I have written about the culture wars, the social order of the day, political corruption, secular humanists, and a myriad of things in my 15 years as editor of The Christian Index. Sometimes I get weary of addressing those issues, but I also believe that someone must sound the alarm.
I had no idea as to what I should address this morning in my editorial for the week until I had my devotional time this morning. I read Psalm 63 and was clearly urged by the Holy Spirit to write about being desperate for God.
I preach somewhere almost every Sunday, as well as often during the week and I have preached for so many years that I must guard against approaching by role as a preacher as being commonplace or routine. God forbid that proclaiming God’s Word should ever be reduced to something that is done in an ordinary, perfunctory fashion.
And God forbid that any of us should approach our worship experience as just another obligation that we mark off our list of things to do during the course of the week.
When David wrote Psalm 63 he was in the wilderness of Judah. His language is not only poetic, but also desperate. He cries out, “My soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and they glory.”
I can only remember one time when I was desperately thirsty for water. My high school football team was in two-a-day drills in August. We were in full football gear; and it must have been 100 degrees.
Unfortunately, we were not performing to our coach’s satisfaction. We had practiced for almost two hours without a drink of water and because we had not practiced up to his standard he made us run wind sprints back and forth across the football field at the end of practice. Players were falling down from weariness and exhaustion. By the time he had ended the practice, I was faint, nauseous, and desperate for a drink of water.
In Psalm 63 David is desperate for God. He is earnestly seeking God. One translation says that not only did David “eagerly” seek God, but that his body “faints” for Him.
David is not seeking God for salvation. He already has a relationship with God. He is desperate for more of God. In verse 3 he declares that God’s “lovingkindness is better than life.”
On this morning God’s word penetrated my heart like an arrow shot from a high-powered Recurve Bow. I had to ask myself, “How thirsty, how desperate am I for God?” Perhaps it is a question we should all ask ourselves each morning. Perhaps it is a question we should all ask as we prepare for Sunday worship.
And for those of us who lead in worship, we must ask ourselves the questions: Have we sufficiently bathed our plans for the worship service in prayer? Why is worship unfulfilling to so many? Have we urged people to spend more time doing things for God than being alone with God? Why are expectations of God so low? Have we allowed our services to become mundane and commonplace? Have we allowed ourselves to become satisfied with mediocrity when we worship a God who is magnificent and extraordinary? Has God failed to bless our time together because we have planned our worship services to please the congregation rather than to please God?
Just because an individual sits through a church service doesn’t mean that he/she has worshiped. Real worship costs us something. Worship requires us to put aside ourselves and focus our time, energy, and all that we are on God, who alone is worthy of worship.
Years ago Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian and martyr, said, “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession.” If cheap grace is grace without cost, cheap worship is worship without cost.
In II Samuel 24, David was about to enter into God’s presence in worship, but he said, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” He knew that God deserved the very best. If you read II Samuel you will find that David was desperate to seek the Lord in a worship experience and willing to pay whatever price necessary to properly connect with Him.
May God deliver us from going through the motions without heart involvement. I long to see what God will do when a congregation of people or even a surrendered minority of worshippers gather on Sunday desperately seeking God and prepared to worship Him with the deep devotion of their hearts.
Christian educator Don Sweeting says that costly worship involves three things:
(1) “Costly worship puts God at the center with the realization that God is not here to serve us. Instead we are here to serve Him and give Him glory. We are coming to place our lives humbly before Him. We are coming as givers, not takers. This will help get us out of the ‘I don’t get anything out of it’ syndrome.
(2) “Costly worship involves preparation. It prepares us for the Lord’s Day by thinking about the prayers we will bring. It thinks about offerings with a ‘first fruit’ mentality to honor God by giving him our best. It approaches the Scriptures with a ready mind to hear the Word of the Lord and to be ‘doers of the Word.’
(3) “Costly worship issues in a lifestyle of service to God and others. As we view God’s mercy to us in Christ through the cross, and as we contemplate the cost of our redemption, faith increases and we want to please God. In other words, costly worship within the sanctuary will flow out of the sanctuary into sacrificial living for God’s glory and the joy of others. It will be motivated to share the treasure of the gospel with others, and have a greater heart for the least, the last, and the lost.”