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Committed to True Worship

(Isaiah 1:10-20)

Lesson 3 -- third quarter 2007
June 17, 2007

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2007

The Wise Seek Jesus

Way back when, certain Wise Men looked for Jesus. Do people still do that in 2007? In other words, do we seek Jesus?

In our devotional times. This morning I read Proverbs 17. Did I do so because I was seeking Jesus, or because my conscience would smite me if I didn't? In all fairness to myself (and to you), I believe another option exists: I wanted something to challenge, encourage, direct and energize me for the day. But that doesn't qualify as seeking Jesus. I hope I remember for tomorrow morning.

In our church services. This morning I plan to attend a service; tonight I'll probably go to another. Why? Well, it's expected of me, I want to be a good example to my family, I don't want questions, I need to talk with certain people.... Of all places to forget our search for Jesus! I hope I remember that today!

In our crisis moments. We have gone through some deep waters as a family. We have had to do a lot of figuring and refiguring, a lot of anticipating and prognosticating, and certainly a lot of planning. And so infrequently did we seek Jesus! I hope I remember that...today?

In our everyday times. Ah yes. The Daily Grind. Life at Its Essential Level. Eternity by the Second. Real Livin'. Whatever you call your every-moment- every-day times, how conscious are you of this truth: The Wise Seek Jesus? My own answer is, "Not very." So I hope I remember.

The Wise Worship Jesus

We humans are created for the glory of God. We Christians are re-created for the special glory of God. The wise worship, glorify, and honor the Lord Jesus.

In our devotional times. These times naturally lend themselves to offering our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving to God. But I don't remember often.

In our church services. Oh, these also seem naturally conducive to worship! But more often it seems about...well, I'll not get into that.

In our crisis moments. Worship during crisis?! Well, read Psalms and Acts, and see for yourself. May crises bring out my praise and honor to God...but I usually forget till well after I should have remembered.

In our everyday times. OK. So worship isn't a normal in my life. But if the wise seek Jesus, and since those lacking wisdom should ask for it, what should I be doing about this?

Just how sincere is my worship?

My dictionary defines sincere this way: "1. Not feigned or affected; true. 2. Presenting no false appearance; not hypocritical; honest." That sounds like sincerity is the opposite of a deliberate decision to be misleading. That certainly fits the question above, but it isn't what I mean to ask. So I'll ask my question a little differently -- Just how intelligent is my worship?

Intelligent?! Yes. But never mind the dictionary definition of the term. I simply want to know if our worship is with understanding. Let's focus on our singing. Do we know the meanings of the words we sing? Are we conscious of the statements we make while we sing? I suspect that we know so many of the songs and hymns so well that the words float out our lips without registering in our minds. That sounds like vain (empty) repetition to me.

Maybe we could solve the problem of unintelligent singing by simply not singing. That would do the trick, alright. But that solution is intellectually and spiritually lazy, if not bankrupt. The more sensible, discerning (and wealth-inducing) solution is to address the real problem: an unfocused heart.

When I catch myself singing without thinking about what I'm singing, I shouldn't stop singing. No! I should start thinking...about what I'm singing. Instead of taking our tongue out of gear, we should get our heart in gear. We need to discipline our minds and spirits to focus on the object of our worship (God Himself) as well as on the vehicle of our worship (the words of our songs).

I propose we stop singing empty songs. Instead let's sing songs full of meaning, spirit, understanding and even feeling. That doesn't mean changing hymnals or singing songs we've never sung before. That means singing the same old songs...from our hearts and not simply our lips.

Here is an exercise for you. What was the last song your congregation sang together? Recite (or read) some of the significant phrases from the song. What do they mean to you right now? Is that what they meant to you when you sang them last, or did they mean anything at all that time?

A solution for formalism

Formalism, whether in corporate worship or in personal living, is the tendency to give greater awareness to the process than to the object.

For example, our services can become very stiff and perfect, adhering closely to certain attractive forms and nice ways of doing things...to the point of missing the Point of our service.

While forms and processes matter greatly in our lives, when we give them primacy in our worship and living, they become expressions of empty, self-righteous formalism.

The solution?

Do what we do for God and His enjoyment. Make Him the Point of our lives and service and worship.

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