What is true worship?

Today I read Psalm 51.

What struck me as I read was David’s prayer to the Lord. His recognition that he was not clean but sinful. Not just sinful in that he did a few bad things but that he was sinful to the core. He knew his heart (desire, will, wants) needed to change. He knew God was the only one who could bring about that change.

David’s recognition and prayer is a prayer of true repentance. He admits his own guilt, his own sin, and turns from self to God.

When we pray as David, when we come to God broken and contrite, we please the Lord.

It is not the external sacrifices of works that please God, but it is the internal sacrifice of the heart that brings God pleasure.

True worship occurs when we give our whole being to God through a relationship with Jesus. True worship occurs in Spirit and Truth (John 4:23-24).

Questions for Reflection

(1) Have you truly repented? Do you have a contrite and broken heart or are you just upside things aren’t going your way?

(2) Are you worshipping God with your whole being or have you held some part of your life back from His sovereign control?

What can God do through you?

I’ve been reading the book of Ephesians devotionally for the last few weeks, slowly working my way through the text in study and prayer. The practice of intentional meditation has fostered a deeper level of praise and worship for what God has done for us in Christ.

This morning I finished reading Ephesians chapter 3, specifically verses 20 and 21,

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph 3:20–21)

Context

Contextually, Paul has in mind the power of the Holy Spirit to unify both Gentile and Jew in Christ, so that they become one new humanity (Eph 2:15-16). Imagine that, a people who are completely and utterly opposed to and different from one another brought together in harmony and unity, so that they are loving and serving one another. Only God can unify in that way. Only God can break down those barriers.

One new humanity at the foot of the cross

God creates one new humanity at the foot of the cross. We are all sinners who are in need of salvation from God’s wrath (Eph 1 and 2). Those who are Christian (followers of Jesus) have been saved in exactly the same way, through the spilled blood of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in our life who causes us to recognize our need for a Savior and to believe that Jesus is our Savior (Eph 2).

Seeing God work in and through opposing humanity to create one unified group that loves and cares for one another in ways unimaginable causes Paul to break out in praise as he closes chapter 3 with a doxology.

God can and will do far more than we can imagine

Just as God is able to reconcile two opposing groups to Himself and one another, God is also able to do in and through us far more than we could ever imagine. He reconciles us with people who are different, creating a new bond between us and others of different cultures, races, and nationalities, so we will work together for His glory.

Not only will God create bonds where there were divisions, but God will also do in and through us far more than we could ever ask or think. Our God is a powerful God and He will use us in powerful and mighty ways. Ways that will ultimately bring Him glory.

What can God do through you?

He can do the imaginable. Not for your glory, but for His.

Question for Reflection

  1. How has God used you for His glory?

Pastor, Just Attend

Yesterday was one of those rare days in the life of a minister, I just attended a worship service. I know what you are probably thinking,

But pastor, you attend a worship service every week, that is kinda what you do. That’s your big day. What you have been preparing for and working towards all week.

You would be right. I attend worship every week. When I attend, I worship alongside others, but I also lead the worship I attend – I pray, I read Scripture, I preach, and I distribute the communion elements.

In Your Shoes

Yesterday, however, someone else did all those things. Someone else led the worship I attended. Essentially, I was in your shoes. I was greeted at the door by friendly greeters who didn’t call me pastor. I attended a Sunday School class where I participated as a visitor. I sat in the pew during the service singing, praying, and listening to the sermon with everyone else. As we took communion, I sat next to my son explaining to him what the bread and grape juice (Baptist Church) represented. I just attended the worship service.

Not a Divide

I don’t say “I just attended” to create a divide between those attending and those leading. I don’t believe the clergy are superior to the congregant. I believe in the priesthood of all believers. I have no more of a connection to God than other Christians. We are all called by God to our vocation. So I don’t make that distinction in order to make light of attending worship or to create a divide between the attendee and the leader. Instead, I make the distinction because it is rare for pastors to not be involved in some way in the worship service. It is rare for them to just attend.

Refreshing

While there was a moment during the preaching portion of the service that I missed standing behind the pulpit proclaiming the Word, it was refreshing to attend and worship with other likeminded brothers and sisters in the Lord. It was good for my soul. It provided me rest. It even confirmed to me my calling to preach.

Pastor, Just Attend

Pastor, let me encourage you to take a Sunday off, attend another church where others don’t know you as pastor, and just attend. Don’t agree to read Scripture or pray. Don’t agree to be a guest speaker. Don’t participate in the service as a minister in any way, just attend with everyone else. Just worship with everyone else. Take a break and let someone else lead. It will be good for your soul. It will provide you rest. And it may even confirm your calling to preach. Pastor, just attend.