Let’s start with the question, “What is worship?” I like the definition John Piper gives: “True worship is a valuing or a treasuring of God above all things.” Deuteronomy 6:5 states “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Think about some ways we let others know we love them:
We get to know them.
We tell them we love them.
We honor them by living as they live.
We tell others about them.
We speak well of them.
We praise them for who they are and what they have done.
We are obedient to them.
In that same Deuteronomy 6 passage, verse 6 states “And these words that I command you today shall be on your HEART.” Why is it important that God points out the heart here? It is because He knows that what we value, what we deem as important, is what is in our heart. No greater value can be found than God himself. His desire is for us to treasure Him above all else. Verses 7 thru 9 then give parents a very clear outline of how to teach their children what God desires of their heart.
Here is a story of how God helped Dana and I share what was of true value and treasure with our children.
It was the week before Christmas in 2004 when Dana and I sat in the gastroenterologist’s office waiting for the outcome of a biopsy I had done a few days earlier. As the door opened and the doctor entered the room, his first words to us were, “You need to get your finances and legal matters in order.”
The diagnosis was Stage 3 esophageal cancer! The doctor said that if I was a 74-year-old man they would do all they could to keep me comfortable. He then explained that because I was “young and healthy” the oncologist wanted to try chemotherapy, radiation, and possibly surgery.
Dana and I were stunned. Our oldest son, Chad, was a freshman in college, our middle son, Corey, was a sophomore in high school, and our daughter, Chelsea, was in the 8th grade. We were now faced with how to carefully tell them that I had cancer and that the doctors were not very hopeful.
How do we worship and glorify God in the midst of this kind of news?
That evening, we gathered in our home with Dana’s dad and mom, and our three children to share what the doctors found and to pray. I did not pull any punches! I spoke to them plainly about the diagnosis. I didn’t try to gloss it over and make it sound better than it was. The diagnosis was dire and Dana and I wanted them to know the truth.
The tears were plentiful. But as I battled my emotions at that moment, I realized I was not afraid to die. I knew beyond any doubt that Jesus had saved me and death was not the end.
I began to share that one of my favorite passages of Scripture is in Daniel where the three young men of God were faced with certain death in the furnace of Nebuchadnezzar. Their faith was strong in the One, True, Living, God! They said to Nebuchadnezzar, “…our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. BUT IF NOT, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18, ESV) I told my family that this was how we were going to face this diagnosis; God is able to deliver me, and I believe He will, BUT EVEN IF HE DOESN’T, we are not going to bow.
I told my family that this was how we were going to face this diagnosis; God is able to deliver me, and I believe He will, BUT EVEN IF HE DOESN’T, we are not going to bow.
We had one of the most powerful times of prayer I can ever remember that evening. My children laid hands on me and bombarded the throne of heaven with the desire of their hearts to see God heal me. We talked about who God is, His character, and laid bare our pain, our lack of understanding, and our desire to walk in faith, no matter what the circumstances.
There is much, much more to the story. Ask me about it. I would love to share it with you.
But for now, I pray that you will take every opportunity God gives you to worship Emmanuel, God with Us, as a family. Talk about who He is, what He’s done, and what He’s doing in your everyday lives. Sing songs of exultation and read the story of Jesus’ birth. Glorify God with your lives as you lay them before Him in obedience and thankfulness for His mercy and saving grace.
As we come to this season of Advent, let us ask God to search us and know our hearts, to try us and know our thoughts, to see if there is any sin in our lives that needs eradication, and to lead us in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)
May His peace be yours!
Mars Hill Church