Thursday, January 12, 2017

Worship Anyway


Sometimes we sing, “Bless the Lord, O my soul… worship His holy name. Sing like never before, O my soul… worship His holy Name.” and really, really mean it! Things are going great at home, at work, etc. We’re not stressed out. We’re getting proper rest. We’ve got money in the bank, good health. We’re ready to sing for joy to the Lord!

But then there are times we’re just not feeling it. Maybe things aren’t going so well in our lives. Or we’re nervous about something. We might be struggling with our health or finances or family issues. Perhaps we’re dealing with a painful situation and we’re not sure we’re all that happy with God right now, or perhaps even a little angry with Him. Whatever the reason, praise and worship just aren’t going to come very naturally to us.

So how can we force ourselves to do something we don’t feel like doing? And why should we? As the song says, there are literally 10,000 reasons. But for now, I’m going to focus on just four:

HE IS GOD!



Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
(Ps 100:3 NASB)

What does it mean to know that the Lord is God? Look at how the Amplified version expands that word: “Know (perceive, recognize, and understand with approval) that the Lord is God!” This is both a command and an invitation.

We should bring our praise and worship to God because He is God. And honestly, we could stop right there - because what other reason do we need? God is God. There is no other. Because of Who He is, He is uniquely and exclusively worthy to receive all of our praise. We don’t worship Him because we feel like it. We worship Him because of Who He is!

Even in our imperfect political system, we recognize the respect that is owed to those who occupy certain offices. For example, during the State of the Union speech, when the President enters the room, EVERYONE rises. They’re not all happy to be there. And they certainly don’t all feel like it. But they do it because of who he is.

When we gather for worship, we are blessed to have the Commander and Chief of the Universe in this room with us! So whether we feel like it or not, the right thing to do is to give Him praise and honor and glory! Psalm 33:1b in the Amplified version says “…praise is becoming and appropriate for those who are upright [in heart]” (emphasis mine).

HE MADE YOU!
Psalm 100:3 goes on to say that it is He (God) Who made us. God is our Creator. We literally owe Him everything. We would not be here without Him. So another reason to worship the Lord whether you feel like it or not is because He’s the One who made you.
It’s fun to watch athletes celebrate. A golfer pumps his fist, a football player leaps into the stands, a basketball player cuts down the net. But sometimes a player will do something spectacular and will bow on a knee or point to the heavens as if to say, “Lord, You’re the One who got me here. You’re the One who made me. I believe in You. I did this because of You.”

When we join together in corporate praise and worship, it’s an opportunity for us to focus again on what’s truly important. Life is hectic. It pushes us to focus on ourselves, pat ourselves on the back, and strive to achieve more. We hardly ever slow down to catch our breath, let alone take time for God. Corporate praise and worship is our opportunity to publicly acknowledge that everything we have comes from Him.
While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”
(Luke 17:11-19 NASB)

I can’t help but wonder what was going on with the other nine. But we need to be like the one who came back. We need to stop what we’re doing every once in awhile and praise the Lord for what He is doing in our lives. And that leads me to my next point.

WE HAVE A LOT TO BE THANKFUL FOR!
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
(Ps 100:4 NASB)

It’s easy to thank God for the big things. The narrowly avoided accident, the friend or family member who came to faith, a recovery from an illness or injury, a new job, or some unexpected blessing. And it is right for us to give thanks for these things!

But we also need to thank God for all the things we take for granted. Thank God for the friends and family He’s put in our lives. Thank Him for having a roof over our heads and food in our pantries. Thank Him for our health. Thank Him for the times we didn’t even know we were spared by His grace.

We can even thank Him in adverse circumstances. Matthew Henry was robbed. He wrote in his journal, “Let me be thankful -- first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my wallet, they did not take my life; and third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”
Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].
(1 Thess 5:18 AMP)

In how much? In EVERYTHING! Regardless of the circumstances. Not just when things are going well. It isn’t just a good idea… it’s God’s will! This is one of the greatest ways we can worship God, when we give Him thanks even when things aren’t going well!!!

BECAUSE GOD IS GOOD!

For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.
(Ps 100:5 NASB)

God is good, even when we’re NOT good. He’s loving even when we’re not loving. He’s faithful even when we’re not faithful. And not just to us. Verse 5 says He treats all generations that way! God is good and loving and faithful to everyone!
And as we are fond of reminding each other - God is good all the time, and all the time God is good! Not just when we feel good. Being a person who can go through difficult times and worship anyway isn’t about being able to psych yourself into it. It isn’t about feeling worshipful. It isn’t about being excited enough to “get your praise on.”  

The reason we worship God even when we don’t feel like it is because it’s the greatest thing we can do with our life. No accomplishment in life will ever equal that. College is good, family is important, work is great, but none of these things will fill the God-shaped hole inside of you. The only way to be a complete person is to become a devoted worshipper of Jesus Christ. Let’s forget about ourselves, concentrate on Him and worship Him!

. . . . .

This blog was complete up until this point when I got news that brought the message home in a real way. Just three weeks ago our daughter, Faith, and her husband, Parker, shared with us the exciting news that we would be grandparents for the first time! Today, as this blog was practically complete, Faith called to tell us that when they went for the ultrasound they discovered she was pregnant with twins … but she was miscarrying. What a gut-check. But all I could think of is what Job said, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21b) Throughout the afternoon we have been calling and texting back and forth, encouraging one another, crying together, and praising the Lord together. Yes, we worship the Lord, knowing that life comes from Him and returns to Him. We have two more deposits in heaven waiting for us to join them. And until we see them, we will worship anyway!

So how about you? Will you worship anyway?
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