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How Do You Define Worship?

Last night I received an email from one of our students in the International Christian Business Institute. He has begun the 30 / 30 worship challenge and asked me how I defined worship. After writing him back, I decided to post that response here, because as I answered him, I felt God’s anointing and pleasure. Here it is…

Hi Mark;

Great question, and one I have wrestled with myself.  From my reading of Scripture, worship most often included bowing or even laying prostrate before God Almighty.

I believe that outward act can be simply mechanical and devoid of meaning OR it can be genuine. For me, I have been doing a lot more of that, as I realize whose presence I am coming before. At the same time, I believe I am coming before Abba Father and in one sense I want to relate to Him as my Father, while on the other hand I want to acknowledge Him as the only Sovereign and Mighty God that He is. Both are true and during my times of worship, I typically do both.

In Christianity, we talk about our “worship” services…

But I am not so sure there is much worship in many cases. I believe worship is first and foremost a response of the heart. How we express that genuine adoration is less important. For me, on many occasions, laying prostrate or kneeling was a natural response. At other times, standing and singing to Him some words from my heart felt very much like worship.

I believe the more we pursue God and truly come to love Him, we will find many ways to express that love through acts of worship that may vary from one person to another. I don’t think acts of service are acts of worship, though they are a beautiful and important thing. I believe an act of worship has one purpose only, to purposefully submit ourself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It is a conscious choice and there is no side agenda.

During those times when we acknowledge to ourselves the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the inexhaustible supremacy of God Almighty, we begin to discover the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom. We also begin to grasp the hatred of evil which is the clearest manifestation of the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 8:13). When we hate evil, we will eschew it. We will not entertain it. We will not laugh at it. We will not keep company with it;… meaning, that evil behavior is not something you choose to associate with.

Even in human relationships, one must be careful.

Jesus was a friend to sinners, but He didn’t participate in their sin, or laugh it off or find their crude jokes funny. He loved them and went to where they were to rescue them, not to become like them. He was the light in a dark place.

I personally have discovered that since I began my personal 30 / 30 worship challenge, things that I would tolerate on television, even though I disliked them, I am now instantly at enmity with. I am not talking about obviously egregious R rated programming. I am speaking about things seen and heard on Fox news for example, or many commercials that are being aired. They may not be sensual in nature, but they celebrate attitudes and lifestyles that are in open rebellion to God. And they go unchallenged.

Doesn’t the Scripture say that friendship with the world is enmity with God? (James 4:4)

We are the salt of the earth. How does the salt lose its savor? The only way I know is by watering it down, dissolving it in water until it is so diluted, it has no effect. The Christian world has lost much of its influence because it has so soaked itself in the ways of the world, that it has become irrelevant.

It seems the more the church tried to be relevant, it became increasingly irrelevant. That’s because the world doesn’t need a copy of itself. It needs Jesus Christ. It is Christ who lives in us. We are to be His representatives to the world. We are His ambassadors and God Himself is pleading through us, imploring the lost on Christ’s behalf, to be reconciled to God. (1 Corinthians 5:20)

All of this becomes increasingly clear to us as we personally and privately worship God with a sincerity of heart. We are the first ones changed. Then we can effect change in the world. A man or woman who does not worship God, but instead has only an intellectual or theoretical relationship with God, will never change the world. Never. The world will not be won by better arguments or scientific proof. It will be won by worshipers who are so one with their Lord and Savior that they find themselves doing even greater works than Jesus. (John 14:12)

I would like to hear what you have learned about worship during the 30 / 30 challenge and beyond. I hope you will share that.

16 Comments

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Great article, Michael…and full of truth. What seems to happen to anyone who intentionally gives themselves to worship is that the starting place is a demonstration or expression through words, sounds, songs and other such actions learned by our religious upbringing. As I read your article I realized the progression of intentional attempt in the expression of worship eventually leads to what is to be first…Obedience to His word.

The first place worship is mentioned in the bible is not a song service, but preparation for a dying service…Abraham must take Isaac up to the altar. The table of sacrifice was a sign of laying down or offering up that which, in our natural life, had value…whether a cow or, in Abraham’s case, his son.

When I began the thirty day challenge I found myself remembering commitments made to the Lord not yet followed through…or started but not completed. I found that the more my obedience to Him in everything progressed my expression through exclamations of sound or just simply basking in His presence became much more than thirty minutes…and a sense of satisfaction whether than a sense of accomplishment.

A dear friend of mine once said that we become what we worship…it is my hope that I am looking more like my creator. Amazing how many things change in our life when we worship that we did not even know needed to change.

Hi Joanne… A great reminder that worship is first of all something we do as an act of obedience, regardless of our “feelings” at the time. Thank you for posting that important contribution!

Michael,

As always I love your posts as there is conviction and confirmation in many of your messages. Thank you for openly sharing the light and wisdom you receive.

During my 30/30 God had me write a letter for him to me. It expressed that I am his beloved son and the gifts he has given me. When I wrote that weeks ago I had no idea when I was going to open it to read.

This week was the week. I opened my letter from Dad and tears flowed freely. It was love poured out with richness beyond belief. It was like the love story of God distilled into 2 pages with the full force of the entire story.

Even though I had written it only weeks earlier, it was completely fresh and refreshing. It is amazing how quickly we forget the good things of God even as we attempt to pursue him.

I have had the blessing of writing a couple of letters from Dad for other men and that has been tremendous to say the least. I look forward to writing more.

If the idea of receiving a hand written letter from Dad stirs up any desire at all, write yours now! Be willing to write what he tells you especially if you don’t believe it. If you make it to the second sentence and you are not sobbing like a baby you are not hearing his voice.

Eternal blessings,
Kurt

HI Kurt; I can see how that would be very touching. Many times when I journal what I feel the Lord is showing me with respect to HIs Word, etc., He often speaks something directly to me. I will often go back and reread those words and when I do, I find great comfort and exhortation. Thank you so much for sharing!

Amen to your defining of worship. Beautiful, true, and anointed. My 30/30 experience brought me back to a place of sweet fellowship I had been pushing aside in order to “do” ministry. I oversee 3 women’s centers and the demands can be constant…BUT God…in His immense love and interest in me as His daughter brought me gently back in line to focus on the most important thing, Him. My 30/30 is technically over by calendar dates, but I am still sneaking away with Him, as I call it, to continue these moments of one on one encounters of love, revelation and restoration that are building me, changing me, growing me, to be as He already sees me. I’m in over my head…and loving it!!!

Hi Debby… That is what happened to me… and continues to happen. I am sure that is happening to others as well. Thank you for sharing an encouraging comment for all of us!

Just wanted to comment on your last paragraph, about salt “losing it’s savor,” Michael. Salt is often sold today “washed and refined.” This means the many trace mineral elements naturally found in unrefined salt are no longer there.

Salt that is unwashed and unrefined contains vital trace minerals which enable the cells of our bodies to work electrically, pulling water into and out of our cells so they can be nourished and cleansed. I believe unsavory salt is the washed, refined kind – NOT edifying to the Body of Christ, not acting as the sharpening tool Proverbs speaks about, “As iron sharpens iron so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

As to the 30/30 challenge, I started it and didn’t finish it back in March. I struggled with the whole idea. A sad commentary on my relationship with our Father! I was then traveling, on a journey to try to find a new home. I have recently moved again, for the ninth time in a period of six years, presently staying with kind friends. I see our Father has a reason for my “having no certain dwelling place.”

I will seek His face more diligently, for I desperately need His guidance. He cares, I know.

I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever! We have a building, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

I’m grateful for your post and for the comments shared, too.

Worshiping the Father should be directed toward the Father. One might think this simple but I find it hard to find in worship services. Ever really pay attention to the words of our so called worship songs? So many talk about God but shouldn’t worship be directed to God? I find myself changing the words to those songs as I sing. I would rather sing, How great are You, God! Instead of How great is our God. I want the worship directed to Him! Singing about Him is like talking about a person while they are in the room, not really acknowledging their presence which I consider disrespectful.

Wow Tim! I find myself doing the same thing all the time. Judy has often lamented that there are so few songs offered to the Lord in worship. I love how you characterized so many songs that sing about God are like talking about a person while they are in the room. Great perspective! Thanks for posting my friend!

Great post, Michael! I love the comments here, as well. Tim, you are so right! So much done in “worship” services that are me centered instead of Almighty, Omnipotent, Creator, Lamb of God centered!

Thank you my Judy Ann! You continue to be an incredible inspiration and challenge to me! You know and love the Lord in ways that flood my soul, daily.

My brother, with all respect I would like to add what I have learn from what the Lord has shown me in regards to Worship. He said to the samaritan woman “John 4:23 But the hour cometh, AND NOW IS, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

Everyday we are presented with the opportunity to Worship either God or the prince of darkness. In my line of business, I have to bow down to either God and “Speak the Truth” or bow down to the prince of darkness and “use lies”, to make sales and close transactions.

When I make my decisions, which Kingdom governs my heart? Matthew 6:33

EVERYDAY we find ourselves with a worship decision opportunity, who are we going to worship today, tomorrow & everyday for the rest of our life in this world? Our King Jesus or the prince of this world?

God Bless!

Hello Jose… That is a very good point. Never thought of it like that! So glad you shared my brother. Your input is always valued and appreciated! Blessings!

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