So, what is worship? I could use a common phrase like, “Worship isn’t just singing, it’s a lifestyle.” But, I won’t. Instead, let’s look at some attributes of worship, and see how they apply to our lives.
1. Worship is a choice. There’s a verse that most of us can quote. It’s on signs in many of our homes. Joshua 24:15 says, “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
What you have to understand is this: you will worship something. Bob Dylan had a song back in the day that said, “You’ve gotta serve somebody. It may be the devil, and it may be The Lord, but you’ve gotta serve somebody.” It’s so true. Whether you want to or not, you will worship something. Especially this day in age, where we have access to so much, we can make idols out of almost everything. For some of us, our cell phones have become our god. For others, it’s hunting or fishing or sports. For the ladies, shopping. Wow, that was really stereotypical. It can be anything. It can even be ministry if we put our role ahead of God. Now, none of these things are inherently wrong, but as the old adage goes, too much of a good thing is not good. When we start to put these things ahead of God and make them the focus of our lives, that’s when it becomes and idol. God is jealously longing for our attention. He wants us to choose Him over everything else. In Ephesians, 5:18-20, it says, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The choice is clear. It is better to worship than to give yourself over to the things of this world, allowing ourselves to be filled with the Spirit. Here it describes being filled with the spirit as speaking with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. I choose to be a Spirit filled worshiper. It also says to sing and make music from your heart. I don’t think that this was a careless choice of words. Out of the heart, the mouth speaks. You have to choose to fill your heart with the things of God, and then, you can overflow from your heart and offer worship to the Lord.
2. Worship is more than a song. In 1 Chronicles 16, David has just brought the ark back to Israel. The ark was where God’s holy presence rested. It was the tangible object that The Almighty dwelled in. So when David finally brings it back to Israel, he instates worship leaders, and they lead the people in a song. In this song, we find some great instruction for worship:
Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
9 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
10 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
11 Look to the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always.
Worship is singing, but it is also telling. Worship is giving God praise, but it is also spreading Him to the nations. One of the best ways we can worship God is to tell people about what He has done in our lives and in the lives of those around us. We can tell people about the healings we are seeing, we can tell them about how God has changed our lives and our families. God is worshiped when we bring honor to Him. It is taking the focus away from ourselves, away from the things of this world, and pointing it all at Him. He desires ALL our praise. So when we give Him glory on a daily basis, that is worship. It is one of the highest forms of worship to tell others about Jesus Christ.
3. Worship is a sacrifice. In Romans 12:1, Paul writes, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” The next verse talks about not conforming to the patterns of this world. Worship is when we set ourselves apart, which is not always easy. In 1 Chronicles 24, King David says, “I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” God is looking for people who will say no matter the cost, I will follow You. No matter the cost, even if it costs me my life, I will give it all for You. I imagine this must be what the people who are dying overseas right now must be clinging to. I can’t even imagine giving my life for God. I can’t imagine being faced with the choice of seeing my children die, or rejecting my Savior. Like when Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac, his promised child. He was willing to lay his son’s life down as worship to God. Worship can be painful sometimes, but that pain brings us into a process of breaking down the things in our lives until all we have is us and God. It is taking up our cross daily and following after Jesus, despite the consequences. This is why I personally get so frustrated at people who will let their circumstance dictate their worship. They come in to church after having a rough morning, or they aren’t feeling good, or maybe their kid threw up on them right before they were going to leave the house. Guess what? HE IS STILL WORTHY!!!!! No matter what you’re facing, God is still worthy of our highest praise. Don’t let your situation belittle how much God deserves. Worship is a sacrifice.
4. Worship is true. John 4:23 says, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” I said earlier how worship is more than just singing songs on a screen, but not meaning the words we are singing. This is so important. If we come into our services and don’t even mean what we are singing to God, then our worship is useless. It is noise. It is obnoxious. We have to be truthful with God. This is why I love spontaneous worship. It is when I get the chance to go off script and tell God what is in my heart. We live in a society that is polite, especially here in the south. We have these kind of conversations, “Hey, how are you? I’m fine, how are you?” And then we walk away. We do the same thing to God. We go into church and sing How He Loves and With Everything, and then we walk away because it was just going through the motions. God doesn’t want polite worship!!! He wants truth! Worship doesn’t have to be happy all the time. Many of the Psalms are laments. They are David crying out in anguish and despair. He was being honest with God. He was being true. When we worship God, it should come from the deepest places of our hearts. The songs we sing are just a corporate declaration of God’s goodness. They are not meant to be the only words we tell God in worship. That verse said that the Father is seeking those of us that will worship in Spirit and in truth. He is looking for us to step up and be true worshipers.
5. Worship is a weapon. In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat is going to war with the Moabites and the Ammonites. In verse 21, it says, "21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise Him for the splendor of His holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever.” 22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.” Don’t tell me that worship cannot change your circumstances!!! Satan wants to stop you from worshiping. Think back to the last time you were upset about something. Did you want to go all Disney style and break into song? No. Singing is not a natural response to hard times. But if we can get a hold of this concept, it can change the way life happens. When we find ourselves in a place of hardships or trials or despair, start worshiping! Start giving thanks to God and watch as your situation begins to change. I have a worship leader friend in Switzerland, and he was going through a season of depression. He stopped singing. I felt God speak to me very clearly to tell him to lift up his song. It is in a place of worship that God can break you out of any circumstance that you might be facing. Worship is the most powerful weapon that we have, and most of us never even use it. Be strong, be courageous, and give thanks to our Lord!!!
This is not an all-inclusive list of what worship is, but if you can get these fundamentals down and make them a part of your life, you will begin to experience God on a much deeper level than you have before. Let’s move past worship being a Sunday and Wednesday thing. Let’s make it and every day, every hour, every minute thing. We need worship in our lives. My desire is to see signs and wonders and to experience the deeper things of God. It starts with a lifestyle of worship. It starts with us. We have to draw near to Him, so He will draw near to us.