Every summer, my kids spend a few weeks at camp, making friends, playing games and strengthening their faith. I love picking them up at the end of their term, not only because I’ve missed them, but because of what we get to do with them before taking them home: we worship together. It’s such an encouraging and rewarding experience to watch your children (teens, in my case) giving glory to God with such enthusiasm and joy. It’s a highlight for me every year, and I never make it through without crying tears of gratitude! (Thank you, Pine Cove!)
The funny thing is, I have to admit that I cry most Sundays at church, too. My husband and I will sometimes jokingly bet to see if I can actually make it through worship without shedding a tear. More often than not, the answer is no. I try to fight it back, but the act of praising God for His goodness is overwhelming when I solely focus my attention there. It’s just too much. It literally overflows from me.
I suppose it’s one reason why I enjoy the Christmas season so much. It’s filled with festive decorations, bright lights and carols…worship! Granted, the songs about Santa don’t fall into that category, but the large majority of carols are praise and glory to God for giving us His Son, Jesus, our Savior. We get to worship every day for a month! (Janet Denison just wrote an Advent devotional, detailing the stories behind 25 carols. Follow the devotional here.)
What if we lived like this year-round?
As I sit here and reflect on the joy that comes from worshiping God, I wonder why I don’t do it all the time. More importantly, why do I so often put other people and things before Him? Honestly, it comes down to this…what am I worshipping and idolizing?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t pray to anyone but God, but I sure do spend my thought-life, time and attention (priority!) elsewhere. Whether intentional or not, I find myself consumed with other things; adoring my children, spouse, material possessions, accomplishments and experiences, and I can openly sing their praises more than I sing of my Savior. Ouch.
God’s Word is clear on this, and the clarity is there for a reason. We are human. Our hearts are fickle and easily distracted by things that are not necessarily “bad,” but shouldn’t take the same holy space reserved for God.
You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:14)
For the mind that is set on flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. (Romans 8:7)
And Jesus answered him, “It is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” (Luke 4:8)
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. (Matthew 15:8-9)
Thankfully, with the Holy Spirit reminding us and with our own willingness and discipline, we can give God the proper priority, glory, honor and worship in our lives. And we will be blessed by this act of worship!
Please don’t mistake what I am saying here. I am not suggesting a prosperity Gospel, whereby God rewards us for certain actions. There is an important nuance that is often twisted by the world. It’s not that God rewards us for “holy behavior.” Rather, the closer we draw to God, the closer He draws to us. (James 4:8) And, we benefit from an intimacy with the Lord! We will hear His voice more clearly, and we will feel His peace, strength, comfort and presence, because of our close relationship with Him.
Friends, here’s what I hope we take away from this: worshipping God is about Him, but it’s for us!
Here are several benefits of worshipping God:
- It puts us in a right position of humility and submission as we give Him praise.
- It takes our eyes off of ourselves and and puts them on His sovereignty, allowing us to release control.
- It helps us to focus on His goodness, which gives us hope.
- It reinforces that we cannot be without fault or sin; God alone stands in this position of glory.
- It reminds us of God’s great love for us; that throughout all of history, His plan and desire is to be with us, which give us great value and worth.
- It provides a ripe opportunity to receive all of the above and more.
My hope for us all this Christmas season is that we sing every carol as an act of daily worship and that during this month of festivity, we are intentional to create a habit of putting God first, above and in the holiest place of reverence and adoration in our lives. There’s no better habit that will benefit us more as we kick off the New year!
Lord, God, You alone are worthy of worship. Thank you for giving us this season of celebration, so that we are reminded so often of Your goodness, love and mercy. May we see You in every twinkly light, brightly colored ornament and shimmery decoration, and may that cause us to sing your praises! Oh, come, let us adore You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.