This story appeared several years back in the Kansas City Star.
A woman entered an ice cream store in the Kansas City Plaza for an ice-cream cone. After making her selection, she turned and found herself face to face with Paul Newman, who was in town filming a movie. He smiled and said hello. Newman's blue eyes caused her knees to shake.
She managed to pay for her cone, then left the store, heart pounding. Whe she gained her composure, she realized she didn't have her cone. She started back into the store to get it and met Newman at the door. "Are you looking for your ice cream?" he asked. She nodded, unable to speak. "You put it in your purse with your change," he said.
Being in the presence of Paul Newman really affected this woman, as it would many people. I want you to think about something. When was the last time that being in the presence of God made such an impact on you? When was the last time you felt awe and joy at being in His presence? Would being in the presence of a famous person like Paul Newman, be more desirable to you than being in the presence of God? We really need to think about our attitude toward being in the presence of God, and make plans to make this year a year of sincere worship to Jehovah our God.
In the Old Testament, the Sabbath was meant to be a day of rest and celebration for a nation that was brought out of Egyptian slavery (Deut. 5:15). Many years later, the Sabbath had become a day of rules and drudgery for the Israelites. Their attitude toward God had changed. In Mal. 1:3, the people are complaining "Oh, what a weariness," or we might say, "how tiresome this is." "Let's only offer to the Lord what we don't want. We don't want to bring our good livestock, only our sick and lame." God is hurt by this lack of gratitude. In Mal. 1:10, He tells them to just shut the doors of the temple. This is not worship, it is a vain attempt to satisfy God without having to put in too much effort.
Let's bring it closer to home. How do you feel as a parent when your child does not want to see you? He might want you to support him and buy him things, but he doesn't want to spend any time with you. That is what these people in Malachi were doing. They wanted God's help, but they didn't want to spend their time with Him, and they did not want to show their appreciation to Him. Worship was a necessary drudgery, not a day to spend with someone they loved. We must be careful not to let our attitudes become like these ungrateful Israelites.
If we will think about the following two points, it will help us not to lose the meaning of our day of worship as the Israelites did:
When we worship God, it ought to be a celebration of the things that God has done for us. We can always be joyful to be in the presence of God if we will just think of all that He has done for us. It should be a joyful time, not a day of drudgery and of doing things we are just supposed to do. The attitude that we should have is expressed beautifully in Psalm 100: "Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations."
When we worship, we should remember the cross. The cross is the prime motivation for us to worship the Lord. There can be no greater motivation to worship, than the fact that God allowed His Son to be subjected to such horrible torture for our sake. Imagine for a moment that you were in danger of being run over by a car and just before you are run down, someone runs up and pushes you out of the way. In doing so, he himself was hit by the car and killed. He died saving your life. Don't you think you would owe him or his family something? Would you walk away saying, "I don't owe him anything, that was his choice to do that?" Certainly not. You might name your child after him. You might do something for his family. You would probably remember him on a regular basis. In the same way, the cross of Jesus gives us a powerful motivation and incentive to worship God.
If someone has to convince you that you must come to the worship services, then your heart is like the hearts of the people in Malachi. It is not full of gratefulness for the cross. It is not full of adoration and awe for all the Lord has done for you, from giving you life to sustaining you. To have a change of attitude, you need to realize that your very existence depends on the Lord. Apathy can change to adoration. Selfishness can change to thanksfulness.
Don't come to worship services for
the social aspect or to be entertained by an eloquent speaker. Come for the
purpose of showing the Lord how much you appreciate Him. Come to celebrate all
the gifts that He has given you, especially the gift of His life upon the cross.
Come before Him with awe and adoration in your heart.
By Danny Adams via The Jackson Drive News and Notes, No. 5, Jan. 30, 2005.
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