Monday, 29 November 2010

Are you a worshipper?

Jesus says, "..a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:23,24The Father is looking for worshippers!

What is a worshipper and how does one worship the Father?

To answer that question we need to understand what true worship is.

Definition of worship
The word worship means, to give worth to someone or something. The Greek word that we translate as worship is the word proskuneo and essentially means to kiss the feet. So we see that to worship is to humble ourselves before the one or thing we value. In other words, worship is our response to that which we value most.

Living as worshippers
We worship with our lives. In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul writes,

"Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship." Romans 12:1Paul is urging us to respond to God with our lives in a way that pleases God. Paul then continues and says,

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2
In other words, in response to God, the believer should live a life set apart for God (a holy life) and no longer live a selfish and self-centred, wordly life! When the believer lives his life because of God and for God, he lives his life as a worshipper. To live one's life in response to God is to live in "the fear of the Lord" (see Acts 9:31). The worshipper desires to know God's will so that he can live his life accordingly - a life set apart for God and pleasing to Him. The more we lay down our will to do God's will, the more we honour Him (give Him worth) and live as the worshippers the Father seeks.

Worship, then, involves our entire existence.

Living from mercy and not for mercy
True worshippers live to give God honour because of what He has done for them. Sadly,many Christians live their lives trying to meet un unreachable standard of perfection in order to please God, not understanding that they have been made perfect in Christ "for the praise of God's glory" (Heb. 10:10,14; Eph. 1:12).
"You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." 1 Peter 2:9,10
We have received mercy so that as God's people, set apart for Him, we will live lives that honour Him. God has delivered His people from self-consciousness and sin-consciousness in order that we become blameless and God-conscious, living to honour God (Heb.9:14; Col.1:22). Sin "entangles" because it gets our eyes off Jesus and onto ourselves again and we allow the enemy to bring us under false condemnation as he accuses us. There is however "no condemnation for those who are in Christ" and so we must deal with our sin quickly in order to get our eyes back on Jesus (see Heb. 12:1,2; Rom. 8:1).
"..because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." Heb. 7:24,25
Therefore Jesus is able to keep us blameless to the end (1 Cor. 1:8)!

Worship in song
When we talk about worship, most of us think of the songs we sing on a Sunday or whenever we meet as a church. Let's have a look at worship in the context of our meetings in view of what we have seen so far.

Response to revelation
Worship in song is a response to the revelation of God. The psalmists, for example, wrote their prayers, songs and poems to express their response to the revelation of God they had received.
King David writes,

"Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness." Psalm 29:1,2
King David had a revelation of God's holiness and the greatness of the Lord's glory and strength. In response to that revelation, King David encourages the saints to worship God.

Similarly, the songs we sing in our church meetings are the song-writers' response to their knowledge of God and the revelation they have received of Him. So really, most congregations are singing someone else's response to God. The worshipper may be able to identify with the response he is singing or he may just go through the motions of singing the words.

True worship songs
There are many ways one can respond to God but not all responses are true worship. If we consider that true worship involves giving worth to God and being God-conscious rather than self-conscious, then true worship songs will be focused on God. That may seem obvious but if you look at the songs that many churches sing, you will find that the person sung about, is not God but the one who is singing the song! That doesn't mean that there is something wrong with the song; it simply means it isn't true worship.

For me or for God?
I love Stuart Townend's song, "Pour over me" but I wouldn't sing it to worship God because the song is about what I want God to do for me. It's a great song that ministers to me but it's not worship. Compare it to the words that are sung in heaven:

"Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.'

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

'You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."
Rev. 4:8-11
The four living creatures responded to the revelation of God by speaking to Him (not about Him) and by laying down their crowns before the throne. Similarly true worshippers lay down their selfish needs and self-centredness as they fix their eyes on the Lord to honour Him.

Revelation leads to manifestation

We are experiencing an ever-increasing manifestation of God's presence in our meetings as we truly worship Him. As we "fix our eyes on Jesus" He reveals Himself to us more and more and as He does so, we respond in worship. It's wonderful!

Our responsibility
Sadly many believers struggle to respond to God without the use of "ready" songs because they aren't used to worshipping God in the secret place with their own words and responding to their Father personally in their own words.

Worship in spirit and in truth
The Father is looking for worshippers. He is looking for those who will worship Him from the depths of their being and with a genuine heart. He hates lip-service and longs for His sons and daughters to draw near in reverence and awe and to live holy lives that honour Him (Mark 7:6; Heb.10:19-23 ).

Draw near!
I want to encourage you to draw near to God and to worship Him. Use your own words to declare your love for Him and your admiration of Him. As He reveals Himself to you, simply speak what He reveals and respond with your heart and your mouth. Avoid the temptation of asking Him for something and bringing the focus back on yourself. Keep your eyes on Him and join in the song of heaven. Learn to worship God in the secret place and you will help the church draw nearer to God as you worship together in spirit and in truth.


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