Worship

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What is Worship?

Worship is a covenant and call from our Lord to come before Him and meet with Him with reverence, gladness, and joy. It is a call to know Him intimately and express appreciation to Him with praise and thanksgiving, doing so with passion, sincerity, conviction, and in reverent fear and trembling. Worship is the aptitude, attitude, and practice of expressing the desire to know our Lord and Savior further, and being grateful for Who He Is and what He has done for us. Worship is the giving of our best to Him. And, we do this because we are His; we give Him our heart that is already His. He has given His best to us already; in addition, we are enveloped into His eternal love and care for pure and useful purposes.

Do You Know What Worship Is?

When the average Christian thinks about worship, he tends to think about music or how a service is planed out. Perhaps a favorite hymn comes to mind or a praise song that captivated him or her in some moving response. Singing is an expression of worship, but it is not worship.
The problem many of us face in understanding and doing worship is we miss the main point. We get so caught up in the mechanics and formal preparations that we miss the reason for our coming together for worship. Others think that worship is boring, or dread it, and thus neglect it. Do you think worship is boring? Do you dread dragging the kids to church with all the hassles that go with it? “For what?” you say. Perhaps, we become hard or disappointed with God and no longer feel like worshiping Him. Conceivably, we may only be interested in emotional reactions¾how we feel and what we get¾so there is no real, active, heartfelt participation on our part. Perhaps, the song selection and the melodic, correct, and favored instruments and harmony are not the problem; rather, it is our attitude and limited knowledge of what we are to do and be in worship. There is no place in Scripture where someone encounters God and says it is not relevant or he or she is bored. If we become bored in our church, possibly it is our reverence and attitude that is wrong; perhaps our passion has disappeared. Worship becomes boring or a hassle because we want to be pleased, or because we yearn for whatever the latest happenings are and we are not receiving them. But, we have to realize that boredom comes from a heart that is detached from the focus and object of the worship, which is Christ. We are not paying attention to the One we should. Our boredom is a personal and spiritual problem of a lost focus, or of carelessness or laziness. It is like an addiction to the latest fad and what moves us rather than what we are to bring. We must reengage our hearts and minds, be renewed to Christ, and be satisfied by what He has done in us. When we worship, we are to respond to Him and only to Him. It comes down to our surrendering our will over to His, so He is more and we are submitted to Him (Isaiah 59:16; Psalm 34:8; 63:1-4; John 3:30; Rom. 12).
Worship is not about how we do it; it is about why we do it. Good worship is not about the “right things” as we see it; it is about being right in Christ and expressing our gratitude to Him. Our hearts need to be engaged in bringing our joy and gladness to and for Him as the object of our worship. Our desire needs to be satisfied by being in His presence, not by the melodies, the tunes, or the forms and procedures. We come into the Lord's presence with joy and exuberance from a heart of gratitude¾not because of the pleasing sounds of the worship band or organ, or getting what we want from it. Never let worship be just an emotional response to the music, how the service is structured, or what we are used to; if this is so, you and your church have missed the point by a very large degree! The bottom line of effectual, true worship of our Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord comes down to being God—centered and not self—centered, as in only interested in meeting the needs of those who come and not Who we are to proclaim. We are not to focus on what concerns or satisfies us; rather, our focus should be on how we come to Him and meet with Him—all to please Him. Worship Means We Are to Glorify Our Lord
Our chief purpose in life is to give Christ glory. This is proclaimed in Scripture (Psalm 73:25-28; 1 Cor. 10:31; Rom. 11:36),

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (English Standard Version)

“For(A) from him and through him and to him are all things.(B) To him be glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36 (English Standard Version)

in our confessions of faith, and must be so in the practice of our faith. Again, it is not about us, it is about Him! It is interesting to note that many false teachers use these verses out of their context to proclaim that God is a divine bellhop who delivers to us our whims and desires—that we seek Him to please ourselves and get what we want. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no guarantee that God will give us anything, and we certainly do not deserve anything. Out of His grace will come splendors and treasures for us in His time, perhaps in this life, but certainly in the life to come. It is this same perverted thinking that twists what worship is, falsifies who Christ is, and misrepresents how we are to approach Him. What we need to ask ourselves is if the glory of God is in our mindset when we sit in our churches and begin to worship? If not, why not? To begin our worship, our minds need to be focused on Him, with the will and desire to glorify Christ. Perhaps we should ask ourselves, what enchants me? What is my pleasure? Where is my treasure? Where is my gain? These questions will show our character and where we receive our drive and thinking. These are the guidelines that motivate our designs and decisions, and how we treat our Lord and one another. This is also how collectively, we as a body of believers will treat our neighbors and one another. Having a mindset of glorifying Christ will affect all we do in life. It will enhance our relationships, center our church, and cause us to be more fruitful in what He has for us. Remember that the essential element in worship is that all who proclaim God as Lord must also be devoted to Him. That is, we must love Him, we respect Him, and we fear (as in awe) and reverence Him. We are to worship Him and only Him in glory, and what He has done in deeds. We can take comfort and assurance that the worship we have toward the Father does not fall on deaf ears. We are meeting with our Father and not a tyrant. We are to seek His presence, apply it to ourselves, and then to others

Worship Means We Are to Fear our Lord

We are to “Fear God.” This means we are to reverence God as our Lord, We are to come before God in this way, along with humbleness (1 Pet. 5:6). We bring Him our endearment and respect with more meaning, power, and intensity. This is the reverence and awe of God before His holiness that He seeks (Job 28:28; Prov. 1:7; 3:5; 8:13; 9:10; 16:6; 31:30; Psalm 2:11; 34:11; 111:10; Isa. 12:6; Eccl. 12: 13; Mal. 1:14; Matt. 10: 27-33; Rom. 2:11; James 2:1).
And he said to man,
'The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.' " Job 28:28
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding Proverbs 3:5

"Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king," says the LORD Almighty, "and my name is to be feared among the nations. Malachi 1:14

It does not mean we are afraid of Him; rather, we are fearful of His wrath and in awe of His presence (Matt. 11:28; Rom. 3).

The book of Proverbs states that the fear of God is the foundation of learning and growing, as Jesus confirmed in Matthew 10:27—33, making this precept clear. Fear helps us focus on Him, realizing His awesome holiness and our unworthiness. Then, we can bring Him a respectful attitude, one of wonder and admiration, and there is nothing that can hold us back from proclaiming His praise. What happens when we do not have a fear of God? It means we do not respect Him and continue to place ourselves first. Proverbs tells us that this is the attitude of a fool!

"How long will you simple ones [a] love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge? Proverbs 1:22

These are also the reprobates in Romans, chapter one, who trust in themselves and not God, who hate knowledge and correction. They seek distortion and destruction of themselves and others.

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates correction is stupid. Proverbs 12:1

He who trusts in himself is a fool,
but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe. Proverbs 28:26

They stir others to strife and contention, totally opposite of what we are to do on this earth (Prov. 1:22; 1:31-23; 5:12; 12:1; 14:1; 11; 20:3; 28:26; 29:11)!

Worship is to be Real

Real, sincere, God—exalting adoration must be the focus of worship in our daily walk with Him. Worship is real when we fully realize that it has only one true agenda, and that is…you should get this now…God! As He is our reason and purpose for life and all that we do, so our worship, as Scripture proclaims, must be also. It is not to be how we benefit from it, but how we promote God and His Kingdom. It is our response to His Word that affects our character, maturity, and growth in Him. We need to know Him before we can truly honor Him more deeply. As we get to know His holiness, character, and percepts, we seek to know, learn, and apply them to our life. This encourages and promotes our ability, and supports our drive to worship. In a church, the essence of the service must propagate to the attendees to worship, as in the reading of the Word, the preaching of the Word, the liturgies, confessions, music, and so forth. All of these instruct us about His nature so we can know and worship Him more. God speaks to us, and then we speak back in our adorations, and in our behaviors toward one another (Psalm 105:3; 1 Cor. 6:20).
We need to be aware that it is human nature to listen to our desires rather than to God. We live in a culture that tells us to be “me—centered,” yet God wants us to draw close to Him. Therefore, we have to get ourselves lined up with His Way and not ours. We are to worship in the way God has revealed to us; Worship is about aligning ourselves to Christ according to His precepts(A rule or principle prescribing a particular course of action or conduct. Law An authorized direction or order; a writ), not our preferences. If we do not, we are drawing near to idols and self-expressions, sweeping ourselves into idolatry. This is what the second commandment is all about (Ex. 20:4-6; 1 John 5:20-21). The bottom line is that we are to be focused on God not on anything else.

Worship is to Praise God

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise¾the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:15-16) Our offerings today are not about dragging our livestock or pets to be sacrificed. Jesus was our sacrifice. So then, what do we bring? We bring ourselves! We bring a heart that desires Him, a will that is surrendered to Him, and a life that is dedicated to Him. Our sacrifice today is what flows from our heart, our love and adoration of our Lord. We are to be so full of love for our Lord that it flows to those around us. Our praise, as drawn from this text, is a peace offering of thanksgiving. This means our Lord wants us to be devoted to Him with our whole being, all the time and in all that we do.n There should be no circumstance we could ever face where praise does not flow from our lips. Our praise is to acknowledge Christ alone, by faith alone, and by His grace alone. There should be nothing from us but that faith. What we have to sacrifice is our person, ability, and availability to His purpose. When we first give ourselves, everything else will be easy because pride and hoarding will be eliminated as well as materialism. We can sacrifice our wallets and purses to His service. Time, talents, and treasures should flow willingly from us to Him in service with joy and gladness. This involves our intellect in knowing Him as well as our emotions in praising Him. The biggest praise is what flows from our lips. The thanksgiving for His saving grace should flow with passion and conviction. The primary testimony that we are effectively praising God is the result our praise has on our friends, family, and neighbors. When we are in a healthy relationship of praise, the church reaps benefits of health and vitality. This beckons to the world who our Lord is and what He does. This is the sacrifice of praise because it distracts from our ego and self and points toward His presence. True praise places our focus on our Lord and helps remove us from our sin and selfish nature.

What Worship is Not

What worship is not is just a routine or rhetoric we do to fill air time on Sundays between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., or something we do by compulsion or by habit. Worship is not about the set up, the instruments, or the traditions. It is not liturgies or confessions, although these are means to worship Him. Worship is not to be mundane or ordinary, although we can worship Him in the mundane and ordinary aspects of life. Our God is not ordinary or mundane; He is Magnificent and Omnipresent. Thus, we need to make sure our worship does not become monotonous or it will become meaningless. We must see ourselves in His presence whether we are in a splendid cathedral, on a beach, or in a basement, hiding from those who would persecute us. Worship is not for unbelievers, although they are, of course, welcomed. Worship is not evangelism nor is it to be a platform from which to invite people to know Him. Worship is primarily for Believers who have been paid for by Christ, to come together to express praise for Him. It is about Christians proclaiming Christ as Lord. Thus, is must be taken seriously and passionately and never compromised or watered down. We must realize that the gospel and our Lord offend, and people who are not in Him will not understand it (John 6:61-67). That does not mean we patronize to their ways and do silly things like remove our cross or neuter our message or take the essence away, afraid we will hurt somebody's feelings. Yes, we will offend! Praise God in that! We are to evangelize with our attitudes and activities, but never water down or subjugate our worship of Him to please those who do not know or understand Him. When we do this, we miss the point and do our church a disservice, our community a disservice (because they are not getting an accurate picture of worship; they need to see sincerity, not pretentiousness) and most of all, we are not glorifying our Lord (Lev. 10:1-7; 1 Sam. 15:22; Psalm 1; 131; 2:11; Matt. 15:8-9)! We tend to think that when we come to church, we should feel emotionally moved or be seeking what we can get out of it. Worship does not depend upon where we are or if we are pleased or moved. Yes, worship should be pleasing and we should be moved, but not in the way a lot of us Christians today think. We tend to think we are the ones to be pleased and moved, but this is the opposite of true worship. He is to be pleased and we should be moved when we are pleasing Him. It is not about feeling good or being caught up in the experience or being affirmed or feeling good about self. It is purely giving Christ the glory. It is about bringing self into His presence with awe and reverence, joy and exuberance! Do you see the difference? The exuberance, energy, and excitement we are to feel is not what we receive, it is what we give…what we give to Him…and then we should feel good about that too (Psalm 111:1; Isaiah 29:13; Matt. 15:6; 1 Cor. 11:20; Col. 2:23). How do we get our worship right? Basically, we need to understand what worship is, and then we can go before our Lord in prayer, repent of our misguided ways of doing worship, and seek His ways. Then, we can start to do worship with sincerity, joy, and eagerness. Worship involves our whole being. We must engage our intellect so we can know Him and His precepts, then we are to “feel” Him and partake in His presence. These are exercises that we do not just get up and do; we slowly learn over the entirety of our earthy lives. We partake, and in the struggle and practice, we get to know Him and experience Him more. He will transform us; we have to receive His transforming power and grow it as we do with Faith and Fruit. As this takes place, we become more of His and less in us. We become mature in the Spirit and in the Truth, and our lives will touch others more profoundly and deeper. This also takes a commitment to continually practice walking in His presence. You can do it; the only one stopping you is you. Take the step and walk in His ways. Be a Christian who really and truly has a will that has been transferred to Him and a mind that is renewed in Him, and then tell Him so with gladness and joy. This is a process that will last a lifetime, so be in prayer and seek Christ, for He first sought you!

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