Tag Archives: clean hearts

True Worship

Isaiah 1:1-19

What is worship God accepts? It’s not just ceremony or sacrifices. It’s not parades, gifts, or pious meetings. It’s not even lifted hands.

True worship can only come from clean hearts. No matter what form worship takes in your church or in your home or car, God will not even pay attention if your heart is harboring sin. Clap your hands, jump up and down, work up a sweat, or shed some tears. None of it matters unless your heart is right with our Holy God.

Isaiah begins his book talking about the rebellion of God’s people. And then he tells us what God thinks about their acts of worship. God is sick of it. He gets no pleasure from it. In fact God says He hates their worship celebrations. Their worship has become a burden God wants nothing to do with.

Then Isaiah tells us what God requires from those who want to worship Him:

Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” (16-19)

Let’s not make the mistake of thinking we can go into a worship service like we are attending a concert or ballgame. Let’s not make the mistake of thinking we ought to get something out of worship. It’s not about us.

Let us go into worship, whether in our closet or in the sanctuary of our local churches, with clean hearts, sober-minded with fear and trembling before a Holy God who demands holiness of any one who worships Him. I think God is very clear to say that before we sing the first note of any praise song, we had better have sincerely prayed:

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation; and uphold me with a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51:11-12)

Then and only then, will your expression of worship be acceptable to God. True worship, worship He demands, comes from holy people.

It’s Not Acceptable

Leviticus 10

It’s hard to read about the deaths of Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons who dared to worship God by their own rules. But it serves as a reminder how seriously God takes worship. We must worship Him in spirit and in truth. We must worship Him with clean hands and hearts.

Sin cannot worship God. And we cannot hope to worship God while sin is in our hearts, I don’t care if you raise your hands and work up a sweat dancing in the aisles. That is not a sign of true worship. Oh, the person caught up in the moment may be truly worshiping that way, but only if they have dealt with their sin first and are worshiping in spirit AND truth. The simple act of looking like a worshiper, doesn’t make one a worshiper.

After Nadab and Abihu were killed, the people worshiped God flat on their faces. I’m pretty sure they weren’t told to have a smile on their faces. And I doubt they were having a good time.

There are many examples of what worship can look like in Scripture from dancing in the streets to tearing clothes and shedding sorrowful tears. But the one thing all of these examples of worship have in common, the one thing that expresses true worship, is hearts surrendered to God, washed clean, pure, holy, and ready to worship.

Worship any other way is worship by someone else’s rules. It’s just not acceptable.

I hope you plan on going to church tomorrow to worship your Savior with fellow believers. But lets’ stop trying to produce an emotional experience in worship. Let’s be sure we all are worshiping from hearts cleansed by the blood of the Lamb according to God’s rules.

(Psalm 103) True Praise

“True praise comes from a grateful heart that sincerely wants to glorify and please the Lord.” (Be Exultant; Warren Wiersbe; David C Cook Publisher, 2004; p 55)

Psalm 103 is a psalm of praise. It’s not about show. Its’ not about what a worshiper likes about worship. And it’s not about having a worship experience. Its’ about God.

True praise has nothing to do with what a person does with his hands, or whether or not he’s smiling. True praise has everything to do with clean hearts, surrendered lives, a holy people unto the Lord.

Read Psalm 103. You won’t find one “I” in the whole thing.

I recently heard someone say it should be fun to praise God. I question the “should.” Do we worship to feel good? I don’t think that’s worship. Do we praise so that our hearts soar and we are blessed? I don’t think that’s praising God. Do we organize our time of praise so that it’s fun? If that’s our goal, if that has any part of why we praise, we’ve missed the boat entirely. We can get all that going to ballgame.

We may feel all those things: joy, blessing, hearts soaring as a result of true praise. Or we may feel convicted, sorrowful, humbled while praising God. But none of those things should drive our worship.

Our reason for praising God is because He is worthy of praise. Our reason for worshiping God is because He alone is worthy of our worship.

Maybe we need to spend more time worrying about the condition of the hearts of people than how people look and feel when they praise the Lord. Maybe we need to concentrate more on being a holy people, than having fun while we worship.

(Psalm 93) Adorning the Temple

Our God reigns! He sits on His eternal throne and has absolute rule over His creation. There may be powers that would destroy what God has so lovingly and purposefully made, but God is greater than the enemy of us all.

We can put our confidence in our Eternal King because all He has said is true and completely reliable. What an incredible gift is His Word in print. We can know Him, hear Him, recognize His hand in our lives by spending time in the Bible.

We have reason to praise and worship God!

I have shared that our church fellowship is in the middle of a building project. For years we have met in the basement of a commercial building, but we are hopefully going to move to the north end of this island and occupy a brand new building with classrooms and our own parking lot before the end of this year. God is doing amazing things in and through this journey.

Warren Wiersbe said something in regard to verse 5 of this Psalm in his “Be Exultant” study (David C Cook Publisher, 2004, page 32) that I think could be engraved into the foundation of our new building if the cement wasn’t already dried:

“It is a holy people that makes the temple holy, and ‘the beauty of holiness’ (29:2) is the greatest adornment for any structure dedicated to the Lord.”

We, of course, want our new structure to be pleasing to our Lord. We want what happens inside those walls to matter for eternity. We pray that it will be a tool God uses to reach the lost. But the psalmist (and Wiersbe) reminds me it’s not about the building.

It’s about holy people. Not busy people. Not even worshiping people, or a people with great outreach programs.

Holy people are what makes the temple beautiful in God’s eye; people who have repented of sin and obey God from clean hearts and minds. Holy people, not just good people.

My prayer is that as we worship and praise our Eternal King, whether in the basement or sitting inside a structure smelling of cut wood and new paint, we will each of us be that holy person who adorns the building. I pray that our focus won’t be on the new church or even in the worship and programs inside, but on God alone from clean hearts: a holy people unto the Lord.

If holy people are what makes the temple beautiful in God’s eye, may it be true in the “temple” which will be Frederica Baptist Church on Saint Simons Island. Starting with me.

That’s Harsh (Psalm 109)

David speaks pretty harshly about his enemy. He asks God to find his enemy guilty, to make his wife a widow and his children forced to beg in the streets. Then he prays that his enemy would lose everything, causing his family to be homeless. He even went as far as to say, “let no one extend kindness” to his enemy, and let no one take pity on his children. “Wipe him off the face of the earth,” David seems to ask, “and never forget what he did to me.”

David continued to pray that his enemy would get what’s coming to him. Karma, baby. He said his enemy loved to curse people, curse him back, God. His enemy found no pleasure in blessing, don’t bless him, God. Treat him like he treated me.

Yes, if you read Psalm 109 you’ll hear David ask God to show no mercy toward his enemy, and his enemy’s entire family – women and children. That’s harsh.

But I wonder if we’re not harsh enough on our enemy, Satan. I wonder if we’ve grown soft toward sin, if we’ve tolerated sin in ourselves and others, if we haven’t welcomed sin into our homes and churches by hiding it in our own hearts.

Maybe it’s time we look at our enemy the way David looked at his, and ask God to remove it, destroy it, so that it’s blotted out completely. Maybe we need to stop looking at sin like a little child or a widowed mother, and instead ask God to show no mercy in removing the sin from our lives.

Nail it to the cross, Lord!

Because the truth is, we can’t be too harsh on our enemy, Satan.