Self-Focused Worship

Cathy Hurtado 

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 58:13-14

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in the backyard spending time with God. I was thinking about passages where God declares, “I am God and there is no other.” Isaiah 58 popped into my head. It was not the verse I was thinking about, but definitely the passage that God had for me that day. In this passage, God addresses his people on the topics of fasting and the Sabbath. What struck me as I read through the chapter was how we can be much like Israel. We can go through the actions, but miss the heart and purposes of God. We live for ourselves more than we live for God.

Space does not allow us to address the whole chapter, so let me focus on the Sabbath in verses 13-14. Obviously, we no longer practice the Sabbath as described in the Old Testament. Israel was to set aside one day each week to spend time with God, to reflect on Him and to rest from daily activity. In these two verses, God addresses Israel’s focus as they spend time with Him on the Sabbath. He challenged them about the focus of their hearts as they approached the Sabbath. Today, we gather for worship corporately and we seek to spend time with God individually. Here are some questions that I asked myself about my worship after reading this passage:

Is God’s day, or my time with God, about my pleasure or God’s pleasure?

Do I try to fit God into my schedule, or do I clear my schedule so I am available for God’s agenda?

Do I go about my ways on the Lord’s day, seeking my own pleasure and speaking idly, or do I honor the Lord’s Day as holy?

Do I look forward to coming to worship, calling it a delight?

Verse 14 states that the result of changing our focus, as we approach God, will enable us to delight in the Lord. When our hearts our divided, so is our worship, individually and in the community. Focusing on our plans, our agenda, and what we want robs us of the joy and delight God has for us.

What do you need to do this week so your worship is not divided?


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