Archives For worship

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…” Genesis 1:28a

God, in this verse, echoed a command he’d already given to the birds of the air and fish of the sea. So, is this God simply commanding people to have babies?

pregnant

After the flood, only eight people survived and as they exited the ark, God repeats the command, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Again, is this just a command to populate the planet?

Before we can fully answer this, we need to see God’s purpose in creation.

Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created. And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and midst, stormy wind fulfilling the word! Mountains and hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above the earth and heaven. Psalm 148:3-13

God’s creation was to magnify his glory and character. It would praise him and glorify his name, and God loved it and said ‘It was good.’

So, when God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, he was just telling them to have babies. BECAUSE they were blameless and holy. They walked and talked with God in harmony and unity. If they had never sinned, their children would have automatically worshiped and enjoyed God as well.

But they disobeyed the Lord.

Now having children just brought sinners into the world. People that were separated from Himself and having no desire to serve Him. (Psalm 14 & Romans 3:10-18) Sin became so grotesque and violent, God destroyed the whole world with a flood. HIs grace was still evident and his plan unchanged as he saved Noah and his family. He repeats his command, “Be fruitful and multiply.” But God wasn’t interested in them simply making babies for each child would be born as a self-worshipper.

Sin had to be dealt with. Death, the consequence for iniquity, had to be paid. God chose to create Israel from whom the Savior of the world would be born. Through this nation, blessing for the nations could be restored. (Genesis 12:3) They were to be a light for the nations, that God’s salvation may reach to the end of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6)

And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply.” Genesis 35:10-11a

Jesus, the Messiah, comes. God Himself in flesh. He lives without sin but dies sin’s death on the cross. The God-Man raises from the grave defeating sin and death once and for all. Through his sacrifice and believing in Christ, sinners now have an opportunity to be born again, recreated to be how God initially intended. Holy and blameless, able to enjoy a relationship with their Creator.

Because God’s intentions hadn’t changed from Eden.

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. John 4:23

worship

Each redeemed life, now able to do what they were created to do. And to each saved person (the church) he gives a command.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20a

These disciples were to bear fruit (John 15:16 & Galatians 5:22) and as more disciples were made, the church multiplied. (Acts 2:47, 6:7)

God never desired just a populated planet, but a world of worshipers. Genesis 1:28, because of sin, is replaced by the Great Commission. No longer can we create worshipers from mere procreation. But we must evangelize and disciple a fallen and depraved world. And that’s something everybody can do; male and female, old and young, married and single.

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worship

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God,
that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
Hebrews 13:15 ESV

Worship is central in the Christian life. Few people would argue this. Scripture commands us that in everything we do, do it all for the glory of God. Yet so often, whether among other saints or in private, my sacrifices feel so incomplete. Even in my deepest, purest moments, it never seems enough.

I want to encourage you if this is how you feel as well. Because its true. Our praise is never worthy of Him. And it always will be this way this side of Heaven.

God is the Holy of Holies. His glory far surpasses everything we deem as glorious. If we stretch our imagination and envision perfection, He is far more. God’s character is so pure and untarnished that anything less than Him cannot enter His presence. The cheribum, who guard God’s holiness, continually sing, “Holy, holy, holy!” The Seraphim, in Isaiah 6, are shown praising in the same way but hiding their face and feet with their wings before the Lord.

So how are we supposed to adequately praise the Holy of all Holies? Because in Hebrews 12 we are commanded to:

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,  for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 that a new way to worship was approaching. Worship that wasn’t stringent on location, but solely Spirit and truth. When we believe in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection, for our salvation, we are completely changed. The Holy Spirit indwells us, we are newly created, our heart is no longer deceitful and wicked, and our spirit is quickened. These changes are the ONLY reason we can offer acceptable worship.

But we have to be honest. Even when we offer a sacrifice of praise THROUGH Him, its still not completely worthy of Him. Because even though we are holy on the inside, we are still wrapped in sinful flesh. Pride, selfishness, doubt, and fear still seep into our songs and prayers.

Why then are they acceptable to God?

There isn’t a perfect illustration, but here’s the best I can come up with.

My two sons draw and color pictures constantly. Everyday, a new stack of artwork is finished for my viewing. Most you can tell took no time at all. Their name is spelled correctly, just backwards. Scribbled crayon reach far outside the lines of the picture. Or only 10% of the page is even touched. I always compliment but am quick to remind them that they can do better. These were rushed jobs and I know that if they take their time, they can do excellent work.

There’s one page though that hangs in my bedroom. My oldest drew a picture of himself on a swing with me pushing him. Below it he wrote ‘Thank you.’ Granted it was done by a four-year-old so it was in no way perfect. The H in Thank was originally a G, crossed out, and replaced with the correct letter.

I don’t treasure it because of the perfect artwork or spelling. But because I know it took him a long time and he did it to the best of his ability. All to tell me ‘Thank you.’

I have to believe our Heavenly Father is the same way. His children attempt to thank him in their limited and often broken ways. But when its genuine, he delights in the praise because we are his children and he understands our limitations.

Praise God for the Spirit who indwells us. He prays for us when we don’t know what to pray. Our worship is made complete when its done through him. And we constantly need him to be able to worship properly.

So no matter how insignificant you may feel, worship. No matter how broken you are, worship. Give him what you have. He may not receive it if its rushed or done sloppily. And yet he anticipates when its done with the right motivation from a heart of gratefulness. Not because its perfect, but because its from us.

tie

Imagine receiving an invitation to have a personal conversation with the President of the United States. No matter your partisanship, this would be a great honor. Time would be spent preparing. What am I going to say? How am I going to behave? What am I going to wear?

Now imagine, you’ve received a personal invitation to have a conversation with Almighty God. How would that preparation differ? Would it require more thought or less?

We forget so often as the kids yell from the backseat and the car creeps 15 miles an hour over the speed limit just to make it to church on time, that God has called and invited us there. Church is not about seeing friends and “catching up” although that is enjoyable. It is first and foremost to meet with and have a conversation with God.

What am I going to wear?

A few years ago, churches began pulling in many people with their “Come as you are” mottoes. Suits and ties were out, t-shirts and holey (not holy) jeans were in. Dresses were replaced by sweatshirts and yoga pants. Pastors stood behind the pulpit on Sunday morning declaring the word of God dressed in Saturday afternoon attire. All so “others” would feel more comfortable and not as intimidated to attend.

Jesus certainly did say, “Come as you are.” But he was speaking to the weak and the burdened. Come with your anxiety, your doubts, and your guilt. Come to me with your concerns and worries, and I will trade them for rest and ease. This verse does not refer to clothing.

Now I believe every church should be ready and open for anybody to walk in the doors. From the lady in her finest gown to the beggar man in smelly rags. Our arms should be open and they should see and feel the love of Christ overflowing through his people. They should be allowed the best seats (which in most churches is the back pew). God rejoices when a sinner comes as they are, and his church embraces them and points them to the cross.

The problem started when the church members began dressing the same way. They came as they were, interpreting this to mean as casually as possible. And this is where I have a problem. But before you count me off as a legalistic, here me out.

From the beginning, God has always required our best. Cain’s sacrifice was not acceptable to the Lord because he didn’t give what God had commanded. Malachi condemned the Jews for their giving by saying, “When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts.” Today we are to offer ourselves as a living sacrifices offering to the Lord a sacrifice of praise.

So what is our best? Do we find ourselves “thrown together” Sunday morning, mouthing words of songs between sips of coffee as we check for a message on our phone? Do we choose what is comfortable over what is appropriate?

We wear nice clothes at funerals out of respect for the dead. We dress up for weddings in respect for the couple. We even wear our best to parties at times out of respect for the host. And yet, as we struggle to dress up for church, what is that saying about our respect for God. What we wear says a lot about our attitude, regard, and courtesy for the circumstances, place, and people involved.

Most of us worship weekly. And after a while it becomes mundane, ordinary, and customary.

But it doesn’t have to! Meeting with God is an honor, not a right. It’s a privilege, not a duty.

But we must prepare every week to meet him. And that includes our clothes. Everybody’s “best” is different but the outward can be a sign of the inward heart. I don’t mind if people show up to church in casual attire. But when somebody becomes a member, actively involved, and maturing as a Christian, so should their wardrobe.

The President would frown upon a man in cut-offs and a tank top walking into his oval office. God requires his worshippers to love him with all of their heart, mind, and soul. And I truly believe that when we regain that awesome wonder for his glory and majesty, we wouldn’t dare walk into his presence in anything less than our best.

prison

He stumbled to the front gate, hands tied. It’d been eight long years in a cramped, cold cell. The scars on his back and sickly demeanor proof of his mistreatment. His crime had only been loving Jesus. The guard shoved him through the door and yanked on the rope until it released his bruised wrists.

The prisoner raised his aching head and met eyes with his faithful wife. She had thinned greatly as well, large bags under her tired eyes. He limped quickly to her. They embraced, first time in many years.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered in his ear. “I don’t know why God would allow this.”

He smiled and held her face. “I do.” His adversaries expected him to rot away in the dungeon. But the opposite was true.

His wife grinned back looking into the strongest eyes she’d ever seen. “What do you want to do first? What have you been longing to do? Anything!”

He grasped her hand and walked away from the prison with her. “I want to worship with you.”

Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.

 Psalm 66:8-12