And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sunday Worship: The start and finish line of all we do

In studying the scriptures this week, I have again been thinking of worship and how it should appropriately be handled.  We would do well to remember Aaron’s sons who “offered strange fire upon the altar”, and were instantly killed.  God does not often kill those who worship falsely, but He does often ignore their prayers, praise, and presence.  Part of the pain of life is that we fail to see Sunday Worship as a start/Finish line for the laps we run in life.  The start finish is an evaluation of how we just did, and a pressing on toward what we are on mission to do.  Sunday worship is not an optional occasion to catch up on spiritual hungers.  It is a great celebration of joy and often a time of humbling ourselves before man and God.  It is not another for of entertainment.  It is to be a sanctuary of coming into the presence of Almighty God.  Hence, I have been meditating on how to worship God in an acceptable manner.

God wants worshippers who have been centered upon Him in their thinking and actions Him all week long in spirit and in truth. That is to say, they have been godly minded in a spirit of awe, that He alone is God and in truth that it is a fight well worth fighting to live for, fighting against sin and any false idol.

Each week is an opportunity to choose God and reject the world by knowingly fighting against sin. (Rom 12:1-2, 1 Cor 10:12-14, and Eph 6) This is the idea behind worshipping Him in and out of season.  In season is choosing to glorify Him in thanksgiving for all the good, out of season is to do everything to His glory (eating, suffering, praising, and receiving good) rather than following the flesh  being angry, murmuring, giving to self-affording fantasy, or fleshly desires, it is abiding in the Spirit in order to joyfully know Him and produce spiritual fruit.(Gal 5)

Thus, when we come to worship Him on Sunday, it is a reflection of the past week and a preparation for the future, putting everything on the altar.  It should be taken quite seriously.  Our week should be lived in preparation for the honor of attending church.  It is all about God and not us.

"Behold, you are trusting in deceptive words to no avail. "Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal and walk after other gods that you have not known, then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, 'We are delivered!'--that you may do all these abominations? "Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it," declares the LORD. (Jer 7:8-11)

Our hearts need to be prepared to hear what God has to say in the service, especially the sermon.  Too often we hear a truth in the sermon and take it as an advisement.  This again, is one of the shortcomings on our part when it comes to worship.  We often know a truth but never incorporate it into our life.    We hear and then are distracted before it takes root.  God wants people who will sacrificially worship Him is spirit and in truth, that they see His word as life. (John 4)  That is, they understand His word to be so valuable, so useful, and in faith, applicable above air, and water, and sex, and food that they orient their lives to keep God first in absolutely everything.  They fear missing out on God. 

When we don’t take His word to heart, a thin veil tends to obscure our vision of God.  After a while, the truth is filed away and never used.  We then resort back to our own self exulting way of thinking.  Here is where knowledge without proper application is most dangerous.  We have the tools, we just do not know how to use them.  Therefore we assume the Gospel, but never become experienced in  it.  We can argue God’s word, but it has no place within us.  We may do all sorts of things in the name of God and yet never know Him.(Matthew 7)

Unfortunately, this is the result of a prideful heart getting in the way.  The more we worship God, the more humble we become.  When we spend out week going from activity to activity, and we fail to do so in the glory for God’s name, we forfeit opportunities to abide in Him, which is a graceful means of humbling ourselves.  We often believe we can get by with a simple daily Bible reading, and a short prayer.  We consider the hour we spend in Sunday worship as sufficient for our needs.  This is all evidence that we think too highly of ourselves.  Thus we need to renew our mind.  But pride again gets in the way, veiling truth.  We toy with truth and find that we renew ourselves with witticisms, lists, and principals, thus puffing up the self. “Oh yes, that I know. You see I have heard it before. Oh, that was a lovely message.”  This is Phariseeism.  It is the collection of books without wisdom. 

What we need is humility, recognizing our utter need of God. We need to experience the application of these truths in light of worshipping God and not self.  The word of God is meant to convict us, not make us learned men who no longer fight the fight of faith.  Worship should be understood as the most relevant act that we undertake all week.  This is honoring unto God.  When we sniff at it or see it as an footnote to our week, we out to consider our true relationship to God.  

James admonishes up to take the word of God with the utmost seriousness.  He calls it being implanted.  How do you know you have received the word implanted?   You become vigilant; you fight constantly against your own propensity to worship self (anger, pride, sexual sins, worry, depression, boasting, etc.)   One who has received the word of God lives by the cross.  They have no heart or longing for this world, they merely want to see the Kingdom of God established and His glory known.  They have a bit of holiness about them that they cannot see, much like the Shekinah glory on Moses’ face.  Above all, they are new creations; they are transformed by the Holy Spirit.  Those that are worshippers of God take great care to apply all of the scriptures appropriately to their personal biography, in each and every aspect. 

They are uncommon amidst the common.  They reflect Jesus.

Realize the Traps
Sin works like advertising. It offers an appeal that you can be great, all you need is..., or you deserve….    Thus, when approaching those appeals to the soul--advertising, internet, entertainment, friends, and such-- be on guard.  Satan slips in among the crowd as a sheep in wolves clothing. The appeals are subtle:.  a justification here, a slight of scripture there, a distraction.  Then they enter into the heart by way of the mind, by way of the eyes and ears.  Satan knows the paths and halls to your heart better than you.  He knows every gate, door, window, and passageway.  He may even get another to lead him in.

 The traps are everywhere.  Stand your ground as a watchman, realizing that all week you are going to be under attack and tested.  The worship service is a time of confession and renewal, of praise and refreshing, of encouragement in the fight.  You cannot afford to treat it as an option.

Thus, all of life is to worship God, and one way of doing so is to so joyously love God that you forsake everything and sacrifice all in order to be with Him.  Learn from Him how the world fails and deceives, and that He alone is a true treasure.  This is a form of guarding and worshipping.  In it, God is glorified, and you become satisfied.

When we take the stuff of God and make it man centered, that exalts the self. It becomes religion.  It serves religious purposes and carries all the trappings with it. However, when we take the stuff of God and respond humbly in awe of Him, that becomes worship.  It is never, ever, never boring.  It is what worship ought to be, seeing God in His infinite magnitude of glory, and we in our desperate need of Him.  Worship of God is the greatest pursuit of life.

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