June 13, 2016

Psalm 22:25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.

I had not realized that there was such a direct Scriptural reference for a little chorus I have loved for a long time.

You are the words and the music;
You are the song that I sing.
You are the melody, You are the harmony;
Praises to You I will bring.
You are the mighty God, You are the Prince of Peace,
You are the King of all kings.
Now I return to You the song that You gave to me;
You are the song that I sing.

Actually, any time we give anything to God we are only returning to Him what He has given us in the first place. I have heard it said – and I may even have preached – that praise and worship are all we can give God that we haven’t received from Him, but this points out that even those originate in Him. In the purest sense, all we can give Him is our choice to return these things to Him. He has given us free will, so it is a genuine choice and not a sham. What we give Him is utilizing what He has given us to bless and please Him. The interesting thing is, whereas we cannot know exactly how much it blesses and pleases Him, it certainly blesses us to give Him praise and worship. That actually can be a good self-check on whether our worship has been genuine. If at the end of our worship we have more peace and joy and feel closer to God than when we started, then our worship has been genuine. If not, then we had better examine our motives. In many places the Bible talks about the futility of empty rituals, which makes it ironic that so much of Christianity is ritualized. It’s not at all that things like Communion are meaningless, it’s that we must not let them recede into dull routines. Genuine worship first of all recognizes Whom we are worshiping and then grows naturally from there in gratitude and praise. The opportunity and ability to worship is one of the greatest gifts God has given mankind. If we overlook it, our loss is great indeed.

Growing up in the family I did I have always loved to sing hymns and other Christian songs, but it was after I got involved in the Charismatic movement, starting around 1973, that I began to grow in my understanding and appreciation of worship. The whole matter of faithfulness vs. meaningless routine has been an issue. I celebrate Communion every morning as the first step in my devotions, using leftover unleavened bread from our monthly church Communion and drinking iced tea. That has been very meaningful and helpful, but the fact that I do it every day means I consciously have to keep it fresh, or it would dull to meaninglessness. As a pastor I earnestly desire that everyone in this church discover and delight in the joys of worship, but attendance figures make it obvious I have a long way to go there. I cannot force anyone to worship, since genuine worship is from the heart by definition, but I can explain and I can model and I can pray, and I must not neglect any of those things.

Father, it’s not too often that You give me the next Sunday’s message this far in advance. Thank You. Help me indeed communicate this truth effectively so that Your Spirit may bring it to life in the hearts and lives of all who hear, so that we may be Your children, Your Church indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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