AMOS 5:21-24: “I hate all your show and pretense— the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Is my worship pleasing to the Lord? Is the worship of my church pleasing to the Lord? Have I focused more on the style and presentation of worship than the heart of worship? Is it possible to exchange the presence of God for the emotions of activity?
We need to rediscover the message of the Old Testament prophets today. There is a danger of repeating the past if we don’t understand it. We can become so focused on the love and mercy of God that we never consider His holiness and justice. Like Israel, we can find ourselves taking comfort in our acts of worship and completely miss the heart of God.
When did worship become identified with our activity more than with our hearts? When did we begin to need special lighting, dramatic multi-media, and smoke machines to create an atmosphere of worship. Have we exchanged the Shekinah glory of the Lord for manufactured smoke? The nation of Israel did exactly that. They continued to take comfort in their outward expression of worship as their hearts drifted further and further away from the Lord.
We need to rediscover God’s heart today. We need to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. We need a reformation of both our hearts and our worship. The words below can be as true of our worship today as they were of Israel’s worship when Amos spoke this word from the Lord.
- “I hate all your show and pretense— the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps.”
In the very next chapter, we also read these words.
- “You sing trivial songs to the sound of the harp and fancy yourselves to be great musicians like David.” Amos 6:5 NLT
David was known as a man after God’s own heart. He was not a perfect man but he was an honest man. When he fell into sin, David did not hide behind his harp. He repented and cried out to God. David realized that the very presence of God was at stake.
- “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” Psalms 51:10-12 NLT
David’s concern was losing the presence of God. He cried out for forgiveness and pleaded – “…and don’t take Your Holy Spirit from me.” David knew that his worship was unacceptable if his heart was not right before God. The call to repentance is the same today as it was in David’s and Amos’ day. Without repentance, there can be no worship!
The Lord speaks through Amos to us today.
- “Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.”
Instead of what? Instead of our polished worship services. Instead of our false security in going through the motions of worship. Instead of clinging to our convenient truth more than surrendering to His eternal truth. Our worship is not acceptable if our hearts are not right before God. A heart that is saved by grace through faith will manifest itself in a mighty flood of justice and righteous living.
- “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT
Worship brings us to the throne of God, through the blood of Christ, to find grace and mercy in our time of need. Grace and mercy never leave us in the same condition. They cleanse and empower us to live for Christ. They are not an excuse to continue in our brokenness. Grace and Mercy are the empowerment from the Lord to walk into our healing and to fulfill His will in our lives.
True worship, the worship God desires, has nothing to do with what we do. It has everything to do with who we are!
Lord, create in me a clean heart this morning. May I rend my heart and not my garments. May I allow you to plow up the fallow ground of my heart and plant Your seeds of righteousness. Grant me the grace and mercy to live in the fulness of Christ in me, the hope of glory! Let me worship You today in spirit, truth, and in my actions!
In Jesus Name!