Praise is equivalent to being in the outer courts of the temple, and worship is like approaching and then entering the Holy of Holies. The goal should be bringing the body together in unity, rejoicing or praising, and then moving into a time of intimacy with the Father, in preparation for hearing from Him both as a body and personally. He speaks through prophecy, the Word, words of knowledge or wisdom, and/or revelation. It might be in the sermon or message. It might be that as you read the Bible a sentence, phrase or chapter speaks to your heart. It can come in all kinds of ways. One way that is hard than many others is through a still, small voice. This is difficult because, in this day and age, finding time to be quiet enough to hear Him when the voice is still and small takes more effort than some of us are willing to put forth. How many of us can actually turn off the TV, the computer, the phone, the cell phone, and all other distractions to spend even just a little time listening for the voice of God? Do we even know how to do it? Would we recognize His voice if He spoke directly to us?
Have you taken the time to listen to God lately, or is your prayer life full of petitions and reminders to God about His promises? We should be spending more time praising God for what He’s done and for what He will be doing in our lives and the lives of those around us than telling Him what to do and how to do it. If you ask God to do something specific in a specific way, and His plan doesn’t include moving in that way, His only answer can be no. We need to remember that left to ourselves, we would be on our way to hell. We can’t even manage our own lives, much less the lives and needs of others. We are in need of His intervention in our lives in order to have hope for today and tomorrow. His promises encourage us. His hands surround us. His wings protect us. He deserves our praise, adoration, worship, and thanksgiving. Just getting up this morning was a blessing. Being able to dress yourself, feeding yourself, going to the bathroom, communicating your needs and desires — all these are blessings. Many people live without even the simple things we take for granted. For that, we should be full of praise and gratitude.
Setting ourselves aside for God doesn’t necessarily mean living in a hut in the desert (unless you’re called to do so), but it does mean thinking before we act about how our actions will reflect on Him. We are His ambassadors. People look to us to be examples of what it means to be a Christian. As a group we’ve fallen far behind in this area. Christians – not all, but enough to be noticed – get drunk, fornicate, commit adultery, steal, lie, commit fraud, gossip, dress immodestly, live together outside of marriage, and put ourselves before others; all of these are in defiance of the commands in the Word of God. We don’t display humility, but instead show off and act proudly. Instead of striving to be shown a good workman, we strive for worldly recognition and financial rewards. We see people in need and instead of helping them, we either pass right by or we proceed to preach at them about how their behavior led them to be in this situation – forgetting that it is God’s place to judge, not ours.
How should children of God act? Well, we should be gracious, honest, and kind. We should function with integrity and honor both at home and in the world. We should dress modestly and conduct ourselves in the same way. Avoid putting yourself in a position where you have to choose between right living and sin. Don’t go in bars. Don’t spend time alone with members of the opposite gender unless you are married or a sibling. Stay away from temptation as much as you can, and ask for help with the things you can’t avoid. Seek to honor others before yourselves. And, last but certainly not least,
That there is the most important way to live as set apart for God. Step aside and let Him have the first spot in your life, and then live that way.