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The Food of God

And God spoke all these words: 'I am the Lord your God who brought you out
of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before
me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in
heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not
bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous
God.'

    Present the offerings made to the Lord by fire, the food of their God.

    The true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for
they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.

    But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people
belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out
of darkness into his wonderful light.

    Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of
praise -- the fruit of lips that confess his name.

    Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for
profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion.
These men are blemishes at your love feasts.

    To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna.

(Exodus 20: 1-5; Leviticus 21: 6; John 4: 23; 1 Peter 2: 9; Hebrews 13: 15;
Jude 11 and 12; Revelation 2:17 -- all NIV)

~~~

God himself first identified the offerings of the priests as his food. It's
not that God needed actual meat and grain to eat. The satisfaction he sought
ascended to him through the obedience of prescribed worship laid down in the
tabernacle sacrifices. He wanted worship. As often as his people expected to
eat, God expected his meals of praise.

    Whereas demons demanded sacrifices of others as a basis for their food,
God prepared his own menu -- Christ. All of the work at the altar pictured
God's work in Christ. The implied message is clear: God wants to be richly
rewarded with worship. It is like food to him. He wants it lovingly
prepared, generously offered and faithfully renewed. Nothing but Christ
satisfies him.

    God's method is simple: feed the people on the truths of the work of
Christ and they in turn should praise him for what he has done. In the
wilderness, God's singular menu of manna strengthened the people to offer
him food. Now, since the cross, no better food than Christ can be found for
God's servants because he is the essential ingredient of elective worship.

    Those who commune with God know the value of Jesus' flesh and blood, but
so do God's enemies. Demons who have been robbed of the human attentions
they crave have not been able to stop the church from filling God's plate,
but in many cases they have managed to spoil the taste. Tainted food will
not do for God.

    Offering God the praise he deserves for the unmatchable work of Christ
is the true worshipper's daily work and this is God's food. For this he
bought us and for this we must live. In a sense God is leading us to join
him in truly living on love: his love to us in Christ and our love to him
for Christ. Here is a feast of love for every day.

~~~

Old Testament saints understood that sacrifice was central to worship and it
is wrong to assume that Christian worship is not also sacrificial. Although
our Lord Jesus made the one final sacrifice for our sins, never to be
repeated, we are to offer what Peter calls 'spiritual sacrifices acceptable
to God by Jesus Christ'. And this can be done only when one's whole
attention is focused upon God, 'lost in wonder, love and praise'. Then, in
fact, the worshippers receive far more than they can ever give, because the
paradoxical fact is that there is no experience more completely blessed than
true, spiritual worship. But it is absolutely crucial to keep these matters
the right way around. Come to give, not to get. It is the only proper way!

Stuart A. Frayne, What is Worship?


As we come before God, we shouldn't come with empty hands. We should bring
him a sacrifice! This does not mean an animal sacrifice, for Christ himself
has offered himself as our sacrifice for all time. But the Old Testament
principle is still true.  We should bring God something. Often people get
nothing out of worship because they don't come to give something to God
first. The sacrifice we should bring is the sacrifice of thanksgiving and
praise. And when we bring praise to God we find his presence draws near to
us in a special way. Praise him that he is a great God! Praise him that he
is King over all gods, the Lord over all the earth! Praise him for what he
has made -- the majestic mountains, the deep valleys, the rolling seas!
Let's thank, praise and honour him for who he is! This focuses our attention
on him and prepares our hearts for worship.

lan Malins, Come Let Us Worship


Break thou the bread of life,
Dear Lord, to me, As thou didst break the bread
Beside the sea. Beyond the sacred page
I seek thee, Lord; My spirit pants for thee,
O living word!

Thou art the bread of life,
O Lord, to me, Thy holy word the truth
That saveth me. Give me to eat and live
With thee above, Teach me to love thy truth
For thou art love.

Mary Artemisia Lathbury and Alexander Groves


Soren Kierkegaard... watched his contemporaries in nineteenth century
Denmark go to church ritualistically and participate much as they would in a
theatre. The worshippers saw themselves as essentially spectators. They
understood the clergy and the choir to be the main performers in the service
and, if God were present at all in the process, he was a remote prompter,
off in the wings somewhere. In this frame of reference, of course, the whole
interaction was horizontal. It was people watching other people do certain
rituals, with little depth, little awe, little real involvement on the part
of the individual worshippers. To this whole way of conceiving worship,
Kierkegaard thundered: 'Not so!' A church and a theatre are not similar
processes at all. To worship is to do something quite different than going
to a concert or a play. For one thing, the worshipper is the prime actor and
God is the audience. The role of the clergy and choir is that of prompters,
standing alongside the process reminding and suggesting. Worship is not
something done by the clergy for the worshippers' perusal, but something
worshippers do for God out of their own depths.

John Claypool, Worship as Involvement


To us a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into
ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. But the
obedience which the Enemy demands of humans is quite a different thing. One
must face the fact that all the talk about his love for them, and his
service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere
propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe
with a lot of loathsome little replicas of himself -- creatures whose life,
on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like his own, not because he
has absorbed them, but because their wills freely conform to his. We want
cattle who can finally become food; he wants servants who can finally become
his children. We want to suck in, he wants to give out. We are empty and
would be filled; he is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which
Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a
world full of beings united to him but still distinct.

Screwtape in C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters


I'm deathly afraid of personal spiritual deterioration, of having a name
that I'm alive when I'm really dead... The present crisis won't be solved by
Christians who get their food and weapons secondhand. It will be solved by
people who walk with God, who feed on his word, who have strength for the
battle, and who know how to use the sword of the Spirit. We need a return to
the oldfashioned spiritual disciplines of life.

Warren Wiersbe, The Integrity Crisis


We're here to be worshippers first and workers only second. We take a
convert and immediately make that new Christian a worker. God never meant it
to be so. God meant that a convert should learn to be a worshipper, and
after that he or she can learn to be a worker... The work done by a
worshipper will have eternity in it.

A.W. Tozer, Great Quotes & Illustrations


I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of
it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality
about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire.
Complacency is a deadly foe to all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be
present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to his people. He waits
to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us he waits so long, so very long,
in vain.

A.W. Tozer in The Best of A.W. Tozer

~~~

Heavenly Father, I rejoice in the immutable, absolute truth of your word. In
your grace, keep me from knowing only the letter of truth and sound
doctrine. Let it enter my spirit, let it control my mind, let it stabilise
and energize my emotions. I will to apply your truth aggressively and to
depend upon its power to defeat all of my enemies. Through the intercessory
work of the Holy Spirit and in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ, I thank you
for hearing this petition. Amen

Mark Bubeck, The Adversary


Grant, almighty God, that as we are inclined not only to superstitions, but
also to many vices, we may be restrained by thy word; and as thou art
pleased daily to remind us of thy benefits, that thou mayest keep us in the
practice of true religion. 0 grant that we may not be led astray by the
delusions of Satan and by our own vanity, but continue firm and steady in
our obedience to thee, and constantly proceed in the course of true piety,
so that we may at length partake of its fruit in thy celestial kingdom,
which has been obtained for us by the blood of thine
only begotten Son. Amen.

John Calvin

~~~

A Benediction

May the Father show you his mercy by enriching you in the grace which
enlightens your eyes to the greater glories of Jesus so that you may be
refreshed in the communion of the Father's love and overflow with praise and
thanksgiving. May the Spirit of Truth capture your mind and heart with an
ever deepening knowledge of the holy.

Amen.

Chapter four in Rowland Croucher ed., High Mountains Deep Valleys,
Albatross/Lion.

 
rowland @ johnmarkministries . org
Email Jan and Rowland