Thursday, May 17, 2012

Worship Smells So Sweet


Worship is the act of responding to God's love with love by offering one's very life as a living and breathing sacrifice.Worship humbles our flesh to honor God in spirit and in truth. What we want, need, or yearn for decreases, while what God wants and desires for us increases. As we pick flowers in the garden we tend to pick the most beautiful to the eye, the most fragrant, or the most vibrant. The beauty in worship is that the Lord takes the ugly, the stinky, and the dullest offering to our naked eye, if it is all we have within us to give, and turns it into the most fragrant pleasing sacrifice. (Psalm 51:16-17) "You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God." In ancient times the Lord received animal organs, oil, grain, and so on, and once it was placed in the fire this sacrifice produced a sweet smell.  The reason why all of these things formed an enticing fragrance was because those who gave it, offered it as a form of surrender. Whether they had done something bad or whether they were just doing as God had told them, the Lord loved the smell of what they brought because it was the best of them. It was all they had. If all they had was one calf and they gave it then to God that counted more than giving 5,000 out of 5,001. The world's perception of the worst in us is differently perceived by God because His love covers over a multitude of sins and His redeeming power takes "the worst" and transforms it for His glory. In a garden, we will honestly pick the most beautiful and sweet-smelling flowers because it is in our nature to want the best. God wants "the best". And God's best is not defined like our definition of best. He wants the best in our hearts. He wants all of us. That to Him is the best because it is all. While we might pick a rose or a daisy, God picks Myrrh. This plant is a "shrubby desert tree" whose name in Arabic means "bitter." The myrrh resin has a "bitter, pungent taste and a sweet, pleasing aroma." Why would this plant be so sought after in the bible and why did God love it so much? Because God does not see things the way we do: we see what is in the moment but God sees ahead. Before the tasting comes the smell and before smell comes sight. If it smells good then it most likely tastes good. If we were to have Myrrh and roses growing in our gardens, but we didn't know either plant, I have a feeling that we'd pick the roses. Just looking at the color would win us over. God isn't like that. He sees our hearts not the skin we choose to wear on the outside. When we worship God we've got to give Him all we are because He does not see what we see. He takes a dry bush and turns it into a fragrant perfume. He takes our insecurities and turns them into confidence, our sadness to joy, and our stress into relief. (Psalm 16:11) "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."

There are many ways to express our worship toward God, but in my case I take my offering to Him through song. I come before Him as I am, surrendered, knowing that I am about to experience His holy purificating fire. Like the song goes, "You provide the fire, I provide the sacrifice, You provide the spirit, and I will open up inside...Fill me up God, fill me up God, fill me up." What I mean by all of these little snippets of information is that the beauty of worship is not in how intense the song is or how on cue the guitar is but in the brokenness of our souls willing to come before the Lord. Before we can focus on perfecting the way we introduce and express our worship, first we must focus on how our lives serve and reflect God. God cares way more about if we come to praise Him with joy verses coming and thinking about the broken string and the soft piano. It's about giving Him the best that we have right now at the moment, every moment. David himself said: (Psalm 103: 1) "Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name." All that we are and all that we have is His. That's at least one reason to worship Him, isn't it? There are so many more reasons. Too many to count.

The fact that we are eager to please Him and bring Him what he asks of us makes it a pleasing sacrifice. If he says rearrange the song list, burst into a new song, or walk through the isles of the congregation declaring my promises then we will worship Him in spirit and in truth by obeying and being willing to let God take control of our every move. Let us pick not only the most beautiful flowers nor the simplest in our heart's garden...let us pick the ones that He most desires, all of them if we must. Give your all back to The Lord in the same way that He gives His all to you. If He asks for sacrifice then sacrifice it is. If he asks for sadness to turn into joy then let it be so. Whatever it may be, let us bring it before Him and worship wholeheartedly, with the knowledge that His all consuming fire will come down and take up what we have offered Him. (2 Corinthians 3:18) "So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image." The next time you worship the Lord think about what he's done for you...what he's doing for you...the things in your life that need to change, and then...hand them over to the Lord. It might not smell very nice at first but Worship transforms the driest things into the most lively, sweet-smelling. 

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