Worshiping God with Freedom
Recently the music ministry team gathered for a night of sharing vision and breaking bread (apple pie counts as bread, right?). It was a wonderful time taking inventory of the ways we see God moving in our midst during Sunday gatherings, and an apt opportunity for us to ask the Holy Spirit to give us more freedom as we worship. I led the team through a devotional that night, and I want to share it with you, in the hope that it will invite us all into deeper surrender and worship.
Take a moment to be still and invite the Holy Spirit to prepare your heart. If you have time, read 2 Chronicles 28 from verses 22-27, through the end of chapter 29. I particularly enjoy the New Living Translation for this story. If you are short on time, below you’ll find a paraphrased version of the story, along with a few questions to guide us as we ask God what he wants to say as we read:
There was a King by the name of Ahaz who reigned in Israel for sixteen years. Throughout his reign, he did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord. He led God’s people into idolatry by making sacrifices to other gods, building idols, and eventually closing up the temple of the Lord completely so that no one could worship there. The result of his actions led to Israel being defeated by neighboring countries, and they took many people captive. Even in defeat, Ahaz did not turn back to the Lord.
It’s clear that our current context as Christians differs greatly from the story we are reading here. One thing is certain: we are just as prone to put our trust in relationships, jobs, technology, and money more so than in Jesus. What will we miss out on if we abandon Jesus as the only worthy object of our trust and worship?
After Ahaz died, his son Hezekiah came to rule at the age of twenty-five. Unlike his father, Hezekiah feared the Lord and did what was right. At the beginning of his reign he called together the priests and the Levites and commanded them to clean and re-open the temple of the Lord so that it could be used for worship again.
As Hezekiah was giving the priests and Levites instructions he gave them this charge:
“My sons, do not neglect your duties any longer! The Lord has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him, and to lead the people in worship and present offerings to him.” (2 Chronicles 29:11 NLT)
What does this charge from King Hezekiah, with its sense of urgency stir in you? You might be wondering, “What does this have to do with me? I’m no priest!” Here is a reminder of the work God is doing in you as a believer in Jesus:
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter:2:4-5)
You might be more of a worship leader than you think. On with the story. Let’s wrap up chapter 29…
After receiving Hezekiah’s instruction, the priests and Levites purified themselves and began to cleanse the temple. They removed everything that did not belong in the temple and prepared it for worship. They also recovered the items King Ahaz tried to destroy during his reign. After completing the task, they consecrated the temple by making burnt offerings and singing songs of worship to the Lord. The final verse of the chapter says, “And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because of what God had done for the people, for everything had been accomplished so quickly.” (2 Chronicles 29:35b)
Are there areas of your life and heart that have been shut off to God? Are there places that need cleansed so that you can worship God with freedom? Are you willing to confess and repent of those things, and receive God’s bounty of mercy He has for you?
I can just imagine the priests going through the temple with so much determination, ridding it of things that didn’t belong, sweeping it out, and making sure every corner was prepared for God’s presence. God longs to restore the areas of our hearts that feel much the same, and he longs for us to partner with Him in that task. As you consider what the Lord might be asking of you, I invite you to listen to this song “Fall Afresh” (see links below). May God’s Spirit awaken and remind you of the joy of His salvation as you turn to worship him: