October 30, 2013

The power of worship

Autumn fades, but the glory of gold and orange lingers in the trees. The sky is still dark this morning, but the moon and stars brightly shine. I cannot see the mountains from my window but we have gazed up at their snow-clad peaks often enough that I can remember their glory. I can look even at photos of rivers and the sea and remember the sounds and smells. Our nearby pond is beginning to freeze yet a few geese remain. I stop on my daily walk and appreciate them, sometimes singing a few lines of, “It is my Father’s world . . . .”

Some say they can worship God in the woods better than in church. I’m not sure that is so, but respect it for God can be worshiped in any place and at any time. Even those who don’t know Him and don’t think of Him, can be in awe over creation. 

Yet even though the splendor of what God has made awes the mind, deep inside tugs a deep desire, unnamed, but that only God can satisfy. We may not name it, but as today’s devotional reading says, “our thinking is a mutilated fragment without God, and our hearts can never rest unless they rest in him.”

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:24)

Worship is a good thing. At times, it is the only thing that can soothe my sorrows and calm my anxieties. When all else fails, when I have no words to ease the pain of others, or to comfort those who have lost loved ones,  I want to point them to God. Sometimes I feel that I cannot do it and afterward feel sad or ashamed that I didn’t because I know looking at Him is true comfort.

My own heart finds comfort and deep joy in worship, in submitting to God and trusting Him. He has taught me that He knows what He is doing. He sees the end from the beginning, and in all things works for the good of those who love him.

As well, worship aids me when I am tempted. Mere thoughts of “this is wrong” are not sufficient. The idea that sin is destructive and not beneficial cannot help either. I can recognize the enemy’s lies in the bait he dangles before me and still struggle. I may know what I ought to do, but that isn’t enough. As Paul said,

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (Romans 7:18–19)

But worship puts all of it where it belongs. Moral behavior cannot live on ideas and values. Morals might be rooted in a strong sense of obligation, but that will not keep my heart pure. However, the desire to do right reveals a glory about human beings; we are made in the image of God. Yet I find that without worship, even a strong sense of moral obligation will give way to sin.

Worship does many things. It nourishes my understanding that God is a high, moral, spiritual Being who made me for himself. I belong to Him. As I worship Him, it also nourishes in me the highest and best as it points me to the One who can rescue me from sin and temptation. When Paul lamented his sinfulness and lack of power to overcome sin, he ended his lament with . . . 

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:24–25)

Worship heightens the mind, lifts me above sin and those desires of the flesh, but without Jesus Christ, I would be unable to get from those base desires to holiness and higher ground. Because the Lord has delivered me from the power of sin, then worship gives me an increasing desire to serve Him instead of those selfish desires.

God is worthy of worship and that is sufficient reason to do so. All that He is and all that He does reminds me of the wonder of His great love, His almighty power, His amazing goodness. Worship is due Him, yet in the way that He created the human heart, worship is also good for me.

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