On June 26 I retired after being pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Doylestown for 35 years. I’ve taken some time to look back at the main lessons God has taught me during that time. Here’s one:
No one who knows me would say I am an emotional person. That’s fine, I like the way I am. However when it comes to worship there have been many times through the years when I wished it were easier for me to display emotion. Yes, I know worship comes from deep within and doesn’t have to manifest itself in emotion. I’m learning to worship in ways that are meaningful and real for me.
As I’ve grown in my knowledge and understanding of Who and What God is, so I have grown in my response to Him in worship. As I have become more and more aware of God’s love for me as an individual (not just loving me on the group plan with everyone else) I find myself better able to reply to that love by loving Him back. That is the heart of real worship.
Worship is all about Him. It’s not about me and how ‘good’ I feel – it’s just about Him. In fact, the first two times “worship” is used in the Bible are when Abraham took Isaac up the mountain to sacrifice him (Genesis 22:5) and when Job heard the news that all of his children were killed (Job 1:20). Those certainly weren’t emotionally high times for either of them! Still, they kept their eyes on Who and What God is, and that is what worship is all about. As I grow in my relationship with Him and know Him better, so my worship of Him also improves. I find myself better able to thank Him, praise Him and love Him.
Giving thanks to God is good, but that usually is based on my understanding of what God has done and my approval of it. What about when, like Job and Abraham, I don’t understand or approve? That’s when praise and worship take over, for that is affirming the goodness of God Himself despite the circumstances in our lives. That touches the heart of God – loving Him when we don’t understand or like what is happening.
One avenue that really helps me worship God is music. I love Southern Gospel music and listen to it often. Although I have a terrible singing voice, when alone I sing along with the songs to which I am listening. The words form and express my thoughts and the music brings out an emotional response.
I’ve learned to not equate worship with a very moving service or song, though. Worship is much more than that and goes way beyond that. I’ve also learned to make sure worship is focused on Him, not on how great I am feeling. Too often we want to worship because it makes us feel good instead of because it makes God feel good! We use worship as a way to give ourselves a spiritual high. We feel our church services should provide that, or we’ll go to a different church. That is far from what worship really is.
Worship takes time and it takes effort. I schedule time alone either jogging or at church. I often listen to my mp3 player. The music leads me to worship as I respond to the goodness and greatness of God. I don’t put a time limit on this for it takes time to worship. Any relationship takes time to develop and it especially takes time for close, meaningful interactions to take place. They can’t be rushed or they will be aborted. God isn’t interested in being squeezed into our busy schedule. He wants (and deserves) the best of our time and energy. Do you give it to Him? (December 5, 2016 Doylestown, PA)
Psalms 100 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
How do you define worship for yourself?
How much time each week do you spend in real worship?
When do you worship best?
Schedule an extended period of time this week when you can get away from distractions and focus only on Him.
Take time to sit where you are and worship Him now.
INDIA UPDATE: The world view of Christians in third world countries is very different than ours. They don’t have much, but they are used to that and don’t expect life to be different. Poverty, illness, persecution and hunger are a common part of their lives. They don’t have an attitude that God should provide, they accept life as it is. We, on the other hand, are much more acutely aware of what we think we lack and want more of, as if God owes it to us. Often our worship of God is for His provision and answer to prayers, which is fine. But how much better it is, like Christians in third world countries, to praise and worship God for Who and what He is, not just what He does. If the Christians in those circumstances can praise Him, certainly we can as well!
PRAY FOR the finances for CTO. We hit rock bottom this time of year with all the expenses for the upcoming conferences coming due. This year was especially. I needed to send more than I had. But God has been faithful and the deficit was covered and money is coming in to cover further expenses. Thank God for this wonderful provision of His! If you can contribute to the conference, pastors or book costs it would be greatly appreciated. Send donations to Christian Training Organization, 252 W. State St., Doylestown, PA 18901. Pray God would continue to provide for our needs.
Christian Training Organization