Worship for the Vacuum
A Vacuum for Worship
"There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus" Blaise Pascal
Stop and think about this statement for a moment. Every person has a void in his or her heart reserved for the Creator only. Granted, some will try to fill the void with things or stuff, but nothing can fit into the void but God. There is one thing common to all cultures, in all places, throughout all time. It is the need to worship something. Some worship idols of stone. Some worship nature. Some worship animals. But the void is, as Blaise Pascal—the French mathematician and theologian of centuries past—has said, "…a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God,…"
Vacuum is space entirely devoid of matter, negative of atmospheric pressure. What happens when you switch on your vacuum sweeper? It creates a suction that causes the dirt and crumbs on your floor to move towards the vacuum cleaner. A black hole in space is similar to a vacuum cleaner, cleaning up debris left behind in outer space. It is different from your vacuum sweeper in that it is not suction power that makes things fall into a black hole. Suction would not be strong enough. Instead, a black hole uses the power of gravity to pull things towards it. When a large star runs out of fuel, it can no longer support its heavy weight. The pressure from the star's massive layers of hydrogen presses downward, forcing the star to get smaller and smaller. Its gravity becomes stronger and stronger, swallowing up anything in space that travels too close to the black hole.
If Pascal is right and the human heart has a "God shaped vacuum," then God is the only one that can fill the void. How is this done? It is done through worship.
To worship God is to recognize his worth or worthiness; to look God-ward, and to acknowledge in all appropriate ways the value of what we see. The Bible calls this activity "glorifying God" or "giving glory to God," and views it as the ultimate end, and from one point of view, the whole duty of man (Ps. 29:2; 96:6; 1 Cor. 10:31).
Scripture views the glorifying of God as a six-fold activity: It is praising God for all that he is and all his achievements; thanking him for his gifts and his goodness to us; asking him to meet our own and others' needs; offering him our gifts, our service, and ourselves; learning of him from his word read and preached, and obeying his voice; telling others of his worth, both by public confession and testimony to what he has done for us. Thus we might say that the basic formulas of worship are these: "Lord, you are wonderful"; "Thank you, Lord"; "Please Lord"; "Take this, Lord"; "Yes, Lord"; "Listen everybody!"
This then is worship in its largest sense: petition as well as praise, preaching as well as prayer, hearing as well as speaking, actions as well as words, obeying as well as offering, loving people as well as loving God. However, the primary acts of worship are those which focus on God directly -- and we must not imagine that work for God in the world is a substitute for direct fellowship with him in praise and prayer and devotion. James Packer, Your Father Loves You, Harold Shaw Publishers, July 1986, p. 15.
C.S. Lewis said it this way: "I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. If it were possible for a created soul fully to 'appreciate,' that is, to love and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul would be in supreme blessedness. To praise God fully we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God, drowned in, dissolved by that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression. Our joy is no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds." C.S. Lewis.
WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM states:
Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
A Good Story Regarding Worship
A. Discovering Worship
One of the greatest stories of a man discovering worship is found in Second Chronicles:
II Chronicles 20:1-2 says, "After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat. (2) Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, "A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar" (that is, En Gedi). (New International Version)
You can imagine the fear Jehoshaphat must have felt as a result of this news. Notice what he does: II Chronicles 20:3-4 says, "Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.
As soon as he hears of the army coming against him, he taps into the power of God through prayer and fasting! Then something amazing happens: II Chronicles 20:5-6, 9, 12-13 says, "Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard (6) and said: "O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.
B. Worship Occurs when God's Glory is Revealed
King Jehoshaphat entered into a time of fasting and praying. We don't know what God said to him during this time, but we do hear Jehoshaphat's response. He begins praising God! God revealed His glory to Jehoshaphat. And he responded with praise.
C. Worship Occurs when Man's Attention Is Realigned
II Chronicles 20:9 says, "If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us."
D. Worship Occurs when Man's Dependence Is Realized
II Chronicles 20:12-13 says, "O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you. (13) All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD."
What is in the power of worship?
A. II Chronicles 20:15-17 says, "He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. (16) Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. (17) You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'"
B. Worship Puts the Battle in the Lord's Hands
C. Worship Puts God First in Our Hearts
II Chronicles 20:18-19 says, "Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. (19) Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with very loud voice."
D. Worship Fills Our Hearts with Faith
II Chronicles 20:20 says, "Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, "Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful."
E. Worship Leads to Victory
II Chronicles 20:21-24 says, "After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: "Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever." (22) As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. (23) The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another. (24) When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped."
F. Worship Leads to Blessing
II Chronicles 20:25 says, "So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it."
G. Worship Leads to Reverence
II Chronicles 20:26 says, "On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, where they praised the LORD. This is why it is called the Valley of Beracah to this day."
The word "Beracah" means "praise." http://sermoncentral.com/sermon.asp?SermonID=103802&page=2
Yes, you cannot help but worship something. You, as well as everyone else, have a "God shaped vacuum" in your heart. What is your chief end in this life? It is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Only God can fill the void in your life. That's why God sent His Son, Jesus, to "seek and to save" the unfilled, the void hearts, the lost. Jesus reverses the vacuum of the human heart and causes it to burst forth in praise. Jesus moves us from void to fullness. He is worthy of all our praise and worship.
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