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Daily devotional: Peace on Earth | The Gospel of Luke. A dark night sky with a shining lantern.

Peace on Earth | Questions and Answers

How can we worship in a way that God approves? What does God-pleasing worship look like?

Trying to define or prescribe one appropriate worship practice can be like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. However, it may be helpful to begin with a definition of worship. Worship means to ascribe worth to God delightfully. There are three spheres of worship: individual (or private), familial, and corporate.

For us as individuals, ascribing worth to God consists of living our whole lives before God in a way that pleases Him. Paul urges believers to “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Rom. 12:1). Our body, every part of us, should be set apart for God, doing what brings Him pleasure.

Paul follows: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). Our mind is to be used for doing what is “perfect” before God. Thinking, pondering, and meditating, as well as motivations, intentions, and goals all largely cognitive acts—should seek to do what is acceptable in the sight of God. This perfection can be compared to the unblemished offerings an ancient Israelite would have brought before the Lord in sacrifice. Giving our whole being to God is the most important aspect of individual worship.

Individual worship includes private times of meditation on the Word of God and prayer, as well as honoring the Lord with our work, the way we use our money, the payment of taxes, the loving treatment of our brothers and sisters, and supporting the work of the gospel.

Family worship involves raising children in the Christian faith by setting aside times to review the faith that had been passed to us, reading Scripture together, singing together, and praying together as a family.

Corporate worship (what we do as a church) has nothing to do with the style of music. Neither is true worship concerned with the perceived reverence of a corporate gathering, based on one’s level of comfort, whether with reserved actions or passionate expressions. Historically, the church has recognized five practices that promote the honor and worth of God: praying, singing, reading Scripture, preaching, and administering the ordinances. If you faithfully participate in these practices, and your church centers them around the death and resurrection of Christ, you are honoring the Lord through worship.

I want to get closer to God, but I feel lazy about reading the Bible. It seems like I’m reading it because I must and not because I want to. What should I do?

Although the law of God is sweeter than honey to the Psalmist (Ps. 19:10), our personal experience of reading Scripture can encounter periods of difficulty. Sometimes books of Scripture unfamiliar to us seem to have little relevance to our lives. Other times we encounter a stressful season that makes mental processing challenging. We also face warfare from the Enemy, who can blind us to the truth of God’s Word or snatch away its fruitfulness (Luke 8:12; 2 Cor. 4:4). We can have times when we become “dull of hearing” God speak (Heb. 3:15; 5:11).

To counter these challenges, we need discipline, empowered by the Spirit of God. Every day, we need to ask the Spirit to open our understanding of the Word of God (Ps. 119:18; Eph. 1:17–18). Today in the Word provides you with a daily portion of the Bible to read, meditate on, and pray about. A guide like the McCheyne Bible Reading Plan can also be helpful. It takes you through the entirety of the Old and New Testaments in a year. I also suggest going through one book of Scripture at a time with the help of a study Bible, reading one verse per day until you finish the entire book.

I am reading through 2 Kings and after the kings died, it states: "Are they not written in the book of Kings of Israel [or Judah]?" Are there other books that record these events?

The writers of the history of the monarchy periods of Israel and Judah mention many sources used to construct their works (Num. 21:14–15; Josh. 10:13; 1 Kings 11:41; 15:7; 1 Chron. 29:29). The writers were capable researchers, using the recordings of other historians to build the accounts we know as the historical books (Joshua through Esther).

The biblical writers used information available to a wide body of people, including people of other nations. They indicate that there were outside records of the events of Scripture, like the king’s chronicles in Esther (6:1) or Sennacherib’s Prism— dated the 7th century BC—which records the imprisonment of Hezekiah (Isa. 36:1–37:13). Thus, we have extra- biblical, historical support of the fact that the biblical accounts were recorded accurately.

BY Dr. Eric C. Redmond

Dr. Eric C. Redmond serves as a professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and as associate pastor of adult ministries at Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Ill. He is married to Pam and they have five children. He is the author of Say It!  Celebrating Expository Preaching in the African American Tradition (Moody Publishers), Where Are All the Brothers? Straight Answers to Men's’ Questions about the Church (Crossway), a commentary on Jonah in the Christ-Centered Exposition Series (B&H Publishers), and a study guide on Ephesians in the Knowing the Bible series (Crossway).

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