Tag Archives: worship

Why Church?

1 Kings 6

I guess I didn’t realize the Temple Solomon built was only 90 feet long and 30 feet wide. I had it pictured much bigger in my mind. My house is just short of 80 feet long, and my living area is about 27 feet wide. The church I belong to is building a new structure much larger than 90X30 on the north end of this island.

Of course, Solomon’s temple was ornate, extravagant. Nothing was too good for the House of the Lord. But it occurs to me it was built for worship. It was not built for social gatherings.

It didn’t include a coffee bar or comfortable seating areas for casual conversation. It was built solely for the purpose of meeting God, not each other.

I know people will say that in 2022, if a church doesn’t offer programs, classes, fun activities, and entertainment it will die. And I’m sure that is true. So I’m not saying we shouldn’t have comfortable chairs and a children’s wing, fellowship dinners and celebrations. In fact, I hope these things are actively a part of the church you attend.

But I wonder if we haven’t strayed a bit too far from what God wanted to see in His house. Is He just one of the things we worship, along with programs, music, fellowship, and fun? Or is meeting God the only reason we gather?

I think He should be.

Who Are We Listening To?

Numbers 11

I never noticed it before. I’ve read about the Jews complaining about the manna many times. But I guess I overlooked the fact the complaining began with “the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites.” (verse 4)

Makes me wonder. Are the changes in the Church coming from fully surrendered Christians inside the Church, or from people on the fringe who want to hold on to a bit of the world, people who want to feel good about themselves, and enjoy an entertaining hour on Sunday morning and call it worship?

Do we inside the Church hear a complaint (I’m sick of manna. I’m sick of hymns. I want meat. I want a cappuccino) and think, “Yeah. Me, too”?

The Israelites, instead of encouraging the foreigners to appreciate the God given manna and to praise Him for His blessings, took on the sin of the foreigners and complained themselves. Instead of pointing the foreigners to God, the foreigners pointed the Israelites to themselves. Many Israelites died as a result.

I wonder if we haven’t taken on the sin of self-centered, worldly desires of our foreigners, too, instead of helping them understand worship is not about them, not about their likes or dislikes, but about a sacrificial surrender and focus on God? Do we inside the church prepare those who are on the fringe to worship God in spirit and truth, or are we just interested in making them like us?

Who are we listening to? If we are listening to the “foreign rabble,” or today’s unchurched, we might be listening to the wrong people. At least that’s what I see here in God’s Word.

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.

Serious Business

Exodus 30

Worship is serious business. I know we don’t live in Old Testament times. I know we live under grace. But is worship less serious this side of the cross?

We read that people died for worshiping God in ways that suited themselves. You worshiped God in the way He demanded – or you’d better not worship at all.

Haven’t we made worship about ourselves? We take surveys and read studies that tell us how to fashion worship according to what we like, or how we think others will like so that they’ll want to join us.

I wish we spent as much effort on preparing hearts to worship God the way HE likes! I don’t see Scripture suggesting worship should be fun or entertaining. Do you? Yes, we are told to make joyful noise, to enter His gates with thanksgiving and praise. But I can do that going into a ball game.

Isn’t worship more than what it looks like? I see God telling the people to prepare, to repent first, to be holy…. THEN worship Him.

Worship is serious business. Or it ought to be.

(Acts 16) How Far Are You Willing To Go?

It seems that immediately after the Church leaders made it plain that a Gentile did not have to be circumcised in order to be considered a believer, Paul had Timothy circumcised. Paul had been strongly against the circumcision requirement. So was he being hypocritical when he insisted Timothy be circumcised? What gives?

Well, first off, Timothy was already a believer. He had already accepted the saving work of Jesus by faith. His circumcision was not a step toward salvation. He was already saved.

So why on earth would he go through that painful surgery if he didn’t have to?

Timothy wasn’t circumcised for his own benefit. He did it for the benefit of the Jews who needed to hear the Gospel, and he knew the Jews would not easily accept the word of an uncircumcised man.

Paul and Timothy were picking their battles. It was the Gospel they wanted to preach, not the value or uselessness of circumcision.

Sometimes we get so caught up in little details and opinions that the Gospel isn’t heard. What is more important: what the preacher wears on Sunday morning (and I’m talking to you who prefer suit and tie AND you who prefer jeans and t-shirts), or is it what he says from the pulpit that matters?

Is it more important to hear drums or an organ accompanying the singing, or is the preaching of the Gospel more important? King James, NIV, or the Gospel being explained through the text?

Timothy was willing to go as far as having that surgery to clear the way for the Gospel. How far are you willing to go?

(Psalms 146-150) Praise and Worship

The final psalms center around worship, the how’s and why’s of it. My take-away is that worship must come from our hearts as well as our minds, and praising God must be the natural outpouring of receiving His grace. Worship must focus on God and should not be used to make us feel good, or spiritual, or blessed. Our praise should not have to be choreographed, but should be God-inspired and led.

Why? Because our Holy God demands we put aside our selves and worship Him for who He is and what He has done. I think we sing “I” too many times in our Sunday morning praise songs these days.

These psalms remind me that we can – and should – worship God from surrendered hearts all the time, not just on Sunday morning. The creation compels us to worship the Creator!

In fact, Warren Wiersbe, in his “Be Exultant” commentary, (David C. Cook, publisher; 2004; page 218) said something that hit me. “Without the private worship, we are but hypocrites at public worship.”

How do you balance emotion and intellect when you worship and praise God? I’m not sure worship that is all emotion pleases God any more than worship devoid of emotion. But how do you meld the two into praise and worship that pleases God?

I believe, after looking more closely at the psalms these last few weeks, that if we are truly focused on God in our worship of Him, if our hearts are clean, our sins confessed and forgiven, our wills surrendered to Him, and if we use our minds to consider God’s character, His Presence, His faithfulness in the past, etc., our praise will flow naturally and freely. Our worship will be a perfect balance of emotion and intellect.

God alone is worthy of our careful and purposeful worship, and not just one day a week. God deserves our heartfelt praise because He is worthy.

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord. Hallelujah! (Psalm 150:6)

(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.

(Psalm 71-72) Praying My Praise

Part of my study of these psalms today included reading what Warren Wiersbe had to say in his “Be Worshipful” commentary (David C Cook publisher, 2004). He asked some questions for reflection on page 233, and I just had a precious time of worship as I prayed my thoughts and praise to my dear Lord. I’d like to invite you to do the same.

Read these two psalms first, then consider these:

  1. What reasons can you cite to “rejoice and be glad” in the Lord? I know some of you are going through difficult situations. You might have to stretch yourself, but God has given you reason to rejoice and be glad today. Search your heart. Name those reasons, even if your list is short. Tell Him you recognize His grace and mercy, his blessings and provisions. Praise Him for His goodness to you.
  2. How does recounting the Lord’s faithfulness in the past help entrust your future to Him? If you’ve walked with the Lord for a day or a lifetime, you can look back and recognize His hand, His involvement in the circumstances of your life. Recall them. Bask in them. And tell Him you remember. Praise Him for His faithfulness to you.
  3. Verse 6 predicts Israel’s king will be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth. How does trusting Jesus bring refreshing showers into your life? Is your relationship with God showering you with peace and joy and calm and assurance? If not, why not? Search your heart and see if there are things you need to repent of, sins you may not even consider most of the time. Ask God to forgive you, and know the showers of blessings that He will pour over you. For me, his blessings look like Jesus! Praise Him for Himself. Praise Him for showers of blessings.

I hope you will have a meaningful time of worship today as you consider these psalms. I’m praying for you.

(Psalms 49-52) Going Through The Motions

The psalms are full of reminders that God isn’t interested in our “just going through the motions” kind of worship. He often asks the Jews, who were given the sacrificial system by God Himself, if they thought He actually needed those animals. He owns ALL the animals in the world, so why would they think He placed some special value on one of His own animals burning on an altar? The sacrificial system was never about the animal, except as a picture of Jesus. That sacrificed animal was about sin, about the sinner’s heart condition before Holy God.

Warren Wiersbe in his “Be Worshipful” commentary on the psalms said this in reference to 50:14-15):

“What the Lord wanted from His people was thanksgiving from their hearts, obedience to His Word, prayer, and a desire to honor Him in everything. But the Lord doesn’t want ritualism or formalism. He wants our worship to come from the heart.” (David C Cook publisher; 2009; page 182)

I can hear all the contemporary worship proponents shouting WOOHOO! Told ya!

But haven’t we simply replaced tradition with a new tradition? We may have stopped worshiping with hymnals in front of us, but now we worship with screens in front of us. Where hands and heads used to be bowed in worship, we’ve replaced that with hands and heads lifted.

We’re told to smile, look joyful, move our bodies, be free (but they usually don’t mean you are free to worship with your head bowed and hands folded). We are no less concerned about ritualism, we have just changed how ritualism looks.

I believe that is no less offering God a “going through the motions” kind of worship than before. And I believe that is still worship that God rejects.

“Surely you desire integrity in the inner self…purify me…wash me…turn your face away from my sin…create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit in me...”(51:6-10)

“The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit…” (vs 17)

Stop focusing on how people look when they worship. Stop organizing worship around what people like. We have got to focus on worshiping God with clean hearts, not upraised hands. We need to worship God in purity and not worry about whether people are clapping their hands or not.

You can have a rocking worship service, and still just be going through the motions.

The worship God accepts is only that which comes from people who have dealt with their sin problem first, who approach God in His holiness through the blood of Jesus. Clean hearts. Purified. Washed.

Anything else is ritual and formalism and simply going through the motions.