Tag Archives: worship

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.

July 3; God and gods

2 Kings 17:3-41, 16:19-26, 18:1-2; Isaiah 5:1-30; 2 Chronicles 28:26-27, 29:1; I Chronicles 4:34-43

The Assyrians had captured the Jews and hauled them off as slaves. Now the king wanted to repopulate the land with people from neighboring nations. These people, of course, came with their portable little gods in tow.

But the king also made sure the new inhabitants were taught about the “god of the land,” and assigned a priest to tell the people how to worship God.

I think the people probably tried to understand about the God of the Jews. But 2 Kings 17 tells us each national group made its own gods. Later in chapter 17 it says this:

They worshiped the Lord, but they also appointed all sorts of their own people to officiate for them as priests in the shrines at the high places. They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.

Let’s not let that describe us. Oh, I’d be surprised if many of you bow down every day to a shiny little statue sitting on your bedside table. I doubt you sacrifice a child in the fire Sunday morning before you head off to church. But God is asking, what or who is it you and I truly worship?

A relationship? A career? A bank account or fame? Do we spend more time manicuring our lawns than we do serving God? Does our time in God’s Word compare with our screen-time? Are we trying to worship God and something else at the same time?

We need to consider our worship. It is an eternal question each of us must answer. But here’s the other thing that stood out to me this morning.

Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.

I think we need to consider that. We love our children. We adore our grandchildren. And they are taking their cues from us. Ask yourself this: Is my idol of self, or money, or health, or anything else worth my eternal soul, and the eternal souls of those precious people in my life?

Are we going to serve God or gods? Do we want our children worshiping gods… or God?

 

May 23; Stop and Worship

I Kings 7:13-8:21; 2 Chronicles 4:1-5:14

The Temple was built. The Ark of God was in place in the Holy of Holies. The priests were ready and anxious to begin doing what priests were supposed to do. But something happened that brought everything to a screeching halt.

God showed up.

For forty plus years, God had revealed His Presence in a cloud while their forefathers wandered in the wilderness. They’d no doubt heard the stories. But now, right in front of them, that same cloud filled the Temple to such an extent it prohibited the priests from getting in there to make the sacrifices. All anybody could do at that point was to keep their eyes on the cloud, and praise God.

Let’s not get so caught up in living the Christian life, in serving, sacrificing, in spreading the Gospel, that we forget to stop and worship God.

Stop.

And worship.

There will be time to do things for God. But sometimes – often – we need to just stop what we are doing and revel in His Presence, praise Him, adore Him, drink Him in. Sometimes I think we’re guilty of pushing the cloud aside, fanning the air so we can see what we’re “doing,” and we don’t appreciate the Presence of the One we’re “doing” things for.

God’s Presence is here. Do you see Him? Take some time to just stop. And worship Him!

April 29; Go Home And Bless Your Family

2 Samuel 6:12-23; I Chronicles 15-16; Psalm 15

What is worship? That’s been a hot topic for the last 30+ years since the “contemporary” movement burst on the scene. If you’ve been with me very long, you know my take on that, and honestly, I’ve sat here for quite a while trying to look for something else to talk about today. But God isn’t letting this one go.

The example of worship here in 2 Samuel and I Chronicles is that of a rocking worship service. However, remember, so is I Chronicles 13 and 2 Samuel 6, and God was not pleased with that one. It’s an example of disobedient worship that looks an awfully lot like worship that God accepts. So what’s the difference?

First, I don’t believe it has anything to do with what songs were being sung. I say that because both accounts tell us they were celebrating with song, singing joyful songs. The truth is, as I see it, hymns can be as worshipful as praise songs.

Second, I don’t think it has anything to do with the musical instruments being played. Both examples tell us the worshipers played lyres and harps. I believe an organ can be as worshipful as a bass guitar.

The worship looked very much alike in these two accounts. So, again, what was the difference?

I think a huge difference between these worship services is obedience. It wasn’t the worship production. It was the heart of the people. It wasn’t how they looked while worshiping, it was their obedience to God that made the difference.

The other thing I see as a difference between the two examples of worship here in the Old Testament, and maybe the most important difference, is found in I Chronicles 16:43. After his time of worship, David went home to bless his family. He didn’t bask in the euphoria of a worship experience, then walk away unaffected. He took his experience and put it to work.

Dear one, if you are going to church on Sunday mornings for a worship experience, stay home. Go to a movie to be entertained. Worship does not end at the last “Amen.”

If you aren’t involved every day in some kind of ministry, in some kind of witnessing, and in living a Christ-like life on Monday, why are you worshiping? Do you think God needs your words, or is edified by your soaring emotions once a week?

The purpose of our church services is not to make us feel good, but to edify us, strengthen us, and equip us to go home and bless our families, our neighbors, our co-workers, the uttermost parts of the world.

I hope you worshiped God yesterday with a fellowship of believers. I hope your emotions were touched. But I pray that you learned something about God, that you were encouraged in your faith, that you were challenged and changed.

Now, get out there and bless someone.

March 31; Choose Today

Joshua 22-24

Most of us would probably say we are Christians. People who are not Christians will very often agree there is a God, or at least a higher power out there somewhere. Even those who say there is no God have something in common with the rest of us:

We all worship.

It might be self, or a job, or a philosophy, education, reputation, relationships, or something else. We all worship, serve, give honor to, adore, bow to someone or something. Worship is in our DNA.

Joshua challenges us to define our worship here in these chapters today. Choose today who you will serve. I am reminded of Matthew’s statement that a man can’t serve two masters. (Matthew 6) He’ll end up loving one and hating the other, or at least obeying one over the other, I know he was talking about money. But can’t we exchange “mammon” for anything else that would have the potential of taking the place of God?

I am also reminded that God will often describe himself as a jealous God. He will not accept second place, ever. He will not share the honor that is due him.

So after giving this some thought, here is what I choose:

I choose the Holy, all-powerful, eternal God of the Bible. I choose His Son Jesus Christ. I reject the politically correct god of our modern day. I reject the tolerant, love-god that many have fashioned for themselves. I choose the One True God over myself, my family, over the approval of the world.

Joshua said, even if you reject God you need to define what it is you worship. You might be surprised.

As for me, I will serve the Lord.

 

March 9; I Got Nothing

Numbers 27-29

Have you ever heard someone say, “I didn’t get anything out of that sermon?” I confess I’ve said it myself a time or two, always intended to put the blame on the preacher. But I wonder.

It occurs to me, as I read these chapters, that God must place a high value on daily routine. Every day the priests were to offer a sacrifice, an orderly expression of worship. It’s the routine that spoke to me today.

How important is it that I spend a time of focused worship of God every morning? How important is it that I offer my body as a living sacrifice to God every day? How important is it that my time alone with God is my number one priority from the moment I wake up?

I think this picture I’m looking at here in Numbers indicates it’s extremely important.

Warren Wiersbe says, “The way to become more spiritual is to strengthen the regular worship day after day, and then the special times of worship will do us more good.” (With The Word; Thomas Nelson Press; 1991; page 102)

So the next time I’m tempted to think I didn’t get anything from a sermon, I need to review my routine. Am I in the habit of worshiping? Or is that something I reserve for Sunday mornings? Because, God can certainly speak to me through the poorest of sermons, if I’m used to hearing His voice.

 

February 21; Reverence

Leviticus 16-18

I’m glad I live this side of the cross. Because Jesus is my Savior, I can boldly approach the throne of God and know He welcomes me. I don’t have to go through a priest because Jesus is my High Priest. I don’t need to sacrifice an animal. Jesus sacrificed Himself for me.

But often when I read passages like the one I read today concerning everything required for Aaron to approach the Lord, I wonder if we haven’t lost a bit of the reverence and awe of God the Jews had there in the desert. I wonder if we’ve become so familiar with God we’ve forgotten how to fear Him. Have we become so casual in our worship we neglect to recognize His holiness?

I’ve heard people ask, “Shouldn’t we have the same excitement in our worship as we do at a football game?” They base their picture of worship on David’s joyful entrance into the city where he danced with abandon, or psalms that speak of the joy of worship. (You do know there are also psalms that speak of humility and brokenness in worship, too, don’t you?)

I’m sorry, but equating worship and football games is ridiculous. Worship is not about cheering God on. “Give me a G…”

Let me encourage us all to remember what worship really is, and who it is we worship. Our approach to the Lord may have changed because of Jesus. But God is still the holy, fearsome, awesome God He was when Aaron approached Him with fear and trembling.

And God still deserves our reverence.