10 Say ye among the Gentiles, the Lord hath reigned. For he hath corrected the world, which shall not be moved: he will judge the people with justice.
11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, let the sea be moved, and the fulness thereof:
12 the fields and all things that are in them shall be joyful. Then shall all the trees of the woods rejoice
13 before the face of the Lord, because he cometh: because he cometh to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with justice, and the people with his truth.
An appropriate view of God is to recognize Him as Parent. Jesus is smart to introduce God, His Father as our Father when He prays, “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name.” David calls God “King” and “Judge.” And yes, God is our King and our Judge. But above these roles, He is our Parent. He corrects us like the perfect parent corrects – with justice and love.
And so, the heavens rejoice; and the earth is glad. Everything on the earth is joyful “because He comes; because He comes to judge the earth…with justice, and the people with HIS TRUTH.”
Paul calls us – that is, Christians – “rational creatures.” As rational creatures, we owe God our “bodies as a living sacrifice.” I like Paul’s use of the plural when he refers to the bodies of Christians and the singular when he refers to the living sacrifice. Paul often refers to Christians as members of the singular “body of Christ.” The whole body of Christ, i.e. the Church is the “living sacrifice” we owe to God. Together we must “offer up [our] bodies” that are “consecrated to God and worthy of His acceptance.” Worship is a mutual undertaking, i.e. worship is meant to occur among fellow Christians. As “rational creatures,” Paul expects us to understand these truths. He calls us to worship together as one; to offer our bodies together as one, united “living sacrifice.” We are the body of Christ, the Church of which He is the head.
“And now, brethren, I appeal to you by God’s mercies to offer up your bodies as a living sacrifice, consecrated to God and worthy of his acceptance; this is the worship due from you as rational creatures.”
For Adam and Eve, knowing God is easy in contrast to us, who must come to know God through a veil of shadow, sin, and death. Why do you think the veil between us and the holy of holies is ripped asunder when Jesus dies? The veil is torn in two to demonstrate we no longer need struggle; from now on we know God because He knows us. We love God because He first loves us.
“[I Am] a Spirit, and it behooveth them that worship [Me], to worship in spirit and truth.”
“For why My thoughts be not your thoughts, and My ways be not your ways, saith the Lord.”
Worship of God, who is Spirit, must proceed from our spirit. Our flesh is incapable of worshiping the Lord. Indeed, the Holy Spirit within us is the One who actually worships God in and through us. This is similar to allowing a current to carry you down a river; the more you struggle the more you disrupt the flow and the more likely you are to sink.
Leave the flesh worship behind. Worship God in spirit and in truth.
“1Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:”
We are to love the LORD our God with all our strength, with all our soul and with all our mind — with “all that is within.” The great commandment doesn’t emphasize outward cleanliness, just as Jesus tells us when He speaks of the cleanliness of the hands and the cup versus the filth of what’s inside the heart of the man.
Rather, the great commandment to love God emphasizes the inside state of the person — a state of blessing and remembering God, a state of gratitude toward God, for “His holy Name” and for “all His benefits.”
Look at what David does with his time — he praises God through song and poem. He possesses a heart of gratefulness to God. He sings:
“I praise You, O LORD, with all my heart; I tell of all Your wonders. I am glad and rejoice in You; I sing praise to Your Name, O Most High.” (Psalm 9:1-2, NIV)
“From the lips of children and infants You ordain praise.” (Psalm 8:2, NIV)
Jesus calls us to become little children. In the way of a child with her parents, we are to look to God with loving trust and with grateful hearts.
“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve.”
The well-known part of this statement of Joshua is “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Of course, that is well and good; but think about the first part of his statement. Joshua says to the people of Israel,
“Long ago your ancestors, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods.” (Joshua 24:2, HCSB)
Joshua reminds them that essentially the Lord chose them and brought the people out from the region beyond the Euphrates River when he took their father, Abraham. The Lord says,
“I gave you a land you did not labor for, and cities you did not build, though you live in them; you are eating from vineyards and olive groves you did not plant.” (Joshua 24:13, HCSB)
“Therefore (because of this truth), fear the Lord and worship Him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship Yahweh.” (Joshua 24:14)
Don’t only do what your mother and father do, worshiping a god — or the Lord GOD — who grand-dad and grand-ma worship. Don’t only do what everyone else is doing. Make a decision for yourself. Mom and Dad’s salvation is not yours.
If it seems evil in your own mind to worship the Lord God, then don’t. But if you decide this, then actively choose the god you are going to follow. Don’t stumble along in life; make a choice. Don’t just do what others have done before you, mindlessly going through the motions of worship. Whatever your decision, make it your own.
Then Joshua tells the people his own choice.
“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
In Lystra, Paul upon seeing the faith of a crippled man, tells him to stand up. The man is instantly healed. The surrounding crowd shouts, “The gods are come down to us in human form!” (Acts 14:11) Paul is called Hermes by them while Barnabas is Zeus — rather interesting name choices given that Hermes is the son of Zeus and a protector of travelers, thieves, and cowherds. Zeus, on the other hand, is the chieftain of the gods.
Turns out the priest from the temple of Zeus, located just outside the city, brings bulls and wreaths “to offer sacrifices” to Paul and Barnabas! Paul and Barnabas are mortified, tearing their clothes. They vehemently deny they are anything other than “men, human like you.” (Acts 14:15)
Hollywood stars and athletic heroes enjoy similar worship today. Unfortunately, some religious leaders do as well. Most of these individuals, I believe, would say the same as Paul and Barnabas. “Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you.” (Acts 14:15) Hollywood stars and athletic heroes may not bring the good news; however, religious leaders ought to. They ought to tell us to “turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.” (Acts 14:15)
Like Paul and Barnabas, sometimes it’s hard to “keep the crowd from sacrificing” to religious leaders, Hollywood stars, and athletic heroes. What an enormous waste, to sacrifice to men.
“God, who is like You? You cause me to experience many troubles and misfortunes, but You revive me again. You bring me up again, even from the depths of the earth. You increase my honor and comfort me once again.” (Psalm 71:19-21)
I “endure suffering as discipline. God is dealing with [me] as [a] son. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if [I am] without discipline — which all receive — then [I am} an illegitimate child and not a son.” (Hebrews 12:7-8)
But,”You redeem me.” (Psalm 71:23) Therefore, “my mouth tells about Your righteousness and Your salvation all day long, though I cannot sum them up. I come because of the mighty acts of the Lord God; I proclaim Your righteousness, Yours alone.” (Psalm 71:15-16)
I “strengthen [my] tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for [my] feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.” (Hebrews 12:12-13)
“My lips shout for joy when I sing praise to [God] because [He] redeems me.” (Psalm 71:23)