Did you ever sing along to a song you really liked on the radio only to have someone tell you that you were way off on the lyrics? When I was a kid my dad only listened to the “oldies” station all the time, so I knew Motown music, the British Invasion, Rockabilly, and other types of American rock and Roll. One of my dad’s favorite groups was CCR (Credence Clearwater Revival). They have a song called “Bad Moon Rising” that says, “There’s a bad moon on the rise.” Well, as a kid, I always thought he was saying, “There’s a bathroom on the right.” I must have been singing it in the house or something because I remember my parents thinking it was pretty hilarious that I had gotten the lyrics wrong, but to a kid, having a bathroom on the right means more than the knowledge that a bad moon is coming.
I am one of those people who grew up in church, so I have been exposed to the Bible most of my life. I can remember hearing certain verses as a kid and interpreting them with my eight year-old mind only to find out much later that I was way off. One verse that really stuck with me from the early days was Psalm 37:4; which says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I can remember working really hard trying to figure out just how to delight myself in the Lord… if I could just do my part, then He would have to give me whatever my heart desired! It was right there in black and white in the Bible! The only problem was that every time I tried to get all happy in Jesus (or whatever that verse meant) I just wound up thinking about what all He would have to give me when I finally was delighted with Him…
I would wake up like on Christmas morning and find a blue Shelby Cobra with white racing stripes sitting in the driveway, and wait a minute… that was a new driveway attached to a really phat house and I would be wearing a brand new pair of Air Jordan’s as I swam through piles of money and climbed over stacks of really valuable comic books to get to our indoor ice-skating rink and skate park. It was going to be awesome!
Well, it turns out that CCR was talking about a bad moon, and I was way off on Psalm 37! See, there have been many times in my life since then that I have been truly… completely, delighted by God… delighted in Him… who He is and how He loves. So far, I still don’t have that car, those shoes or that house, but in those truly joyous moments, the thing I wanted most was more of Him… more of His love. My heart was made by Him for Him and my heart is only truly satisfied when He is all over it. God is the only one who can satisfy a human heart completely and He made us that way on purpose. It turns out that our hearts are most happy when we are happy in Him. So, when you delight yourself in the Lord, He gives you what your heart most desires… Himself.
Have you ever wondered why the main meeting in church is called a ‘worship service?’ What exactly is worship? When the people in a church get together they sing songs, pray about stuff together and listen to someone talk about the Bible for a while… now which part of that is worship? To be honest, I grew up in church not even knowing it was called a ‘worship service’ until I was in late Middle School. When you are a kid, you go to Sunday School and after that you go to ‘big church.’ I can still remember looking at the bulletin as if for the first time in about eighth grade thinking, “This thing doesn’t say ‘big church’ anywhere on it… and what in the world is a worship service?!”
I was recently reading about Moses leading God’s people out of bondage in Egypt and how God saved them by parting the Red Sea so that the entire 2.5 million people could walk through on dry land. It was amazing! But before they ever got to the banks of the Red Sea, they had to get out of Egypt. God sent plague after plague down on Egypt but Pharaoh wouldn’t let them go until the last plague hit. During the middle of the night while everyone was asleep, God sent a destroying angel who took the life of every firstborn son, child or animal in every house and every farm. Well… almost every firstborn.
God had always said that the firstborn sons belonged to Him, but this was the first time He claimed His right. The only people who got to keep their firstborns were people who slaughtered a spotless lamb and painted its blood on their doorframes. This animal was dying in their place… buying them back. That’s why the Israelites got to leave with their kids. It was called Passover because the Lord passed over the homes with blood on them and stopped the angel from bringing death. Moses told the people that every year in the first month they had to celebrate the Passover as a holiday, and when giving Moses the instructions about the Passover feast, the Lord said, “No one is to appear before me empty-handed.” (Exodus 23:15)
The Passover holiday was a time of worship where they would bring another lamb and kill it to remember that God owns all of them, and to remember the price that was paid for them. We don’t kill animals in our worship service because all those animals were just a picture of who Jesus is and what He came to do. He died once and for all as a payment for all the wrong of all who will believe in Him. He is our Passover Lamb and when we come together singing songs, praying prayers and listening to the Word of God, it is a time for us to remember the Lamb who was slain. It is a time for us to remember that we belong to God. It is a time for us to offer our whole selves to Him because He owns us and has bought us with His own blood. Don’t appear before Him empty-handed. Offer your whole self to Him.