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The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. - Psalms 19:1-3 (NLT)
The first place I recall seeing worship was from my vantage point in the fourth row of a KISS concert. When the band came onstage the volume was at a deafening level that shook your insides and flash pods were exploding so close they could burn your eyebrows off. In that moment, the guy in front of me threw his fists into the air and stood there, stock still, for several hours. He didn’t move, shout, or sing along. He didn’t pump his fists. Nothing. He was frozen in silent tribute to this mega-rock band. Was it the aura of power or fame? Did he feel small in that huge arena? Perhaps it was the lights, the records, the girls, the drugs... Whatever it was, he was clearly moved to worship, and he expressed it. His awe demonstrated where his attention and affection was rooted. This dude was designed to worship. And he did.
The beauty of creation is meant to point us to its Creator. To fix our gaze on Him. Perhaps the only aspect of this guy’s misdirected worship worth imitating was the fact he was immovable. When we stand rooted in place with our eyes on God, He keeps us in perfect peace. When we aim our eyes toward Him in worship, it has a way of bringing everything else into focus - what matters in life and what doesn’t.
There’s nothing quite like an immovable worshiper, eyes on Jesus, to provide a compelling lead worth following. God’s power and God’s presence is always on display. When we look up, we discover heavenly bodies speaking without a sound. There’s no audible voice to be heard. This is the way so much of creation worships. Can it be the way we worship, too?
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. - Psalms 19:14 (NLT)
The famous theologian N.T. Wright tells a story about a pastor who was approached at his church by three boys. Each one confessed a long list of absurd and bizarre sins they hadn’t really committed. He took the joke on the chin from the first two. With the third kid, however, he challenged him to do something that demonstrated his repentance: He told him to walk up to the far end of the church, look at the picture of Jesus hanging on the cross, then look at His face and say, three times, “You did all that for me and I don't care that much.” The boy walked defiantly to the front and said it twice, but discovered he couldn't say it the third time… instead he melted into tears. N.T. Wright was that third young man.
When we take a long look at the cross and what Jesus did there, we can’t help but eventually be transformed. His sacrifice and suffering melts our hard hearts. His unbelievable expression of love breaks through our pretense of strength. In the end, we are compelled to acknowledge who He is and recognize His immense inherent value. So we worship. It’s the only proper response.
N.T. Wright found himself in a moment, in a place, and in a space where God was given the opportunity to reveal Himself. If we’ll seek that space we can start to get our heads around God and what He did for us. If we can just catch the tiniest glimpse, we will be radically impacted.
For glimpses in scripture of God in all His magnificence, check out Isaiah 6:1-6, Revelation 1:9-20, or Revelation 4.Share Tweet
With one of these pictures of the Lord in your mind’s eye, take a moment to pray out loud, “You’ve done so much for me and I am so thankful, Lord.”
Praise him, sun and moon! Praise him, all you twinkling stars! Let every created thing give praise to the Lord, for he issued his command, and they came into being. - Psalms 148:3,5 (NLT)
It used to be an interesting experience making a super-long-distance phone call on a landline. There’d be lengthy pauses, just enough to create an unnatural rhythm. You’d start responding to the last words you heard, then the other person would start talking over you. Today it happens when you jump online for a video chat and your WiFi is a bit slow. You end up out of sync with the person you’re talking with. Or maybe you’ve run into syncing problems at a movie theater when the video and audio are not jiving. You’re left hoping someone will get up and tell the manager so you can stay put and enjoy your popcorn.
When things are out of sync, it can feel awkward and frustrating. Spiritually, when we’re out of sync, when our worship is out of step with creation, when our response to God is not aligned with the true order of things, we can end up with the sneaking suspicion we’re kind of out of step with the way life could be lived. Our actions and reactions are incongruent with who we say we are, Who we say we follow, or who we want to be.
Take a moment for a sync-check right now: Imagine something really awesome happens in your world. Is your response a grateful “Yeah!” or an entitled “Meh...”? Or think of a day when stuff is blowing up in your path. Are you more prone to complain about it or do you tend to take it in prayer to the One who can affect your situation? Google the “Double Helix Nebula” to see God’s artistic rendering of a DNA strand painted with the stuff of stars. Does your jaw at least drop a little?
Take a moment to pray about what you noticed about yourself in response to those questions. Wherever you landed, ask God to bring you into even greater alignment.Share Tweet
Creation points to God. It glorifies Him. You can too. One way to do this is to find ways to brag on God and what He is up to in your life. The heavens declare His glory. Will you add your voice?
...young men and young women, old men and children: Let them all praise the name of the Lord. For his name is very great; his glory towers over the earth and heaven! - Psalms 148:12-13 (NLT)
Ever heard of AFN Television? The Armed Forces Network brings overseas soldiers and their families a taste of home away from home. Before modern access to satellite and internet television, if you were receiving AFN, it was the only channel you had access to in English. One quirky feature of AFN was that there weren’t any “regular” commercials. Just these weird Public Service Announcements with catchy tunes and awkwardly memorable topics. One PSA that always stuck with me - and maybe even changed my life - was the inspired, silly commercial with the catchy tune, “Don’t shop when you’re hungry! No, no, no!” I’ve surely saved thousands over a lifetime so far by not going to the grocery store while my tummy is grumbling. Shopping for groceries when you’re hungry, you’ll buy things that look good at the moment, overspend your budget, make poor decisions.
But “Don’t shop when you’re hungry” isn’t just sage advice for the grocery store. It’s really good advice for life. Maybe you’ve heard of the HALT assessment? We need to be careful about looking for fulfillment when we’re hungry… but also when we’re angry, lonely, or tired. It’s those times we are more prone to accept a substitute for God, godly wisdom, or right living. When we’re hampered by those four antagonists, lots of things OTHER than God begin to look like objects worthy of our attention and affection… we are drawn to worship other “gods” before the One True God. Instead, let’s cultivate the habit of looking toward Him, listening for His voice, and worshipping Him. When we do this, we find ourselves on steady ground. He doesn’t change. When we get our footing solidly set upon Him, our changing circumstances just don’t shake us nearly as much as before.
Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name. “They will be my people,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child.” - Malachi 3:16-17 (NLT)
I absolutely love this text from the prophet Malachi. For me, this passage really starts to move my heart and mind way out of the box when it comes to worship. Can you almost picture God, our Good Father, listening in with a smile on His face as His kids are just hanging out and talking about Him in ways that bring Him joy? These verses reveal a form of worship I really resonate with: Conversational Worship. Whether it’s one on one, in a Southland Group, at church on the weekend, or volunteering during the week, when a conversation turns toward who God is and what He is doing in our lives, it can instantly become a time of worship.
When we engage in Conversational Worship, when we speak well of God when it’s not foremost in our mind that He’s present and listening, what does it communicate about our relationship with Him? A few things come to mind:
I genuinely care about Him.
I think about making God smile.
I am grateful for His attention and affection.
It matters to me what He likes and what He feels.
I respect Him and speak well of Him.
I’m amazed by Him.
Can you imagine how joyful you would be if your kids talked about you in these ways? It would be like opening a gift… you’d be full of joy, you’d be energized, you’d be grateful. Isn’t it cool to think about the fact we can give God that kind of gift simply by letting our thoughts about Him overflow in conversation?