I am writing this because as much as my life is tied to the worship of God, I have also experienced periods of waiting. I have been so challenged by the devotions I have had for the last three days. At times I try to conceal it inside me but, the Holy Spirit brings it out. I am so happy that God has always illuminated my grey areas in my life daily as I write these devotions. We know from scripture that God is a God to be worshiped. In John 4:23-24 Jesus gives us His criteria for right worship. In Revelation 4 and 5 we see a lot of kneeling and bowing going on in the heavenly realm. And the prophet Isaiah’s worship, in recognition of God’s awesome majesty, moved him to repentance. (See Isaiah 6:1-5)
We also know from scripture that God is a God of wait. David said “I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined to me, and heard my cry” Psalm 40:1a. The prophet Isaiah wrote “…they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. . .” Isaiah 40:31a. The Psalmist teaches us to “wait on the Lord, and be of good courage; He shall strengthen thine heart” Psalm 27:14. I noticed in each of these passages that God either did, or promised to do, something in response to our waiting. To me, that’s good news because that tells me that my waiting period is never in vain if I trust Him. It is always good to read the whole verse, rather than just a portion of it; and then not too fast because you might run over something.
Waiting is a hard thing but always rewards. I am in a waiting season right now. And as much as I want to move from where I am to where I want to be, it really isn’t about me. After reading Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life I learnt that with all that I have experienced in my life – the good and the bad – it’s not about me, and it never has been. I have been in seasons of waiting before, and God used all of it to accomplish His intended purpose. My job is to spend my wait time worshiping God. When we worship God in the waiting season we acknowledge it is all about Him, He is still God, and most importantly, He is still in control. One thing that god has brought out so clear to me during my waiting moments is that He is in no way obligated to respond to my whining and complaining, but He will respond to my sincere worship of Him. I have never found in His Word where it says God will act on my faithless gripes and unsatisfied moans. The Word of God says “..it is impossible to please God without faith” Hebrews 11:6.
So while we are aware of the fact that He hears us and understands, the best thing for us to do is change our attitude to one of thanksgiving, rather than lament of our inability to manipulate an omnipotent God. I am not God, and frankly, I don’t want to be. I’m glad I am who I am and He is who He is. In Isaiah 43:10c we see there was no God before Him, and there will be no God after Him. While I seek to know Him better, and walk closer to Him, I have no desire to be Him. My pastor Rev. Mucangi told me something that I have never forgotten. He said “time spent waiting on God is never wasted time”. People may want you to act towards you in a given situation when you have chosen to wait on God. As well-meaning as they are, some people cannot stand in agreement with you when you’ve taken the position to wait on God. Truth be known, many of us miss the blessing of God in our lives by listening to people, rather than listening to God.
Worship is a wonderful place to be as you wait on God, and believe His promises. So as not to be misunderstood, my use of the word “worship” does not denote “being at church”. Let me clarify. Many people place “being at church” and “worship” in the same category whereas the two are distinctly different. Worship is the last thing on some churchgoers’ minds Sunday after Sunday. Worship is not a ritual or merely a weekly exercise. It is an encounter driven by a love relationship with a Holy God. Both worship and coming to church are acts of the will, but the difference is being in church only involves physical presence, while Worship involves a surrendered heart. It does not take a surrendered heart to show up at church each Sunday, but it does to enter into God’s presence – into the Holy of Holies, if you will. In the Old Testament only the priest could enter the inner court where God’s presence dwelt. (Hebrews 9:6-7) but because of Jesus, those who have received Him into our hearts can enter into His presence by His blood. (Hebrews 10:19-20).
Worship is a matter of the heart, as is waiting on God. We can say we are waiting on God, but are we complaining in our hearts? Or are we daily searching the scriptures to find the peace we need while we wait? We can fool other people, but we can never fool God. He knows the secrets of our hearts. He knows whether our worship is real or not. David was cautioning his son that he cannot hide his thoughts from God, and therefore admonishes Solomon to serve God with a whole heart. This is what he told him “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever” I Chronicles 28:9
Please let me encourage you to enter into private worship; just you and God. Allow yourself to become spiritually naked before Him, and be honest with God and tell him your heart. Tell him you’ve grown tired of waiting, but turn the tide on your impatience and begin a renewed trust in God by way of total, unashamed worship before Him. In your Spirit-controlled worship, whether private or corporate, you will find that God is listening, and is ready to move you to a new level of trust in Him as you worship while you wait.
“There came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she broke the box and poured it on his head” Mark 14:3
Let me start by sharing this experience I have had in my life. Severally, during the praise and music part of our church service I have undergone an intense experience which I wondered why until it grew clear yesterday. Praise and worship music is meant to be a sacrifice. And God can’t accept a tainted sacrifice. Cain’s sacrifice was refused by God because his heart wasn’t in the right condition (Genesis 4:3-5). Jesus also said that if we come to the altar with our sacrifice and remember that we have something out of harmony with our brother, then leave the sacrifice there, go and be reconciled with our brother, then return and offer the sacrifice (Matthew 5:23-24). Also, the church as a whole is in a state of lukewarmness. Many are mistaking a lively, dynamic service as being somehow able to make up for a complacent apathetic week of Christian living. People are not being honest and real through the week, are not mending damaged relationships, are living in intentional sins, and then expect to walk into Sunday service and praise God for His goodness . . . and expect to have that praise accepted!
As the music flowed around the church, as people clapped and sang and praised the Lord, I felt an invisible shell harden around me. The music was beautiful but it couldn’t touch me. As I experienced this, a great sorrow filled me and tears came. It dawned on me that this was what God was feeling at that moment. People were making music and praising Him but it did not touch His heart and that left Him sad. We should be challenged to get real with God before we bother with Sunday music. God is not currently accepting the praise of many, because they are offering tainted sacrifices.
Did you ever wonder why this woman did not just open the lid and dab a little ointment on Jesus? Couldn’t she have used some if it on Him and saved the rest? After all, this ointment was very costly. Spikenard was an ointment imported from India. One whole jar of it would have cost the equivalent of a common worker’s annual income. This was more than a token gesture; this was a sacrificial offering. The woman was Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. She is mentioned in the gospels three times and each time she is found at the feet of Jesus. Mary knew what real worship was about. The highest purpose of worship is for God, not for us as Mary demonstrates by her actions and her offering. Mary didn’t just use a portion of ointment to anoint Jesus. She did not try to keep any of it for her own purposes; instead she broke the box, and poured out all the ointment, eliminating any possibility of its being saved for another occasion. Many of us want to worship the Lord with all kinds of restrictions and reservations. They make a great demonstration of their token gifts, but they keep the greater part of their lives for themselves. They may give an hour or two to God each week, but the rest belongs to them. They may give to God a small percentage of their income, but they retain ownership of the rest. They may use some of their talents and gifts in God’s service, but the greater part is expended in self-interest. Such people know nothing of true worship and understand nothing about the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Jesus uses broken vessels and a broken vessel can no longer retain its contents. It is powerless to withhold; therefore, it freely spills out all that is within it. This is the purpose of the breaking. It is not so God can take pleasure in our pain. No! The pain is part of the process when we are broken, but it is not the purpose. The goal is the fragrance, the sweet aroma that fills the air…and the nostrils of God. Although Mary was a host to many, she was a worshipper of one and her actions alone transformed the dinner into a worship service. Her worship was rejected by those in the room but she didn’t allow rejection to dictate her response (worship) to Jesus. The fragrance of her gift alone brought all the attention to Him. She wiped His feet with her hair which for a woman signifies her glory and identity. She invested herself in worship to Christ and became low to lift Him high. The spikenard, her gift that day, also represents the essence of the contents of our heart. Our mind, will and emotions are the ingredients that make the fragrance of life so valuable. We must be willing to break the box around our hearts to release our praise unto God.
Many worship inside the boxes of religion, pride, religious personalities or musical styles. Only through this process the pure love of a broken life will become the anointed fragrance of worship by which we can adorn our Savior. Worship touches the heart of God and it is so precious to Him. No matter how much we have tasted of the presence of God. No matter how sometimes comfortable we feel at ease because we know He loves us and that we could come into His bosom and just love Him and let Him love us, we should never lose that awesome holy fear of His presence. No matter how many times you have tasted His presence; no matter how many times you have entered into the most holy place, that freshness and that holiness and awesomeness of His fear is tremendous. The holy fear of His presence always remains. And it is in the heart of God. There is a time in your life as you walk with God you always have a desire to please Him. For example, if you really love your wife, sometimes you think of some ways you could show your love. That is the way we have in God. I want to know what moves God.
Honest, untainted and real worship is the secret of touching the heart of God. It is something that pleases Him so much; you could almost feel His pleasure. Do you know that in heaven if God smiles, there is some power that flows from Him to our lives? Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God. Do you know what that kind of faith that pleases God? That faith involves a sacrifice of worship. When you look at verse 7 Noah, verse 8 Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Enoch and all other people; you will notice one thing is common – Each one of them paid a price to love God and to walk with Him. Something becomes meaningful when it has cost you something and you give it to God as worship. When Abraham offered Isaac it meant everything to him. You could feel the feelings of what a holy sacrifice is. To give all that you love, all that is dear and precious to you and pour it before God as an incense of worship. I want to make it very clear that it is not just sacrifice alone; it has to be a sacrifice based on a heart of love and worship.
You can love God and your love for God will cost you to surrender many things because of love. You can’t love without giving, because when you love you want to give. But you can give without loving. And that’s what some of the people in the bible did. For example in Isaiah 1, Jeremiah 6, God told the people “I am tired of your sacrifices. I am tired of your incense because you don’t obey My Word. You don’t follow My Word”. God was against those sacrifices. It is not that He is against all sacrifices. He was against the sacrifices that don’t cost us anything. David was known as a man after God’s heart. You know why God loved him? He knew how to touch God’s heart and how to give his best to God. All of us have a public life and a private life. Our private life must be consistent with our public life. I want you to know that there are millions of people all over the earth worshiping God. If you know how to touch the heart of God you will make a difference. There is something about the sacrifice of worship that God bypass the millions of people and come to you. Jesus said to the woman in the well in John chapter 4 and says that the Father seeks those who worship Him in spirit and in truth. Those who really know to worship God, God will bypass the millions of people and come to you.
This was the secret of David’s worship in God. He had something different in his heart. He didn’t take his relationship with God lightly. When he did anything for God he didn’t do it the same way that he would do for anybody else. David had many happy moments. He did rejoice when he conquered Jerusalem; he did rejoice when he became king of Israel; he didn’t rejoice in the same way when he conquered all his enemies; but when the ark of God enters Jerusalem David was dancing and leaping like a mad man. Some of his closest folks didn’t understand David. There was something different about his life. He knew how to touch the heart of God.
When I worship God, I want him to know that this is how much I love Him. I don’t want a discounted worship. I want God to know that when it comes to Him I am willing to pay a full price. It must cost me something to worship God. The woman loved Jesus so much and she gave her expensive perfume to him in worship. When you see some people worship the Lord because they love Him, don’t judge because you don’t understand what is going on in their heart. Sometimes you see somebody else worshipping in their own way in their own heart. They are doing what they know best to worship God and it is from their heart, don’t judge. As long as it is love for Jesus and it is not something unscriptural leave them alone. It may be touching to God.
I want you to know that the sacrifice of worship is special to God. And I know that as God deals with my life, He will deal with your life in different ways. I ask you a few questions; when was the last time that it cost you something to show your love for God? I pray that it is not too far away. May we be sensitive in the times that we are living in that God is seeking for worshippers of God. And there may be different ways that we show our love for God. What does it cost you to love Jesus? Do you know that it cost Jesus His entire life in order to love us? Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for fragrant offering, a sacrifice and us to God.” Many times Jesus gave all out of love for God – it was a sacrifice of love. God said, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.” Can God say that of your life? I believe in this day and hour, God is looking for those who are willing to “waste” their very best on Him. He is worthy of your offering.
“And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying; Praise the Lord, for his mercy endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 20:21 NKJV
When Jehoshaphat was king over Judah the people of Moab, Ammon and others came to battle against him. Upon hearing the news Jehoshaphat was scared and he called a fast throughout all Judah to seek the face of the Lord. In the midst of the fast the Spirit of the Lord moved on the heart of Jahaziel to prophesy God’s victory for Judah over their enemies. “Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against all the people of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.” 2 Chronicles 20:22-23
Praise and worship itself is warfare. Every time you go into God’s presence in praise and worship, know that you are waging or you are entering into a battle ground. In the Old Testament, we can see several instances where God used the musicians and singers in battle. Take a look at Joshua 6:6, 15-16 & 20. God tells the children of Israel to go round the city of Jericho for seven days and on the seventh day, seven times and then make a shout of praise unto him and we see that when they did so, they won the city without fighting. Judah didn’t fight that day; God did. Judah didn’t shout at the enemy. They praised their God. It is the manifest presence of God that puts the enemy to flight. Nothing gets God’s attention quicker than praise and worship. God inhabits the praises of his people. We need only to position ourselves in worship and stand still to behold his salvation. I’m speaking here of more than just our expressions of praise and worship; rather a lifestyle of praise and worship. The Amplified Bible renders 2 Chronicles 20:21 this way: When he (Jehoshaphat) had consulted with the people, he appointed singers to sing to the Lord and praise him in their holy [priestly] garments…
It isn’t merely the expressions of our praise and worship that brings the presence of God. It isn’t necessarily how loud we shout or how low we bow. It is the bringing of our offering clothed in our priestly garments of holiness. In other words worship the Lord decorated with sanctity. A life of worship is one that is decorated in holiness. That is the worship that draws the presence of God. When we position ourselves as people of praise, decorated in God’s holiness, we won’t have to shout at the enemy. We need only to address the Father. He will make sure the enemy gets the message. As God is exalted with high praises we will see the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ.
When we worship clothed in holiness and righteousness, we have several benefits that we can reap out of that. When our praise ascends to heaven, God presence comes and inhabits our worship and praise and what happens in the spiritual realms is more than we can see in the physical.
- His Presence: When you praise and worship God, you are bringing down His presence, because he inhabits the praises of His people Psalm 22:3
- His Power: When you praise and worship God, He manifests his power (Acts 16:30-31). His power saves, heals, and delivers.
- His Glory: When you praise and worship God, the Glory of God comes down (1 Kings 8:10-11).
- His anointing: When you praise and worship God, the anointing of God descends upon His servants. Because of this they are able to minister more effectively. (2 Kings 3:15-16).
- His deliverance: When you praise and worship God, the deliverance power of God comes into play (2 Chronicles 20:1-20). God comes down to deliver His people as they praise and worship Him.
Acts 16:23-26 “And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.”Paul and Silas are in prison and though they were flogged and beaten, they decided to praise the Lord in their pain. I wonder how many of us can praise Lord in our painful moments.
From Paul and Silas’s experience we discover that Praise elevates us into God’s Presence and Power. Paul and Silas knew the secret of how to lift their hearts above their troubles and enter into God’s presence and power. Through praise and worship their hearts were raised into the joyous presence and peace of God, and provided God a channel for his power to operate in their circumstances. The Bible says that God inhabits in the praises of His people Psalms 22:3. In other words, God “dwells” in the atmosphere of His praise. This means that praise is not merely a reaction from coming into His presence – Praise is a vehicle of faith which brings us into the presence and power of God! Praise and worship is the “gate-pass” which allows us to enter the sacredness of His glory. David writes, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” Psalms 100:4.
Remember, Jesus talking to his disciples, he said that His presence will inhabit the gathering of believers who congregate in His name: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” Matthew 18:20. When Jesus mentioned a gathering in his name, I believe that He meant that He (Jesus) must be the focus, the center of the assemblage. He must be the one preached about, sung about — the one praised and worshiped. “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee” Hebrews 2:12. Some think that worship is a response after the Holy Spirit moves upon them. However, it’s the other way around. God’s presence responds when we move upon Him with worship! Lifting up Jesus Christ through praise and worship invokes the Lord’s presence and power to flow in our midst.
True praise is not “merely” having verbal expressions of adoration and thanksgiving, singing, playing instruments, shouting, dancing, lifting or clapping our hands. Praise to God is an expression of worship, lifting-up and glorifying the Lord. It is an expression of humbling ourselves and centering our attention upon the Lord with heart-felt expressions of love, adoration and thanksgiving. High praises bring our spirit into a pinnacle of fellowship and intimacy between ourselves and God — it magnifies our awareness of our spiritual union with the most high God. Praise transports us into the realm of the supernatural and into the power of God. “Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance” Psalms 89:15.
Genuine praise to God is a matter of humility and sincere devotion to the Lord from within. Unpretentious praise and worship pleases the Lord. He delights in the love and devotion of His children. He eagerly awaits the fragrance of our affections, desiring to manifest His sweet presence and power in our midst. “…the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” John 4:23. Praise should be a part of a believer’s lifestyle, inter-mingled as a part of their daily prayer-life. Praise to the Lord brings the refreshing of the Lord’s presence, along with His power and anointing. “…I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth” Psalms 34:1. Praise is an expression of faith, and a declaration of victory! It declares that we believe God is with us and is in control of the outcome of all our circumstances (Romans 8:28). Praise is a “sacrifice,” something that we offer to God sacrificially, not just because we feel like it, but because we believe in Him and wish to please Him. “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” Hebrews 13:15.
Since praise manifests God’s presence, we also realize that praise repels the presence of the enemy, Satan. An atmosphere which is filled with sincere worship and praise to God by humble and contrite hearts is disgusting to the Devil. He fears the power in the name of Jesus, and flees from the Lord’s habitation in praise. “Those who offer praise glorify me: and to him that orders his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God” Psalms 50:23. Praise Sends the Enemy Running as we saw in 2 chronicles 20:22. When God’s people begin to praise His name, it sends the enemy running! I challenge you to become a person of praise, and you will experience the release of the power of God! Where is your focus in times of spiritual warfare? Is your focus on the enemy or the Father? Ask the Father to give you eyes to see the battle the way he sees the battle.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. John 4:23 ESV
I do imagine Jesus seated at a well outside the city limits of the Samaritan city. His disciples have just left the well on their way into town to get some food when a Samaritan woman approaches the well. Jesus asks her for a drink. The woman was shocked by Jesus’ request. Jews were not supposed to speak to Samaritans. Samaritans were considered half-breeds and were treated with contempt by the Jews. Besides, Jesus was a Jewish teacher, and it was unusual for a Jewish rabbi to speak to women in public. In fact the rabbi’s voiced their contempt for women by teaching that they were neither to be spoken to on the street nor taught the law.
As they conversed the woman perceived Jesus to be a prophet and challenged him about the proper place of worship. The Samaritans worshiped on mount Gerizim while the Jews worshiped in Jerusalem. Jesus’ response made it clear that the proper place of worship was not the issue, rather the proper posture. His message was that the true worshipers are not primarily concerned with traditions for traditions do not produce true worship. True worshipers are to make the Father the focus of worship. The exaltation of ritual is to be replaced by worship in spirit and truth. Those who worship in spirit and truth are the worshipers the Father is seeking to find.
Many are the times that we get into God’s presence but yet we leave the same as we went in. This is simply because we miss the mark that we are supposed to hit while we are in his presence. Many times, I have found myself wandering away in my mind from God’s presence. It is true that I am there physically, but yet, my mind is far away. We have to know that our minds are our biggest enemies when it comes to focusing on God. The minute your mind wanders away while you are in his presence, know that you are bound to miss the mark. Many times, the devil uses this to take us away from God’s presence by reminding us of our past or even some of the things that need our attention and yet we are in God’s presence and things are not going they should be.
Jesus gave an example of a Pharisee and a tax collector who went into the temple to pray in Luke 18:9-14. The Pharisee comes to God and boasts of how he is not like the tax collector and the good deeds that he does to observe the Law of Moses. On the other hand, the tax collector beats his chest humbling himself before God and asking for forgiveness for his sins. This is a clear demonstration of how some of us behave in God’s presence. We clearly know that we are not worthy of his presence but his grace and the blood of Jesus on the cross makes us worthy to approach his throne of mercy. When we come into God’s presence and tell God of how good we have been; the bible reminds us that our righteousness is like filthy rags before God” Isaiah 64:6. Humbleness should be evident when we bring our worship to God.
In Isaiah 29:13, the Lord says “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men” God was complaining to the children of Israel and telling them that He was tired of their vague worship. They were coming in the temple not to worship but just to fulfill the Law of Moses as it was written but their hearts were so far away from God. Lamar Boschman said- ”When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.“ Both our words and hearts are intertwined when it comes to worship. You can’t neglect one and do the other – they both go hand in hand. Do not come into God’s presence when your heart is not ready to focus on God; settle down your mind first, then come relaxed into God’s presence.
Jesus told the woman that the hour had come for true worship to be restored. Why? The Father had come in the form of the Son. The Son had come to seek and save that which was lost. What was lost? True worshipers and true worship. It was time for kingdom worshipers and kingdom worship to be restored. Are you a true worshiper? Has spirit and truth replaced tradition and ritual as the priorities of your worship? Is the Father the focus of your worship? Ask the Father to reveal something in your life that keeps him from being the focus of your worship. Ask him to show you the necessary steps to restore his proper place of worship in your life.
Don Moen sang these words and I pray that from this day onwards, they will be of meaning in our worship lifestyle:
It brings Me great delight, Such a lovely sight, And yes it is true
Praise looks good on You.
Morning night and noon, Your praise ascends to heaven,
Like the smell sweet perfume, Filling every room,
And yes it is true, Praise looks good on You
You lift your voice with singing, But your heart seems far away,
More than a sacrifice, I am looking for your life,
Holy and acceptable, And pleasing in my sight.
So offer up your lives, Holy and acceptable,
a willing sacrifice, precious in my sight,
But in all that you do, remember all I want is You.
And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Revelation 19:6 NKJV
Heaven’s worship is loud. Nowhere in the Revelation of Jesus Christ do you read that anyone silently worshiped. According to John’s account the worship was so loud at times it would have been difficult to hear anything else. At times the volume of worship was determined by the sheer number of worshipers. However, most of the time we find that the worshipers were worshiping loudly. The fact that heaven’s worship is loud is most significant in the fact that the worshipers were actively involved in the exaltation of the One who sits on the throne and the Lamb. There is no such thing as passive worship. Worship requires action; it is not a spectator sport. The word worship itself demands an active response. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word translated for worship is shachah. This word means to depress or prostrate in homage or loyalty to God, to bow down or fall down flat. The Greek word for worship is proskuneo which means to kiss like a dog licking his master’s hand, to fawn or crouch, to prostrate oneself in homage, to reverence or adore. Proskuneo is the word translated worship throughout the book of Revelations.
David shows us ways in which we can involve ourselves in worship without being passive in Psalms 100:1-4 “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he, who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” You will notice that David brings out several ways in which we can approach God’s presence. In my earlier devotion (worship needs to be expressed), you will realize that some of these ways are also described there in detail. This is what David says:
a) Shout for joy – You will notice that David says or starts many of his psalms with saying we shout to the Lord. In Psalms 47:5, he says “God is gone up with a shout, and the Lord with the sound of a trumpet!” Psalm 47:1 “O clap your hands all you people! Shout unto God with the voice of triumph!” Psalm 98 is a very joyful psalm. We should be singing to the Lord all the time, because He has done marvelous things. The verses in this psalm list some of the things He (God) has done. He’s gained us Victory, Salvation, His righteousness, His mercy. Verse 4 says “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth, make a loud noise and rejoice and sing praise….” We have a lot to shout about. The rest of the chapter tells us that the sea roars, and the rivers clap and the hills are joyful before the Lord. Did you ever think that the noises that you hear coming from nature around you were praises to God, not just a lot of noise? Next time you hear a bird sing, remember he is praising the Lord.
b) Worship the Lord with Gladness - We certainly should be joyful and happy. There is no reason to look depressed when you are approaching God’s presence. We don’t have to worship Him out of duty or drudgery but out of a heart of gladness for who He is and how He’s blessed our lives! When we worship with gladness, we bring ourselves; when we worship with joyful songs, we bring our song. “Joyful songs” need not mean an upbeat song; offer God what you can give.
c) Worship the Lord joyfully and with joyful songs - Joyful worship should certainly be evidenced in our expressions such as shouting, singing, and dancing but those things are not joy . . . they are expressions of joy. You can be just as joyful being quiet and warmly content in the Lord. Just as a dog waits for you and watches for you, and wags its tail wildly when it sees you, because it knows that you care, provide and love it, the same way we should be because have come to meet with the Father and that should make our hearts wag with joyful anticipation. We should worship and approach God joyfully if not for anything else, but for whom He is. Look at the attributes David gives him in Psalms 100:5 “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” God is Good – Has he been good to you? His love endures forever – have you experienced his love? He is a faithful God unto all generations – Has he ever failed you?
d) Thank God and give him praise – David knew how to do this. Many of his psalms are full of thanksgiving. “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30; Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.” Psalm 95:2; “Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.” Psalm 107:22; Apostle Paul also exhorted the churches to give thanks. “For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:15; “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…” Philippians 4:6; “…giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Ephesians 5:20; “…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
One who silently stands each Sunday with folded arms watching the band or choir has not entered into worship. One who does not worship has not yet had a revelation of the One who sits on the throne and of the Lamb. When true revelation comes worship follows; it is a natural response. The good news is that in the future we will gather around God’s throne with all creation to worship our King. The great news is we don’t have to wait until the sweet by and by; we can experience heaven’s worship today. Do you passively approach worship? Ask the Father to give you a fresh revelation of the One who sits on the throne and the Lamb.
My sacrifice [the sacrifice acceptable] to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart [broken down with sorrow for sin and humbly and thoroughly penitent] such, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17 AMP
Most of us are familiar with the life of King David. God called him a man after His own heart yet, we know David made some big time mistakes that cost him and others a great deal of pain. One of those grave mistakes was his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah. Some time elapsed from the time he committed those sins until the prophet Nathan paid David a visit. We don’t know exactly how much time went by. Can you image the guilt David must have lived with for that long? After Nathan rebuked David and brought his sin into the open David penned the words to Psalm 51.
In speaking of a broken spirit, the Hebrew word used is shabar. Shabar means to burst, to break to pieces or to reduce. It is easy to see the brokenness in David’s heart as he approaches God about his sin. When speaking of a contrite heart, the Hebrew word used is dakah. This word means to crumble, to beat to pieces, to bruise, to crush or to humble. There is a popular prayer in many Christian circles today that says, “Lord break our hearts with the things that break yours.” It’s easy to look around us and see the things that break the Father’s heart. Those things include injustices of all kinds; hunger, abortion, war, racism to name of few. However, we want to make sure we don’t overlook the things inside of us that break his heart. The sin that so easily besets us should break our hearts as well.
Brokenness is essential when approaching God. Though we may approach him boldly – Hebrews 4:16, we should never go into his presence presumptuously as though we have earned the right to be there. We have nothing to offer God that he hasn’t provided for us. We come to him with our will and self-sufficiency crushed, having taken on a new form. Its total dependency is on Christ and the sacrifice he gave. He earned the right for us to come into the Father’s presence by shedding his blood (Hebrews 10:19). You will discover sooner or later that the great hindrance to your work is not others but yourself. You will discover that your outward man and inward man are not in harmony, for both are tending toward opposite directions. You will also sense the inability of your outward man to submit to the spirit’s control, thus rendering you incapable of obeying God’s highest commands. If you are careful enough, you will quickly detect that the greatest difficulty lies in your outward man, for it hinders you from using your spirit.
We should be enabled by the exercise of their spirit to know God’s word, to discern the spiritual condition of another, to send forth God’s message, yet due to the distractions of the outward man, the spirit does not seem to function properly. It is basically because our outward man has never been dealt with. For this reason revival, zeal, pleading and activity are but a waste of tune. There is just one way which can enable man to be useful before God: brokenness.
For us to be broken, we need to:
a) Suppress the outward man and allow the inner man to grow. – When God comes to indwell us by His Spirit, life and power, He comes into our spirit who is the inward man. We must never forget that our inward man is the human spirit where God dwells, where His Spirit mingles with our spirit. If we have never learned how to release our inward man by breaking through the outward man, we are not able to serve. Nothing can so hinder us as this outward man. Whether our works are fruitful or not depends upon whether our outward man has been broken by the Lord so that the inward man can pass through that brokenness and come forth. This is the basic problem. The Lord wants to break our outward man in order that the inward man may have a way out. Paul says in Romans 7:22-23 “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.” Our inward man delights in the Law of God. “. . . To be strengthened with power by his Spirit in the inner man” In Ephesians 3:16-17, Paul prays “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love.” And Paul also tells us, “But if indeed our outward man is consumed, yet the inward is renewed day by day” 2 Corinthians 4:16. This should be our longing each and every day of our lives.
b) We must die to self - Jesus said in John 12:24-25, “Except the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Life is in the grain of wheat, but there is a shell, a very hard shell on the outside. As long as that shell is not split open, the wheat cannot sprout and grow. What is this death? It is the cracking open of the shell through the working together of temperature, humidity, in the soil, then the wheat begins to grow. So, the question here is not whether there is life within, but whether the outside shell is cracked open. We need the Lord to break us; this is not merely a way of speaking, but it is vital that we be broken by the Lord and allow him to mould us into what He wants us to be.
There is no one more beautiful than one who is broken! Stubbornness and self-love give way to beauty in one who has been broken by God. When we look at Jacob, we see how even in his mother’s womb he struggled with his brother. He was subtle, tricky, and deceitful, yet his life was full of sorrows and grief. When young, he fled from home went to stay with his uncle Laban; for twenty years he was cheated by Laban. The wife of his heart’s love, Rachel, died prematurely. The son of his love, Joseph, was sold. Years later Benjamin was detained in Egypt. He was successively dealt with by God, meeting misfortune after misfortune. He was stricken by God once, twice; indeed, his whole history could be said to be a history of being stricken by God. Finally after many such dealings, the man Jacob was transformed. In his last few years, he was quite transparent. How beautiful was his end, when he worshipped God on his staff! How clear were his blessings to his descendants! After reading the last page of his history, all you want to bow down and worship God. Here is one who is matured, who knows God. Several decades of dealings have resulted in Jacob’s outward man being broken.
Each of us has much of the same Jacob nature in us. Our only hope is that the Lord may blaze a way out, breaking the outward man to such a degree that the inward man may come out and be seen. After our outward man has been stricken, dealt with, and led through various trials, we have wounds upon us, thus allowing the spirit to emerge. We are afraid to meet some brothers and sisters whose whole being remains intact, never having been dealt with and changed. May God have mercy upon us in showing us clearly this way and in revealing to us that it is the only way. May He also show us that herein is seen the purpose of all His dealings, thus let no one despise the Lord’s dealings. May He truly reveal to us what is meant by the breaking of the outward man. Should the outward man remain whole, everything would be merely in our mind, utterly expect the Lord to deal with us thoroughly. Are you broken over your sin? Have you resisted to bloodshed striving against sin? Hebrew 12:4, Ask the Father to show you the things in your life that breaks his heart. Ask his forgiveness and his help to walk humbly before him.
“I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”
David’s response to God for delivering him and saving him from his enemies was worship. David was a man who was able to express his love & appreciation to God. That’s what worship is all about. It is an attitude of our hearts. It’s us loving God and being able to express that love. It’s not enough to just think about it. We need to express it. We need to vocalize our love to God. We need to say it. We need to sing it, & shout it, & we need to share it with others. There are several ways in which we can express our worship to the Lord God we love so dearly. Just like two people who are deeply in love with each other, there are several ways we can express our worship to God.
When we come into the holy presence of our God we express our love and worship for Him in different ways, sometimes in a hymn, a Psalm, a dance or even just prostrate in silence before the King of kings. One thing that is so clear is that, you cannot give something of quality to someone that you do not love. To the person you love, you give it all. It’s captivating to read through the Psalms and see the variety of ways in which David worshipped. David never cared who was watching him or who was around him while he worshiped. In 2 Samuel 6:14-16, we see him dance till his wife despised him. We see David later saying “I will celebrate before the Lord, I will become even more undignified than this and I will be humiliated in my own eyes but by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” 2 Samuel 6:21b- 22. Before god’s presence, we are all equal and we shouldn’t carry our dignity or status there – it is a time to release ourselves wholly unto the Lord.
The Psalms gives us nine different expressions of worship, and these expressions stem from David’s desire to worship the Lord wholeheartedly and without reservation. Oddly enough, these expressions are not foreign to us, but we fail to practice them in our corporate worship for one reason or another. Listed below are the nine expressions of worship that can be broken down further into three physical expressions.
a) The Spoken Voice
(i) Speaking - Psalm 34:1 says, “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”
(ii) Shouting - Psalm 27:6 says, “Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.”
(iii) Singing - Psalm 47:6 says, “Sing praises to God, sing praises to our King, sing praises.”
b) Our Posture
i. Bowing - Psalm 95:6 says, “Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”
ii. Standing - Psalm 119:120 says, “My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws.”
iii. Dancing - Psalm 149:3 says, “Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp.”
c) Our Hands
i. Playing Instruments - Psalm 33:2, 3 says, “Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.”
ii. Clapping - Psalm 47:1 says, “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.”
iii. Lifting Hands - Psalm 63:4 says, “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.”
None of these expressions of worship are foreign to us or our culture. When there is a wedding and the bridal march begins, people do stand in honor of the bride and groom on this special day without thinking twice. When a man asks a woman to marry him, he gets on his knee to propose to her. Why? Because he wants to show her that this is important and that she is being honored as someone very special. Dancing plays a part of our culture in that it expresses celebration, intimacy, and individuality. We clap with enthusiasm for everything that pleases us. Musicians will play their instruments for hours on end with no one listening. Speaking doesn’t need to be mentioned at all. In a ball game, you experience shouting at its best. Singing is done by the talented and untalented alike, and is often done in cars, showers, and on stage. We are a musical people. Lastly, we look at lifted hands. In sporting events or competitions we see this quite often. Whenever a player scores a basket or touchdown the hands go up. It a natural response to an amazing task performed
Why share all this? We know it, right? Yet, we fail to exercise all these in public worship. David used these expressions because he wanted to worship God with his entire being. His heart was to worship the Lord with everything he had, and he held nothing back in his worship. He wanted to share with us his heart and desire to worship, and he wanted us to enjoy pleasing the Lord through God’s creation…our bodies and souls. What else can we learn from David? He not only practiced these expressions regularly, he didn’t really care what others thought about it. God thought enough of it to call him “a man after His own heart”. Who is our audience? Who is it that we are trying to please in worship? It better be God. Is He pleased with our worship? I hope He is with mine.
I challenge you to seek the Lord in these expressions. Ask Him what He would have you do in your times of worship. Is your heart moved to dance before the Lord and yet you choose to sit? Are you moved to get on your face before the Lord and yet stand because you are afraid of what the person next to you will say? Remember worship is not about you, and it’s not about imitating your neighbour. It’s about letting the Lord lead you to worship Him in a manner that He desires and that we need. What benefit could we possibly gain from kneeling before the Lord? How about humility? What could be gained from shouting to the Lord? How about boldness to speak His name in public? What could we learn about lifting our hands to the Lord? How about submission to Him? James 4:6 tells us, “But He gives us more grace. That is why the scripture says: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”
Let us always seek to grow in our worship to the Lord. May we ever allow His spirit to move in us as He directs our actions and responses in worship. After all, it’s about Him and for Him. What we receive is a heart of humility, grace, and reverence before the God who saved us from sin to be His children forever. So, I just encourage you today to think about the things God has delivered you from & saved you from, & tell Him how grateful you are. Express your gratitude through worship. Now is the perfect time for us as a Body of believers to stand together as one and worship our God & give Him the glory & honor that He deserves.
Involve the whole of your heart in worship!!!
Worship to God is purely different than worship to any person/creature by a human being; and to love someone with the truest essence of love is itself a part of Worshipping God. God is Love and Love is God. This means that God has poured into us from His Soul which is love and so, as we worship God, we feel love and then, we love to worship Him since love is part of who he is. Any expression of our love to God—for who He is, for what He’s said, and for what He’s doing. Worship is a physical expression of our spiritual relationship with Him.
In the scripture above, one of the teachers of the law had asked Jesus of all the commandments, which is the most important. Jesus’ answer was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, & with all your strength. To love God is the most important thing we will ever do, now & for all eternity. As we love the Lord & worship Him, we are to worship Him with all of our heart, with everything that we have. We need to worship with all of our mind, our thoughts, our focus, & our attention needs to be on Him. As we worship Him with all our strength, we need to use our bodies, to worship Him by clapping, or raising our hands, or whatever the Lord is asking us to do. Jesus quoted Isaiah as saying, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” Matthew 15:8. In a similar vein Paul warned against those “having a form of godliness but denying its power” 2 Timothy 3:5. We have to note that True worship occurs when we worship with the heart.
In Hebrew, the word “heart” used interchangeably with the word “mind.” A Bible dictionary explains: The thinking processes of man are said to be carried out by the heart. This intellectual activity corresponds to what would be called mind in English. Thus, the heart may think (Esther. 6:6), understand (Job 38:36) imagine (Jeremiah 9:14), remember (Deuteronomy 4:9), be wise (Proverbs. 2:10), and speak to itself (Deuteronomy. 7:17). Decision-making is also carried out by the heart. Purpose Acts 11:23, intention Hebrews 4:12, and will (Ephesians. 6:6) are all activities of the heart. (Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary.) Hence, when we worship from the heart, it involves our rational thinking processes, a purposeful choice, a deep understanding, not merely a touchy, feely response that makes us break down and cry. It is not an emotional high that comes and goes without producing any change for the better. While there is an emotional side to worship, it is guided by our mind, a mind trained to stay centered on Christ.
To meet with God we need to come to worship prepared. We need to come well-rested, expectant, and thoughtfully ready to meet with God. We need to be aware that God will be present in the elements of worship that he has appointed. He will be present to speak through his Word and will be present to hear our praise and prayers. We need to come with clear understanding of the ways in which worship with God’s people will bless us and should come looking for that blessing. We come to worship in faith. Faith is trusting Christ, resting in his finished work for the forgiveness of our sins. Our faith must be real as we come to church, so that our reliance on Christ may deepen. We come to worship with repentance, acknowledging that we are sinners and seeking the grace of God so that we more and more turn from sin and pursue holiness. We come to worship with love for God and for his people. Such love will make us desire communion with the people of God and long to draw nearer to God.
David says in these verses: “I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” Psalms 122:1 When the heart is prepared for and engaged in worship, we can enter into the sentiments of the Psalmist: Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O LORD my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever for great is your love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of the grave. (Psalms 86:11-13); Search me, O God, and know my heart: test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalms 139:23-24); I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. (Psalms 138:1-2)
When the heart is prepared by the Word of God and by God’s Spirit for worship, then the worship we desire is the worship that delights God. We come not to be pleased, but to offer God the worship that pleases him. We move from the self-centeredness that characterizes those who do not know God, to the God-centeredness that should characterize those who do know him. We need to worship the Lord wholeheartedly; in sincerity & truth. Wholeheartedly – means to be completely and sincerely devoted. It means to be determined or enthusiastic, to be heartfelt, passionate, & genuine. The word half-hearted means – lukewarm, or passive, lacking heart, spirit, or interest, and unenthusiastic. We don’t want to offer half-hearted, lukewarm praise to the Lord. He deserves worship that comes from deep inside our hearts. He deserves the highest praise. We need to worship Him with passionate hearts. We need to be enthusiastic, & excited about our worship. We need to be willing to give Him what He deserves. Our worship must be genuine & sincere.
For we [Christians] are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit and by the Spirit of God, and exult and glory and pride ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence or dependence [on what we are] in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical advantages and external appearances. Philippians 3:3
In John 4:23, Jesus told the woman at the well, but the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit… Jesus uses a Greek word pneuma to refer to the spirit. Pneuma is defined as a current of air, breath or a breeze. It is used to describe man’s spirit, God’s spirit and even demon spirits. The fact that the word “spirit” is not capitalized in John 4:23 most likely indicates that the bible translators felt Jesus was referring to the human spirit. In most cases you will find that a capital “S” used a when speaking of the Holy Spirit but yet, we know that Jesus was not referring to demon spirits.
So the place of worship is the spirit of man, but the means of worship is the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote, “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father”. Ephesians 2:18 True worshipers worship the Father in spirit and by the Spirit. Physical locations are of no concern. It doesn’t matter about your status in the church or the community. It doesn’t matter how talented you are or your physical appearance for worship comes from the spirit of the worshiper. True worshipers don’t take notice of themselves for their eyes are on the Father. Their ears are tuned to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the worship leader and knows the heart of the Father.
To worship in spirit also means to allow the Holy Spirit to conform us into the image of Jesus; producing spiritual fruit and perfecting a life of holiness. Many times Christians grieve the Holy Spirit by allowing fleshly desires to choke out the work God desires to do in them and through them. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” Ephesians 4:30-31 Behavior such as this limits the genuine flow of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.
True and genuine worship is characterized by several things. Among these, our hearts and minds play a big role in this. Quoting Jerry Kerns, he said “The whole person, with all his senses, with both mind and body, needs to be involved in genuine worship.” If then you do not involve all your mind, body as well as your senses in your worship, then know that you are not worshiping genuinely. As I noted yesterday, you worship what you love and if you really love something or somebody, you will give all/dedicate you have. I have found out that worship should freely emanate from our hearts always. This will be a result of the level of intimacy we have with God. Deep always attracts deep. The deeper you are with God, the more you will find it easy and enjoyable to spend more and more time in worship fellowshipping and bonding more with God. Here are some characteristics of true worship.
- It is a delight. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that our worship in spirit and in truth is not duty but delight. You are not a true worshiper if you do not come here to worship out of delight. You should not be pushed to worship. If you do not find delight in worshiping or spending time with God in worship, quit. Do not do it because others are doing it. Let it flow from deep within your heart.
- It is led by the Holy Spirit. True worship is not a forcing of ourselves. It is led by the Spirit of God in the energy of God’s Holy Spirit. Paul said in Romans 8:15b that “but you received the Spirit … and by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit of God will always guide you as you worship.
- It is warm and free. Authentic worship is not cold and formal. Rather, it is warm and free because our hearts have been kindled by the love of God that is shed abroad in them. I have been in gatherings where when we worship, I see some people showing great enthusiasm in their worship. I used to ask myself what is happening. But now, I know that the Holy Spirit was assisting them and their hearts were warmed as they worshiped. If you are truly coming to God, your cold heart will be warmed.
- It is not dependent on buildings and circumstances. Are you looking for stained glass windows, a big cathedral, or a big church with good sound and equipped with the latest sets of musical instruments? True worship is not dependent upon them. Nor does it require liturgies, incense, candles, vestments, chanting, bell-ringing, or genuflection. True worship is not even dependent on other people. True worshipers can pray and praise from their hearts anytime and anywhere because they love their great God who condescended in Jesus Christ to seek, find and save them. God revoked our groaning and caused us to sing his praises.
- It is worship of the heavenly Father. In true worship we are not worshiping a distant God. Rather, we are worshiping God our heavenly Father who loves us and is with us. Therefore, when we pray we can say, “Abba, Daddy” as the Holy Spirit leads us.
- It is reverent and balanced. There is balance in true worship. We worship God in holy reverence as well as in love. We worship him for who He is and in the splendor of his majesty. When we behold him, our hearts are compelled to worship him.
- It is a response to God’s great salvation. Worship is a response to what God has done for us. Do you remember your misery before we were redeemed? What you were going through; issues in your life that were so of a burden to you. But God in Jesus Christ brought us into great freedom – freedom from sin, freedom from Satan, freedom from law, freedom from hell, and freedom from death. We now have great freedom to come into the very presence of God to worship and obey him. And when we worship like this, God delights in us and us in him.
Unless the heavenly Father seeks true worshipers in Jesus Christ, no one can experience the joy and freedom of true worship. God has been seeking worshipers since the fall of man. Why does God himself have to do the seeking? Because as sinners, we cannot seek him. It is utterly impossible for a sinner to seek and worship God truly unless God seeks him and makes him able to do so. A true worshiper will live a life of repentance which allows his spirit to be refreshed by the living waters of the Holy Spirit. Is your life dry and parched? Is there a need for true repentance? Ask the Father to allow the waters of the Holy Spirit to bring refreshing and forgiveness. Ask him to renew a right spirit in you.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ… Philippians 3:7-8 ESV
Athletes have a phrase they often use to describe their intensity of play. It is “Leave it all on the field.” The idea is to give it all you’ve got. All the conditioning, weight lifting and studying the play book have brought you to game time. Preparation is over; it’s time to give 100% on every play the entire game. There is no holding back or saving it for later. Most of us would not recognize the Apostle Paul as an athlete, but in the game of life he was one on those who left it all on the field. He chose to abandon popularity, position and power to gain an eternal prize. The dictionary gives these meanings for the word abandon:
1. To forsake; desert.
2. To surrender one’s claim or right to; to give up.
3. To desist from.
4. To yield (oneself) completely, as to emotion.
What better word could describe the life the Paul? What better word could describe a person whose one desire is to live a life of worship? Paul went on to say in Philippians 3 that he counted all his gain as rubbish that he might know Christ. His one desire was to have intimate fellowship with Christ.
A life of worship is a deserted way of living deserting all other ways to have an intimate relationship with Jesus. It forsakes all that is familiar to walk by faith. It surrenders all rights to have its own way and yield control to the one who formed it. Once we have abandoned (past tense verb) our old way of life we are called to abandoned (adjective) worship. What is abandoned worship? Abandoned Worship means shameless; thus we have shameless worship. God is calling us, his bride, to a life of abandonment; to set aside all inhibitions we have about the way we live and respond to his love. God is calling for abandonment when we get up every morning and go about our daily lives. He is calling for abandonment every time we gather with believers to worship him. No more “playing it safe.” It’s time to be reckless with our lives and with our worship. It’s time for the bride of Christ to leave it all on the field.
In Psalm 111 we are given six descriptive images of what worship is:
1. Illuminating “Hallelujah”
The first word that is translated “praise” is hallelu. This word means to praise, but in another tense it also means to shine. That is a good way of thinking about worship. When something is worshiped, it is illuminated so that everyone can see it. When God is worshiped, it is His light that is being reflected back on Him. Worship is all about making God clearly visible.
2. Proclamation “I will give thanks…”
The second word that means to praise can also be translated: thank, confess, or proclaim. Most of us in our worship, we have been/we sing directly to God, to address Him personally. However, that does not mean that singing about God is not praise. Worship can just as well be about telling the world about God. When we proclaim God to the world we are worshiping.
3. Singing “His praise endures forever.”
The last phrase of this Psalm has another word that is often translated as “praise.” It is actually the word that in plural form is the name of this book: “Psalms.” It means to sing to God. This facet of worship is often the only understanding people have of worship today, and it is just one small part of what worship is. It is still, however, an important aspect of worship.
4. Obsession “They are studied…”
Worship has an aspect of devotion to it. We spend all of our time and energy occupied with that which we really worship. It has been said you can tell what someone worships by studying their calendar and check book. Someone who worships God learns everything they can about Him and his works.
5. Delight “…by all who delight in them.”
Worship results in joy. If someone worships because they have to—because it is a duty, how can that be true praise? That does not mean it is all song and dance. Athletes are devoted to their discipline, even when it is hard work and repetitive exercise. But they only stick with it when they love what they do. It is the same with worship.
6. Fear “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
Ultimately, worship is about fear. We worship what we fear. If you think about it, you do worship what you are scared of. You think about it all the time. You live your life influenced by it, and how you can avoid it. Often, the things people fear become their obsession. With God, we need not be scared of Him. (Even though He is anything but harmless.) We do need to respect Him, however, and healthy worship is built around knowing God for who He is. Over and over again, the Bible speaks of the fear of the Lord. Basically, worship involves a creature recognizing the creator.
God is seeking men and women to be worshipers of Himself. But this worship must be worship that is “in spirit and in truth.” It is not enough to be a worshiper of God; God is seeking true worshipers. Have you made a commitment to live a life of abandoned worship? Have you “left it all out on the field?” Ask the Father to show you what you need to abandon to live a life of abandoned worship.