The Problem With Our Present Praise

"The sins of the young men were very great in the sight of the Lord, for they were treating the Lord's offering with contempt." 
1 Samuel 2:17

CONTEMPT | n | the feeling with which a person regards anything as worthless;
disregard for something that should be respected

"Familiarity breeds contempt."
Aesop


In the first few chapters of 1 Samuel, we read about Eli. Eli is the prophet chosen by God to declare His word to the people at. The Bible tells us that, during this season, there were few messages coming from heaven - yet the responsibility of the Prophet and his workers were still to steward the Presence of God and offer the sacrifices of the people. 

We also read about Eli's sons. They had been employed with the responsibility of receiving people's offerings  and sacrifices unto the Lord (read 1 Samuel 2:12). The proper procedure of worship in that time was that people would come and boil the meat they were to sacrifice. While they boiled the meat, the priests would take a three-pronged pitchfork and drive it into the stew. Whatever came out on the pitchfork was the priests food. Sometimes it was fatty meat, other times it was choice meat. 

Eli's sons didn't want to take the chance of getting anything other than the best possible cuts. Instead of following the Lord's commands, they would rob the people of their sacrifices and take the best parts first. If the people didn't offer up their best sacrifice, they would take it by force. 

Eli's sons also had a history of having sex with the women coming to the temple to worship.

The worst part is that Eli knew all about what was going on and chose to do nothing. Because of this, God prophesies against Eli and informs him that his lineage will die and suffer - he will be replaced by a true prophet that has regard for the holiness of the sacrifice of God. 

Before I get into the contemporary application, I need you to know that the reason I am sharing this with you is because I feel very strongly about what I am writing.

I believe that this is a prophetic message to our generation of worshippers and that God is calling us to ready ourselves for a great awakening of His Spirit. 


THE SERVANTS

Under the laws of the Old Covenant, only the Levites could attend to the House of God. Only the select few could handle holy things that pertained to the very Presence of God. They were God's special "servants;" they were His priesthood. 

"That is why the Levites have no share or inheritance among their fellow Israelites; the LORD is their inheritance." 
Deuteronomy 2:9

These priests weren't even given the same shares of the promised land because their "inheritance" or "prize," if you will, was the very act of ministering to and handling of the Presence of God. He was their possession. 

In the New Covenant, the veil of separation has been torn. Instead of having a sect of people who handle the Presence, we have now all become handlers of His Presence. 

"But now you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light." 
1 Peter 2:9

We have been declared as Priests to our God and Father - ministering to Him day and night.

We are all on the same level now. There is no distinction: we each have the responsibility to steward the presence of God with the same level of honor and respect as the Levitical priests.

But what is our sacrifice? 


THE SACRIFICE

Just as the Israelites came with sacrifices to offer unto the Lord, so do we come with sacrifices. We do not come with bulls and goats, lambs or sheep. Under the New Covenant, God requires a new type of sacrifice: 

"Through Jesus, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of our lips - that openly profess His name." 
Hebrews 13:15

"Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy to offer up your bodies as living sacrifices - wholly and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper act of worship."
Romans 12:1

Our sacrifice is twofold:
it is the PRAISE on our LIPS and the PRODUCE of our LIVES. 

We continually come to God with these two sacrifices - both are described as worship. Yet, I believe in our 21st century worship culture - it is easy to fall into the same sin that sons of Eli committed. 


THE SIN

"The sins of the young men were very great in the sight of the Lord, for they were treating the Lord's offering with contempt." 
1 Samuel 2:17

CONTEMPT | n | the feeling with which a person regards anything as worthless; 
disregard for something that should be respected

The sin of the sons of Eli was simply this: they treated something, that should have been regarded as HOLY, as familiar.

As I read this the other day my heart sunk into deep conviction. You see, I've been leading worship ever since I was 7 years old. It's something that I have done for many years and because of this, it is easy to treat it as something familiar - something normal and mechanical. 

It's easy to put a set together, get on stage and lead through it with no regard for the tangible presence of God. I'll be honest with you - I have done this more than I can remember to admit. 

You may not be a worship leader, but simply being alive in the 2015 church culture, you are surrounded by worship. The music, the media, the very act of worship paints a picture of moving lights, loud sound systems and or hipster acoustic sessions surrounded by cups of coffee. None of these things are bad, wrong or unGodly - however... 

I wonder if, because of our constant proximity to the Presence of God, we have become familiar with something Holy and treated it with contempt. 

I wonder if, because of our commercialized worship culture, we as leaders have overlooked the sins of our sons - younger in the Lord and unfamiliar with His Holiness - and have ignored their ignorance towards the handling of God's Presence to execute a job.

I wonder if, because of our desire for power and pleasure, that we have looked to receive the "best parts" for ourselves to elevate us and our ministries - seducing the Bride away from the beauty of Jesus and onto ourselves. 

I wonder if, because we have dishonored the Lord, we aren't seeing the prophetic release that we long for. 

"Those who honor me, I will honor. Those who dishonor me will be disdained."
1 Samuel 2:30b


THE SEARCH 

"For the eyes of the Lord search throughout all the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are completely His."
2 Chronicles 16:9

I believe that God is looking to raise up a prophetic generation that moves in the power of the Holy Spirit, carries His Presence and declares His Word.


They will look like Him because they know what it looks like to minister before Him in holiness. 

To be this people, I feel we need to come back to a place of reverence for our two types of worship: 

1. The Praise of Our Lips

When we worship together, we must not take it lightly. We must treat it with familiarity. Let us recognize the access we have been given and HONOR the Presence of God. He promises to honor those who honor Him - I believe that when we place a high level of reverence on His Presence, we will see a release of Glory that is unprecedented. 

2. The Produce of Our Lives

We must take the holiness of our lives seriously. Our bodies and our minds are the contemporary altars unto God and it is easy, because of the powerful and incredible grace of God, to take that grace for granted. Instead of becoming familiar with the gift of His Spirit in us, let us take it seriously and offer holiness as a gift for God's fire to come and burn cleanly upon us. Yes - Jesus has covered us in His Blood. So how much more should we give our lives completely as pure offerings unto the Lord? 

I believe that if we position ourselves with honor and adoration - we will be the "prophet whose heart belongs to God" like Samuel.

We will not miss out on the visitation and habitation of the Holy Spirit - we will be a prophetic generation who cannot be ignored because we carry the same glory that we minister to. 

 

-Jared Ellis


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