What Is Worship, questions

Posted on December 30, 2007. Filed under: Bi-vocational Ministry, Worship Wars |

Sunday, December 30, 2007—One of the readers of this blog sent me a very honest question about worship. Here is part of that e-mail and my response:

Hello Bryan,
I have been reading your blog on Mark12ministrie’s and I have a question about “What is Worship” definition.
The definition that you gave was no doubt accurate, but it was not a definition that I could relate too. So… I was wondering if you could expound a little on what worship really is? I think what I really want to know is what does God want from us? All our heart, all our mind and all our strength. How can I give these things to Him in the course of my simple life. It is an everyday thing, not just a Sunday exclusive is it not?

So I’ll put to you the question of What is Worship? What is the actual act of worship? How did Abraham worship God? How did David? How did Joseph and Mary worship God? How did Peter, Paul or John worship? How did Jesus worship the Father?

What I want to know is do I worship God or am I just fooling myself?

And here is my reply:

Thank you for the e-mail and the good question. You have always been used by God to encourage me with your honest questions. The very fact that you ask such a question, what is worship, shows to me that you are, once again, on the right trail indeed. Most people just kind of blindly stumble along and do worship out of habit. You have paused long enough to ask yourself the hard questions.

Just this morning at our church, Pastor Tim ended a sermon series that has examined what our church should be. His first point was that our first priority should always be to be Glorying in God. If worship is giving praise and glory TO God, then in order for worship to be genuine, spiritual worship, we must first be glorying IN God. We have to Be before we DO. A lost person can attend worship and go through the motions of worshiping God, but someone who is born again, who has that relationship with Christ, can glory IN God.

Well what does that mean?

It doesn’t take anyone who meets you very long to learn about her daughter; she is your pride and joy, you love your daughter and are very concerned about her well being. You glory in your daughter.

Or think about a young couple deeply in love, just married. They are so in love, so concerned for one another, bragging about one another to all they meet, their love is just obvious. They glory in one another.

Or think about an older couple that have lived and loved for many decades. They are inseparable. They glory in each other.

To glory in the Lord then, to truthfully worship him with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength, is to be so enthralled, so in love with Him, that he is our all in all, our first priority. We long for him, we desire to please him, we grieve when we sin because we failed him.

Knowing you for several years, I sort of think I know what is going on in your head. You have a longing for a perfect, spiritual worship and are keenly aware of your own sinfulness and failures. You see your own phoniness and insincerity at times. That drives you crazy because you know it shouldn’t be such a struggle to worship him. I think that again proves you are on the right track. I feel the same way. I have the same weaknesses. I see my own insincerity and phoniness and all my sins and then the sin of despair tempts my soul to say, “What’s the use?” Deep within our souls as believers we know that worship should be purer, richer, deeper, and that we just don’t measure up. But this is exactly where God’s grace comes in. When we admit our inability, our sinfulness, our own insincerity, God gives us the grace to worship Him anyway and He is pleased. Real worship is continuing to praise and obey and love even though we fail time and again.

When we glory IN Him, all of life becomes a worship service. 1Cor. 10:30 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” For the Christian, simply doing household chores can be an act of worship if we are in a right relationship with Him and simply thank God for a house that has chores in it that need doing.

We can worship him when we sit still and read our Bibles and say a quick prayer for our family and praise Him for the beauty of the day. God desires that we worship him corporately too, as the local body of Christ. So we go to church and sing, pray, give and listen.

Do not let your longing for perfect worhsip be a hindrance to you in the imperfect here and now. Understand and accept your shortcomings, but press on to worship Him as your all in all.

You ask “How can I give Him these things in the course of my simple life?” It is actually harder the more complex your life becomes! Simply understand that He is with you in your simple life. What did Jesus do for his first 30 years? He lived the simple life of a village carpenter and at the end of that period God said, This is my beloved Son! In Him I am well pleased. Welcome the fact that Christ is with you in the Holy Spirit all day everyday, in all the simple, mundane things.

The actual act of worship is simply telling God, I love you, I trust you, what will you have me do? We can do that at home, as we drive, at work, and corporately on Sundays as we sing, pray, give and listen.

As far as how Abraham or David worship…they did practice animal sacrifice, blood was shed. But we can remember and glory in our Savior who shed his blood for our salvation. We do that by trusting in Him for salvation and not our own good works. David composed hymns, poems, psalms. We can sing, read, pray, give and serve. But Abraham’s most notable acts of worship occured in Gen 12 when God tells him to leave his homeland and family…and he obeyed. Or in Gen.15:6 when Abraham believed the Lord and He counted it to him as righteousness. Or in Gen.22 when the Lord required Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Radical obedience, rooted in a loving trust. That is worship. But keep in mind that Abraham spent 99% of his time waiting on God to fulfill his promise. All that time herding goats and camels, eating dust, not having a bath in the desert. hmmm…worship? Yeah.

We can get all caught up in the big things, like going to the mission field, or in the big feelings like we had at some church camp as a teenager, but most of our lives are spent like Abraham’s…wandering around in the desert, eating dust while waiting on God. But trusting in him, and that is worship.


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