Worship Team Level Up
Level up: to advance or improve (oneself, someone else, or something) in or as if in a game.
Welcome to our HFCoG Worship Team Level Up page. Here I will be posting devotional-type material with the intent to help all of us on the team Level Up our understanding, effectiveness, and worship of God, Almighty.
Going through the motions - May 3, 2023
You're speaking my language
It’s said that there are five love languages. Five distinct ways that people feel and receive love from others, especially their significant other. One of these five is “gifts”. For this type of person, they feel and receive love when their loved one gives them thoughtful and meaningful gifts. Giving the gift when not prompted by a special occasion means a lot. Now, imagine this with me. A newly married husband knows his bride’s predominant love language is gifts. More specifically, he knows that she adores red roses. He knows when he gives her red roses that she is ecstatic and feels full of the love he has for her. She says to him, “Please, don’t ever stop giving me roses!”
Fast-forwarding 15 years, the husband once again gives the gift of a full bouquet of red roses, as he’s done countless times before. However, it’s not feelings of love that well up in the wife but those of anger, frustration, and betrayal. How could this act once so full of wonderful meaning have become such an empty gesture? He’s doing what she requested of him. But is he? You see, she knows that his devotion and affection for her had waned after the first few years. He has regularly been having extra-marital affairs in recent years. He’s performing what she said would communicate love, but the truer and deeper meaning isn’t in the act alone.
No, No, No...
Moving from the hypothetical to reality, let’s look at scripture. The book of Leviticus opens with detailed procedural instructions for various offerings and sacrifices. Leviticus 7:37-38 says, “This is the law for the burnt offering, the grain offering, the ordination offering, and the fellowship sacrifice, which the Lord commanded Moses on Mount Sinai on the day he commanded the Israelites to present their offerings to the Lord in the Wilderness of Sinai.” (CSB) In addition to offerings and sacrifices, the Lord prescribed feasts and celebrations to be observed. (Exodus 13:10; 23:14-17) What then, can be understood of Isaiah 1:11-14?
11 “What are all your sacrifices to me?” asks the Lord.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings and rams and the fat of well-fed cattle;
I have no desire for the blood of bulls, lambs, or male goats.
12 When you come to appear before me, who requires this from you—this trampling of my courts?
13 Stop bringing useless offerings. Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons and Sabbaths, and the calling of solemn assemblies—I cannot stand iniquity with a festival.
14 I hate your New Moons and prescribed festivals. They have become a burden to me; I am tired of putting up with them. 
Did the Lord change his mind? Why should he not be pleased with his people doing what he prescribed? Gestures and physical acts should be expressions of true, internal love, devotion, and adoration. Performing gestures and acts that are devoid of real worship is not pleasing, but offensive. As the Faithlife Study Bible states, “The prophets often criticized outward observance of rites and rituals when the people used it to mask inward rebellion, defiance, or disloyalty to Yahweh.”
First of all
Acceptable worship must be offered, first and foremost, through Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 10:8-10; 19-22) Second, our worship must be offered in the wholeness and completeness of ourselves. Jesus clearly said this, recorded in Mark 12:29-31, as he was quoting Old Testament scripture from Deuteronomy 6 when Moses delivered God’s commands to the newly freed people of Israel.
28 One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, “Which command is the most important of all?”
29 Jesus answered, “The most important is Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
Thoughtfulness and meaning take effort. Loving the Lord takes effort. We all need to guard against going through the motions. We use terms like normal and routine as ways to communicate that we are following some typical method of operation. However, as we’ve discussed in a recent Worship Matters session and as Bob Kauflin puts it, no Sunday is normal or routine. In that, normal or routine connote void of genuine, heartfelt meaning and emotions. Following merely prescribed, formal, rote worship will not be pleasing to the Lord our God.
Let’s be determined to not just go through the motions but be present, heart soul mind and strength, worshiping using God’s love language (so to speak) with sincerity and zeal.
 Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2020), Is 1:11–14.
 John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Is 1:11–14.
 Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2020), Mk 12:28–30.