May 27: Worship as a Response to Knowledge of God

Read 1 Chronicles 29:11-13

David’s time to rule as king of Israel was coming to an end. He had lived a full life, served an amazing kingship, and now all the plans and dreams God had instilled in his heart for a temple in Jerusalem would be brought to fruition through his son, Solomon.

Because David’s hands had shed blood (he was an amazing warrior after all), God would not allow him to be the one to build His temple. Instead, God chose David’s son, Solomon, to construct His dwelling place. (See 1 Chronicles 22:7.)

And David was all in. He had given his life, every last part of the deepest darkest parts of it, for the service and worship of God. God even called him a man after His own heart, so what God wanted was ultimately what David wanted. In fact, David knew God in such a way that he could not help but worship Him with all that he had and all that he was. In this case, (what we’ve read today) he expressed his worship by offering his humble concession to what God had ordained.

That’s how David was able to give so generously to the building of God’s temple. It’s how he was able to proclaim praise for the One Sovereign God over all. For David knew God, so he worshiped with all that he was.

David knew that everything he had — his kingdom, his riches, his strength, his fame — belonged to God, not him. So he offered it back in response to the One he knew to be sovereign and worth all he could offer.

Are you in a place in your life where you are so convinced of God’s goodness and His sovereignty that your only genuine response is to offer Him all that you have? All that you are in worship? Can you worship Him with everything because you know who He is that holds it anyway?

Worship is more than just singing songs or telling God “Thank You.” It’s offering our everything in response to His.

How will you worship Him today?

brw

Posted in Worship

May 26 – Worship as a Response to Encountering God

Read – Isaiah 6:1-6

Can you imagine what the throne room of God looks like?  If you were the most creatively minded person on the Earth I am willing to bet that in your most talented expression, you couldn’t come close to the grandeur, the majesty of the real thing.  And yet, for as massive, and impressive as it must be, the bible says that the train of God’s robe fills it up.  Even God’s clothes are impressive beyond imagination.  And there are angels there with Him; each one with six wings.  These angels are so powerful that the sound of their voice shakes the foundations of this most impressive place.  These beings the bible calls Seraphim circle around the throne and all day long they call out, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

It is into this scene that Isaiah was brought by the Spirit.  And upon encountering the living God and creator of the universe Isaiah’s reaction was to…

  • hop on his lap and ask questions… no
  • put his hands in the air and shout hallelujah, praise Jesus!… no
  • sing a round of praise songs…no
  • or maybe even, WOW! Am I lucky, I have been to the throne room, heard the angels praise God, and even been given first hand proof of His existence, I am the luckiest man alive.

No…he said I am ruined, because I am a sinner and everyone I live with are sinners too.  Isaiah was not impressed with the angels, nor the throne room, nor the robe of God.  He thought he was a dead man because when confronted face to face with the living God, the only and immediate realization is, this God is HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, and I am NOT, NOT, NOT!  Isaiah literally thought he was going to die just from the sight of it.

While God chooses to reveal Himself to us in many different ways, and we all have varying reactions to His revelation, but when we meet him face to face, we will all have one and the same reaction.  We will be prostrate and silent in the knowledge of our sheer wickedness in the presence of His perfection.  Worship therefore begins in the silent realization of who God is and who we are not.

I love that God didn’t leave Isaiah in this condition for long. He certainly would have been within His rights to do so.  One of the angels immediately flew to Isaiah in his distress and purified him.  The second realization preceding our worship is the understanding of the grace so freely given to us by this holy God while we were so undeserving and sinful.

ejt

Posted in Worship

May 25 – Acceptable Worship is Born in Faith

Read: Genesis 4:3-7 and Hebrews 11:4

The first time I ever read the account in Genesis 4 of Cain and Abel, I kind of felt bad for Cain.  It seemed to me like God sort of set him up.  He and Abel both offered sacrifices, and yet God didn’t accept Cain’s sacrifice.  It didn’t seem right, and while that could never justify Cain’s killing of Abel I wondered if any of it would have happened if God had simply looked differently on Cain.

The reality of the situation is that both of the brothers were engaged in worship.  Both brought an offering to Adam to be given to the Lord.  Abel was a shepherd and brought what the bible calls “fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock”.  This phrase can also be translated, Abel brought the best part of the firstborn of his flock.  Cain on the other hand was a farmer and the bible says he brought “some of the fruit of the ground”.

Abel brought the best part of the first part, but Cain just brought…some.  But I don’t even believe that Cain’s offering was really the heart of the problem.  Cain got pretty mad when God didn’t accept his sacrifice.  God’s response is very telling.  He said to Cain in v.7, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?”  God hadn’t rejected Cain’s offering, He had rejected Cain.  God looks at the heart, and when he looked at Cain’s heart he did not find faith.  Cain’s sacrifice was offered without faith, and therefore in sin.  Because of his sin, God rejected Cain, and because of his faith God accepted Abel.  In Hebrews 11:4 it says …by FAITH Abel brought God a better offering than Cain.  Abel’s offering wasn’t better on its own, it was Abel’s faith that made it acceptable to God.

When we come to the Lord in worship, we must come in faith.  Without faith it is impossible to please God and therefore without faith it is impossible to worship God.  In addition, how we worship is less important to God than the fact that our worship be born out of a relationship with Him.  You can perform the most elaborate ritual, sing the loudest, and give till it hurts, but if you do it without genuine faith in the object of your worship, your sacrifice is in vain.

ejt

Posted in Genesis, Hebrews, Worship

May 24: The Grounds for Worship

Read Psalm 8

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? (v3)

I’d been driving since early morning. All the way across Ohio and straight through Indiana, I was headed for Chicagoland, on my way to visit a friend from college. It was late May, so the leaves had just recently filled the trees along the turnpike, and somehow I was enamored by them.

I have never been scientifically-minded, so the cellular details of a tree’s dna have never taken up much (or any) space in my mind. But that particular day found me awe-struck as I pondered the fingers that formed the landscape I traveled.

Some of the trees along the way stood taller than the others, grand and mighty and seemingly indestructible. Others were seedlings, tiny and vulnerable and full of potential. But all of them, all of the alive ones, had something in common. Every single one of those trees that had life held leaves which came from somewhere within those branches.

It struck me as I drove that the same hand that stretched the geographical distance from Akron, Ohio to Chicago, Illinois and beyond was the very hand that created each cell that made up every leaf on each of those trees.

The mighty hand of God Himself had touched earth with His Word and made life out of nothing. And I was witnessing its results.

I had time, so I let my mind wander deeper into the awe that had me wonderstruck at the majesty of Almighty God. But, truthfully, all the time in the world wouldn’t be enough for me to understand the intricacies of all that He’s created, all that He’s done, all that He is.

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (v1)

I made that drive more than 20 years ago, but I remember it like it was just last week. The wonder of God that came as I let myself ponder what I cannot possibly understand led me into a kind of worship that will forever mark my soul.

And this is the grounds for worship — when the majesty of God that formed those mighty trees and somehow knows our deepest parts, leaves us breathlessly awed and proclaiming again,

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is you name in all the earth! (v9)

brw

Posted in Worship | Tagged

May 23: Who is like our God?

Read Micah 7:1-20

I trust you have recognized the cancerous nature of sin in the people of Israel at the time that Micah wrote these words.  It had infiltrated the very ranks of the people of God and had spread to the point that the prophet said, “The godly person has perished from the land, and there is no upright person among them.”  (v. 2)  Even the very best of them was described as a “briar” and the most upright as a “thorn hedge.” (v. 4)  No one could be trusted.  From neighbor to friend, from son to daughter, even one’s own spouse; everyone was suspicious.  Micah has made the sinfulness of Judah and Israel abundantly clear.

Opinions will certainly vary as to extent that we see that same degree of sinfulness reflected in the church, culture, nation, or world today.  Regardless of your thoughts, you would likely agree with the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 3:13:  “evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”  You have likely witnessed that in your own lifetime.

But you have to love the hope with which the prophet closes out the book.  The words merit repeating.

Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
You will be faithful to Jacob,
and show love to Abraham,
as you pledged on oath to our ancestors
in days long ago.  (Micah 7:18-20)

Pause for a moment and celebrate the uniqueness of our God!

  • He pardons rather than condemns.
  • He forgives instead of punishing.
  • He shows mercy in the place of executing justice.
  • He has compassion rather than demonstrating contempt.
  • He is faithful and not forgetful.
  • He shows love rather than wrath.

In Jesus Christ, all of that is true!

sbk

Posted in Micah

May 22: Acts of Penance or Marks of Repentance?

Read Micah 6:1-16

Verse one of this chapter marks the beginning of the third and final invitation to “listen to what the Lord says” (cf. 1:1; 3:1).  Rather than initially speaking to the people, however, Micah’s plea goes out to inanimate objects like mountains, hills, and the foundations of the earth.  Even though these created objects lack the ability to reason, it seems that Micah’s point is that even they would be able to comprehend the illogic of what is about to be said.  Even they would be able to grasp the disconnect between God’s tender care and protection and the nation’s idolatrous abandonment of the One who had blessed them in righteousness.  It made no sense, you see, that Israel would disregard Yahweh in such a way.

If we are honest, we must all admit that we are guilty of similar inconsistency.  We have been blessed beyond measure.  And, yet, our devotion ebbs and flows.  Yep, we have something in common with the people of God in 700 b.c.

So what were the people to do?  Verses six through eight outline what must have seemed to be the logical response.  Sacrifices.  Perhaps they could bring them in great quantity…rams by the thousand.  Or maybe they could bring their own children, their firstborn.  Would God be more endeared to them based on the things that they gave up?

Let’s be clear here.  God’s plan for any and all (ourselves included) is not one of penance.  Those who do penance think that, by doing certain sacrificial, self-abasing acts, they can earn God’s forgiveness.  Friends, that is simply not possible.  Instead, God calls us to repentance.  He asks that we sincerely own our sin, confessing it to Him.  When we do so, 1 John 1:9 tells us that He will “forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

But the New Testament also talks about the fruit of genuine repentance (2 Corinthians 7).  It would seem that this is what Micah had in mind as he penned verse 8:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

Those are the characteristics God looks for in all of us!

sbk

Posted in Micah

May 21: Messianic Hope

Read Micah 5:1-15

It is true of the Old Testament prophets in general and of Micah in this fifth chapter specifically.  The description of events is not always chronological and not always imminent.  We saw that yesterday, and it is true again today.  A quick glance at the first few verses of chapter five remind us of this reality.  Notice how the verses point to specific events happening in different timeframes:

Verse Date Event
1 586 b.c. Babylonian conquest of King Zedekiah and Jerusalem
2 3-5 b.c. Birth of Christ
3 30 a.d. to millennium Israel’s rejection of Christ
4 Future Millennial reign of Jesus
5 722 b.c. Assyrian attack against God’s people

In most instances Israel’s hope was painted in terms of the coming Messiah and the kingdom He would establish.  And yet, it is worth mentioning, that His first advent was yet some 700 years away from the day Micah recorded these words.  Now, we must keep in mind that the people of God did not have the rear mirror, calendrical perspective that we have today.  They were not able to plug the desired destination of this messianic hope into a GPS and calculate the travel time to it.  It was, however, like a beautiful mountain looming large on the horizon.  And many, even though they would not experience that reality in their lifetimes, derived great encouragement from it.

Even though we live on in the aftermath of the coming of Jesus, we still know and experience adversity today.  We look to our Savior in prayer for help and hope.  The interesting thing, however, is that this life will never be totally free from those things that burden us.  We also live in messianic hope of events that are yet future…events like Christ’s return at the rapture and eternity with Him.  We do not know if the rapture will take place prior to our passing or after.  But these are things that give us reason to press forward.  After all, we can be sure that “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Cor. 4:17)

sbk

Posted in Micah