It can be said that I am a inspirational singer. That is when I sing in church others are inspired to sing louder. It is not likely that my next career move will be as a worship leader. Fortunately worship is not only about singing or other musical abilities.
Christian worship is referring to the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for God. Worship is supposed to be a celebration of being in covenant fellowship with the living God. It is a time for us as believers to demonstrate faith with praise and thanksgiving. When we sing and raise our hands it is giving back a token to God. Corporate worship is a time to join others to rejoice and celebrate the blessings we have received. Our talents should be showcased, not to bring glory to ourselves but to honor our heavenly Father. Worship is not exclusive to singing or using our talents but also includes giving back to God as He has provided for us.
Worship is an act of faith and obedience. To use your talents to worship costs time and energy and is proper obedience to God. To give back from the first fruit of your labor is an act of faith in knowing that the ultimate provider will continue to provide when we are faithful. If it truly cost nothing, it would not be true worship!
Prior to Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross, worship included times of sacrificing animals. A few times a year entire families would bring an offering to be burned on the altar. These were natural times of celebration such as after a harvest. Anyone who has farmed knows the hard work involved in harvesting a crop. When a crop is bountiful it is certainly a time to rejoice.
The burnt offerings were to be one year old, first born males, without blemish or defect. The acceptable burnt offering animals were a bull, a lamb or goat, or for the poor two pigeons or turtle doves.
- A bull (ox) was the most valuable animal person could own. With it fields could be plowed and carts could be pulled. In fact to own an ox provided the means for greater gain.
- Sheep and goats were of great significance to Old Testament families. These animals provided clothing, milk, and meat.
- Although doves provided no value to the owner they are symbolic of peace, honesty, and love. (A couple of interesting facts about turtle doves is they mate for life. The mated birds build nests together as well as raise their young together.)
It does not matter what your financial status in life is, God has provided a way for all to worship Him.
God doesn’t ask for everything, just the first and best we have to offer. It does not matter if your best is the equivalent of a prize winning Bull or two turtle doves, it is an offense to God to offer less than our best to Him.
Malachi 1:6-14 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says to the priests: “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have shown contempt for my name!
“But you ask, ‘How have we ever shown contempt for your name?’
7 “You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar.
“Then you ask, ‘How have we defiled the sacrifices?
“You defile them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect. 8 When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
9 “Go ahead, beg God to be merciful to you! But when you bring that kind of offering, why should he show you any favor at all?” asks the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
10 “How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “and I will not accept your offerings. 11 But my name is honored by people of other nations from morning till night. All around the world they offer sweet incense and pure offerings in honor of my name. For my name is great among the nations,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
12 “But you dishonor my name with your actions. By bringing contemptible food, you are saying it’s all right to defile the Lord’s table. 13 You say, ‘It’s too hard to serve the Lord,’ and you turn up your noses at my commands,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Think of it! Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?” asks the Lord.
14 “Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “and my name is feared among the nations!
Man that’s a tough message! Someone might think this a real downer after a time of holiday celebration. Yet this last message given to Israel 400 years before Christ was born has lasting value for us today.
This was a tough message the prophet Malachi had to deliver to the Israelite Priests. As both children and servants of the Lord it should have been natural for them to show respect to Him. For whatever reason their responsibilities became so mundane to them that they had allowed proper worship of God to deteriorate into a way for people to dispose of their unwanted animals.
It is easy to conjure up reasons this happened. Maybe the Priests were afraid if they didn’t accept whatever was being offered the people would stop offering anything. Perhaps over the course of time worshippers became careless and reasoned that whatever was offered was just burned up so why offer anything good.
There was a time some people were trying to help a family that had literally no furnishings in their apartment. I volunteered to bring donations to the family. One donation item was a chair that was in such bad shape I was afraid to strap it to my trailer for fear it would fall to pieces. It was an embarrassment to take that thing to the family in need. The donator really believed he was doing something good to help a family in need. I tell you it’s a shame that I actually delivered that thing! It should have been left on the curb for the garbage truck.
Think about the sacrifices the people were bringing to the altar as being like that chair. The animals being offered had no value in the market or for food. Most likely they would have died on their own shortly.
How is your worship time with God? Besides the joyful noise time at church, do you show honor and respect to God the way He intended?
I’m serious about these questions. This isn’t a beat down sermon aimed at pointing out church problems.
It is a rebellious attitude to God to offer blind, sick, lame, or torn offerings.
- If we worship God ignorantly and without understanding we bring the blind for sacrifices.
- If we worship carelessly, and without consideration being cold, and dull, and dead in it, we bring the sick.
- If we place our trust in the outward display and not make it a heartfelt expression we bring the lame.
- When we allow empty thinking and distractions to become our focus, we bring the torn.
- If we offer what cost us nothing in terms of time, talent, or money we offer the stolen.
God has made it clear to us through His word and even within our own nature that it is not acceptable to worship with less than our best.
Rev. Burt Schwab