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Arms Wide Open
by Steve Countryman
10/05/2011 / Christian Living
Why do the Christians on TV have their hands raised? ? Why do they raise their hands? Why don't all churches worship this way? Most Christians lean on their background as children and the church that they were raised in. If the parent's church did it then it is not strange to them. But if they attended church that didn't raise hands then it would seem odd. First consider what it represents. Psalm 141:2 May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. Psalm 63:4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. Psalm 134:2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD. Psalm 28:2 Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place. As you can see this was a common worship practice in the Bible. The lifting up of hands is like lifting up an offering of praise. It represents a position of total surrender. It is also the gesture that a child makes when it wants to be held. Arms wide open, hands lifted up in praise to your heavenly Father. It is also the posture for receiving as if you were being handed down something big from the side of a tall heavenly truck of blessings. Because of God's love God's arms are always wide open and He never turns away from you. Only you can turn away from God.
Psalm 66:1-3 1 Shout with joy to God, all the earth! 2 Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious! 3 Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. Psalm 47:1 Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. There are dozens of other verses and examples of worshipping God that the Bible speaks of. Does this mean that we all should do the same identical thing? No, for the Bible states that you are to make a joyful noise unto the Lord.
Your posture of praise is what you feel comfortable doing. That is a good start. If you are attending a church where this type of worship occurs then it will come easier. If not there is nothing stopping you from worshipping your God like you want at home in your prayer closet! Not everyone starts out the same. But if your church worships this way and you are concerned with what you look like praising God or you are worried what others might think then you are not in church to worship your God. If your pride and vanity gets in the way then crucify them and offer them up to God as part of your praise and worship to Him. Worship is an intimate and personal interaction between you and God. Try it with your eyes closed with your total focus on God while singing praises to your heavenly Father. You cannot "enter into praise" with your mind and or eyes elsewhere. It takes a concentrated effort on your part to praise and worship God. I have had problems from time to time with wondering thoughts during worship. I have to stop and pray about it before continuing. God expects your praises to be done in spirit and in truth, pleasing and acceptable to Him. I have even had other "Christians" during the middle of worship service come up to me and want to talk about something outside of church. This while I was in the middle of worshiping my God with hands raised. Stunned would be the politest way to express my reaction.
Just going to church for some is more of a routine then an encounter with the Living God. Getting stuck in that rut will not cause you to grow in the Lord or grow closer to Him. Three songs, a sermon and then lunch is all that most people expect to get out of their hour or two of invested time on Sunday mornings. Why bother? You only get out what you put in and what you expect to get. Is it a weekly duty for them to perform? Is it meant to ease their guilt for the past weeks' sins? Or is it like doing "community service" for God? Do you serve a routine god or do you serve a God who created you in His image full of emotions and passions? Why is it that most people have no problem going crazy, jumping up and down, shouting at the top of their lungs when their team scores a goal, touchdown, homerun or runs a great play but sit in church pews like lifeless mannequins during praise and worship time? God gives you reasons to praise and worship Him!
If you read the book of Psalms you will notice how David worshipped God. You could say that David got as excited about worshipping God as any sports enthusiast. David danced before the Lord for thirty miles as he brought the Ark of the Covenant back to Israel. There is a level of peace, joy and contentment not found anywhere else other than in praise to your heavenly Father. The Bible states that God inhabits the praises of His people. If you were God, would you want to inhabit the praises of a person going through the routine of church or would you rather spend the time with someone who really wants to be with you? Why miss out on the blessings that God has for you in praise and worship of Him. Who do you know is more worthy and deserving of all of your praises than God? Certainly not a sports star who can barely stay out of jail or out of rehab!
God will never leave you nor forsake you. God loves you unconditionally just as you are but loves you too much to leave you just as you are. God never turns away from you or gets mad at you. God always has His arms wide open for you to run to as He embraces you in His powerful and awesome love. Expecting and anticipating a real encounter with the Living God who always has His arms wide open for you. Are you ready?!?
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