Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Worship - Part I

There are many discussions these days as to how we should worship God. Most of those who I hear talking about it say something like, “I prefer the older music.” Others say, “I prefer the service to be more formal” or “I wish we would sing more upbeat songs.” The thing that seems to be missing here is the question as to what God would want. Isn’t that what really matters? During the next several posts on this blog I hope to express my thoughts and understandings related to worship. This has been covered in more depth by many more competent than I. However, my goal is to take what I’ve learned and express it in a way that makes the issues easy to understand.
Recently I’ve been teaching a Sunday School class on the Gospel of John. We’re currently in chapter 4 where Jesus meets and talks with the Samaritan woman by the well. As I was studying this passage, several verses stuck out to me as they relate to worship. Those two verses are verses 22-24. In this passage Jesus says, “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The first thing that strikes me here is the absolute necessity of worshiping the Father as He specifies. Verse 23 tells us that the Father is seeking people who worship Him in a specific manner. Verse 24 tells us that those who worship Him must worship Him this way. Remember, this is Jesus speaking. He’s the one we claim to follow and obey. I take it then that God has specific requirements for worship and He is looking specifically for those who worship that way. To me this means that I cannot be basing my decisions on how to worship on the whims of my own preferences and emotional needs, but rather I need to base those decisions on what God is looking for.This passage teaches us that the way God wants to be worshiped is in spirit and truth. This reflects the nature and character of God. Jesus specifically says that God is spirit. Therefore worship must be in spirit. God’s character is truth and therefore worship must be in truth or according to truth. Jesus says to God in prayer in John 17:17, “Your Word is truth.” Worship must correspond to God’s revealed truth and it must conform to God’s character.

Continued in Part 2

Monday, May 15, 2006

Goal - To Be LIke Christ

Last Wednesday a men’s quartet from a Christian college came to our church. One of the songs they sang was an old song I hadn’t heard for probably 15 or 20 years. The name of it is, “O to Be Like Thee!” by Thomas O. Chisholm. The words are certainly worth thinking about and so I’m sharing them with you today.

O to be like Thee blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus Thy perfect likeness to wear.

O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee!
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art!
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

O to be like Thee full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind;
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wand’ring sinner to find.

O to be like Thee lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee Lord, I am coming
Now to receive the anointing divine;
All that I am and have I am bringing
Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine.

O to be like Thee while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and heaven above.

O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee!
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art!
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.