How Much Do You Enjoy Worship?
Amos 8-Jonah 1
To the carnally minded people of Israel, Amos wrote, "Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, saying, "When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?" (Amos 8:4-6). The image here seems to be of people who rolled their eyes at the requirements of God. They would do them, but not willingly; and they would certainly not do any more than expected. Their hearts were busy thinking about everything but worshipping God. What a contrast this is to what God wanted of Israel in Deuteronomy 6:5, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." How unlike the psalmist in Psalm 122:1, "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the LORD!"
Why had the people become so uninterested in such actions of worship? A lot of reasons could be expressed, but the one listed in Amos was their preoccupation with themselves and their own desires rather than in their God. All they thought about was what they intended to do for their own profit and how they could sin and exploit others!
Be honest: have you ever looked at your watch during a worship service wondering when the sermon would ever end? Or, why there is a need to sing yet another verse of an already slow, dull song?
I suppose we all have had such moments of weakness; after all, some sermons are repetitive, and some songs, while beneficial, really shouldn't have more than 3 verses. But, are these typical or atypical of your worship experiences? It is easy to allow our minds to wander when we are not engaged in what we are doing during our assemblies. It is easy to hope the current point of a sermon is the last so we can get to the restaurant before everyone else. It is easy to think about the upcoming game, or the business deals one has for the next week. It is easy to be critical of men who serve in various ways, the song leader, or the preacher. It is easy to complain about the length of a sermon or our assembly time altogether. To say to ourselves—or others—"When will the service be over, that we may leave and do something else?"
Worship is supposed to be a comprehensively exalting experience. It is our effort to exalt our God and in the process exalt our souls as a result of being nearer to Him. It is energy directed solely to Him; but, in the process, we benefit tremendously and personally from it if we will allow it. It takes a disciplined, dedicated mind that has resolved itself to one purpose: I am here to worship God, and that is a glorious activity. Whether the sermon is long or short, interesting or dull; whether the song service is upbeat or downtrodden; whether the prayers are moving or the "same-ol' same ol'"; whether a big business transaction is the first thing on the plate Monday morning or not; today, I have come to worship the Lord. I will focus on this one thing. It is not a burden, it is a blessing. I will savor every moment praising or learning about God. I will find some nugget of a dull sermon worth contemplating. I will sing with all my spirit, whether others do the same or not. But, most of all, I will not complain about it or the people who assist me in my action of devotion to my God. By my example and words of encouragement, I will encourage others to give their best to our God who is worthy.