Jan 14, 2011

Worship: An act of reverence

This short definition of the word worship is good for helping us gain some insight into the idea of worship. Examining the two words, act and reverence, we can see an important part of our relationship with our God.

When we look at the short definition, we see that the word act. To act is an active idea. When I was a boy learning grammar, my teacher told us that a verb is an action word. What do you think are the actions we’re to be doing when we worship our God?

I think we must guard against being sponges in the body of Christ. By that I mean we cannot show up and just expect to absorb what God has for us. We must not be receivers only, but we must be in active worship of God. We must be sure we are the “do-ers” and not just the receivers.

So, what are some of the actions we should be doing? Well, like always, let’s find our answers in His word. Examine I Chronicles 16:23-36. A fine list of reverential acts are outlined there.

Sing to the Lord
Proclaim good tidings
Tell of His glory and deeds
Praise Him greatly
Fear Him
Ascribe glory to Him
Bring an offering
Worship in holy array
Say, “the Lord reigns”
Give thanks
Bless the Lord

This is just a short list from King David. These are active ways to worship God. Of course there are more, but these give us some idea about what the active part of worship is. We must do these things as individuals and corporately.

Today, we no longer bring sacrifices and offerings of grain, libations or animals. Those acts were elements of a different part of God’s overall plan. With Christ we have a new covenant and we are to worship in a different way. In fact, Christ Himself tells us the way we are to worship.
But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth. (John 4:23-24)
One of the wonderful things about our relationship with God is that we can communicate with Him directly in spirit. We can talk directly to God without having a human intercessory. But, when we look at this passage from the Gospel of John, we see that we’re also to worship in truth. I think this is a key element of our worship of God.

I believe worshipping in truth means that we’re to be honest with ourselves and honest with God. He already knows our hearts, so we cannot lie to God. So, we can tell Him how we’re feeling and what’s honestly in our hearts.

But, there is a danger in today’s Church. Often, we say and do things in worship because we’ve always done them. We get into habits of worship — sometimes without knowing the meaning behind them. We perform things or say things because it’s expected of us or because we’ve always done so. But, often times these are not the true reflections of our hearts at the time.

God doesn’t want empty worship. He wants our true worship. He wants us to be honest in what we’re saying. The Psalms are an excellent example of worship. We don’t always see praises in the Psalms, do we? We see laments and we see complaints. But, we never see any of the psalmists dishonestly praising God with empty praises. Remember…
Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14
The other important word in our definition of worship is reverence. A short definition of reverence is “a feeling of deep respect, esteem, awe and love.”

I don’t think there’s any born again believer who doesn’t feel this way about God. But, let’s combine this definition of reverence with the word act. What does that look like? Again, let’s look in the Psalms for just one example. David writes…
I will tell of Thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise Thee. You who fear the Lord, praise Him; all you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, and stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel. (Psalm 8)
In this psalm, we get a picture of how David feels about God and how he encourages all of us to worship God.

Let’s look a little closer at the definition of revere. There are some key words in there that are important to study.

Respect – how do we demonstrate deep respect for God? I think the ultimate way to show this level of respect is to be completely obedient to Him. Do not disobey Him.
Esteem – We show how much we esteem God in the way we prioritise what’s important in our lives. Where does God fit in? Truthfully, is He first or second or third? Is He in the background of our lives? Or is God on the throne of our lives? Is God the reason for what we do each day?
Awe – One way to show awe is to tell God who He is. Sometimes a good way to do this is to pray the Psalms. But, acknowledge to the best of your ability your awareness of who God is and what He’s done and will do.
Love – No greater love has a man than to give his life. Love Him with all your heart, mind, and soul. Submit the whole of your life to God. This means turning over control of all parts of your life to God.

Again, we must always remember that worship is active not passive. God blesses us as He desires. If He chooses to bless us through a sermon on Sunday, then we are blessed. But, that is not worship — that’s part of discipleship. In this way we are the recipient of God’s love. However, as God’s people we must be active in our worship of the Creator, the Lover of our souls, Whose name is above all names.

Remember our example of the sponge. A sponge absorbs water much like a believer can absorb from God, from His word and from His teachers. But a sponge doesn’t give the water back unless it’s squeezed. Our heavenly Father doesn’t want to squeeze us all the time for us to give service and worship to Him. So, let’s be sure we as believers revere our God actively in our own lives and when we gather together.

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