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Stale Worship

19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. --Matthew 6:19-21, NASB95

The essence of worship is an unrestrained giving of yourself to your heart’s greatest treasure. One thing, above all others, will lay hold of your deepest affection and truest allegiance. As a Christ-follower, your passion for Him will find genuine pleasure in giving -- giving adoration, giving thanks, giving time and service, and giving attention throughout each day of your life. This is the beginning of worship. --The New Rebellion Handbook, p. 13.

Jesus had it right. Your heart will be wherever your treasure is. A treasure is something we value, something we think important. Often, it is something we can’t do without. The truth is that we are emotionally tied to our treasures. A person can not easily abandon their treasures. They may be forced by circumstance or peril to give up something they treasure, but though they may not ever hold it in their hands again, they will hold it in their heart.

This applies to our worship of God. In fact, it may be that the single greatest problem with modern worship is that so little of it requires that we treasure God. Too much of what passes for worship is laid out for us, programmed, ritualized, formatted, performed. Nobody has to think or feel anything, just follow the script. Of course a laid-out worship on Sundays makes for an orderly hour so we can get our spiritual ticket punched, but it doesn’t necessarily do much to draw us close, move us deeper, or touch our soul.

Real worship doesn’t begin a moment after announcements are made, or with the first note of a song. It doesn’t begin with the first word of the Sunday morning prayer or with the preacher’s sermon. Real worship begins in the hearts of individuals, each of whom treasures God. Worship begins with the first breath of the dawn, the first glimmer of light waking sleepy eyes, and the first thought firing synapses in one’s brain. Worship begins inside. It cannot be forced upon a person, for if that person does not really treasure God, no amount of singing, praying or preaching will cause that person to worship. Worship, even corporate worship, is intensely personal. The worship of a whole congregation of people is the joint effort of the individual members treasuring God.

The question for us is something like this: “What do you treasure?” The answer to that question may surprise you. It’s not that we can only treasure God. There are a lot of other things that you might choose to value highly. But, if you’re going to worship God, you must value Him more than anything else. Anything! That’s what Jesus had in mind when he gave us the contrast of treasuring things on earth or treasuring things in heaven. Many things in this life may be valued, but not like that eternal treasure you lay up in heaven. That treasure is the one thing that must capture your heart like nothing else.

Sadly, many people who think of themselves as Christians, treasure a lot of things more highly than they treasure God. Watch the things that consume your time and your money. Those two measures are powerful ways to identify what you treasure in this life. Be aware of how powerful those things are that consume your time and money for they are the things that will rival God. If you consistently set God aside for whatever consumes your time and money, you might want to pay attention. Your worship might be stale.

—Bill Denton

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