Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Worship That Pleases God

What is worship? What does it mean to offer acceptable worship to God? In the church of Christ, we often associate correct worship with the reverent performance of certain acts. When we meet, we expect to pray, to sing, to give, to partake of the Lord’s Supper, and to hear the preaching of the Word of God. We may hope that the songs will be familiar (or new ones that capture our imagination), that the prayers, and sermon, will be short, and that we will not drop a communion tray, but we assemble with these expectations for corporate worship. Repetition of these acts, however, is not all there is to worship as individuals or as the church of Christ. Psalm 119 is all about prayer and knowing the word of God. However, the Psalmist also speaks of meditating on the word and doing what it says. He speaks of serving God with all one’s heart; he praises the God whose love still is apparent in the world around us. Worship is offered with intention. We hear frequent warnings to avoid texting while driving. Texting while operating a vehicle is dangerous. Worship too requires focus on where we are, what we are doing, and who we are worshiping. We can perform all the right acts while worshiping and still offer worship that God will not accept. In Isaiah 1:12-20, God castigates Israel for their unacceptable worship. Yes, they gather in the courts of the temple. Yes, they offer sacrifices and burn incense. They observe the required religious feasts at the proper times. They even observe the Sabbath and raise their hands in prayer. God tells them, ”Stop!” He “cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.” He tells them,
“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:16-17 ESV).
Worshiping God acceptably requires us to take God and his will seriously. God is a God of steadfast love. He also is “a father to the fatherless and the widow.” If we worship him, we also will seek justice for the oppressed, and assistance for the needy. Worship translates into practice in our lives. Our lifestyle must cohere with our worship. And so we pray to our God with the Psalmist, “
In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth (Psalm 119:88 ESV).

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