For years I lived in a state of divided worship. My main goal in life was to secure God’s blessing on my agenda. Sure, I loved him, but I’m afraid I loved myself more. Worship was all about me, and what I could get from him, rather than surrendering myself to him. Funny thing is that my agenda kept me in complete bondage, because idolatry leads us to a state of total fear. When we direct our worship to anything other than him, our peace and joy are totally dependent on the temporary circumstances we desire. We constantly fear losing the objects of our affection, and that fear controls our actions. True freedom is only found in true worship. When we surrender all to God, we have nothing to fear. He is never changing and eternal. He is all loving, and has a good plan for us, so when we learn to rest in that knowledge, we no longer feel threatened or afraid. We are free. God does not merely demand true worship for his sake, but for ours. He knows that all other forms of worship will lead us back into bondage. His ways are so much higher than ours, and following them is the path to blessing.

The passage that stood out in my reading this morning stressed that truth. Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please. Offer them only at the place the Lord will choose in one of your tribes, and there observe everything I command you. (Dt. 12:13-14)

 As the Israelites took possession of the land, it wouldn’t be a lack of worship that would be their downfall; instead it would be improper worship. The Lord gave specific instructions on how they should worship, but they had their own ideas of how it should look. God warned them not to take on the practices of the nations surrounding them, but it did not take long for them to follow their detestable practices. Within generations they would even be sacrificing their children in the fire.

God calls us to surrender all to him—that means giving up our own agendas. However, far too often our worship becomes an effort to convince God to bless our selfish plans. We sacrifice our children to idols of convenience and pleasure, and there is very little self-surrender involved. To the contrary, we end up surrendering everything good and holy to our desires for comfort and blessing. Basically, we are worshipping, but we are not worshipping God. Our idolatrous desires steal our affections away from him, and rob our lives of his blessings. We reach out for what we think we need, and all the while are throwing away his best for our lives.

Lord, I have wasted too many years focused on false gods, and worshipping in my own way. Help me to be fully surrendered to you, and to worship in spirit and truth. Do not let me be deceived into thinking that anything in this world can offer true satisfaction. Only you are the Living Water that can satisfy the thirst in my soul. Forgive me for ever trying to replace you by digging my own broken cistern that won’t hold water (Jer. 2:13). You are worthy and good. I choose your ways over my own. Amen