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THE HEART OF WORSHIP DEVOTIONAL
Devotions Inspired by the Songs
By Adam Palmer
David C. CookCopyright © 2006 David C Cook
All rights reserved.
DAY 1: When the Music Fades
Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. Saul's attendants said to him, "See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes upon you, and you will feel better." So Saul said to his attendants, "Find someone who plays well and bring him to me." ... David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, "Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him." Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.
—1 Samuel 16:14–17, 21–23
But an evil spirit from the Lord came upon Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the harp, Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape.
—1 Samuel 19:9–10
The heart of worship is more than music.
Has a song ever helped you through some trial in your life? We've all had times when we were going through some hardship and we've listened to a certain song and found a small amount of relief from our distress.
But when the song ends, has our hardship disappeared? Do a few chords miraculously set everything right in life? Of course not. When the music ends, we are still faced with whatever challenges we had before the song began.
In the case of Saul, music—specifically, music played by David—soothed him and eased his torment. But it wasn't gone after one application of David's harp playing. The evil spirit that tormented Saul returned again and again. Each time David's playing only eased and soothed Saul but did not solve the king's problems.
No matter how much music Saul heard his problems didn't go away, because Saul's problem wasn't with his ears—it was with his heart. Instead of repenting from the evil ways that had caused this spirit to come upon him, he treated the symptoms and sought only quick relief.
Saul forgot God is the real issue and instead focused on the music. For him, it became all about the music. But music isn't forever.
In our worship, we must make sure we are focused on the right thing—our eternal God and Savior. Why? Because worship isn't about music—music is only a secondary part of worship.
The heart of worship is a heart that is focused simply on God himself.
Prayer for the Day:
God, I'm thankful for the music you created. I'm glad you've given me the ability to worship you through music. But, Lord, I pray that you'll help me to remember the true heart of worship—you. I choose today to focus on you, to align my heart in your direction. And in so doing, I pray that you would accept my act of worship. Amen.CHAPTER 2
DAY 2: And All Is Stripped Away
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
—2 Corinthians 7:1
The heart of worship is purification.
Water purifiers are amazing things. The water from your tap could be the worst-tasting water on the block, but run it through a purifier and it becomes miraculously transformed into a great-tasting water that's worth bottling.
It strains out harmful or offensive chemicals and minerals in the water and leaves only the water in its purest form. Purified water is simply water, with nothing extra or artificial.
Today's Scripture passage follows directly after a passage that speaks of God living among his people and walking with us. We are encouraged to strip away uncleanness and idolatry in order to purify our hearts—and we're encouraged to do it out of reverence for God. That is the heart of worship.
Purification for the sake of purification. Stripping away everything that isn't God in order to honor everything that is. We are called to be purified so that we might flow freely and clearly toward God—and others—free of contaminants and easily accessible.
The thing with water purifiers is that they must be in constant use. We can't put a filter on our tap one day and expect the water to continue to be purified if we take it off or let the filter get contaminated. That water needs constant purification.
The heart of worship is a heart that continually strives to be purified as it continually pours itself out.
Prayer for the Day:
O God, you're so wonderful. Purify my heart, Lord. This is a two-person process, God, so I pray that you'll help me do my part and help me get out of your way as you do your part. I want to have a pure heart in all I do. I want to worship you with pure motives. Thank you, Lord. Amen.CHAPTER 3
DAY 3: And I Simply Come
When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die." Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning." The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
The heart of worship is approach.
"Do not be afraid." Over and over in Scripture, we hear this phrase when people are face-to-face with God. Again and again, he tells them not to be afraid to approach him. He created us to be creatures in relationship with him. Just look at the garden of Eden, where God walked with Adam on a daily basis.
God wants us to be unafraid to approach him. He yearns for interaction with his greatest creation; he longs to spend quality time with the ones he loves. He invites us to come to him, just as we are. The Israelites were scared of God, but Moses encouraged them to approach God, even though they were sinful people. They didn't have to be rid of their sin before they came—they simply had to have hearts that were motivated to be pure.
God wants us to have a heart of approach. He wants us to come to him in simplicity and full of reverence. It doesn't have to be a big show, and we don't need to come with a stockpile of five-dollar words to impress God.
We just have to come.
Don't be afraid. Just come. For that is the heart of worship.
Prayer for the Day:
God, thank you for opening up a way of approach. Thank you for loving me despite my flaws and failures. Thank you for working in me to eliminate those flaws and failures. Lord, I want to commune with you the same way Adam did at the beginning of time. I want to come to you simply, so that I might know you better and better. I love you so much, Lord. Amen.CHAPTER 4
DAY 4: Longing Just to Bring Something That's of Worth
When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. In the middle of the night something startled the man, and he turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet. "Who are you?" he asked. "I am your servant Ruth," she said. "Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer." "The Lord bless you, my daughter," he replied. "This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. And now, my daughter, don't be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character."
The heart of worship is eagerness.
Ruth had nothing. A foreigner in a foreign land (she was originally from Moab but was now living in Israel), Ruth had recently lost her husband, and she now lived with her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi. Being a woman of noble character, Ruth had taken it upon herself to take care of Naomi, so she'd begun gleaning the fields of Boaz, a great man in the nation and also a relative of hers through Naomi. Boaz was exceedingly kind to Ruth and began to provide for her above and beyond what she needed.
Upon hearing this news, Naomi encouraged Ruth to approach Boaz in the night and offer herself to him in marriage. Under the laws of that day, male relatives had a responsibility to marry widows, and since Boaz was a relative who'd shown kindness to Ruth, Naomi thought he would accept her offer, which he did.
What does this have to do with worship? Ruth had nothing to give, really, except herself. Ruth's offer of marriage didn't bring anything to Boaz except the obligation to accept it. She was potentially setting herself up for a loveless marriage full of rejection. Yet she was eager to do it. Why?
Because she knew Boaz's character. He'd shown himself to be a kind, caring man who favored her, so Ruth knew there was little risk in marrying him. Boaz, in turn, saw Ruth's offer as a generous and gracious one, and he immediately praised her kindness to him.
We know God's character. We know that God will accept our humble offerings with kindness. It is his nature.
We know we don't really have anything to bring to him that he doesn't already have, yet we present ourselves eagerly.
Prayer for the Day:
Heavenly Father, I don't have much to give you. I look around at the magnificent world you've created, and I feel small—a little like a widow gleaning your harvest fields. Nevertheless, I know that you look upon me with favor; I know that you've exalted me, and I thank you for it. I'm eager to do whatever you ask of me, Lord. It is my heart's desire. I'm listening. Amen.CHAPTER 5
DAY 5: That Will Bless Your Heart
I scrub my hands with purest soap, then join hands with the others in the great circle, dancing around your altar, God, singing God-songs at the top of my lungs, telling God-stories.... I'm on the level with you, God; I bless you every chance I get.
—Psalm 26:6–7, 12 msg
The heart of worship is dedication.
What does it mean to bless God's heart? What does that term imply for us as worshippers today? How can we come close to knowing what will indeed bless God?
In addition to being known as Israel's greatest king, David is also considered one of history's greatest worshippers. When it came to worshipping God, David pretty much had a corner on the market. And in this psalm, he gives a hint as to what will bless God.
David praised with abandon. He joined in with others, singing at the top of his lungs. He was dedicated to his worship.
So let's make sure we have this straight—here is a well-known king of Israel worshipping in front of other people and singing to God like crazy. He isn't worried about his kingly image; he isn't concerned with politics or rebellions or taxes or anything else kings concerned themselves with. Instead, he's laying all that aside and dedicating himself to God in that moment of worship. In his worship, he wasn't King David—he was just God's loyal servant, seeking to bless God's heart.
Strive to dedicate your heart to God as you worship.
Prayer for the Day:
Dear God, I dedicate myself to you. Thank you for accepting me. Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for hearing me when I cry out in worship to you. I know I can't stay dedicated to you on my own—there are too many distractions, too many rabbit trails to wander down. Please help me to look to you continually. Please help me to worship you with dedication and abandon, so that I might bless your heart. Amen.CHAPTER 6
DAY 6: I'll Bring You More Than a Song
No man should appear before the Lord empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.
The heart of worship is giving back to God.
Finally, the harvest was over. The farmers of Israel had planted earlier in the year, they'd tended their crops, watched them grow, and the time to bring in the crop had come. They'd worked hard, and now the harvest was in—their labors had paid off. It was time to celebrate.
This passage in Deuteronomy comes from the law of Moses, and it concerns a certain feast known as the "Feast of Tabernacles." This feasting time was a time of joy that came immediately after the harvest had been brought in, and it served as a way for the Israelites to acknowledge God's hand on their farming efforts.
But one of the critical portions of this particular feast was the gift. This was one of three annual feasts in which every man in Israel was obligated to appear before the Lord in worship, and during each of those times, every man had to bring something to God. It didn't matter what it was, so long as it was "in proportion to" God's blessing on them.
God didn't want cheap worship. He wanted the Israelites to recognize all that he had given them that year, and he wanted them to give back some of it as a means of focusing their hearts back toward him in thanks for their bountiful crop.
God doesn't want cheap worship from us, either. He wants us to give back to him, to give of ourselves as we worship.
God wants us to be willing to do whatever he asks of us and, in so doing, to give to him a portion of what he's so graciously given to us.
Prayer for the Day:
God, thanks for all that you've given me. Sometimes I have to look hard to see it, but I recognize the times you've blessed me financially, relationally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. And I'll admit it—sometimes it's hard for me to give back. But I remember that it's all yours anyway, Lord, so I pray that you'll give me the strength to give back to you with a sincere and grateful heart, however you want me to. I want to give you so much more than just a song, God. I want to give you my heart. Amen.CHAPTER 7
DAY 7: I'll Bring You More Than a Song
Everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the Lord. Everyone who had blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen, or goat hair, ram skins dyed red or hides of sea cows brought them. Those presenting an offering of silver or bronze brought it as an offering to the Lord, and everyone who had acacia wood for any part of the work brought it. Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought what she had spun—blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen. And all the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair. The leaders brought onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. They also brought spices and olive oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the Lord freewill offerings for all the work the Lord through Moses had commanded them to do.
The heart of worship is giving what you have.
Potluck suppers are a ubiquitous part of the American church experience. They're not always called "potluck suppers," as the term ranges based on denominations and geographical regions, but as a rule we've all experienced this type of meal at least once, if not several times. Everyone brings something different, and together there is a big dinner for all to share.
Now, imagine that instead of having a potluck supper, the Israelites were having a potluck tent construction. God had given them instructions on building the Tent of Meeting, the portable tabernacle where he would reside until they reached the Promised Land and were able to build him something a little more permanent. He was very specific about the materials to be used, and everyone in Israel consulted the list and brought what he or she had.
No one was required to bring one of everything. No one was required to provide all of one material. The only requirement was that people gave what they already had, and in so doing, the job got done.
God has given each of us different talents, abilities, and blessings. Things that he'd like us to give back to him.
Give what you have and watch God orchestrate it to bless others. This is the heart of worship.
Prayer for the Day:
Thanks, God. Thank you for what you've given me. Please forgive me for the times I've been jealous of other people's talents and dissatisfied with my own. I realize that's not part of your plan. Help me to give what I have, Lord. I'm grateful for what I've received, and I pray for your guidance in giving it back to you. Amen.
Excerpted from THE HEART OF WORSHIP DEVOTIONAL by Adam Palmer. Copyright © 2006 David C Cook. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
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