Tag Archives: worshiping God

(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 15) Acceptable Worship

Evidently Psalm 15 was an “entrance” psalm. People who wanted to worship God in the temple didn’t just barge in there. They were to meet the following requirements first:

  1. Be blameless. Doesn’t mean “sinless.” The requirement for worship was receiving Jesus’ righteousness by faith. The Old Testament people looked forward to the Messiah with the same faith we who live after the cross have. Faith in the saving work of God’s Son makes us blameless before our Holy God.
  2. Practice righteousness. Our walk throughout the week must be an expression of our salvation. The psalmist will give us practical ways to practice righteousness in later verses.
  3. Stand for Truth. Jesus IS the Truth. God is the only God and His Words as found in the Bible are True. Period. If we want to worship Him we must worship Him in spirit and Truth.

The psalmist goes on with some specific actions that need to be true of we who worship God according to His Word:

Verse 3 – don’t gossip. Don’t maliciously talk behind someone’s back.

Next is – don’t harm friends. Sometimes we can be cruelest to those closest to us. God wants his worshipers to express patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness…

Be considerate of your neighbor. Yes, that means the person living in the house next to yours. But Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan when asked, “who is my neighbor.”

Verse 4 – We who want to worship God must hate what he hates. And he hates those who reject Him. That’s a hard pill to swallow, especially when we know God is love. But how did Jesus tell us to treat our enemies? Pray for them. Do good to them. And the best good you can do for anyone is introduce them to their Savior.

The psalmist tells us that another requirement of acceptable worship of God is to honor our brothers and sisters. We need to consider our fellow believers more important than ourselves, serve them instead of expecting to be served, mourn with them and rejoice with them, encourage them in their walk with the Lord.

We must keep God’s Word NO MATTER THE COST. That means protecting the Truth by listening to preaching and teaching with discernment, and speaking out against false teaching. It means speaking up when people twist Scripture. And it means obeying what God inspired men to write, even if it’s not politically correct, or pleasant to hear, or easy to do.

Verse 5 – Treat others the way you want to be treated. God’s people need to be the most fair, the most trustworthy, having the most integrity of anyone, but especially to those who are weak and innocent. We represent God Himself to a world that is looking for reasons to reject Him. May they never find those reasons in your life or mine.

The worship of God is a serious thing. If we read the Old Testament we see examples of what happens when people try to take short-cuts to worship. Unauthorized fire, carrying the ark on a new cart, gold calves at the foot of the mountain where God was meeting with Moses, and other examples that all ended in death.

God does not accept all worship, no matter how sincere that worship might be. God might not accept your worship if you don’t meet His requirements.

Please do not invite your unsaved friends into God’s house for a worship service. That is not the place for them to be saved. It’s the place where the saved worship God according to His rules.

Your unsaved friend should be meeting their Savior in your living room or their’s, on a park bench, or over coffee at the local coffee shop where you share the Gospel with them.

Then, when they have received what Jesus died to give them, invite them to worship with you and other believers in sprit and Truth.

And may I suggest that this Sunday when you walk into the sanctuary, instead of chatting with someone about last night’s ballgame, or your problems with your rose bushes, or that new recipe you found, prepare your heart. Find your seat and bow your head, quiet your mind, take inventory to see if you are ready to worship God according to His rules. Are there things you need to confess? Confess them. Center yourself on the One whom you are there to worship.

If we took the “entrance” test this Sunday, would be pass? May we offer God only acceptable worship.

Forget About Yourself Altogether (Nehemiah 8)

Hearing God’s Word read to them grieved the people. They worshiped God with their heads down, “faces to the ground.” Standing in the presence of Holy God will do that to you.

C.S. Lewis said this in his book, “Mere Christianity:”

“The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It’s better to forget about yourself altogether.”

Please don’t attend church for the experience. Please don’t worship God for the blessing. Please don’t judge worship of God on the basis of how many hands are raised, or people clapping, or how loud the praise team drums are playing. Forget about yourself altogether.

Worship is about God.

After their worship service where God’s Word was read and explained, Nehemiah told the people to go, stop weeping, enjoy some good food, take care of each other.

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. (10b)

The celebration came after worship, not during. I know people don’t want to hear this. I know we’ve been made to think worship should be a rocking party, resulting in an euphoric experience.

But the more I read God’s Word the more I am convinced that is not worship. Worship can’t be about me.

It’s better to forget about yourself altogether.

There’s no fool like an… (Isaiah 42)

If you read the history of God in Old Testament Israel, you will see one miraculous event after another. You will hear God declare Himself in no uncertain terms as Creator and Savior, Holy and demanding holiness. You will see him judge – and forgive – sin over and over again.

If you had been a Jew at the time, you would have experienced God in very tangible, first-hand ways. Even other nations witnessed God in Israel, and recognized Him as something uniquely powerful and real. Yet people still worshiped idols, carved wooden figures that could not hear, speak, or move to rescue. Even faced with the evidence that God is God, they continued to reject Him.

Not just Gentiles, either. Jews rejected God, too. This is what God says about that:

Hear, you deaf; look, you blind, and see! Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like the messenger I send? Who is blind like the one committed to me, blind like the servant of the Lord? You have seen many things, but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing. (42:18-20)

It is sad when a person is physically and medically unable to hear. But the deafness of a hearing person is foolishness. A seeing person who refuses to see is unimaginable, and foolish. Yet God accuses His people of choosing deafness and blindness when they were, in fact, capable of hearing and seeing what was right in front of them.

You’ve heard it said, “there is no fool like an old fool.” I think God is saying there is no deafness like the one who refuses to hear, no blindness like the one refusing to see.

God had spelled everything out, had demonstrated exactly who He was, made “his law great and glorious.” Yet instead of living with the blessings of bowing to God, they had become plunder to their enemies. Instead of living in peace, they lived with “the violence of war.” How foolish could they be?

Well, before I get too judgmental here toward the Old Testament Jews, I am reminded that God has revealed Himself in unmistakable ways here in 2020, too. For one thing, we have the benefit of holding His own Words in our hands, reading them whenever we want. We can listen to preachers and teachers who hold true to the Truth that is Jesus as found in Scripture. We have eyes to see His creation, ears to hear His still, small voice, or the thunder of His voice from the skies.

Yet some of us are still worshiping idols of our own making. We worship self, money, power, right-ness. We honor rock stars and athletes above God. We listen to politicians while we ignore what God says. We spend more time pursuing fun than we do in pursuit of God.

God would tell us today that there is no fool like a blind seeing person or a hearing person who refuses to listen.

Which of you will listen to this or pay close attention in time to come? (verse 23)

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.

 

February 15; God Is In The House!

Exodus 39-40

The Tabernacle was completed in five months. All the pieces fit, and it must have been quite a sight. The sparkling gold and silver, the royal blues and purples must have made a stark contrast against the backdrop of the wilderness.

Aaron and sons were dressed in their new priestly garments, complete with precious jewels. It must have inspired awe in everyone fortunate enough to have been a witness to it all.

But the most important, most impressive thing about the tabernacle didn’t happen until 40:34. The tabernacle was just an empty, albeit beautiful, tent until God showed up. What made this tent stand out from all the other ornate structures in the world was God Himself.

Matthew Henry tells us that everything concerning the tabernacle, and the priestly garments were merely shadows of what was to come. The substance, Henry says, is Christ and the grace of the Gospel. “When therefore the substance has come, it is a jest to be fond of the shadow.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary In One Volume, Zondervan Publishing House, 1961, Grand Rapids, Michigan; page 114)

Let’s never be so concerned about what worship looks and feels like that we forget WHO we worship. Let’s not be as concerned about what our church buildings look like, as we are about why we gather there. Let’s not get caught up in the history of the Bible, or theological details about insignificant differences, and neglect the God of the Bible. Henry says it’s a joke to get caught up in the shadow.

Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus. Let’s celebrate the fact that when our sins are covered by His blood…

God is in the house!

 

January 7; Spider Webs vs Mountains

Job 8-10

As I consider worship in the book of Job, I see a marked contrast between those whose worship is directed toward God, and those who worship anything else.

Bildad, in pointing to their history, says of the one who forgets God, “What he trusts in is fragile, what he relies on is a spider’s web. He leans on his web, but it gives way; he clings to it, but it does not hold.” (8:14-15)

Have you ever had trouble breaking through a spider’s web? Just a little pressure, and the strands give way. Have you tried to stand on a spider’s web? Or lifted yourself up on one? How did that work for you? With a swing of your hand, you can brush away the web, so that it appears it never even existed.

Then, in chapter 9, Job points us to God whose wisdom is profound, whose power is vast. God, who can move mountains, turn off the light of the sun and stars, who performs wonders that cannot be fathomed. God sees all, knows all, created all, and there is nothing in me or you that can match Him. You aren’t going to brush Him away with a swing of your hand.

Job also points us to Jesus (9:32-35). This awesome, powerful, fearful God has become a man! He is the arbitrator between the Father and us that Job longed for. And, unlike Job, I can speak to Him without fear because of Jesus.

If we worship science, self, or even a loving, soft marshmallow god we are basing our worship on something as fragile as a spider’s web. But we whose foundation is built on God, we who worship the God of the Bible, have placed our trust in the sturdy, solid, Truth of God Himself.

He deserves our worship. And when I am faced with the Truth of who He Is, I cannot not worship Him.

 

Zechariah 1-3; Responding To God’s Word

I read Zechariah several times today before dragging out the commentaries of people who believe they know the meaning of the visions recorded here. But, honestly, I get weary when they keep saying, “This verse refers to historical facts, this one refers to Jesus, but this one has to do with our future.” So I prayed as always, “God, what do You want me to know about You today? What do You want to say to me about my walk with You?”

Wow. I think God loves answering that prayer. So I’m only going to share what He has laid on my heart in the first three chapters today. There is so much, I didn’t want to try to tackle the whole book in one post. You may find yourself wanting to debate the details of my interpretation if they don’t align with yours. But I’m just going to let you in on my personal encounter with God today. You don’t have to quote me.

This is what God said to me about Himself: He is in all the world, as symbolized by the horses in chapter 1. Nothing happens anywhere on earth that God doesn’t know, nowhere that He isn’t present. That gives me great comfort.

But God also says, He doesn’t much like what He sees out there all the time. There are forces that would destroy God’s people, as I see in the four horns. But take heart, dear one! God has worker bees among us who are His arms and legs in this battle. And we win! That gives me confidence.

I love that the Jerusalem in Zechariah’s vision has no walls. In fact, God IS the walls of protection surrounding His church. And He IS the glory inside the church. Our protector, our joy and hope, the One True God right here with us and in us!

“For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord. (2:10b)

And when He came in the person of Jesus, people from many nations joined the believing Jews to become God’s people. We are God’s inheritance, the apple of His eye. That makes me love Him so much!

I love how Zechariah’s vision pictures Jesus’ work on the cross when He removed “the sin of this land in a single day.” Before He died that day, Jesus said, “IT IS FINISHED.”

Here’s Joshua, a priest guilty of sin, wearing filthy rags, standing before God. Does God turn him away like Satan expects? NO! God removes the filth, and clothes Joshua in rich garments. “If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements,… I will give you a place among these standing here.” (3:7b)

That’s me! I can stand before God absolutely pure – because He has clothed me with His own purity. Jesus paid the price for my sin, God forgives me. And I am washed whiter than snow through my Savior’s precious blood. That makes me want to bow before Him and worship Him like He deserves.

So today, I feel like God is reminding me He’s got this. Yes, there is a battle going on. Yes, it may seem evil is winning. But God wants me to know He is my protector, my Savior, and I am His beloved, the apple of His eye. What is my response? It makes me want to get out there and serve Him.

December 31 – Worship

Revelation 19-22

I can hardly wait. John’s description of the last and best eternal worship service has my soul eagerly looking forward to being a part of it all. God, sitting on His throne right there in front of me. Me, a sinner in this lifetime, clothed in Jesus’ righteousness and bowing before my Holy God, holy myself because of His Son.

Angels and saints and hymns and psalms and joy and light and perfect love. Forever. No more tears. No more disease or heartache. Just me and Jesus (and a few million other souls washed by the blood of the Lamb) hanging out with the Father.

Holy! Holy! Holy! Worthy is the Lamb!

As I look forward to 2017, I want my life to be an act of worship. I don’t have to wait until I get to heaven. This same Jesus is worthy of my worship today. God is on His throne in all His majesty. And even though I can’t see them at the moment, they are as real as they’ll be when I get there.

I want my eternal worship of God to be a seamless transition from this life to the next, because I’ve learned to worship Him the way He deserves. He is Holy. He is Powerful, Almighty, Sovereign, Perfect, and full of love. I, who cannot look on His face in and of myself, can go boldly to Him because I have accepted His gift of grace through Jesus’ work on the cross. I can stand before Him, without any good thing in me, yet dressed in Jesus’ righteousness, holy because of Jesus, acceptable because of Jesus.

Holy God, I worship You. I adore You. I bow before You unworthy, yet made worthy, sinful, yet made sinless because of Jesus. I want to worship You today and every day in a way that pleases You, because You deserve it. Thank You for preparing a place for me to be with You forever. I worship You. I adore You.

_____________

Thank you for visiting my blog this past year. I hope that I was able to encourage you to read God’s Word every day, to cherish it, and learn from it. I hope your walk with the Lord is closer today than it was a year ago.

I have been reading through the Bible every year for several years now. But this year I found myself frustrated a bit with having to read so fast through these precious verses in order to finish Revelation by today. So I’m going to do things a bit differently next year.

I’ll begin tomorrow with Genesis 1:1. But I’m going to let God dictate how much I read of His Word every day. I want to devour each verse, to pray over it, meditate on it, learn from every sentence. My goal will not be to get through the whole book in a year, but to make this precious book more a part of me than it is today.

I don’t plan to share a post every day. I’ll let God nudge me in that area, too. But I will let you know what I’m learning and how I’m doing as I read the Bible slowly, intentionally, and carefully this year.

I hope you’ll open its pages every day, too. Let’s determine together to be children of God’s Word, and continue to let it guide and strengthen us to maturity.

God bless you in 2017, my friend.

Because He love us,

Connie