Friday, February 6, 2015

Becoming Like God...In His Presence (2 of 2)

In the most recent post, worship was described as our focusing on and responding to God, and being done in Spirit and truth. In this post, worship is revealed as expected, which means I will provide a few options for application to help each of us meet that expectation.

The final set of points regarding worship is expected both privately and publicly. Let us look at publicly first. Read Hebrews 10.24-25. This verse does not say to “worship” together, but it does say to meet together regularly. And v. 22 says we should draw near (to God because of the blood of Jesus), so this is in the context of worship. In Acts 2.42-47, the description of the early church, it says “they” were praising God (see v. 45). In addition, the Bible always talks about Community. The Israelites were a community. The New Testament church is a COMMUNITY. Consider some of the metaphors for church – flock (Acts 20.28), body (1 Corinthians 12.12), structure (Ephesians 2.21), household (Ephesians 2.19) – all of these words have the aspect of a singular unit made up of multiple parts. That is what the church is – a bunch of individuals who together make up one larger unit.

So, our worship is to be OUR WORSHIP. Interestingly, the Bible says much less about individuals worshiping. Individuals certainly encounter God (Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, etc.), yet little is said about a person going off by themselves to worship God in private. One example is one mentioned in the previous post – of John on Patmos.

So, let us ask ourselves, should we worship in private? Well, let me equate this to a team. Of course, given that pro football is usually played on Sunday, I will use that analogy, but this metaphor could apply to any team. So, what if a football team practices all week, preparing for the game, or at least some of the players are. They all know the game is on Sunday, but the offense decides that since it did well last Sunday, there is no need to practice this week thinking, “everything will be good again this week.” Or instead of the entire offense, maybe it is just a couple of players. Maybe the quarterback and wide receivers decide not to show up for practice all week. Thus, they don't know the game plan and they are a little rusty. No big deal to them. But it impacts the overall performance of the team.

The previous example could prompt each of us to ask one simple question each week? Am I doing what I need to do each day so that my performance on Sunday will not be a detriment to the rest of my team (your congregation)? Personally, sometimes, I would say the answer is yes...sometimes not. But what if we all asked that question? What if Sunday was not the day to worship, but was the day where we fully expressed ourselves in worship TOGETHER as a continuance of our experiences during the week?

This is the crux of worship! Many in churches today are concerned that they were not fed, or were not inspired, or whatever during the worship service. If the worship service were all about you and me, that would be a problem. But the question we must ask ourselves each time we worship (as individuals and collectively) – was God honored? If He was, He still deserves the praise, not us. If He was not, what part might I have played in that? Was I prepared for worship? Was I expecting God to be present? Was I seeking Him?

Just like there may be days when you don't feel like reading your Bible, or struggle to find intimacy in prayer, you may not feel like worship or your worship may be stale. That isn't an excuse not to do it. Again, worship is not about us, or how we feel, it is about God and who He is. Just think, if you don't worship, He might not show up, and if He doesn't show up, what might you miss? If you are not willing to come into His presence, how can He help you through whatever you might be facing? What blessing of His might you miss? Fight through it. Persevere. Keep your focus on Him and then respond to where His Spirit, in His truth, will lead.

This past Sunday, thousands of people gathered at a stadium in Arizona to watch the Super Bowl. Millions more gathered around their televisions or other electronic devices to watch. Some watched to be entertained. Others watched because they worship the sport of football, or one of the two participating teams, or even certain players. After all worship is – “worth”ship – and wherever we place worth, we will worship, at some level. So many people worship all kinds of stuff. Why? Because they don't worship God! Eduard Schweizer said it this way:

When man has lost God, he is at the mercy of all things, because his own covetousness takes the place of God."

But the worship of God is a discipline that is to be cultivated. The more we allow the Spirit to control us, the better we can worship. The more of God's truth we know, the better we can worship. We worship alone, we worship with others. We worship what we value. So, what is worth your worship? More importantly, Who is worthy of your worship?

Our letter for JOURNEY this week is R – Revere. God alone is worthy. But the beauty of revering Him is what He will then do. John 12.32 – If we lift Him up, He will draw people to Himself. Again, Jesus was talking about His being lifted on a cross, but because of that, when we acknowledge His worth – as the lamb who was slain – especially as we do it publicly, He still is in the business of drawing people to Himself.

So what is our next step? Again, let me tweak our recurring question for this series:

If your growth in godliness were measured by the quality of your worship, what would be the result?

What do you expect when you worship? Do you expect to be in God's presence? If not, you need to INVEST. You must invest yourself in the process. Your focus must be on God, but you must be involved, invested in your time with Him. Seek to truly enter His presence.

Again, this series is entitled Becoming Like God. The more time we spend with Him, the more we will love Him, the more we will worship Him, and the more we can become like Him – in His image. So, specifically, what can you do as it relates to worship? Well, we return to our 4L's – Learn, Live, Love, and Lead – to provide potential next steps for each of us. Again, consider where you are in your worship RIGHT NOW. And let the Spirit lead you to what you might next do.

Make a list of the areas in life that have your focus. No wrong answers here. Just make yourself aware.

Make a plan to put more focus on what God is doing/wants to do in your life? Then begin to respond – daily.

Challenge yourself to worship God in all that you do – especially the tasks you least like to do.

Share with friends and family how God has changed/is changing your heart as you respond to Him in worship.

*This series of posts is adapted from Donald Whitney's book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.

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