Tag: worship

Psalm 42

What is something in this world that you don’t think you could live without?  Maybe it’s something as simple as coffee or chocolate.  Maybe it’s something more complex such as friendships or family.  All of us have something that we feel a deep longing for.

In Psalm 42 we see that the writer of the psalm has an intense desire to be in the presence of God.  There is a tendency to see the first two verses as describing a calm desire to spend some time with God.  In reality, this psalm is one written out of agony and painful longing.  The writer feels as if they will die unless they can encounter the presence of God.  What might our lives look like if we had this kind of longing for our God?

As we live out our worship, being in the presence of God becomes a central desire for our hearts.  We long to worship because we long for God.  Having a longing for God means that we search for him throughout our day.  It means that we see his hand in the events of the day.  It means finding fulfillment and joy when we spend time with him.

In the Old Testament longing for God’s presence often meant longing to be in the Temple.  The Temple was the place where worship could happen.  In our day things are much simpler as we can experience God much easier.  In the New Testament Christians are called temples of the living  God.  We understand this to mean that God can relate to us anytime and anywhere.  We know that we don’t have to be in church to experience his presence.

When we understand who God truly is and what God has done for us, we will long for his presence.  It is likely that we have all experienced times in our lives that we needed to hear from God or feel his presence.

Reflection
Have you ever had a time that you really needed to hear from God?  What was it like to be waiting for him to answer?  What was it like when he finally did answer?  Maybe you need to hear from God right now in your life.  Maybe you are like the psalmist who is in agony because God seems far away.  Take heart and know that God is your Savior and your hope.  Ask him to make himself known.

Living Our Worship

Psalm 115

Last year I had the opportunity to go to a place of worship in Nashville.  It was a beautiful building and the people who were worshiping there were doing so with passion and with devotion.  Unfortunately, the objects of their worship were statues of many shapes and sizes.  We had been given the opportunity to visit this Hindu temple to learn more about their culture, and while I was impressed by their devotion, my heart was broken by their desire to worship these idols made of wood.

We were designed to be worshipers.  We have a desire that God has put into us to praise those things that are higher than ourselves.  This desire can lead us into the most powerful experiences of God’s presence.  It can also lead us into worshiping creations rather than our Creator.

In Psalm 115, the people of Israel are asked about their God.  Where is he?  Why can’t he be seen?  It’s a good question when your frame of reference to a god is an idol or a statue.  It’s not a great question if you serve the one true God whose dwelling is in heaven.

While most of us would not build idols for worship, we certainly have a tendency to worship things in place of God.  Maybe it is another person such as a spouse or boyfriend.  Maybe it is a car or a house.  Maybe our object of worship is ourselves.  We may not sing songs to these things or sacrifice to them, but when they become something we could not live without, we have made them into our idols.

God desires to be the most important thing in our life.  He does not want to be a part of your life.  He wants your relationship with him to be the foundation of your life.  The Christian faith was never meant to be part of who we are.  It was meant to be the definition of who we are.  When our lives are not based in our relationship with God, it is typically because we have decided that other things are more important than God.

Reflection
Take some time to identify the things that have become idols in your own life.  Chances are there are some things that you have begun to worship in place of  God.  As you identify the things that have been living for, compare what they have to offer to what God has to offer.  Ask God to help you refuse to serve things.  Instead, ask that he would reveal himself to you in a way that makes serving anything else seem incredibly foolish.

 

Living Our Worship

Psalm 56

True worship is in itself an act of faith.  When we praise God for his works, we are declaring that there is a God and that this God does amazing things in our world.  When we ask God to do amazing things in our lives, we are expressing our belief in God’s power. When we thank God for his provision, we are acknowledging that we are dependent upon something much greater than ourselves.

When our faith is strong, our worship grows stronger.  When our worship is strong, our faith grows stronger.  Unfortunately, there are many enemies of faith that disrupt our confidence in God and negatively affect our worship.  One of the major enemies of faith is fear.

There is much to be afraid of in our world.  We see and hear things every day that cause us to feel vulnerable.  In fact, because we have more information about the world around us, we have more things to be afraid of.  However, if one of the enemies of faith is fear, one of the enemies of fear is remembering how God has protected us in the past.

When we can declare “in God I trust and am not afraid” we are declaring in faith that God is more powerful than anything that we can encounter.  We are saying that God has put light onto all the things of darkness and shown them to be mere distractions on our path to true worship.

Psalm 56 was written by David when he had every reason to be afraid.  He was in the hands of evil men who sought to do him harm.  And yet David’s response is to turn to the Lord and thank him in advance for the deliverance that he will experience.  The psalm is a reminder that even in our darkest times, we can still praise God.  Worshiping in faith allows us to experience God’s presence even when it would seem that all hope is lost.  Remembering that God has done miraculous things gives us faith that he can do these again if it is his will.

Reflection
Take some time to talk to God about your fears.  What is it that keeps you up at night?  What is it that you worry about?  Ask God to help you overcome those fears.  Ask God to remind you of the mighty things he has done in your life and in the lives of those around you.  As you recall these things, allow the fear that you have in your life to fall away as you remember that you serve an all-powerful God.

 

Pursuing True Worship

Psalm 1

If we were to speak kind platitudes to our parents all day long but fail to obey them at every turn, it would not take long for them to realize that in our hearts, we do not honor them.

We might expect that the first psalm in the book of Psalms would be one of celebration or thanksgiving.  Instead, the first psalm serves as a reminder that true worship does not simply come in the forms of songs and declarations.  True worship is born out of obedience to God’s word.

This psalm reminds us that those who walk according to God’s word will experience life in abundance, but those who choose their own way will undoubtedly fail.  It is not hard for us to see this work out in our own lives.  If we are honest, the times when we are in a season of disobedience to God, true worship becomes very difficult.  Life tends to become difficult as well.

Many people are surprised to find that there are many psalms praising God for his word and for his law.  In fact, the longest psalm, Psalm 119, is a psalm celebrating the beauty of the law of God.  The law of God is celebrated not because it gives people a ton of rules to follow but because the law of God is seen as God’s covenant promise to his people.  God’s law reveals God’s character and his desire to be in a relationship with his people.

We are called to worship with a pure and clean heart.  If we are going to celebrate God and worship him, it makes sense that we would also honor him by obeying what he has taught us through his word.

Reflection
For us to be obedient to God’s word, we need to know God’s word and make it a major part of our lives.  Take some time to think about the delight that you can find in knowing God and his will for you.  If you have begun to find spending time with God to be a difficult thing, ask God to reveal to you areas in your life where disobedience is preventing you from experiencing true worship.

Pursuing True Worship

Psalm 90

Having looked at the worship elements of adoration, confession, and thanksgiving, we now turn to the element of supplication.  Supplication in worship is essentially the act of asking God for something or to do something.

In this psalm we see Moses making several requests of God.  Moses asks God to give understanding, compassion, and ultimately asks for mercy.  In the psalm Moses acknowledges the sin of his people.  Moses’s main request is that God would find favor with his people despite their shortcomings and failures.  Because we know the rest of the story, we know that God indeed showed them favor and forgiveness.

If we are honest, most of our prayers are prayers of supplication.  We pray for other people.  We pray for upcoming surgeries.  We pray for positive outcomes to difficult situations.  We pray for provision and encouragement.  We pray that God does something for us.  Thankfully, God is a God who provides for his people and answers their prayers.  We show honor to God when we ask him to work in a particular situation because we are demonstrating our dependence upon him.  We must be careful, however, that we don’t begin to treat God as a cosmic genie whose sole purpose is to give us what we want.

We must also remember that when we ask God for something, sometimes his answer will be no.  This is not because he does not want what is best for us.  In fact, it is the opposite.  Because God knows what is best for us, he does not always give us what we think we need.  It may seem that God does not answer our prayers, but perhaps he has simply answered them with no or has answered them in a way that we do not yet understand.

One other thing that we must remember about asking God to do things in our lives is that sometimes we shortchange what God can really do.  Sometimes our prayers are simply too small.  God wants to do amazing things in our world, but sometimes we lack the faith to ask God to do the big things.

Reflection
When you ask God to do something, what is your expectation?  Do you pray expecting God to really work or do you simply want God to know about the need?  What is it that you are praying for today?  Take some time to pray for your needs and for the needs of the others around you, and when you pray, pray expectantly.

Pursuing True Worship

Psalm 111

It is rare that an element of worship gets its own holiday.  I don’t know how you feel about Thanksgiving Day, but I am a huge fan, maybe because it is obviously a holiday designed by a guy.  After all, it combines all of the ingredients of a guy’s perfect day: tons of food, loads of football, and naps.  While these elements are fun (for the guys) what is great about Thanksgiving is that we typically take the time to thank God for the many ways that he has blessed us.

Even though giving thanks gets its own special day, if we want to pursue true worship, we need to express our thanks to God every day.  In addition to adoration and confession, thanksgiving plays a major role in our worship.

In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul calls on us to give thanks in all circumstances.  God has provided for us in so many ways.  We have the basic necessities such as food, water, and shelter.  In addition to these things, we are thankful for transportation, jobs, friends, and for just being alive.

In our comparison-based society it is so easy for us to see what others have and believe that we are somehow deprived.  However, when we have a spirit of thanksgiving, we know that what we do have has been given to us by our God.  We are able to thank him for every blessing.

In Psalm 111 the psalmist thanks God for several things.  He thanks God for providing food.  He thanks God for the lands where his people live.  He thanks God for his precepts which help direct the people to a fuller life.

The psalmist also thanks God for God’s promise of redemption.  Understand that the psalmist is praising God’s promise because they have not yet experienced the fulfillment of that promise.  That would occur many years later when Jesus would come and redeem his people and pay the price for their sin.  How much more should we thank God as we are the redeemed people who have experienced the fulfillment of this promise.   If we had nothing else to thank God for, his salvation should be enough to satisfy our hearts.

Reflection
Take a few minutes and think of the things that God has provided for you just today.  Spend some time thanking God for the little things, the big things, the past things, and the promises of future things.  Most of all, thank him for the redemption that you have experienced.

Pursuing True Worship

Psalm 51

Another element of our worship is our recognition that we fall short of the glory of God each day.  When we encounter God, we become aware of our sin.  In response to seeing our sins, we are called confess these sins to God.  While the saying “confession is good for the soul” seems to be true, confessing our sins to God is not an easy thing to do.

It helps to know what real confession looks like.  One of the best examples of confession is Psalm 51.  Psalm 51 is somewhat unique in that we are told the exact circumstances of its origin in the title.  This psalm is a response of David to the situation that he found himself in after committing a set of grievous sins against God and his people.

Nathan, a prophet, helps David see just how wrong David has been.  David has committed adultery and murder, and as he comes to terms with his sin, he knows that he must now face his God.  The result is this psalm which serves as one of the most honest depictions of true confession before God.

While we may not have sinned in the fashion of David, the truth is that we don’t go a day without sinning.  We are an imperfect people, and we need God’s forgiveness.  However, we know from 1 John 1:9 that when we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive them.

What a joy it is that God does not desire that we should punish ourselves or even make some sacrifice in order to receive forgiveness.  As verses 16 and 17 state, God simply desires that our hearts be broken over our sin.  What is even more joyous is that our confession does not lead to shame.  Instead, our confession allows God to create in us a clean heart.  With that clean heart we are able to worship our God without fear or pause.

Reflection
Confession is never easy, but it is so important.  Take time to consider the ways that you have sinned against God recently.  As you reflect on the sins that you have committed against God and the people around you, consider making these words of David your own.  Speak them to God recognizing that his forgiveness is freely given to those who now claim Christ’s righteousness.  We no longer need a sacrifice to make things right because Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice for us.  After you confess your sins through the words of this psalm, celebrate the righteousness that God has given you through Christ.

Pursuing True Worship

Psalm 95

The pursuit of worship of our God is the noblest pursuit.  Worship takes many forms, but at its heart, true worship begins with a calling.  We are called into worship by the joy and honor that we experience in our God.

Psalm 95 is a call to worship our God.  As we begin to understand what true worship looks like, we start by understanding who God truly is. As the psalm tells us, our God is a great God who is the Rock of our salvation.  He is the basis of the hope that we have.

Our response to God and his character is one of devotion, and out of that devotion, we are obedient to his voice.  We hear his voice in many ways.  Sometimes it comes across clearly as we study the Bible.  Sometimes we feel God’s leading as we encounter a situation where we are dependent upon him for answers.  Other times we hear it through a sermon or a song.  When we hear his call on our life, we remember that we are called to worship him and to stand in awe of his work and his word.

True worship celebrates God for who he is and for what he has done.  True worship also celebrates the work that God will do in the future in us and in the world.  We worship God because he is the only thing truly worthy of our worship and of our devotion.

We sing because God is great.  We pray because God is all-powerful.  We believe because we have heard his voice call to us with an offer of salvation.  When we accept his offer, we are given the privilege to worship him.

These are the seeds of true worship.

Reflection
Take a few minutes to consider how you view worship.  Why do you worship?  What do you hope will happen in your worship?

Then take a few minutes to consider the times that you have heard God’s voice.  When have you felt the call to do something?  Have you ever encountered God’s word and found that your heart needed to change?

Pursuing True Worship