November 19, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 354: Giver of Worship

Giver of Worship

"Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Go to Pharaoh and say to him, 'This is what the LORD says: 'Let my people go, so that they may worship me.' ' ' " (Exodus 8:1 NIV)

"You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy." (Exodus 20: 3, 4, 7, 8 NIV)

Love God. Love others.

In this order, this is what life on this earth comes down to. We would add "in the simplest possible terms," except we know full well our sin nature makes fulfilling these two greatest commandments anything but simple.

Yet God is for us and wants us to get this right, so He gives us much guidance and instruction on how to keep these commands, including His original "rules for living" list. With the first four of His 10 Commandments, God shows us how to love Himself, and with the last six, He shows us how to love others.

When I look at the commandments that specifically turn us in the direction of God, one thread jumps out: worship.

Oh friends, we were created to worship. Our minds, hearts, and souls long to worship someone or something. That is their bent, their natural inclination. This isn't something that has to be taught or learned; we are born into this earthly life with a craving to worship, and one way or the other, we will satisfy that craving.

Isn't it fascinating that when God sent Moses to deliver His message of "let my people go" to Pharaoh, His "so that" was, repeatedly, "so that they may worship me"? (If you glance through Exodus 7-10, the repetition is striking.) God knew that of all the good things His people would be able to do if they were freed, worshiping Him was what they needed to do first and foremost.

The first four of the Ten Commandments (otherwise known as the Decalogue..."dec-" meaning ten) tell us how to truly satisfy our inborn need to worship by telling us Who we should worship...and how we should worship Him.

God commands us to worship Him and Him alone not because He's on a power trip but because He knows us and knows we can't obey any of the other of His laws if we haven't established our loyalty first. And, He knows we can't handle divided loyalty. Dividing our worship dilutes it—and so it does not satisfy us. Only when we experience the full-strength worship of God alone can our craving be quenched.

Then God tells us what worshiping Him looks like.

It looks like being on guard against "little-g" gods...those people and pursuits we assign, in our minds and heart, a place of honor that belong only to God.

It looks like getting rid of our idols. If I walked into a room and God (in some sort of representation) and someone or something else were both in that room, which would I look at first? Which would I move toward first? If my attention would go first toward anything or anyone other than God, that thing or person is my idol. In real life, this scenario plays out ALL THE TIME in my mind, which is why I have to repeatedly and deliberately force my mind to "look at" God. That is, in fact, how this whole names of God series got started. Speaking of God's name...

Worshiping God looks like reverencing and respecting His name. God's name reflects who He is and so to devalue it by using it in a throw-away manner shows that I have devalued who He is...the opposite of worship. How beautiful it is, though, that speaking God's name in a reverent and respectful way is in itself a profound act of worship?

Worshiping God looks like devoting time to Him that is not just leftover after we've done everything else. We give our time to what matters to us, and what matters most to us is what we worship.

Remember: this is all for our good! God created our souls; He knows what will satisfy them. He knows they yearn to worship, but He also knows if they direct that yearning toward someone or something that can't handle being worshiped, we will be let down. But when we lift Him up, our satisfied souls are lifted up, too.

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I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year-old that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!