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Topic: Worship (05/03/04)
TITLE: Worship Along the way
By Emil Bradford
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God inhabits the praises of His people. He moves through us when we choose to praise Him. When we look to Him -- above all we are, all we know, all we think, and all we covet or ever hope to achieve in this world -- then He will restore our very souls.
If you are anything like me, you find difficulty in forgiving yourself. But God who is perfect sees past our sin, our imperfections, and our folly and chooses not just to forgive us… He loves us with a wild abandon. His is an unconditional love that will last forever. Doesn’t that just beat all?
The fact that many of us cannot forgive ourselves is a major constraint to our worship. You see, only when we can accept that we are a mess can we be released and worship as we live, as we love, and as we give. If we can let it all loose at a concert or football game why can’t we do the same for God in worship? Who says God requires silence and sanctimony? If we give it over to God, we free up our souls to stand in the light of His love and cry out with voices raised high WE ADORE THEE, OH GOD!
Worship is an act of giving just as giving is an act of worship. Worship is our response to a loving God in passionate, reckless, abandoned ways. The songs, the music, the raining of the spirit all around us – this is worship! The music of our lives – who we are, how we live, how we love -- is what we have to offer the King of kings and Lord of lords. In return, God offers us His ear to hear and receive our offerings.
When King David entered the city with the Ark of the Covenant he was so overcome with joy and triumph that he stripped away his royal robes and danced in the streets before the processional. When the king was facedown in his sin before God he again shed his royal robes, this time in humility. We too, like David, must strip ourselves of the rags that make us kings, rulers of all we survey. These are the things that keep us from truly being free in worship. Nakedness has nothing to do with clothing; nakedness is the truth of who we are before the one who made us as we humbly offer up ourselves in adoring praise. Are we willing to dance in our underpants? David did.
David was abandoned in his love of God. He was the man after God’s own heart. How is it that David was the one? When Samuel came to the home of Jesse to anoint the next King of Israel, David was away with the sheep. Samuel asked Jesse if there was not another after he had inspected each of the brothers of David. But David was in fields building a lasting passionate relationship with the Creator of the World. In the dark and cold solitude, David cried out to God and the Good Shepard answered his plea for authentic love. Read the Psalms if you doubt David’s passion for God.
I once met someone who put all this in perspective for me. A pastor at Eastside Foursquare Church in Bothell, Washington asked me if I knew why David was a man after God’s own heart. I fired off some snappy response that missed the point all together.
“David,” he said, “was an outcast like you and me, but with God on his side.”
You see, God is drawn to those whom others have tossed aside. Jesus sought disciples in the back streets and alleys. He dined, not with the elite at the finest restaurants; rather He supped with tax thugs and hookers.
David had learned compassion out among the flocks; that’s what triggered God’s attention in a ragamuffin like David. The King of kings chose David to be king because of his compassion and that came from life on the outside.
My mentor continued, “Becoming someone after the heart of God is a lot like making wine. The grapes must be crushed in order to extract the sweetness inside and then the grape juice is allowed to rest until it becomes wine and the longer it rests the better it gets. So too we must submit to the winepress of God’s love if we are to move in love and compassion. So too must we wait, often for long periods, in order to produce the best vintage.
For David the lessons were learned early. For me it’s taken much longer. There is a love that cannot be earned, a love that lasts, and a love that is real, for desparados like me once we allow ourselves to feel and in feeling believe.
David believed. And David lived and worshiped like he believed – passionately, frighteningly, and radically. He lived and he loved with all his heart, mind, and soul. He let go of what he could see and gripped tightly to what he had come to know --
Yes, David’s passion led to sin. So has mine. But in David, there was honesty and his honesty was the key. In the end, David stood naked before the Lord and owned his sin. The king who danced naked before the King could, by grace, stand in that unashamed nakedness and be forgiven. The atoning blood of Christ offers you the same opportunity.
Idle worship becomes vital worship when we dance without pretense, pride or masks before the one true God. So, are you ready to make your life a praise to the Lord? Are you ready to live and love freely and in doing so see the power restored as people are rescued?
If you’re thinking just about now, “this boy be crazy.” Let me say that dancing naked before the Lord is a beautiful metaphor for what God seeks in us. He pursues us with a vibrant passion, the least we can do is dance, sing, make a joyful noise to Him. Dancing naked before Him is saying, “See, here I am, fat, thin, old, young, white, black, attractive, or repulsive. It won’t matter to those who join you in your nakedness and as for the others?… Have faith, they’ll see the joy and soon shuck off the garments that bind and choke them and dance with you.
If we will stop running from God and reveal all to Him and others, we will begin to move into a place of freedom where His life-changing power can enter our domain – where the supernatural can change us, our circumstances, our pain. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Rejoice and be glad in this the day the Lord has made.
Although you may think its crazy, Jesus said, “If you don’t do it the rocks will praise me.”
And I am just a little farther along the way…