Tag Archives: Lord

Don’t Forget the Left-Overs

Each year, after thanksgiving meal is over, I’m still excited for the left-overs – a reminder of the wonderful meal, recently enjoyed.  The bounty of food is too much for one sitting, too much even for one day.  It spills over to supper, then to Friday and further.  Back home our tradition is to pour the gravy over a plate filled with cold turkey, stuffing and potatoes and warm it up in the microwave. Best. Left-overs. Ever. I’m going to have to work this off!

The left-overs turn my thoughts toward the twelve baskets left over after Jesus fed the multitude; then to Paul’s reference to spiritual food.  Jesus always fills us to overflowing!  He meets our every need and more.  “Taste and see that the Lord is good!”  When we sit at the feet of our Savior, we are fed the good, spiritual food of the gospel until we are so filled, we cannot take another bite.  We must leave and rest, then work it off before we come back for more.

Here’s my point and my prayer for all of us as we enjoy the spiritual blessings this Christmas season.

  • Taste and see that the Lord is good. (Come to Christ)
  • Gobble up the spiritual food He brings. (Sit at His feet)
  • Rest in Him – (Enjoy the fellowship of Christ and His church)
  • Work it off – (Serve Christ by serving others)
  • Come back for left-overs – (Remain in his Word and let us not forsake gathering together.)

Obstacles to Worship 3: Guilty Heart

I wish Worship Leaders and Pastors were perfect, but truth is; we’re not.  Is it an act of hypocrisy when we lead songs declaring an unwavering commitment to God’s call and purpose, when we know in our hearts that we have failed to be obedient?  Is it right that we should proclaim God’s goodness and at the same time struggle to acknowledge his goodness within a specific circumstance or personal trial?  How many times have you tried to lead worship and in the middle of a song remembered that you have unconfessed sin?  Or is it the case that you  have confessed your sin to God, but have not yet forgiven yourself?

Worship leaders don’t get the same opportunity to cease our singing and go to the altar and “lay it down.”  I’m not saying that it would be inappropriate, but I think that in the spirit of preparedness worship leaders should deal with our “stuff” before we take the platform.  But what about the times we fail to prepare?  What if – in the middle of leading a song – we sing a phrase only to realize that it doesn’t line up with the way we have been living?

It’s important for us to lead and sing songs of commitment when we worship such as the song, Everyday, in which the lyrics speak;

Everyday 
It’s You I’ll live for 
Everyday 
I’ll follow after You 
Everyday 
I’ll walk with You my Lord 

Let’s say I am leading this song and the epiphany strikes me that last Tuesday I made a decision that was clearly opposite from living for Christ.  Personally, in light of my conviction, I now feel like a liar singing this song.  My sung testimony is nothing but a lie and I’m standing and singing it in front of God and everybody as if it were true.  Too harsh? Perhaps, but I don’t think so.

3 things you probably shouldn’t do.

  • Don’t dismiss it or take it lightly – Our Lord is not silent about hypocritical worship, nor does he take lightly the Pharisees “the show must go on” attitude.  Jesus quotes Isaiah 29:13 to the Pharisees in Mark 7:6;  Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’
  • Don’t stop the song and the service and deal publicly with it.  Just as it would be unhelpful for someone to walk up from the back row, take a mic and begin to confess each sin from their previous week, worship is also not the place for you to catch up on your quiet time.
  • Don’t beat yourself up or believe that there’s nothing you can do.

3 things you can and should do.

  • Even as you are leading worship, this is your time for corporate worship too.  If you are dealing with something that you have already confessed and the enemy is seeking to remind you of your failures, then remind yourself and your congregation of the truth about which you sing; that Christ has redeemed you and made you new; that his blood has washed away every stain and “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
  • Pray as you sing.  You do it all the time.  Confess in your prayer how you’ve messed up and seek for God to realign your heart and actions back to Him. “Father, as I sing these words, I recognize that there have been times that I haven’t lived like it. -Like last Tuesday. Remember that, Lord. Yeah, I’m sorry.  Please forgive me and help me to live in you and trust you more.  I really want to live for you everyday and walk with you everyday.”
  • If you have sinned against someone else, seek that person as soon as you can.  Apologize and confess that you were wrong.  Seek to restore that broken relationship.  Oh, how sweet it will be to worship with them the next time you gather.  That’s what his grace can do!

You’re not a qualified worship leader because you have it all together.  You are a qualified worship leader because you have come to the Father by the way of Christ’s cross.  And as a worship leader you get to point others to the Savior, who is worthy of spirit and truth worship.


Obstacles to Worship 2: Sick and Tired

Part two of the obstacles to worship series comes on the back end of my sick week.  Last week I had the respiratory bug and lost my voice for the weekend.  I can’t even put to words how frustrating and discouraging this was.  By Sunday morning I felt better except that I was a little tired and my voice  made me sound like Lurch from the Adams Family; only shorter.

I was forced to offer worship to God without using my voice. No Singing! If I tried, very little came out.  I did not feel so bad that I could not attend worship, so I came to worship.  Physically I was present, but I had to engage myself into worship in a different mode.  I believe that scripture is very clear in that we are all to “sing our praises to the Lord.”  Sunday morning I longed to sing at the top of my lungs but it was not to be.  I felt chipper, joyful, but no joyful noise would come forth.  Could I really lead worship without a voice?

I could and I did with the help of my team.  Here’s how;

  • The early service was, in some ways a easier and in some ways more difficult.
  1. I was able to hand of the congregational leading to a faithful choir member.
  2. I could still direct the choir special – (my voice loss hadn’t affected my arms.) However–
  3. In the traditional setting where only two instruments play the accompaniment and the congregation’s only mode of participation is “stand and sing” I was unable to worship out loud.  I could lead the choir and that was it. So I was only actively participating on that one song.  Clapping isn’t a regular practice in that setting, so my hands were useless as a praise instrument.  I stood on the front row and smiled.  If the bass part descended into my range I grunted a few notes.
  • The second service also had it’s limitations and opportunities.
  1. I handed off the song intros to a praise team member. And another praise team member was already carrying the melody. (A team of vocalists is effective at leading worship and is also a built in back up plan when I can’t lead.)
  2. I could still play guitar and lead the band on all the worship music.  This was very close to full participation to me.  I really felt like I was worshiping even though my voice wasn’t a part of the offering.  (Were I not playing guitar I would have been clapping.)
  3. I smiled.  When I think about the Lord, He makes me smile.  I can’t help it.  Smiling leads people in worship.  Even when I’m not singing, I can communicate the joy of the Lord with a smile.  I’m always preaching to the choir that they need to smile, so I made certain that my discouragement about not having a voice didn’t derail my heart from worshiping.

Worshipers and worship leaders, what do you do when you aren’t quite yourself on a Sunday morning?  Do you give up and go home or come and observe as a non-participant?  How do you find ways to join God’s people in praise when you just don’t have it?


Obstacles To Worship: The Unfriendly Face

Worship leaders face many obstacles when leading worship.  These obstacles can deter us from setting our hearts on Christ.  Obstacles can also derail our focus from leading His followers in worship.  One such obstacle reared its ugly head (pun intended) for me recently. Let’s call it the Unfriendly Face.

If you lead worship or lead a team of worship leaders, you are constantly reminding your worship team to smile, show joy, make eye contact, let your light shine!  I’m sure I make this reminder to my choirs and praise team weekly or at least every other week.  A simple friendly smile from the worship team or choir can melt away the pride that sometimes keeps a congregant from joining the song.  Sure, we should all be ready to jump right in to praise singing on Sunday morning because God is good.  He has commanded us to sing his praises, and we are his obedient and thankful children, right?  Unfortunately, we are seldom ready to just jump right in to singing His praises.  Life is hard, and we get distracted.  We have doubts.  We need encouragement.  This is why we need the friendly smile from our worship leaders.  It encourages us in the Lord – most of the time.

The Unfriendly Face I’m speaking about is not one from the choir or praise team.  Not that we have mastered smiling – we haven’t.  I continue to be amazed at how slowly a smile can evolve on some faces.  People who smile all the time open their mouths to sing, and that delightful smile disappears into the abyss.  We’re working on it, but that’s not the obstacle to which I refer.

Unfriendly Face is a person in the congregation who refuses to participate.  Their posture implies that singing God’s praises is somehow beneath their dignity.  And the look on their face communicates that they wish you would hurry and conclude this silly singing business and get to the important stuff.  I’ve learned over the years that I can’t look at these people and not have it effect me as worship leader.

I’d prefer to look at those who smile back.  The way they sing praises to God and smile encourages me.  I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I often need to be encouraged by psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph 5:19.)  Those in the congregation whose praise singing shows in outward enthusiasm often lead me in worship. But then Unfriendly Face…

I’m not complaining.  That’s not what my blog is for, so please hear me. I’m NOT complaining.  We have great participation almost every Sunday morning at my church. I know that I have brother and sister worship leaders who have dozens of those Unfriendly Face worshipers weekly.  I’m NOT complaining.  Also, it is not my place to judge what goes on in the hearts of other worshipers, but sour faces have their effect on worship leaders.  So what do we do about it?  Here are a couple of my things that I do.

  • First, realize that you can not force anyone to smile or open their mouths to sing or stand or sit up straight.  Each individual is responsible for their own action (or inaction) when it comes to worship.
  • Second, don’t get pious and think “Thank You, O Lord, that I am not like that man or woman who refuses to offer You praises.”  This opens a whole other obstacle to worship leading – Humility or the lack there of.
  • Third, pray for that person – by name if you know who they are.  It just might be that their silence is not a refusal to praise but an opportunity to reflect.  God is doing a work in them and it is different than what he is doing in you.
  • Fourth, pray for yourself – you know who you are.  You know the times you have failed to worship through action during the past week.  Confess it.  Repent.  Worship is more than just singing.  Singing loudly and smiling big does not mean that your worship is complete.
  • Lastly, seek out that person after the service.  Perhaps they need a more personal, one-on-one encouragement.  Our broadcast-style worship leading effort is an attempt to lead a large group  from a stage.  Get off the stage.  Go get to know that unfriendly face; encourage them.  Don’t stop leading worship when you leave the platform.

Have you been distracted by  Unfriendly Face while leading worship?  How do you overcome your distraction? As a worshiper do you ever feel like you just don’t want to sing?  When tempted to withhold your praise, what do you do? 


Holy

by Matt Redman, Jason Ingram, Jonas Myrin

Verse 1
What heart could hold the weight of Your love
And know the heights of Your great worth
What eyes could look on Your glorious face
Shining like the sun
(REPEAT)

Chorus 1
You are holy holy holy
God most high and God most worthy
You are holy holy holy
Jesus You are Jesus You are
(Jesus You are Jesus You are)

Verse 2
Your name alone has pow’r to raise us
Your light will shine when all else fades
Our eyes will look on Your glorious face
Shining like the sun
Who is like You God

Misc 1
(BRIDGE)
Who shall we say You are
You’re the living God
Who shall we say You are
You’re the Great I Am
The highest name of all
You’re all You say You are

Verse 3
And You will come again in glory
To judge the living and the dead
All eyes will look on Your glorious face
Shining like the sun
Who is like You God

In scripture we are instructed by the psalmist.

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring and offering, and come into His courts. Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness, tremble before him, all the earth. Psalm 96:7-9

This instruction means for us to acknowledge out-loud the attributes of our creator God – to give him the credit, respect and honor he deserves because of his character.  So in this song we attribute or ascribe several things to God and we do this as one body, a family.  Here is what we are ascribing to the Lord in this song;

  • Holiness (You are Holy)
  • Power (your name has power to raise us)
  • Glory (all eyes will look on your glorious face)
  • Great love (what heart could hold the weight)
  • Great worth (or know the heights)
  • And in case we miss anything we declare (You’re ALL you say you are)

As we ascribe to the Lord the glory due him, we also declare that this is true of his Son, Jesus.  Jesus demonstrated these things to be true in his life, death and resurrection.  He showed to us the character of the Father.  So we are indeed singing of Jesus, the God-man when we sing to the Lord.  After asking his disciples “Who do people say that I am?” he asked a more personal question.  “Who do you say that I am?”  Matt Redman’s song Holy gives us the opportunity to answer that question in unity singing, “You’re the living God,” “You’re the great I AM.”

As you worship the living God this Sunday may your worship be a sweet sweet sound to his ear, and may your singing be an extension of your obedient life.  This is our reasonable offering.


From The Inside Out

From The Inside Out

by Joel Houston

Verse 1
A thousand times I’ve failed
Still Your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
Still I’m caught in Your grace
Everlasting
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never-ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame

Verse 2
Your will above all else
My purpose remains
The art of losing myself
In bringing You praise
Everlasting
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never-ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame

Pre-Chorus
In my heart in my soul
Lord I give You control
Consume me from the inside out Lord
Let justice and praise
Become my embrace
To love You from the inside out

Chorus 1
Everlasting
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never-ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart
Is to bring You praise
From the inside out
Lord my soul cries out

This song by Joel Houston and Hillsong has gotten a lot of play on christian radio lately.  And I hope congregations are singing these words as a “healthy part of a balanced worship.”  At FSBC Lawrence, this song is our theme song for our “What Is God Searching for?” summer sermon series.

In this summer series we have taken on the challenge of living out the christian life so that the world sees Christ as he truly is and not the “stereotype” of christian the world has gotten to know in recent years.  We will look at several attributes demonstrated by Christ, but our underlying theme is that Christ is the one who changes us “from the inside out.”

Moralism would have us believe that we please God but simply living good, moral lives.  But moralism is a false Gospel.  The picture we are given in the gospel is one of surrender.  According to the gospel it is not possible for us to live good lives.  In fact even our very best effort, which Isaiah calls “our righteous deeds,” are no cleaner than “filthy rags.”

“We are all infected and impure with sin.  When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” Isaiah 64:6

It is important to recognize first that we can not change our behavior by simply “pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps.” We can only be changed by the person of Christ.  When we fully surrender, He comes in and begins a new work in us that changes us “from the inside out.”  In the words of Paul…

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

The church has a responsibility to instruct and encourage the body to live rightly before God and to live our lives as a testimony to a rebellious world.  But as we offer such instruction, we must always be clear that changing our moral behavior is not the means or the end. Rather it is the follow through, and obedience, of a heart that has already surrendered to the Savior.

Only Jesus Christ can save and redeem us.  Logic follows that only Jesus Christ can than transform our lives, “From the Inside Out.”


Let My Words Be Few

Let My Words Be Few

by Matt and Beth Redman

You are God in heaven and here am I on earth
So I’ll let my words be few
Jesus I am so in love with You
And I’ll stand in awe of You
yes I’ll stand in awe of You
and I’ll let my words be few
Jesus I am so in love with You

If you grew up in church you are probably familiar with the story of Job.  Even those outside church life have likely heard a version of Job’s story.  Job was a man who went through great tragedy at the hand of Satan because Satan wanted to prove to God that Job only loved God because God had blessed him greatly.

If God knows our future, then we can assume he had a grasp on Job’s as well.  He allowed the test.  Satan wasted no time.  He hit Job with incredible tragedies.  He takes his property and his children.  Of course, this hit Job hard.  Imagine how you would have reacted.  Job was human just like you and me.  He was devastated, torn-apart.

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.  The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. Job 1:21-22

Satan couldn’t believe it.  So he went to God again and suggested that it was Job’s health that kept him from cursing God. Again, God allowed Satan to attack Job, but this time Satan struck Job with sores from the “sole of his foot to the crown of his head.”

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak.  Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:9-10

And Job’s story goes forward.  He curses the day he was born. (shades of Jimmy Stewart) His three “good” friends advise him to repent from what ever it is that God is punishing him for. (Job knows in his heart that he has been obedient to God) Job pleas to God. Job blames God. Job hopes in God. Job questions God.   Then finally God answers.

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Job 38:1-3

After the Lord questions Job, (I hope they were rhetorical questions) Job puts his hand over his mouth.

Then Job answered the Lord and said: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?  I lay my hand on my mouth.” Job 40:3-4

In our modern English Job was saying this; You are God in heaven and here am I on earth, so I’ll let my words be few.

Father, sometimes we get carried away with ourselves. Too often we speak when we should be listening.  Oh how we cheaply view Your glory when we question your wisdom in our circumstances. You told us that in this world we would have trouble, but You also reminded us that You have overcome the world.  Let us not be surprised at the many trials we face, nor doubt Your presence with us during our trails.  Indeed let our words be few.  We love you, Jesus, amen.

Have you ever had a time in worship where all you could do was stand or sit in silence?  Does this song by Matt and Beth Redman speak to your current experiences in your walk of faith in Jesus?  Let us hear about it in the comment section.


Liar or Lover?

I have some favorite words.  I’m sure you do too.  There are a lot of words I like for the way they sound, like STEADFAST!  What a great word!  I want to be steadfast.  There are other words I like because of what they represent like “breakfast.”  I’m a big fan of breakfast – any time of the day.  I also like the word meat because… well… I like meat!  And when you put certain words together, it’s even better – Breakfast Meat! Are you hungry yet?

As I think it over, it’s more than mere words that bring me elation, but rather it’s what they represent.  If I had to choose between using the WORD “breakfast” or eating a REAL breakfast that was sitting right in front of me, I’d pass on the mere word and dive into the eggs, waffles and bacon!

Substance is always preferred to mere words.  It must be this way with God, too.  We talk a lot about worship, but is it the word or the concept that we love or do we demonstrate to God how much we love Him?  We love to sing about worship, but do we worship?  Does our worship have substance?  Just as I prefer a real breakfast to the mere mention of the word, God’s desire is that we truly worship Him rather than just talk positively about it.

Reminds be of a parable:

Matthew 21:28-32 “What do you think? A man had two sons.  And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went.  and he went to the other son and said the same.  And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two obeyed his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.

We understand that it is not enough to say that we love God and will obey Him.  We have to actually OBEY Him.  Worship is loving God.  How does God expect us to show our love?  Obedience.  The words Worship-Love-Obedience are meant to be used together.  Take away any one of those words and worship becomes something less than substantial – mere words.

We seek to obey because we love God.  We need to be careful that love rather than duty drives our obedience. Duty has its place, but love is God’s greatest command. “Love the Lord your God with all you heart and all our soul and all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) “Let love be your highest goal!” (1 Cor 14:1)

However, if we say we love God, but do not obey Him, the Bible calls us liars!

1John 2:4-6 If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.  But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him.  Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

I don’t mean to be harsh, but there are only two things we can do as people who claim to know Jesus.

Be a Lover or be a Liar!

Holy God and my Father, I desire to be a true worshiper, though I know that I have failed to obey You so many times.  Other times I have obeyed out of duty and hated it because my love was for myself and not for You.  And at times I have merely gone through the motions of worship with my mind disengaged from Your presence.  Forgive me for my half-heartedness.  And help me so that my  Worship and Love show through in Obedience and my Love and Obedience make complete my Worship and let my Worship and Obedience demonstrate my Love for You. amen.


The Day After The Day After Easter

Twas the day after Easter? No, the day after that, folks returned to the lives they had lead.

For the most part, all life settled back to its norm and many or most felt their hearts were still warm
from Sunday and spiritually fed.

They let their minds wander toward worry and pleasure forgetting the power of Christ’s precious treasure,
they settled for luke warm instead.

“Easter’s alright.  It does have its place” said a red-headed boy, chocolate still on his face.
Said a sweet little gal “The people looked swell; men in suits and ladies in lace.”
“But when it’s all done, I’ve a business to run,” said a gent as he packed his briefcase.

Seems the world had moved on and forgotten the song ’bout victory over hell, sin and death.
“Those words that bring cheer don’t apply to us here, on Tuesday” said Lori and Seth.

“Could there be a way” another did say “to keep Easter alive all the year?”
Then he turned up the show with his TV remote to drown other sounds from his ear.
Another repined, “Lord just give us a sign…” as she helped her son on with his jacket,
“…that You still care when life isn’t fair, falls apart and I’m caught in a panic.”

Easter’s crescendo flew out through the window as they sped through the tasks of their day.
The Sun overhead brightly shined, but instead no one noticed and busy they stayed.
Rather than hope, their souls would still grope for the something they’d let slip away.

Then the voice of a younger cried out much like thunder, “He’s Risen! He’s Risen, indeed!”
“But that was on Sunday, the day before Monday. On Tuesday that’s not what we need!
So mellow, young fellow.” said Art with a bellow, “Don’t be a fanatic, I plead.”

But the voice of the younger cried out even stronger, “He’s Risen, He’s Living again.”
Repeated and then, other voices joined in with “Alive, Forever, Amen!”

Remember to live out the faith that you sing out.  It matters on Tuesday the same,
as it did, when on Sunday, you said “Jesus Loves Me.” Don’t forget you’re the reason He came!


The Worship Showdown

While reading the book “David,” by Chuck Swindoll, I came across the section where David played on the lyre for Saul.  As I read this section, I knew I would have to return and spend some more time. As a worship pastor, I was intrigued by the contrast between Saul and David’s purpose for music.

 

Background

Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him. 15 And Saul’s servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.” 1 Samuel 16:14-16

It is not really possible for us to know why God did this.  But we know that this harmful spirit was “from the Lord because it plainly says; a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him. We can realize that, in the Old Testament, God’s spirit didn’t permanently rest on any one other than David and John the Baptist.  It wasn’t until the Day of Pentecost that God would send His spirit to permanently rest on His people.  As Swindoll says, “when the Spirit of God comes into the believing sinner as salvation, He never leaves.”  God no longer causes His Spirit “to depart from” those who are “in Christ,” nor does He send a “harmful spirit” to torment those of us who are “in Christ.”  But He did do this to Saul.

It is widely thought that God did this as a form of judgement for Saul’s sin of turning against the Lord.  This made it necessary for Saul to need soft, sweet music to relieve the spirit’s torments.


King Saul

Reading through this chapter, I wondered what we could learn from Saul’s experience.  We don’t share Saul’s malady, but perhaps we tend to adopt his purpose for music within our own worship strategies.  And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him. 1 Samuel 16:23. Swindoll explains that the Hebrew word is ravach and it means “to give space so as to bring relief.” I can relate.  Having 3 teenagers and a preschooler, sometimes I just “need a little space.”

Now, the words “refreshed” and “eased” are good words. In fact, I like them very much.  We all need refreshed from time to time. This world can beat us up and wear us down.  Living life takes it’s toll on us, but I don’t think the purpose for worship is that we be refreshed.  That is not the goal of our worship.  It is a byproduct of being in the presence of God.  Being refreshed will be a symptom of an already-obedient heart.  Refreshment is the reward for taking on the yoke of Christ, for He says “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

We would all confess that we worship God because He commands it, and because He deserves it.  But we would never say, “I worship because God deserves to refresh me.”  It just sounds weird!  When it comes to worship, we don’t want to sidestep the object of our worship  – God Himself.  We miss the point when we focus only on what we can gain.

Often times, we are seeking refreshment from the anxieties and worries of life.  Without a doubt, God wants to relieve us of those worries.  Jesus says to us in Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. In other words, God is saying, “Trust Me. Obey Me. Worship Me alone.  Don’t worry about the things that make you worry.  I am taking care of you.”

King Saul was tormented, because he was disobedient.  The soothing music allowed him a way to cope with his torment and gain temporary relief, without having to actually repent and obey God.  Saul had no intention of reconciling himself to God.  He settled for the temporary refreshment.

 

David

David gives us a complete contrast to what we see in Saul. Where Saul has the goal to soothe his tormented soul, David desires to be made right in God’s presence.  Saul desired to be pleased by the music, but David desired to please the Lord. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17. 

In Psalm 51:11 David, in his song, asks God,  “Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me.”  How interesting! This same David who played to soothe a tormenting Saul, from whom God’s spirit had departed, now asks that God not take His spirit from David.  I don’t know about you, but that seems like more than a coincidence to me.  I’m so glad that we no longer have to resort to that request.  Jesus declared that He would always be with us.  Never will he leave us or forsake us.  As we’ve already learned, God did not permanently rest his spirit on any one until the Day of Pentecost, except for David and John the Baptist.

During the closing verses of Psalm 51, we see that David recognized something very significant.  God desires worshipers! For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. Psalm 51:16.  David knew that it wasn’t the burnt offering, and it wasn’t the sacrifices that pleased God.  Those were merely a medium to symbolize what it was that God really desired.  God desires that we offer ourselves to him – that we offer hearts and lives, broken by our sin, and bendable for his correcting.  This verse also looks forward to what Paul would tell us in Roman:  I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1.  David rightly viewed the physical sacrifice as a symbol of “dieing to his sinfulness.”

So, the question is – what is our goal when we worship?  Is it to be soothed, refreshed and made to feel better, or is it to die to ourselves and offer wholeheartedly our very lives to God?  Do we choose to make confession, or do we choose to seek refreshment while we live our lives in disobedience to God?