Vigilance in worship

It takes effort, consistency, and sacrifice to worship God in a way that he desires.

It takes effort, consistency, and sacrifice to worship God in a way that he desires.

Worship today has come to mean many different things to different people. For most, worship is what happens every Sunday at the local church building from 10:30 am to noon. The style of worship varies; some prefer traditional hymns in a quiet, classical style from the European Middle Ages; for others, it is a celebratory party-like atmosphere with flashy performances and contemporary, upbeat tunes. In yet other congregations, it is complete silence, waiting for God’s Spirit to move upon someone to speak and provide insights from God’s holy perspective.

In the Bible, we see that worship encompassed many of these different expressions. The priesthood of Israel had specific and intentional responsibilities within the service of the Temple that had grown and morphed over time. While their primary sacrificial duties were laid down by Moses, as the temple was established in the days of David and Solomon, we find that other duties relative to music and singing became established within the realm of the priestly worship.

1 Chronicles 23:1-5 – When David was old and full of days, he installed his son Solomon as king over Israel. Then he gathered all the leaders of Israel, the priests, and the Levites. The Levites thirty years old or more were counted; the total number of men was thirty-eight thousand by headcount. “Of these,” David said, “twenty-four thousand are to be in charge of the work on Yahweh’s temple, six thousand are to be officers and judges, four thousand are to be gatekeepers, and four thousand are to praise Yahweh with the instruments that I have made for worship.”

These traditions carried on throughout the years and became part of the Israelite priestly and liturgical environment. However, with the destruction of the second temple in 70 A.D., the earthly priesthood and the liturgy of the temple worship were abolished. There were no more proscribed rites or ceremonies for the people of God in relation to liturgical worship.

Now, don’t think that I am saying it is somehow wrong or misguided to continue to create songs or sing together to honor and praise God; that is not the point. In fact, believers in Messiah have been encouraged by Paul to do so.

Ephesians 5:18-20 – …be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to Yahweh, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Yeshua Messiah…

Rather, I am describing something that goes beyond any type of liturgical and sometimes mechanical praise toward to God. Even though the second temple was still standing in Paul’s day, God had provided him insights into the future of his Kingdom and the coming age. Paul knew that God was working a spiritual work among his people that would far surpass any physical representation or temple service that God could provide.

When it came to describing the type of worship that was acceptable to God, Paul naturally grabbed hold of a principle taught by Yeshua about what true worship in the service of God looks like:

Romans 12:1 – Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.

The believers who were presenting themselves, body and spirit, to God were the ones who were honoring the true spirit of worship that God desires. Yeshua had taught this same principle.

John 4:23-24 – “But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.”

Living a life of sacrifice means diligently and consistently laying down our own desires at the feet of God and seeking to accomplish his purpose in our life. This is the path of believers in abiding in him, walking according to his commandments above the demands of the culture around them. To love Yahweh your God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, to truly do this, is to walk a sacrificial path of true worship that honors God and brings glory to his name. The new covenant is a martyr’s covenant; we must die to ourselves in order to live for him.

Matthew 16:24-25 – Then Yeshua said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.

This is the heart of true worship: becoming a living sacrifice where every thought is captive to Messiah and every action is an action based on the love of God for all of his Creation. This is where true worship lies, not in the halls of music and self-performance, but in the quiet and determined attitude of self-sacrifice.


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Living as a new person

His Spirit can renew our hearts for him.

1 Samuel 10:6, 9 – …and the Spirit of Yahweh will come mightily on you, and you shall prophesy with them, and shall be turned into another man … When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day.

The Spirit of God has the ability to transform believers. Saul, as the first king of Israel, was mightily anointed by God for the task, so much so, that he effectively became another person. The text says that God when the Spirit of God came upon him, God “gave him another heart.”

God’s desired goal with individuals is that when they encounter him in a personal way, they are effectively changed from the inside out.

God had told Ezekiel that the whole nation of Israel was going to be able to receive his influence in their lives. This was to provide them the strength and wisdom to obey his commands.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 – I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.

This was God’s plan for them all along: to become a new people, set apart from all others, and to be obedient examples to the rest of the world. They were to be a nation following his torah, his instruction for all to see. This obedience would not be one of rote compulsion, but one of freedom and joy from the heart.

Jeremiah 31:33 – Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days ​– ​the LORD’s declaration. I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

The only way this could effectively be accomplished was by transforming the individual’s heart to understand and to desire to follow God.

Hebrews 10:22 – let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.

Just as God had promised Israel that he would cleanse them from all of their impurities and their idols, he promised that believers in Messiah could draw near to him as they received cleansing for their rebellious deeds of conscience and body.

John 3:3, 5 – Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” … Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

To live as a believer in God and his Messiah is to live as a new person with lives of integrity and righteousness. This is the goal that God has for every individual who comes to him in sincerity and truth, and he can make it so.

Many people come to congregations seeking to change their own lives, as if somehow they can learn enough or do the right “church things” they can mold and shape themselves into who they think God wants them to be. However, all of these passages speak to the changing of the heart to be an act of God, not a twelve-step plan to becoming a better person.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

It doesn’t take a program of study to experience God’s presence in our lives, but it does take a sincere approach that lays down all personal objectives and known transgressions against a holy and righteous God. A true seeker must be willing to die to self, for the call of the true believer is the call of the martyr.

Just like Saul of long ago, God is still willing to transform. Once we have surrendered all to God, then he can mold and shape us into whom he desires us to be for him.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.