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.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” 1 Samuel 16:7 NLT
In all of our worship the Lord looks intensively at our heart. God is not impressed by the elegance or eloquence of our worship. What our worship “looks like” aesthetically is not at all important in the way the Lord actually sees or perceives our worship. “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, he will not despise.” Psalm 51:16-17
So, what is the Lord looking for when He looks deeply upon our hearts as we worship? Honest worship is about “being real” and authentic in the way we approach the Lord. The reality is that God already knows what weighs heavily on our hearts, He knows what consumes the countless thoughts of our minds. Honest worship has more to do with our “openness” towards God. Our loving Holy Father doesn’t want to be left on the outside looking in when it comes to our relationship with Him. And this most certainly includes our worship. The reason God does not “despise the sacrifices of a broken and contrite heart” is not because our Lord finds pleasure in our pain or suffering. It simply is that oftentimes these are the only moments in our lives where we are truly honest before the Lord in our worship.
Indeed, His heart breaks right alongside yours, He feels your pain and deeply wants to be close to you in your brokenness. The point is that worship, honest worship, is loving our Savior in the most real moments of our lives. Not as we might imagine or wish things to be, not with some lofty view of ourselves or our lives, other than the reality that we live in, and not in some idealistic scenario which keeps God at arm’s length in the midst of our lives. Honest worship includes Jesus at the very center of our lives with all that entails. Is your worship, honest worship?
Worship in Obedience
“But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22 NLT
It can be far too easy for us to compartmentalize worship as simply another area of our lives. Especially if we relegateworship in our lives to one hour, once a week on Sunday morning. A.W. Tozer said this, “if you departmentalize your life and let certain parts worship God, but other parts do not worship God, then you are not worshiping God as you should. Worship is not a spotlight focusing on one area of life. True worship, worship that is pleasing to God, radiates throughout a person’s entire life.”
But seriously though, have you ever compared your living to that of the praise you have offered the Lord? What do you think God feels like when our lips praise Him but our lives do not? Our worship is not only empty and meaningless to God without obedience, it’s downright offensive. “These people worship me with their mouths, and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Isaiah 29:13 “I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.” Amos 5:21-23
The most worshipful thing we can do is live in obedience to God. Our actions are in fact the wellspring of the intentions and affections of our hearts. To live in obedience in worship is less about following a list of laws and rules and more about falling in love with God’s way and desires for your life. So, as you Love the Lord with all your heart soul mind and strength, don’t forget to embrace His desires for you as you worship in obedience. “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”” Psalm 40:8 ESV
Worship is in our DNA. We were created with an innate impulse to worship. Some may disagree with these statements but one way or another we are all engaged in the worship of something or someone. Author James McDonald says, “The highest and most powerful human experience is to express our love to the most worthy object of our affection. The greatest sin, then is directing that adoration elsewhere, not only because it insults God, but also because it insulates our hearts from the delight we were created to revel in.”
The apostle Paul described it this way, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” Romans 1:21-25 ESV
Idol worship is placing anything in our lives in the Lord’s rightful place on the throne of our hearts. And we cannot worship the Lord and idols alongside one another. So, what’s the solution? The idols must be removed and torn down. In Judges 6:25 the Lord instructed Gideon to “tear down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.” In verse 26 He instructed Gideon to build an altar “to the Lord your God” in its place. As long as idols remain in our lives the temptation to worship them will always remain. The more we slay and tear down our idols in our lives, the more we place Jesus in His rightful place as the object of our heart’s affection, as the center of our worship.
The weapon of praise
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not or according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-4
As followers and worshipers of Christ, we find ourselves consistently engaged in a spiritual battle (spiritual warfare). One of the most powerful weapons we have at our disposal is worship. Unfortunately, many times our worship is based on conditions: things are going well in my life-so I’ll worship or maybe the opposite -everything is crashing down around me all I can think to do is cry out to the Lord in worship. In 2 Chronicles chapter 20, king Jehoshaphat received word that not one but 3 different rivals were planning to attack.
King Jehoshaphat prayed to the Lord confessing “we have no power against this large army that is attacking us. We don’t know what to do, so we look to you for help.” (v 12) The Spirit of the Lord came upon a man named Jahaziel who said, “The Lord told me to tell you, don’t be afraid! The battle is not yours. It’s mine. Go out to the battlefield. You won’t even have to fight. Just get out there, hold your places, and watch me save you!” (v 14-17 paraphrased) And then all of Judah fell down before the Lord and worshiped. They worshiped before the battle.
Then in verse 22 it says, “as they began to sing and praise God, the Lord set an ambush for the people… who had come to attack Judah. And they were all defeated.” They worshiped during the battle.
After the Lord’s victory over their enemies Judah’s worship only continued. “Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of Lord with harps and lutes and trumpets.” (v 27-28) They worshiped after the battle.
And so, worship is indeed a very powerful weapon in spiritual warfare, but we need not wait until the battle to lift our praise to the Lord. As we continually offer praise and worship to God, we will be reminded that the battle is not ours, that our God will always be victorious, and that above all He is worthy of our worship regardless of the conditions of our present circumstances.
Worship in the place of His Presence
In worship, we are engaging with the very Presence of the Lord Almighty. There is nothing more incredible, transformative, and life changing than to be in His midst. I can think back on so many times in my life where I have so sensed, felt, and experienced God’s Holy Presence in such a powerful way that I was completely overwhelmed and overtaken by His glory! In the midst of God’s glorious Presence, we become completely undone. In Isaiah 6:1-5 it says, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” “At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.” “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.””
Have you ever experienced the power and the glory of the Lord’s Presence? In this place of His incredible Presence we begin to see ourselves, and more importantly, our Glorious and Almighty God with more clarity. We see and experience His holiness, His righteousness, and we immediately become aware of our sin, shame, and brokenness before the Lord. Our perspectives, our pride, and perceptions are completely shattered as we now see God as He should be-as Lord! And we see ourselves in true humility-in desperate need of a Savior! Author James McDonald says, “worship is a magnification of God and a minimization of self.” John the Baptist put it this way, in John 3:30 he said of Christ Jesus, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”
Do you desire to experience God’s glory and power in your worship? If you do, don’t view your time of worship as simply a daily task or exercise of your faith. Rather, anticipate your time of worship as an opportunity to meet with God in His glorious Presence.
Worship in the place of His Presence: Part 2
Experiencing the glorious Presence of our Almighty God does not have to be a once in a blue moon occasion. Did you know that we can actually live and worship in the place of God’s Presence? The premise for all of our worship is this: worship is our response to God’s revelation. Simply put, God first reveals or makes Himself seen or known to us, and when we recognize the Lord in all of His glory and Majesty we respond; we worship and adore Him.
So where then is the disconnect? Romans 1:20 says “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature.” Habakkuk 2:14 says “For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the Lord.” Psalm 19:1-4 says “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.” So, if the Lord in all of His glory and splendor is constantly before us how is it that we are not constantly engaged in worship?
The reality is that God so greatly desires our fellowship that He has made Himself infinitely available to us. We on the other hand can easily lose sight of the Lord and His glory. With all of our busyness and amidst all our distractions, coupled with our sin, we miss out on the joyous invitation to worship the Lord continually.
The key to worshiping in the place of His Presence is becoming more and more attuned to God’s glory and Presence in and all around our lives. First, we need to pray and petition as Moses did in Exodus 33:18. “Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” We need to not only look for God but be filled with a desire to see and know the Lord. Second, we should pray that the Holy Spirit would quicken our hearts to immediately respond in worship as we see and recognize the Lord in His glory. The more we begin to respond in worship the more we will encounter God’s glorious Presence. As we worship the Lord in this way, we will be filled with an insatiable desire for more of Him. When we respond to God’s revelation to us He is always faithful to meet with us. We can indeed grow to live and worship in the place of His Presence. It is the sweetest fellowship we can ever experience or know!
Worship in Spirit and Truth
Did you know that our Heavenly Father is on the lookout for true worshipers? What are true worshipers, you might ask. Well, John 4:23 says, “But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.” So, what sets us apart as true worshipers? It’s that we worship in spirit and truth. A.W. Tozer said, “You cannot worship the Lord in spirit alone, for the spirit without truth is meaningless, and you cannot worship in truth alone, for that would be theology without fire. It must be the truth of God and the spirit of God. Today let’s focus on the aspect of worship in spirit.
Remember worship, simply put, is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Duet. 6:5 If we worship with only our minds we are merely engaging in a “mental exercise” or going through ritualistic motions- this type of worship is hollow and empty. One of the greatest challenges when it comes to worshiping in spirit is our willingness and openness to worship with more than just our minds.
Oftentimes a taboo word when it comes to worship is the word emotion. Biblically speaking however, worship in spirit includes our whole being as we are engaged in worship, and this includes our emotions. Author James McDonald says, “emotions like gratitude and lament, joy and contrition must well up inside the one who rightly conceives that God is not just present in our praise but leaning in to love us back and manifest His glory.” Worship in spirit is not about being emotional, it is about being fully present, and completely honest and sincere in our worship before the Lord. Another great A.W. Tozer quote goes like this, “you can be as straight as a gun barrel theologically, and as empty as one spiritually.” It is far too easy to “check out” or go through the motions in our worship if our heart isn’t in it, if we aren’t worshiping with everything that is inside of us-heart, mind, soul, and strength. God is Spirit, so let us then worship Him from our inner most being-let us worship in spirit.
Worship in Spirit and Truth
One might compare worship in spirit alone to be the equivalent of riding a roller coaster then heading home, back to our regular lives. In a brief moment something felt exhilarating but then later it was all gone for there was no substance, it was just an experience. It is crucial that we not only worship in spirit but also worship in truth.
The opposite of truth is a lie, the opposite of true is false. The reason truth is important in our worship is because it gives us our foundation of who God is in our worship. Without truth we are worshiping a false god. Without truth our worship is a lie. And wouldn’t you want to know the One you are worshiping anyway? If you’ll allow me one more A.W. Tozer quote (sorry he’s one of my favorite authors). He says, “what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” The sad reality these days is that many people’s view of God is based on their own personal thoughts and views. Their mental picture of God, their truth has been completely customized to either their own preferences or mistakenly to their life’s experiences up to that point. The only way to know the Lord and worship Him in truth is to have our truth be based solely from God’s Word.
Psalm 33:4, “For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” God’s Word should be the source of our truth, not only so that our worship would be more “accurate” but that in knowing His heart, and His character we would only love Him more affectionately and passionately. God’s Word truly is the only pure and accurate way to know and see God as He truly is. Psalm 34:8 implores us to, “Taste, and see that the Lord is good”. When we worship then in spirit and truth, we worship with all that we are and all that we have in the light and truth of all that God is and all that He has done for us. “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. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24