Posts Tagged ‘Worship


American Idols

Under the old covenant, the children of Israel were told not to worship idols of precious metal, wood and stone. In the New Testament, John closes out his first letter with a similar admonition. He writes:

Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. – 1 John 5:21 (NIV)

The Apostle Paul said that greed is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). We may not have American idols of gold, stone and wood, but we definitely have idols that we worship. We have idols of green paper that we worship. We have idols of celebrity, entertainment and sports that we worship. We worship idols of pleasure and leisure. We worship our families and our children. We worship our jobs. We worship our country and our planet. Anything or anyone that you put before Jesus is an idol. As followers of Jesus, we believe that God is God and everything else is a potential idol. Every day we must fight the battle against idolatry in our lives. Every idol will disappoint you because you were made for a relationship with your Creator, not His creation.

In Spirit And In Truth

John 4:19-24 (NIV)

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

It appears that the worship wars started many years ago. The Jews and Samaritans were at odds over the proper place of worship. Jesus says that it isn’t the place of worship that counts. It’s something else entirely. He says that true worshipers must worship in Spirit and in truth. Spirit-filled worship of God does not take happen in just one place, such as a mountain or a temple. True worship of God takes place in the heart of every born-again believer in Jesus. True worship is more than just words on a page or a screen. Spirit-filled worship emanates from our souls as we express our gratitude for what God has done and our admiration of who He is.
I think that fighting about worship, whether styles or locations, is about the dumbest thing we do as followers of Jesus. How foolish is it that we think that God is contained in our little worship box? As though there is only one kind of music God likes? As though God can be limited to being worshiped on a Sunday morning at 10:30 (in your particular time zone) in a church building? When we gather for worship, the important thing is not the songs we sing nor the place where we gather with brothers and sisters. It is the attitude in which we enter into worship. Are we there to express our thanksgiving to and admiration of Almighty God? It’s an honor and a privilege to come before Him! We’re beggars and paupers coming before the King in our filthy rags of self-righteousness and we’re going to fight with each other about how we’re dressed or the proper way to sing His praises? Ludicrous! Let us seek to honor and worship Jesus in Spirit and in truth that we may be unified in awe and wonder as to who He is and what He’s done.
PRAYER: Forgive me, Father, for my wrong attitudes regarding worship. I want to worship You in Spirit and in truth. Help me to know the truth and to be filled with the Spirit so that my worship may be pleasing to You. You are good and kind. You have provided all that I need. You are most worthy of praise! Accept my offering of worship and praise today in the name of Jesus, amen.

Zeal For Worship

John 2:13-17 (NIV)

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Was Jesus upset about the fact that people were selling cattle, sheep and doves for sacrifices? No, this was done out of convenience for pilgrims who came from a long way off. Was He upset that people were exchanging currency? Again, this was done so that people could pay their temple taxes and offer their gifts. Jesus was upset because people were being taken advantage of. They had to give a gift and make their sacrifices. So the priests and money changers were getting rich by overcharging. Not only that, but all of this commerce was taking place in the court of the Gentiles and was making it difficult for the Gentile converts to worship God. They were being distracted by the county fair kind of atmosphere that was taking place in their courts.
Jesus was passionate about honoring His Father in worship. He was zealous for the house of the Lord. We should be zealous, not for our church buildings, but for true worship of God. The little girl scout selling cookies after church or the young boy selling candy bars are fine as long as they are not overcharging to make a profit (is it even possible to overcharge for Thin Mints? Those things are amazing!) and as long as they are not distracting people from worshiping God. If they’re walking around selling cookies and candy bars during the service, they need to wait until a more appropriate time. The New Testament teaches us that true worshipers worship in Spirit and in Truth. Worship is not about a building, but rather it is about our hearts. So let’s focus on what really matters when it comes to worship – focusing on honoring Jesus.
PRAYER: Thank You, Father God, for the gift of worship. I want to honor You and Your Son with my life and with my heart. I want to be pure in my motives and devoted to You in my heart. Forgive me my many sins so that I may stand before You in worship as You see me, forgiven and clean. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Recapturing The Holy Awe

John 1:19-28 (NIV)

19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”
21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

John knew about Jesus, but others did not. John knew that Jesus was the Son of God, the Savior of the world. He knew where Jesus was from and what He had come to do. John also knew his own purpose. He quoted the prophet Isaiah when asked about his own ministry. He was preparing the path for the Messiah. He understood Jesus’ exalted place and his own humble position. He was sent, not to be the Messiah, but to point to Jesus as the Messiah.

We get so flippant with Jesus sometimes. We don’t understand who He really is. He is the Son of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords. We treat Him like our teddy bear, our buddy or our high school sweetheart, but rarely do we see Him as the One whose sandals we are unworthy to untie. We need to recapture that holy awe of Jesus. Yes, He is a Friend to sinners. Yes, He loves us deeply. Yes, He gives us security when we are afraid. But He is also the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He is the conquering King. He is sitting at the right hand of the Father reigning in majesty and glory. Every knee will bow before Him. Every tongue will confess His lordship. When we see Him coming on the clouds one day, we will understand so much better just how awesome He is. 

Let us dedicate ourselves today to living like Jesus is who He said He is. He is the Lion and the Lamb and He is the King. He is God.

PRAYER: O Father, I am sorry when I treat Jesus as anything less than who He really is. Help me to be in awe of His awesome position and amazing power. Help me to make Him the Lord of my life that I may serve Him as my King. In His name, amen.


The Beginning Of Wisdom

Psalm 111 (NLT)

Praise the Lord!

I will thank the Lord with all my heart
as I meet with his godly people.
How amazing are the deeds of the Lord!
All who delight in him should ponder them.
Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty.
His righteousness never fails.
He causes us to remember his wonderful works.
How gracious and merciful is our Lord!
He gives food to those who fear him;
he always remembers his covenant.
He has shown his great power to his people
by giving them the lands of other nations.
All he does is just and good,
and all his commandments are trustworthy.
They are forever true,
to be obeyed faithfully and with integrity.
He has paid a full ransom for his people.
He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever.
What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!
10 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom.
All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.

Praise him forever! – Psalm 111 (NLT)

Psalm 111 is a psalm of praise to the Lord that ends with a familiar verse telling us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  So many people think that they’re so smart and so wise, but they have no fear or respect for God.  The Hebrew word for “fear” means terror, respect or worship.  Reverence/respect is what is in mind here in Psalm 111.  There are two key aspects to respecting God that are found in this psalm.  First, the psalmist describes the deeds and works of the Lord.  Verses 2-7 speaks of the wonderful works of the Lord.  The second aspect of respect refers to the commandments of the Lord (verses 7-8).  If we are going to respect God, we must respect His commands and His Word.  Jesus said that if His followers love Him, they will obey His commandments (John 14:15).  Respect and obedience are intertwined.  If I do not fear the Lord, I will not obey Him.  I will not care what He says in His Word.  I will not do what He says.  But that is foolishness!  That is like buying a new yet unfamiliar smartphone.  If I get a new phone, but I don’t read the instruction manual and do what it says, I am a fool!  I will not be able to enjoy and use the features of the phone without reading the instruction manual.  Or if I go on vacation to an unfamiliar part of the country and I don’t read or follow the map, I will get lost and I am a fool!  So it goes with life.  God has given us a wonderful instruction manual and map in His Word to get to where we really want to be, our Heavenly home.  If I do not read and obey the manual or read and follow the map, I am a fool.  The wise man is the one who reads and follows the instructions that God has given in the Bible.  May we have a reverent fear and respect of the Lord today to read His Word and do what it says.
PRAYER: Lord God, I need more fear of You in my life. I sometimes take You for granted. Help me to honor You with my life today in the things that I say, think and do. Amen.


1 John 5:21 (NIV)
Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.
John abruptly ends his letter with a six word exhortation to keep yourselves from idols.  We tend to think of idolatry as an ancient problem.  We don’t bow down and worship statues made of precious metals or stone, do we?  Maybe not, but we do have idols in our lives.  An idol is anything that takes your worship away from God.  So what kinds of idols do we have in the 21st century?
  • Success is an idol
  • Money is an idol
  • Fame is an idol
  • Entertainment is an idol
  • Our children can be our idols
  • Sports is an idol
  • Church is sometimes an idol
  • Busyness is an idol

Whatever comes between you and God is your idol.  Whatever takes the place of God in your life is an idol.  I’m not talking about things that keep you from going to church on a Sunday morning.  I am talking about the things that take God off of the throne of your heart.  What do you spend your time doing?  Take a look at your calendar.  On what do you spend your money?  Take a look at your bank statement.  Do you spend time with God?  Do you use your resources for God?

Don’t let the idols of this life preoccupy your time and money.  Don’t let the idols of this life keep you from truly worshiping the one true God.  Don’t let the idols of this life keep you from growing in your faith and going deeper with God in devotion and surrender to Him.  Keep yourself from idols.
PRAYER: Father, I want YOU to sit on the throne of my heart today.  Be my King.  Rid my life of the idols that want to take Your rightful place.  Help me to love You more today than the things of this world that vie for my attention and affection.  In Jesus’ holy name I pray, amen.

The God Who Pays Attention

1 Kings 18:22-29 (NIV)

Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”

Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”

25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it.

Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.

27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.

Elijah bet on the one true God.  His faith in God and his confidence in God was so great that he laid down the gauntlet and challenged the 450 prophets of Baal.  They called upon the name of their god over and over.  They did everything to get his attention, but their efforts were in vain.  1 Kings says that “…there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention” (1 Kings 18:29, NIV).  

Sometimes, we try to please the “gods” in our lives.  These gods are success and wealth and status.  We sacrifice to them and yet they do not answer us. We try to get their attention, but they do not respond with satisfaction.  We do so much to try and arouse their interest in us, but they are not paying attention.  We think that money will make us happy, but it only makes us greedy.  We think that success will satisfy, but it is fleeting and does not respond the way we wish it would.  We think that status will make us feel better about ourselves, but no one pays attention because they’re out trying to make a name for themselves as well.  

All the while, the one true God loves us and wants to satisfy our every longing.  He doesn’t want to give us wealth to hoard.  He wants to bless us to be a blessing to others.  He doesn’t want us to succeed in mere earthly terms.  He wants us to win the race that leads to eternal life.  God doesn’t want us to seek earthly status and greatness in the eyes of others.  He wants us to be humble and by humbling ourselves, He will lift us up.  

The gods of this world are dead and they’re not listening to us.  They will not respond to our desperate attempts to rouse them.  They will not satisfy the deepest desires of our hearts and souls.  They will only leave us empty and longing for more.  Do not waste your life trying to please the gods of wealth, status and success.  Instead, do as Jesus said to do and seek the Kingdom of God first and His righteousness.  If you will, God will provide everything you need and He’ll bless you with even more.  

PRAYER: Father God, I ask that you will satisfy the deepest longings of my heart and soul.  Thank You for Your loving care.  Thank You for paying attention to me.  I do not deserve Your attention for I am weak and frail.  I have sinned time and again and yet You love me anyway.  I cannot express my gratitude with mere words.  Help me to live it out today.  Amen.

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