Friday, January 16, 2009

40 Days of cHesed—Day 10

Day 10 The Heart of Worship

Why do we talk about getting to the heart of something? The heart of something is the most important component—the main thing. If you can understand that main thing, then you have a chance to succeed.

If living up to our created potential and saying “yes” to God are what make God smile, how do we get a handle on how to do that consistently? We go to the second part of our covenant formula.

The first part is pretty easy—since God did all the hard work. To be part of the covenant, we have to be “in Christ.” We do that by accepting God’s offer of adoption—joining the family of God.

The second part is where the rubber meets the road. To remain part of the covenant, we have to become “like Christ.” The terms of the covenant are all about the attitude of obedience. We call this covenant keeping. It’s living up to our part of the bargain.

So, if we can understand covenant keeping, we will understand the main thing about worship. And if we understand the main thing, we’ll feel the heartbeat of worship inside us.

When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied by quoting from the Old Covenant Law: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Yes—that is this week’s memory verse! He went on to add that there was a second command like the first: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus put them together because the truth is that if we really love God completely, we will love each other, too. This is what it means to be “like Christ.” We show our love for God by loving each other. Jesus showed his love for God by becoming a man and offering his life as the blood sacrifice so that we could be his brothers and sisters. Jesus wasn’t content to just have it all for himself—because God wanted to include all of us in his family. Jesus showed that he loved God by loving us.

"Therefore I urge you brothers in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:1,2 (NIV)

Parents try to teach their children to help each other, to share, to take turns, to include everyone. In the beginning it sounds a lot like nagging, but the parents keep at it—hoping that it will sink in. Parents know that the children have learned well when they see them actually loving each other.

  • When the older ones help the younger ones—without having to be told to do it—the parent smiles.

  • When one child freely shares his most treasured toy with another, the parent smiles.

  • When children take turns so that everyone gets to participate, the parent smiles.

  • When a child reaches out to include one who is sad and feels left out, the parent smiles.

Why does the parent smile? Because the child has made the proper response to the parent’s teaching. The child has understood the instructions and internalized them—as evidenced by their ability to choose proper actions in response to various circumstances.

God smiles at these sweet deeds because they are actually a type of worship. When we come to understand why we need to obey our parents, we will understand why we need to obey God.

God considers this worship because worship happens when we make the proper response to his actions.

  • He creates—we praise and admire.

  • He inspires—we use our imagination to create, too.

  • He speaks wisdom to us—we echo his words with one voice

  • He gives the gift of music—we sing and make music before him.

  • He sets our hearts in motion—we dance before him.

  • He reaches out to us—we reach our hands up to him.

  • He shows us the depths of his love for us—we share that love with others.

  • He gives us resources—we use them to help in the family business.

  • He forgives us when we let him down—we forgive others when they let us down.

  • He pulls us up when we fall—we help another get up when they fall.

Do you see a pattern here? We’re giving glory to God by reflecting Christ in our actions. That’s worship—and it’s expression is not narrow, but very diverse and broad. (We will look at the different times and places we worship later this week.)

The heart of worship is keeping covenant because that is the proper response to God’s action in making covenant with us.

Today’s Look at 1 John

Read 1 John 2:12-17. While you’re reading, look for examples of covenant-keeping behavior.

Keep Breathing!

Today when you ask God to spend the day with you, tell him you really want him to transform your conversations and activities.

Start by looking for just one piece of evidence of his action around you—and ask him to help you make the proper response. Warning: that response may or may not be in your comfort zone.

It will, however, be an act of obedient covenant keeping. It will show God that you’ve been listening. And it will reflect the image of Christ to those around you.

Most of us know that worship happens during church services. But that’s not the only place. It happens in small groups and in our individual relationship with God. Worship is supposed to happen all the time. As a matter of fact, it’s going on in heaven right now! The more practice we get with a lifestyle of worship here, the more ready we will be to worship God for eternity in heaven!

Stay with it—you’re making God proud to work out with you!

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