Reflecting on Worship
This week I’ve been blessed to be at the Southside Lectures. Worshipping with the saints in Pasadena Texas has not only been nostalgic but invigorating. I’ve been so encouraged by those who have braved predictions of flooding and hurricanes to come together and the zeal that they have brought to worship has been refreshing to both body and spirit.
The lessons on Wednesday morning were particularly poignant and the efforts of Don Truex and Roger Shouse were truly inspiring given the events of the week. Don spoke on the privilege of God centered worship, and Roger on the joy of having Christian brethren. It was interesting that the two lessons played so well together given their seemingly contrasting focuses. I do not mean that they were contradicting but focused on different areas of life.
In place of my usual article this week I’d like to offer you some meditations on godly worship and loving our brethren.
Worship must never be mindless, meaningless, or without heart.
8 ‘ This people honors ME with their lips,
But their heart is far away from ME.
9 ‘ But in vain do they worship ME,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.
(Matthew 15:8-9 NASB)
True worship demands all of a man, and the best of him at that. When God is not the center of our worship it is void of heart, meaning, and consciousness.
We are formed into the image of that which we worship.
Evil came upon them,” declares the Lord. ’”
4 Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel. 5 Thus says the Lord,
“ What injustice did your fathers find in Me,
That they went far from Me
And walked after emptiness and became empty?
(Jeremiah 2:3-5 NASB)
Their Indictment in Jeremiah 2 is that they were not worshipping God, at least not really, or else they would imitate Him. When we imitate the sinful world and its moral relativism we show that our worship is not true because our lives are not true to the ideal.
Worship moves us in the direction of God
But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
(John 4:23 NASB)
Normally we pause at the semicolon as if it’s the extent of what was said, but it’s the second thought that may be the most poignant. We talk about seeking God, but we rarely talk about God seeking us. This unseats so many of the modern denominations that rely on a crueler notion of sovereignty. God is not ordaining man at random He is seeking those who seek Him.
Worship is not a spectacle it is for the restoration of the soul
1 I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.
(Psalms 122:1 NASB)
The third of the Psalm Ascents, these songs of hope and cheer were said to have been sung by pilgrims as they made their journeys from their homes up to the city of Jerusalem for the yearly pilgrimages. While there are other theories about these works and their place in tradition, it’s moving to think that Jesus and the apostles might have been singing these 14 psalms on the way to Jerusalem. When we prepare for worship are we planning for a spectacle or for the restoration of the soul? What is accomplished within each of us as we call for the attention of the Father to cast His gaze upon our offering of worship? Perhaps this as much as any other is the reason why the “what” and “how” of our worship is so important. While we are restored, we are not the audience.
Roger’s lesson was on the joy of having brethren, and his thoughts came mainly from the 5th chapter of I Thessalonians particularly verses 11-28
We are not all in the same place spiritually, but we are all connected. We need to learn to deal with each other appropriately.
14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. 16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic utterances. 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.
(1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 NASB)
We must remember that the unruly, are not the fainthearted, nor are they the weak. Each type of brother needs to be handled with all appropriate care. If the weak and fainthearted are the same to us as the unruly and we treat them thusly we will discourage and destroy.
I.We should reflect an attitude of positivity toward our brethren in all things.
II.We should be consistent in expressing God’s love toward them.
III.Our responsibility in our brotherly obligations is demanded.
24 A man of too many friends comes to ruin,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
(Proverbs 18:24 NASB)
Look for my real article to post on Saturday until then meditate on these things.