Week 26 (June)
To Phineas F. Bresee, one primary objective of a church service was "getting the glory down." In saying that, he didn't mean just working up a frenzied emotional atmosphere with a significant volume of "amens." Rather Dr. Bresee, who was one of the principal founders of the Church of the Nazarene, meant that every service should be characterized by a conscious sensing of God's gracious presence. [ vmore on P.F. Bresee ]
Psalm 103 is the song of someone who "got the glory down." It's the song of a believer with a full heart; it is of someone who has experienced the incomprehensible dimensions of God's love.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name (Psalm 103:1).
Those words, of course, can only spring from a heart that senses that God is indeed with His people. One of the noblest hymns in the Old Testament, Psalm 103 does not sound one jarring note. It is a hymn of pure praise.
I enjoy meetings and large Nazarene gatherings where "getting the glory down" is a wonderful celebration of God's presence. This spirit of Psalm 103 has been characteristic of the Nazarene movement down through the years. I hope we never lose it.
We do, naturally face certain tensions that tempt us to quench the Spirit. A shallow emotionalism that seems to be prevalent has caused us to be wary at times. The devil never ceases to tempt us to tone down things in the name of propriety, decency, and good taste. Our own natural preoccupation with the mechanics of programming and of organization has sometimes left us little time to really enjoy and praise the Lord.
When Satan succeeds with these tactics of distraction, it is unfortunate. It means we have not remembered "all His benefits," as the Psalmist reminds us to.
When I originally wrote this column, a 14-member Work & Witness team for Northeast Oklahoma was at tht moment helping us finish the Moncalieri church building in Northern Italy.
As part of the morning worship service on Sunday in the new building, Rev. Robert Leffel and I read Psalm 103 alternately in English and Italian. What a great moment it was as believers born in nations thousands of miles apart witnessed that the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him (v. 17). [ Missionary stories from Italy ]
This remembrance of the loyal love of God and His forgiving power brought tears to the eyes of Italian and American alike as all heard those words in their native language.
Our challenge is to keep the spirit of Psalm 103. No fear will cause us to hesitate in our praise to the Lord.
Let's "keep the glory down" this year. Bless the Lord, O my soul.
Imagine what a transformation there would be if every member of your local church could recapture in his life the spirit of Psalm 103. What a transformation there would be in our entire denomination if every local church would recapture the spirit of Psalm 103. Our dropout rate would plunge toward zero. Our growth rate would skyrocket.
Such a transformation would, of course, have to start with you and with me. Bless the Lord . . .
I wrote these devotional thoughts while we were serving as missionaries in Italy. They originally appeared in the June 29, 1980 edition of Standard, a take- home piece for adult Sunday school classes.
Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma City, OK 73132
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