Description / Transcription
It is a joy to sing and worship with you all, and now it is my great privilege to bring the Word of the Lord to you from 2 Chronicles. You’ll want to turn there, I think. 2 Chronicles, chapter 29, and we’ll be reading just a few verses, but looking at several chapters.
Before I read, and by way of introduction, let me just remind us what the title of the sermon is. It is “Consecrate Yourself,” and especially I’m going to be saying you are called to consecrate yourself to the Lord. That’s where we’re headed this morning.
When I was a youngster, I liked Volkswagens. I still kind of like Volkswagens, but I got into Volkswagens. I bought myself a 1968 split-window, two-tone, green and white Volkswagen microbus. It’s got, you know, the flat windows in the front. It’s very cool. It’s got an air filter right above your head, and when you’re driving down the road, it just pelts you with air. It’s a wonderful old vehicle. Well, I got the Chilton manual and I read about this Volkswagen. I talked with folks. I read the instructions that came with parts. I bought it kind of in poor shape, and so I had to prepare myself to fix up this old car. And I had to clean it just to get started. It was messy and dirty, but I enjoyed the preparation. And then came the long hours of completely destroying my father’s garage. Then, as I got closer to getting the engine running well and putting in a new clutch, I got closer to the finish line and I got excited.
Now to be sure, I got bruised hands and cut fingers and even a bruised chest. A Volkswagen engine is held on by four bolts, I don’t know if you knew this, but just four bolts, and you can loosen them and then you’d leave the last two bolts loose and then you’d put it on a jack and roll it out. Well, I took off one bolt and the engine came off on my chest, and only half of it, and I was stuck there for some time and wriggled out underneath my Volkswagen. So I got frustrated, I got angry, I got bruised, but still I kept going back to this van. I just liked it so much, and finally I drove it down our gravel driveway and I drove my bus.
Well, this morning, we’re going to talk about that process of preparing, and continuing, and returning and finishing. We have a beautiful goal before us, for which we’ve been called to consecrate ourselves.
Let’s pray and then we’ll dive right in.
Father, I ask that you would open Your Word to us and that you would open our ears that we might hear, and be prodded on to love and good deeds this week. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
Hopefully, you have your Bibles open. We will read from 2 Chronicles, chapter 29, starting at verse 1, just through verse 11.
“Hezekiah began to reign when he was 25 years old, and he reigned 29 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah, and he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done. In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them. He brought in the priests and the Levites and assembled them in the square on the east. And he said to them: ‘Hear me, Levites! Now consecrate yourselves and consecrate the house of the Lord, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the holy place.’ (Ahaz had messed it up.) ‘For our fathers have been unfaithful and have done what was evil in the sight of the Lord our God. They have forsaken Him and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord and turned their backs. They also shut the doors of the vestibule and put out the lamps that have not burned incense or offered burnt offerings in the holy place to the God of Israel. Therefore, the wrath of the Lord came on Judah and Jerusalem and He has made them an object of horror and astonishment and of hissing, as you see with your own eyes. For behold, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this. Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, in order that His fierce anger may turn away from us. My sons, do not now be negligent, for the Lord has chosen you to stand in His presence, to minister to Him, and to be His ministers and make offerings to Him.'”
May the Lord bless the reading of His Word.
Well, as you know, we have had a string of idolaters. With just a few exceptions, we have finally come to a good king, and one that was mostly good throughout his tenure, except for one major bobble at the end of his life. Well, the flow of our reading goes like this: Hezekiah calls the priests and the Levites together to consecrate themselves and the house of the Lord, that’s verses three through five. Then he reminds them that the Lord was angry, that’s verses six through nine; we won’t deal with that so much because we’ve heard so much about that through this series. And then he shares his heart that he wants to make a covenant with the Lord, that’s verse 10, and then it ends with a command to not be negligent with their calling to prepare for worship and to worship.
So Hezekiah’s very first act as king was to prepare for worship, and he accomplishes it. If you look at 35, verse 35 of chapter 29, it says this, right at the end of that verse: “Thus the service of the house of the Lord was restored.” This was his beautiful vision. It didn’t involve a ’68 Chrysler, I’m sorry, a Volkswagen bus, his vision included a worshiping people, a worshiping nation, and he called the Levites to consecrate themselves, especially, to prepare for this.
So let’s jump in and see what we find.
Well, I find that the best way to prepare for something, especially if you’re thinking about something like a fishing trip, I like to fish, is read a little bit of the lore and then go talk to the old-timers. Well, here Hezekiah already knew what he was planning on doing, he was 25 years old, he enters as king, and he does according to all his father David did. And David is referenced several times throughout these chapters. This means that he must have listened, he was taught, he read, he learned what the Lord wanted him to do, and he decided that he would covenant to do just that. Hezekiah is getting ready for an old tent revival. Hezekiah says it’s time to clean and it’s time that we worship.
I wonder if we know, I think that I can speak for myself that I was challenged as I studied, but I wonder if we know what it is to consecrate ourselves. I believe these chapters will help us determine what that looks like, and I think that we will find, first of all, that consecration is not an ecstatic experience of feeling chosen and set apart. Certainly it was heart work and we will see that it must be heart work, but we will also find that it was real, mundane, physical work of cleaning and preparing to worship.
Look at verse 16 of chapter 29: “The priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and they brought out all the uncleanliness that they found in the temple of the Lord into the court of the house of the Lord and the Levites took it and carried it out to the Kidron.” They’re going to wash things. They’re just cleaning up the mess that Ahaz left. “They began to consecrate on the first day of the month.”
Think with me for a second. What has been the major sin throughout this series? Idolatry. It just keeps coming up over and over. Or we could say wrong worship. They’re worshiping the wrong gods, lower-case g. Hezekiah stands out because he calls for the preparations of the right worship of God.
Now Martin Selman writes this: “Nothing is more central to the chronicler’s message than worshiping God.”
Hezekiah calls the priests to consecrate themselves and then to lead in worship. Now, how does that apply to us? We’re not Old Testament priests and we don’t really follow, we’re not called to follow the ceremonial law, so how can we learn from this passage?
First of all, we can prepare by some obvious things: Learning the Word, reading and listening to wise saints, know the Catechism, have conversations, be in Covenant groups, accountability partners… You know some of the things that we’ve been told for years and years.
Another simple way we can do this is, well, to prepare for worship. Do you look over the service as you walk in, see what’s coming? Do you have a hymnal at home and look up the numbers? You know, we post the bulleting week by week and you can look up the numbers and use the hymns as your prayer time, your meditation time. Do you look up the modern songs to see if you know them? Or much more simply, just read the sermon text before the service?
Of course, in all this, we all need the Spirit’s enlightening help. We want Him to move our hearts. And as well will see, Hezekiah was moved by the Lord to do what he did. We all need the spirit to enliven our minds, otherwise our preparations are for naught.
Look now at verse 17. I read just a bit of it. “They began to consecrate on the first day of the month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the Lord. Then for eight days they consecrated the house of the Lord and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished.” So they cleaned one portion, they moved to another portion, they spent eight days on the one and eight days on another, and now they’re at sixteen days. And at the end of chapter 29, in verse 36, we read this: “And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because God had prepared for the people, for the thing came about suddenly.”
Now, if you had been cleaning this place for sixteen days, you might not feel like it was all that sudden. But think about where they’re coming from: Abject idolatry. And now this huge reformation has just taken place within sixteen days.
By the way, you have six days to prepare for next Sunday.
And now they continue according to Hezekiah’s instructions. So first of all. Hezekiah simply calls them to prepare, and now he’s going to call them to not be negligent to continue. Now, remember that Hezekiah had covenanted with the Lord. He bound himself to see this work through, and then we find that they began the right worship of the Lord. They actually succeeded, but it was fairly overwhelming work. It was tiring work, and there was a bunch of slaughtering. I’m not sure if you’ve ever slaughtered anything, if you’re a hunter perhaps. You know, it’s a fair amount of work. They had sin offerings and atonement and burnt offerings and that’s not easy stuff.
Look to verse 34 of chapter 29: “But the priests were too few and could not flay all the burnt offerings, so until other priests had consecrated themselves, their brothers the Levites helped them until the work was finished, for the Levites were more upright in heart than the priests in consecrating themselves.”
It looks like some of the direct line of Aaron was a little lazy, they didn’t get around to it, they were being a little negligent, and so others stepped in.
I believe that, I know for myself, we are all tempted to think a little bit like perhaps some of those that were slow. “Ahh, the priests have it. They’re getting ready. I’m not on duty right now anyway. I’ll pick it up next time.” We can think to ourselves “ahh, you know I tend a good church, I get good preaching, I don’t have to do all my own study, you know. I’ll just pick it up next month.” Or we might think we’ve served in the past and there are plenty of elders and deacons now, so I am not needed.
Well, the mindset that says “I am once saved, always saved, no matter how negligent I may be” is an incredibly dangerous mindset. Paul certainly had a few things to say about that. He asked a question: Are we to continue in sin so that grace may abound? Certainly not. You see an outward appearance of muscle can turn to flab if we don’t exercise it. That’s why I don’t do that.
But here, the Levites were more upright. They were fervent in preparing. They saw the need and they pitched in. And also the king didn’t let up with this success, and it was a small success. Let’s compare a couple things. Look at chapter 29, verse 32. Look at the numbers there. They brought 70 bulls, 100 rams, 200 lambs, 600 bulls, 3000 sheep.
Now flip over to chapter 30, verse 24. Look at the numbers in this verse: A thousand bulls, this is their effort at the Passover, 7000 sheep, a thousand bulls from the princes, and 10,000 sheep.
The next time they got together for worship and for their celebration it had grown. They were told, remember back in chapter 29, verse 11, they were told to not be negligent. And it looks like somebody was working hard.
The king was not satisfied with the small success so now flip back, chapter 30, verse 1. Hezekiah sent to all Israel, and Judah, and wrote letters to Ephraim and manages that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem to keep the Passover of the Lord, the God of Israel. He sent messengers all over the place. It took planning and resolve and actions and warnings and promises.
Look at verses eight and nine in chapter 30. “Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were.” He reminded them of the wrath that they had incurred, but also he gave promises, “for if you return to the Lord,” verse nine, “your brothers and your children will find compassion.” Hezekiah’s becoming just a first-rate motivational speaker here, sending messages out, inviting people to worship. He needed to be motivational. He knew, or at least they found out, that some would have to endure scorn.
Look at verses 10 and 11, just below: “So the couriers went from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zabulun, but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them. However, some men of Asher, of Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem.” Hezekiah’s couriers had to show grit. We find out in chapter 30, verse 22, that he encouraged those with skill. Hezekiah was about the work of getting people involved. And so we are learning that we must be faithful and pray fervently in the face of ridiculous odds.
And so now we’re going to move beyond these initial reforms and look at a scene a little bit later in Hezekiah’s life. Read chapter 32, verse 1, with me. “After these things,” this is after the reforms, “after these things and these acts of faithfulness, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came and invaded Judah.”
Now hold on. After his faithfulness, Sennacherib came and invaded. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work, is it? Aren’t we supposed to be blessed after faithfulness? After these faithful acts, Sennacherib came and invaded.
Now we get to the fun part of the story, and you get to flip over to 2 Kings, chapter 19. Would you go there. Sennacherib invades and Hezekiah is scared. 2 Kings, chapter 19, verse 1: “As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord.” Back in Chronicles we find out that Isaiah was joining him in prayer. They seek the Lord.
Instead of making alliances as some kings have done, instead of rushing headlong into battle as some kings have done, he prepares to worship by tearing his clothes and then he worships and seeks the Word of the Lord, and sends for the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah then brings a comforting word, and so that’s all good.
But then Sennacherib, through his general, starts sending letters of threatening, of a threatening nature, and Hezekiah once again needs assurance. Read with me chapter 19 in 2 Kings, starting at verse 14: “Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messenger’s and read it and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord and Hezekiah prayed before the Lord.” I just love this. He takes the letter, he lays it out before the Lord, and says “see?”
You know, when I was working on the wiring of that ’68 Volkswagen, I got to the tearing of clothes part, but I never once thought to lay the wiring diagram out before the Lord.
I love how physical Hezekiah is. Notice how closely tied the physical is with the spiritual. Hezekiah acts according to the Word of the Lord. He sought him physically with all his heart. In verses 20 through 28, we find that the answer to this prayer came in the form of a prophecy from Isaiah concerning Sennacherib. And we won’t read this whole thing, but it especially says that Sennacherib was boasting in his power, in their pride, thinking that he had done all this by his own had. But we find out that they have the Lord’s bit in their mouths. Just as Assyria would put hooks in the noses of their captives, which sounds like a very excruciating way to be led off into captivity, so the Lord would hook them and put His bit in their mouth.
Read with me chapter 19, verse 28, in 2 Kings: “Because you have raged against me and your complacency has come into my ears, I will put My hook in your nose and My bit in your mouth and I will turn you back on the way by which you came.”
I wonder if we sometimes become a little forgetful when we must endure scorn and disappointment at the hands of perhaps activists or political interest groups that are working their hardest for an ungodly society. I wonder if we forget that they, too, have the Lord’s bit in their mouths. Does not the Lord promise to chide His children. Yes, it will not last forever, as Psalm 103 tells us, but He promises to chide His children so that we will run with our letters in our hands before the Lord in worship. In his moment of weakness, he runs to God. He did what was right according to all his father David had done. They both ran to God in their weakness.
And here, God gives amazing deliverance. Chapter 19, because we just have to read the story, verse 34 and 35. “For I will defend this city to save it, for My own sake and for the sake of My servant David. And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when the people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.”
Now, turn back to Chronicles, chapter 29, verse 10. Let me read this again. “Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord.”
Let me ask you a question. Who guides the heart? Look at chapter 30, verse 12. “The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the Word of the Lord. O may we be blessed with the spirit of God, to give us His heart, the inclination of his will directing our hearts, seek Him, and then wait and see what the Lord will do with your heart. Seek Him today, consecrate yourself today. That is, prepare, plan, resolve, take action, heed warnings, hear promises, use skill, develop stamina, and finally rend your heart and pray according to the Word of the Lord. And if that prayer for you today is simply “oh, Lord, I’m dull and I’m distant,” then I would ask you to just add one word: Help. Consecrate yourself by starting at the beginning and do the practical and mundane work of preparing and continuing.
So far all I’ve said to you is prepare and continue.
And our next point is this: Return according to the Word of the Lord.
As you may, if you did read ahead, you will have noticed that Hezekiah, though he did well, the end of his life we find that pride was lurking behind his victories. This is now after the deliverance, but would you turn to chapter 32, verses 24 and 25. “In those days” after deliverance, “Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death, and he prayed to the Lord and he answered him and gave him a sign, but Hezekiah did not make return according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud, therefore wrath came upon him and Judah and Jerusalem.” Even after all that he had seen, still he slipped up with pride, self-sufficiency, idolatry.
I love to play guitar and sing and there’s a song that I learned several years ago now. It’s by the Carter family. Y’all know the Carter family? The Appalachian folks, and they made sort of, the grandparents of country music. And they wrote, or they made popular a song called “Little Black Train,” and the lyrics go like this, it’s, it’s a quirky little song with quirky little theology, but beside the point.
“God sent to Hezekiah a message from on high, you’d better set your house in order for you must surely die. He turned to the wall in weeping, we see him here in tears, he got his business fixed all right, and God spared him 15 years.”
It’s a great Appalachian folk song. Well, the theology gets a little strange. It’s your typical Appalachian folk song theology, but it indicates the order of events was a little, it’s a little hard to follow here in Chronicles and Kings, but it essentially goes like this: Hezekiah was really sick, he prayed, he received a sign, and then he was healed, but he didn’t give return, meaning a thank offering. Later in his pride he even began showing off his wealth and his strength to Babylonian envoys. And after hearing that Hezekiah had done this, Isaiah prophesies this from 2 Kings: “Hear the Word of the Lord, behold the days are coming when all that is in your house and that which your fathers have stored up ’til this day shall be carried off to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord, and some of your own sons who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah “the Word of the Lord that you have spoken is good,” for he thought “why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?” Peace and security and affluence is quite the seductor.
This is a shocking revelation of good King Hezekiah. 2 Kings paints a pretty poor picture of his last years. In fact, there’s a very frightening verse. If you would, look in 2 Chronicles chapter 32, verse 31: “And so in the matter of the envoys of the princes of Babylon who had been sent to him to inquire about the sign,” that’s probably the healing, ” that had been done in the land, God left,” or perhaps it was Sennacherib’s army dying, “but God left him to himself in order to test him.” God left him to himself in order to test him to know all that was in his heart. God certainly knows our hearts, and he certainly promises to test us. He does not tempt, but he promises to test us, to teach us that we are fully dependent, ultimately dependent, upon Him. How easy it is to think more highly of ourselves than we ought.
C.S. Lewis, in his “Chronicles of Narnia,” has this wonderful little bit. It’s in the book “Prince Caspian” and Caspian finds out that this ancestors were not really all that noble, they were not of an honorable lineage, as he says. In fact, he finds out they were kind of scoundrels, they were pirates. And he says to Aslan, who is the high king from across the sea, he says “I was wishing I had come from a more honorable lineage,” and this is paraphrasing, and Aslan says “you are a descendant of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve, and that is enough to raise the head of the poorest beggar and to bow the shoulders of the highest king.”
Hezekiah’s last few years teach us that we must know who we are. We need a good understanding of the doctrine of God and the doctrine of man. All the kings of Chronicles, especially the good kings, point us to our need, because we see even the best kings fail. He did what was right, we just, we just can’t do the right stuff and then expect the right stuff to always happen. This is written to dispel us of thinking that we have just arrived. We need to know that we are dependent upon the living God to prepare, to constantly prepare, continue, and return. It appears that Hezekiah quit taking his own advice.
We can’t do it perfectly, and of course that points to Christ. We’ll come back to the lamb of God in just a moment, but let me say it again. We are dependent upon the living God. And so week by week we offer our sacrifice of praise and offering and thanksgiving and confession and we yearn to hear from Him.
Now before we leave the subject of returning, one more lesson from a younger Hezekiah. If you would, please return to chapter 30, verse 9. “For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and He will not turn away His face from you if you return to Him.” Here is hope, here is hope. Hope for our brothers and sisters as well as our children and the next generation. We, not them, we are called to return to the Lord here, according to the Word of the Lord, and the promises that our brothers, our neighbors, our children, will return from their captive. This is a wonderful promise. The promise, at least in part, was fulfilled in Hezekiah’s day. Some came from Manasseh and the other places, as evidenced by the really huge Passover celebration, but also remember the next generation finds themselves in exile. They were the children of Hezekiah’s generation. They turned to the Lord and they were allowed to come back from their captors.
The practical application of this little nugget is this: Our calling is not to browbeat our children and our neighbors into submission to God. None of us can return without the Spirit’s conviction. They may be in spiritual captivity, and therefore it is our calling to humbly return ourselves, by returning, by continuing, by preparing, this is ultimately the process of returning, and with returning comes the promise of revival. This is the same process as finishing.
Several times during this series the idea of finishing well has come up. It’s a major theme that just sort of jumps off the page as you read and study the kings. Clearly, we are not to rest according to the word of the world. Checking out is simply folly. It’s not rest. If anyone should have done it well, it was Hezekiah. He started excellently. He did all things well, and yet he slipped up. If you add up as an equation preparing plus planning plus continuing plus returning plus finishing, what you get is where Hezekiah began. He was concerned that his nation worship the one true God. He prepared, he called others to clean up, to not be negligent. He did all these things and he was continuing in them. In other words, he was discipling people, calling them to the truth. Finishing in Christ means making disciples. At any age, consecrating one’s self means all that Hezekiah called for. Perhaps it means setting aside and preparing for the Sabbath. Perhaps it means finding time for family prayer, or prayer with your spouse, or prayer with your Covenant group. Perhaps it means taking a moment to introduce your grandchildren to a storybook Bible, Catherine Vos’ old storybook Bible or Kevin’s, “The Biggest Story.”
Finishing well does not first of all mean staying out of grotesque sin. Finishing well is consecrating yourself by means of preparing, continuing, and returning, and then repeating the cycle in front of neighbors and children and the next generation. Faithful worship is both discipleship and evangelism.
Go to chapter 29, verse 11. “My sons, do not now be negligent for the Lord has chosen you to stand in His presence to minister to Him and to be His ministers and make offerings to Him.” Obviously Hezekiah was speaking to the priests. We already said that in order to get them ready to lead in worship. They were chosen to stand in God’s presence.
And what are you but a royal priesthood? If you claim the name of Christ, you have been chosen to stand or walk, as the case may be, in God’s presence. That is, you have been chosen to consecrate yourself, to prepare, continue, return, and finish. None of these things has an expiration date. Once you have achieved one, you get to go achieve it again. Like the old car, it is going to rust again, I get to restore it again. Thankfully, I sold it.
We don’t confess the preservation of the saints, we confess the perseverance of the saints, which looks a lot like preparing and continuing and returning and finishing. In fact, this is the great calling and election to live in the presence of God, before the face of God, Coram Deo. This begins as an act of God’s free grace, it continues as a work of God’s free grace by which He will carry us to our eternal home. Praise be to God.
You can do none of this without the Spirit, but you will do it all of it with the Spirit. You can do none of it without the presence of God, but you will do all of it in the presence of God.
We learned that the Lord will test. This, of course, is part of the process of the perseverance of the saints. He does not tempt, but He does test. We may fail, and then we get to repeat the cycle by preparing once again. We should be praying for the enlightening and the enabling and the convicting and the sustaining help and power of the Spirit of God.
Yes, the Sennacheribs will taunt. But remember, they have a bit in their mouth, but you were chosen, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into light. The Sennacheribs of the world may hand their power and influence over to the Beast. They will make war on the Lamb. But we read that the Lamb will conquer them, for He is the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings and those with Him are called chosen and faithful. Did not the Lamb say, when we began our service, “and for their sake I consecrate myself that they also may be sanctified in the truth.”
The Lord Jesus sent Himself apart. He consecrated Himself by fulfilling all that we are not able to do. In 1 Peter we read “you shall be holy as I am holy.” Jesus said you must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. Well, that’s a pretty tall order. We are clearly unable to consecrate ourselves perfectly and yet Jesus Christ did on our behalf so that we might be consecrated, sanctified, set apart, be prepared for glory, to create a people who are zealous for good works.
This is our hope. This is the hope of your children. This is the hope for your neighbor. This is the hope of the world.
If it is true that nothing is more central to the chronicler’s message than worshiping God, then consecrate yourself today, tomorrow, week by week. Find ways to prepare. You’re creative people. Find ways to prepare yourself and then keep that beautiful goal of everlasting worship and fellowship with the cloud of saints and the King of kings ever before your eyes.
You were chosen for this, and for such a time as this. Consecrate yourself.
Father, I praise You and thank You for Your Word. It is a challenge to us who are tempted to rest on our laurels. It is a challenge to us who find sometimes the walk wearying. And so we look to You and ask that by the power of Your spirit You would enable, that You would sustain, and that You would cause us to not be negligent, knowing that You have chosen us to stand in Your presence and to lift up Your name in praise and glory, week by week. I pray, Father, that You by Your spirit would enable us to worship in spirit and in truth. Amen.