“I worship God for who he is and what he has done for me.”
Turn to Rom. 12:1 We’ve completed the first 10 weeks of Believe. Now, we turn our hearts and minds to the next 10 - What We Do. These are duties, responsibilities, and responses to a relationship with Yahweh – these are essential expressions that make or break a real and vibrant relationship with God.
The goal of each chapter is to add to our faith. The goal is not to just make it through the chapter -
The goal of the entire Believe series is transformation.
Application of these truths is critical. Application is something no one else can do for you -
We know what we believe, so what do we do? At the top of the list is worship, which is
Our primary response to God is to worship Him.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.
Three critical words to authentic worship: love, fear and serve. We are to love God.
1) Authentic worship is relational.
Without a relationship with God through Christ there is no worship of God . If your idea of worship is detached from relationship, you need to bring the two together.
2) Authentic worship is reverent.
To fear Yahweh means to be afraid, but it’s a healthy fear. It carries with it the idea of being in awe – it means to honor and to revere. We are to honor, to be in awe of and to revere no one or no thing more than our God. It seems to me that perhaps the most critical element missing from American Christianity – from our personal lives and within our churches is authentic worship that truly magnifies the Lord Jesus Christ for who He is and that reveres Him in a way that He deserves.
G. Campbell Morgan put this way, and I’m paraphrasing -
True worship is the posture of prostration, of bowing down. It is the attitude that recognizes the throne. It constrains and compels us to an attitude of reverence.
I don’t think we have enough fear of God. Nearly every direct encounter with God in the Bible resulted in the person falling prostrate in fear and awe. Not because God is so mean and awful and angry, but because He is so holy. How do we gain this proper fear and reverence? We’ll get there in a moment.
3) Authentic worship is intentional.
We are to serve God only. To serve means to work, labor, and it means worship. Worship is not a feeling we get when the music is just right. Worship is not about pleasure, entertainment, desires … authentic worship is an intentional choice we make - and that can be at any given moment of any given day.
So, what else is worship? Let’s look at Romans 12:1 and find out. I admit, I initially avoided this verse because of it’s overuse, but it’s where the Lord took me, so He has something in mind.
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.
Understand that chapter 12 is the pivot point for Paul’s letter to the Romans. The first 11 chapters are theological. Paul explains that God is the Creator and lawgiver; man is the created and lawbreaker. God’s righteousness requires justice – sin cannot go unpunished. However, God in His grace and mercy sent His Son, Jesus to be the sacrificial lamb. Christ received in Himself the penalty and punishment due us. God satisfied the righteous requirements of the law through His Son’s death and resurrection. Because of all God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) accomplished, we then enter chapter 12-16, which are practical – this is how we live because of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done.
And Paul says, I urge you, in view of God’s mercy – stop there. The fourth thing we need to know about authentic worship is this …
4) Authentic worship is God-centered.
True spiritual worship has God at its center. He is the object of and the reason for worship.
We don’t have to expand upon that, but we do need to stop and evaluate – is that true in my life. Is my worship God-centered? Here’s a truth –
Worship reveals the heart, motives and attitudes.
Answer the who, what, when, where and why of worship – that will reveal if God is the focal point of your worship.
5) Authentic worship flows from a right view of God.
Paul says in view of God’s mercy - we will not have a right view of mercy and until we have a right view of God.
Mercy means very little to the one who knows very little about the attributes of God. If God is just God – then mercy is just a church word and we have little fear or reverence for God.
I’ve noticed that the people who have a deep relationship with God are the ones who understand His attributes - that God is Righteous. He is Holy. Just. Perfect. Good. Sovereign. Eternal. Omniscient. Omnipotent. Love. Gracious. And He owes us nothing. It is only by the undeserved mercy and grace of God that any of us exist and are saved.
The only way to have a right view of God is to believe what God has revealed about Himself in the Bible. Knowing God leads to knowing ourselves and knowing the price Christ paid on the cross. Knowing God and His mercy leads to praise (a form of worship). Not praise that is limited to one hour on Sunday – but a praise that permeates our lives.
Something I learned this week about praise and its connection to worship:
Praise and worship realign the soul.
Praise and worship help get the heart, mind, soul … back in alignment with reality. Just the other morning, I was like ugh. Opened my Bible and I was still like ugh. But this hymn kept popping into my mind - so I listened to it – I worshipped - changed my whole attitude. It was a realignment for my soul.
Once we have a right view of God and His mercy, what is the proper response? Paul says we offer our bodies.
6) Authentic worship is the humble and total submission of one’s life to God.
To offer one’s body (soma), means to offer it all – physical, spiritual, emotional – past, present, future – our beginning and our end - the good and the bad. All – nothing left out, nothing kept for self – no holding on to this or that.
We are to offer, to present - literally handover our lives.
Humble and total submission to God - not a onetime thing. We trust and submit, trust and submit. This tells me that
Worship is progressive.
In other words, as we grow in Christ and trust Him more, and surrender more our worship of Him expands, grows, matures – it progresses.
Which also tells me that
Worship is personal.
There are certain aspects of worship that we enjoy corporately. For example, we come together on Sunday and engage in music, fellowship, prayer and preaching – together. That’s corporate worship, but what about Sunday afternoon through Saturday night?
What about personal worship? There needs to be personal worship throughout the week. Remember, worship is a response to the relationship – if you do not engage in personal worship outside of a church service, then something is missing in your relationship with Christ. Listen, I cannot separate my walk from my worship. The way we worship, in spirit and in truth is directly related to how we live, either in obedience or disobedience.
Another thing about personal worship - Perhaps the main reason we don’t engage in personal worship is because we don’t plan to. We don’t create the space to worship. Not all worship is scheduled – it’s often spontaneous – but creating space to worship God is essential.
Gary Thomas in his book, Sacred Pathways says,
“God wants to know the real you, not a caricature of what somebody else wants you to be. He created you with a certain personality and a certain spiritual temperament.
God wants your worship, according to the way he made you (underline mine). That may differ somewhat from the worship of the person who brought you to Christ or the person who leads your Bible study or church.” ~ Gary Thomas
Worship is personal. We connect with God in similar ways and in different ways. And part of the problem is that too many people are not trying to connect with God in a way that is conducive to their personality. Part of submitting to God is recognizing who you are and how you worship best (as long as it’s within the parameters of Scripture).
Which brings us to number 7. Paul says to offer our bodies as living sacrifices.
7) Authentic worship is sacrificial.
Worship is not about convenience, preference, or when we have nothing else to do. Remember, worship is God-centered. When worship is more about me, and what I want, and what I like, then it’s not authentic worship.
Worship is sacrificial - it’s about giving God the honor that is due Him, creating space to worship Him.
Sacrificial worship is saying no to something or someone else in order to say yes to God.
– I choose to worship God over you or over that.
Sacrificial worship and creating space also includes preparing to worship. (see quote) Answer these questions:
Did I prepare my heart for worship this morning? Have I prayed for God’s manifest presence in our service? Have I prayed for the leaders, message, music etc.? Have I come to give, serve and worship or have I come to receive? When I leave, will I critique or be transformed?
Our answers will reveal whether or not we prepare to worship. Next Sunday ….
8) Authentic worship is vulnerable before God and before others.
Throughout Scripture, the offerings and sacrifices that are brought before God are to be blameless, without spot or blemish. We cannot authentically worship God while hiding or ignoring any sin we may have in our hearts. We must come to God in purity and in holiness which is only though having our hearts cleansed by the blood of Christ. Heb. 10:19-23.
To receive this cleansing, we must be vulnerable, honest, repentant. Psalm 51 is a great example of the vulnerability we are to have before God. David, confessed his sin before Nathan and God and then wrote this -
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Again, confession requires honesty and vulnerability. If we’re not honest with God, ourselves, with one another – worship is hindered. See,
Worship is both an activity and an attitude.
I’ll close with this - Robert Dickie says this -
“Worship is at its fullest and richest point when our souls are lost in the wonder of the glory and majesty of God.” ~ Robert Dickie
So, let’s do that - let’s get lost in His wonder and glory and majesty.
Perhaps, some need to repent, confess, receive Christ … Come, let us worship and bow down and kneel before God our maker.