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Mar 03, 2011

A Passion for Worship

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How shall we express a passion for worship?
A number of the older military chapels I have been in are decorated with beautiful stained glass windows some of which were designed to honor soldiers who died in battle for their country. During a worship service in such a chapel a young boy whispered to his father, sitting next to him in the pew, asking who the figures were in the stained glass windows. The father whispered back that they were soldiers who died in the service; to which the boy asked, “Was it the morning or the evening service? I think many would agree that such feelings are not limited to children. The Prime Minister of England at the close of the First World War, David Lloyd George, once wrote: “When I was a boy, the thought of Heaven used to frighten me more than the thought of Hell. I pictured Heaven as a place where time would be perpetual Sundays, with perpetual services from which there would be no escape. Whatever your pictures of Heaven may be, the fact remains that the Scriptures declare the supreme activity of your life to be worship of the living God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If it is your supreme activity in life should it not be something about which you are keenly passionate?
The first occurrence of the word “worship in the Bible is in Genesis 22, the account of Abraham and his son Isaac climbing to the top of Mt. Moriah that they might worship. What astounds me as I read this story is the earnest, incredible faith which Abraham displays in responding to the God he sees and who he knows as his God. It is here in Genesis 22 that I begin to understand why Abraham is given so much space in the “Hall of Fame chapter of faith of Hebrews 11. There will be little passion for worshipping God if our faith does not see Him as Abraham did, nor if what was foretold by Abraham and Isaac on Mt. Moriah is not right at the heart of your worship.
Centuries later in the same spot where Abraham once laid Isaac on an altar, King David builds another altar for worship, and makes a statement of faith which is an essential ingredient of passion for worship: “I will not offer to the Lord that which costs me nothing. (2 Samuel 24) Is worship so vital to our life that we will sacrifice whatever it takes for it? As the people of God in Malachi 1, do we bring our leftovers of mind and heart to the worship of the living God? They worshipped God Malachi said, but clearly their heart wasn’t in it. Just look at the offerings they brought (Malachi 1:7-9). In a spiritual sense is this what we bring?
In the last book of the Bible, the Living Lord and King of the Church directs the Apostle John to write to professing believers who were in the Church at Laodicea. He essentially says to them, “Here I am! I am at your heart’s door and I am knocking. If you will open the door I will come in and eat with you and you with me. This is not written to unbelievers, but to those who claimed Christ as their Lord, yet did not have a passion for worshipping Him (look at Rev. 3:14-22), which is akin to “eating with Him as in Psalm 23:5 or Luke 24:30-31. Eating with Him is to recognize Him, converse with Him, be fed by Him, and be satisfied (as you would at a fine meal) with His real presence. Too often we get hung up on the form of worship while completely ignoring the Person of our worship.
Passion for worship doesn’t just happen. It is fueled by an earnest faith to whom the words “I am the resurrection and the life mean just what they say. He can resurrect a dead passion. It recognizes that passion costs and will sacrifice what it takes to obtain it. And it will open the door and break bread with Him, no matter what distraction attempts to keep the door closed.


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