:1).  And, “I WILL bless the Lord at all times, His praise WILL continually be in my mouth, my soul WILL make its boast in the Lord….” (Ps 34:1). David is willing himself to give praise to God.  Further, the Psalmist says this, “O THAT MEN WOULD PRAISE THE LORD.”  He knew the privilege, pleasure and power of praise.  (ahhh alliteration)
Ps 100:4 tells us to “Enter His gates with Thanksgiving, and into His courts with PRAISE.” If you know anything about the construction of the temple, you will understand the “geography” of walking into the outer courts where the sacrifice and washing took place… THANKING GOD for the blood of Jesus washing and atoning for our sins. But, don’t stop there! Keep “walking” – into His courts! With PRAISE. THE VERY PRESENCE OF GOD is in the courts – PRAISE HIM…smell the incense, eat the ‘bread of life’, be filled with His light.  AND BE USHERED INTO THE HOLY PLACE – the veil is torn for us – come in to worship. Come near to ‘kiss.’
And THEN we begin to have intimacy… “knowing” HIM by being with HIM, in His presence…. and THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING.
Jean Costner Thomason

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