Christ-centered Worship with
Holiness, Obedience, and Joy

The three paintings shown below were donated to Grace upon moving into our new facility in May, 2021. They are hand-painted reproductions of

Domenico Fetti (1613), "Moses Before the Burning Bush

Juan de Valdes Leal (1657), "The Sacrifice of Isaac"

William Brassey Hole (late 1800's), "David Bringing the Ark into Jerusalem"

The worship at Grace is focused on the three topics in these paintings -
Holiness, Obedience and Joy.

Holiness

Exodus 3:1-6
One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.” When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied. “Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.

In the verses above, the ground which Moses met God is set apart; it is holy ground. Typically, we associate holiness with righteousness. But in the Bible, the term holiness refers to something being set apart, something unique. Moses' brother Aaron would later be set apart; he was unique in that he could offer sacrifices for the ancient Israelites.

R.C. Sproul writes, “What Moses experienced at the burning bush is what God’s people experience today: a holy, transcendent, all-consuming God who comes down to dwell with His people.” When we worship, God has come to be with us, and we give him praise for his power and glory.

We worship in his holiness.

Obedience

Genesis 22:1-13
Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called. “Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.” “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.” So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together, Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together. When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood.  And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!” “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.” Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son.

Abraham obeyed God. God is telling Abraham to sacrifice his son, to kill his son, the son whom he loves, the son of the promise.  The supreme test for Abraham, after building that dreadful altar, after tying up his teenage son and laying him on the altar must have been that moment he raised the knife in his hand to plunge it into the heart of his son. Tradition says, the altar that Abraham built, to sacrifice his son, is located on the same spot, that 2,000 years later, would be named Mount Calvary - where God took his son, his only son, the son whom he loved, and tied him up, and laid him on a cross, and killed him.  But the death of God’s son was a substitute, a substitute for us, and for Isaac, because Abraham passed the test, and Isaac was spared - so that Isaac could have a son, and that Isaac’s son could have a son, and so that through this descendancy the promises of the covenant would come to pass.

We Worship in Obedience to the commands of God.

Joy

2nd Samuel 6:12-15
 So David brought the Ark of God to the City of David with a great celebration. After the men who were carrying the Ark of the Lord had gone six steps, David sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment. So David and all the people of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and the blowing of rams’ horns.

We tend to equate the words Happy and Joy. Happiness depends upon circumstances. When life is good, we are happy. But joy depends upon much more than just circumstances. True joy results in peace in the midst of difficult circumstances. The word translated "joy" in scripture is "blessed," and refers to an "exuberant gladness." And what are we glad for in our worship? We are glad that we can rejoice in the Lord, because he will never abandon us.

We Worship with Joy

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