Monday, February 26, 2007

What exactly is worship?

After my last post I have been keenly aware of how little worship I really do from day to day. I am still reading MacArthur's book on worship, Ultimate Priority, and am convicted page after page! I look at each of my days and look at how much time I waste and areas that I could be using to worship. When we think of worship most of us probably think of church on Sunday. I know I have most of my life. I'll share with you what I have read so far, which I guess will be a synopsis of this book and hopefully help you understand just what worship is. It has changed the way I think about worship.

MacArthur gives the definition of worship as: honor and adoration directed to God. He further states that a key adjective often used in the NT to describe worship is acceptable. He gives 3 catagories of acceptable worship.
1. The outward dimension - Rom. 14:18 how we behave toward others.
-Evangelism - Rom 15:16
-Giving to those in need - Phil. 4:18
2. The inward dimension - Eph. 5:8-10 our personal behavior
-doing good 1 Tim 2
3. The upward dimension - Heb. 13:15-16
-praise and thanksgiving to God

Next, he points out that we are to display whole-life worship. This is to honor and adore God in EVERY area of life, Rom 12:1-2. We are to do the things that are acceptable and pleasing to God. Worship begins with us and by the power of the Holy Spirit, goes up to the Father. It's what we give to God, not what He gives to us. It's what we were created for. John 4:23 "For such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers."

Nehemiah is a great record of God's blessings upon a people who worship. When they worshiped God properly He blessed them. When they failed, He chastened them. You may be asking, "what is proper worship?". I'll list MacArthur's categories of deviant worship. I was greatly convicted by this!
1. worship of false gods - Isa. 48:11 This isn't just idols made of stone, metal or wood, this can also be idol of materialism (Job 31:24-28) or just plain refusing to worship God.
2. worshiping the true God in a wrong form - Ex. 32:7-9 We should never try to visualize God or create a human image of Him. This is idolatry.
3. worshiping the true God in a self-styled manner - Matt. 15:3 We see this in many churches today. Creating our way of worship instead of God's.
4. worshiping the true God in the right way, with a wrong attitude - Is our whole heart in worship? Do we give the best we have? Are we filled with awe and reverence? Malachi 1:7-8 the people were treating worship with disdain and flippancy, offering lame and sick animals. Have you read the strong words God utters in Amos 5:21? He says, "I HATE, I reject your festivals." Those are pretty strong words! God has a standard for worship and He hates anything other than what He has laid out for us. Also read Hosea 6:4-6 and Is. 1:11-15 for more indictments about improper worship.

Sadly, many churches today have failed to properly worship and have brought God down to their level removing His holiness and majesty. They are a flurry of activity and programs while leaving worship completely out of the picture. He has become our buddy, homeboy, pal, dude, and whatever else people want to make Him into to suit their needs. He is the all-loving God who wants people to have the good life, never bring about suffering or ill-will. He's their sugar daddy who is there only to serve their desires. He is no longer the object of worship rather their felt needs are their object of worship and God is supposed to meet all of them. Oh, what a dangerous way of thinking and living!

MacArthur goes on to say, "true worship consists not of the externals, like sacrifices, burnt offerings, and ritual, but rather is grounded in the crucial matter of knowing and loving the true God. Without knowledge of God, all worship is unacceptable worship."

Well, this is a much as I have read and as you can see, this is enough!! If I didn't read any farther in this book, I have certainly changed my perspective on worship! I will look differently at how I do things realizing that I am either worshiping by doing what is pleasing and acceptable before God or I am guilty of deviant worship.

While this has been about whole life worship, it is still important to pay attention to how we worship corporately on Sunday. I am now so much more aware of the little preparation that is put into worship as we enter our churches to worship each week. I am so excited to see everyone and catch up on the events of the week that I totally forget that I'm not there for what I can get but what I can give to God. I am trying each week to come in, make the necessary preparations then take my seat, reflect on God's Word, pray for my pastor and for myself that I will worship in spirit and truth. I would be remiss to do any less and I don't do a very good job of it at that!

If we have the attitude that we have come to give God the best of our worship with humility and sincerity we would likely enter with heads bowed and His Word in our hands open and preparing to be taught from it. We would quiet ourselves before Him confessing our sin, lifting our praise and adoration to Him and ready to apply the message that His messenger has prepared for us. "When you hear a sermon, hear for yourself...let the chief intent of your mind be to consider, "In what respect is this applicable to me? And what application ought I to make of this for my own soul's good?" Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

I am ashamed at how little my life worships my God. I have a reverential fear before God that my worship has been deviant worship rather than acceptable. God help me! I pray that this has helped you understand just what worship truly is. Next time you see me in church or daily, ask me how I've worshiped God or prepared to, won't you? I need the exhortation!

For Christ and His kingdom,