Read Isaiah 58:6-11
"Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, 'Here I am.' If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
· How do you define worship?
· In what ways is feeding the poor and housing the homeless worshipping the Lord?
· What are some ways that you can worship God today?
I've always found the tradition of giving a watch or clock as a retirement gift a bit odd. After all not having to keep to a specific time schedule ranks as a retirement perk.
The tradition, which dates back to the Pepsi Cola Company in the 1940's, stems from a good intention. You gave the company your time all of those years. Now the company acknowledges your contribution by symbolically giving you back your time.
In Isaiah 58, the contrast between how the people are worshiping and the worship God desires reminds me of the retirement clock. The company desires to recognize the retiree's worth and years of service. They want to thank and delight the retiree.
And how is this gift received? Graciously, though not always enthusiastically. I haven't done any research on it, but my guess is that most retirees would prefer something other than a clock. Perhaps a trip to the Bahamas would be more appealing, maybe even making up for all of those vacation days they didn't take. Perhaps they desired a better salary or promotion or some other measure of appreciation during their tenure with the company.
Similarly, we desire to acknowledge God's worth through our acts of worship. We shout "Praise the Lord!" We repeat a worship chorus, increasing the volume each time. We fast to show our devotion.
Yet, Isaiah reveals that this is not the worship our Lord desires. This true worship involves loving His creation--speaking kindly, freeing prisoners chained unjustly, feeding the poor, housing the homeless. It's this worship that acknowledges God's worth and glorifies Him.
Sovereign Lord, you are worthy of all of my worship and praise. Sometimes is easier to focus on singing and fasting instead of loving people the way you love me. I ask that you help me today to worship you truly by loving and serving others. Amen.