Worship – Heart

Readings for this week August 8 – 12
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

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Day 1 – What is Worship?

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Romans 12:1

What does it mean to worship something? It means to give your life over to it, to bend your time, thoughts, actions and energies towards something, to prioritise that one thing over all else, and to view all other things and judge all other things in the light of that. There are many things that would stake a claim to our worship. But God is the only one worthy of our worship. To worship him means to be completely devoted to him and to make him the focus of all aspects of our entire life. Our lives are God’s. We are his—our time, energy, actions, thoughts, resources, hopes and dreams—everything.

So what is a ‘living sacrifice’? Unlike other sacrifices which are a one-off event, a living sacrifice is ongoing. When we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, we give God our ordinary walking-around existence. We are his to use however he wants. This, as we read today, is worship.

It can be easy to think that worship only includes the times when we are consciously ‘worshiping’, perhaps singing songs in a service, praying, or serving people around us. Those times specifically set aside for worship are definitely important, but worship is so much more. It is our whole lives offered continually to God. He wants everything we do to be done because we love him.

Questions to Consider
What does worshiping God mean for you in your everyday life? How is your whole life a ‘living sacrifice’ to God?

Prayer
Lord God, in all I do, every aspect of my life, every action and every thought, day and night, waking or sleeping, may I worship none but you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – Honest Worship

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Isaiah 6:1-7

What does a worship encounter with God look like? We cannot dream up our own picture of what God is like and worship that made-up image. For example, if we think we can approach God without owning up to our sin, we are just kidding ourselves. Worship requires us to be real before God, it’s not just a ‘feel good’ experience.

When Isaiah met God face-to-face, he ended up flat on the ground begging for forgiveness – no uplifting choruses, no warm fuzzies about how great a worshipper Isaiah was, just the stark truth of his sinfulness before God. There’s not much ‘feel good’ about that! But it was real.

We need to approach God humbly aware of our sin, but also knowing he loves us. We are to offer our entire being – the good bits and the bad bits –in worship before our holy God. He knows all about us anyway – what would we be saying if we refused to give him everything we are? If we are honest about our sin, he will forgive us; if we offer all we have in loving service to him, he will welcome and affirm us. He will neither abandon us nor ignore our worship. If we feel God’s presence, it is not because we somehow rise up to him, but because he chooses to come down to us.

When we worship God without trying to cover up who we really are, we see ourselves clearly and can also see God as he is.

Question to Consider
What do you find most difficult about being completely real and honest in your worship?

Prayer
Almighty Father, help me to be real and honest with you at all times, no matter what I am feeling. All of me is yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – Whom to Serve

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Exodus 20:3

We all worship something, whether we will openly admit it or not. Many thing cry out for our allegiance, some begging, others cajoling, still others relentlessly and forcefully pursuing us for our devotion. Despite the many voices that call us, God will accept only our complete dedication to him. Because worship requires our complete love and loyalty, it is impossible to worship more than one thing. Worshipping nothing isn’t an option either. In the famous words of Bob Dylan, ‘You gotta serve somebody.’

We can choose who or what we serve. There is a Maori proverb that says, ‘Mehema koe ka tuoho, meinga ki te maunga tetei.’ (If you should bow to greatness, let it be to a lofty mountain.) Family and friends, enjoying life, looking good, having money and status, stuff we own or want, being well-known or having influence—none of these can have a stronger pull on us than God. God says we are to worship and serve him only. What historian Herbert Butterfield once said when speaking about the tough times in life can also serve as a good reminder of what worshipping God really means: “Hold fast to Christ, and for the rest be totally uncommitted.”

In choosing to follow God, we let all other loyalties die. God doesn’t demand this from us because he suffers from jealousy or low self-esteem, he just doesn’t want us to misplace our love. We were created to love him, not for his sake, but for ours.

Questions to Consider
What things clamour for your attention and try to claim your allegiance ahead of God? How do you combat this?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, may I hold fast to you in all I do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – A Song of Worship

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 98

When you say the word ‘worship’ in Christian circles, most people automatically think of singing songs. Because we call our communal (and individual) singing of songs ‘worship’ it is easy to think that that is all that worship is. It isn’t. But singing God’s praises is a part of what true worship is. The people of God often sang and danced in their worship of God. Many psalms encourage us to do the same. David is a classic example of someone whose love for God overflowed naturally in singing and dancing. He couldn’t help himself—he loved God so much that music and praise just spilled out.

Songs, playing instruments and dancing are all great ways of showing our love for God. They also help us express our faith in him. When the Israelites went into battle, they always put the singers and musicians in the front lines to show how serious they were about putting God first, even on the battlefield. Our worship reflects what matters most to us.

Whether we are good singers or not, whether we are musicians and dancers or not, whether we enjoy singing or not, worship in the form of singing, dancing or playing is a key part of our life’s overall worship of God. When we sing worship songs we show our love for God. But do be careful what you sing. As rock and roll singer Bo Diddley once said, ‘Don’t let your mouth write no cheques your tail can’t cash.’

Questions to Consider
How does your love of God express itself? How does it find expression in song, dance and music?

Prayer
Lord, may your praises be ever flowing from my heart and mouth. May I sing your praises at all times. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – ‘The Noise of Your Songs’

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Amos 5:21-24

Yesterday we read that singing is an important part of worshipping God. Today it looks as though God isn’t impressed with our songs at all. There must be something more to worship…

Did you notice the verse that says, ‘Away with the noise of your songs’? Of course you did! Isn’t God contradicting himself here? Doesn’t he like our singing anymore? Amos’ audience had drastically lost their way, especially when it came to treatment of poor and oppressed people. Widows and orphans were being neglected, and people in need ignored, but they continued to sing their worship songs as usual.

God hates it when we go through the motions of worship. True worship springs from the relationship between him and us. If that relationship is strong and close, we will do much more than just sing. Our worship will lead to the very things Amos talks about—justice for the victimised, healing for the sick, and standing alongside the poor. Faith without deeds is dead—so is worship without action. When God says, ‘Away with the noise,’ he means don’t bother to sing words that make no difference to the way you act. They are an insult to God. Our worship pleases him when it moves us to act.

Question to Consider
How do we stop ourselves from just going through the motions and becoming jaded?

Prayer
Lord God, may the expression of my love for you always be genuine. Help me see each moment of each day as a blessed moment in your presence, no matter where I am or what I am doing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)