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How Should We Worship? Part 2 – Practically:

In the last section, we looked at what the Bible tells us about worshiping as an individual. We looked at what it means to worship God in spirit and truth. We also saw that we worship Him when we place ultimate worth on Him. The big question that follows this study is: “OK – so what does this look like during an average day?” In other words, if all we do is supposed to glorify God, how do we accomplish this by going grocery shopping or running other errands? Cleaning the house? Paying bills? Cooking meals? Basically – how do we glorify God and make much of Him while going about our typical routine?

It is very easy for us to understand how to make much of God (and to do so in spirit and truth) when we are doing things that are considered by many to be specifically designed for that purpose, e.g., praying, reading the Bible, listening to (or preaching) a sermon and singing worshipful music. It is much more difficult to see how to accomplish this through the more mundane.

The reason for this, as I study, is very convicting. We struggle with our mind-set. When I am mowing the lawn, since this is not a task that I enjoy very much, I am typically thinking about what I am going to do when I am done, about how hot (or cold) it is outside, about how much nicer it will look when I am done (as a motivational factor), etc… I am rarely thinking about who God is and what He has done for me (or what He has in store for me)! I am not thankful for the fact that I can walk! I am not praising God that I am blessed with the luxury of even HAVING a lawn to mow! I am not busy being thankful for the great brain power he has bestowed on men in order to invent incredible things like lawn mowers that make keeping the lawn neat and trim much easier! I am not thinking about how much nicer it will be for my neighbors to live next to a house that is well-kept. In point of fact, my mind has sadly done what it does so often, and has drifted to thinking about me, and not about others, and not about God.

Let’s look at what Paul has to say about this, in 1 Corinthians 10:23-33:

” ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For ‘the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.’ If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, ‘This has been offered in sacrifice,’ then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” (ESV)

There is an amazing depth to this passage, and there is no way I can address everything here without going far off topic. What does Paul use as his example in this passage? Eating. Eating is a very mundane aspect of life for most of us here in the USA. And even when food is hard to come by, eating isn’t always linked in people’s minds to making much of God the way studying the Bible is. But here, when Paul wishes to illustrate doing ALL THINGS to the glory of God, he uses the mundane. I would submit to you that he did so because of the problem I discussed above: our mind-set.

What we see in this passage is a picture illustrating how putting other’s needs before ours glorifies God. Putting aside our own liberty for the sake of someone else glorifies God because it sets us apart from the world, and it points to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When we are able to partake in even the mundane with an attitude of service to everyone around us, it glorifies God: and to glorify God is the goal of worship.

In the beginning of the passage, we see that even though all things are lawful, not all things are helpful and not all things build up. Who are they not helpful to? Who do they not build up? Ourselves? Possibly, but who’s focus is Paul on? We see in the very next verse. “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” I believe Paul is telling us here something that is very foreign to American society in general. While we have the liberty to do all things, we are not to be defenders of this freedom. We are not to look out for “number one” as it were. Our focus is to be on being helpful to others, and building others up!

He moves on with an example which, on the one hand, is very mundane: eating. On the other hand, however, this was a particular point of stumbling for many at this time. There were a lot of rules about what Jews should and should not eat. As God’s chosen people, in the Old Testament, they were told not to eat food that had been sacrificed to idols. That was not pure. There were other rules about the type of meat they could eat, what was clean and unclean, etc. These rules had carry-over with many people even though God had made it clear through men like Peter and Paul that things had changed where food was concerned. It was still felt to be very wrong by many to eat certain foods.

Paul says that it is alright to eat anything sold in the meat market without raising any questions of its origin. This, he explains, is because everything belongs to the Lord. Even meat that men had sacrificed to false gods. He takes it a step further and states that if you are invited to dinner by an unbeliever and he serves meat, eat it without raising questions about it origin for the sake of your conscience. All things are lawful. We have the liberty to eat meat no matter where it came from.

Then, we see the change. If someone tells you specifically that the meat has been offered to idols, do not eat it. Why? Because when we are given such knowledge we do not have the liberty to partake anymore? Not at all. He says not to eat it “for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his.” I would point out that it is not clear here who is pointing out that the meat was sacrificed to idols. It could be an unbeliever who is trying to trap the believer into doing something that the unbeliever thinks the believer cannot. It could be an unbeliever who mistakenly thinks that it is wrong for believers to eat this meat and legitimately wants to warn the believer so he doesn’t partake accidentally. It could also be a weaker believer who is convinced that to partake of that meat is wrong. I think that since the comment is stated to be motivated by conscience it is most likely one of the last two options – but it really doesn’t matter.

The point here is that there is obviously a belief, held by the person who is warning the believer of the meat’s origin, that a Christian should not eat meat sacrificed to idols. So, because of THAT person’s belief, and for the sake of THAT person’s conscience, we must not partake at that time. He makes it clear a second time that it would have been perfectly acceptable to eat prior to the warning, and that the warning doesn’t limit our liberty: “For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?” But for the sake of the person who warned you, do not eat it.

Then, the kicker: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” The word “so” can be replaced by the phrase “because of this,” or “because of what I just said.” He is drawing a conclusion from the previous points. Because we are to seek not our own good, but the good of others, and because we are to be sensitive not of our own liberty, but of the consciences of those around us at any given time, we are to do all for the glory of God! When we seek the good of others, we glorify God! When we focus on others consciences and not our own liberty, we glorify God! Look at the mind set here. It would be sad to miss the forest for the trees. We don’t follow this passage if we grudgingly give up liberties for the sake of the consciences around us.

Glorifying God in all we do involves SEEKING the good of those around us. We aren’t forced. We seek it! In order to incorporate this mind set in everything we do requires thought and prayer. But if we did everything with this mind set, with this radically “un-American” attitude, it is exciting to think of how much glory we would be giving our God!

So in all we do, if we are dwelling on the many blessings God has given us to put us in the position of doing what we are doing (including the breath and life he has given us), and if we dwell on how we can benefit others in what we are doing rather than how this either benefits or doesn’t benefit ourselves, we will be worshiping God in all we do. This is a fantastic challenge, and one that only the Holy Spirit working in us can accomplish.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

How Should We Worship? Part 1 – Individually:

We understand what worship is. We understand that everyone worships something or someone. We know that we are commanded to worship our triune God. The last piece of the puzzle, then, is: how should we worship? I suggest that such a piece is a very large one. I suggest that we seek to answer that question in two parts: how should we worship on an individual level, and then how should we worship corporately. For reasons that may or may not be obvious, this first installment will deal with worship on an individual level.

First I will start with a brief review on what worship is. We looked at how the English word “worship” evolved, and we looked at the different words used in the Bible that are translated as “worship.” Without re-typing the entire thing, to worship is to show honor, to bow down, to kiss towards, etc… We also looked at Matthew 15:8-9:

“This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (ESV)

We saw that worship can be, simply, actions. Bowing, lifting up hands, kneeling, singing, reading Scripture – but we can do those things in a way that is not God honoring. Jesus says that our worship is in vain if we teach as doctrines the commandments of men, and we give God merely lip-service if our hearts are far from Him.

As we realize this, it becomes clear that to have God-honoring individual worship, we need to be very careful to have hearts and minds that are engaged in our worship. Look at what Paul says in Romans 12:1:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (ESV)

Paul’s point here is that, as opposed to the Old Testament focus of animal sacrifice as worship, Christians are to present their bodies – their entire being – to God in daily obedience to His will as a spiritual service of worship. This is huge. Our individual worship is not supposed to be some every-so-often, half-hearted, rote thing! This is an every day, all-the-time, mind-body-and-strength, passion! We are to present our bodies to God as living sacrifices! THIS is spiritual worship.

I want to look at two different passages as we really dig in here to find out what it means to present our bodies as living sacrifices to God. The first is John 4:21-24:

“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.'” (ESV)

The first thing to notice there is that inner spirituality has replaced geographic location. Our worship is no longer limited geographically – it is merely limited by our own inner lack of spirituality. If we are not worshiping in spirit and in truth we are not worshiping God. This is something we can do whenever and wherever. We have no excuses.

The second thing to notice is that there is a direct parallel to Matthew 15:8-9 and this passage. Worshiping God in spirit is the opposite of your heart being far from God, and worshiping God in truth is the opposite of teaching as doctrine the commandments of men. Let’s look at this more closely.

What does it mean to worship God in spirit? Spiritual worship is non-physical worship. This is attributing ultimate worth to God on an emotional level. Worshiping God in spirit means that our most inward thoughts and deepest emotions (repentance, sorrow, longing, desire, fear, awe, gratitude, joy and hope) are all directed toward and honoring to Him. When we worship God, if these emotions are vacant, it is an indicator that our hearts are far from Him. And we are no longer worshiping in a God-honoring way.

What does it mean to worship God in truth? This is worship that is Theologically grounded. This is worship that is grounded in fact and reality. Our worship needs to be grounded in God’s truth… which is Scripture. Worshiping God in truth means that, in our worship of Him, we need to be worshiping Him for who He is. We need to worship every aspect of who He is. We need to make sure that our worship is rich with the truths and principles that God has revealed to us in Scripture. When our worship fails in this aspect, we begin to invent our own “facts” and “truths” about who God is and worship those. We begin to teach as doctrine the commandments of men. When this happens, we worship in vain.

It is very easy to see how these two things work together. When we worship, we need to worship Him for who He is, and what He has done. When we do that, if our hearts are engaged (and not far from Him), our emotions will respond and we will feel sorrow and repentance for sin, reverent fear and awe of our awesome God, a desire to know Him more, and we will feel a deep sense of gratefulness, joyfulness and hopefulness because of His love for us, and because of what He has done for us. This is true, God-honoring worship. This is worshiping God in spirit and in truth – which is the only type of worship He wants. This worship is the exact opposite of the worship described in Matthew 15:8-9.

The second passage that I want to look at is Philippians 1:20-21:

“as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (ESV)

This is an amazing passage. To understand it fully, let’s take it apart a little. Paul says that it is his hope that Christ will be honored in his body whether by life or death. This is to say that it is Paul’s hops that Christ will be honored in his body by life, and that Christ will be honored in his body by death. Each of those statements have matching pairs in the next sentence. “Christ will be honored in his body by life” pairs with “For me to live is Christ,” and “Christ will be honored in his body by death” pairs with “and to die is gain.” Let’s look at the second pair first.

Paul says that his death honors Christ when death is gain. The meaning of this is readily seen. He counts everything on this earth as rubbish – so much so that he faces death joyfully with the expectation of gaining and eternity spent dwelling with Christ. With such a mind set, anyone watching his death will see his joy in what he will be gaining. This will not put the focus on Paul – it will put the focus on God. Through Paul’s death, Paul gets an eternity of joy with Christ, and God gets the glory. God is so glorified in that Paul considers everything in this earthly life to be loss when compared to the gain of knowing Christ. See Philippians 3:8:

” Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (ESV)

Looking back to the first pair, after viewing the second pair, it is very obvious what Paul means. When he says that his life brings honor to Christ when to live is Christ, he means that he brings honor to Christ if he lives in such a way as to put ultimate value on Christ. He values nothing over Christ.

The passage, then, tells us that in order to honor Christ by life or death, we need to be attributing ultimate worth to Him. We need to value Him above all else, even to the point of death. We find our joy in life in Him, and we find our joy in death in Him. When we live this way, we put focus on God and his glory, and we make much of Him, and in doing so we worship Him. The pursuit of joy in God is worship, it is the chief end of mankind, and it is the only acceptable form of worship to God. Worship to accomplish anything else dishonors God, and therefore is vain worship.

In our individual worship, then, we are to worship God in spirit and truth, and we are to place ultimate worth in Him. Our worship must be all-inclusive, and all-encompassing. Our worship needs to be Theologically grounded, emotionally evocative, and Christ treasuring. Any other type of worship is not God-honoring, and is therefore dishonoring to Him.

 

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Whom Do We Worship?

In the last blog I finished by asking if we are worshiping creation or the Creator. That question is a perfect segue into the question we are addressing this time around. Let’s start out by looking at what Psalm 96:7-9 has to say:

“Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth!” (ESV)

I would really actually encourage you to read all 13 verses of that Psalm before continuing on – it is an incredible song of worship. It was hard for me to pick that excerpt out without just putting the whole Psalm up. At any rate, the Psalmist is very clear on whom we should worship. We should worship the Lord. And if you notice the language in that Psalm, it is not a suggestion. We are told to worship the Lord. Take a look at Revelation 22:8-9:

“I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.'” (ESV)

Again, no suggestion was made here. We are told to worship God. There are many more verses which command us to worship God (Exodus 34:14; Psalm 99:5,9; Matthew 4:10; Luke 4:8; Hebrews 12:28; Revelation 14:7; and Revelation 19:10), and there are even more that command us not to worship any other gods. At this point it should be very clear that we are to worship God, and no other.

As usual, there is a complication. Our God is a triune God: three in person, one in essence. Which do we worship? God the Father? God the Son? God the Spirit? All three? This is an important question to think about. It is an important question to be able to answer. Let’s take a look at what Jesus says in John 5:22-23:

“The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” (ESV)

In saying this Jesus makes a very clear statement of deity (since judgment comes only from God). He is also clearly commanding us to worship Him (which by the way is yet another statement of deity). In fact, He says that if we do not worship Him, we do not worship God the Father either. This statement has clear implications for those who do not view Jesus as God. Jesus must be viewed as God, and worshiped as God, in order for our worship of the Father to mean anything. We are required to worship the Father and the Son.

I would further conclude that John 5:22-23 points to a “trinitarian” worship. That is, we must worship the trinity: God the father, God the Son and God the Spirit. The verse in point of fact says nothing of the Holy Spirit, but it is clear about the Father and the Son. We know that they are two of the three persons in the Trinity, so it at least commands us to Worship part of the Trinity. Moreover, when we are commanded to worship God I see no reason to conclude that this command leaves out one of the persons of God. They are three separate persons, yes, but they are one essence: one God. I would conclude that for the same basic reasons we must worship the Son in order to worship the Father, we must also worship the Spirit. To further this point, let’s look at what Jesus says in Matthew 28:19:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (ESV)

Doing something in the name of someone else is designed to bring honor to the person the act was in the name of. Baptism is to be done in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – so baptism honors (or worships) all three persons of the Trinity. I see no reason to assume that Baptism is alone in worshiping the Trinity. Since the Trinity IS God, I believe that when we are told to worship God we are told to worship the Trinity.

All things considered, we are to worship God. We have a triune God, so we must worship all the members of the God-head. Not worshiping one of the members is not worshiping God at all, because we are making little of part of His essence. Anyone who rejects the Trinity cannot therefore worship God. This is a serious statement with very serious implications. Since getting into these implications would make a wild leap from the topic at hand, I will merely challenge the reader to think about what these implications are.

So we have defined worship. We know what it is and what it isn’t. We also know that we all, without exception, worship on some level. We know that we do this because we were created to worship. We know fallen man worships creation rather than the Creator. We know that we are commanded to worship God, the Creator. While thinking about all of this, it becomes clear to me that a discussion on who should worship would only be a repetition. We know all mankind was created to worship and that we are told to worship God, so everyone is to worship God. This being the case, I will be skipping that question. I will be looking, in the next blog, at what it means, on an individual level, to worship God.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Why Do We Worship?

Well you may notice that I am already ignoring the order that I had previously mapped out. As I was getting ready to write on whom we should worship, I realized that my answer was lacking important background information. I realized that I needed to talk about why we worship before we discuss whom we should worship.

As we dive into the question at hand, I want to first offer a quote from “The Dissertation Concerning the End for Which God Created the World” by Jonathan Edwards:

“All that is ever spoken of in the Scripture as an ultimate end of God’s works is included in that one phrase, the glory of God. . . . The refulgence shines upon and into the creature, and is reflected back to the luminary. The beams of glory come from God, and are something of God and are refunded back again to their original. So that the whole is of God, and in God, and to God, and God is the beginning, middle and end in this affair.” (emphasis added)

In other words, Edwards is saying that throughout the Scriptures, when it speaks of the ultimate reason God did anything, it either clearly states that it was done for His glory, or that is the exegetical meaning of what is said. We can see this played out in Isaiah 48:8-11:

“You have never heard, you have never known,
from of old your ear has not been opened.
For I knew that you would surely deal treacherously,
and that from before birth you were called a rebel.
For my name’s sake I defer my anger,
for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
that I may not cut you off.
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
for how should my name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another.” (ESV)

He then paints a beautiful picture for us of how His glory is magnified through His creation. If you consider that one of God’s works was creation, we must conclude that the ultimate, stand alone reason that God created the universe was for His own glory. This is affirmed for us in verses such as Psalm 19:1:

“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (ESV)

We, as God’s creation, are made to glorify Him. We were created to worship Him. We were created to be worshipers. A moment’s thought will show you that we find ourselves most awed, inspired and joyful when we see something magnificent. We paint pictures of breath-taking landscapes. We enjoy the crystal blue waters of Hawaii, and the awe- inspiring red, rocky terrain of the Grand Canyon. We enjoy colossal skyscrapers and cityscapes, as well as snow covered mountains and woody forests. Sport fans are wowed by last second touchdown throws, booming home runs, buzzer beating jump shots to win the game, and perfect 10 performances in gymnastics and figure skating. We were not created to be wowed by our image in a mirror. We were created to be wowed by something far more magnificent.

Unfortunately this is where we start to dive into Paul’s teaching in Romans 1. As a fallen race, we are all too quick to settle for the things of lesser glory. We are wowed by our own image in a mirror (or we have the opposite feeling of it – which, if you consider it, still reveals a mind that is consumed with the image in the mirror… good or bad). Maybe we do move past our mirrors, but we end with spectacular scenery or phenomenal sporting highlights, or some other magnificent piece of artwork. We never see, as Edwards eloquently puts it, that “the beams of glory come from God,” or that they “are refunded back again to their original.” Consider Romans 1:21-25:

“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.” (ESV)

According to that passage, the fall of the human race didn’t end worship at all. What it did is redirect it’s focus. Fallen man continues his God-created purpose to worship: but he now worships the creature rather than the creator. We do not look at the glory of God’s creation and refund glory back to Him. We let it stop at the creation in our hearts and in our actions.

Our challenge, then, has to be to commit to give God the glory He is due, and not His creation. We need to view the universe as a telescope, allowing us to get a better view of God’s indescribable glory. We should enjoy God’s creation, and use that enjoyment to worship a God so powerful and magnificent that He could make our magnificent universe out of absolutely nothing. We should use our amazement as we look at the vast expanse of the starry night sky to worship the God that flung those very stars off of His fingertips.

The answer to the question is that we worship because that is what we were created to do. Every individual worships. There hasn’t been, there isn’t, and there never will be an individual who doesn’t engage in worship. The question, then, is not IF we worship, but WHOM we worship: the creation, or the Creator?

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

What Is Worship?

Some time ago I began a series of blogs on the topic of worship. I have not made the time to blog (and I chose the word “made” because it isn’t that I haven’t HAD the time… I simply have filled that time with other things) in over a year, however, and have left the series unfinished. It is my goal to pick blogging back up, and for starters, I would like to re post and then complete the series I began a while back on worship. Introduction having been made, let’s dive in!

Our English word “worship” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word “weorthscipe.” In the Anglo-Saxon language “weorth” means worthy or honorable and “scipe” corresponds with our “-ship” ending. So it is easily observable how the word developed into “worthship.” As time and the English language progressed even further, the word became, simply, “worship.” But the meaning of the English word, as you can understand from its root word, is simply to attribute worth to an object.

There are two main Greek words in the Bible that are commonly translated as “worship.” The first is “proskuneo” – this is a combination of the Greek words for “toward” and “kiss.” Literally, “proskuneo” means to kiss toward. This is an idiomatic word that carries the idea of prostrating oneself before someone. Later on, the word came to mean to show honor, reverence or adoration to someone.

The second Greek word is “latreuo” – this word is derived from the Greek word “latron” which means wages. “Latreuo” originally meant to work for wages. Somewhere down the line the meaning of this word actually took a turn, and came to mean to serve without wages in public or religion. This being the case, the word slowly came to mean to render honor to the state or gods.

It should be clear why those two words are typically translated “worship.” However one of the most glaring issues we can see by a simple study of our English word and the words used in the Bible that are translated as “worship” is the fact that all too many Christians use the word “worship” to specifically refer to singing. As is obvious from the word study above, worship is not just singing.

Worship is also not always God glorifying either. This is first seen right away since neither the English word nor the Greek words used actually refer to anyone specifically. People have historically worshiped many things. People commonly are worshiped when they are famous (actors, musicians, athletes, writers and other artists). Those people are surrounded by others who attribute high amounts of worth, honor, reverence and adoration to them. This is a form of worship that is not God glorifying, and it is one that is sadly all too easy at times to fall into. Our challenge, here, is to constantly evaluate just how much worth we are placing on anything. Ultimate worth should be placed on God, as He is the ultimate Being. He is our Creator, our Sustainer, our Savior, and our Protector. He is an infinite Being, and is therefore deserving of infinite worth. The moment we give more worth to a lesser being, we dishonor the greater.

Another window into worship that is decidedly not God glorifying comes to us when we read Matthew 15:8-9:

“This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (ESV)

When we read this verse, it is striking that Jesus is not saying that “This people” (the Pharisees in this specific case) do not worship Him. They do worship Him. However, they worship Him in vain, because they teach as doctrine the commandments of men. They honor Him with their lips only, because their hearts are far from Him. The act of worship is still going on – but to God this act is meaningless. And if the act is meaningless to God, it should be meaningless to us.

It becomes apparent, then, that worship can be just actions… sets of actions or words that are performed in order to obey Biblical commands and traditions. The act of bowing, of lifting up hands, of kneeling, of singing, of reading scripture and many more can all be considered worship. It also becomes apparent that the act of worship is not all that is important to God. He wants us to have hearts and minds of worship as well. The physical act of worship is rendered vain when our hearts and minds are not engaged in worship: when our hearts and minds are not attributing ultimate worth to God, or showing honor, reverence and adoration to Him.

Worship, then, if it is to be God honoring, needs to be all encompassing. At this point it may feel more natural to flow into the discussion of how to worship: of how to worship in this all encompassing manner. However, I would like to take a pause in the next 3 parts of this discussion to address whom we should worship, why we should worship, and who exactly should be worshiping. Once we get those preliminary discussions out of the way, we will be free to dive into the discussion of how to worship God in an all encompassing, God honoring way

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Uncategorized