Follow along on this 20 Day devotional journey, as we seek to Worship our God more deeply with all that we are.
What is worship?
Why do we worship?
Have you ever wondered what causes our hearts to worship in the first place? As human beings, we all have a deep void in our hearts, an intense yearning for meaningful intimate relationship. And it is that void within that drives us and stirs us toward our desperate pursuits. The reason being is that we were created for worship and we were created for relationship. We were created to glorify God and enjoy fellowship with the Lord our God. Isaiah 43:7 says “I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.” (NLT) A.W. Tozer put it this way, “worship is man’s full reason for existence, the reason we are born and the reason we are born again. We exist to glorify God and enjoy him thoroughly and forever, telling the universe how great God is!”
God created us to know him and love him intimately through a personal relationship. What the masterful Creator of all that exists desires most, is to know you and love you in tender and sweet fellowship, in communion with one another, in worship!
The most important question one could ask at this point is, “Have I responded to the call upon my life and my very existence to worship?” The Lord desperately desires a living and loving relationship with you, but you must first surrender your life to Him. “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
I pray with all of my heart for you to know and experience the overwhelming joy and peace that comes only through worship-filled fellowship and sweet communion with the lover of our souls-Jesus Christ!
There are ultimately three types of worship in our lives: personal or private worship, corporate worship, and lifestyle worship. Today, let’s take a look at personal worship. Personal or private worship is the worship we experience in our personal or private time with the Lord in our living relationship with Him. This is one of the most vital and crucial areas of our faith. It is taking the time to personally know Christ, to spend time with Him, to love Him affectionately, to worship and adore Him.
To do this we must get away from the busyness and distractions of life. We need an appointed time and place. Matt. 28:16 tells us, “The 11 disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.” The next verse says, “when they saw Jesus, they worshiped him!”
In personal worship we can know and experience Christ as we feast on the living Word of God, listen to the voice of the Lord, and spend time in deep and meaningful prayer. We can lift our hearts and sing to Jesus personally and privately in a worship service of one. Remember, worship exists within a deeply personal relationship between you and God. No one can love Jesus for you. In personal worship we express our love and affection for Christ individually.
Corporate worship: Part 1
Corporate worship flows as an extension or outpouring of our personal worship. It is the culmination of all our collective personal worship and pursuit of Christ, expressed and celebrated together as one body. The English word “corporate” is derived from the Latin word corpus, meaning the human body. In corporate worship, the body of Christ joins together in giving glory, honor, and praise to Jesus! Author Constance Cherry writes, “Corporate worship is what happens when the body of Christ assembles to hear with one heart and speak with one voice the words, praises, prayers, petitions, and thanks fitting to Christian worship.”
When we worship corporately, we will experience the living presence of Jesus together, as He is undoubtedly in our midst. Matt. 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” In corporate worship we exalt the Name of the Lord and magnify Jesus Christ as Lord! We join together in the eternal worship that is ongoing in heaven. Rev 5:11-13 “Then I looked up and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and elders. In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power FOR EVER AND EVER!’”
We should never take for granted or marginalize our time together in corporate worship. Just as we were created to worship, so too the church exists to bring glory, honor, and praise to Jesus.
Corporate worship: Part 2
One of the biggest misconceptions in the church today involves our perceptions and presumptions about corporate worship. Our culture is very consumer driven and it is far too easy for corporate worship to be seen in the same way. For example, just about every church I know uses the terms “worship service” to describe what takes place on Sunday mornings at the church. Through consumeristic lenses one might think that the “service” that should be rendered belongs to those who attend. In corporate worship however, “service” should always and only be rendered and directed unto the Lord.
Psalms 96:7-8 says, “Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts.” Corporate worship is never about “me” as our consumer-driven world is. We do not come to worship to receive anything, only to give. Our time together in corporate worship centers around Christ in giving all that we have as an offering to Him. The terms “minister” or “bless” are often misconstrued as well. The worship service has nothing to do with ministering to or blessing people in its purpose. Biblically speaking, we are all called to minister to, and bless the Lord.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!” Psalm 103:1-2, 20-22 ESV
Worshipers of the Bible would never come to worship empty handed and neither should we today. Our motives and mindset in corporate worship should always be about the offering we bring to Jesus. We minister to and bless Him because He is worthy of it all!
Our expressions of worship are simply an outflow of a greater lifestyle of worship. In his book Worship 365 Author David Edwards describes lifestyle worship. He says, “worship is both an eternal thing and right now, every day thing!” Lifestyle worship is living our lives as an offering of worship unto the Lord.
David Edwards continues, saying, “People who hunger for God’s presence will experience and come to know the ways of the Lord; for He will reveal them. His Holy Spirit within will continue to create hunger within us for more and more of Him. The pouring out of our hearts in worship is essentially saying these things. We want to be with Him, and the more time we spend with him, the more we get to know about Him. Our getting to know him is not only our privilege and pleasure, but it is a holy journey that will last beyond this lifetime. God’s Spirit daily points the way and reminds us that we were made for this.”
Lifestyle worship is about living out Romans 12:1-2 ““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—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Worship and praise overflow as an outpouring of our daily living and obedience. As we live in His presence, we become in-tune with His Spirit, communing with Jesus as we live out our lives as worship.
What is praise?
Charles Spurgeon said, “whenever we have to praise God, what do we do? We simply say what He is! You are this and You are that. There is no other praise. We cannot fetch anything from anywhere else and bring it to God; the praises of God are simply the facts about himself! If you want to praise the Lord Jesus Christ, tell the people about him.” If the simplest definition for worship is the act of “loving God”, then the simplest explanation of praise would be the act of “bragging on God”. All throughout God’s Word we find praise being lifted up. Praise is mentioned 200 times in the Bible, 500+ if you include words such as worship, sing, shout, or bow down.
In all of eternity God will be praised. “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” Jude 1:24-25
All of creation is constantly declaring praise to the Lord. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalms 19:1-4 NIV
God’s praise is inevitable. Jesus said in Luke 19:40 “He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
So, I pray that everything within you will praise the Lord, for He is worthy of our highest praise! Declare who He is today, to Him, to yourself, to others. Praise Him!
How to praise
For praise to be what it is, it must be outward, open, and demonstrative. Praise is never done silently or secretively. No one has ever accidentally praised the Lord. It is direct and deliberate adoration. Author Bob Sorge says, “One distinctive of praise concerns its extroverted nature. The Bible shows us that praise is to be declared or manifested. Psalm 66:8 “let the sound of his praise be heard.” Praise is not praise until it’s vocalized or shown forth. In other words, it is impossible to praise with mouth shut and the body slumped forward! In that posture we might be worshiping, meditating, praying, or sleeping, but we are not praising!”
As we delight ourselves in the Lord in relationship and fellowship with our Loving Father, we experience God’s goodness, His faithfulness, His abundant love, and joy unspeakable. Our hearts begin to overflow with gratitude, awe, wonder, thanksgiving and praise. Living in sweet communion with Jesus we can’t help but praise as we begin to see and experience the depths and riches of His love for us, and the abundant grace which He has lavished upon us (Ephesians 1:7-8)
In praise, we reflect back the glory of God while simultaneously declaring and testifying to the redemption we have experienced in Christ Jesus! “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9
Indeed, you are an instrument of praise, so let His praise arise.
Expressions of praise: Shouting
There are 8 biblical expressions of praise: shouting, speaking, singing, playing an instrument, clapping, dancing, kneeling, and lifting hands to the Lord. I don’t know about you but from this list, shouting often feels like a challenge to me. I was raised in a Godly home where I was taught to be respectful, courteous of others, and to never raise my voice. Yet, the Bible calls us at times to give praise to the Lord in the form of shouting.
Psalm 47:1 “shout unto God with the voice of triumph.” “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth!” Psalm 66:1 “Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob!” Psalm 81:1 “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” Psalms 95:1 There are countless passages that refer to expressions of praise that included shouting. “When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook.” 1 Samuel 4:5
Shouting may seem off your radar as an expression of praise you are comfortable with. However, let me pose a question. Do you have a favorite sports team you like to watch? If so have you ever cheered or shouted when your team scores? Do you have a favorite activity you enjoy? Have you ever shouted at the peak of its excitement? How about in witnessing a friend or family member or someone you admire accomplish a great feat? I bet you may have at least raised your voice, right?
Praise in the form of shouting can become a personal expression of worship if you allow your praise to be uninhibited. When we experience, or are reminded of, the Lord’s greatness, goodness, or salvation, among countless other things, we should not remain silent but let our praise resound. So, don’t be afraid, let out a shout of praise!
“Shout to the Lord, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy! Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the earth and all living things join in. Psalms 98:4, 7
Expressions of Praise: Singing
The Bible contains over four hundred references to singing. It is one of the most recorded commands in all of God’s Word: to sing unto the Lord! Author Bob Sorge says, “when we sing our hearts are lifted to the Lord, and our spirits are moved in the presence of God. This is an “ultra-rational” experience in which one plus one equals three, in which words plus music equal “more” than just words and music. The words of this song may be meaningful, but when coupled with an enhancing melody, the message of the song can be expressed with so much more meaning. God has given us this medium of music as a special gift because he knows how much it helps us by lifting our hearts in praise to him.”
It has been said, “that he who sings prays twice.” That’s because singing, in our worship unto the Lord, is much more than just our words of affection and adoration directed towards Christ. When we sing we are engaging our minds, bodies, and spirit in praise to the Lord. When we sing our focus is heightened, our praise is intensified, and our offering of worship is multiplied.
As Christians we have so many reasons to sing to the Lord. And speaking personally, we each possess a treasured song in our hearts-it is the song of the redeemed, sung by everyone who has been redeemed by Jesus Christ. The great hymn writer Isaac Watts said, “let those refuse to sing who never knew our God.”
Singing to Jesus has very little to do with how our voice sounds in its musical qualities. It is more about letting the restraints of our hearts be unshackled as we express our innermost love and deepest affections unto our loving Savior.
You have a voice and you have a song to sing, so now it’s time to worship.
“Sing to the Lord; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! Psalms 96:2-4
Expressions of Praise: Lifting hands
One of the greatest joys as a father is to look down at your sweet little angel as their arms are lifted high. It’s as if they’re signaling “up, up, daddy, I want you to hold me, I want to be close to you.” In much the same way, lifting our hands is an expression of our worship and praise saying, “I love you Father, I am yours, I want to be close to You, near You, with You.”
It can be easy to dismiss the idea of raising our hands in worship. Some people view it as being too exuberant or flamboyant. Others don’t want to draw attention to themselves. But raising our hands is a biblical discipline in our worship that keeps us focused and concentrated on Christ. Many of us struggle with minds that are prone to wander even as we desire to be worshiping. Lifting our hands helps curb this tendency. Sometimes the psychical nature of our worship can allow the spiritual part to be more open and vulnerable before the Lord. When we worship with our bodies such as lifting our hands, we are worshiping with the very fiber of our “beings”. If we truly want to worship in surrender before the Lord, we will take down our defenses and give him access to the inner recesses of our hearts.
So, let us not be ashamed or afraid of lifting our hands in worship. Let’s give of ourselves completely, as we love our Lord.
“In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God,” 1 Timothy 2:8a
“Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord.” Psalms 134:2
“So, I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.” Psalm 63:4
Sacrifice of Praise
“Therefore, through Jesus, let us continually offer up to God the sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips to confess his name.” Hebrews 13:15
There is no sweeter offering of praise so treasured by our Heavenly Father as the sacrifice of praise. What makes this particular offering so special? It is indeed considered valuable and precious to our Lord because of the cost it takes to offer it. You cannot offer a sacrifice of praise without giving up something costly.
Did you know that it takes the crushing of tens of thousands of flower petals to produce just one ounce of perfume? After all of the pressing and crushing of those tens of thousands of flower petals are completely spent, there is nothing more they can offer. Sometimes in our lives we can become overwhelmed, overrun, emotionally and physically drained and completely emptied. Sometimes we are crushed by the loss of a loved one, or form heavy burdens through various afflictions and trials of life. When it feels as if you have nothing left to give-that’s when you should muster up everything you have inside you to be poured out as praise. When everything inside of you says there is no reason for me to worship-that’s when your praise should spill out and burst forth breaking your pain, your struggles, and your frustrations.
The Bible gives us a glimpse of how David looked at every situation in life as a chance to worship the Lord, even following the death of his newborn child. 2 Samuel 12:19-20 says, “David noticed that his attendants were whispering about themselves, he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” He asked “Yes”, they replied, “he is dead”. Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped.”
It is only through the power and strength of the Holy Spirit in us that we can offer this precious gift to God. In every season and station in life, Jesus is deserving and certainly worthy of even our most costly praise. So don’t be silent in your pain or affliction, give all that you have as a sweet sacrifice of praise.