Pastor Joshua West
Worship Pastor, Shiloh Community Church
Last week I left off by saying that there are some lies that we need to identify in our approach to worship and this week I want to unpack the three lies I believe we need to confront when it comes to our worship.
My worship is only sincere if I feel like worshipping.
How easily we can slip into viewing worship as some kind of switch we turn “on” or “off”, as we believe we either “are” or “are not” worshipping. As I’ve studied more and more about how God has designed us to worship, I’ve come to find this is not how God intended our worship to be at all. We don’t need to have a peaceful atmosphere with dimmed lights and a quiet instrumental playing in the background. Sure, that type of staged scenario can help us block out distractions, but the reality is: most of life is going to be flooded with distractions and demands and responsibilities. Most of life is going to be busy and hectic. We need to learn to operate in the truth: Our feelings do not change who God is, or how worthy He is to be worshipped.
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” -Habakkuk 3:18
Even in stressful times, even with chaotic drives to church, even when life seems to be spinning in circles, God is still on the throne. (Psalm 55:19) We can still recognize that God is unchanging (Malachi 3:6). God is unmovable (Daniel 7:14). God is constant (Hebrews 13:8). And by walking through those times of busyness with a heart of thankfulness (1 Thessalonians 5:18), focusing on ways to grow closer to the Lord through trials (Psalm 30:11-12), taking a moment to pray and ask God what direction you should take in the midst of juggling daily responsibilities… that is worship. Even when we feel like we are falling apart inside, what more reason do we have to look up and praise God for being the one to hold us together?
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe…” -Hebrews 12:28
My worship must be a separate, devoted time to God.
I believe one of the greatest ways we can be prevented from living a life of worship is
compartmentalizing our physical and spiritual life into separate categories, such as “work”,“school”, “friends”, “family”, “church”, “prayer”, and “worship.” We put worship in it’s own separate box or category, as if we should only devote a specific “worship time” each day/once a week to have our entire attention and focus.
*Now, please understand I’m not saying that you should never allow yourself time to step away from the distraction of life and focus on time with just you and the Lord. That quiet time is absolutely of the utmost importance. Jesus even took time to step away from the crowd and spend time in worship and prayer with His Father. I am saying “worship” is not exclusively for a set time and place on a certain day. God wants our worship to be integrated with everything we do.
Are we at work? Great! We can do our work unto the glory of God. Are we at school or with friends? Great! We can be an example of God’s love and grace to a world that is hurting and broken. Are we spending time with our family at home? Great. We can look for specific ways to serve them and make them feel important. Are we sitting in the seats at church? Great. We can have a moment of quiet, dedicated time to sing praises to God. All are equal forms of worship. The truth here is that our entire lives (every decision, every day at work, every night at home with family, every trip to the grocery store) should be devoted to God.
I decide how I want to worship
Could it be true that we have bought into the idea that it is our decision when we worship, where we worship, and how long we worship. I mean, after all, does God even care how we praise Him, as long as we do? Actually, yes. Even in the very beginning of time, Cain and Able are a perfect example of two people who both offered sacrifices to God as a form of worshipping Him, but only Able’s offering was acceptable to God (Hebrews 11:4, . Why? God sees our heart. God sees our motives. God desires our worship to flow from our love for Him, not because we need to check it off our to-do list. How often do we pick and choose the areas of our lives that we want to surrender to him?
In Exodus chapter 10, after the ninth plague, Pharaoh allowed Moses and the Israelites to be released from slavery in Egypt, and Moses responded to Pharaoh by making a request: “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God. Our livestock also must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must take of them to serve the Lord our God, and we do not know with what we must serve the Lord until we arrive there.” In this request, I see a beautiful picture of moment-by- moment worship and obedience. Moses was willing to bring all the cattle and livestock so he was fully prepared to sacrifice whatever the Lord wanted him to sacrifice when they arrived.
Have you ever considered asking God how He wants you to worship? Life is full of opportunities to do good things, but not every good thing is the right thing. Consider intentionally spending time throughout your day, asking God each step of the way, “Lord, what should I do? Where do you want me to go? Is this is best use of my time in this moment? Where do you want me to focus today? Where do you want me to serve/sacrifice?” Allow God to direct you, and whether you realize it or not, your obedience to His leading is better than anything you could sacrifice or give to the Lord (1 Samuel 15:22). Letting God direct even your worship to Him is one of the most beautiful ways to truly walk in a relationship with Him each step of the way, just like Moses.
Lately, I have come to the realization that life is never going to slow down. My schedule will always be full of things to do. There will always be responsibilities and life demands and commitments required of us. Today, spend some time identifying what those things are in your life. What are the areas of your life that keep you preoccupied and distracted from focusing on the ways God wants you to worship him? I want to encourage you to ask yourself today the same question I have also been asking myself lately: How can we bring God glory (and worship Him) even in the midst of our hectic lives?