[Willow Creek Association] 1998-11-11 - Worship Lately?

Genesis 8:20-21 (NIV) Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart, "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done.

Lately I have really been pondering just what worship really is all about. Worship is a word that is so used around the church that it has almost become rote. It's like driving or riding a bike without thinking. For some people it just becomes something you have do on Sunday Morning. You go and "worship." But why? And just exactly what should be going on when we worship our Holy God?

For me, worship is simply submitting myself to God. It is acknowledging to God that He is in control of my life, that He and He alone is the reason I am here, the reason I have my job, my family, my house, my toys, my abilities, and on and on. I am nothing apart from God. Worshipping God is giving back to God, not trying to take more from Him. Worshipping is saying "Thanks, God. Thanks for being all that You are, thanks for giving me all that I have, thanks for making me all that I am," and even thanking God for the trial and tribulations we have faced and will face again.

A lot of us have a different view of worship, it's a "What's in it for me?" attitude. It's a "feed me, fill me, charge me up, make me feel good about myself today God" attitude. It's a, "What can I get from God today" when I worship Him attitude. In some churches it's a "pump-me-up emotionally" attitude. They totally miss the "fill me up spiritually" part. Notice in the above verse, the order in which the events happen. Noah has been on this, what I am sure is a not-so-pleasant ride on an ark for a little over a year. A year of up and down the waves, a year of tending to the thousands of animals, a year of really no fun. This ark was not a Carnival Cruise line folks, it was just a big floating barge, with no navigation system, no nightly entertainment, no midnight buffet and no all-night entertainment. The ark contained only the bare necessities of life. The first thing Noah does when he gets off the ark is built an Altar and Worship God. Wow… how many of us would do that? I might would have gotten off the ark saying, "Well God it's about dadggum time you let the water down!" or "Gee, I got myself through that God." But not Noah, he worships God, he acknowledges God's Holiness and His control over all things.

Now, watch what God does in response. He makes a promise to Noah and all of us: Never again will He destroy the earth by a flood, and God places the rainbow in the sky as a reminder of His promise. See the chain of events? Noah worships God, then God makes His promise, in effect then God gives. We get it backwards a lot, don't we? We say, "God do this, and I will worship you. God just let me have this or that and then God I will worship you like never before." It's like saying, "Hey God give me, give me, give me, then I will give back to You." But it is also saying, "God I can't trust you." To me that is the same as worrying all the time.

Noah did not get off the ark and say, "Well God this is a fine mess you got me into," or "Gee thanks God, now I just don't know what I can do up on this mountain with my family and all these animals." Noah didn't worry. He worshipped. He trusted God to guide and direct his life. Noah did not build an altar to take something from God; he built it to joyfully give back to God. To give a pleasing sacrifice and to give thanks for all that God had done for him. How about you -- are you worshipping or worrying?

Dear Father, Forgive us for being so self-centered, self-promoting, self- gratifying, self-righteous, self-indulgent and self-absorbed. Forgive us for not truly worshipping You. Forgive us for not surrendering all parts of our lives to You. Forgive us for thinking we can do some parts of life better without You. Forgive us for our worry and not trusting You. Father we thank You for all things in our lives, and mostly we thank You for giving us Your Son Jesus, who died for our shortcomings and our sins so that we may live an eternal life in Your presence. In His name, Amen.