Week of February 11

Proper Worship Attire

Read: Exodus 39-40; Psalm 15; Acts 12

“O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?”
Psalm 15:1a, ESV


Who will reside in God’s house? I believe that most people decide when to calendar their worship attendance, and it never occurs to them that there might be requirements to enter God’s house. Christians in America have been coddled for decades and led to believe that engagement with God is an entitlement. Notice the irony of finite creatures approaching the Eternal Creator of the universe in this manner! He made us and determines how we may approach Him.
C. S. Lewis once said, “There is nothing indulgent about the Moral Law. It is as hard as nails. If God is like the Moral Law, then He is not soft.” On the one hand, the language the psalmist uses indicates that we indeed may “abide,” “tarry,” and “worship” in God’s dwelling place, while on the other hand, there are responsibilities attached to doing so. Let’s consider what God’s prescriptions are for worshiping Him.

The Meaning of the Text

There are qualifications for worshiping God
Have you ever paused on a Sunday morning and asked yourself, “What does God expect of me to enter His house of worship?” Most of us are consumed with what to wear, what our children will wear, and if we can get to church on time! The worshipers or pilgrims in our psalm ask the right question, “Who may enter your tent?” The psalmist, by using the word “tent,” may have had the more intimate tabernacle in mind. The priests answer in the verses that follow with ten necessary moral qualifications (vv. 2-5b; EBC; HCBC). In a narrow sense, the hymn instructs pilgrims in God’s requirements for them; and yet, if we take a broader view of the psalm, it teaches us what God expects of all who desire to live in His presence (EBC).
The heart of the hymn contains a potent moral message about the moral attire (character) that God’s children will wear (exhibit). The poetic structure may be illustrated as: A (v. 2) A’ (v. 3) B (v. 4) B’ (v.5a) (EBC). So, this means that the author beautifully rotates between positive and negative conditions. We all have heard way too many sermons preached on “what not to do,” but we have before us here a fully rounded perspective on moral living that pleases God.
How to properly clothe our lives for worship
Many faith traditions have catechisms, where adherents are acculturated to their faith. We have in Psalm 15 a short guide to the characteristics of a child of the Heavenly Father. We are given a way to embody God’s moral qualifications. The psalmist calls us to “frame holistically our moral lives.” He calls us to respect human life and dignity (vv. 3, “does not slander”; i.e., respects sanctity of life). God’s children will use their freedom wisely (v. 3a-c; i.e. autonomy). We are to be righteous and do the right thing (vv. 2, 4a-b, i.e., respects rights). And God’s people treat others fairly (v. 5a, i.e. justice). Let’s invite this truth to permeate our lives!

The Message for Your Heart

I preached at a funeral service early last week, and I spent a considerable amount of time ensuring that I would be properly attired. I have a favorite dress tie that was removed from the dress list because it had a food stain on it! I made sure that my shirt was pressed, and my shoes were shined. I earnestly sought to show respect to the family.
Remember always into whose presence we are entering. In a real sense, each step through the week is part of the worship journey. True worshipers reflect daily the nature and actions of the God they worship. Our gaze on the Heavenly Father leads us to God’s presence and sustains us in that place (cf. John 15:1-11).

For Thought and Action

1. What are you wearing in a moral sense each day (see 15:2-5a)? Reflect on the ways to frame your life in a way that God accepts. Make necessary changes because you seek to abide with the Lord.
2. For Families: Parents, to help our children remember that God is with them, watching them, guiding them daily, it might be good to place a sign above the door they exit to go out to play, to go to school, to go to church, each week. What kind of sign? One that incorporates the passage in today’s lesson.

Have an after-school snack prepared for them one day this week, and explain today’s devotional truth. God expects us to act responsibly as His people. Can just anyone walk with God? No. Those who love Him and obey Him can.

Ask your family to agree upon a phrase that will remind all of you to walk worthy of the God who has both created you and called you His own.

May your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock