A Call to Worship

Rev. Hanko is a minister emeritus in the Protestant Reformed Churches.

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.

Psalm 95:6

Let us worship our Maker.

The Lord, great and greatly to be praised. He is the only true and living God, besides whom there is and can be no other. He is a great God and a great King above all gods.

Idol gods are the work of men's hands, set up before the face of the living God. Our God is in the heavens, far beyond all that is creature.

He is our Maker. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and all that they contain. He spoke and it was; He commanded and it stood forth. In six days the Almighty brought forth a perfect creation by the Word of His mouth and the power of His Spirit. He saw all that He had made and it was very good, exactly according to His eternal plan. The angels worship before Him saying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, heaven and earth are filled with thy glory."

You and I, His creatures, are "fearfully and wonderfully made." In God's appointed time we are given our birth and our being from the parents appointed for us from all eternity. The Lord formed and shaped us as individuals. Throughout all the generations of mankind there are no two persons alike in appearance or in character. We receive our own specific place in the midst of our family and all other relationships, each one of us serving his own purpose in carrying out the counsel of God every moment of his existence here on earth. "O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches" (Ps. 105:24).

Even more than that, we are recreated, renewed by a second birth with a life from above. We are born again, not of flesh and blood, but by the Spirit of Christ and by the Word that liveth and abideth forever. The life of the resurrected Lord is implanted in us, making us new creatures who belong to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ. Within us is the beginning of the joy and peace of eternal life. Adam and Eve knew God as the Creator of all that exists. We know Him as our Creator, but also as our Re-creator, who makes all things new. How wondrous are His doings and His ways past finding out!

The same God who made the universe also upholds, controls, and governs all that exists. Summer and winter, springtime and harvest are all in His hand. He causes the sun to rise each morning, carries it through the skies, and causes it to set in the evening. Every drop of rain falls where He directs it. He prepares food for man and beast, even the common sparrow is under His care. He also sends storms and disasters according to His wise and eternal purpose. He carries out His counsel through the thoughts, words, and deeds of His chosen people, but no less through every act and deed of Satan and wicked men. "For the Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil" (Prov. 16:4).

Yet every one of us remains responsible for every moment of our life here upon earth. In the great Day of days we will stand before the Judge of heaven and earth to carry away the deeds of the body, whether they be good or evil. The righteous in Christ Jesus will shine as the sun, while the wicked are condemned to everlasting desolation. How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out. For of Him, and through Him, and unto Him are all things forever and ever! O that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, for all His mighty works!

All creation, and every creature in particular, proclaims the glory of its Maker. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge. Throughout the hours of the night the heavens declare the immensity, the majesty, the wisdom of God, and also much more. Where there is no interference of city lights we can see the canopy of the heavens with all its splendor, each star hanging like a lamp in the sky, seemingly near enough for us to reach out and touch it. We see the countless number of stars, the planets, the constellations as the great wonders of the heavens. In the daytime we see right in our own front and back yard God's mighty works, in the grass, in the trees, in the flowers, and in the birds. All nature joins in singing its Maker's praise. Let us bow down in worship and adoration!

This sovereign Lord is our God and Father in Christ Jesus, whom we acknowledge as the supreme Ruler of our lives. All that befalls us in this vale of tears comes to us from Him who withholds no good thing from those who fear Him. There are events in life that we regard as sad tragedies, which, as some would say, God did not will and could not prevent. We might even be tempted to cry out with the patriarch Jacob: "All these things are against me!" Yet Paul assures us: "If God be for us, who can be against us? ... Nay, but in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Rom. 8:31, 37). It is exactly the comfort of the saints that their unchangeable God keeps covenant. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Let us bow in worship before the Lord our Maker.

A bit of soul-searching at this point is not out of place.

We are dependent creatures, yet we often fail to realize how dependent we are. Our inclination is to compare the universe to huge machinery that has been set in motion and now runs by its own power. We say: "It rains," "it is cold," "the sun shines," giving little thought to the fact that God upholds and governs all things. We often live and act as if we can take care of and provide for ourselves — except when an emergency arises and God must be called in. The fact is that we can neither see nor hear, nor move a muscle, without the sustaining power of our God. We say, "I need Thee every hour," while the reality is, "I need Thee every second of my existence." Apart from God's omnipresent power we could not even exist.

We are pilgrims and strangers on the earth. Yet we so readily forget. We are so busy striving for the bread that perishes that we hardly find time to care for our spiritual welfare. Especially in these affluent times, with all our modern conveniences, we are busier than ever. Our life becomes one grand rush toward — what? We sorely need to return to the intimacy of the family life in the home, the quiet time for meditation, reading, studying the Scriptures, and prayer. Our real home is in heaven and our real life is still to come. This life is but a preparation, a mere foretaste at best. O that we could keep our goals straight and worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

What about our values? Where is our real treasure, here on earth or in heaven? When we stand before the throne of God on the day of judgment we will not be asked whether we were prominent and successful in business, whether we made a name for ourselves among men, whether we gave our children the luxuries of this present time. But we will be asked: "What did you do with the talents that were entrusted to you? Did you strive to use those talents to My glory personally? As parent? As child of God? As member of My church? As part of the communion of saints?" Will Jesus say: "I was an hungered and you gave Me meat; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in, naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came unto Me"? Do we thank and praise Him for the privilege of serving Him?

We are stewards of God in His creation. We cannot lay a finger on one thing that we can call our own — not our body, husband or wife, son or daughter, house or hard-earned money, automobile or stocks. They are all the means that God has entrusted to us to serve Him. We are accountable to Him for what we have done with the talents He gave to us. At very best we are unprofitable stewards who have done nothing more than our duty. We earn no stars in our crown. The glory is all the Lord's, even as in heaven we shall live solely unto Him and worship Him with our whole being forever.

Are you and I happy, thankful children of God? A thankful Christian is a joyful person. Scripture tells us: "Rejoice in the Lord!" And then for emphasis it adds, "Again I say, Rejoice!" Are we happy with what we have, that is, with what God has given us? I remember seeing a slovenly dressed man in New York who was going from one trash can to another to search for something to eat. He came upon a partially eaten hamburger, took out the meat and ate it, and threw the rest back. The thought keeps recurring to me: Except for the grace of God, that could be I. Why did God determine that I be born of Christian parents, who brought me up in a Christian home, in the church, and in a Christian school? Why should I have been privileged to confess Christ as my Savior and Lord in the midst of the communion of saints, and have a place among them all the days of my life? And really, when we count our blessings one by one, we do have so much, so very much. And we deserve nothing. In fact, we daily forfeit all those blessings by our sins. The God of all grace bestows all these blessings upon us, and much more. For our spiritual life, with all its benefits, comes freely unto us from above from day to day, even from moment to moment. O that men would thank the Lord for His goodness, and all His mighty works!

One of the most blessed of God's gifts is the gift of prayer. We can approach God at any time and under any circumstance. We need no appointment weeks in advance, no appointment at all. We need no telephone, nor any other instrument, for the line is always open between God and us. When we call upon Him we hear no busy-buzz, no voice directing us to press this or that number, for God's ear is always attentive to all our needs. We never call on Him too often or too long. Although one would think that He would grow weary of all our petty, if not wrong and foolish, requests, He is patient with us. He listens, hears, and understands, as only our heavenly Father can understand. For as an earthly father has compassion upon his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.

The best moments of our lives, in fact the closest we come to heaven in this life, are the times we spend on our knees in humble worship and prayer. As we sing from the Psalter: "In sweet communion, Lord, with Thee I constantly abide; My hand Thou holdest in Thy own to keep me near Thy side." And also: "Whom have I, Lord, in heaven but Thee, to Whom my thoughts aspire? And, having Thee, on earth is nought that I can yet desire."

But that means humbling ourselves before the Lord our Maker. Jesus says: "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3). The apostle John calls us his "little children." In comparison with the infinite God we are smaller, more helpless, and more dependent than a wee babe in its mother's arms.

To know and confess that is essential, if our lives are to be lives of prayer, if we are to pray without ceasing, offering unto God the sacrifice of our hearts and lips. As the fathers expressed it: "Man is nothing, God is all in all." He is worthy of all the praise and adoration of our lives. That is the eternal blessedness of heavenly perfection! "O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker!"