I’ve been going to church since before I was born, so I’ve grown up hearing certain words used in particular contexts. These words are often referred to as Christianese—words that aren’t really used by people who don’t hang out at church. If that includes you, please don’t feel left out; sometimes they aren’t really understood by the people who do hang out at church either. One of those words is “worship”. The word worship is sometimes used to refer to an entire Sunday morning service, but is most often used to refer to the part of the church service in which hymns and spiritual songs are sung. This understanding limits the scope of what worship really is.
In an interview recently with John Piper, Louie Giglio said,
We wanted to make sure we could message for the world: worship is not singing songs. Worship is acts of justice. That’s every bit of scripture breathing that out, and the heart of it for me is Hebrews 13:15-16. Through Jesus then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, which is—so here’s the definition—the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name—so bring a song—but then he says, and don’t neglect doing good and sharing with others for with these sacrifices God is pleased. And so if our purpose in worship is to feel good, we’re just going to keep singing songs, but if our purpose in worship is for God to be pleased, then we’re going to figure out what pleases God, and what pleases God is when the last and least of these are touched.
Worship then is using our voices, whether in song or not, to acknowledge God’s name—to give Him praise—remembering that the only reason we can come before God at all is because we have gained access to Him through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. (John 14:6) But worship is also doing what pleases God—doing good and sharing with others. Jesus says that there are really only two commandments, to love God and to love others. (Matthew 22:37-40) He also says that what you do for others, you do for Him. (Matthew 25:40) James says that good deeds are an extension of our faith. (James 1:27, James 2:8, James 2:14-22) The next time you are singing songs in church, I hope that you will be truly worshipping God, but realize that true worship goes far beyond those few moments.
Do you eat fast food? Microwaveable meals? Do you get impatient waiting in a traffic jam? Or waiting for a webpage to load? Do you look for the word “instant” on packaging or in advertising? We are so used to having everything at our fingertips and quickly accessible, that we have lost our ability to be patient. We have forgotten how to wait.
When Abram (later called Abraham) was 75 years old (Genesis 12:4), he left his home and most of his family to set out for a new land because the Lord had told him to. (Genesis 12:1) The Lord promised to make Abram into a great nation, (Genesis 12:2) but at that point Abram didn’t have any children, no one to carry on his family line. Nonetheless, the Lord told Abram that He would give this new land to Abram’s descendants, (Genesis 12:7) and Abram believed Him. That was the beginning of Abram’s journey of faith.
How long did it take for Abram to see the Lord’s promise fulfilled? Twenty-five years! (Genesis 21:5) Then when his son Isaac was a boy, the Lord tested Abraham by telling him to give up His son. (Genesis 22:1-14) Again Abraham believed God, and his son was spared. The author of Hebrews (Hebrews 6:11-15) tells us that we should imitate those, who like Abraham were examples of faith and hope. Abraham inherited the promise of many descendents because he persevered, (Hebrews 6:15) and believed God’s promise.
What are you hoping for today? Are you willing to wait for God’s timing? Matthew Henry said, “Abraham, in due time, obtained the promise. It was made good to him after he had patiently endured. [1.] There is always an interval, and sometimes a long one, between the promise and the performance. [2.] That interval is a trying time to believers, whether they have patience to endure to the end. [3.] Those who patiently endure shall assuredly obtain the blessedness promised, as sure as Abraham did.”
Sometimes God’s promises to us are not as clear as His promise to Abram. We don’t always know what the outcome of our trials will be. But we can count on the promises that God gives to all of His children—that He will never leave us nor forsake us, (Deuteronomy 31:6) that He wants only good things for us, (Matthew 7:11) and that He has a plan for our lives. (Jeremiah 29:11) That plan will be worth waiting for. Don’t give up hope!
My heart is still heavy for the family of Al and Rita Chretien who have been missing for just over two weeks. From every indication I have, which comes from their Facebook page (Missing – Al and Rita Chretien), the family has a strong faith in God. Other people have gone through equally devastating situations—earthquakes, floods, fire, criminal acts; does faith really help when we are put in such trying situations? I believe it does. Sometimes, in tragic circumstances people will say that this proves that there is no God, but people of true faith trust God, not because of their own comfort and blessed circumstances, but because of who God is.
God has promised to be faithful. Hebrews 10:23 tells us that we can hold on tight to the hope that we have, because God is trustworthy and will keep His promises to us. In the previous verses (Hebrews 10:19-22), we see that we are invited to draw near to God, and that we can have confidence to do so. We are confident because we know that Christ gave His life so that we could have this privilege. In Old Testament times, the people needed to have a priest to approach God on their behalf. They would sacrifice the animals that were required for atonement, and they alone could go beyond the curtain into the inner sanctuary to meet with God. Now because Christ has shed His own blood for us, He has drawn back that curtain and has become our priest so that we are welcomed into God’s presence. We can draw near, because we have the assurance that faith brings. (Hebrews 10:22)
And this faith is not based on what we know, or on what we can see or figure out. Faith is being convinced that God is control, that everything is under His command, and we can believe Him even when we don’t have all the answers. (Hebrews 11:1-3, 1 Corinthians 2:5)
Al and Rita Chretien are parents, grandparents, business owners and much loved members of their community. They were last seen on March 19, 2011 in Baker City, Oregon on their way to Las Vegas. They were driving a brown 2000 Chevrolet Astro mini van with British Columbia plate number 212 CAV. If you have any information about this couple, please contact your local police department and cite Penticton RCMP case file 2011-3395, or call the toll free tip line in Canada or the U.S.: 1-877-987-8477. And please keep this family in your prayers.