I am reading the book " Facedown" by Matt Redman for the 4th or 5th time. It's an awesome, short little book. I highly recommend it. Anyway, in the book, Matt says, "Time after time the book of Isaiah reminds us of the uniqueness of God:" I will not give my glory to another (42:8). "I am the first and I am the last;apart from me there is no God" (44:6). "To whom will you compare me or count me equal?" (46:5). "I am God, and there is no other; I am God and there is none like me." (46:9). He goes on to talk about how God is so great and powerful- He does not need our worship, but He loves it when we offer it to Him.
Charles Spurgeon writes, "Do men fancy that the Lord needs banners and music, incense, and fine linen? If He did, the stars would emblazon His standard, the winds and the waves become His orchestra, ten thousand times then thousand flowers would breathe forth perfume"
Matt says, " Here is the all-sufficient creator of the universe who could get along just fine without our little contributions. And yet He rejoices and delights in every adoring response to Him."
I am going in to this Sunday with that mindset- what a privilege and honor we have to be permitted and free to worship the King of kings. And yet, Sunday after Sunday, so many of us (myself included) kind of stand there with our hands in our pockets yawning during a time that is set apart as a sacred time to corporately bring our offerings of honor and praise to God. It's time to get serious about our worship and give it with an open heart and a willing, thankful spirit. We have so much to praise Him for- we can't begin to fathom how great He is and our worship needs to reflect that, not just on Sunday, but every single day and moment. Too often we look at corporate worship times as a way to get something from God. He certainly does meet us when we gather together in His name and restores, speaks, and moves among us- but to look at worship as a bartering time "I'll worship You now, but what's in it for me?" is so far from what worship is supposed to be. And I know a lot of people are going through some tough times right now. Those tough times are the perfect time to grow your faith and enhance your worship. When we are going through rough times in life, worshiping goes against every single emotion that we're feeling. The last thing we want to do is be comforted and have hope- we want to wallow in our misery and feel sorry for ourselves. But what an opportunity! There is power in denying your selfish emotions and worshiping anyway- completely surrendering. I think that's what Hebrews 13:15 is all about:
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.
Notice it says continually, not sometimes or when we feel like it. We are to constantly lay down, or sacrifice, our will and our desires on the altar in submission. Sacrifice is not fun. It is not pleasant. It involves a ripping, a breaking, a shattering of what you have come to know. It's easy to praise God when everything is going your way and the sun is shining. It's a sacrifice to praise Him when thankfulness is the last thing on your mind. So I encourage you today to widen your view of God and know that He's able to handle your heart with great care. He wants to help us through our trials, but more importantly, He wants us to respond to Him in the midst of them- to come to Him without an agenda and simply love Him for who He is- not for what we can gain. Only when we approach Him with unhindered hearts and motives that are not self-seeking will He truly begin to work in our situations. He doesn't need the songs we sing. He doesn't require an ego boost by our praises and thanks. He is God. He needs nothing. But He loves when we turn our affections to Him- like a Father who gets a crayon-scribbled card bearing random letters and stick figures from his adoring toddler. It touches His heart when we offer our worship. And I believe that praising God in times of stress and despair are a huge victory for the Kingdom.
If what you have read is resonating within your heart, then take some time to apply the following prayer to your life.
God, we agree right now that we have approached worship time and time again improperly. True worship begins with You, not us. When our hearts are hurting, our focus turns inward and we lose sight of You. So we repent and we ask that you would mercifully teach us and remind us what true worship is- a life lived in total submission and adoration of You. When we have the amazing opportunity to lift our voices, hands, and hearts to you in our various corporate settings, may we be able to look beyond our desires, troubles, and selfish dreams and only see You in all of Your glory. We want our hands to come bursting out of our pockets in praise of You and we want our mouths to "shoot forth Your praise". Show us Your glory and Your greatness, which will overshadow our problems exponentially. Let us seek You without an agenda, without any thoughts of leveraging Your glory for our needs. We just want You, God. More of You. Decrease us until all that remains is You and You alone. Let Your love change our hearts and point our feet towards the hurting world before us. We commit ourselves to You. Amen.