• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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That’s Worship!

messengerQuoting John MacArthur:

[Worship] then is the supreme attitude of Christmas. This is the spirit of Christmas and it is the supreme time of worship for Christians as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. This time of all times is a time of worship. Worship…let me give you a brief definition…is an attitude. It is a spirit, something on the inside. It is an attitude of the heart that is so filled with wonder and gratitude at what God has done that there is not a thought of personal needs or personal blessings, only total abandonment to God in praise and adoration. That’s worship. It is the most selfless thing we do. It is, as the hymn writer puts it, to be lost in wonder, love and praise. It is to be so grateful and so filled with wonder at what the Lord has done that we lose ourselves in adoring worship, adoring praise. What better time for this than Christmas when we focus on the very giving of Christ who is our Savior. . . .

This thing is deep. Worship comes up from inside. It bubbles up and bubbles over, as one New Testament word would identify it. It is not coming to church. It is not singing a hymn alone. It is not reading words in a Bible, hearing a sermon. It is not just giving something in the offering. It is not carrying out a ritual, even the Lord’s table. Those are potential, of course, effects of a worshiping heart, but they cannot stand alone as true worship. It is the inner heart of adoring praise that is the essence of true worship. It is when the soul and the spirit are overwhelmed. It is an internal thing.

In fact, external, shallow observance of the birth of Christ is distasteful to God and most of what goes on at the Christmas season breaks His heart. Superficial worship finds no place of acceptance with Him.

For example, Isaiah the prophet in Isaiah 29:13 said, “This people draw near me with their mouth and with their lips.” If I can put it in the Christmas vernacular, they talk about Me, they put things about Me on their Christmas cards and they sing My carols but they do not honor Me. They have removed their heart from Me, Isaiah 29:13. There’s no heart.

Jesus said, “God is a spirit and they that worship Him must start by worshiping Him in spirit.” The true worshiper is the one whose heart is devoted, the one whose heart is overflowing. It comes from deep down inside and it therefore goes on all the time. . . .

If worship for you only happens on a Sunday morning when it sort of gets pumped up, or only happens around the Christmas season or other special events, you’re kidding yourself about whether you’re a true worshiper. If worship only happens when things are going well in your life and you can whistle a tune because you got what you wanted, or because you’re happy about the current events in your life, or because your measure of comfort has been met, if worship is connected to that then you don’t understand the real stuff because true worship is unaffected by fluctuating circumstances. It doesn’t rise and it doesn’t fall. It is the constant praise that comes from deep within the soul because that which is spiritually true is unchanging…unchanging.

It doesn’t matter what goes on in life. And when you begin to ebb and flow in your attitude and your demeanor and your joy comes and goes, it is because you have attached yourself to another priority than the unchanging work of God and the unchanging presence of Christ. You have attached your joy to the changing circumstances of life which means your focus isn’t on Him, your focus is on you. You can tell a true worshiper because they go through the circumstances of life with an unmitigated contentment and an unchanging joy. . . .

Charles Wesley wrote six thousand hymns. Maybe the best you heard played this morning, “Hark the herald angels sing.” The last verse, “Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace, hail the Son of righteousness,” that means worship. “Light and life to all He brings, risen with healing in His wings, mild He lays His glory by,” that’s the incarnation, “born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King.” That’s worship. (Sermon, “The True Spirit of Christmas”)

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