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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Is Your Worship Real Worship To God?

I had the amazing privilege of worshiping God with thousands of other people at a Christian worship concert this past week. It was truly an amazing experience listening to everyone’s voices and watching people raise their hands to the Living God. It is so amazing that we can worship God with an outward expression. However, just because we worship God outwardly with voices raised and hands held high doesn’t mean our worship is pleasing to God. He wants so much more from His people. The Bible says in

Matthew 15:1-9, “Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him, “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.” Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. You hypocrites! 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. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’”

Jesus was saying that the Pharisees put a higher regard for their religious rules rather than obeying God’s word and following His heart. God said through the prophet that they gave God lip service, but really did not have concern for what God thought was important! Again the Bible says in

Matthew 15:18-20a, “But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you.”

God looks at the heart and sees what man is really thinking and the motives behind the actions. We can put on a show for others and look spiritual on the outside, but God looks beyond appearance and knows our true intentions and the way we live our lives the other six days of the week.

For many years of my Christian life I gave God lip service, but my heart was far from His heart. I struggled with pornography, unforgiveness toward several people who had hurt me, lying, cheating, slander and talking bad about people behind their back, selfishness and insecurities.  The list could go on. I was a mess on the inside, but failed to realize that God was concerned with my very thoughts and my inner man.

I remember when I was in high school; I went to a Christian school and took a trigonometry class. I had to do well in it because I had a very good GPA and I did not want it to go down. We graded our own homework assignments much of the time and being the spiritual giant I was, I cheated on several of my assignments to get a better grade. Now, at the time, I tried to convince myself that I meant to put the right answer and reasoned through why it was acceptable for me to cheat. However, deep in my heart I knew it was wrong. Then I would go and worship God on Sunday morning or in chapel and let everyone know I was a great Christian man. One day at school, the trigonometry teacher taught a devotion for our whole class and he talked about how a young man cheated in his class several years earlier. God did a deep work in the young man and he felt a conviction from the Holy Spirit to go back to the teacher and ask for forgiveness for what he had done. Well, the Holy Spirit convicted me for months and months afterwards, but I refused to obey God for fear of not getting a good grade. Years went by and God finally softened my heart to His leading in college. Every time I came home from school, God would remind me to go back to this teacher and ask for forgiveness for cheating in his class. I finally mustard up enough courage to obey God and go make it right. I went into the school and had lunch with my younger brother and afterward ran into my old trigonometry teacher. I told him what God was doing in my life and how He kept asking me to come to him and ask for forgiveness for cheating in his class. My old teacher said, “You are totally forgiven and God can forgive any sin.” I went away from the school on cloud nine because I walked in obedience to God and made things right with my teacher! When I got back to my car, there was a song on the radio that said, “How good it is to be forgiven of your sin.” I began praising and worshiping God and I knew that my worship was acceptable and honoring to Him because I was willing to do what He asked of me. A heart that is open to His leading is a heart that truly worships God. The Bible says in

Isaiah 1:16-19, “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes! Cease to do evil, Learn to do right! Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, and correct the oppressor. Defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;”

When we do the things that are pleasing to Him and not just follow a bunch of religious rules, we bring pleasure to His heart and our righteousness will break forth like the morning! As we learn God’s ways and walk in obedience to Him, He will lead our lives down such a rewarding path. Is God tugging at your heart? Are there areas of your life that He wants you to deal with? It could be unforgiveness toward a loved one or friend, an unhealthy sexual lifestyle, gossip and slander toward an individual or church. Maybe it is spending more time with Him, helping your neighbor across the street or stepping out to go on a missions trip? You might be in a place where I was for many years; going through the motions, but not really connected to God. In humility ask God to forgive you for your past indifference and to help you live a life fully devoted to Him. My prayer is that you obey the convictions of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to guide you to a place of victory. True worshipers of God honor and please Him and do not just give Him lip service. Take it from me. When you do it God’s way, life is truly worth living!

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