Photo Credit: Knowing-Jesus
Worship. Such a tension to keep the focus on the Lord and not on our own preferences, our own pleasures.
King David had his own slippery slopes through life, but worship that pleases the Lord was clearly something he understood. Psalm 15 came up in my regular Bible reading this week and is still working its work on my heart.
Lord, who can dwell in your tent?
Who can live on your holy mountain?
The one who lives blamelessly, practices righteousness,
and acknowledges the truth in his heart—
who does not slander with his tongue,
who does not harm his friend
or discredit his neighbor,
who despises the one rejected by the Lord
but honors those who fear the Lord,
who keeps his word whatever the cost,
who does not lend his silver at interest
or take a bribe against the innocent—
the one who does these things will never be shaken. – Psalm 15
Photo Credit: Daily Verses
Who is that person?! That person who lives a life of worship as if he enters the “holy of holies” as he would enter his house or his workplace or his church.
What we do briefly on a Sunday morning matters to God, for sure. What we are about through the week (including Sunday morning) is the substance of the life of a worshipper. There is no separation of sacred from secular. Of daily or divine. We all know this in our hearts.
Psalm 15 puts me on my knees. Let’s break it down. How does the psalmist describe one who essentially lives in the presence of the Lord?
10 rules are laid out in Psalm 15. The first three are in verse 2. These only God can see whether we live by them or not. Now others may see our actions but these verses pertain more to the content or motivation of our hearts. The other seven are listed in verses 3-5. These are straight-up actions toward those we encounter each day.
Here they are in Easy English*, these rules or habits that mark a true worshipper:
1) She “makes no mistakes”; lives a life of integrity and uprightness. Consistent. Honest. What you see is what you get.
2) She does what is right and fair. Practices righteousness. In fact, he works righteousness into every situation, as one would knead bread.
3) He speaks out loud what he knows to be true in his heart. She does not withhold the truth in timidity, but acknowledges the truth with courage.
4) She tells no lies about another. In fact, even if something seems true, she reminds herself that telling it won’t help the person or the situation. He refuses to speak ill of others. No slander. No back-biting.
5) He does nothing harmful to his neighbors. No mean intentionality. Nor cruel or indifferent neglect.
6) She does not harm others with words. She makes no slurs nor discredits them. He does not make slurs or gossip about others. [Similar to #4; the repetition shouldn’t be lost on us. Our mouths can betray what’s in our hearts which can disqualify us for true worship.]
[Sidebar: If we can determine to speak truth in love, the temptation to talk about others INSTEAD of to them would be less a problem. What do you think?]
7) He does not keep company with bad people. He despises those who show themselves despicable. She does not seek the favor of those who reject God.
8) He gives honor to those who fear God. She serves those who serve God.
9) She keeps her word no matter what it might cost her. He is dependable and trustworthy.
10) He uses money to bless not to profit. She is generous. He remembers the poor.
We look at these rules and spiritual habits and wonder how we can offer pleasing worship to the Lord…ever. We are imperfect and follow Him imperfectly. The key is the aim of our hearts. If we tune our hearts toward God as a matter of life, we set our aim on Him. In such a way, that the arrow of our lives hits the center of the target of these habits…these disciplines…these practices.
I always loved Brother Lawrence’s Practicing the Presence of God. He was a monk who struggled against the mundane of serving God and the brothers in his monastery. Then he caught onto the idea that God was in the mundane…as in any of the holy sacraments.
Writer and farm wife/mother Ann Voskamp wrote about this in her blog How to Practice the Presence of God. In her critique, she posed the question of how can you practice His presence. “God’s presence needs no practicing because God’s presence has no end. God presence needs no practicing because it’s perfect and it’s present everywhere.”
What she says is true, but we are frail in our faith and too often distracted by the many tantalizing imperfections of life. We miss God if we don’t make seeing Him a practice. It’s less like practicing the piano and more like practicing medicine. Less works. More faith. Faith in a sure truth and great God. Worthy of worship in every aspect of our lives.
We know Him and we live in ways that reflect knowing Him.
I do love how the psalm ends.
“The one who does these things will never be shaken.” Hallelujah!