Worship of God is the goal, highest privilege, and greatest source of fulfillment and joy for the Christian. Some might read that and think it is an overstatement. Some might think worship is subordinate to the study and application of God’s word, fellowship and prayer. But in fact worship is the aim of all we do. Effective Bible study that accomplishes what God intends it to be ends in worship. When we study God’s word it should lead us to worship God. The best fellowship we can experience is when we worship together. We will spend an eternity worshipping the Lord together. And prayer itself, when it is properly done, is an act of worship. Worship is not mere singing; it is much more than that.
A.W. Tozer, in his book Whatever Happened to Worship?, said the following about worship:
I am of the opinion that we should not be concerned about working for God until we have learned the meaning and delight of worshipping Him. A worshiper can work with eternal quality in his work. But a worker who does not worship is only piling up wood, hay and stubble for the time when God sets the world on fire . . . . God is trying to call us back to that for which He created us – to worship Him and enjoy Him forever! (p. 12)
Tozer goes on to further state of worship:
If we are truly among the worshipers we will not be spending our time with carnal or worldly religious projects. . . . I can safely say, on the authority of all that is revealed in the Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship is not ready for heaven.” (p. 13).
As you can see, Tozer felt worship was very important if not the most important thing in the life of a Christian. And the Bible would bear that emphasis out too. Worship is what we will be doing for an eternity. Worship has been greatly neglected by many. Some see worship as a mere warming up for the teaching of the word. But a spirit and heart of worship is what we should live in and especially come to church with to hear the word and then strengthen our heart of worship. Some have made worship out to be music alone, but music and singing is only a small part of what worship is. Worship is a heart attitude, a way of life.
Worship is designed and ordained by God not because He is a cosmic narcissist. Far from it! Worship is good for His people. Worship can be linked to every facet of our lives. We come to an understanding of our purpose and meaning in life through worship. We become overcomers in life through worship. We reach the world as they see our lives of worship to the Lord.
Marriage, family, and church all come together and are strengthened through our worship of the Lord. Worship is central to all we are and do in the Lord and that is what this study intends to show.
What is Worship?
As stated above, worship is more than singing, it is a way of life. The dictionary defines worship as: 1wor•ship \ wər-shəp\ noun [Middle English worshipe worthiness, respect, reverence paid to a divine being, from Old English weorthscipe worthiness, respect, from weorth worthy, worth + -scipe -ship] (before 12th century)
1 chiefly British : a person of importance — used as a title for various officials (as magistrates and some mayors)
2 : reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also : an act of expressing such reverence
3 : a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual
4 : extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem worship of the dollar
wor•shiped or wor•shipped; wor•ship•ing or wor•ship•ping (13th century) transitive verb
1 : to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power
2 : to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion
intransitive verb : to perform or take part in worship or an act of worship synonymy see REVERE — wor•ship•er or wor•ship•per noun1
That’s what the English dictionary says about worship. But if we really want to know what worship is we have to go to God’s word. God after all, is the One who invented and created worship.
Jesus defined worship in the following way:
· John 4:20-24 - 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in
what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The word translated from the Greek New Testament as “worship” is PROSKUNEO (Strong’s # 4352 - προσκυνέω prŏskunĕō, pros-koo-neh´-o) which means, “to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand; to fawn or crouch to, to prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore); worship.” 2
A have a friend who has a dog and it is a dog like all dogs that craves attention. If when I go over to my friend’s house I show any attention at all to his dog, the dog stays close and looks for more and more. The dog gets excited and jumpy (even though it is a big old furry dog). If I don’t pet it or rub its ears or scratch it, the dog nudges my hand with his nose and when I respond he joyously and excitedly licks my hand and shows me great affection. That’s the best way the dog knows how to show his appreciation and love. He doesn’t care who else is around watching him; he just goes all out to show he likes and appreciates my attention. That dog is far lower than a human on the chain of God’s creation, but humanity is far lower in relation to God in this universe, can we show God any less worship?
While God wants us to come humbly before Him, He does not endorse some of what is associated with worship at times. We should not take the above illustration too far. There have been instances when in the church people have literally acted like animals in their “worship.” This is out of order and not pleasing to God (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40). Our worship, as we will see, needs to be governed by the scriptures. If it isn’t found in the Bible, it isn’t something God endorses. Barking like dogs, squirming like worms and behaving like other farm animals is not worship, it isn’t revival, it is unbridled carnality and offends God not to mention discredits the Bride of Christ the Church. We are to bow humbly before our Lord and worship Him. But our worship is to be “in the beauty of holiness” 1 Chronicles 16:29; Psalm 29:2; 96:9; 110:3). We should look to God in worship and not be hindered by inhibitions related to how we will sound or look to people around us. But our worship needs to be holy and not an act of anarchy or lawlessness. There is freedom in the Spirit, but there is also order and this balance is part of the worship God ordains.
Who Should Be Worshipped?
Jesus quoted the Old Testament asserting that God alone should be worshipped:
· Matthew 4:10 - 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” (see Exodus 20:2-3; 34:14; Deuteronomy 6:13; 10:20).
2Strong, J. (1997, c1996). The new Strong's dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words (electronic
We are not to worship people or anything else, we are to worship God alone (Acts 14:15; Matthew 6:24, 33-34; Luke 16:9, 11, 13). God alone is worthy to be praised and worshipped.
Why Worship God?
The Bible tells us that God commands us to worship Him (1 Chronicles 16:29; Psalm 29:2; 96:6- 9). God alone is worthy of praise and worship (Revelation 4:11; 5:9). It is God alone who has created the universe and sustained it by His grace and therefore it is God alone who is worthy to be worshipped (Nehemiah 9:6; Revelation 4:9-11; 14:6-7).
Another reason for worshipping God is because of His holiness in contrast to our sinfulness. When Isaiah had his vision of the Lord on His throne in heaven it brought him into an immediate repentant awareness of His sin. God cleanses him from his sin and then gave Isaiah the opportunity to represent God. Isaiah’s immediate response to volunteer to go as God’s ambassador to
· Romans 11:33-36 - 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 “For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?”35 “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?”36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
When you realize all that God is and all that He has done, you cannot contain yourself but must bless God and give Him the honor and worship due Him (see also Psalm 115:1-8; 145:1-13; Revelation 11:15-17; 15:3-4; 19:1-4). We were lost helplessly and hopelessly in sin and were living in outright rebellion against God; we were His enemies (Romans 1-3); but God through faith in Christ by His free grace provision has made a way that our sins can be forgiven. While we were in sin, separated from God and at war with Him, in love and by His grace He sent His only Son Jesus to pay the debt of our sin on the cross (Romans 5:8). Anyone who trusts in Jesus to save them from their sin is forgiven by God and stands justified before Him which means they are in a state described as just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned Romans 5:1). Then we are told of the new life to be lived in Christ, a life of holiness (Romans 6). If we try to live that new life in our own strength we’ll only achieve wretchedness (Romans 7). But when we depend on Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit we can be more than conquerors (Romans 8). Not only does God save us and give us power to live right, but He elects us to serve Him in certain tasks, just as He did with
Worship is Practical
Worship is very practical. When your eyes are opened to see the magnificence of God the only reasonable thing to do is bow before Him. This is what Paul goes on to say in this portion of Romans where he is inspired to write:
· Romans 12:1-2 - I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
You see, Romans 12:1-2 is really a response of worship. We so often take those verses out of their context. Worship is the key to understanding life. When we worship God appropriately, everything else will come together and begin to fit in place. These verses connect worship to living in a way that is holy and acceptable to God. Presenting our lives and heart to God entirely is the full sense of what worship is all about. Paul is inspired to say that this total commitment is the only reasonable way to respond to God’s provision. Are you beginning to see how worship is much more than merely singing in a service? Worship is practical. Romans 12:2 tells us when we respond to God in worship it helps us keep from conformity to the world; it works worldliness out of us. This verse also tells us that worship has a transforming effect on us. Worship renews our mind and helps us to discover and prove God’s acceptable and perfect will for us in life. When we worship we live in the presence of God and that has a transforming impact on us. Moses looked at the back of God and was changed, we get to look into the glory of the Lord by the blood of Jesus and that changes us into the likeness of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:7-18). All of this is a consequence of worship. That is fantastic! What a blessing it is to worship the Lord. God is awesome! Praise Him! Let’s worship Him!
What is Wrong Worship? Lordship and Idolatry
Any discussion of worship would be incomplete without a consideration of lordship. Another word for “lord” is “master.” In the Old Testament the capitalized words “LORD” (Strong’s #3068) refer to the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) which is God’s most basic fundamental name. “LORD” (all capitalized) is a translation of the name God gave to Moses at the burning bush and refers to the self existent, absolutely adequate, and absolutely sufficient “I AM” God of the Bible (Exodus 3:14). Jesus referred to Himself with this most holy name (John 8:58). LORD is God’s most holy name. So holy was this name to the Israelites that they removed the vowels so that no one could say the name. They did this for fear of someone mispronouncing this holy name of God. In the Old Testament the word “Lord” (not all capitalized) is also used to convey the idea of a master. God is the “Lord of lords” in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 10:17). Jesus is also referred to as “Lord of lords” (Revelation 17:14; 19:16). Every knee will bow before this Lord of lords (Isaiah 45:23; Philippians 2:10-11). We are to worship this LORD (Psalm 29:2; 96:9; Matthew 2:2, 8; 28:17; Luke 24:52; John 9:38; Hebrews 1:6).
In the New Testament the term “Lord” is translated from the Greek term KURIOS (Strong’s #2962) which also means “master” and is defined as, “he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord.” 3 A master is a possessor of a thing, the ruler over it, one due homage, reverence, and respect. Worship is a response to lordship. What is lordship? Your lord is your master passion. Your lord is that which you spend the most time thinking about, the entity you expend the most energy on, that which guides your life. Worship is the evidence of lordship; worship is an expression of recognizing lordship. That which you worship is your lord. We have said that worship means to lavish affection on and show reverence to something or someone. Who or what you worship indicates who or what is your lord. Is God your master passion? Is He your LORD? Do you worship God? You can determine the answer to those questions right now by examining your priorities. Ask yourself, “Is God just another ‘thing’ I fit into my schedule and life or is He at the top of my list of priorities?” Some people worship inanimate objects like cars or houses. Some people worship themselves or others, or pets. Some people worship careers or goals in life. Some people worship God; He is their master passion in life. If God is not your master passion, He is not your Lord. And if He is not your Lord, you are in sin. What does the Bible tell us about this sin of idolatry?
First, idolatry is the sinful alternative to worshipping God (Exodus 20:1-6). There is a word used in the Bible for those who worship something other than God; that word is idolatry. A lot is said about idolatry in the Bible. Proper worship of God and the prohibition against idolatry is mentioned in the first two of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-6; see also Leviticus 19:4; 26:1). Unfortunately idolatry is one of the most grievous and most frequently indulged in sins of God’s people in the Old Testament. Household idols are first mentioned in Genesis (Genesis 31:19).
Second, idolatry is an indication of spiritual ignorance (Acts 17:29-30). Every person worships something; either God or an alternative. In the Old Testament God’s people worshipped idols because they attributed blessing to the idols rather than to God (Jeremiah 44:15-30). Paul pointed this out in his visit and observations at
Third, idolatry is a sign of spiritual bankruptcy and is the beginning of a downward spiral into sin (Romans 1:21-32). When a person fails to give God the worship due Him, that person has taken the first step in a down spiritually and the journey downward is a long, deep descent into darkness ending in hell. Worshipping alternatives to God is addictive and enslaving (Galatians 4:8-9). When we refuse or fail to worship God we are beginning our slide down a slippery slope of sin. 3Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (
Fourth, idolatry is closely connected to demonic activity (1 Corinthians 10:20-21). This is no surprise since worship of God is something which must disgust Satan, the adversary of God. Satan wants your worship. In his lust for your worship he will lure you in by enticing you with gradual alternatives to God until he has you in his grips. Sexual sin is often used by Satan to lure a person away form worshipping God.
Fifth, idolatry defiles spiritually (2 Corinthians 6:16-18; Galatians 5:20; 1 Peter 4:1-5). Jesus has nothing to do with idols. Idolatry is a work of the flesh. It is a work and only leads to fruitless futile failure in trying to seek spiritual meaning. Idolatry is an abomination to the Lord and something that Christians should stay away from (1 Corinthians 5:11; 10:14, 19, 20; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 John 5:21). In the Old Testament idolatry was seen as an offense punishable by death (Deuteronomy 17:2-5). Idolatry was one of the main causes of God allowing His people to be defeated and taken into exile (Hosea 8:5-14; Amos 5:26-27; Zephaniah 1:4-6).
Idolatry defiles and dirties us spiritually and we should do everything we can in the Spirit to avoid it. If you have been worshipping a graven image or idol, confess your sin to God and repent from it. God will cleanse of your sin by applying the blood of Jesus (1 Jon 1:7, 9).
Sixth, idolatry is powerless before God (1 Kings 18:25-29). Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal and proved that the idolatrous Baal was nothing before the living God. Like a powerful warrior God pushes over the dead idols (1 Samuel 5:1-5) and He often uses godly people to bring the idols down (Judges 6:25-32). The truth about idols is that they are inanimate objects that represent imaginary “gods” (1 Corinthians 8:4-6). The Bible says that there is only one God and that is the living God of the Bible (Isaiah 44:6-20). The One True God is real and powerfully reveals Himself in human history (2 Kings 19).
Seventh, idolatry will be judged by God (Revelation 21:7-8). One day God will through the idols and idolaters into the lake of fire. In the Old Testament God says He will beat idols into pieces (Micah 1:5-7). God will not allow idolaters to turn their back s on Him forever. Eighth, idolatry is overcome by turning to God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). The only way to destroy the idols in your life is to turn to God. This was true in Old Testament times (Hosea 14:1-9) and it is true in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). If we walk in the Spirit, depending on Him to help us worship God in Spirit and truth, we will be able to turn away from our idol practices and worship the One True God properly (John 4:23-24; Galatians 5:16, 17-25).
Are There Idols Today?
Now you might read this and think to yourself, “Are there really any idols today? I don’t have any idols in my home or life. I don’t have any little statues.” Some do indeed have little statues in their life and for them their idolatry is visibly tangible. But for others they may not have literal statues but be in idolatry nonetheless. Read what one writer said about modern day idolatry: What other gods could we have besides the Lord? Plenty. For
· Jeremiah 4:1-4 - “If you will return, O
by James Packer, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986, page for April 17 found at http://www.bible.org/illus.asp?topic_id=772
I Will Worship You PSALM 138 - 1 I will praise You with my whole heart; Before the gods I will sing praises to You. 2I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.3 In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul.4 All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O LORD, When they hear the words of Your mouth.5 Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, For great is the glory of the LORD.6 Though the LORD is on high, Yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar.7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand Against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me.8 The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.
This is a magnificent Psalm that gives us a wealth of revelation on what worship is all about.
Let’s look at it and see what it tells us about worship.
First, worship is a step of faith, an act of the will. Verse one says, “I will” (138:1a; Psalm 5:7).
Worship is not something we necessarily have to be in the mood to do. We don’t have to feel like worshipping to worship God. Worship begins with an act of faith regardless of how we feel. The Bible says we are to walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). I have learned that if, (even when I don’t feel like it), I step out in faith and worship the Lord, my feelings of worship follow my willful step of faith.
Second, worship involves praise (138:1b). “Praise” is the translation of the Hebrew term YADAH and means, “to confess, praise, give thanks” (Strong’s # 3034. יָדָה yâdâh, yawdaw’).
When we look at the meaning of this word it pants a picture literally referring to, “to use (i.e. hold out) the hand; to throw (a stone, an arrow) at or away; to revere or worship (with extended hands); to bemoan (by wringing the hands); cast (out), (make) confess (-ion), praise, shoot, (give) thank (-ful, -s, -sgiving).5 The idea here is that a person comes before God confessing their sins sincerely and then receiving forgiveness and then offering God thanks and praise for His mercy (that is what David points to later in verse eight of Psalm 138). There is nothing wrong with lifting your hands when worshipping the Lord. It is not to be done to bring attention to yourself, but it is to be done as an act of surrender to God. Third, worship involves the whole heart. David says, “I will praise You with my whole heart; . . . .” (138:1c)Jesus expressed His repugnance at halfhearted devotion to God in His letter to the
heart don’t worship Me at all.” When we take into account the grace and mercy and blessing of God, anything less than wholehearted devotion and worship of God is inappropriate, offensive and blasphemous. We are to seek and serve God with all our hearts and that is especially true of our worship (Psalm 9:1; 111:1; 119:10, 58, 69, 145). Another important point to draw from this verse is that it directs us to understand worship as more then merely singing. When we praise and worship God with all our heart that opens the door to understanding that everything we do in life can be an act of worship. We mentioned that earlier in our referring to Romans 12:1-2. Whatever we do if we do it with all our heart as unto the Lord, that is an act of worship. Paul was inspired to express this truth in the following way saying:
· Colossians 3:16-17 - 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
· Colossians 3:23-24 - 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
Notice the truth of these verses; worship is the means to have the word of Christ dwell in us richly (v. 16); worship involves doing all we do “in the name of the Lord Jesus,” i.e. in a Christ like way (v. 17); and worship is happening when we in whatever we are doing, we do it with all our heart (i.e. “heartily”) as though we are doing it for the Lord not just for people, and if we do that we are investing in our heavenly rewards account (23-24). That means the mundane and even secular things we are involved in can become a means to deposit in our heavenly account if we do them with a heart of worship. For instance, we can mow the lawn in a worshipful way, worshipping the Lord with a song in our hearts, His word on our lips and in our minds and in the process we are making deposits in heaven. We can find heavenly dividends in worshipfully going through difficulties in relationships in marriage, at home, on the job everywhere. When we turn away from our carnal desire to get things done our way or to impress others or exact our will and instead sacrifice our will on the altar of worship to God, then we make deposits in our heavenly account. Can you see now how worship is so much more than mere singing? Worship can be a means to victory in all areas of our lives. When you put your fleshly self on the cross of Christ and offer the sacrifice of inconvenience, injustice, pain, suffering, trial, persecution and any other thing and instead make it an offering to God, that is worship and that will lead to eternal blessing. Worship seen in this light is a powerful tool in being molded into the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:28-29). Worship seen in this way is a powerful tool of the Spirit in our lives (Galatians 5:16, 24-25). This helps us understand what the psalmist meant when he said, “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!” (Psalm 29:2) But we need to understand too that only God can enable us to worship Him or respond to Him with a whole heart (Jeremiah 24:7). God requires whole hearted devotion in our walk with Him. When we marry we and the one we marry want a whole hearted loving devotion. You don’t want to marry someone who is not totally committed and who is unwilling to burn that little black
book or cut off contacts with an old flame. You want to marry someone who only has eyes for you. God is the same way, He called
· 1 Peter 1:22-25 - 22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away,25 But the word of the LORD endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.
To receive a new heart, a heart capable of whole hearted devotion and full of God’s love we need to acknowledge that we are sinners (Romans 3:10,23), agree that we can only be saved and forgiven of our sins by the complete work of Christ not our efforts (John 19:30; Ephesians 2:8- 9), accept by faith and trust Jesus personally as our Savior and Lord (John 1:12; Romans 6:23) and then we will be forgiven and given spiritual life by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-11, 14; 10:8-9, 17), we will be given eternal life (John 3:16) and a new heart to live with in this life that will last into the next (Romans 5:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17). God wants whole hearted worship and He is prepared and willing to give us the heart to do that. You only have to bow down before Him in repentance (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30-31) and receive Gods gracious gift of salvation by faith (Titus 3:15).
Fourth, worship is a spiritual thing. David says he wholeheartedly praises God “before the gods I will sing praises to You” (138:1d). Worship is a spiritual thing; it makes a statement in the spiritual realm that God is worthy to be praised and glorified. There are many religions with many different “gods” (which are really no gods at all – 1 Corinthians 8:4-6). We need to understand that when we worship or seek to worship that all hell and the army of Satan will oppose us and seek to detour and distract us from worshipping God. We need therefore to put on the full armor of God to accomplish worship (Ephesians 6:10-18). It is a shame and disgrace that sometimes those who worship false gods do so more wholeheartedly than those who worship the One true God! Some succumb to the distractions and deceptions of the enemy and have their heart of worship stifled. For some the opposition to worship is from within, form their carnal sinful nature (Romans 8; 1 Corinthians 3). Our worship should reflect the truth that God is real, omnipotent, holy and all loving. And we shouldn’t be bashful about our worship; stand up and be heard, you worship the Living God! (Psalm 42:2; 84:2; Isaiah 37:4, 17; Jeremiah 10:10; Daniel 6:20, 26; Hosea 1:10; Matthew 16:16; Acts 14:15; Romans 6:10; 2 Corinthians 3:3; 6:16; 1 Timothy 3:15; 4:10; Hebrews 9:14; 10:31).
Fifth, worship is a public thing. Let’s look again at what David says in this psalm of worship. David says he wholeheartedly praises God “before the gods I will sing praises to You” (138:1d). These words tell us not only that worship is something spiritual, but that it involves
singing and public or open expression as David says his worship is “before the gods.” There are all kinds of outward expressions mentioned in the Bible as part of worship. Singing and using musical instruments is a Biblically supportable way to worship the Lord. Some churches forbid the use of musical instruments in their worship. Some churches forbid certain types of instruments or music in worship. But the Bible gives evidence that we can use all different kinds of musical instruments in our worship (Psalm 33:1-3; 71:22; 81:2; 87:7; 92:1-3; 98:5-6; 144:9; 147:7; 149:3; 150:3-6). When I was a young boy my parents used to drag me to church. There were reasons why I didn’t want to go. It was boring; I didn’t see much that was different in the people where I went to church. I did see something different in a few, but in most I saw other people who didn’t seem like they wanted to be there either. One thing that communicated this to me was the singing in worship. The church I attended with my parents as a young boy was one of those churches where people sing just enough to be able to say they were singing if asked, but not really enough to be heard. It was really dead singing; lips barely moving; heads looking down; and that embarrassed look if by chance they should catch anyone looking at them. There were a number of reasons why I didn’t want to go to that church as a young boy, and the lackluster, halfhearted, dead singing was one of them. Unfortunately I sometimes see the same thing today. If our worship is to be wholehearted, then our singing should show that. Singing can be a gauge of one’s heart involvement, heart investment in worshipping the Lord. When you sing in worship to the Lord, are you barely singing as though your heart were the size of a pea, or are you singing with all you’ve got as though your heart were the size of a watermelon? When you sing do you sing to the Lord or for the benefit of the people around you? When you sing do you care more of what the Lord hears or more about what the person next to you hears? If your singing reflects more of a concern for what other people think about you than what God does, then your singing is exposing a part of your carnal fleshly nature. When we sing in worship we should sing with everything we’ve got to the Lord. I remember the church I attended as a young Christian; there was a reason why I attended that church. Worship was a big reason why I attended that church. It wasn’t necessarily the most polished or best worship, though the worship leader was a gifted and Spirit filled brother. Let me tell you about the most impressive part of the worship that helped draw me to this church. There were two brothers who attended this church with me. They were impressively muscular manly men who had been broken to humility and built back up in love by the Lord. These were brothers in Christ who loved the Lord with all their hearts. They were serious about their walk with the Lord. They left a mark on me and taught me something about worship I needed to learn as a young believer. What did these burly brothers in the Lord teach me? They loved the Lord so much that when they sang in worship they did so with all their heart and might. Well, I need to mention here that these two brothers were not musically or vocally gifted. In fact they couldn’t sing a lick. These brothers sang so out of tune that if you sat next to them you’d be dragged into their tuneless praise. We’d try to arrange that they at least sat separate from each other because if they sat together and sang they’d throw the whole congregation out of sync in song. They knew they were out of tune and they would sometimes even apologize for being out of tune. But they did the best, the very best they could and they sang with all their heart. We used to joke about 13 how awful they sounded but that by the time such out of tune singing reached through the clouds to heaven, the sound would be filtered so that it sounded like the best operatic voices. The important point is that their singing was with their whole heart. They sang to the Lord, not to people. How do you sing? Are you out of tune? So what? You may not be eligible for the choir or to lead worship, but you can still offer God a sacrifice of praise in song. Sing away my brother and sister in Christ, sing away! Your heavenly Father sees your heart in your sacrifice of song to Him and He loves it. Sing away! What about our songs of worship? The Bible says whatever songs are used in worshipping the Lord should be psalmic (i.e. musical), hymnic (i.e. lyrically about God), and spiritual (Ephesians 5:18-19; Colossians 3:16). This also implies that the songs sung to God in worship should be singable so that the congregation can join together in lifting their voices before the Lord in song. Music made in worship of God should be joyful (Psalm 81:1; 95:1-2; 98:4-6; 100:1-2). The music and song of worship should be centered on God and be an offering of praise and thanksgiving to Him for all He has done (Psalm 47:6-7; 57:7-10; 59:16-17; 61:8; 66:4; 67:3-4; 68:32; 89:1; 98:1; 101:1; 104:33; 146:1-2; 147:1; 149:1). Worship should aim at expressing thanks and praise for the redemptive work of God in Jesus Christ (Psalm 40:1-3; Revelation 5:8- 14). So much of worship I the present day focuses on us rather than God. The best worship is worship that starts, proceeds and ends with focusing on God and His work. Whether we realize it or not, that will have a great impact on us because when we fix our eyes on our awesome God, it puts our problems into proper perspective. You either have a small God and big problems or a great God and small problems. Worship that focuses on us or on people results in a reliance on humanities’ feebleness. Right worship exalts God in a way that enables us to get through the hardest of trials or situations. What about physical outward expressions in worship? Clapping your hands in worship is Biblical (Psalm 47:1; 98:8). Lifting up your hands up in worship is Biblical (Psalm 28:2; 63:3-5; 134:1-2; 141:2; Lamentations 2:193:41; 1 Timothy 2:8). Saying, “Amen” in worship when we end our prayers (Psalm 72:19-20; Matthew 6:13; 1 Corinthians 14:16), to express agreement with God and His word (Deuteronomy 27:15-26; Revelation 22:20), and to bless the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:34-36; Nehemiah 8:6; Psalm 41:13; 72:18-19; 89:52; 106:48; Romans 1:25; 9:5) is Biblical. Bowing our heads and bowing our knees in worship is Biblical (Genesis 24:48; Exodus 4:31; 12:27; 1 Chronicles 29:20; Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:9-11)is Biblical. These are all Biblically sound expressions of our worship before God. But having said all that, it’s important that our outward expressions of worship do not press beyond the Biblical guidelines prescribed for them. We should never worship in a way that draws attention to our selves and away form God (Matthew 6:1-2, 5, and 16). We should be mindful of those around us and not only worship the Lord in a way that pleases ourselves and disregards how it affects others (Romans 15:1-2). The most important thing in worship is that our hearts are right before God (1 Samuel 16:7; mark 7:6-7; 1 Timothy 2:8). God is a God of order not chaos (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40) and because of that our worship should never be out of control (1 Corinthians 14:32).
Sixth, worship should consider the holy presence of God (138:2a; see Psalm 29:1-2; 96:7-9; 99:5, 9; Isaiah 6). When David says he will worship toward the
When Isaiah’s vision of the throne of God we see this practical implication. Isaiah’s vision is described as follows:
· Isaiah 6:1-13 - In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.5 So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.”6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.”8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”9 And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’10 “Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed.”11 Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered: “Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, The houses are without a man, The land is utterly desolate,12 The LORD has removed men far away, And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.13 But yet a tenth will be in it, And will return and be for consuming, As a terebinth tree or as an oak, Whose stump remains when it is cut down. So the holy seed shall be its stump.”
As we examine this passage we see that coming into the holy presence of God brought conviction to Isaiah of his sin and the sin of his people (Isaiah 6:1-5).Isaiah described this conviction as, ““Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” Jesus said what a person says is a good indicator of the condition of their heart (Matthew 15:18-20). The heart of sinful humans is
desperately wicked and deceitful which means that even though a heart can be filled with sin, a person can be blind to that sinfulness because the heart deceives or rationalizes away that sinfulness (Jeremiah 17:9). But the Lord knows the sinful heart of humanity and when a person comes into the holy presence of God the light of God exposes the sin of the heart (Jeremiah 17:10; Luke 16:14-15). When we come into the holy presence of God in worship a cleansing of the heart can follow the conviction of the sin in our heart (Isaiah 6:6-7). This cleansing comes from prayerfully applying God’s word which points us to the cleansing aspect of the blood of Jesus, all in the Holy Spirit’s power (Hebrews 4:12; 1 John 1:5-10; Titus 2:11-15). Once convicted and cleansed from sin, we are in a position for God to call and commission us for His service and that is what happened to Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8). Coming into the holy presence of God’s glory led to clarity as to the nature of Gods’ call on Isaiah’s life (Isaiah 6:9-13). We see this truth in the New Testament as well when the apostles were worshipping the Lord and the Spirit chose and sent out Barnabas and Saul (Paul) on the first missionary journey (Acts 13). If you want to know God’s will for your life, enter His presence in worship and God will speak to you.
Seventh, worship praises God for His lovingkindness and truth (138:2b). When Jesus said that proper was worship involved “spirit and truth” (John 4:24), He was pointing to worship that was led by the Holy Spirit and that followed the truth of God’s word (e.g. 1 Corinthians 14:33, 40). Worship is defined and ordered by the word of God. God exalts His word even above His own name so we should keep it in heart and mind when worshipping Him. Some mistakenly look at God’s word as a hindrance to worship. They mistakenly say, “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). But the letter kills in the sense that it exposes the sinner as utterly sinful and then points them to the cross (Galatians 3:24). We wouldn’t know what worship is or how to worship without God’s revelation in His word. And we will not worship God acceptably if we go beyond its revelation of what true acceptable worship is. (See the value of God’s word in Psalm 119).
Eighth, worship is a cry for strength (138:3). In worship we come weak and frail and declare our dependence on God seeking His answer to our weakness. We declare our dependence in worship by crying out to the Lord as the psalmist did (Psalm 56:9; 119:145, 146; 141:1; 142:1).
This verse implies therefore that our lack of boldness is due in part to a lack of worship. If we worship the Lord He will embolden us and empower us to glorify Him in the lost world.
Ninth, worship declares that in the end every knee will bow before the Lord (138:4-5). “All the kings” will praise God and declare His glory in the end. We need to look forward to the final victory of God when we worship (Psalm 72:11; 102:15, 22; Philippians 2:8-11; Revelation 11:15; 21:24). This therefore means that worship instills hopefulness in us even when defeat looks us in the face. When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of God will raise up a standard against him and the way He does that is through the worship of God (Isaiah 59:19).
Tenth, worship recognizes God’s willingness to meet with us (138:6). Even though God is high and lifted up, holy and transcendent, he stoops down to meet with us in worship. In God’s presence is fullness of joy and everlasting pleasures (Psalm 16:11; Acts 2:28). Jesus is Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23). Where two or three meet in the name of Jesus, He is there (Matthew 18:20). Jesus is the word made flesh (John 1:1-2, 14). God has taken the
initiative to meet with us through the blood of Jesus that now makes this possible (Hebrews 4:15- 16; 10:19-22). That is a wonderful thing to worship the Lord about. Eleventh, worship is God’s means to revival (138:7). Even though we may be beaten down by enemies who persecute us; even though the things of life may be beating us down; if we worship the Lord, He will revive us (see Psalm 143). Worship revives the soul; even the soul of the elderly (Psalm 71:17-21). If you are down and nearly out in life, worship the Lord and God will lift you up out of that pit and revive your soul. Worship is a major means of overcoming depression and mental stress. Worship the Lord and He will lift you up (Psalm 80:14-19; 85:4-7; Isaiah 57:15-21).
Twelfth, worship leads to spiritual maturity (138:8). David says, “The Lord will perfect that
which concerns me . . .” In the New Testament we are told: · Colossians 3:14-17 - 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Worship is at the heart of those verses. Worship is an expression of one’s love for God and when we express our love for God He works to mature us and perfect our faith. Coming into the presence of our holy God in worship gives us a glimpse of His glory. Like Moses in the Old Testament whose countenance was transformed by his contact with God’s glory, we too are transformed as we experience the glory of God in worship (2 Corinthians 3:7-18). Let’s look at these verses more closely. Paul says:
· Colossians 3:14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
God pours out His love by the Holy Spirit into the believer (Romans 5:5). Love is the fulfillment of the Law (Romans 13:10). Love is the greatest (1 Corinthians 13:13). It is the love of Christ that has a powerful and compelling impact in the Christian’s life (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Love is the “bond,” the glue, the tie, which holds everything we are and do together in the Christian life. Love is the measure of “perfection,” i.e. spiritual maturity and completeness. IT IS GOD’S LOVE THE COMPLETES US AND IS THE PATH TO SPIRITUAL MATURITY IN CHRIST. THAT IS WHY “ABOVE ALL THINGS” WE NEED TO “PUT ON LOVE.” What better way to express our love to God than in worshipping Him?
Paul goes on to be inspired to write:
· Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
Every Christian has peace with God in that we are no longer on the outside looking in or in opposition to God (Romans 5:1). But not every Christian has the “peace of God” or His indwelling steadying peace (John 14:27; Philippians 4:7). Worship is a bridge we can cross to bring us into God’s peace. Notice that Paul says, “let the peace of God rule your hearts . . . .” the use of the term “let” means Paul is giving and exhortation. An exhortation calls one to take a step of faith. “Peace” here refers to a sense of quietness and rest, harmony, trusting reliance. The word “rule” is an athletic term which draws on the imagery of and official who presides over a game to distribute prizes. With this explanation in mind we see that we are being encouraged to take a step of faith and allow God’s peace to rule over us, to direct us in the right way. When we worship the Lord and in the process surrender to God it leads to peace because we realize He is in control. That is a great blessing of worshipping God for which we should be “thankful.” .
Warren Wiersbe comments:
When there is peace in the heart, there will be praise on the lips: “And be ye thankful.” 6
Paul continues: · Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Here is a key to having all of this accomplished in our lives. Paul exhorts (“let”) the believers to have the word of Christ dwell richly in them. Another way of saying “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” is, let the word of Christ, “be at home and dwell permanently” in you; or let the word of Christ saturate you and remain in you as a rich treasure.”7 Wisdom is the enablement to apply God’s word to solve problems in a way that brings peace (James 3:13-17). To teach is to instruct or explain the meaning of something. To admonish is to bring to mind a warning or caution about something. Wisdom, teaching and admonishing are all purposes of worship. And worship that accomplishes this threefold objective includes “psalms” which refers to the teachings in the book of Psalms; “hymns” which refers to “songs of praise” to God; and “spiritual songs” as opposed to secular songs. Spiritual songs or literally “songs of the Spirit.” These are non-carnal songs composed by the regenerated Spirit filled Spirit guided believer. These are songs that are composed and flow from hearts that have been touched by God’s grace (1 Corinthians 15:10).
Warren Wiersbe in his commentary on Colossians states:
The Word will transform our lives if we will but permit it to “dwell” in us richly. The word dwell means “to feel at home.” If we have experienced the grace and the peace of Christ, then 6Wiersbe, W. W. 1996, c1989. The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. Victor Books:
the Word of Christ will feel at home in our hearts. We will discover how rich the Word is with spiritual treasures that give value to our lives. . . . There is a danger today, as there was in Paul’s day, that local churches minimize the Word of God. There seems to be a lack of simple Bible teaching in Sunday School classes and pulpits. Far more interest is shown in movies, musical performances, and various entertainments than in God’s Word. Many saved people cannot honestly say that God’s Word dwells in their hearts richly because they do not take time to read, study, and memorize it. There is (according to Paul) a definite relationship between our knowledge of the Bible and our expression of worship in song. One way we teach and encourage ourselves and others is through the singing of the Word of God. But if we do not know the Bible and understand it, we cannot honestly sing it from our hearts. Perhaps this “poverty of Scripture” in our churches is one cause of the abundance of unbiblical songs that we have today. A singer has no more right to sing a lie than a preacher has to preach a lie. The great songs of the faith were, for the most part, written by believers who knew the doctrines of the Word of God. Many so-called “Christian songs” today are written by people with little or no knowledge of the Word of God. It is a dangerous thing to separate the praise of God from the Word of God. Psalms were, of course, the songs taken from the Old Testament. For centuries, the churches in the English-speaking world sang only metrical versions of the Psalms. I am glad to see today a return to the singing of Scripture, especially the Psalms. Hymns were songs of praise to God written by believers but not taken from the Psalms. The church today has a rich heritage of hymnody which, I fear, is being neglected. Spiritual songs were expressions of Bible truth other than in psalms and hymns. When we sing a hymn, we address the Lord; when we sing a spiritual song, we address each other. . . . Our singing must be from our hearts and not just our lips. But if the Word of God is not in our hearts, we cannot sing from our hearts. This shows how important it is to know the Word of God, for it enriches our public and private worship of God. Our singing must be with grace. This does not mean “singing in a gracious way,” but singing because we have God’s grace in our hearts. It takes grace to sing when we are in pain, or when circumstances seem to be against us. It certainly took grace for Paul and Silas to sing in that Philippian prison (Acts 16:22–25). Our singing must not be a display of fleshly talent; it must be a demonstration of the grace of God in our hearts.
Someone has said that a successful Christian life involves attention to three books: God’s Book, the Bible; the pocketbook; and the hymn book. I agree. I often use a hymnal in my devotional time, to help express my praise to God. As a believer grows in his knowledge of the Word, he will want to grow in his expression of praise. He will learn to appreciate the great hymns of the church, the Gospel songs, and the spiritual songs that teach spiritual
truths. To sing only the elementary songs of the faith is to rob himself of spiritual enrichment. 8 Finally Paul is inspired to write: · Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
To do something “in the name of” means to do it according to the nature of the one named as well as in the authority of the one named. Paul instructs us to do everything we do in the name of Jesus. We are to follow in the steps of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6) and we are to rely on the authority of the name of Jesus (John 14:13, 14; 15:16; 16:23-27; 1 John 5:11-15). When we gather together in the name of Jesus, Jesus is there (Matthew 18:20). We need to worship the Lord in Jesus’ name.
Getting back to A.W. Tozer, read what he says about the importance of worship and spiritual life:
I would rather worship God than do any other thing I know of in all this world. ... I cannot sing a lick, but that is nobody’s business. God thinks I am an opera star! . . . The beautiful part of worship is that it prepares you and enables you to zero in on the important things that must be done for God. Listen to me! Practically every great deed done in the
8Wiersbe, W. W. 1996, c1989. The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. Victor Books: