Has it sunk in yet? What Joe has been talking about in Psalm 145? Worship… more specifically, David’s aha moment in his worship of God. Perfection (God) demands perfect praise or because God is perfect, great, powerful and worthy, I will continually declare the truth of His perfection. And because he is compassionate, loyal and just (vs 1-13) He will validate those who validate Him. (vs 14-20) So “if a=b then b=c “ then logically, “if we want to be saved, we must perfectly praise Perfection…” which we are only able to do, of course, because of and based upon His plan of salvation through the cross. At least, that is my take away from it.
Well, before we get too comfy with all the adoration and validation, there is also something else Joe said comes out of Psalm 145 and it may just make us sit a little uneasy in our cushy, comfy chair but, I sure don’t want to overlook it.
Joe said that David is worshiping God, or in other words, valuing God – which overcomes sin. That’s a pretty significant statement! A truth that stuck with me. How does that work? How does worshipping or valuing God overcome the sin in my life?
In Matthew 15:8 Jesus said, “this people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” We so often think of worship as an action we do like singing songs or praying great, lofty prayers to express how we feel. Indeed, the dictionary defines worship as the expression of reverence or adoration. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for worship means to bow oneself close to the ground. It all sounds like an outward act we see in the movies for worshipping some statue or something. But in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus made it clear that an outward act can mean nothing for what is going on inside our hearts. Bowing oneself close to the ground comes as a result of knowing that you are revering or valuing something or someone greater than yourself (or your self-oriented desires) who is truly worthy of such admiration. It’s about what or who you value above all else.
Let’s look at one of the first acts of worship mentioned in the Bible. It is the story of Abraham. God clearly demonstrates what true worship is, through Abraham. In Genesis 22 he tells Abraham to take his only son, whom he loves (desires) and offer him as a burnt offering. Did you catch that? God asks Abraham to take the thing or person that holds high value to him (after all he waited how many years to finally have this long-awaited and promised son?) and put him on the altar and kill him. And guess what? Abraham obeyed. There was no record of him arguing with God or questioning him. He just obeyed. Let me restate it. Abraham was able to place on the alter, with the intent to destroy, something he highly valued because He valued God a great deal more. Worship! True worship of the heart and soul.
No matter how we outwardly express our devotion to God, if we do not obey God in our day to day lives, we are not worshipping Him.
I like how the New Living Translation puts 1 John 2:3–6 “But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did” and 1 John 3 says, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin.” We cannot say we worship or love God but continue in sin. Feel a little less comfy now? Well, I do.
We see in 1 Samuel that Saul actually disobeyed God while he was carrying out an act of worship. He got in a hurry to offer the required sacrifice and didn’t follow or didn’t wait for what God told him to do. But Samuel (God’s prophet) replied to Saul, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.” That’s pretty heavy! In the act of worship, God knew his heart, that although it looked like He was honoring God, He really wasn’t. He had ulterior, self-centered motives. The plumb line was not the act of religious duty but the act of obedience.
My favorite verse in all Scripture and what I tell my kids is the mantra or motto in my life (You can ask them at any given time what my life verse is and they will tell you) is Galatians 2:20. “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me and the life which I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” A close second is Colossians 3:3 “I have died and my life is hidden in Christ.” It’s no longer about Shelly or what Shelly wants, it’s about God and the pursuit to follow His will. I want to value God and His kingdom above all else. (See also Matthew 6:33)
Does this ring true in the story of Abraham? Who worshipped by laying and slaying on the alter, the thing he valued the most. For some of us, the thing we love the most is ourselves and we show it by the choices we make, the things we say, the thoughts we choose to dwell upon, by the daily decisions we make and certainly by the actions we take. “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” (NLT) Romans 12:1 Did you hear that? This is the way to worship. THIS is the way…. Giving up ourselves, our lives, our hearts, our minds, our strength or actions and choices to be a living sacrifice. That is true worship. That is Perfection (God) demanding our perfect praise or acts of worship.
In Genesis, after God finally sent an Angel to stop Abraham short of actually sacrificing His son and showing him that he had instead provided a ram in the nearby bush, God said of him, “for now I know that you fear God because you did not withhold your son, your only son from me.” Abraham’s value or worship was clear.
Both David’s and Abraham’s worship was true, obedient, absolute, no holding back, no-holds-barred reverence for God in every thing, in every facet of life because they loved God above all else.
Is this easy? No. Is this possible? Not 100% in this lifetime which is why we need His grace and salvation that He provides but do I want to worship and I mean truly worship? Yes. And that means far more than singing a song or praying a lofty prayer, admiring creation or showing up to a Bible study. In my love for Christ, I want to daily look at my own heart, soul, mind, words and actions and place them on a pair of scales to weigh them against what God’s word says He values and then choose to worship or praise a perfect, loving, just and worthy God, accordingly, from the heart.
Worship is love, love is obedience; if a=b, then b=c and that is my aha moment!
Shelly Davis Bergland,
Ministry Assistant, Fellowship at Cross Creek Church