I'll start with some things that will get your mind thinking - like mine did after reading this for the first time. Several years ago, I read a book called "Desiring God", by John Piper. This book is jam packed with some deep stuff - it took me over a year to read it because it was so deep I had to read most sentences twice. Some of you are not surprised by that. : ) I read things like: "God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him," and "The presence of God's Spirit in your life takes away the frustrated soul-thirst and turns you into a fountain where others can find life", and "Strong affections for God rooted in truth are the bone and marrow of biblical worship", and I love this one, "Worship is a way of gladly reflecting back to God the radiance of His worth. For God surely is more glorified when we delight in His magnificence than when we are so unmoved by it we scarcely feel anything, and only wish we could." Ok, I thought I would stop there, but there are so many more.... How about this: "The great hindrance to worship is not that we are a pleasure seeking people, but that we are willing to settle for such pitiful pleasures"
What are your your thoughts when you read these statements? What are your thoughts when you read these scriptures?
1 O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary 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.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
I will end with this story taken from the book, and then I will comment on the next post.
"If God's reality is displayed to us in His Word or His world, and we do not then feel in our heart any grief or longing or hope or fear or awe or joy or gratitude or confidence, then we may dutifully sing and pray and recite and gesture as much as we like, but it will not be real worship. We cannot honor God if our heart is far from Him.
Worship is a way of reflecting back to God the radiance of His worth. This cannot be done by mere acts of duty. It can be done only when spontaneous affections arise in the heart.
Consider the analogy of a wedding anniversary. Mine is December 21. Suppose on that day I bring home a dozen long-stemmed roses for Noel. When she meets me at the door, I hold out the roses, and she says, "Oh, Johnny, they're beautiful, thank you," and gives me a big hug. Then suppose I hold up my hand and say matter-of-factly, "Don't mention it; it's my duty."
What happens? Is not the exercise of duty a noble thing? Do we not honor those we dutifully serve? Not much. Not if there's no heart in it. Dutiful roses are a contradiction in terms. If I am not moved by a spontaneous affection for her as a person, the roses do not honor her. In fact they belittle her. They are a very thin covering for the fact that she does not have the worth or beauty in my eyes to kindle affection. All I can muster is a calculated expression of marital duty.
Here is the way Edward John Carnell put it:
Suppose a husband asks his wife if he must kiss her goodnight. Her answer is, "You must, but not that kind of a must." What she means is this: "Unless a spontaneous affection for my person motivates you, your overtures are stripped of all moral value.
The fact is, many of us have failed to see that duty toward God can never be restricted to outward action. Yes, we must worship Him. "But not that kind of must." What kind then? The kind C.S. Lewis described to Sheldon Vanauken: "It is a Christian duty, as you know, for everyone to be as happy as he can."
The real duty of worship is not the outward duty to say or do the liturgy. It is the inward duty, the command - "Delight yourself in the Lord!" (Psalm 37:4) "Be glad in the Lord and rejoice!" (Psalm 32:11)
The reason this is the real duty of worship is that this honors God, while the empty performance of ritual does not. If I take my wife out for the evening on our anniversary and she asks me, "Why do you do this?" the answer that honors her most is, "Because nothing makes me happier tonight than to be with you."
"It's my duty" is a dishonor to her.
"It's my joy" is an honor.
There it is! How shall we honor God in worship? By saying, "It's my duty"? Or by saying, "It's my joy"?
Worship is a way of gladly reflecting back to God the radiance of His worth. Now we see that the mirror that catches the rays of His radiance and reflects them back in worship is the joyful heart. Another way of saying this is to say
The Chief end of man is to glorify God
enjoying Him forever"