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Genesis 8:20-21 says: “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart, ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done.’”
Lately there has been a lot of talk about just what worship really is all about. Worship is a word that is used so much around the church that I’m afraid that we use the word without thinking. It’s like driving or riding a bike. For some people it just becomes something you have to do on Sunday morning. You go and “worship.” But why? And just exactly what should be going on when we worship the almighty God?
For me, I believe that worship is simply submitting ourselves to God. It is acknowledging to God that he is in control of our lives, that he is the only reason I am here, the reason I have my job, my family, my house, my toys, my abilities and on and on. We are nothing apart from God. Worshipping God is giving back to God, not trying to take more from him. Worshipping is saying, “thanks, God. Thanks for being all that you are, thanks for giving me all that I have, thanks for making me all that I am,” and even thanking God for the trial and tribulations we have faced and will probably face again.
A lot of us have a different view of worship, it’s a “What’s in it for me?” attitude. It’s a “feed me, fill me up, charge me up, make me feel good about myself today God” attitude. It’s a, “What can I get from God today” when I worship him type of attitude. In some churches it’s a “pump-me-up emotionally” attitude. They completely miss the “fill me up spiritually” part. Notice in the verse at the beginning, the order in which things took place. Noah has been on this, what I am sure is a not so pleasant ride on an ark for a little over a year. A year of up and down the waves, a year of tending to the thousands of animals, a year of really no fun. This ark was not a Carnival Cruise line folks; it was just a big floating barge, with no GPS system, no nightly entertainment and no midnight buffet. The ark held only the bare necessities of life. But, the first thing Noah does when he gets off the ark is build an altar and worship God.
Let’s be honest, how many of us would have done that? We might have gotten off the ark and said something like, “well God it’s about time you let the water down!” or “well, I got myself through that God.” But not Noah, he worships God, he recognizes God’s holiness and his control over everything.
Now, watch what God does in response. He makes a promise to Noah and all of us. Never again will he destroy the earth by a flood, and God places the rainbow in the sky as a reminder of his promise.
See the chain of events? Noah worships God, then God makes his promise, basically then God gives. We get it backwards a lot, don’t we? We say, “God do this, and I will worship you. God just let me have this or that and then God I will worship you better than I ever have.” It’s like saying, “hey God give me, give me, give me, then I will give back to you.” But it is also saying, “God I can’t trust you.” To me that is about the same as worrying all the time.
Noah did not get off the ark and say, “Well God this is a fine mess you got me into,” or “gee thanks God, now what am I supposed to do up on this mountain with my family and all these animals.”
Noah didn’t worry. He worshipped. He trusted God to guide and direct his life. Noah did not build an altar to take something from God; he built it to give back to God. To give a pleasing sacrifice and to give thanks for all that God had done for him.
How about you? Are you worshipping or worrying?
Brother Keith Miller is senior minister at English Christian Church, Carrollton, Ky.