Monday, June 6, 2016

"Knowing God leads to worship and obedience!"

Day #159

Scripture Reading:  Psalms 99 - 101 …

Why would anyone choose to ignore God or worship any other God than our Creator, who reveals Himself in His creation, in His Word (the Bible), and in His Son Jesus Christ?  Why would anyone choose to worship a different god … one produced by the imagination of men who try to fashion a god more to their liking? The only possible answer is that people do not KNOW God, and therefore, they do not worship God or desire to obey Him.  They have not been confronted by God's holiness and have not tasted His kindness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, grace and faithfulness.  They just don't know GOD!!  So they go their own way and do their own thing and pretend that all is well.  There’s a better way to live!

Psalm 99 begins by displaying the reality of God's power, a power that shakes the nations and the very earth upon which the nations exist.  “The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble; He sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake!” (99:1). The writer of Hebrews quotes the prophet Haggai when he announces a future judgment that is yet to come:  "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens" (Hebrews 12:26; Haggai 2:6).  He goes on to explain, "The words, 'once more' indicate the removing of what can be shaken - that is, created things - so that what cannot be shaken may remain" (12:27).  Then he counsels his readers: "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our 'God is a consuming fire'" (Hebrews 12:28-29; Deuteronomy 4:24).

The Psalmist repeats several times that God is "holy" and that "He loves justice" (99:4).  He mentions Moses, Aaron and Samuel as being among those who "called on His name" and God answered them.  Faith in God means believing that He is sovereign over ALL things; that He is at work in YOUR life and in the world, and that trusting in Him brings peace to your soul.  Living by faith means much more than believing in some generic “god” and thinking this “god” will help you in some way by doing what you want.  As the writer of Psalm 99 looked back through history at the relationship of God to those who called out to him, he was moved to worship:  "Exalt the LORD our God and worship at His holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy" (99:9).

Have YOU been moved to worship by the knowledge of the one true God?  It would be easy to become cynical in this world today … many have.  Where is God when you need Him?  Why doesn't God do something about the injustice in the world?  How can I believe in a God who allows evil things to happen?  So many questions, but they are all answered at the cross, where God sent His own Son to pay the penalty for your sin and mine.  God IS holy and He cannot look on sin, yet through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross we who believe are saved from God's just judgment as His Spirit works within us, giving us new life in Christ.  That new life within us leads to worship and obedience.

The true knowledge of God always leads to the pursuit of godliness.  Peter writes in II Peter 1:3:  "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness."  Who gets the credit for our salvation?  GOD!!  So the Psalmist declares in Psalm 100:  "Shout for joy to the LORD all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs!" (100:1-2).  Only those who KNOW God (verse 3) can and will worship Him.  We know that we are HIS people by grace alone.  We have not earned His favor, but have received the gift of life by the work of His Spirit, moving us to confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord!  Therefore, we "enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise" (100:4).

How often during the day does your mind ascend to heaven?  So many people try to find ways to "escape" from the harsh realities of life.  They choose self-destructive means to try to achieve what they long for, but nothing works.  Their misery becomes multiplied as they drift farther and farther away from God.  Those who know Him, however, are drawn to God, for we know Him as good, loving and faithful (100:5).  If worship is difficult for you it is because you do not know God.  You may know some things about Him, and you may even think you know Him, but if you are not motivated to worship Him, you have missed His grace to you and His offer of forgiveness and life.  You need to kneel at the foot of the cross, confess your sin and your need, and find that God IS everything He says He is.  He will hear your cry and lift you up.

And then, as you worship, God will continue His work in you and move you to obey Him.  "I will sing of Your love and justice; to You, O LORD, I will sing praise.  I will be careful to lead a blameless life … I will walk in my house with a blameless heart" (101:1-2,4).  David writes this Psalm and expresses his desire to put evil aside, not allowing those who practice evil and deceit to enter his house.  It was his desire, as it must be ours, to honor the LORD, our God, by living in this world as light in the darkness.

Paul writes to the Philippians, "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life" (Philippians 2:14-16).  That is our calling as followers of Jesus Christ who are still living in this world.  We belong to Jesus, body and soul, in life and in death.  Knowing God … really knowing Him through faith in Jesus Christ, leads to worship and obedience.  "Let your light (HIS light) shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

"O Lord, my God, in You I find true joy as I worship at Your footstool! Through Your Son Jesus Christ You have made me one of Your sheep and I find safe pasture at His feet.  I worship You because You are worthy of my praise, and I desire to obey You because I love You!  Knowing You is the most precious gift I possess and I thank You for revealing Yourself to me by Your Word and Spirit.  Continue Your work in me, that my life may bring glory to You, my God, my Savior … and amazingly, my Friend.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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