Years ago, I was one of those college students sitting in the field in Memphis, Tennessee listening to John Piper proclaim his famous sermon, “Boasting Only in the Cross” at the One Day conference in 2000. I remember hearing his voice thunder across the fields warning us of the American dream. His sermon helped me. God was gracious to spare me from wasting my life. I’m thankful for the fact that Piper, along with others, have been used greatly of the Lord to prevent many people from wasting their lives. However, after surrendering to the sovereign Lordship of Christ, consider how many of us waste opportunities to worship God each week.
Any study of worship will certainly lead to you to a spirit of humility. To consider why we worship and who we worship will astound the greatest of minds. The fact is, God is interested in how we worship Him. All of the details of worship are important to God, and this is obvious as we read the revelation of God and the history of worship from the pages of holy Scripture.
After preaching through the book of Exodus over the last 3 years, it has become evident to me that God cares about worship. In delivering the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt, He provided specific details regarding the worship that He required. Following the initial phase of the Exodus, God consistently revealed how He wanted His people to worship Him. The culmination of this revelation is found in the blueprints of the Tabernacle. The tent of meeting and each piece of furniture provide great specificity in the worship demands of God for His people. What can we learn from this?
God Demands Christ Centered Worship
First of all, we must not lose sight of the fact that this text is Christ centered. While many of these details of Christ would later be fulfilled in the Lamb of God (John 1:29), the blood sacrifice of Israel’s history demonstrates God’s plan that spans back before the cross and before the Tabernacle. In fact, it spans back before time (Ephesians 1).
As we read the redemptive history of God’s people, it’s extremely bloody. All of this blood is for a reason. It has connection with sin, but it is ultimately fulfilled in the brutal death of God’s Son. There is no way to please God without a blood sacrifice. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). I remember standing before a reproduction of a sacrifice scene from the Scriptures in the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky years ago. As I stood there beholding the detail of this scene, a little girl and her mother walked up. The little girl asked her mother, “Mom, why did they have to kill the animals?” Tragically, the mother had no answer for her daughter. As we assemble to worship each week, we must have an answer for our children and an answer for our church. Our worship must be Christ centered. At the heart of our weekly worship must be a bloody cross!
The Details of Worship Matter
As we read the story of the Exodus, the depth of detail in God’s blueprint given over to Moses regarding worship is inescapable. God is interested in the details of who we worship, how we worship, when we worship, and where we worship. Therefore, as we consider our own weekly corporate worship gatherings, the details matter. There is nothing more disturbing than attending a disorganized worship service where little effort is placed in the planning of the songs, prayers, and preaching.
Have we considered the fact that God has gifted His children with spiritual gifts to be used for His glory? That involves everything from administrative gifts for planning, voices for singing, minds and voices for preaching, prosperity for giving, access to His throne for praying, and the list goes on. Everything about our weekly gathering from the early hours of Sunday to the final benediction on the Lord’s day is for God. Every body part (1 Corinthians 12) matters. God has arranged the parts of the body in such a way as to give Him glory.
Therefore, as we plan our worship this upcoming week, we must not take it lightly. We must gather to boast in the cross of Jesus Christ and refrain from wasting our worship. Every song matters! How we sing matters to God. The words we sing matter to God. The prayers are not breaks in the flow of the service. Each prayer matters to God. The sermon is not a professional speech by a professional Christian. The sermon is a two way street whereby we are all involved and interact together. The preaching goes out from the pulpit and each individual is responsible for what is being proclaimed. Every sentence matters to God. This is humbling for both the preacher and the entire church.
In reflecting upon this truth through my study of Exodus, I have tried to consider how many times I have preached twice on the Lord’s day and been in a sanctuary full of people with multiple songs during each service and completely failed to worship God. I was more focused upon the detail of the worship service. I was thinking about my sermon that I was about to preach. I was talking rather than praying. I was thinking about an earlier conversation or meeting rather than engaging in real worship. I have been guilty of wasting my worship.
What about you? Are you wasting your worship? Do you frequently neglect the assembling of the saints on the Lord’s day (Hebrews 10:25)? Don’t look at the Lord’s day as the Lord’s morning while you stake your claim to the afternoon. Sunday is God’s day and He deserves to be worshipped in corporate gatherings and restful reflection. If you are not in the mood to worship and think there is always next week for real worship, that may not be the case. This coming week may be the last time we are privileged to worship with the gathered church on the Lord’s day before we stand before the sovereign King of the universe.
Let’s make much of God and refrain from wasting our worship! We can begin that process today.
Just as an indescribable sunset or a breath-taking mountaintop vista evokes a spontaneous response, so we cannot encounter the worthiness of God without the response of worship. If you could see God at this moment, you would so utterly understand how worthy He is of worship that you would instinctively fall on you face and worship Him. 
- Don Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life, 87.
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