KEY THOT: When we spend time in God’s presence, His glory rubs off on us and people will notice it. Moses’ face was shining when he came down from Mount Sinai after spending 40 days and nights “talking with God.” He came down with the two tablets of the testimony (Ten Commandements) in his hand, suggesting spending time in God’s presence involves two things: prayer (talking with God”) and also listening (receiving God’s testimony for us). Both activities need to be Spirit-inspired, for without the Spirit, there will be no manifestation of God’s glory: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18). There is a third activity that is implied in the expression “beholding the glory of the Lord”—and that is worship.
Worship is not just singing songs. Worship is not community singing to prepare us for the Word. Worship is an act of beholding the glory of God: it is an upwards offering of our sacrifice of praise to God himself. In prayer, we don’t just petition God—we also praise Him because of his awesome glory. In fact, it is impossible to worship without the manifestation of God’s glory. Worship is a response of our hearts to the manifestation of the glory of God.
And the benefit of worship is the transformation of our countenance--from depression to joy, from anxiety to peace, from malice to love. The best place to learn to worship God is in the CG meeting because worship needs the intimacy of a close fellowship to express our adoration to God. Worship is not singing “set pieces”, but is an overflowing response of the human hearts to God's manifested glory in our midst. This overflowing of worship is often expressed in “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).
Psalms are scripture-based praise or songs (using the words of the psalmists); hymns are inspired human compositions that are spoken and sung (not referring only to European classical hymns but also include indigenous and contemporary praise and worship songs); spiritual songs are literally “songs of the spirit”, referring to spontaneous Spirit-inspired singing, usually in a tongue. The apostle Paul makes reference to this spiritual singing in his letter to the Corinthians: “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also” (1 Cor 14:14-15). Clearly, when Paul mentions singing with his spirit, he is equating that with singing in tongue, just as praying in the spirit is praying in tongue. While this "spiritual songs" may be unfamiliar for those without the gift of tongue, it is nevertheless something that is practised in the NT church. Singing in tongues is a direct activity of the Spirit through the intuitive spirit rather than through the rational mind.
Our private devotional life of beholding God’s glory through receiving His word and responding in prayer and praise of worship will be revealed and reflected through our public faces as the countenance of "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17). Our public face reflects and reveals the depth of our private devotional life.
Father, draw us close to You so that You may also draw near to us. Show us Your glory that we may behold Your face and be transformed in our countenance. Through Christ our Lord, amen.