40 Days of Discipline

40 Days of Discipline: Day 19 – Worship

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1Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.  “And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tabernacle of meeting, the ark of the Testimony and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furniture of the tabernacle— the table and its utensils, the pure gold lampstand with all its utensils, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base— 10 the garments of ministry, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests, 11 and the anointing oil and sweet incense for the holy place. According to all that I have commanded you they shall do.” (Exodus 31:1 – 11)

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  (Colossians 3:23 – 24)

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

In our discussion of worship over the last two days, we have focused on a broad definition of worship that includes our adoration of God through our work or service.  Your comments on the topic have been very helpful and inspiring.  In fact, I thought I might have to modify this post significantly because a few of the commentators yesterday anticipated the topic I want use to close our discussion on Worship.  The topic is excellence in worship. 

There are many Biblical passages that address the topic of excellence in worship.  Now, I will be one of the first to confess that sometimes when I read some of the Old Testament stories about the tabernacle and temple, I get bogged down in the detail.  However, I have found one perspective to be extremely helpful.  When I view the details as a window into the excellence of God, the passages and worship take on new meaning.  God’s standards are immeasurably high and it’s no wonder that the Biblical depictions of worship reflect exacting standards of excellence. 

To be clear, I am not suggesting that to worship God appropriately we must be perfect.  Instead, I am suggesting that the more we understand God’s holiness, the more we are drawn to pursue excellence in worship.

Please read the passages above and answer the questions below. 

Questions:

  • What do you think about excellence in worship? 
  • How do you actively pursue excellence?

6 thoughts on “40 Days of Discipline: Day 19 – Worship

  1. I think excellence in worship can be determined alone by the person who is worshiping. Not by the kind of music being sung by the worship band/music ministry, or even by the sermon being given by the preacher. For me, the indwelling, and presence of the Holy Spirit while worshiping is the gauge of excellence in worship. It doesn’t mean you have to be “emotional” in order to experience excellency in worship. For example , when I attend a service or do my work at church, like being a greeter or nursery/Sunday School helper, If I do it with great joy, enthusiasm, contentment, humility, and with the goal of glorifying the Lord , then I guess it can be categorized as excellent. Actually, in my experience, I think to pursue excellence is tough as there is no such thing as “perfect “, and if my purpose is only to please my self, or others. But if you commit your work or anything that you do in God’s hands, and only please Him first and foremost, then there is this joy from being fulfilled or having the sense of accomplishment at par with God’s standards. I think a Christian who believes that if your focused is on the Lord, if the Priority is Jesus, then , every thing will be in it’s proper perspective. We are human and only God is perfect, but if our end goal is “ to do everything for the glory of out Lord and savior, then we can achieve something excellent or great….and sometimes this accomplishments cannot be even seen by our eyes. It could be like for example, the heart of someone, a friend or colleague you took to church or bible study with you and you didn’t know that, that person’s experience at church while attending the service gave her hope or realized the love of GOD i through the body of Christ or from the way you relate to this person. God can use His Holy Spirit to work on the heart of each and everyone of us. I remember there was a time when I was attending a service in my church in Pakistan almost 20 years ago, one Malaysian lady , a mother of my son’s classmate suddenly came to my side before the bread and wine are to be distributed on the communion time. She came to me in tears, hugged me and said sorry. I was surprised because I’m sure we are not fighting or anything, and we’re just doing our roles as mother and wife in the Japanese community we belonged. Her husband was an expat from trading company. Just like me, she is also a foreigner married to Japanese. Later after the service, she explained to me that she had to say sorry to me , because I was not aware but she was kind of jealous of me, and that there were times, she says negative stuff about me to others. She said she was reminded of her sins while praying before communion and she had to go to me and apologize, and only after that, she felt she can take the communion. That made me feel the Holy Spirit was at work. I saw how sad she was and in tears when she came to me. That incident encouraged me. I thanked her for listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and for helping me also to understand why sometimes she acts the way she does with me. To this day, I can still picture her face when she approached me and the joy she has after the communion and the service. I think reflection and sincere repentance especially during communion, or even skipping the communion if there is some unconfessed sins or bitterness in the heart is one way to pursue excellence in worship.

  2. Excellence in worship should be one of our goals. We can pursue excellence in worship partly the same way we pursue excellence in some earthly things. For example, consider a person who is training for the Olympics. Hearing the daily process of practice, dedication, devotion, discipline, determination, and the desire to achieve perfection, should bring to mind how we too should, and can, work towards trying to achieve excellence in worship, if we really want to.

    When it comes to worship, we should strive to be focused and prepared with a ready heart, to worship in Spirit and in truth.

  3.  What do you think about excellence in worship?
    One synonym for excellence is “first-rateness”. So excellence in worship is expressing adoration to God in every legitimate sphere of our lives by doing our best and giving him the credit. It is first rate (within one’s capacity) in all we do and whatever we give to God.

     How do you actively pursue excellence?
    I often fail to practice excellence in worship but there is an underlying motivation that reminds me that God deserves the excellence due to his intrinsic worthiness. For example, the bible passages cited in our meditation today are great sources of motivation.
    Also, in the book of Malachi, God said to the people that he is a great king. So their sacrifices of defected sheep were insulting to him and betrayed their poor concept of who he really is (Malachi 1 : 6 – 8). The faith community is a source of encouragement to help me consistently pursuit excellence.
    In this regard the 40 Days of Discipline ministry is a great catalyst to serve humanity and God with excellence.

  4. There have been times when I thought my pursuit was excellence over worship. Yet excellence in worship is a matter of the heart. What are my motives in worship. Are they to bring glory to God or myself.
    I actively pursue excellence in worship by taking the focus of myself and directing it to God.

  5. Excellence in worship epitomizes the character of God, It is virtually impossible for us as fallible mortal beings to attain excellence in worship, despite our best efforts. Certainly, from a human perspective we consider our best spiritual aspirations and achievements worthy of God’s “top mark in His grading scheme” but let’s humbly remind ourselves that “all our righteousness is like filthy rags before Him!” The prophet Isaiah lamentably exclaimed : ‘Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6: 5, KJV) Some might want to challenge the efficacy of such an utterance in our day when self-esteem and positivity are so loftily regarded but in the light of our incomparably holy God, our excellence in worship leaves much to be desired, whether our worship is through our adoration of him in meditation, fellowshipping with other believers, studying His Word, giving to His work, caring for the weak and vulnerable, excelling at whatever we do, or doing all kinds of other good deeds. Humanly speaking, we might try our best but we still fall short.

    We actively pursue excellence by humbly acknowledging our human limitations and seeking God to help us do our best. Furthermore, we have a holy disquiet in our hearts and spirit about the fact that no matter how well we’ve done, we can still do much better; no matter how strong we are spiritually, we can be stronger still; no matter what we’ve attained, we can do better still for the glory of God. Our pursuit of excellence in worship is embedded in Philippians 4: 8 (NIV):

    “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.”

  6. As usual I enjoy reading your comments.
    For me Maverlin summed it up nicely.

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