UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Matt Ro who formerly pastored Journey Church in Atlanta, is an updated version (in collaboration with Pastor Ryun) of his blog originally posted on May 6, 2013. Matt is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BS) and Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“What a True Worship Really Looks Like”
Psalm 50:9-13 (ESV)
I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?
Ritual is not bad in itself. But the problem comes from seeing rituals as a way of feeling right with God. Formalism easily leads to hardening of the heart and its cure, according to the Psalmist, is a good dose of spiritual reality: God doesn’t need anything from us. To suppose that our worship contributes anything to God or meets some needs He has is absurd. We need to see that to avoid taking ourselves too seriously. But we also need to recognize the positive side, namely that, God delights in our worship rendered in a thankful heart and attitude.
Although God instituted the sacrificial system, He was not pleased when the Israelites offered sacrifices without the right attitude. Formalism without a right heart makes the sacrifices, which are otherwise good in themselves, detestable. And Micah 6:6-7 is one Scripture that clearly declares this truth: “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
So, let’s eschew formalism; instead, let us worship God from our hearts “in truth and in spirit” (Jn. 4:24). And when we do that consistently, we naturally move to the next phase of worshipping God, which Micah puts it like this following the above passage: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micha 6:8). This is what God requires from those who truly worship Him: Justice. Kindness. Humility.
Presently, there is a lot of talk on the urgent need to bring forth justice! Yes, we, as believers, should heed the call and stand with those who have been marginalized for too long. Nevertheless, let us not forget that all that we do, including striving for justice here on earth, should be an extension of our worship of God; therefore, as we seek justice, let us also be kind and humble.
Prayer: Father, I acknowledge that You are self-sufficient. You don’t need anything from me. I pray that You would receive my worship and sacrifice from a thankful heart. Help me to do things not out of formalism, but from a heart of fresh worship. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 57
Lunch Break Study
Read Ephesians 2:7-10 (ESV): . . . so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Questions to Consider
- What role does human works play in our salvation according to vv. 8-9?
- What role does human works play in our lives in Christ according to v. 10?
- How we to understand ourselves as God’s “workmanship”?
- What is the confidence that we can have in terms of the good works that God has given to us?
- Paul puts works in its rightful place. We don’t obtain anything (salvation or any other blessing) from God by working for it; rather, through works (i.e., observing the law), we become conscious of sin (Rom. 3:20) since no one keeps the law perfectly (Jam. 2:10), and ultimately, it will lead to judgment. That is to say, if God were to give us what we truly deserve, then, we’d all end up in hell; instead, we have received His grace and kindness through Christ Jesus. Paul makes it clear that salvation is a gift of God, so that no one may boast.
- The result of being in Christ should be bearing good works. Once we are in a relationship with God, we are designed to produce good works. All of this is a marvelous manifestation of God’s ability.
- The literal meaning of the word “workmanship” in the original is poem. We are his poem! Perhaps it would be better rendered as, “We are his masterpiece.” God is declaring and working out in our lives an exhibition of His love, power, wisdom, and character. He applies the paint in exactly the right places at the right time, in order that we might be put on display for His marvelous glory. Thus, we are to bear many good works: kindness, love, mercy, compassion, etc.
- Paul says that God has prepared these works beforehand. Not only that but in Christ, we are given the “will”, the desire to do good works. I recall how our mission team once ended up getting lost in the Peruvian Andes Mountains for 4 hours! On the brink of exhaustion and discouragement, we made our way to a clearing and found an unreached village that had never heard the gospel before. We were able to share the gospel and lead a few of the villagers to Christ that day! Little did we know that God had prepared this “good work” well beforehand. All we did was step into it.
Often, we feel quite insignificant, believing that we don’t have much to offer to the Lord through service. Have there been “unexpected” times where God has used you to bless others? Write these memories down and thank God for these “good works” prepared beforehand for us.