The Cry For Righteousness – Psalm 141:1-5

May God Guard Our Speech And Our Hearts From Wickedness

1 I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me;
hear me when I call to you.
2 May my prayer be set before you like incense;
may the lifting up of my hands be like
the evening sacrifice.

3 Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips.
4 Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
do not let me eat their delicacies.

5 Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness;
let him rebuke me-that is oil on my
head.
My head will not refuse it,
for my prayer will still be against the
deeds of evildoers.

Critical Cry

When we are in trouble, we cry out to God.  And that is the underlying desire that God places in our hearts – to seek Him out.  David, the Psalmist, cries out to God regularly, and petitions God to hear his pleas.  David remembered that God was sovereign, heard his cries, and would help him in his time of need:

6 In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
7 The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
8 Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
9 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
10 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him-
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
13 The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
15 The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, Lord,
at the blast of breath from your nostrils.

16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Wonderful Worship

David requests that his prayers be like incense, a fragrant offering to God.  He also requests that his raised arms be like a sacrifice before God.  In his worship and pleading to God, the Psalmist seeks to pour himself out before God as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to the Rock of his salvation.  David recognized the desire that God placed in his heart to please God in everything that He did.  That didn’t keep David from sinning, but his heart was constantly and consistently turning towards God.

Selective Speech

David asked that his mouth be guarded so that he would not speak evil from it:

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

David’s sense of God’s holiness and righteousness were paramount in how he lived his life.  We often carelessly say things to people.  David most likely did the same, and asked that God help him with that.  In addition to pleasing and honoring God in this, there is another good reason to ask for this ourselves:

36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

Determine Desire

David then asks God to help protect his heart from desiring evil:

The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?

Apart from the protection of God in our hearts, they will become corrupt.  In the beginning, it was so bad, that God could only find eight people on earth who were righteous before He flooded it.  He also said something telling about humans as a race of people:

The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.

This is NOT to say that God makes mistakes.  He knew that we would do what we would do before He created the Earth.  But the pain of watching sin take hold of the hearts of men and what they would do grieved God, even though He knew it would occur.  That is why He sent His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to be our final and perfect sacrifice for sin.

God doesn’t make mistakes; He cleans them up.

Righteous Rebuke

David so greatly desired to he draw close to God and do God’s will that he would welcome a rebuke from a righteous man.  To do so would mean that David was somehow in sin, or doing something displeasing to God.  A rebuke from the righteous man would help him to straighten out whatever he was doing wrong, and therefore live in greater harmony with God’s character.  Oil on the head was used as anointing and healing, and David would indeed be blessed if sin that had blinded him was pointed out and addressed.

Evade Evil

David’s prayers were constantly towards the changing of hearts of those who were doing evil.  His prayers weren’t against the evil people per se, but rather against their evil actions.  And while David did get angry enough on at least one occasion to ask that the evildoers have their names blotted from the rolls of the book of life, he generally and genuinely desired that others would join him in his pursuit of God in righteousness and holiness.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I pleading for God to guard my mouth and heart so that I will not sin against him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, time and time again Your word declares You to be holy and righteous.  Help me to have a better and deeper understanding of just how holy and righteous You are.  Reveal to me the ways that I sin against You so that I can address them and walk ever more closely with Jesus.  Please do not overwhelm me, but gently and gradually help me to not only desire to overcome my sin, but to replace the my sinful desires with a longing for You in my heart.  Holy Spirit, Overpower my wickedness with Your holiness, and strengthen me as I turn from all unrighteousness and walk towards Jesus.  Lord God Almighty, You and only You are able to help me to overcome, for You have overcome.  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

The Futility of Idols – Psalm 135:15-18

When People Worship Idols, They Become Like Them

15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
16 They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
17 They have ears, but cannot hear,
nor is there breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them.

Metal Monstrosities

In the time when the Psalms were written, people trusted in metal idols.  Even today, people trust in idols.  These idols were about as effective as the golden calf that Aaron created when Moses lingered on the mountain with God.  They are worthless.  God abhors idols in our lives.

But it is not only the metal monstrosities that He hates.  We are so sinful, we invent new ways to sin.  We are not content with metal idols – we need more subtle idols that no one can steal.  We set up our jobs as idols, placing work before God, family, and the work of the brethren.  We worship movie stars, music stars, politicians, rich people, anyone that appears to have more than we do, and appeals to our inner desire to be publicly recognized and adored.  We even worship ourselves.  And when people aren’t enough, we worship the sun, the moon, the stars, the Earth, creatures on, in, and above the Earth, and every other conceivable thing in the universe.  Some even worship Satan, demons, angels, and (other real or imaginary) beings outside the physical universe.

We worship that which we desire to become, or which we believe will give us what we want.  We were created to be image-bearers, and worship is a key part of image-bearing.  It is an acknowledgement of the superiority of someone or something over us, and our desire to be like it or be in fear of it.

Handcrafted Horrors

The fact that the idols made by the hands of men at the time this Psalm was written is intriguing.  Isaiah had this to say about idols:

9 All who make idols are nothing,
and the things they treasure are worthless.
Those who would speak up for them are blind;
they are ignorant, to their own shame.
10 Who shapes a god and casts an idol,
which can profit nothing?
11 People who do that will be put to shame;
such craftsmen are only human beings.
Let them all come together and take their stand;
they will be brought down to terror and shame.

12 The blacksmith takes a tool
and works with it in the coals;
he shapes an idol with hammers,
he forges it with the might of his arm.
He gets hungry and loses his strength;
he drinks no water and grows faint.
13 The carpenter measures with a line
and makes an outline with a marker;
he roughs it out with chisels
and marks it with compasses.
He shapes it in human form,
human form in all its glory,
that it may dwell in a shrine.
14 He cut down cedars,
or perhaps took a cypress or oak.
He let it grow among the trees of the forest,
or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.
15 It is used as fuel for burning;
some of it he takes and warms himself,
he kindles a fire and bakes bread.
But he also fashions a god and worships it;
he makes an idol and bows down to it.
16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire;
over it he prepares his meal,
he roasts his meat and eats his fill.
He also warms himself and says,
“Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.”
17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol;
he bows down to it and worships.
He prays to it and says,
“Save me! You are my god!”
18 They know nothing, they understand nothing;
their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see,
and their minds closed so they cannot understand.
19 No one stops to think,
no one has the knowledge or understanding to say,
“Half of it I used for fuel;
I even baked bread over its coals,
I roasted meat and I ate.
Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left?
Shall I bow down to a block of wood?”
20 Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him;
he cannot save himself, or say,
“Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

Mute Mouths

The Psalmist recognizes the futility in idols. First, they cannot talk.  How can an inanimate object give counsel, impart wisdom, console, cheer on, or otherwise communicate with a human being?  For that very reason, idols are worthless.  Because we recognize that, we make other people idols, or idolize ourselves.  Being created to be social creatures, we seek to communicate with ourselves and who/what we worship.

Unseeing Uselessness

Idols cannot see.  If they cannot see, how then are they able to look upon our plights to offer anything to us?  Mute, sightless idols are worthless and useless.  Even people who can see and talk cannot provide what we need – relationship with the one who created us and the universe around us.  We seek out these things because God has placed in our hearts the desire to seek Him out in relationship.  God, by His very trinitarian nature, implies unity in relationship.  As image-bearers of God, we share that same nature, or a desire to be a part of that nature.

Craftsman Changed

When people create idols, they become like them – worthless and useless as image-bearers of God.  By creating the very things that rob people of true worship and place false images of their creator in the hands of men, they lead people away from God rather than to God, which is our primary responsibility as image-bearers of God.

Treasonous Trust

When we trust in idols, we reject the One who created us, and like the idols that we trust in, we too become worthless as image-bearers of God.

This is what happens when we refuse to use our eyes to see and our ears to hear by not seeking the One who gave us both:

Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.

Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?

as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day.”

But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do our eyes see and do our ears hear?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have graciously given me life, and mercifully have given me this day.  Rouse me out of my spiritual stupor, and grant me keen awareness of those things that I have been ignorant of until now.  Strengthen my body and my mind for the rigors of spiritual battle today.  Help me to keep my sword sharp, and my armor well-tended.  Help me to recognize when that which You have provided and is good has become an idol in my life.  Give me the ability to place everything in its proper place, so that I will not be deceived by the lie.  Help me to retrain my brain so that it desires what You desire and not what the world, the flesh, and the devil want me to desire.  Please give me eyes that see and ears that hear, that I may worship You will all of my heart, mind, soul and strength.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Lift Praise to God – Psalm 68:32-36

Sing Praise To His Holy Name

32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth,
sing praise to the Lord,
33 to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,
who thunders with mighty voice.
34 Proclaim the power of God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
whose power is in the heavens.
35 You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.

Praise be to God!

Sing a Song

Has your cup been filled with joy?  Has the Almighty fulfilled your needs?  Has He shown His sovereignty and vanquished your enemies?  Sing praise to the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!  God loves to hear our praise and worship.  He enjoys seeing us in worshipful adoration of Him, for He is worthy of all praise and glory and honor.  Let us remember to give to God that which He is owed.  Let our hearts be filled with contentment, and may that manifest itself in the form of worship and singing.

Glorify God

We must glorify God as His witnesses.  If we do not, surely the rocks and stones will cry out in praise to God and glorify His name.  We have been created to worship.  Let us remember our callings and bring to God that which He and He alone truly deserves.  We spend so much time petitioning God for what we need and desire that we sometimes fail to remember to praise and glorify His name.  The  provision of God becomes our focus rather than the Glorious One who has graciously provided for our needs.  To forget God after He has provided is to almost take Him for granted.  Let us make sure that the One who has died for our sins is magnified and glorified.

Proclaim His Power

When we proclaim the power of God to the world, He is uplifted before men so that they will hear of His great and mighty deeds.  How else will the lost know about God unless we tell them?  God has seen fit to make some exceptions to reach people beyond the reach of our voice, especially in areas that are heavily influenced and dominated by Islam.  God has seen fit to reveal Himself to them in their dreams and through visions.

This is both a recrimination towards His disciples who won’t face death to proclaim His name, as well as to show us that God is very interested in bringing knowledge of Himself to them, just as He did with Nineveh.  He revealed Himself through the prophet Jonah to a people who could not tell their right hand from their left.  His words, not mine.  God is revealing Himself in a display of mighty power and compassion, mercy, and grace, to a people who have dedicated their lives to the eradication of  His children.  Just like He did with Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul.

Praise your Provider

Our hearts should reach out in praise to our provider and savior.  It is the hallmark characteristic of a person who is grateful and content.  In Western Culture, it is difficult for us to acknowledge that we would need the assistance of anyone else to help us.  We are taught by culture that to seek help is a sign of weakness.  This is then exploited by the weak to overpower the strong – displaying the absolute need each and every one of us has for our savior’s help in order to discredit us for our failure to be the rugged individualists and self-sufficient people that our culture demands us to be.

The truly grateful person will ignore the call of culture to show gratitude for the one who provides assistance to You.  This attitude of the heart – the desire to praise God – is one that all of the Old Testament heroes of the faith displayed in the private and public lives.  Let us emulate them and praise God for all that He has done and is doing.  Remember – the story isn’t over yet.  And once we get to Heaven and we are in His presence for all eternity, we will have the wonderful opportunity to do what we have practiced here on Earth through trial and joyous times – praising the One who lifted our heads out of the mire, washed us off, and called us His own.  May all praise and honor and glory and power and dominion and strength be unto the Lord God Almighty!

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I praising God the way that He deserves?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown me in Your word just how much You love me, in that Your Son Jesus Christ died for me while I was yet a sinner.  Give me a heart of gratitude that I may worship You as You deserve, and praise Your holy name in private and public, that all may know of Your righteousness, compassion, mercy, grace, justice and holiness.  Help me in my time of struggle to lift You up with songs and prayer.  Guard my heart against any root of bitterness that tries to take hold in the grievous trials that I endure.  Keep my eyes fixed upon You, that Your glory and peace would calm my heart, and that I would praise and worship You continually.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Thirsting for God – Psalm 63:1-5

My Soul Thirsts For You In a Dry And Parched Land

1 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

Serious Searching

David wrote this Psalm in response to his time in the desert of Judah.  David, a man after God’s own heart, earnestly sought God out day and night.  He spent his time desiring to be with God.  And his time in the desert of Judah was no exception.  We can learn from David’s example here and elsewhere the depths to which he longed to be in the presence and have fellowship with God.

Truly Thirsting

David’s soul was thirsting for God.  David has documented elsewhere in the Psalms that one day in the courts of God is better than a thousand elsewhere.  He also compared his thirst for God to that of the parched deer:

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

David’s soul longed to be in the presence of God.  At that time, the presence of God was physically in the tabernacle tent.  But now, thanks to the finished work of Christ, we are the tabernacle, the Holy of Holies, the naos of God.  We have been given full access to the throne room of God.  No longer must we thirst for the presence of God and access to Him; we have the Living God as a down-deposit within us, and complete and unfettered access to Him whose David’s soul so greatly longed for.

Desiccated Desert

And while David mentions the physical desert that he was required to traverse in the exile imposed by Saul, we can have our own “desert experiences” when God seems far away, and our trials and circumstances threaten to overcome us and overwhelm us.  When faced with crushing pressures and difficulties, the child of God merely needs to go to their inner closet – their place alone in their mind away from the influences of the word, the flesh and the devil – and seek God, who is right there beside us.

Deserts tend to make us weary and thirsty, depriving us of much-needed water.  Deserts can seem like the source of living water has been cut off.  But the word of the living God is able to bring forth the living water in our souls and remind us to seek Him who is the source rather than focusing on the ones responsible for trying to seize it from us.

Longing for Love

David remembers that God’s love is better than life.  The feeling of being loved in the midst of our circumstances helps us to regroup and focus on the giver of peace rather than the destroyer of contentment.  When we focus on and long for the love of God, the pain and pressures of the moment can be drowned out in the peace that surpasses understanding.  For there is no fear in perfect love.  David remembered this and greatly sought and cherished the love of God.

Practicing Praise

It is interesting to note that David said he would praise God as long as he lived.  David praised God whether he felt like it or not.  It was a discipline in his life.  Regardless of the circumstances that David found himself in, David’s heart was set on praising and glorifying God.  David had good company in this endeavor, as Job, bereft of his children, his belongings, and his health, praised and worshiped God.  He understood his place in all things, and God’s place in all things, and acted accordingly.

Willful Worship

David discipline in his spiritual life didn’t stop at just praise.  He worshiped God regardless of his circumstances, recognizing and glorifying God for who He is.  This discipline is also shown in David’s life when he fasted and prayed for a week for his firstborn child with Bathsheba, whose life God took as a result of his sin.  The Bible records what David did after learning of his child’s death:

19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked.

“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”

20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.

Singularly Satisfied

David reflects in this Psalm that being in the presence of God is as refreshing to his spirit as food and drink is to his flesh.  He comments that with singing lips he will praise God.  David’s life was an intentional, continual effort to praise, worship, and glorify God.  And David, like all men, had his moments of weakness where he experienced epic fails in his life and lapses of judgement in his character.  But in all things, David’s heart was continually turning towards God.  May we be able to say the same about ours.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  What is my first response to difficulty in my life?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown us Yourself through Your Son, Jesus Christ, for whoever has seen the Son has seen the Father.  Help us to remember those who have gone before us, that we may remember Your goodness and grace, Your mercy and your holiness, everything being displayed in perfect unity and balance.  Help me Father to have a heart that praises You, worships You, and seeks You especially when the most difficult of circumstances arise.  Show me the way everlasting, and help me to walk alongside You as the world increasingly threatens to destroy me because of You.  Strengthen my spirit as it is crushed by hatred and evil, and may the experiences that occur refine me that I may show love and kindness to even the cruelest of people.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Worshiping God – Deuteronomy 13:1-5

Worship God And No One Nor Anything Else

1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. 5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.

False Foreknowledge

Not every sign and wonder comes from God.  In the time of the end, Satan will try to deceive with false signs and wonders.  It should not surprise us to know that Satan tries to copy what God does in order to try to get people to worship him.  God specifically tells us that He allows this in order to test us.

Troubling Test

It is troubling to think that God would allow false signs and wonders to appear, for we associate these things with the working of the Lord God Almighty.  But God wants to show us where we are.  He already knows the condition of our hearts, but we often don’t know because we are busy, or compromised in some way.  Think about poor Aaron just after Moses had gone up the mountain to speak with God.  The people demanded that he create a God for them that they could worship.  Moses had been gone for so long (a month can seem like an eternity…), they thought he was dead.  Aaron capitulated, and made them the golden calf.

God tests us in many ways.  He allows difficult circumstances to occur in our lives so that we will make a choice – hold fast to what God has said, or react to the pressures around us and do what is expedient.  We may fail these tests, but we must constantly strive to hold fast to the word of the living God.

Chase Christ

God tells us that we must follow Him and not other Gods.  Only the Lord God Almighty is worthy of our praise.  Satan seeks this worship for himself, and will do anything that God permits him to do to try to convince us to either worship him or someone/something other than God.  We must be vigilant in this, because we were created to worship, and we will worship someone or something.

Obedience to God is crucial to the life of the disciple of Christ.  Without obedience, we will be easily caught up on sin and have our lives, careers, and reputations harmed by the pitfalls that Satan plans for us to encounter.  It is bad enough to be persecuted for following Christ in faith.  It is far worse when those who are respected and looked up to fall from public trust due to moral failure.

Sovereign Sentence

God does not take kindly to those who claim to speak for Him and do not.  God has authorized and issued the sentence for all who would dare invoke His name without His permission.  They are to be put to death.  While this may seem harsh, it is a just penalty for trying to lead others down a path of unrighteousness.  Jesus declared,

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Exterminate Evil

It is only through obedience that we are able to exterminate evil from our presence.  We must say no to sin and temptation in order to overcome.  Otherwise, we will become victims of the snares that have been placed before us.  If we allow evil in our midst – to permit the active participation of people who claim to be disciples of Christ (colloquially but only anecdotally now called Christians) within the church, we will allow leaven into the dough.  And once leaven enters the dough, it will leaven the whole lump.  The Corinthian church did this, and tolerated an evil that even those who did not know Christ would not tolerate – incest.

Without holiness, it will be impossible to see God.  Evil must be removed from our presence.  We need to retrain our desires using the word of God so that we will desire righteousness instead.  Evil cannot be tolerated.  God will not allow it.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I permit evil to live and thrive in my life?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are holy, holy, holy.  You cannot tolerate evil, and have repeatedly told us in Your holy word to rid ourselves of it.  Sin crouches at our door and seeks to devour us.  Keep me safe today, and help me to avoid the pitfalls and traps that have been placed before me.  Rescue me when my adversaries seek to box me in to finish me off.  Help me to overcome all of the attacks and pull of sin and evil that I may follow You in righteousness and holiness.  Give me the wisdom and discernment to recognize when others are trying to lead me away from You to follow false gods.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Worshiping God – Psalm 51:17

Worship God in Truth and in Spirit

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

Spiritually Spent

The attitude of our heart is very important in Worship.  Worship is not only about praise, but also about humility in brokenness.  When we go to worship God, we need to do so in truth and in spirit.  Worship originates from our desire to commune with God on His terms.  David shows us that we should come to God with a spirit of contrition when approaching Him after we have sinned.

When our hearts are not right, our worship isn’t right either.  Even when we overcome great odds, and we are at a spiritual peak, we need to be careful that we approach God with humility and reverence.  But David was in a spiritually dark place.  He had molested Bathsheba; he tried to get Uriah, her husband, to have relations with her, so that her pregnancy with David’s son would be covered up; and when Godly Uriah did not follow David’s instructions, David had him murdered at the hands of his enemy.  Yet David was a man after God’s own heart.  He always came back to God.

Hygienic Hands

In Psalm 24, David notes that clean hands are required to come before God.  His hands were covered in the blood of murder and molestation.  David realized that he wouldn’t be able to worship God correctly until he had been cleansed of his unrighteousness.  In our modern society, grace appears to be emphasized over holiness, rather than in balance with it.  Perhaps if more time was spent policing our behavior than leaning on God’s grace when we mess up, we might have a better handle on the holiness of God.  And while God is merciful and graceful, we are told that we shouldn’t sin to bring more grace to bear upon us.

Healthy Heart

David also noted that we need a pure heart.  When we humble our hearts toward God, He will lift us up.  He will restore the joy of our salvation.  He will tenderly bring us back into right relationship with Himself.  And He will draw close to us.  It is then that we can properly worship God in Truth and in Spirit.

A Qualifying Question

So let’s ask ourselves a question:  When I come before the Lord to worship, am I coming with clean hands and a pure and humble heart?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, forgive me of my sins.  It is in brokenness of spirit that I come before You.  You are Holy, Holy, Holy, and cannot stand sin and unrighteousness.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.  Renew a steadfast spirit within me, that I will shun evil and love Your commands.  Help me to overcome my sin nature that I may greatly desire righteousness and truth.  I fail all the time, Lord God, but You are faithful to forgive and seek to restore me.  Help me to be more mindful of my actions, thoughts, and speech, that I would live in the positional righteousness that You have provided for me.  Show me my sin, for it blinds me to it.  Help me to overcome it, for I am more than a conqueror in Christ.  This I ask in the precious name and blood of my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Worshiping God – Deuteronomy 6:5

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Worship comes from the heart.  The Bible says in Matthew 15:18-19,

18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

God said,

“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

Our biggest issue is that we have a heart problem.  When our hearts become hardened by sin, we turn away from what is right.  Jesus said that we are to worship in Spirit and truth.  But when our hearts are hardened, we cannot do that.  When we are saved, God takes care of this issue:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

It is up to us to make sure that we don’t harden our hearts after we have been given this precious gift.  But even if we do, God is faithful to forgive us when we come to Him in repentance.  When we come in repentance, we can ask that God give us clean hands and a pure heart.  When we cry out for a pure heart, we should also ask for a spirit that is wholly dedicated towards God.  With clean hands, a pure heart, and a right Spirit, we can confidently approach God in worship.

Worship Him today as you were intended to.  Let nothing come between you and God.  And God will richly reward you with Himself.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are holy, and cannot be in the presence of evil.  Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned against You and You alone.  Give me clean hands and a pure heart that I may worship You in truth and Spirit.  Wash me clean with the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to turn from sin and turn towards You.  Prepare my heart as You did when I first came to know You.  Soften it from the hardness of sin, and may my entire being rejoice in Your presence.  Strengthen me this day, and help me to resist that which so easily ensnares me.  Help me to offer up my life as a living sacrifice to You so that it will bless You.  May all praise, glory, honor, strength, and dominion be Yours forever and ever.  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Worshipping God – Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The imperative command, “Be still!”, is very interesting.  It is translated in Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible as “Desist!” Another good way to translate this is “Cease striving!”

How often we strive!  As we go about our daily lives, we take our eyes off of God and try to do things our own way.  God offers us this wonderful place of refuge in Himself, yet we keep trying to change our circumstances ourselves.  We do not avail ourselves of our fortress, our hiding place, our place of rest.  Instead, we worry, we scheme, we fret; we forget that it is God who is sovereign.  When we cease striving, and (experientially) know that the LORD is God, we are able to properly put everything back into perspective.

We then can relax a bit, knowing that the Lord is taking care of our circumstances.  When we step back and do this, we are also better able to properly worship our loving Father.  We get to see with greater clarity the ways in which He works.  We see our prayers being answered, and know for sure that it was God – because we stopped trying to do it ourselves.  It isn’t until we cease striving that God is able to fully manifest Himself in our circumstances and bring the greatest glory to Himself.  Then will we be able to say that God is our refuge.

What issue has you frazzled today?  What deep and abiding pain just won’t go away?  Take God’s advice:  Cease striving, and know that He is God.  Let him enter into your circumstances in a greater capacity, and allow Him to reveal Himself to you in a deeper, more intimate way.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I come before you today to praise You and worship You as Almighty God.  Too often in this life do I try to do things when You earnestly seek to show me new facets of Yourself – if I would only stop and let You.  Guide me, comfort me, and show me how to step back from these issues so that You would be glorified.  Help me to find rest in You as You work these things out.  This I ask in the name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Worhiping God – Exodus 20:4-6

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

We were made to worship.

Everyone worships – regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, background, or any other qualifier – our Creator made us to worship Him and Him alone.  He so rightly desires and is worthy of worship, He built it into us.  And we WILL worship something or someone – God, Satan, ourselves, animals, stars, the Moon, the Sun, the creation, someone else, or something else.  We cannot help but worship.

As we prepare our hearts for worship on the Lord’s Day, ask yourself this question:  “Do I have any idols in my life?”  From the scripture above, it would appear that idols are something that we make.  But perhaps it is better to label, as an idol, anything that you place more value on (desire) than worshiping God.  We often think of worship as gathering with other Christians to corporately worship God, or praising Almighty God in prayer and song wherever we are when we do it.

But Paul, possibly in light of Jesus’ definition of worship, saw something different.  He expands our understanding of worship just as Jesus expanded our understanding of murder , adultery, and divorce.

In Romans 12:1-2, Paul writes:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform 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.

Oh, there is so much packed into those two sentences!   But here is the key to worship:  Worship is about EVERYTHING we do, say, and think.  It is not just when we pause to remember God (who He is and what He has done and will do); it is the outpouring of our souls in every waking moment to a glorious and beautiful Creator.

Let’s ask ourselves again:  “Do I have ANY idols in my life?”  The question should be expanded by asking, “Is there anything in my life that I have not dedicated to God and, even in the enjoyment of it, acknowledge Him by engaging in the practice of recognizing its proper place in life to ensure that God ALWAYS has first priority in everything?”

Here is a list of common idols that we may or may not see in our lives:

Everything we think, everything we do, and everything we say is an expression of worship.  So, who/what are we really worshiping?

A short prayer of preparation:

Merciful Father, your mercies renew every morning.  You are full of grace and beckon us to come to you with contrite hearts, for you have said that blessed are those that mourn.  Search my heart, O God, test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offense in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  You and You alone can see my hidden faults, for sin blinds me to them.  Show me the idols in my life, Lord God.  Where they exist, You cannot rule and reign.  Remove them from me – remove even the desire for them from my heart, that with clean hands and a pure heart I can come before You in joyful worship.  Guide me in the ways I should go.  This I ask in the precious name of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

Worshiping God – Psalm 84:10

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. (NIV)

The sons of Korah had it right when they declared that being in the presence of God was far more desirable than being somewhere else.  In His presence, we experience koinonia, or what we call fellowship, with Him.  We bask in His peace, comfort, strength, and quench our thirsty souls with His living water.  We praise and worship Him not just with our words but with our entire being.

Are we of the same mind?  If we place ourselves in the following circumstances, can we say the same?

  • Watching my child score the winning point(s) for their sports team
  • Riding my motorcycle on the open road on a crisp Fall morning with the sun shining brightly and the leaves of the trees in a full riot of color
  • Watching my favorite sports team with my friends triumph in their final match-up
  • Eating my favorite meal at my favorite restaurant with my best friend

The temporal pleasures of this world are wonderful to enjoy; let us now enjoy the eternal pleasures by worshiping our Lord and Savior in truth and spirit.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father, you are so gracious to us.  Your mercies renew every morning.  You knit us in our mother’s wombs, even though You knew everything we would think, say, and do – even before You created the universe.  May we now seek You with all our our heart, mind, soul, and strength.  For those that cannot meet with us today, visit them in a mighty way.  Tend to their needs and desires, and surround them with Your peace and presence.  You are so good to your people!  May we pour out our praise and worship to You this day.  You are all-mighty God, and deserve this and so much more.  Give us traveling mercies as we assemble together this day, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?