REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 6, 2014.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty. 9 “Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty. 10 “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands.”
There was a time when singing praise songs was considered a warm-up for the real worship: the sermon. But by now, praising God has become an integral part of worshiping God, so much so that some people choose a church based on which one has the “coolest” band. For some churches, worship is music, which is as defective as offering lame animals to God.
Here are three examples that music is becoming too important in a worship service. A church in Mexico drew a lot of people because of its cool band; but once the music stopped, many just got up and left. In another Mexican church, as I was stepping up to preach, the worship team was exiting the sanctuary. Not liking it, I said, “Hey, come back, worship isn’t over yet.” At least they planned to return after the preaching to sing a few more songs, but the hired musicians for a third church (in America) left for good after leading the “worship.” That was even worse.
What do these examples have in common with sacrifices that the Israelites offered as part of their worshiping God? Inasmuch as God was displeased with sacrifices of crippled animals, he cannot be too pleased with those who pick and choose how they worship Him. In the same way that the fire that roasted the meat of these animals became useless since God was unwilling to accept it, I wonder whether the fervency and emotion that typically accompany modern worship is all that pleasing to the Lord when some people are unwilling to worship God throughout the entire service.
Worship is, of course, more than what happens in a 90-minute service on Sundays; offering God our living sacrifices in everyday living is “spiritual act of worship” as well (Rom. 12:1). However, whether we can “live such good lives among the pagans that . . . they may see our good deeds and glorify God” (1 Pet. 2:12) hinges on truly experiencing God’s presence when gathered as a worshiping community. Here, we praise, pray and encounter God’s words; we confess our sins, declare our love for God, and seek His empowerment for a victorious week. Start your morning with a heartfelt worship.
Prayer: Glorious Lord, I exalt You, I adore You, I praise You, I seek You, I lift your name on high! What God is like ours who is infinite and yet personal at the same time. Thank You for being gracious to me even though I have treated with utmost disrespect. Thank You for being such a kind and gentle God. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Revelation 13
Lunch Break Study
Paul, while explaining the proper usage of the gift of tongues and prophesy in the church, shows what entails a true worship service.
Read 1 Cor. 14:23-6: “So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!’ 26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.”
Questions to Consider
- In light of his passage, how would you advise those who leave the service after the praise?
- What tendency still dominates many conservative Western churches with respect to how they worship God? Why do you think they lean toward that?
- What should happen during and as a result of worshiping God?
- I would say: “Singing praise songs (or hymns) is part of what we offer to God in a worship service but there is much more, such as hearing the word of instruction, sharing what God has shown us (a.k.a., testimony) and hearing the interpretation of tongues.”
- Many still equate worship service to listening to a sermon. So the brunt of the time is dedicated to hearing someone preach from the pulpit. While that component is necessary in order to experience God in a worship service, that, in and of itself, is not sufficient. Western people, as the children of Enlightenment, prefer rational discourse over emotional display and encountering spiritual things.
- In short, the goal of our weekly gathering is to meet and encounter God during the worship service. It is to experience, “God is really among [us].” That gives us the fuel for the fire to offer living sacrifices, which is our spiritual act of worship, throughout the week.
We began the day reflecting on worshiping God. Let’s end this day with worship as well. Slowly read Psalms 5 and then sing a simple song that you know by heart. Then pray.