Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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3 The Heart of Worship Part 1

Genesis 22:1-3

1 Sometime later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called. “Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.” 2 “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” 3 The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about.

People had been worshiping God since Adam and Eve were created, in Genesis 4 we see Cain and Abel involved in sacrifice and worship, Gen. 4:26 says, “… then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.” Gen. 5:22 tells us that “Enoch walked with God…” Gen. 6:9 tells us that Noah also “walked with God.” yet Genesis 22:5 is the first time the word “worship” is used. So what is worship?  Today Abraham’s journey of worship reveals to us something about our own worship. The truths told teach us about the character, the conditions and the challenges, while revealing Abrahams faith and teaching us some very powerful truths about worship, first is the:

  • Setting of Worship

Have you ever wondered why our worship wanes, why we are hot and cold? Could it be that our worship is centered around our circumstances instead of our Creator?  When we look at the setting of worship we see Abraham using the word worship in the midst of the most difficult trial he ever faced. Often we value worship only as a mountain top experience yet for Abraham worship started in the deepest valley of his life.  Abraham saw this situation as an opportunity for worship because he understood that the setting for worship is not driven by our surroundings but our Savior.

  • Source of Worship Vs 1-2

Abraham’s worship was based on the spoken Word of God. Verse 1 says, “God called,” Abraham found himself engaged in the worship of Almighty God because God told him exactly what He wanted. God not only told Abraham what He wanted but also what to do, Verse 2 “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah, Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” Abraham’s worship was based on the Word of God which stands in sharp contrast with today, where most of our worship is fueled by feeling instead of the Father. When worship is based on our whims of whatever feels good instead of His Word it drifts dangerously with the flow of feeling. Feelings are directed by the current of circumstance which ebbs and flows, rising and falling on the temporary tides of today. True worship is guided by the Word of God because true worship is a response to revelation, so true worship is always a matter of faith, Romans 10:17 “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The word translated “worship” here means to “bow down; to prostrate oneself, to humble oneself before God. God has revealed Himself to us in His Word and we respond to that revelation with worship by humbling ourselves to Him and bowing down before Him in reverence and adoration. Genuine biblical worship is responding to all that God is, as He has revealed Himself in the Bible. God says He loves me, God says He sent His Son to die for me, God says He will never leave me, God says that He will supply all my needs, God says He is my Father. The list could go on but the point is that when I understand Who God is and what He has done for me, I worship Him when I respond to His revelation with humility, gratitude and reverence. So if we are going to worship the Lord, we must do it His way. Our culture makes worship about the music yet the back ground for worship here contains no keyboards, or guitars, or drums not even a choir or an organ. Instead, in the fore ground there is an altar, and a heart of sacrifice. Worship is more than words and what we do with our lips it is what we do with our lives, the word worship is a verb, an action word. Worship is a response to our Redeemer and music can be an outward expression of that response but it’s still about our Maker not our music. Worship is a reflection of His revelation, it is what should hold our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection. So what has God revealed to you today and how will you respond to Him, will you bow before Him in reverence, love and adoration?

•             Submission of Worship Vs 3

Often when God speaks we hear and hesitate but Abraham responded in faith, submitting himself to God’s Will. Abraham’s worship was a reflection of humble submission to the will of God manifested in obedient action:

He “…got up early.”

He “saddled” his donkey.

He “took two of his servants with him”

He took “Isaac his son.”

He “chopped the wood for the burnt offering”

He “set out for the place God had told him about”

I’m sure Abraham didn’t fully understand the reason for the Lord’s command. I’m sure his mind was troubled and confused and his heart heavy as he went about his tasks. Yet he did what the Lord told him to do. Abraham heard the Word of the Lord and submitted himself to it, willing to humbly obeyed God. This is the picture of worship not void of feeling but not driven by it. Today God has revealed His will to us and instead of obedience there is opposition, whining in place of worship, protests instead of praise. Worship is not just rooted in what the Word of God says it is rooted in obedience to what the Word of God says. It is one thing to know what God says, but it is another thing altogether to obey God especially when His commands make no sense. What the Lord called Abraham to do was unprecedented, no one had ever been asked to do that before.  Yet, Abraham obeyed God because Abraham trusted God, it was not based on commonsense but on the command of the Creator. Abraham humbled himself and obeyed by faith, he trusted the Lord to know best and that kind of faith is an essential component of true biblical worship. Obedience to the Word of God is worship, praying, reading the Bible, tithing, witnessing are all acts of worship, when they are done out of a heart of love and humble submission to God. So what has he commanded you to do, are you worshipping through obedient submission?


2 Waiting Worship

Genesis 17:1-3

17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. 2 I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.” 3 At this, Abram fell face down on the ground.

One of the things we learn about worship from Abram it that worship is not a one-time wonder but a journey of dependence. God first made this covenant with Abram in Genesis 12:1-4 when he was 75 years old and 10 years later we find Abram and his wife still waiting. Weary of waiting on God and seeming to get nowhere they tried to bring about the fulfillment of the promise in their own strength. Genesis chapter 16 describes their attempt to bring about God’s promised blessing in the story of Hagar. But it wasn’t God’s timing and it wasn’t his way. Have you ever had to wait 10 years for anything? How about for a promise to be fulfilled? Today in our hurry up results driven society we don’t have time to wait for anything and most of us would have given up long before viewing waiting on God as a lost cause. Yet there is more and in chapter 17, after an additional 14 years have passed with still no action we find Abram at the age of 99.Talk about a frustrating fulfillment, today some of you are waiting on the Lord, how long will you give Him? Would you wait 24 years with the pain of unanswered prayer, for Abram 24 father’s days passed without a single promised child. The truth is that Abram had taken a wrong turn and for 14 years there was silence from heaven. 14 years for Abram to learn the cost of acting on his own to experience the consequences of serving God in the flesh and acting presumptuously. For 14 years Abram lived with the fruits of his impatience and that is where some of us are today. You have followed your own plan and God has allowed you to have your way, now you live with the results of recklessness. Sometimes we are permitted to go our own head-strong way so that we might learn the folly of acting apart from God. One of the most frightening things in life is that if you insist on having you own way, God may let you have it. That could have been the end of the story, Abram didn’t trust and did it his way amounting to nothing.  Yet God appeared to Abram asking him to believe and trust at a time when Abram may have thought that his best years were behind him. It is amazing to consider that when we think it is all over, God may be thinking about beginnings. God reveals a new side to his character as He reveals the name El Shaddai (all sufficient one) for the first time in the midst of Abram’s weakness and inability. Up until this time, Abram, knew God only as Jehovah and El Elyon (Lord most high) now in his inadequacy he hears “I am El Shaddai” your all sufficiency. Sometimes we have to come to the end of ourselves before we can come to the beginning of God. As God revealed Himself as the all sufficient one He was in effect saying, don’t worry about what you have or haven’t yet received. I am all you need and will supply you with all you need. Today are you doubting that God is able to supply you with all you need? Things may look hopeless, impossible and useless, we may be barren like Abraham and Sarah, having exhausted all our resources. Do you know that at your wit’s end when nothing has worked there is El Shaddai the all-sufficient one? The name “El-Shaddai,” emphasizes God’s infinite power and begs the question, how great is our God, El-Shaddai? How mighty is He, what can he do? In the very next chapter God again promises the son, fixes the time for his arrival and asks a question. Genesis 18:14 “Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” That is an excellent question “Is anything too hard for God?” The answer is, of course not, He is El-Shaddai, God Almighty. The prophet Jeremiah says, “O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you” Jeremiah 32:17. How great is our God, El-Shaddai? An angel comes to a young woman named Mary and tells her that she is with child and that He shall be the Messiah. She asks, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” Luke 1:34 . The angel responses with, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:37 Why is this possible? Because He is El-Shaddai, God Almighty, seven promises are given in the form of “I will statements”

1. I will make my covenant with you (v. 2)

2. I will multiply you (v.2)

3. I will make you fruitful (exceedingly) (v.6)

4. I will make of you many nations (v.6)

5. I will establish my covenant with your descendants (v. 7)

6. I will give you (and your descendants) the land of Canaan (v. 8)

7. I will be their God (v. 8)

With this new revelation comes the call to respond, “serve me faithfully and live a blameless life” If Abraham wanted to know God’s power, he had to walk, to live close to the Lord and be blameless, to consistently respond to God in repentance and faith. He must be sincere and honest in his devotion and obedience to the Lord, faith always directs us to obedience. Do you feel burdened today? Have you been relying upon your own efforts only to sink to your knees or fall on your face? Have you been struggling with patience? If so will you get to know El Shaddai, so you can have a fresh encounter with Him and as Abraham was instructed, “Walk before Him” wholeheartedly. When Abraham realized his emptiness He rejoiced that God was enough, and that literally changed the trajectory of his life. With this new Revelation, God says, even though the promises seem to be pipe dreams and impossible from a human perspective, I am almighty. When we admit our insufficiency, the Almighty is sufficient to meet all our needs, when we are empty, God is enough!