The Ability to Recognize God
The ability to recognize God and to be open to the surprise of his voice comes when we are active worshippers. As we learn to know God, understand his ways and learn to quiet our own voice and the noise in our life – we can then start to hear God.
It’s easy to fake ‘hearing’ God, especially in the climate of expressive worship. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that God speaks in only one way and we wrongly assume that those who ‘look’ the part of a worshipper, are actually worshipping in response to the prompting of God.
I have a friend who is a well-known worship leader. A number of years ago he expressed his frustration at some people who come to worship services and seemingly give their all in a musical expression of worship of Jesus. Everything he observed from the front indicated that these people were enraptured with their Lord and Saviour. Their body language and tears gave evidence to all who observed them that they were in that special, intimate place with the Creator of the Universe. And many envied them for it.
And yet, what frustrated my friend was knowing that even though their Sunday morning worship was elegant and extravagant, their weekday worship was non-existent. One of the people was openly involved in sexual promiscuity. She had been approached by friends and pastoral staff, confronting her with her sin, but she remained belligerently unrepentant.
And so this worship leader looked upon their outward offerings of worship to God in much the same way as God did the people of Israel in Amos’ day when he said to the people of Israel:
I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your hymns of praise! They are only noise to my ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, a river of righteous living that will never run dry. (Amos 5:22-24 – NLT)
Our public worship means nothing if our private lives are out of sync with his desire for holiness and purity. Not that we have to be perfect in order to have our worship accepted. God accepts our imperfection because he covered it and continues to cover it with the blood of Jesus. But we need to know and obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit as he brings things up in and about our lives that need to be addressed, that need to be changed.
The process of worship is simple: us to him, him to us, us to others. We give to God. He speaks to us – affirms us, corrects us, guides us, comforts us. As we give our worship to him he will begin to mould and shape us into his image. And from the overflow of our obedience in obeying his prompting, we spread the fragrance of his presence to others.
Listening to and obeying the Spirit saves our worship from being so personal that it never goes beyond me. While knowing and obeying his prompting often begins with me it also invites me to interact with others. Not only does our worship change us, it begins to impact others.
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