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Are you Worshiping or Socializing?

Does God care when, where, or how often we worship him? What is true worship and what is mere socializing? Corporate worship, that is joining together as a body on Sunday morning to worship God through singing and engaging with a sermon, is likely the first type of worship that comes to mind when one thinks of worship. We also corporately worship when we come together in small groups to reflect and discuss the application of the sermon and God’s word. How do we ensure this time on Sunday morning or during small group is producing worship rather than just socializing? There is power when brothers and sisters come together to worship God together, but God makes it clear that we should individually spend time worshipping him in addition to corporate worship. Fortunately, God explains how we can worship him so none of us have to wrestle with when, where, or how often we worship God.

 In John 4: 23-24 Jesus explains, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Jesus clearly tells us to worship in spirit and truth. It isn’t one or the other, but it is both together. Jesus tells us that he is Truth, therefore we must know him in order to worship him. To know Jesus is to love and worship Jesus. Worshipping in truth is recognizing His authority, the value of what Jesus has done for you, and having a heart postured to reflect your genuine gratitude. This should expose how you treasure him above all else.

Paul sheds some light of what it means to worship God in spirit in his letter to the Church of Rome. In Romans 12:1 He writes, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” Additionally, the author of Hebrews says in Hebrews 13:15-16, “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

Both off these passages emphasize our contribution to worship through our sacrifice. By sacrificing our time and attention, we are placing ultimate value on God. Jesus said in Matthew 15:8-9, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Let’s make sure we are not people who worship Jesus through lip service while our hearts treasure created things and people more than the Creator. There is room to worship God through our hearts while also spending time with other Christians. However, if attending church on Sunday or church events such as serving or giving your time in various ways doesn’t lead you to a deeper connection or adoration for God, then you may be only socializing. God created us to be in community, therefore spending time with brothers and sisters in Christ is good and necessary for us to flourish. However, our lives should be aligned in a way that time spent worshipping God takes precedence over spending time with godly people. Do not be misled that serving others or engaging through church events isn’t worship. These are just secondary ways to demonstrate the value God has in our lives by letting his love overflow from your heart to pour into loving and serving others.

 So, when should we worship God? All the time (1 Chronicles 23:30, Psalm 42:8, & Psalm 35:28). Our lives should be wrung out for the gospel. If your life is a living sacrifice, your days will be spent sharing Jesus’s truth and love to everyone you encounter. Where should you worship? Everywhere. Sometimes you will worship in private (Matthew 6), and sometimes with others (Colossians 3:16 & Hebrews 10:25).

How should you worship? With all your heart, knowing and loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:37 & Deuteronomy 6:5). 

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God Remembered Abraham

The end of Genesis 18 shows God conversing with himself about what to do about Sodom and Gomorrah’s wickedness. In these verses, part of God’s character is revealed. We can see that he is Abraham’s protector and intends to keep his promise to Abraham of making him a great nation.  God also exposes his plan to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sins. This shows us how serious God is about sin, which is exhibited multiple times throughout Scripture, as it is written in Leviticus “Be holy because I am holy.”  Reading through Genesis 18:20-21 we know God’s plan, and we witness Abraham praying and asking God to save Sodom rather than destroy it if he finds at least ten righteous people in the city. As Abraham intercedes for them, he is appealing to God’s characteristics of mercy and righteousness. Verses 22-33 expose Abraham’s prayer of petition, but notice how he is not counseling God. He is humbly yet boldly approaching God and asking for lives to be spared.

Abraham’s prayer is consistent with God’s will. God doesn’t want to destroy those whom he’s created, but he also is determined to remove sin from the world. Like Abraham, we can also pray God’s will. It is a good and right thing to seek God’s provision through prayers of petition, but we must make sure we are asking for God’s will to be done. As Jesus taught us, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”

God’s promise to be faithful to Abraham and guide his path of righteousness is true for us today. Abraham is called our Father of Faith because he believed and trusted God’s promises. He demonstrated how to pray, which requires us to know God on an individual and intimate level, which will allow us to understand his character and his will. Abraham uncovers how to intercede and ask for God’s will to be done. Jesus also validated this when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. In his gospel, Matthew records Jesus being sorrowful to the point of death, but he persisted in prayer. I imagine Abraham felt sorrow for those in Sodom and Gomorrah because some of the residents there were the men, women, and children whom he had journeyed with out of their homeland and through Egypt. In prayer, Abraham asked that if ten righteous men were found, God would spare the city, but not even ten were among them. Therefore, the city had to be demolished. However, “God remembered Abraham” and rescued his nephew, Lot, from destruction. Again, God demonstrated his faithfulness to Abraham by sparing his loved ones. God also wants to spare the ones we love, but how can he save them if we do not share the love and truth of Jesus with them?

Through studying scripture, God reveals his character to us. Through spending time in the Word and prayer, we build a relationship with God. Although these events in Scripture took place centuries ago, it’s applicable to us today. It may be uncomfortable to read and challenging to comprehend the abundance of wickedness displayed by those living in Sodom and Gomorrah, but our culture is not much different. God still calls us to walk in righteousness, and he still plans to wipe out sin. We can look to Abraham and Jesus for guidance on how to presently respond through prayer. Both men sought God’s will, and God’s will was done.

 

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