(Meditating on Psalm 81)
Sing aloud to God our strength;
Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob.
2 Raise a song and strike the timbrel,
The pleasant harp with the lute.
For this is a statute for Israel,
A law of the God of Jacob. (Psalm 81:1,2,4)
This, also, is the statute of our Church: to sing praises and worship God not only during worship service when the congregation gathers, but also in our own homes, in the morning and in the evening. Those who do this fervently with a willing spirit are blessed beyond their hearts’ desires, specially with a stronger faith in God.
But there are those who neglect to praise and worship and their focus was diverted to the things of the world: agendas, schedules, plans, and passions with other things like careers, hobbies, and other pursuits that may veer one away from deep communion with God. The more time spent with our pursuits, the less time we give in seeking God. Even in the time of private praise and worship, one may not be spiritually present; one’s mind and heart may be upon the to-do lists, or other exciting projects that await.
When our affections and passions (am I being redundant?) are diverted from the living God to the things of this world, aren’t we loving, adoring, and worshiping them instead? Isn’t this a form of idolatry? God admonished His people Israel:
There shall be no foreign god among you;
Nor shall you worship any foreign god. (v. 9)
I’ve heard testimonies in Church that they got so engrossed with work or flourishing businesses that they began to neglect to praise and worship God with all their beings. They had forsaken the Spirit’s admonition. They could no longer listen to Him for their hearts had been captured by their passions or given away to their work’s demands. Until one day, they found they no longer walked in the presence of the Lord. The Holy Spirit had left.
But My people would not heed My voice,
And Israel would have none of Me.
12 So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart,
To walk in their own counsels. (vv. 11-12, emphasis added)
To be given up by God is a most dreadful thing to happen.
Where do are our affections lie? Do we praise God with our lips but our hearts are far from Him? Do we worship in vain? Or do we delight in Him more than anything in this world? It is good to always have a heart check.