Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Worship: What We Do!

As we dig deeper into the subject of worship, my prayer is that our time together will not result only in an academic exercise. What good is it if all we seek is more information? It is futile unless the information motivates and spurs us to action.

Some practical ideas have been suggested to assist you to walk closer to God. In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Robert Foster gives numerous suggestions: meditation, prayer, fasting, study, solitude, submission, service, and confession. These disciplines can be summed up as being in the “presence of God.”

In the 17th century, a Carmelite monk in Paris penned his thoughts in a book regarding this concept of being in the presence of God. In his book, he writes,

As often as I could, I placed myself as a worshiper before him, fixing my mind upon his holy presence, recalling it when I found it wandering from him. This proved to be an exercise frequently painful, yet I persisted through all difficulties.

This week make it a priority to think about God’s character and His presence in your life. Before you say anything, ask yourself, “Would God be pleased with my words?” Before you look at anything, ask yourself, “Would God be pleased if I look at this?” Before you do anything, ask, “Would God be pleased with my actions?”
Allow God to change your lifestyle and behavior by the renewing of your mind. I love J.B. Phillips’ translation of Romans 12:1:-3,

“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God remold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands, and moves toward the goal of true maturity”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Missing Jewel

The first question of the Westminster Catechism is this: “What is the chief and highest end of man?” Its answer: “Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.” We have been created by God to worship and glorify Him. In his book, Worship: The Missing Jewel of the Evangelical Church, A. W. Tozer writes,

Now we were made to worship, but the Scriptures tell us something else again. They tell us that man fell and kept not his first estate; that he forfeited the original glory of God and failed to fulfill the creative purpose, so that he is not worshiping now in the way that God meant him to worship. All else fulfills its design; flowers are still fragrant and lilies are still beautiful and the bees still search for nectar amongst the flowers; the birds still sing with their thousand-voice choir on a summer’s day, and the sun and the moon and the stars all move on their rounds doing the will of God.

And from what can we learn from the Scriptures we believe that the seraphim and cherubim and powers and dominions are still fulfilling their design—worshipping God who created them and breathed into them the breath of life. Man alone sulks in his cave. Man alone, with all of his brilliant intelligence, with all of his amazing, indescribable and wonderful equipment, still sulks in his cave. He is either silent, or if he opens his mouth at all, it is to boast and threaten and curse or it’s nervous ill-considered laughter, or its humor become big business, or its songs without joy.

Man was made to worship God. God gave to man a harp and said, “Here above all the creatures that I have made and created I have given you the largest harp. I put more strings on your instrument and I have given you a wider range than I have given to any other creature. You can worship Me in a manner that no other creature can (11).

Oh, how we fail to worship our God who deserves all the praises from our lips. Make it a priority to worship our God!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"Wasting Time"

I love the title of Marva Dawn’s book on worship: A Royal “Waste” of Time. If the church is ever going to understand the meaning of worship, we must begin by losing ourselves in the splendor of our wonderful God. She begins her book with the following insight:

"To worship the Lord is—in the world’s eyes—a waste of time. It is, indeed, a royal waste of time, but a waste nonetheless. By engaging in it, we don’t accomplish anything useful in our society’s terms. Worship ought not to be construed in a utilitarian way. Its purpose is not to gain numbers nor for our churches to be seen as successful. Rather, the entire reason for our worship is that God deserves it. Moreover, it isn’t even useful for earning points with God, for what we do in worship won’t change one whit how God feels about us. We will always still be helpless sinners caught in our endless inability to be what we should be or to make ourselves caught in our endless inability to be what we should be or to make ourselves better—and God will always still be merciful, compassionate, and gracious, abounding in steadfast love and ready to forgive us as we come to him.

Worship is a royal waste of time, but indeed it is royal, for it immerses us in the regal splendor of the King of the cosmos. The churches’ worship provides opportunities for us to enjoy God’s presence in corporate ways that take us out of time and into the eternal purposes of God’s kingdom. As a result, we shall be changed—but not because of anything we do. God, on whom we are centered and to whom we submit, will transform us by his Revelation of himself."

Make it a goal for this upcoming year to set aside time to spend with God and worship Him. It will be hard because our culture has taught us that silence and solitude is a waste of time. Resist that feeling and learn how to quiet your soul before God and listen to Him.