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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

ON WORSHIP
(Part 6)

A SACRIFICE OF PRAISE

March 25, 2010
Today’s reading: Psalm 40:7-11

Today’s reading from Psalm 40 affords us an interesting exposition on our proper posture in worship.

“Sacrifice and offering you do not want; but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts and sin-offerings you do not require; so I said, ‘Here I am; your commands for me are written in the scroll. To do your will is my delight; my God, your law is in my heart!’” (Ps 40:7-9)

In the Old Testament, we see that when the Israelites came before the Lord in worship, they would offer animal sacrifices. The priests would burn these offerings on the altar as a holocaust, a sweet-smelling oblation to the Lord. The primary purpose of the holocaust was to give glory and praise to God.

But here in the psalm of David, God does not want such offerings and holocausts. God says through Jeremiah, “Your holocausts find no favor with me, your sacrifices please me not.” (Jer 6:20b). Why? “Because they heeded not my words, because they despised my law.” (Jer 6:19b).

Indeed, to come before the Lord purportedly to worship Him, but to not be obedient to Him, is hypocrisy.

What is our proper posture in worship? There are three aspects, in ever deepening levels.

First is obedience. We are God’s children. We are Jesus’ servants. We are the Holy Spirit’s instruments. In all cases, we simply need to obey. Children obey their parents, servants obey their masters, instruments are simply tools in the hands of the wielder. What good is it to profess God as the Almighty when we worship, to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Master, but not to obey? It is unthinkable.

Second, on a higher and deeper level, is a self-sacrificial offering. We not only obey, but we actually offer ourselves: “Here I am!” Obedience is good, but not enough. Jonah eventually obeyed God in being told to preach to Nineveh, but he first tried to evade the responsibility. Only after he had been thrown into the sea and swallowed by a giant fish did he obey. We can come before the Lord in worship and resolve to be obedient, but it might be done grudgingly. It cannot be that way. God should not have to chase us or to force us. We must willingly present ourselves before Him.

Third, again on an even higher and deeper level, is delight in worship. We not only are obedient, we not only present ourselves to God, but we delight and have great joy in the opportunity and privilege of coming before our God. We might present ourselves before God in our community assembly, but we could still be lethargic, distracted, uninspired, not eagerly open to what the workings of the Spirit might be for that time. The proper posture is to eagerly look forward to what God has in store for us, delighting in being in the very holy presence of God, deeply grateful for the privilege. It is having childlike anticipation of how the Spirit of God will act. It is bursting with zeal and enthusiasm for the great event that is about to unfold, when the people of God come before Him in worship.

Notice something further in the psalm. David speaks about ears open to obedience. Then he says that God’s commands for him are written in the scroll, thus something that is to be seen and read by his eyes. Finally he says that God’s law is in his heart.

In worship we hear­what God says in the silence of our hearts or through the spoken word in prophecy and inspired scripture reading, the mighty praises of God shouted out by the brethren, the music we sing that glorifies God, the exhortation and prayers of the leader and others. In worship we see how God’s presence animates us all­hands raised, dancing to the music, giving each other a greeting of peace, reading words written in the scroll (the Bible), united hand in hand as one. And in worship our hearts are touched by God.

Ears, eyes, heart­the fullness of our being! The Biblical understanding of “heart” is the seat of intelligence and decision. In English we would use “mind” or “will.” The heart is the symbol of the core of man, who the man truly is. So we worship with our all. We present ourselves whole to God­body, mind, spirit. All that we are is offered as a sacrifice of praise.

There are practical implications to the above.

First, do not miss community assemblies unless you have a very good and valid reason. It is not just one of the many activities that you do as a Christian. Worship is the proper manifestation of our relationship with God. God is God and we are His people. So we worship.

Second, live out a life of obedience to God. “Does the Lord so delight in holocausts and sacrifices as in obedience to the command of the Lord? Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams.” (1 Sam 15:22). Obey God’s commandments. Further, we in CFC-FFL have a covenant with God; live that out. God has given us our Core Values; live that out. If we are not obedient, then our coming before God in worship is meaningless and certainly not pleasing to Him.

Third, offer yourself as a living sacrifice to God. Live only for God. Do only what is pleasing to Him. Have Him alone as your priority. Walk in the very footsteps of Jesus. That means a path of holiness. That means embracing the cross.

Finally, rejoice in the Lord always. Delight in the Lord and His ways. Even when you do not understand, trust in Him. Rejoice even in affliction and suffering, for the redemption that these bring. “Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire.” (Ps 37:4).

Worship is an awesome event. Jesus says, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mt 18:20). Jesus our Lord and Savior is with us! The angels and saints, with Mary our mother, worship with us. What an awesome privilege and blessing for us.

“Enter, let us bow down in worship” (Ps 95:6a).

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