John 4:21-24 (NKJV)
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 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. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Wednesday night in church before the Bible study, we had a time of worship. In the midst of singing our praise to the Most High God and His Son – Jesus Christ, the worship leader broke into the song, “Heart of Worship.” These well-known words are often sung in many gatherings. “I’m coming back to the heart of worship and it’s all about you…it’s all about you. I’m sorry Lord for the things I made it…when it’s all about you…it’s all about you, Jesus.” Every single time that I hear these words or even sing them, my heart is humbled before the Lord again and again. It seems ironic that just 24 hours later a famous pastor’s wife will publicly shatter the image of sweet surrender in the midst of a blinding light show and a cheering crowd. As she describes worship to be about the creation and not our Creator, I am appalled. As the video goes viral, it is another hit to the Body of Christ as the world continues to introduce a lie rather than the truth straight from the mouth of super Christians. I am not mad at her for her ignorance or misrepresentation of something that is very intimate and personal in my life. I am absolutely terrified that someone who needs to know God and His Close Proximity will be led to believe that worship is an emotional response to anything other than the Unfailing Love and Faithfulness. I did not discover true worship in my wholeness but rather my brokenness. “When all is stripped away and I simply come longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless His Heart.” At the end of me, I find more of Him. This is the place of worship. When the song leader no longer can express in words what is pouring out of their heart, so our mouth and heart takes over when the music stops. What is worship?
Worship is reverence. We have been set free by God through the Sacrifice of His Son to choose who or what we will worship. The choice to worship the Lord is one made in Spirit and in Truth. You must have the Holy Spirit in you to truly worship the Lord and make that connection apart from your sin. You must know and accept the Truth of Who God is and all that He has done for you. The Truth is the basis of our belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for our sins. Those who know Him and accept Him will be inclined to worship the Lord…”for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” My worship is based on my love and adoration for God the Father, Jesus His Son and the Holy Spirit. I am nothing without Jesus Christ. Every ounce of joy and peace that I have comes from the Father’s Love for me. Worship is my weak and feeble attempt to show God the love and deep devotion that He has proven for me. It takes every fiber of my being. It is all that I am for all that He is – yet it has nothing to do with me. It is all about Him. I have found that in those moments when I am dry and thirsty. When I have nothing left to give and need Him so very much – worship is the point of intimacy that I need.
Genesis 22:4-6 (NKJV)
Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together.
Worship is surrender to God. Abraham waited 99 years for his promise to arrive. When God required his promise from Abraham, the man loaded up and went to the mountain to worship the Lord. Before someone says in their heart this is so Old Testament, let me set the record straight. The Word of God from cover to cover is relevant in our life. You cannot add or subtract to it. If you think sacrificial worship is a thing of the past, then your worship of God is not complete. To live in covenant requires a sacrifice on our part to be participants. Jesus Christ is the sacrifice that God made. Worship is the sacrifice that we make. The moment that we stop acting religious and trying to find ways around legality to say, “God Your Will not my will” is worship. The phrase “less of me and more of Him” is the call to worship. God called Abraham righteous. He called him faithful. But most importantly, “God called Abraham, His Friend.” “And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” (James 2:23-24)
Worship is not a product of an emotion such as happiness. Look at Job who in the midst of the worst day of his life, “Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job1:20-21) Some of the sweetest times of worship for me have been in a hospital room with earbuds playing songs of praise to my God at my son’s bedside as God pours His Love into my heart and Jesus wraps His Arms around me and His Spirit soothed my aching heart. It is in that moment that I came to understand not only the reality of the Living God but also that He is with me. Faith and confident hope are the basis of our worship. These are discovered when in the midst of other options or when we are a victim of our circumstances – our heart still chooses well. “Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”
Acts 17:22-31 (NKJV)
Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
It occurred to me after reading this passage that perhaps the reason no one understands worship is because they do not know God. Jesus told the woman at the well that we must worship in Spirit and in Truth. The Holy Spirit is the holy inhabitation of God given to us when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. But He is a silent partner until Jesus Christ becomes our Lord. The Truth has been ignored in the modern day church as a provision of His Grace. God is preparing His People to rule and reign over the earth. Would you elect someone to a governmental position with no experience and who are ignorant of the law? Of course, not. Why would God? We have been given His Written Word to point us in the right direction. Jesus opened the door to God’s Presence so we can now step in and hear His Voice. When you get there what do you have to offer the One who gave His All for you – WORSHIP! That’s it. It’s not at all about me but everything that Jesus Christ has done to set my life in order and prepare me for His Glory. People do not know God’s Character because they do not know His Word. You cannot have a relationship with Jesus Christ and spend time in the Word. Jesus IS the Word wrapped in flesh to come demonstrate the power and intensity of God’s Love for us! When you do not know Him – why in the world would you worship the Lord? Paul introduced God to these men to change their worship from that of an unknown God to the One True and Living God.
Matthew 15:7-11 (NKJV)
Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ” When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”
I am not so much concerned today with the words of a pastor who does not know the meaning as worship as I am with my own. I want to know that I worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth today. I want every word that I speak express praise. I want everything that I do to exemplify that faith and confident hope that I have found in Him. I want every thought that crosses my mind to be compared to the Word of God for validity and truth so when the world offers anything contrary that I am ready to distinguish the Truth from a lie. I want my life to be a living act of worship for my God. He makes me happy. He gives me joy and peace. He is my Healer, Deliverer, Provider and Promise-Keeper. I have nothing else to give Him but all of me. This is worship. I do not worship an Unknown God but the Most High God. Worship is a personal response to a divine invitation. When the lights are turned off, the microphones silent and the church pews empty – this is the moment that real worship begins! Will you be ready?
Revelation 22:8-17 (NKJV)
Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I am coming quickly, and My Reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. Blessed are those who do His commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. I, Jesus, have sent My Angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.