Grace Words

A Daily Bible Reader's Blog

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Voting on Worship

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

It took me totally by surprise. I’m used to billboards advertising churches – “Come worship with us!” But this one was different. The church name was displayed prominently at the top (not so unusual) but at the bottom, in big bold letters were the words “Voted Best Place to Worship 2022.” That was a new one.

So I wondered: voted by who? Their own members? Isn’t there a Bible passage about that? Something along the lines of “people who measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves are not wise” (of course there is – 2 Corinthians 10:12). Might there be a cadre of people whose job it is to visit houses of worship to see which is best? (I’m new to the area so maybe that’s a thing here.) What were the criteria for making this judgment?

We need to be careful with this. Worship is all about the exaltation of God. When God’s people live holy lives, then gather to praise God, listen to God, talk to God, and remember what God has done for them (which leads back to praise), that’s worship. It’s not about “place.” Through all this, I may be encouraged, renewed, motivated and instructed, but worship is not about what I get. Worship is about what I give and specifically, about what I give God. The most important thing about it is whether what we offer pleases the Lord. He is not required to accept whatever we offer (Isaiah 1:10-15) and if our text passages are any indication, what gets our vote probably isn’t getting His.

And His vote is the only one that counts.

Sunday, July 21. Isaiah 54 – 57

The last twenty-six chapters of Isaiah are divided into three sections, each ending with the warning that there is “no peace for the wicked” (chapter sixty-six does not exactly have those words but you will see the message is there). Beginning in chapter 52, God looks forward to the time when His people will welcome a message of peace from Him. But there can be no peace for the wicked until the sin problem is dealt with. In chapter 53, the suffering servant sacrifices himself to bring that peace (53:5) and in chapter 54, the promised peace begins to be poured out.

In chapter fifty-five, God issues an invitation to a heavenly banquet. Though the tables are filled with the richest fare, it’s all free.

Exactly what is on this table?

Mercy and pardon (verse 7).

The result of eating at the banquet of God will be peace – a thematic thread that runs throughout chapters 52-55 – and the restoration of fertility to lives as desolate as a desert.

Coming to the table however is more than just “coming to the table.” It does involve a change of life, a change described in detail in chapter fifty-six.