Priorities of Worship

I’ve been thinking a lot about worship lately. As I’ve studied and read, I’ve noticed that a lot of what is written about worship relates to the format of corporate worship, music styles and impact on the worshipers  While these issues have their place and must be addressed, I believe they must take a back seat to biblical priorities of worship.

We get a glimpse of some of these priorities in the account of Jesus’ cleansing of the temple in John 2. The account is a familiar one. When Jesus entered the temple and observed the chaos of animals, merchants and money-changers  he became angry and chased the perpetrators from the temple. This simple encounter lends insight into Jesus’ thoughts and feelings about worship.

First, worship must be all about God or it isn’t genuine worship at all. Jesus was angry because the focus of worship had been diverted from God to business and selfish gain. Conducting business in a place of worship was demeaning to the purpose of the temple. It signified that all involved were not truly interested in worship at all. The commercial activities taking place in the court were a sign that true worship had been forsaken and replaced with a religion of convenience, compromise and self-interest.

Second, worship must be done in holiness of heart. As if the distortion of worship was not bad enough, the corrupt nature of the business was also a direct affront to God’s character and holiness. Sinful motivations and behaviors were defiling their worship, even though their actions were orthodox. God’s holiness demands our holiness as we worship. God has continuously pleaded with His people to understand that holy hearts are far more important than ritual acts of worship.

I am challenged as I consider worship in this light that I must be careful not to make myself the center of my concerns about worship. Instead, I want to worship God because His greatness and awesomeness compels me to do so and for no other reason.

Do you have thoughts on worship you would like to share, or some other biblical priorities of worship? If so, I’d love to see them.

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Remembering God in the New Year

Welcome to the first Sunday of a brand new year! A new year brings hope, thoughts and plans for the future. Last week I began organizing my calendar for next year. Three days after our Christmas program was over, we were making plans for next years events. Most of you can relate. We rush out of Christmas into the New Year and we want to be prepared. However, this should also be a time of reflection. As I read Psalm 77 this week, I was reminded of some things we should remember about the past year. We should remember God’s great works that in the words of Asaph were worthy of “a song in the night”. We should also remember the ways that he displayed his holiness. As Asaph continues, we are reminded to reflect on all of the ways that God has displayed his greatness and power in our lives. I encourage you this week to take some time to reflect on all of the wonderful things that God has done over the past year and rejoice that you have a wonderful and faithful God leading you into 2013.