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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Worship is What?

 A Psalm of Thanksgiving
1-2 On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter, 
      sing yourselves into his presence.  3 Know this: God is God, and God, God
      He made us; we didn't make him. We're his people, his well-tended sheep. 
 4 Enter with the password: "Thank you!" Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him.  5 For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever.
(Psalm 100 The Message)

We are beginning the month of November, beginning to look ahead to the holiday we call Thanksgiving in the United States.  As  was reading this morning, I started in the 99th Psalm and continued to this passage above.  As I began to consider all the ways we "worship" God in our lives, one of the most important ways that spoke to me was actually in a verse from the 99th chapter of Psalms.  The passage spoke to the fact that Moses, Aaron, and Samuel were great men in the sight of Israel, used mightily by God.  Yet, they took time to pray to God.  Prayer was part of their "worship" of God.  They lived lives of prayer.

The passage explained that they "prayed to God" and "he answered them".  Two things I want us to realize.  First, they shared their heart with God.  They brought TO God their every need.  There is no better source of strength, no more assured place of comfort, and no more gracious forgiveness than at his feet.  In bringing TO God the needs of our heart, mind, and emotions, we place ourselves "in line" for the second part of this "process" we sometimes call "prayer" - today, I'd like us to consider it as "worship".  Worship is really all we do with our lives.  As such, prayer is a way of taking time to recognize the importance of keeping the relationship "fresh" with the one we serve.

Second, HE answered them.  That means that in their yielding of their lives to his direction, he answered them.  He honored their "worship" with the very presence of his "cloud" and "pillar of fire" that was continually with Israel in the wilderness.  The most awesome part of this passage is that the very next words recorded:  They DID what he SAID!!  Speaks of obedience being a part of our "worship".  No sense in bringing ourselves to the feet of Jesus if we have no intention of listening to what he says!

But, I am not finished with what I gleaned from this 99th chapter.  In fact, it spoke the loudest to me about what it is that I have to be thankful for this holiday season!  You may think it strange, but here it is:  "But you were never soft on their sins."  Yep, that is what I am most grateful for this Thanksgiving season.  The fact that God is NEVER soft on our sins is really something we should be thanking him for!

If we served a God that could look away when we sinned, never really acknowledging our sins, we'd serve a pretty "fickle" God.  His holiness is the basis of his "hardness" toward our sin.  His love is the basis of his "grace" that covers that sin!  There is much more to obedience than just doing the right stuff at the right time.  There is the attitude of heart behind that action.  Then there is the desire to do it because it is the "right thing" to do, not just to gain God's (or man's) approval.  Add to that the fact that it "honors" God when we are obedient and we understand that God cannot (and will not) be soft on our sin!

That said, I am grateful this Thanksgiving season that God is NEVER soft on my sin.  That brings us to our passage for the day - Psalm 100.  We are his people and as such, we are well-tended sheep.  It is his being who he is, us being exactly who we are, that makes his grace all that much more powerful in our lives.  The next time you lift your voice to God, take some time to thank him for never being "light" on your sin!  When you do this with a genuine thankfulness for his grace, you may just find that you will begin to develop a new appreciation for the conviction of the Spirit in your lives!  Come and worship him with the knowledge that worship even involves his "conviction"!