by Dane Massey
(Dane Massey is the former Pastor of Mulvane Christian Church. He is now in ministry in Houston, Texas.)
“Worship will be the missing jewel of the church in the coming century,” predicted pastor and author A.W. Tozer. “The church will move to deify man and humanize God and therefore remove the awe necessary for worship.”
Unfortunately Tozer was correct. So how do we cultivate true worship and avoid settling for mere entertainment?
I’m walking with Hezekiah in his steps to restore the covenant between God and Judah. We can take those same steps today, to prepare for proper worship. When I fail to walk this path, I don’t encounter God in worship, I merely am emotionally stirred and entertained.
True worship cannot be manufactured or staged but it can and should be planned for. True worship has a quality of pure spontaneity but that never springs from the ground of shoddy preparation or apathy. This is true in my personal and private worship or corporate worship.
Note Hezekiah’s very thorough and diligent preparation.
“Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us. My sons, be not now negligent,” (2 Chronicles 29:10-11 KJV)
“Now they began on the first day of the first month to sanctify, and on the eighth day of the month came they to the porch of the Lord: so they sanctified the house of the Lord in eight days; and in the sixteenth day of the first month they made an end,” (v. 17)
I will never experience the awe necessary for true worship until I’ve felt the deep, cutting conviction of the Holy Spirit, hence the 16 days of cleansing that Hezekiah leads Judah through before the sacrifice.
Next, look closely at the mingling of the sacrifice with worship. These are not separate steps but are walked through together.
“And the priests killed (the sacrifice) and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel, (v 24).
“And he set the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David …” (v 25).
“And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments…” (v 27).
When I allow the Holy Spirit, with the Word of God, to walk through my life then and only then will I turn to the sacrifice with the desperation, intensity and desire needed for true worship.
Conviction, guilt, and remorse do not save us. They are merely the emotions the Spirit brings us to, so that we might “hunger and thirst for true righteousness,” that we might become aware of our desperate situation.
Cleansing doesn’t take place until the Spirit brings me from my own desperate condition of corruption and depravity to the cross.
When we see Christ upon the cross, under the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, it is like gas to the flame. Here is where true worship is ignited!
I need to walk this path over and over with the Holy Spirit. I need Him to take me down the pathways of my heart, showing me my desperate need of a Savior.
I must, with the Spirit’s help, stir myself up to prepare for true worship. If I fail to worship I am doomed to be merely entertained. I will be emotionally stirred but never changed. I will become addicted to entertainment.
Entertainment is the cheap substitute for true worship. My flesh will love it and I will be convinced that I’ve met with God when truthfully nothing has happened. It’s like eating doughnuts instead of a healthy breakfast. I feel full and satisfied but the truth is I have no energy, am becoming more addicted, and am creating spiritual health problems for the future!
Those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). Truth without spirit is dead! Spirit/enthusiasm without truth is dangerous!
I need the Holy Spirit to lead me into all truth resulting in true worship. May you and I meet in such worship this week!