Sunday, January 8, 2012

Worship Out of Delight, Not Duty.

Worship is an outward expression of our inward adoration, affection and emotions towards something.  To say it a bit differently, we worship the things in our lives that we long for, appreciate, enjoy, and desire.

Jesus gave us a stern reminder of the words of Isaiah, the profit:

"This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; [9] in vain do they worship me" | Matthew 15:8-9
This is not what we want our worship to be.  God is not glorified by our worship when it is done out of duty and not delight.  Yes, we live in a broken world.  Our lives are full of sin, anxieties, worry, doubt, anger, frustration, disappointment, suffering, pain, and many other things which can become distractions.  That is the consequence of distracts us from the primary purpose of what we were created for.  Namely to be fully satisfied in God.

The bible tells us in Psalm 37:4 to, "Delight [ourselves] in the LORD, and he will give [us] the desires of [our] hearts."  But the truth behind this command is something that we often times struggle to comprehend.  We allow life's many distractions to come into our lives and our hearts and divert our attention and affection from what we were created for.  The result of this, is that these things come into our lives and take the place that belongs to God alone.  Our desires, our worry, our doubt, our frustrations, our suffering, our anger or whatever else it may be...become idols in our lives and turn our worship from God-honoring to God-dishonoring vain worship.

What we need to understand first is that God knows we struggle.  God knows that we live in a broken world.  God never asks us to forget about the realities of life and simply worship him.  What he tells us over and over again in scripture is to simply keep our priorities in proper perspective.  Let's take a look at the verse from Psalms again and try to put it into a different light, which may help us understand the true scope the psalmist was trying to capture for us:  delight yourself (first) in the Lord, and (then) He will provide you the desires of your heart.  Never in this verse does the author tell us to ignore our burdens.  He simply says, delight yourself in the Lord, and he will take care of the rest.  And this is the point.

None of us are capable of fixing the sin problem in our lives.  Anxiety and worry are real things.  We worry about our families, our marriage, our children, our jobs.  These distractions are real, and God knows them.  He knows everything that we deal with on a daily basis and yet he still points us away from the distractions towards his presence.  But why?  There has to be a reason, right?  The reason is simple and yet one that we continue to ignore each time we elevate our struggles above our God.  Simply said, God points us to himself, because he is the only one capable of changing the outcome of our lives.  We can waste our time worrying about the things that are making our life hard, or we can instead trust in the Lord (and his promises) to work out all things together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.

God wants to see us set free from the bondage of sin.  He wants to see us satisfied in his presence first.  He knows that true delight can only come from him, and he is ready and waiting to see us grasp this concept as well.  The only question that remains is, are we willing to let go of these things?  Are we willing to walk into church on a Sunday morning and give our burdens over to the Lord?  Or will we continue to carry them on our own and as a result turn our worship on Sunday morning from delight into duty?  We know how God feels about vain worship...and we don't want to be a people or a church worshiping out of duty.  We don't want vain worship, we want genuine worship which glorifies God.  So, we need to stand firm on the promises of scripture and understand that God cares and longs to fulfill the desires of our hearts, when we surrender our lives and allow him to be Lord of all areas of our lives.  The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:7, to cast all our anxieties on the Lord, because he cares for us.  God is willing and waiting to lift the many burdens we carry because of the sinful world in which we live, so it's time we answered the question, are we willing to allow him to do this in our lives?

For His Glory,


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