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 (Manna 76: Commission)
Worship God According To His Will
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Adapted from a sermon by Brian Lim—Singapore

In the Old Testament, Solomon’s temple was at the center of the Israelite faith. It was where the presence of God, represented by the Ark of the Covenant, rested. The temple may have been built by Solomon, but its design was ordained by God. Through the revelation of the Spirit, David received detailed plans for the building of the temple, which he passed on to his son (1 Chr 28:18–19). Indeed, Solomon followed these plans to the letter, and when the building was completed, fire descended from heaven to consume the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple (2 Chr 7:1). This act of God showed His acceptance of the temple.

The Old Testament records several structures that were also constructed according to God’s design. One of these was Noah’s ark: because he carefully followed the dimensions given to him by God, the ark was able to withstand the flood (Gen 6:14–22). Later, Moses and the children of Israel were just as fastidious when building the tent of meeting and the Ark of the Covenant according to God’s pattern (Ex 25:9).

As children of God, it is important that we do all things according to His will. In fact, in God’s eyes, we are more than children. He calls us “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” (1 Pet 2:9a). Therefore, we have a special obligation to obey His commands.

At the dedication of the temple, Solomon offered a prayer for the people of Israel. Afterwards, God appeared to assure him that his prayer had been heard, and promised to walk with him if he continued to keep His statutes (1 Kgs 9:1–9; 2 Chr 7:12–22). God said:

[I]f My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. (2 Chr 7:14–15)

These words outline the attitude with which God’s people should seek Him: with humility, seeking His face through prayer, and turning away from wickedness. We will study verse 14 more closely to learn how to worship God according to His will.

My people who are called by My name

In the Old Testament, God chose the Israelites to bear His name. As part of this special relationship, they would know God and commune with Him through their worship.

For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples;  but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deut 7:6–8)

These verses express just how much God loved His people, and how precious they were to Him. As His “special treasure,” they were priceless.

However, He also knew their weaknesses. They were a small nation compared to others. But more significantly, they constantly murmured against Him, despised the prophets He sent to warn them, and turned away from Him to worship idols. They did not deserve His love. But God is a loving God who keeps His promises. Here, He reminded the Israelites that they experienced such grace because of His love and faithfulness.

Today, we also belong to God and are precious in His eyes. When we were baptized, we became spiritual Israelites, the seed of Abraham and heirs according to the promise, regardless of our ethnic or cultural background (Gal 3:26–29). Therefore, God sees us as a people above all others on the face of the earth. This does not mean we can be arrogant about our status as children of God; instead we should see it as a blessing that comes with the requirement to worship Him in truth and spirit. As true worshippers of God and recipients of His love, we must also extend our love to those in need. And we must keep ourselves undefiled and separate from the world in order to maintain our noble status (Jas 1:27).

As the people of God, let us realize our holy status and know that our Lord God is the only God whom we must serve. Let us not take our special relationship with Him for granted. Instead, let us respond with humility to our Lord.

My people will humble themselves

My people will humble themselvesTo worship God according to His word, we must be humble. Humility before God and man is a virtue that all children of God ought to have (Tit 3:2; 1 Pet 5:5). But where humility before man can be feigned, it is impossible to worship God with false humility, for He knows the intents of our hearts. Therefore, we must offer our Sovereign Lord the utmost honor and respect, for we are but dust before Him. Knowing our physical weaknesses, He has provided us with many instructions and warnings to prevent us from falling into the snare of the devil. Unfortunately, biblical history shows that the children of God were either too stubborn to realize the goodness of God, or refused to submit to His sovereignty.

What about us today? Jesus said:

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (Jn 5:24)

As children of God, we have received amazing grace, for it is by hearing and believing in His word that we can pass from death into life. But hearing and believing are not enough, we must also understand and apply His word to our lives. God’s word—the commandments, warnings and teachings in the Bible—is the living word, which lies dormant on the page, but comes alive through application.

God is the Author of all things and He is omnipotent and omniscient. On the other hand, as humans, we do not know what will happen to us in the next minute. For this reason, Peter writes: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Pet 5:6). Before making any decisions, we must pray for God’s guidance. And when we receive His guidance, we should humbly submit ourselves to His will, even though it may not be according to our liking. If we do so, He will exalt us in due time and bless us in whatever we do.

Every believer must have this same humility, or the whole church will face divisions and cracks will arise for the devil to take advantage of. If there are heresies or disagreements in the church, we should deal with them with love, as Paul said:

But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (2 Thess 3:13–15)

We may meet with objections and opposition when we try to be peacemakers, but we should “not grow weary in doing good.” The church of God is made up of human beings who are imperfect. Disputes may be difficult to settle, but the answer is for all parties to be guided by humility. If there is anyone who disobeys the word of God, we ought to gently admonish him with love, and he will be more likely to respond positively. And if we are on the other side of the equation, as the one who is corrected by a brother, then we should accept it with humility of mind to keep the bond of peace (Eph 4:3). If one refuses to be corrected after repeated admonishment, allowing divisions to persist, action must be taken to prevent more from being led astray. In fact, verse 14 says that we should “not keep company” with such people.

My people will pray and seek my face

In our life of worship, prayer is the most direct form of worshipping God. In prayer, we are able to praise God and make our requests known to Him. Although He already knows what is in our hearts, when we kneel in prayer, we are humbling ourselves before Him. We speak to the invisible God, and it requires faith for us to believe He is listening. It also demonstrates that we need God. In prayers, we reflect upon our lives, and whether we have sinned against Him or our brethren. We also meditate on the blessings we have freely received, thus reminding us of God’s presence in our lives. In short, prayer helps us to cultivate our faith and reliance on God.

Moreover, God delights in the prayer of the upright (Prov 15:8). As His children, let us talk to God in prayer as often as we can, but let us also strive to live a life of righteousness. In this way, we can pray according to His will.

Finally, God desires that we should seek His face. To seek His face is to pursue a deeper understanding of Him. But why do we need to do this?

Glory in His holy name;

Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!

Seek the Lord and His strength;

Seek His face evermore!

Remember His marvelous works which He has done,

His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth. (Ps 105:3–5)

If we seek His face and constantly remember His marvelous works and power, we can receive strength from Him. How do we seek His face? By obeying His commandments. Yet at the same time, we also need strength to carry out His commandments, to resist temptations and quench the fiery darts of the devil. In fact, the act of submitting to God’s will is itself a source of strength, allowing us to resist the ploys of the devil (Jas 4:7). In seeking God’s face, we consciously “turn from [our] wicked ways” (2 Chr 7:14); we turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God (Acts 26:18). Only when we have turned from sin, will our prayers be heard and our sins healed (2 Chr 7:14; Acts 26:18). God will not accept our worship if we continue to persist in our wicked ways. This is why we must go further to seek God and His will.

To seek, or to search, requires time and effort. It is not enough to only know God through searching the Bible. We still need to experience God in our lives to perceive who He really is. Look at Job, who went through one of the worst ordeals in history. His trials were so severe that many believe he is a myth, or that his trials were metaphorical. During his ordeal, Job stood firm before God. He was righteous in his own eyes, but he knew God had the right to do whatever He wanted to him. Job’s strength to endure came from His knowledge of God. But towards the end of his ordeal, his endurance began to wane. Just as he was about to give up, God spoke to him out of the whirlwind, and asked him a series of rhetorical questions. This exchange revealed the true scope of God’s omnipotence (Job 38–41). After this, Job proclaimed: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You” (Job 42:5).

It is important for us to be familiar with the Bible, but we cannot simply rely on this to know God. We may be able to quote the Scriptures and know where to find certain passages in the Bible, but if we do not live out these teachings, such knowledge alone is useless.

Nor can we fully know God through what others tell us. Without a personal relationship with God, our faith means nothing. How can we be motivated to wholeheartedly apply what we have read and heard if we do not love God and know Him on a personal level?

Conclusion

Since Old Testament times, God’s instruction to His people concerning their worship and service is clear. And yet, we often fall short of God's standards and our status as a holy nation. Therefore, let us seek God’s will by drawing closer and closer to Him in daily prayers, by meditating on His words day and night, putting them into practice, and turning away from sin. As children of God, we need to worship Him according to His will—in humility, in prayer, and in seeking Him in our life of worship.

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Author: Brian Lim
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