11 Mar Something About Worship
This message was shared to our Victory Group on March 10, 2015
By now, most of us know what worship is and what it is not. It’s not limited to our attendance and the songs we sing during worship services. It’s not even how active we are in our ministry involvement and small group gatherings. But rather, it’s a lifestyle that touches on all areas of our life – our jobs, education, family, friends, and even our time and finances. Worship, after all, is our response to God.
A lot has been said about this topic, and yet it remains to be something that we need a constant reminder of. For this week, let’s take a look at four truths about worship and how it relates to us as a disciple of Jesus.
1. We are to Worship by Focusing on God
“These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
It is possible to worship God and miss the mark. We have to be very careful that our worship does not become a cover up, because we can go through all the right words and actions and still miss the mark. We may be in a church service – singing songs, reading scriptures listening to the preaching, volunteering for a ministry – but if our hearts are not aligned to God, the Bible says our worship is in vain. We may be just going through the motions, but not really worshipping.
To worship Him is to attribute the proper worth due Him – to know His place and magnify His worthiness. The more we focus on God, the more we understand and appreciate how worthy He is.
The world can offer a lot of distractions – games, apps, tv series, maybe even some of our friends and hobbies – and it’s sometimes too late to realize that we have already laid aside God’s calling for us. But something happens when we worship. In worship, our hearts are pointed to the right direction which is Jesus Christ himself. Worship takes our eyes away from ourselves and focuses solely on God. When we worship Him for who He is, His presence invades even the hardest, deepest, darkest territories of our heart and points it back to Jesus.
2. We are to Worship in Spirit and in Truth.
“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.God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
To worship God in spirit is to worship from the inside out. That means that there must be an attitude of sincere worship. No matter how spiritual the song you are singing, no matter how profound the prayer you are praying – if it is not sincere, it is not worship. It’s hypocrisy.
When the scripture talks about worshiping in truth, it is talking about the truth as revealed through the Bible. While it is delightful to receive the part of the scripture that talks about God who is loving and kind and blesses us with every spiritual blessing, we should also take into account the part of the scripture that talks about a God who is righteous and just. The part where it says He will come again to judge the living and dead. God is a jealous God and He does not allow worship to be given to any other god that comes along. Just because we may not like some truths in the Bible doesn’t mean we have a right to ignore that truth.
The Bible reveals God to us so that we can have a clear understanding of who He is and how we should respond to Him. We should never stop worshiping God just because we do not understand His ways fully. We must worship God for who has been revealed to us, though we can never fully grasp the wholeness of His identity in this lifetime.
3. We are to Worship Both Publicly and Privately
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
The Bible encourages every believer to meet consistently. It is essential for every believer to be in connection with the church. And God designed it that way so that we would work together as one body – headed by Christ himself. There is power when the church worships collectively.
On the other hand, public worship alone will not satisfy our need to meet God in our private spaces.
In Luke 5:16, it speaks of how Jesus would “withdraw to desolate places and pray.” Jesus himself modeled to us how important it is to have a personal time with God. I like how a Puritan commentator named Matthew Henry said this: “Public worship will not excuse us from secret worship.” Which brings us to the next point:
4. We are to Develop the Discipline of Worship
The truth is not all of the time would we will feel like “worshipping” God. There would be days that seem heavier than others. But to worship Him throughout our lifetime requires discipline. Without discipline, our worship will be inconsistent at best. The verse we read earlier in Hebrews 10:23-25 talks about how we should not give up on meeting together, but instead to “encouraging one another” in love and good deeds. Building a habit of worship requires support from people who could build us up to become more consistent in this spiritual discipline.
But then again we have to be very careful to remember that worship is not a matter of works, but of the heart. Our actions can lead us to a habit of worship, but our heartbeat must lead us to a relationship with God.
Worship is not an end to itself. If anything, worship should birth out revelatory insights as we follow Jesus. As we encounter God through our worship, we become more like Him. We get to value the things that He values – hate what He hates, and love what He loves. To be exposed to our Holy God should bring about a response that makes us examine our lives and state of affairs. We see it a lot of times in the scripture where God is worshiped and the worshiper cries out because their spiritual state is exposed. Take for example Isaiah:
“Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
It’s interesting to note that the same man who encountered God in His full splendor and holiness was the same man who cried out “Here I am, send me!” in verse 8. Time and time again, we see in the Bible that those who get an encounter with Jesus would be radically changed and find a new calling to be movers for His kingdom.
“If worship becomes an end in itself, immune from the missionary nature of the church, it becomes a fetish. Worship provides resources and motivation for mission by recalling Christians into the presence of the God who sends.” – John Hull
As mentioned earlier, worship points our hearts back to Jesus and in the process, we get to know Him and be more like Him. As a disciple of Jesus, nothing is more Christ-like than and pouring out our lives daily to the things that God values most – those who have yet to hear of the Gospel and enjoy an everlasting relationship with Him. Let’s continue to commit our hearts to loving God and his people through our worship – in words, in thoughts, and actions!