Thursday, April 19, 2012

Defining Worship

Think about each of these statements and contemplate whether they are true, false, or somewhere in between:
             The best place to worship God is in church.
             I feel close to God when I am in church.
             I never understand the lesson at church.
             The music at church helps me focus on God.
             I feel comfortable inviting my friends to church.
             I like a church service that is entertaining.
             Going to church helps me make better choices all week.

People go to church for a lot of different reasons, some of them are:
             To be with our friends.
             To learn about God.
             To help us know how to make better choices.
             To pray about something that is bothering us.
             To sing songs to the Lord.
             To feel God around us or in us.
             While these all may be valid reasons for going to church, another reason that should always be on our list is to worship God. Sometimes all of the other reasons crowd out worship and we must be intentional about not letting that happen.

If worship is so important, what exactly is it?
The dictionary says worship is:
             Treating somebody or something as deity and showing respect to that person or thing by engaging in acts of prayer and devotion.
             To love, admire, or respect somebody or something greatly and be willing to follow or commit to that thing or person.
             To take part in religious rites as a way to show adoration, devotion, and respect for a deity.

Watch this short video of another person’s idea of what worship is:

Worship can be hard to define because there are so many different aspects of worship. For example:
             Worship is something we DO. Think about all the different kinds of things do we do when we worship.
             Worship is something we FEEL. Think about all the different emotions we feel when we worship.
             Worship is something that CHANGES us. Think about the all the different ways worship has changed us.
             Most of us only experience brief moments of worship from time to time.
             But when we have those moments, it is a wonderful experience that makes our lives better.
             If we had more worship experiences, and they lasted longer, our lives would be happier and less stressful.

We all have our opinions about what worship is. But how does God describe worship?

Worship often involves going.
             Genesis 22:5 - Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.”
Exodus 8:1 - Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and tell him: This is what Yahweh says: Let My people go, so that they may worship Me.

             1 Samuel 1:3 - This man would go up from his town every year to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of Hosts at Shiloh…
             Though we can worship the Lord anytime and anywhere, we are often so busy doing our own thing that we forget to worship. Therefore, getting away from our regular environment and going somewhere else can break us out of our routine and help us worship the Lord better. That is why we often “go” to church to worship. It is not that we cannot worship in our homes, or on the lake or in the woods; it is just that we rarely do. We tend to get absorbed in what we are doing and forget to worship unless we are in a place that in our minds and hearts we identify as a “sacred” place.

Worship often involves our bodies
             Exodus 34:8 - Moses immediately bowed down to the ground and worshiped.
             Nehemiah 8:6 - Ezra praised the LORD, the great God, and with their hands uplifted all the people said, “Amen, Amen!” ….and worshiped the LORD …
             Some people kneel (bow down) when they pray.
             Some people stand when the worship, especially if they are singing.
             Some people raise their hands when they pray or sing.
             People do not have to kneel, stand, or raise their hands to worship, but these things do help many people worship better. Physical involvement helps many of us stay focused on the experience. Though it is hard to understand why, many people feel the Lord more if they let their whole body get into the worship. For some people, using their whole body in worship is also a way to symbolically give themselves to the Lord more completely.
             However, it is also important to remember that the Lord is more interested in the posture of our hearts than He is the posture of our bodies, so we should all make sure our heart is right with God when we worship. If our bodies remain still but our hearts are stirred, then we will have a powerful worship experience. But if we see someone else who seems to be more physically involved in worship than we are, we will understand why.

Worship often involves our voice.
             Psalm 66:4 - All the earth will worship You and sing praise to You. They will sing praise to Your name.”
             Hebrews 5:7- During His earthly life, He offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.
             1 Timothy 4:13 - Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, exhortation, and teaching.
             We worship when we sing songs to the Lord out loud.
             We worship when we pray out loud.
             We worship when we read scriptures out loud.
             We worship when we explain the Bible to someone else out loud.
             Just as going somewhere special to worship helps us stay focused, or using our bodies to worship helps us to feel God more strongly, using our voice helps us verbalize what we are feeling and also helps those around us who may not be believers understand what is happening. Also, if we only do these things in our minds, some of us struggle with day dreaming or get distracted in some other way. This does not mean that we cannot worship by singing, praying or reading the Bible silently; it just means that we have to try harder to focus. Some people can have very powerful worship experiences by sitting silently and thinking about the Lord, but that is harder for other people.

Regardless of how whether we stay where we are, or go someone special, whether we use our bodies or not, or our voices or not, we must always remember that real worship is focused on God, not us.
             Psalm 29:2 - Give to Yahweh (God) the glory due His name; worship Yahweh in the splendor of His holiness.
             God is the one who should be gloried (praised, honored, uplifted) in worship, not us. If we were honest, we would have to admit that sometimes we try to bring attention to ourselves when we are in church. Take a moment and think of some ways we have seen this happen. What we should be doing is focusing all the attention toward the Lord. Take a moment and think of some ways we can keep our worship focused on God?

Worship often involves receiving a blessing
             Exodus 23:25 - Worship the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water (daily life).
             Though worship is focused on God, not us, when we worship the Lord, we are always blessed (made happy) by it. Take a moment to think about some of the blessings God has given us when we worshipped Him.

Worship involves making a choice.
             Joshua 24:15 - But if it doesn’t please you to worship Yahweh, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my family, we will worship Yahweh.
             No one can force another person to worship. Our parents, or some other authority, may force us to go to church, and we may outwardly go through all the motions, but true worship only happens if we want it to. We must decide if we will follow the Lord. Then we must decide if we will worship Him. We must decide each day if we will have a time of private worship through Bible reading, prayer and music. We must decide each time the church meets if we will show up and if we will come ready to worship or just pretend by going through the motions. What choice about worship will we make today?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this. It is very helpful.