strengthened affection

by MISTI PRESLEY

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:1–5 (ESV)

Love Expressed

Have you ever found yourself in a place where you just didn’t feel like worshipping? Maybe you were in the midst of some storms in your life. Maybe you were just feeling a little tired or apathetic. For whatever reason, you were saying the words of worship with your lips, but you couldn’t bring yourself to really mean them with all your heart. In Matthew 15:8 (NIV), Jesus said: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” The fact that Jesus addressed this topic in Scripture lets us know we’re not alone in this challenge. John Telman writes, “It’s not the beauty and greatness of God that is at fault. The problem lies in our weakened sense of affection toward God.” So how do we go from “not feeling like it” to “worshipping God in spirit and in truth”?

Recently, as I was serving with Gateway’s worship team, I looked out at the people worshipping and realized I was beholding the glory of God! As we sang out: “Redeemer, my Healer, Lord Almighty, Defender, my Savior, You are my King,” hands were raised throughout the sanctuary. I had the incredible privilege of witnessing how the Lord had moved and was moving so beautifully and intimately in the lives of His children. I marveled in wonder and thought: Lord, look at what You have done!

At another recent worship service, we spent the evening focused on being grateful. Everyone in the congregation wrote down testimonies of what the Lord had done in their lives and brought them to the altar. People came down in droves and decorated the altar with their gratefulness. The altar was covered in His glory. Once again, I thought: Lord, look at what You have done!

Together, we declare His goodness, His faithfulness, His love, His compassion and His grace. We unite as children grateful to a faithful Father who provides for us during a job loss; a healing Father who cures our sickness; a compassionate Father who sets us free from addiction; a redemptive Father who restores our marriages and a loving Father who gives us salvation, grace, forgiveness and purpose. The stories of each individual are as unique as each of our fingerprints. Our individual worship rising up as a burnt offering to the Lord is flavored by our individual experiences, our hurts, our joys, our memories, our losses, our God-given DNA, our thankfulness … our testimonies.

Because we’re each so unique, when we join together in worship, we transform into a beautiful symphony serenading our Healer, our Redeemer and our Savior. Just as an instrument that isn’t being played in an orchestra can affect the sound, so can our unwillingness to worship affect the fullness of this symphony. Each one of us is an instrument He created and designed; we are “fearfully and wonderfully” made. God is the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9–14), so He already knows the origin of our worship. God is well aware I’m not bringing what I alone have to bring when I’m simply going through the motions of worship or trying to worship like someone other than who He created me to be.

Psalm 148 draws a beautiful picture of creation praising God. The heavens, stars, sun, moon, earth, animals and people—all being called to praise. But out of those created things, we alone have free will. The sun and moon can’t help but shine and praise God in doing what they were created to do, but we get a choice. We alone can sing the song of the redeemed. So when we withhold that praise, we become a missing piece of the symphony of creation. The thought of all of creation honoring the Lord in their unique worship is overwhelming to me. And doesn’t He solely deserve all of it?

I am a sinner who God saved by grace while I was in the midst of my sin. God looked past every reason I gave Him to not love me, and He loved me anyway. So how do I worship when I don’t feel like it? I remember the love He showed me, the love He continues to show me, and I remember the pit He rescued me from. I look at who I am versus who I was, and I can’t help but take my unique place in creation—with my unique song of redemption—and join in the symphony of praise to my God who is worthy!

This is the song that plays forever … Praise of the high God who has been attached to your insides since the thought of life found its way into your bones. Turn it up and sing loud. Sing from inside where you believe. Sing the favorite song of creation, the song that will never loose its hold. And lean in close to those around you … let them hear what plays ceaselessly inside you—the praise of our Maker.

DAVID CROWDER

Prayer

Lord, You are a beautiful and wonderful Father. Forgive me for withholding my worship from You. Your goodness, faithfulness and worthiness do not depend on my feelings or circumstances. Lord, help me to remember all You’ve done for me. Help me not to get complacent in my relationship with You. Help me to continually seek after You like the treasure You are. You helped me and saved me because of Your unfailing love. Now may the world see Your hand at work in my life (Psalm 109:26–27). Lord, look at what You have done. We are bearers of Your glory! Receive all the honor and glory that is due to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Activation

  • Take some time to remember where the Lord found you, all He’s done for you and who He is.
  • Make it a priority to soak in His Word.
  • Ask the Lord if there’s anything in your life causing some distance between you and Him.

For Further Study

  • Psalm 148
  • Job 38
  • 39
  • Psalm 103
Psalm 148Job 3839Psalm 103
MISTI PRESLEY
Psalm 103:1–5 (ESV)