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Jun 11 2011

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Campfire Devotions: Come Into His Presence

 

campfire

Worship Around the Campfire

Here is a campfire devotion that you can use at summer camp, at a retreat, or at a gathering of believers in Jesus.  Ahead of time, ask everyone to bring 3 small sticks to the campfire.  Although your tradition may be to sing first and then present devotional thoughts, you may want to present this devotion early on, and then let the group participate in doing what you are sharing.

So often when we gather together like we are tonight, our thoughts are racing around and are mostly focused on ourselves.  We may be thinking of our problems, our family situations, our friends, our relationships, the camp activities, or how we’d like to win a contest or game.   But tonight, let’s start by asking God to help us put those things out of our thinking for awhile and to concentrate on Him.

Our goal as we sit around this campfire together is to enter into God’s Presence and to let Him touch our lives and change us.  How can we do this?  God gives us a key in Psalm 100:4.  We are told to do four things:

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving.

Enter His courts with praise.

Be thankful to Him.

Bless His name.

In Old Testament times, God’s people would gather at the tabernacle or temple to worship.  Once the temple was built, they needed to go through the gates to get into the courtyard.  The courtyard was their place of worship.  God was telling them in this verse to be thanking Him as they came through the gates.  By thanking Him, they were putting aside other thoughts and worries and were concentrating on the things that they could be thankful for.   No matter how tough our life situations are, we still have many things to be thankful for.  But we don’t often acknowledge them or show our thankfulness to God.  This giving of thanks was probably done in the thoughts of the people as they came through the gates, expecting to meet with God.

Once they got through the gates, the people were to begin praising God, in addition to giving thanks.  Praises can be sung, spoken, or thought.  To me, they seem most powerful when they are sung or spoken aloud.  The courtyard of the temple was not a private place.  It was a place of group worship.  Whether we gather in a church, around a campfire, at our bunks in the cabin, or sitting on a big rock in the woods, there is a powerful sense of God’s presence when we share praises and giving thanks together.  Someone may pull out a guitar to lead us, or one of us might just burst into songs of praise, and we all join in.  Or we might lift our voices together in a praising prayer.  We might dance, clap, and shout our praises.  In whatever way we praise together, it is meant to be a jubilant celebration of who God is and of what He is doing.

In this verse we see a pattern that will lead us to experience God.  Our thanksgiving fuels our praise, and our praise leads to worship.  We are told to “Bless His Name.”  This is where we move from thinking of how God has blessed us to focusing on Jesus Himself.  We think of His wonderful qualities and the many names that describe Him.  Instead of praising Him for how He met one of our needs, we focus on Him with words such as, “Lord, You are glorious;  You are wonderful; I love You; You are awesome; You are mighty; You are powerful; You are incredible; How majestic is Your Name.”

There are many worship songs that focus on who God is, and they may help us move into worship.  Calling out our words of worship to God in prayer or in shouts of joy also brings a sense of His Presence.  We cannot rush through these thanks, praise, and worship times, for we will likely not truly experience the touch of His Presence without taking time to meet with Him.  It often takes time for our minds to get rid of other thoughts and to let our spirits take over to join with the Holy Spirit in worship.

We are going to move back into thanksgiving, praise, and worship around our campfire tonight.  I have asked you to bring 3 sticks with you to to the campfire.  At any time during our praise and worship time, you may approach the fire and throw in one stick at a time.  When you throw in your first stick, thank God for something.  When you throw in the second, praise Him for something He has done.  And when you throw in the third stick, speak a sentence or two of worship – tell God how great He is or bless His Name.  I encourage you to speak all of these out loud, for it will be more meaningful to you.  Take your time and wait for others so that only a small number of people are at the fire at any given time.

When you return to your cabins or tents, be ready to share with your group how this experience helped you to sense God’s presence.  You can use these same principles in your private times with God as well.  Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving.  Come into His courts with praise.  Be thankful.  Bless His Name!


 

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