Making Time for God

Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. - The shorter Westminster catechism[1]

But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.  God is spirit, and those who worship[2] Him must worship in spirit and truth. - John 4:23-24

Making time for God means many things but it also includes worshipping God.  Worship of God is what people do when they agree that they are fallen and God is…well, GOD!  Consider this short definition: “Worship is the response of humble people to God where submission, service, praise, confession, profession, gratitude are freely expressed in many ways.”[3]

The passages[4] I reviewed dealing directly with worship describe every imaginable approach: planned, spontaneous, public, private, simple, complex, involving spoken words, songs, music, dances and service. Yet there is nothing telling us which one God likes best.  Instead, it is the spiritual attitude of the worshiper that matters to God.  Christ explains to the Samaritan woman that true worship means to bow down in spirit and truth.  This suggests an internal submission to God and to His revelation.  Do you recognize who he is and his worthiness to receive submission, praise, thanksgiving & loyalty?

As I think through these features of worship I find myself turning again and again to the issues of praising and thanking God as that part of worship that I see less and less in my life and the life of those around me.

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise[5] to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks[6] to His name.  And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices[7] God is pleased. - Hebrews 13:15-16

The author of Hebrews indicates that this lifestyle of praising God is the expected fruit of our conversion. Are you continually offering up praise to God?

WHY WE OUGHT TO PRAISE AND THANK GOD

God focused praise and thanksgiving are related, the former extolling God’s character and the latter expressing gratitude for his actions.[8]

  • It’s commanded (Ps. 47:7; 69:34; 96:2; Heb.13:15; Ja.5:13) & (Ps.95:2; 107:1; 1Chron.16:8; 1Thes.5:18; Col.3:15-16; Heb.12:28)
  • It’s reasonable – 2Sam.22:4; 1Chron.16:25; Psalm 92:1-6
    • Because we’ve received an unshakable kingdom
      Therefore, since we receive a kingdom, which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service[9] with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. - Hebrews 12:28-29
    • Because of God’s love and loyalty (Ps.92:2)
    • Because of God’s beauty (Ps.27:4 also ‘beauty’ is an alternate rendering of Exodus 33:19 ‘goodness’)
    • Because God is righteous, just, loving, the creator, ruler & attentive to us (Ps.33:4-12)
      If awesome and beautiful things ought to be praised, how much more should the creator of those things be praised.  What would you call someone incapable of responding appropriately to beauty and majesty?   Autistic?  Senseless?  Stupid?

Even if it is commanded and reasonable, why would a self-contained being call on us to deliver praise and thanksgiving?  If he needs nothing why insist on this?

  • It changes our perspective  Ps.19; 33:16-22; 92; 139; 146; 147
    • Grateful people become receptive to God’s provision (Ps.50:23 NIV)
      Notice how Psalm 77 correlates remembering God with pulling out of fear, anxiety & depression.  See also how Phil.4:4-7 correlates grateful submission to God with a loss of anxiety and that resulting peace serves to guard our hearts and minds.
      Notice how meditation upon God’s beauty is sandwiched between trials in Ps.27
    • Grateful people become passionate about God’s passions (Ps.139:19-22).
    • Grateful people are alert us to God’s immanence (Ps.75:1)
  • It’s pleasant  2Sam.6:12-22; Ps.135:3; 147:1; 148; 149, 150

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation...the delight is incomplete till it is expressed...the worthier the object the more intense this delight would be. - C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, p.95-96

To fully enjoy is to glorify.  In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him. - C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, p.97

The Lord Jesus loves us with all His heart. He desires that we love Him with all our heart; and until we do, we will never know the sweetness of His love for us…There must be response of love to love. - Joseph S. Carroll, in HOW TO WORSHIP JESUS CHRIST, Moody Press, 1984, p.30.

HOW WE CULTIVATE GRATITUDE & PRAISE

There are many things to say about this topic but I could summarize it by saying that you need to meditate on and respond with gratitude & praise to God’s word and his works.

  • This means that some time in prayer is spent praising and thanking God;
  • That you praise and thank God for the people he’s put in your life to serve and the many ways he helps you serve them;
  • That you express confidence and gratitude for Him when you are experiencing pressures and trials;
  • That you are publicly praising & thanking God during your fellowship with other believers and
  • That you are expressing gratitude and praise as a result of your time in the Word.

Notice a pattern here?  The MOG are areas that stimulate us to reverence God and when we’re engaged in the MOG, that’s a great opportunity to make sure we express it.

Since we are today focused on the topic of learning to think God’s thoughts through regular time in the Word, let me just suggest a couple of things:

  • Praise God for what you learn about His character
    Ps.119:164, 171
  • Thank God for providing you with the mind of Christ
  • As you meditate on what you learned thank God for every opportunity he gives you to apply it.

ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO PRAISE AND THANK GOD

Truthfully, once we agree that we need to be grateful & thankful the question of how to go about it is really not that complicated.  There is, however, a point that could be easily missed in all this…grateful, thankful people need to express it publicly as well as privately.  In fact, to put a point on it, as opinion leaders in Xenos you need to create amongst your friends an ethos where praising and thanking God is normative.

Let me make a couple of suggestions about this:

  • Do not despise those who do praise God – 2 Sam.6:12-22
  • Praise God publicly
    I will tell of Your name to my brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. - Psa 22:22
    And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear, And will trust in the LORD. - Psa 40:3
  • Interpret the life of your friend through the eyes of God and then call on them to praise and thank God
  • Praise God to your children

Ps.145:4  Praise your works to another generation (see the whole psalm)

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.  I think we are most satisfied in Him when we recognize what is true of Him and His work in our life. - John Piper

Footnotes

  1. Published AD 1777
  2. proskunountas – to bow down
  3. Our English word, ‘worship’ is related to the idea of worthiness (i.e. God is worth honoring) but this word differs somewhat from the Hebrew & Greek words it is used for in translation (i.e. service and obesience).  See the paper worship.doc for a longer explanation.
  4. over 100
  5. thusian aineseos – sacrifice of praise
  6. omologounton – confessing his name
  7. thusiais - sacrifices
  8. Praise is related to thanksgiving but is not exactly the same thing.   yadah – the Hebrew verb meaning, ‘to praise’ is generally focused on who God is – his character;  todah – the Hebrew verb meaning, “to thank” is generally focused on what God has done – his actions.
  9. latreuomen – through gratitude expressed with reverence & awe we are worshipping God