|Volume 17 Number 11 November 2015||
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
For faithful, devoted children of God, worship is certainly the highlight of each week. It is a blessed privilege and honor to bow before “the Great I Am.” Jesus placed worship as a high priority (Luke 4:16). Sadly, far too often worship has been decreased to merely a “ritual” or an empty routine (Matthew 15:7-8). God is the Audience in worship, and as such, He not only deserves, but He demands our full attention and devotion. How tragic when individuals fail to really worship the God of heaven. Many professing Christians merely go through a series of “rehearsed actions” only to walk away without ever biblically worshipping. Jesus spoke regarding worship that really matters as He sat by Jacob’s well and conversed with a Samaritan woman; “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
Firstly, worship is aimed at the proper person; “God is a Spirit…” What is often passed off as worship in the 21st Century is simply entertaining the attendees. Man has become “center stage,” and he must be dazzled and astonished. We rate the preacher’s performance, the song leader’s abilities and the “feel” of the building that surrounds us. We give the worship a grade, much like we would grade a movie at the “big screen.” All the while, we miss the scriptural fact that God is center stage; it is He that we must aim to please and not ourselves!
Secondly, worship involves participants; “…and they that worship him…” Worship is “hard work”! We have become accustomed to padded pews and temperature controlled buildings to the point that many view worship as a “relaxing time” – a time to get comfortable and unwind. However, worship that really matters tests our minds, our concentration levels and even our physical stamina. Singing, studying, praying, giving and remembering our Lord requires effort and energy. We must be rested, both mentally and physically, in order to really participate as God demands. The very word “worship” denotes prostrating one’s self, as a peasant falls before a king. That is quite a different picture than someone relaxing in a padded pew!
Thirdly, worship includes a prescribed pattern; “must worship him in spirit and truth.” “Spirit” involves the emotions and will of the worshipper. Worship that does not prick the emotions is not worship in spirit! How can a true worshipper not be affected when he or she considers what great love and sacrifice was given on behalf of each of us? “Truth” involves that which God demands as far as the “acts” of worship. Both truth and spirit must be present in order for worship to be biblically correct.
Worship is serious. God is outraged when people attempt to worship and fail to do it properly (Leviticus 10:1-3). Never are we closer to our Creator than when we fall before Him and worship! However, the opposite is true as well. May worship that really matters ever be our priority, and may we daily, “enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise…” (Psalm 100:4a).
Halloween Is Over:
Take Off Your Costume!
Halloween is now over. It is time for Christians to take off their costumes. I’m convinced that with most of Christendom, that is mainly what Christianity is—a costume. Often, many Christians dress up in their costumes for Sunday mornings, and as soon as they get home, they take off their costumes and won’t give them another thought until the next Sunday. They are not real Christians, they are only pretending, much like my son was pretending to be Woody this past year, and imitating a pumpkin the year before. Those costumes are not who he really is, nor are most who claim to be Christians really Christians. Most of us are worldly folks in disguise on Sundays—trying to have the best of both worlds. We want the blessings that come with being in Christ, but at the same time, we absolutely refuse to give up our worldly pleasures. This cannot be. As Christians, we have died to the world, and the world to us (Galatians 6:14). When will we understand that there is no such thing as “having the best of both worlds”? James makes it abundantly clear that this is impossible. He warns, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (4:4).
[Editor’s Note: Frequently, even the most respected brothers and sisters in Christ reflect more of the material prosperity of the western world and many of the vices it affords than do they project a 24-7 genuine Christianity that comes forth from the universal Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians need to get real (Matthew 16:24-26; John 6:27), understand and embrace what really matters for life and eternity (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11), and order their lives accordingly (Matthew 6:33). Any other conduct is fruitless and eternally hopeless. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]