Last week I gave you some things to think about regarding worship. The point I made was that worship isn’t about style or music! It’s about the heart! We looked at Jesus’ words in John 4, verse 23 (NIV): “A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” So, if I understand it correctly, true worship happens when our spirit connects with the Spirit of God! It’s not about the music! It’s not about the building we meet in! It’s not about our style or expressions of worship! It’s all about the HEART! It’s about our hearts connecting with God’s heart! And Jesus said He seeks that kind of worshipper!
So, how does that affect me? This week’s installment of An Encouraging Word attempts to offer some thoughts about what worship is. And, just to clarify, there is no way for our finite capacity to think and reason to completely embrace what our infinite God has intended through our worship of Him. But please indulge me a little as I offer some suggestions about worship, and hopefully make us think a little bit!
One of the most common definitions of worship is, it is the attributing to God worth or value. It‘s sometimes referred to as “worth-ship”. How about a couple of other definitions of worship for you to chew on a little? Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church in California, says: “Worship is expressing our love to God for who He is, what He’s said, and what He’s doing.” Darlene Zschech‘s definition (worship leader at Hillsongs Church in Austrailia): “Worship is when one’s spirit adores and connects with the Spirit of God, when the very core of one’s being is found loving Him, lost in Him.” And my thoughts: “Worship is the focusing of who we are and what we do on who God is and what He’s done!”
How ever it is defined, worship ultimately involves you and me connecting with the Spirit of God in a way that affects how we live our lives! We tend to relate worship to an event involving a group of people coming together in a certain place one a week, but a serious study of the Psalms shows that praise and worship is more than a planned public event. The Psalms reveal the heart of the one worshipping! Listen to the praise on David’s lips and you will hear his personal heart’s cry to his God, regardless of where he was. The words of the psalmist were not recorded at an organized gathering, but in the midst of the issues of his life! What I’m saying is that the declarations of praise and worship in the Psalms were expressions of the attitude of David’s heart. And those expressions of worship were a normal response to the events of his life.
We also see that while many of the expressions of praise in the Psalms were solemn moments of worship, far more of them were exclamatory shouts of praise to the God who had proven Himself faithful! Here’s a few examples: “I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy (Psalm 27:6).“ “Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious (Psalm 66:1)!“ “Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation...let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms…(Psalm 95:1-2)!“ “Shout joyfully to the Lord...come before Him with joyful singing (Psalm 100:1-2)!“ Over and over we hear encouragement to “shout joyfully” to our Lord!
It’s funny how passionate and extroverted we are when we’re talking about sports or other areas that interest us, but as soon as we enter the doors of our churches, we act differently. I think part of the problem is that we refer to the assembly auditorium as the “sanctuary”. Folks, Jesus didn’t die on the cross so He could dwell in an auditorium; He died for us so He could live in our hearts! If you’ve trusted in Jesus’ sacrificial work on the cross, then your HEART is His sanctuary where He lives and dwells in you every moment of every day! Jesus goes with you every where you go, not just into a worship service on Sundays! Now, that’s exciting!