Why Do I Worship?

Graceway MediaNot long ago I was reading from Matthew 15:7-9. Jesus was addressing the Pharisees and said, “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’” (ESV). After reading these verses, I spent most of the day examining my own worship to see if there were any part of me that was merely honoring God with my words, but my heart was far from Him.

When I arrived home from work that evening, the first words out of my wife’s mouth were, “You didn’t call me today!” She was not angry, but surprised. You see, after years of marriage she is accustomed to my calling, emailing, or texting her several times a day to see how she is doing, say “I love you,” and just to talk for a few minutes. So, it was very unusual for me not to contact her in any way for a whole day.

Without any explanation I quickly replied, “Do you want me to call you because I love and miss you, or because I feel guilty for not calling you all day?” Understandably, she was shocked at first, then hurt, and finally a bit concerned. She asked, “Do you ever call me out of guilt and not out of love?” I quickly assured her that it is because of my love that I call her almost every day, and that it had just been one crazy, eventful day at work. Then I talked with her about my Bible study that morning (Matt. 15:7-9). I had asked her the question, not to be a jerk, but to see her reaction to the thought that I might just be honoring her with my lips and not my heart. We want our spouse to love us, long for us, and be honest with us. My comment left her wondering, “Is he faking his love for me, and if so, for how long?”

Shirley’s reaction and the following conversation made both of us stop and reconsider our daily acts of worshipping God. Is my quiet time, which consists of prayer and Bible study, just something I cross off the list each day to feel better about myself spiritually? Do I listen for God during quiet time or just hurry through it? When attending a worship service, am I more concerned about how long it takes, what I have to do after church, or how it affects me more than lifting up praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to the One who died for me? Am I just going through the motions of what is expected? Is my spirituality a mask I put on to play a certain part when I am around my Christian friends or at church?

None of these “spiritual activities” are true worship. Jesus has commanded us, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Just as we would be offended at someone faking their feelings for us to get something they wanted, so is God! Worship, Bible study, church, living a righteous life, and obeying God’s commands are not things we do to keep from angering God. These good things are not to be practiced so that He will give us everything on our wish list of wants, needs, and desires. Worship is giving to God what He deserves. As the moon reflects the light of the sun, so Christians should reflect the character, attributes, love, and holiness of God. We don’t do it because of what we might get, but because the Spirit of God resides in us and that is who we are in Christ.

I don’t want to live a hypocritical life. I don’t want worship to be out of guilt or something I do for my benefit.  I want my worship driven by an insatiable thirst for God’s glory, honor, and praise. I want my worship to be the direct result of who I am in Christ. I want my worship to be something I live out every minute of every day. I want my worship to be sincere, honest, and from a heart of love!

Take time today to read Matthew 15:7-9 and examine your motives for worship.

Can You See Me Now? (Part 2)

The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. It has been translated into more than 2,000 languages. You can find it on cell phones, computers, coffee tables, fireplace mantles, as well as a microfilm copy which was taken to the moon on Apollo 14. It has been carved in stone, written on animal hide, papyrus, paper, and I have even seen a chapter tattooed on someone’s back. Needless to say, the Bible is a very popular book to people all around the world.

Unlike other popular books, people do not purchase a Bible to be entertained. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to humanity. It is within the pages of the 66 books of the Bible that we find out about God–His love, mercy, compassion, patience, grace, forgiveness, power, beauty, majesty, and so much more. Page after page we see the Creator reaching out to draw His creation into a loving relationship with Him. The Bible teaches us the commands of God, not that we can live up to them, but that we might see His holiness and righteousness and realize our need for His forgiveness. We see His hand of provision, protection, and providence constantly before us tenderly caring for His precious children.

Too often in my life I have performed my daily Bible readings and crossed that off my list of things to do for that day.  I have been so busy reading the book of God that I have missed the God of the book. Through a series of events this became crystal clear to me, so I decided I needed to change. Now, before I begin reading the Bible I ask Jesus to reveal Himself to me in Scripture. As I read I want to see more of Christ that I might know Him more.

As you take time to read your Bible today, please ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you.  Ask to see His character, integrity, honesty, holiness, righteousness, mercy, compassion, grace and other attributes. Don’t read the Bible to see if you are measuring up. Read the Bible to see Christ and then worship Him!

“Can You See Me Now” Part 1

“Can You See Me Now” Part 3

Can You See Me Now? (Part 1)

In Genesis 1:31, God has finished all the work of creation. Moses tells us that “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” He saw the beautiful green grass and trees and said, “It is good.” He heard the sweet melodies of the birds singing and said “It is good.” He looked at the planets, the stars, and the sun and said, “It is good.” He found pleasure and satisfaction in all creation, and He gave it as a gift for humanity.

His gift was not just for us to enjoy fishing, boating, skiing, climbing, swimming, sunning, camping, or any other of recreational activities. He did not give us sites like the Grand Canyon, Mt. Everest, tropical islands, beautiful lakes, beaches, or any other part of nature just to behold its beauty. He did give us all of creation to enjoy; however, the main reason for all of creation is found in Romans 1.19-20, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (ESV). God gave us creation as a gift to reveal His power and divine nature that we would be drawn to Him and know Him.

As we close out 2020, please stop and look up, look down, look all around at the creation of God around you. Ask Him to open your eyes that you might see His invisible attributes revealed in creation. Would you ask Him to let you know Him more deeply than ever before in 2021. Ask Him to help you not let another day go by without seeing Him through His creation.

“Can You See Me Now” Part 2

“Can You See Me Now” Part 3

All I Want for Christmas Is to be Obeying Like Joseph

Next on my Christmas list is “I want to be obeying like Joseph.”

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25 ESV)

Okay guys, let’s go back to when we were dating our wives. You’ve grown up together, been in church together, worked in the fields together, and now you are both of the age to get married. You have watched this young woman her whole life, and she is one of the godliest women you have ever met. The best description of her is found in Proverbs 31:10-31—a virtuous woman. You have talked to her father and made all the arrangements to be married on a specific day. You both are excited and looking forward to spending the rest of your life together.

One day before the wedding she comes to you and say, “I had a vision from God yesterday. He sent an angel to tell me that I am with child and He will be the awaited Messiah.” How would you react? As for me, the first words out of my mouth would be, “Check please!” or “I’m outta here!” Most of us would dump her faster than she could say “Do you believe me?” However, that is not how Joseph reacted.

The Bible tells us that Joseph was looking at divorcing her quietly so that she would not be stoned for adultery. Then, while he was sleeping, he had a vision from God. An angel told Joseph the baby is of God, his name is to be Jesus, he will save his people, fulfill Scripture, and will be Immanuel—God with us. Without question Joseph took Mary as his wife and raised Jesus like his own son. Joseph was obedient to what God had called him to do.

This year for Christmas, I want to be Obeying Like Joseph. As I read through Scripture and see how God would have me to live, I want to be obedient. I don’t want to question what He knows is the very best for my life. If how I respond to God’s Word shows what I actually believe about God, then I want to be completely obedient to Him. I can spend hours explaining why God’s plan will not work and all the ways it will inconvenience me; but in the end, I just want to obey Him. He has a plan for my life, so either I choose to obey or disobey. I either believe God knows best or I know best. If I love God I obey Him, so if I don’t obey Him, do I really love Him?  The second request on my Christmas list is this: All I want for Christmas is to obey like Joseph.

All I Want for Christmas Is to be Trusting Like Mary

As we begin looking at my 2020 Christmas list, the first thing I want is “To be Trusting Like Mary.” Here is how the Bible introduces us to Mary:

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38 ESV)

 The first request on my Christmas list is to trust like Mary.  Can you imagine going about your day when all of a sudden someone claiming to be an angel appears, says that you are highly favored by God, you will conceive a son, He is from God, He will sit on the throne of David, will reign over Israel forever, and there will be no end to His kingdom.  I would be looking around for a television camera or a group of my friends rolling on the ground laughing.

You can tell by Mary’s response she wasn’t so sure of this stranger, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” If this was going to happen, she needed a little clarification.  “Gabriel, I understand what you are saying; however, I have never known a man so how can this be possible?”  She was a virtuous, God-fearing, righteous woman.  She just didn’t understand how this could happen to her.

 Gabriel patiently helps her to understand with God nothing is impossible.  Then, we see Mary’s trusting heart, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” She simply trusted the word of the Lord and submitted to God’s plan.

 Mary could have taken time to explain how inconvenient this was going to be for her. She was engaged to be married, so when Joseph found out he could accuse her of being unfaithful and have her stoned to death. Intimate relations outside of marriage were strictly forbidden, so even if Joseph didn’t have her killed, she would be ostracized from her community. She could wind up being a single mom trying to raise a child on her own in the poverty-stricken city of Nazareth.

 Mary immediately trusted the angel once he explained God’s plan. So, this year for Christmas I want to trust like Mary.  I want to trust that God’s plan for my life is what will bring Him the most glory and the most good for me.  I have no idea what 2021 might hold; however, I want to trust God to meet my every need.  He promised to be with me regardless of life’s circumstances.  By trusting His love, I can find contentment regardless of what comes my way.

In December 2019 I had no idea what was going to happen in 2020. Talk about learning to trust God! As I prepare for 2021, I want my heart filled with trust for God–His love, plan, promises, comfort, strength, and especially His ability to keep me close to Him.
For Christmas this year I want to be trusting like Mary.