Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pleasing and Acceptable: Allowing the Word of God to Define the Definitions - Part 3



* Remember to read the previous parts of this series first

Worship (2 of 2)

Those who would oppose the expressions of worship listed in Psalms would likely tell David that he too was "getting out of hand" as he was "dancing before the LORD with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod" (2 Samuel 6:14). And what was God's response? God "anointed him with His holy oil" (Psalm 89:20). He was "a man after God's own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14). He "found favor in God's sight" (Acts 7:46).

I don't know about you, but God holding me in such high regard should far outweigh what any man's opinion of me is. When I read these Scriptures, I wonder why I ever even consider what others think of my worship and praise! It is not about or for anyone but my LORD and King!

On a side note do you know the significance of what David was wearing? In this instance, David would have had to take off his royal robe and put on plain linen dress to be found in this ephod. You see, sometimes true worship is abandoning all that you know, all that identifies you upon this earth, leaving nothing to inhibit you from worshipping your God! It is time to leave behind the forms of godliness that have infiltrated the Body and worship the LORD in spirit and in truth!

Why do we, as Believers, spend endless time practicing and perfecting earthly things (spiritual gifts, wealth, wisdom, programs, events) yet nearly no time whatsoever developing a lifestyle of abandoned worship? Loud, outspoken, passionate worship is what we'll be doing for all of eternity, yet it is hardly ever experienced here on earth.

Speaking of singing praises, have you ever felt convicted of singing songs to the LORD that when you really pay attention, you realize you don't really mean it? We sing empty songs with lying lips. I just can't do it anymore. If I find myself singing along to a song that I don't feel that I mean from my innermost being, I'll just turn it off and ask the LORD to forgive me for not being in a place where I can honestly say the lyrics to Him. Well isn't that a little too harsh, you might wonder. I don't think so.

Well, what does the Word say about what is on our lips?

"Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is only for a moment." Proverbs 12:19

"Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD." Proverbs 12:22

"O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart." Psalm 15:1

If this is true in a general sense, as to our neighbor, how much more so in regards to our words and promises made to the LORD? What about bringing a "sacrifice of praise"? I just don't see any sacrifice within modern day praise and worship. It is easy. It is comfortable. It is all according to what we like. If we like pop music, we go to a contemporary worship service. If we like hymns, we got to the traditional worship service. And of course, to make it as easy as possible for everyone, there is the "blended" service! Perhaps the greatest error is the simple, yet appropriate branding of the "service". It reeks of predictability and ritual and, according to what is stated in Scripture, I don't believe that God accepts it. We, myself included, must become willing to step out and do the uncomfortable and perhaps even the outlandish in worship! For Him and for absolutely no other reason! (If you say that you just won't do it, see John 12:43 and think again.)

If you grew up traditional as I did, we all sang "all to Jesus, I surrender", but we never really did. We uttered that we were "yielded and still", yet we seldom were either. We sang "wherever He leads I'll go", but never really listened to what He was even saying. What about "though none go with me, still I will follow"? That is easy to say when everybody is with you, isn't it? Perhaps you have more of a modern, contemporary flair. You have likely cried out to God "nothing compares to the promise I have in You" at the top of your lungs. Do you daily live this as reality? How about telling God that "step by step You lead me and I will follow You all of my days"? When exactly do "all of my days" officially start? You've likely sung "Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down". How many times when you've sung this line have you actually bowed down and laid prostrate on the floor before the LORD? You may say, "Oh, well I couldn't do that in my shirt and tie in the middle of church"… this my friend is exactly what my point is. We have come from praising the LORD with loud cymbals and shouts (Psalms) to mouthing empty words as we think about where we're going to lunch later. And we think that this is worship? Not according to what God's Word deems as such. Now is the time for us to return to true, biblically defined worship!

(Some other Biblical sources for much more on acceptable worship and offerings – Why Cain's offering was rejected and Abel's was accepted, Cherubim guarding the throne of God from unacceptable worship, the throne room worship that John saw in Revelation. Also go here to read a piece I wrote back in March 2008 on the subject.)

Next up, we'll look at how the Body of Christ gathers. Are we doing it right in God's eyes? How can we even know?

8 comments:

Harriet said...

I too have had to not sing praises at times.. knowing I am SUPPOSED to praise Him in everything..yet, not meaning what I am saying.
It all boils down to THINKING about Him. If I allow myself to think about Him, I can't help but praise Him! THEN I can sing praises ..and as I sing I think on the words more and thus HIM more..and round and round in a beautiful song of praise that I don't WANT to stop singing.

Just this week I have had to stop TRYING to praise Him, and tell Him how miserable I am (due to pain in my body) then I could start thanking Him for removing the pain(even though it is still here) and that just led naturally to singing praises with JOY. Pain and all.. HE is the reason I live. :D

I am really enjoying your blogs Joel! Keep up the good work..stay strong and courageous. You are bringing Glory to His name!!

Joel Spencer said...

Harriet: Well I declare that in the midst of your praise, your healing will come. You tell that body that it is the temple of the LORD and has no business dwelling there. (Not that you don't do this already.)

I know that praising in the midst of trials, sickness, emotions builds strength that cannot be fabricated any other way. Worship and adoration of the Father despite our circumstances... now there is a quality of spiritual maturity my friend.

What a better way to receive healing than to praise The Healer!

Daughter of Wisdom said...

A beautifully written and insightful blog article.

You got me thinking how David, the king of Israel laid aside the worldly pomp of his royal garments and danced with great fervor and adoration before the King of kings.

Joel Spencer said...

Daughter: I could have spent quite a while just staying on that simple fact alone. Just as David, we must lay down our worldly identities and status and worship our LORD in absolute freedom. I don't do this as I sit here today, but I desire to.

NINA said...

This is so true. For years I sang song that "I liked".I would by cds and turn up the radio when "my song" came on.But that behavior really sums up what is wrong with worship services today. We sing songs pleasing to "us" and that makes us feel good. We have our favorite songs.But we don't really understand what worship is. It's not about what pleases us, its about what is pleasing to God. God wants our sincerity and our unconditional worship. I remember a time when my worship would reflect my emotions.My praise would be on fire if I felt good. It was not until I developed a real relationship with God that all of this changed. I find myself discovering the old songs that are thought to be "out of style" and they become new to me. They have a total different meaning than they had before. Sometimes my family even laugh at me as they are confused by the types of music that I suddenly find myself attracted to.

I find myself having zero tolerance when it comes to worship that is not for real. I feel like either you are gonna worship in spirit and in truth or don't worship at all. There is a theory now in the 'church' that the bigger the need, the bigger the praise. Someone stands up and edges the crowd to praise and say "somebody needs something from the Lord, praise like you need something from the Lord!" I think that is the most self-centered, ridiculous thing that I ever heard. Our worship should not be contingent on our needs. We should worship God because He is worthy, not because we are expecting something from Him but because he is God.It is not until we learn to get out of self that we can experience true worship. And when you get to that point, don't be surprised if you shed some clothes.

Joel Spencer said...

Nina: What you said is sad, but so true. We have been taught that the more we praise the more we'll get. The louder we shout, the more God listens. Although I believe there are times for crying out to God (it is all throughout Scripture), it is not in order to sway Him to "do" more for us, it is because He is God and we are in desperate need of Him.

Interestingly, I've hit an odd place recently. In summary, I'm really being careful with what I say lately about the Body. Oddly enough, I'm about to post 2 or 3 parts of the Body gathering that I wrote two weeks ago when I was pretty zealous about how wrong we gather. We'll see how it unfolds.

Thanks for your constant participation Nina.

Valerie said...

Joel, you said "I don't know about you, but God holding me in such high regard should far outweigh what any man's opinion of me is. When I read these Scriptures, I wonder why I ever even consider what others think of my worship and praise! It is not about or for anyone but my LORD and King!"

Amen brother, it is not about us, it is all about Jesus, our Lord and King.

Joel said "Speaking of singing praises, have you ever felt convicted of singing songs to the LORD that when you really pay attention, you realize you don't really mean it? We sing empty songs with lying lips. I just can't do it anymore. If I find myself singing along to a song that I don't feel that I mean from my innermost being, I'll just turn it off and ask the LORD to forgive me for not being in a place where I can honestly say the lyrics to Him. Well isn't that a little too harsh, you might wonder. I don't think so."

Oh brother, I hear you. There are songs that I cannot sing now either e.g. asking for more of Jesus, when what we really need is not more of Jesus, but less of me. When Jesus has already given us His all how can He give us more of Him?

Joel said "If you grew up traditional as I did, we all sang "all to Jesus, I surrender", but we never really did. We uttered that we were "yielded and still", yet we seldom were either. We sang "wherever He leads I'll go", but never really listened to what He was even saying. What about "though none go with me, still I will follow"? That is easy to say when everybody is with you, isn't it? Perhaps you have more of a modern, contemporary flair. You have likely cried out to God "nothing compares to the promise I have in You" at the top of your lungs. Do you daily live this as reality? How about telling God that "step by step You lead me and I will follow You all of my days"? When exactly do "all of my days" officially start? You've likely sung "Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down". How many times when you've sung this line have you actually bowed down and laid prostrate on the floor before the LORD? You may say, "Oh, well I couldn't do that in my shirt and tie in the middle of church"… this my friend is exactly what my point is."

Joel, my heart is so in tune with yours on this one. Keep preaching it, we need to hear this word.

Nina - I couldn't agree with you more. It's so good to know others feel like I do.

Joel Spencer said...

Valerie: Welcome back! Thanks for rejoining us, I've been wondering your thoughts on this series.