Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Worship 101: A Passionate, Non-Expert Shares


Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—which is your spiritual act of worship.  Romans 12: 1

I've considered myself a "worshipper" for several years.  Yet, so many times I have found myself wondering, "Just what does it mean to worship God?  What should it look like in my life?"  As I read, consulted, and sought the Lord for these answers lately, a funny thing happened. He answered! (Isn't that just like Him to do what He says He will do?!) This post is an attempt to flesh out the hurriedly scratched early morning words as I woke to receive them.

Reverance.  Adoration.  Willful submission.  These are all common terms used in the definition of worship.  According to Ellen Taricani in her book, Worship In Freedom,  "The English word derives from a conjunction of "worth-ship"- a celebration of the "worth" or supreme value of God."

There Is Only One Who Is Worthy 

In 1 Cor. 2: 2-5, the inspired words of Paul read as follows (emphasis mine):

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,  so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

Where our faith lies determines where our worship lies.  Think about the message of the cross.  God sent his only son Jesus to die for us that we could be freed from the eternal bondage of our sin.  This is unconditional love, and the root of our true joy and hope as Christians!  There is nothing/no one that is holy or righteous in all the earth except through the power of the cross- Jesus' shed blood.  (1 Cor. 1: 26-30) We should worship God alone because He alone is worthy.  If anything else is truly good in our lives, it is only because God made it so! 

Because we know Jesus to be the object of our hope, we also must devote ourselves to learning more about Him through spending time in His word.  As we do, we will develop a deeper personal relationship with Him, which will strengthen our ability to keep our eyes on Him alone.  The more we know Him, the more we will want to worship Him!

Worship Is A Heart Of Surrender

                                             image by callissa

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  Galations 2: 20

When we chose to make this truth a reality in our lives, a lifestyle of worship will follow.  It is beyond the ability of our sinful nature to come before the Lord and enter into His holy presence.  True worship is a supernatural experience- a gift afforded us only by God's amazing grace.  It is not confined to any particular activity or event, and it is rarely able to be planned.  (See Proverbs 16:9

It's Not About Us

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.  Psalm 29:2 

It seems like a no-brainer, right?  Yet, commiting to worship God without our "selves" getting in the way is a lot harder to do than it sounds!  For an example, think of the lyrics to one of your favorite "worship" songs.  Chances are pretty good that there are as many references to you as there are of God!  Now don't get me wrong- there is nothing wrong with praising God for all He's done for us, or proclaiming our love for Him.  It is the natural response of a thankful heart, and it is pleasing in His sight.  However, I believe we are missing a foundational element of our response to Him if we do not extol God simply for who he is.  Psalm 145 is a great example of the type of God-centered worship that I'm talking about.   I will share a few lines of it here:

3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; 
   his greatness no one can fathom. 
4 One generation commends your works to another; 
   they tell of your mighty acts. 
5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty— 
   and I will meditate on your wonderful works.[b] 
6 They tell of the power of your awesome works— 
   and I will proclaim your great deeds. 
7 They celebrate your abundant goodness 
   and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

Notice that while David does mention himself here, it is only to bring God further glory, not to detract attention from Him.  The focus is still clearly on God.  A great book which illustrated this for me so clearly is Teaching Kids Authentic Worship: How to Keep Them Close to God for Life. Kathleen really drives the point home that we need to keep the focus on God alone if we're to paint an accurate picture of what true worship is all about.  I would recommend this book even for someone who doesn't have kids.  It's full of practical ideas and eye opening.

Nothing Short Of Everything

he eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth, that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. 2 Chronicles 16:9

Anyone who is truly thankful can (and should) praise God, and as their interests and talents present themselves, they can create a physical expression of that thanks.  Dance, drawing or painting, drama, or writing are just a few examples.  True worship, however, is different.  Even with all the artistic ability in the world, it takes practice and hard work to get it right.  The practice required to experience worship lies in learning to yield our hearts- our everything, to His control.  

As we move from praise into worship, our thoughts and actions become uncluttered by "technique" and we simply are His, allowing Him to move as he pleases.  We are no longer thinking about the limitations of our physical bodies, but are caught up on the spirit of the Lord, instead.  What a glorious transition this is.  This is breakthrough to the Kingdom of Heaven!

"Taken", by Juliet Dobson

Our God Intercedes On Our Behalf

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  John 4:23

When we are yielded to Him (having casted all fear aside!), we are vessels overflowing with His glory.  He creates beautiful expressions through us by His spirit, and we reflect the truth of who He is.  It's important to expand our worship repertoire into new areas of expression while also allowing every other aspect of our lives to be saturated in Him.  In doing so, we can most accurately portray the depth and width of our God.  Bringing Him glory, and welcoming others into His presence is our goal.  Joy is a result!!      

Likewise, His wisdom pours into (and out of) us, and we have no need to worry about how to handle any situation we may face.  We trust that God will come to our aid with the perfect words, at just the right time, according to His word.  Consider the following verses:  

Romans 8: 26
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  

Matthew 10: 19-20
But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.  

Kingdom Bound

One great idea I came across to help us center ourselves on God is to take 5 minutes to write Him a love letter- without a single personal pronoun to be found.  List His amazing attributes; lift His name on high!  

Another option can be to sing/ meditate on a song which truly does keep Christ at the center.  I have listed a few links to some I found on youtube which fit the bill.  If you know of others, please feel free to share!  Most of these songs are more contemporary in nature, but many hymns would be well suited as well.

You Are Holy- Jason Upton
King Of Glory- Performed by Jesus Culture
Jesus Name Above All Names-
King Of Love- Hillsong

God showed his great love for us by giving His only son.  We are commanded to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Therefore we must freely lay down our own lives, as Christ did, for the joy set before us.  (Hebrews 12: 1-2)  An earth-shaking experience awaits!  True worship is some powerful stuff :)

I saved this video for last.  Maybe it's the hip-hop in me, but this song tore down my walls almost instantly.  The spirit is moving, and it's all about God's glory.  Give it a may just love it!

I pray you would experience a new level of worship today.  Thoughts?  I'd love to hear them!

Coming up:
A review and giveaway of Worship In Freedom, by Ellen Taricani.  Love it!
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