Tag Archives: worship

Acceptable Worship (I Samuel 5-6; 1 Chronicles 13-16

When will we learn that our Holy God must be obeyed? How long will it take before we give Him the honor He demands, and quit trying to do things our own way, expecting Him to congratulate us on our sincerity?

David tried twice to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem. The first attempt ended in disaster, in death. It wasn’t until David obeyed God that the Presence of God could go home.

Don’t think this implies true worship is dancing, singing, and blaring instruments. There was a rocking worship service going on both times. During the first incident David had organized a worship experience, dressed it up with a brand new cart, but all that did was to make God angry because that, as impressive as it must have been, was NOT what God had demanded.

The lesson in these chapters today is not about the window dressing. There is one difference between worship God accepts and worship He rejects.

Obedience.

The Apostle Paul says this about worship:

Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

Paul tells us worship that pleases God is sacrificial, from a soul transformed by God, set apart from the world. I hear Paul say worship is not about an experience as much as it is about a life totally submitted to God. Not just an hour on Sunday, but a 24/7 commitment of mind and body.

Jesus Himself had something to say about worship:

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24)

My personal opinion is that too many of us worship God half way. We get our spirits soaring, our emotions high as we repeat certain phrases in song, and at the same time turn off our minds. Jesus said we MUST worship Him in our spirit and in the truth which, to me, involves careful consideration of God’s Word, of Who He is and not just by what He gives.

The Truth of God’s Word can break your heart, humiliate you, cause you to be under heavy conviction. And it also can surround you with the sweet Presence of God Himself. But I hear God saying if we just worship Him in our spirits and shut off our minds, or if we just worship Him with our minds and shut off our spirits, we are not truly worshiping Him like He seeks.

The writer of Hebrews says:

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (12:28-29)

Worship is serious business. Worship of a Holy God cannot be taken lightly. And I believe God’s Word tells us true worship of Him is a conscious decision we make every day. We can’t worship God if we aren’t obedient.

Will you worship God today, Monday, May 4? Will your worship be acceptable as you offer yourself, body, mind, and spirit to our Holy God who demands holiness of each of us? Will your worship of God bring Him joy?

I know that is the prayer of my heart for my own worship of God who deserves to be worshiped according to His demands.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

 

 

 

 

Shepherds and Warriors (Numbers 27)

Oh, for more leaders like the one Moses prayed would succeed him. A shepherd. A warrior.

I know I’m cynical, but I think too many leaders in our churches are businessmen, entertainers, and followers. So much focus is on making their churches look like everyone else’s church, I wonder how much real shepherding is going on.

I don’t know of any warrior who invites the enemy into camp in order to fight a battle. Yet the emphasis in many churches today is to make worship inviting, to bring people in to hear the Word and be saved. I wonder how many pastors are truly leading their people into battle, going into the neighborhoods and towns to make disciples. Too many are focused on fighting the battle within the safety of their church walls.

That was never part of Jesus’ plan according to Scripture.

I pray God will raise up more leaders in our churches whose focus is in being the shepherds and the warriors God needs for His Church. Maybe God is calling you.

November 1; Everything

Matthew 25:31-26:16; John 12:20-50, 1-11; Mark 14:1-11; Luke 22:1-6

What would you do if the bodily form of Jesus walked into your home and took a seat on your couch? Would you rush to the kitchen to fix Him something to eat, or get Him a drink? Would you pull out your phone and begin to call your friends to come and join you? Maybe you’d sit next to Him and ask those questions on your mind having to do with life and eternity.

Mary took what some to believe was her dowry, the downpayment for her future, her hopes to be a wife and mother, her dreams of having a home for the rest of her life, and she used it to wash Jesus’ feet. She held nothing back. She broke the jar, spilling its contents out on her Savior, lavishing Him with everything she had.

Jesus in bodily form is not likely to come to your house today for tea But if you are His child through His precious blood, His Presence is every bit as real.

What will you give Him today/?

October 29; To Love God

Mark 12:18-40; Matthew 22:23-23:36; Luke 20:27-47, 10:25-28

I don’t think I can skim over what Jesus says is the greatest commandment. So I’ve sat here for a bit and pondered what it means to love God. Is it the kind of love we see on “The Bachelor?” Is it the kind of love we express when someone gets a new haircut? Is it a love that gets more than it gives, is is dependent on circumstances?

What does it mean to love God the way He deserves?

First of all, Jesus tells us we need to love Him with our whole heart, that part of us that is our hopes and dreams, our life and our emotions. It’s that which makes me me and you you. The question is, do I love God with all of me?

Jesus says we should love God with all our soul; the eternal, spiritual part of us. Does my love of God translate into complete trust, obedience, worship and praise? Is my love of God that which drives my faith? God is spirit, and we who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Does that define my love of God?

And Jesus says we should love God with all our mind. Love of God is not a mindless emotion. Can I honestly say I love God with good sense and thoughtful choice? Is my love for God simply a reaction toward His love for me, or is it a conscious decision to love Him because He first loved me?

The Ten Commandments would be so much easier to obey if we loved God like He deserves. Jesus said loving Him is the greatest commandment.

It’s that important.

October 2; The Jesus We Don’t Like To Talk About

John 2:1-4:26

Today we read the account of Jesus clearing the temple of the flea market. Men were selling cattle, sheep, and doves right there in the temple court. I’m sure someone had thought what a great ministry it would be if they made bringing an animal for sacrifice convenient to the people. Why not sell what they need right there in the temple?

When Jesus saw this “ministry” he was mad. He made a whip and used it on the merchants, overturned their money tables, and ran them out of the temple. He didn’t even consider their noble intentions.

We really don’t like talking about that Jesus. We like talking about the Jesus who tells us to love everybody, to turn the other cheek, to do good to those who harm us. I love talking about that Jesus, too.

But we shouldn’t forget the Jesus who protected the holiness of the temple – with force.

Now, I’ve been accused of having pet-peeves when it comes to modern-day worship. So if you don’t want to hear it, I would suggest you stop reading right here. No hard feelings. I honestly don’t know if it’s pet-peeves, or if God nudges my heart on these matters. But if it’s from God, I don’t want to ignore it.

I know we haven’t turned our churches into flea markets. But many of us have turned them into coffee shops. We tweak our worship services so as not to offend people, or to make it more attractive to people, we change our schedules to make it convenient for people to attend, even if it’s Saturday night.

Sounds like a great idea for ministry. I can see why many people have jumped on that bandwagon. But is there Scripture to back it up? Does God ever in His Word tell us to worship only when it’s convenient, or entertaining, or comfortable? I’m not so sure we have done a good job of protecting God’s House, the place of prayer.

Here’s the other thing: Our bodies are God’s temple as well, the place where God lives on this earth in 2019. Do we protect His holiness in us with as much fervor as Jesus protected that temple in Jerusalem?

Yes, Jesus’ message was love, forgiveness, grace. I love that about Him. I’ll continue to talk about Him in those terms. But I am reminded today that there is another side to Jesus, a side that isn’t so fun to talk about. He never compromised on the holiness of the Temple. He never suggested we take worship of God for anything other than worship of God. He took it very seriously. So I want to, too.

September 10; Marvelous

Zechariah 7-8; Ezra 5-6

Many times in Scripture God challenges our motivation. Why is it we do what we do for Him? Why do we worship?

“Is it really for me,” God asks, “or for you?”

Zechariah shares that God is going to return to Jerusalem, His people will enjoy prosperity once again. Then He says, “It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?” (Zechariah 6:6)

We can’t deny that God has blessed His Church in America for centuries. We sit comfortably in our cushioned chairs with air-conditioning and state of the art technology, coffee in hand. We feel pretty blessed to be living in a land where we can go to church without fear. Many Christians in other parts of the world don’t share that reality. We are truly blessed.

It seems marvelous to us. But what is God’s take on it?

God makes it clear He’s not interested in the show. He is only interested in our hearts. Do we get out of bed every Sunday to worship God in Truth? Or do we go to church because it makes us feel good? Is our motivation for giving, or volunteering, or visiting shut-ins, our own self-esteem, or have we emptied ourselves and allowed God to use us for His glory?

I’m reminded there are some who are doing things in Jesus’ name, who don’t really know Him. In the end, those people will join the unrepentant sinners in an ugly eternity separated from God.

Let’s not take our blessings for granted. But let’s also not forget why and Who we worship. I pray that our motivation for life, and worship will be to please God out of grateful hearts for what Jesus did for us. Period. I pray that what seems marvelous to us, will be truly and gloriously marvelous to God.

September 4: To Obey, or Disobey

Ezekiel 1:1-2:20; Daniel 6:1-28; Nehemiah 7:4-25

The island where I live is under a mandatory evacuation order from the governor in preparation for Hurricane Dorian. Most of us left immediately, others have stayed. Our pastor sent an email to the church members and gently reminded us God told us in His Word that we are to obey our God-ordained leaders in authority. He encouraged us to leave the island we love, in obedience to those leaders.

But is there a time when we are to disobey our leaders?

Daniel got the word that no one was to worship any one or anything other than King Darius for thirty days. Might not be such a big deal, a month isn’t that long. What would be the hurt? After all, the government made the order.

Daniel did not obey. And he wasn’t very secretive about his disobedience. He continued to pray in front of his open window three times a day. And he wasn’t praying to any Darius.

I hope all of us reading these chapters in God’s Word today are good citizens of the countries in which we live. I hope we all pay our taxes, and follow speed limits. I hope we are law-abiding citizens.

But I also hope we are prepared to defy laws that would force us to compromise what God has ordained. I hope we know what the Truth is according to Scripture, and are ready to stand firm.

There may come a day when we, too, will have to decide if we are going to bow to ungodliness, or continue to stand in front of open windows and worship God.

September 2; True To His Word

Daniel 4:1-37, 7:1-28; 2 Kings 25:27-30; Jeremiah 52:31-34

It wasn’t like he hadn’t been warned. God gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream, and the interpretation to Daniel. In essence, God told the king to repent. And if he refused to repent, he would lose everything.

Nebuchadnezzar didn’t repent. He was prideful and self-satisfied, and he liked it that way.

Now here’s what spoke to me this morning. God gave the king a whole year to repent. I’m thinking the man must have thought about what Daniel had told him during those twelve months. He’d already seen proof of God’s power before, so it wasn’t like he could just blow it off.

But a year after his dream, Nebuchadnezzar lost everything because he didn’t heed God’s warning. He lost his kingdom, his wealth, and his sanity. God was true to His Word.

The truth is, God is always throwing out warnings to people. We hear the urgency in His voice as we read His Word. We see His fury in a storm. We witness his tenderness and mercy in the face of a new born baby, and in the face of a new born Christian.

And God is patient. He will continue to work to get our attention, to demonstrate that He alone is worthy of worship. Do not take Him lightly.

Daniel had told Nebuchadnezzar that eventually the king would bow down to God. And after seven years of living like a wild animal, Nebuchadnezzar did just that.

God will be worshiped by you, too. Philippians 2:10-11 tells us ,”that one day, at the name of Jesus, EVERY knee will bow, in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

One day you will know God is True, that Jesus is the Christ, and that He was trying to get you to love Him all your life. I pray you will come to that belief during this lifetime, before you look into His eyes for the first time. I pray that when you do bend your knee on that day in acknowledgment of the truth and glory of God, you will do it out of a heart that has been redeemed by Jesus’ blood, and not out of a heart that refused to accept him while you had a chance.

Please heed God’s warnings. He is true to His Word.

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Another hurricane, another evacuation from this island. Please continue to pray for all who are in the path of Dorian. We thank you.

August 30; The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Ezekiel 40:28-43:27

There is so much symbolism in the description of the temple in Ezekiel’s vision. This temple that represents worship, the church, you and me, and reveals God’s grace is intricate and beautiful. But today the thing that stood out to me is Ezekiel’s description of God.

Ezekiel heard the voice like the roar of rushing water, saw a radiance that lit up the whole land. I love that our Savior Jesus, during His earthly ministry, described Himself as the Living Water, and the Light of the World. Coincidence? I think not!

God’s glory filled the temple and He told Ezekiel, “This is where I will live among the Israelites forever.” Doesn’t that thrill your soul? We, as God’s children here in 2019, are God’s address on this earth. I am overwhelmed!

The Triune God is in these verses. God, who speaks from within the temple, the Spirit who lifted up Ezekiel, and Jesus who stood beside Ezekiel tell me that God lives in me, directs me, and stands with me as I am obedient to Him. I praise Him.

Today I want to just meditate on the fact that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are here right now in this room where I sit. I want to enjoy His Presence, to be in this moment, to worship Him like He deserves to be worshiped . I want to love Him, and tell Him so.

August 11; Are We Them?

Ezekiel 5-9

You know what struck me as I read Ezekiel’s vision and heard God talk about the detestable things that were happening, and the way He was going to punish them? God is talking about His people! He’s not pointing out the sins of unbelievers. He’s pointing out the sins of His chosen Israel. And they are doing these detestable things right there in the temple.

It makes me sad when I read a bunch of them in the inner court of the house of the Lord, turned their backs on the temple, and bowed down to the sun in the east. They’d turned their backs on God right in the middle of God’s House.

Dear Church, please take the warning. God sees what goes on behind closed doors. He hears the conversations we’re having about compromising, tolerating, accepting all manner of sin in order to get people inside the walls of His house. He is very aware of the sin in my life – and in yours.

I’m afraid we’ve begun to turn our backs on God right in the middle of His house in 2019. Every time we back off a little on our message, every time we embrace a casual worship, or a feel-good theology, or ignore sin in our own lives, we make a shift toward worshiping the sun in the east.

I hope you’ll read Ezekiel’s vision. I think you’ll hear God’s anger, His rage. “Is it a trivial matter for the house of Judah (or the Church) to do the detestable things they are doing here?… Therefore, I will deal with them in anger, I will not look on them with pity or spare them…” (8:17-18)

I can’t help but believe these chapters are not just about an ancient people. What was true for them is true for us today. God may be talking to and about them, but, dear one, we are them.