1 O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. 2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. (Psalm 63:1–2, NKJV)
God is not a fire escape when trouble comes into our lives. God is the One who fills up our longings and satisfies all our needs. God is not a place mat on the table of our lives – useful, but often forgotten until needed. God is the Supplier of everything that sustains us, body and soul. He is the One we seek and trust. Like David, let us seek God early and always. Our soul must long for God like the thirsty man in a hot, waterless desert. Worship is our refuge and relief. In worship, we adore His great power and honor His glorious name. In worship, we bow before the One in whom we rely for life, for mercy, and for salvation. How big is your God? Truly, He fills heaven and earth (Jeremiah 23:24). The pertinent question is, are you seeking God by trusting His word and obeying Him, so that He fills your life? “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23).
12 “But you profane it, in that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled; And its fruit, its food, is contemptible.’ 13 You also say, ‘Oh, what a weariness!’ And you sneer at it,” says the Lord of hosts. “And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; Thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?” says the Lord.” (Malachi 1:12–13, NKJV)
When will man learn that acceptable worship of God is not defined and determined by what man chooses to offer God, but by what God says will be please Him? Ancient Israel corrupted the table of the Lord by failing to carefully offer Him sacrifices according to His law. They brought defective offerings before Him, and sneered with contempt at the commanded sacrifices (Deuteronomy 15:21). God heard their complaints, and rejected their contemptible, faithless offerings. Surely, we must learn that our worship will only please God when it is “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). God rejects defective worship today, even as He did then. God will not accept attempts to worship Him that fail to conform to the worship taught and approved in the new covenant of Christ. True worship does not become “a weariness” and “contemptible” to true worshipers (John 4:23). Let us approach God with reverential honor, and never grow weary of offering Him the worship He commands – and is due (Malachi 1:6).
1 Praise is awaiting You, O God, in Zion; and to You the vow shall be performed. 2 O You who hear prayer, to You all flesh will come. 3 Iniquities prevail against me; As for our transgressions, You will provide atonement for them. (Psalm 65:1–3, NKJV)
God’s sovereignty is in full view in this psalm, as David and the citizens of Zion yearn to praise Him. Those who inhabit Zion (God’s kingdom, His people) set their hearts upon praising God. David cites two reasons his opening refrain for us to praise God. These reasons compel us to honor and extol His greatness, while keeping our pledge to serve Him. (1) God hears our prayers. He alone is the God who is near, who hears and answers the prayers of His children (1 Pet. 3:12; 1 Jno. 5:14-15). Although sinners mount up against God’s people, “by awesome deeds of righteousness” God will answer us and deliver us from evil (Psa. 65:5) (2) God forgives our sins. God provides atonement for our sins through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:10). These are among the reasons Christians yearn to worship God. God hears us and God saves us! Lift up your voices, inhabitants of Zion! Our God reigns!
11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:11–12, NKJV)
John, a witness of the light who came into the world, identified Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jno. 1:6-8, 29). In the heavenly vision of another John, the Lamb who was slain is alive and executing the redemption purposes of God (Rev. 5:4-10). For His extraordinary service, the Son of God is extolled by the heavenly host as worthy to receive every divine blessing, power and recognition of praise and honor. This glorious scene of worship and adoration of the Son calls our attention to the reverent worship we give Him. Worship must be focused on God, not on ourselves. In true worship we join these heavenly voices to adore the Lamb and He who sits on the throne (Rev. 5:13-14).
17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. (1 Corinthians 11:17–18, NKJV)
It is disruptive and discouraging when Christians are not united in spirit, doctrine and practice as they “come together as a church.” Such was the state of affairs in the Corinthian church, and the apostle registered his protest. Clearly, God was not pleased with them. There is a clear and important lesson here for us: Sin prevents the true worship of God (Jno. 4:23-24). A local church nullifies its praise of God in assembled worship when brethren are divided against one another. Just because brethren assemble under one roof does not mean that church has Christ’s approval. Indeed, when sinful attitudes and actions exist in a local church, both true worship and effective edification are hindered. Therefore, it is essential that Christians solve personal disputes of sin among themselves so their worship is not impeded. It is necessary that truth, not error, defines our conduct when the church comes together. God has no praise for those who offer Him corrupt praise.
1 I will praise You with my whole heart; Before the gods I will sing praises to You. 2 I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name. 3 In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul. (Psalm 138:1–3, NKJV)
Jehovah God is worthy of wholehearted praise. Whether “the gods” before whom the psalmist sings praises to Jehovah are the rulers of nations, the judges among the people, or the false idols that are nothing, he attributes devoted worship and praise to God for His lovingkindness and truth. These continue to motivate our worship today. Additionally, the psalmist relied upon God, and God kept His word. The Lord answered his prayers, emboldening him and strengthening his faith. What wonderful incentives we have to worship God with our whole heart! He is a God of kindness and of truth. He answers our petitions and assures our faith. Give Him reverent worship with your whole heart.
5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. (Matthew 17:5–6, NKJV)
Acknowledging the presence of God, Peter, James and John fell on their faces in fear when the Father spoke from the cloud. We too easily forget we are in the presence of God every minute of every day. Additionally, worship services have become so casual and careless in some churches that there is a complete failure to regard the presence of Almighty God. Worship has become about the worshipers instead of the One who is worshiped. We are not advocating falling on our faces as the preferred posture of piety. We are advocating godly fear before the Lord (Matt. 10:28). Fellow Christian, let us present ourselves before the Lord God with humble demeanor and reverent conduct, in our worship of Him and in our daily activities of life. “Let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb. 12:28).
28 Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples, give to the Lord glory and strength. 29 Give to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! 30 Tremble before Him, all the earth. The world also is firmly established, it shall not be moved. (1 Chronicles 16:28–30, NKJV)
All of mankind is called to give God the honor He deserves. His glory, might and sovereignty demand reverential worship from all who would approach Him. We must come before Him “in the beauty of holiness,” for nothing impure shall come into the presence of the Lord (Isa. 6:3-7). We cannot worship God with sin-stained hearts and hands. When we bring our offerings of worship before the Lord, we “tremble before Him,” for we know He has established our very existence on earth. Without Him, we would perish. Therefore, true worshipers approach God with serious faith, not cavalier and casual attitudes and actions. Remember, worship is about God, not you. Give Him the glory due His name by worshiping Him in spirit and truth (Jno. 4:23-24).
By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. (Hebrews 11:4, NKJV)
God is not obliged to accept anything and everything people offer to Him in worship. If He is, then God is to be charged with wrongdoing toward Cain. Yet, “by faith” Abel offered “a more excellent sacrifice than Cain”. The Scripture says the Lord “did not respect Cain and his offering” (Gen. 4:5). It is apparent Cain did not bring his offering to God “by faith”. Since faith comes by hearing the word of God, it is evident that Abel followed God’s word concerning the sacrifice; Cain did not (Rom. 10:17). True worshipers are careful to bring before God the worship He approves (Jno. 4:23-24). It is not up to us to decide what is good to give God. We must listen to His word and humbly come before Him with the worship and service He deems acceptable.
14 Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: 15 You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); 16 and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field. 17 Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord God. (Exodus 23:14–17, NKJV)
Worship of the Lord God is not designed for our convenience. We do not choose to worship God only if there is nothing else happening we prefer to do. True worship is often inconvenient, demanding our commitment and sacrifice. It was no small task for the men of Israel to travel to the house of the Lord three times every year. The Law of Moses contained many other worship specifications dealing with offerings and sacrifices, none of which were arranged to accommodate the worshiper. Worship is not about you and me; it is about God. Develop your commitment to worship God “in spirit and truth”, making every sacrifice necessary in order to honor Him first (Jno. 4:24).