True Worship

It is time for me to get back to what is important – and that is presenting studies of the Bible to the readers of this blogsite, Clear the Murk. While I’m pondering where to go next (possibly a study of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in the city of Ephesus (Ephesians)), I want to share with you a scripture passage that is appropriate for the world today. There is so much division – even among God’s people – that people are losing the vision of those things we have in common, and instead, are focusing on the differences. Let us get back to what is real, to what matters.

I am going to share a scripture passage from what we Christians call the Old Testament but what people in the New Testament times referred to as Scripture. As I share this scripture, I will be changing a key word and its derivations to equivalent forms of a word that we may understand better.

There was a practice called “fasting” in some societies, including the Jewish observance of their worship of God. Fasting was a time of decreasing food and pleasurable practices in order to concentrate on gaining a greater understanding of God and increasing the practitioner’s dedication. As far as I can tell, a majority of believers in Western Civilization do not practice fasting even though it is not a foreign concept in Eastern Civilizations. I’m about to share a Biblical passage in a way to make it more understandable to those for whom fasting is not a religious practice. I am going to take the liberty to change variations of the word “fast” and “fasting” to “worship” and “worshipping.” I don’t do this lightly, but I believe “worship” carries more meaning and understanding to a majority of the readers of this blog than does “fasting.” Most importantly, it carries the same meaning. As a choice, I have spelled “worshipped” and “worshipping” with a British spelling in respect for readers of this blog who have learned their English from British grammar. The American spelling is “worshiped” and “worshiping.”

The following scripture has a special message to believers who are struggling with the societal changes going on as well as the divisions among citizens of their country. I have selected only eleven verses; please read them carefully from Isaiah 58: 1-11 [NIV]:

58 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
    Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
    and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
    they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
    and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
    and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we [worshipped],’ they say,
    ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your [worshipping], you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
Your [worshipping] ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot [worship] as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of [worship] I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call [worship],
    a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the kind of [worshipping] I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness {[a] {or your righteous One} } will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.

May you have been blessed in the reading of this scripture – and considering further your own worship of God.

Published by John M

I think differently. Every once in a while, I have an insight or a thought that could be useful to others. My background is over 30 years in church leadership & 30 years in social work with M.Div. and M.S.W. degrees - and yes, I do enjoy retirement. My heart is in teaching. And I try to teach in a way that you don't have to have a degree to understand it. So, join me on this journey we call Life as we explore God, the Bible, the Church and the world around us together. I've been married to my wife for 48 years. We have three grown and married children of whom we are very proud. And they have blessed us with seven grandchildren. We both grew up in Washington State, but we now live in North Carolina with a lot of experience between those two points.

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