August 7

Today's Bible Reading
            Judges 21
            Acts 25
            Jeremiah 35
            Psalms 7-8
''I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.'' (Psalms 7:17)
            We see it almost everywhere - the signs that say, ''Worship at the church of your choice." It has become a common saying in North America, that believers and unbelievers alike are urged to join in a public service, in an especially designed building called a church or synagogue.  I would suggest that you worship in the church of God's choice for you. The truth is, however, that regardless of which church you attend, most of what we call worship today is still a great distance from true worship. Can a person who does not believe in Christ join in?  No! If we go to the average church, including the average Bible-believing church, we will see a sign:  Worship - 11:00 a.m., or perhaps they will use some other time of day.  We will find that the main part of the service is a sermon. But is a sermon worship? No. Listening to a sermon, or even preaching one, is not worship. It can, and often does, draw forth worship, but a sermon is not worship.
            What about our prayers? Are they not worship? No. Most prayers are petitions and are meant to be that. Some prayers are filled with worship, and most good prayers certainly include worship, but the prayer itself is not necessarily worship. Surely the church music is worship - the anthems, the choir, solos, as well as the enthusiastic and hearty congregational singing must be worship. Now we are getting closer to worship, especially when the music is addressed to God in adoration, but music itself is not worship.
            Would it surprise you to discover that one of the best examples of worship was expressed by a pagan Gentile?  Well, this is true.  It is recorded in the Book of Daniel.  Consider the words of Nebuchadnezzar as he worshipped the most high God after he came to know Him as his Savior.  ''I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to Heaven and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored Him who lives forever. For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His Kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing (compared to His greatness); He does according to His will in the army of Heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth." No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ''what have you done?...''  ''Now, I Nebuchadnezzar praise, and extol, and honor the King of Heaven, all of His works are truth and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down." (Daniel 4:34-37)
            This is true worship. He certainly was not preaching, he was not even praying, - but he was praising the Most High God in worship.  His heart was overflowing, bubbling over with a consciousness of greatness, love, and goodness of the sovereign God. We also are told to ''Exalt the Lord our God and worship at His footstool - for He is holy." (Psalms 99:5) Worship exalts God and humbles man. There is no room for pride, arrogance, or hypocrisy in worship.  God is truth, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
            You will also notice that central to the worship of Nebuchadnezzar was his praise of God. There cannot be any true worship without sincere and meaningful praise. This is why if you are not praising Him before you enter into corporate worship, it is doubtful you will have true praise for Him when you come to corporate worship. It is possible that the church is waking up to the blessings and benefits of praise and worship. It is never a denominational thing, but it is always a personal matter. Are you praising Him today? Are you willing to make the sacrifice of praise, even when you do not feel like praising Him? Is praise an expression of your worship? Have you examined the Scripture and discovered that there is never a place for praise unless it is verballyand physicallyexpressed?  Are you willing to shout unto the Lord with the voice of triumph? Do you join in, in obedience to the command to ''clap your hands, oh, ye people?'' Are you open enough to God to lift holy hands to Him?
            The island of Tuvalu in the Pacific only has about 14,000 people. Some scientists tell us that Tuvalu may be the first nation to disappear as a result of global warming and the rise in ocean levels. Pray that the uncertainty of the future may bring renewed commitment spiritually in the lives of the people.