God is the expert in creating something so small and simple, but with tremendous and unimaginably exponential potential.
Close your eyes right now and think of an acorn. OK. Most of us pictured this tiny nut with a cool hat-looking cap, right?
Within this small and fragile nut is contained everything necessary to grow an oak tree 100′ tall and 4′ wide producing 10,000 more acorns every year creating an entire forest of oak trees that keep reproducing from now until Jesus returns.
I bet that not many of us, if any, pictured a dense forest of mighty oak trees when we thought of an acorn, right? However, given the right conditions, that’s exactly what I’m holding in the palm of my hand right now.
If I consider this nothing more than a nut with a cool hat-looking cap and leave it sitting on my table as a fall decoration, it will never become anything more. It will never reach its full potential, but will eventually dry up and die becoming nothing more.
God’s word says about us that:
3 …They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
However, if we never see ourselves as God sees us, if we never believe that we are who God says that we are, then we will die an acorn. Not only will we never become all that we were created to be, but we will also fail to leave behind a fruitful legacy.
This morning, God is looking to stretch our minds and expand our understanding of another simple subject. This very simple subject possesses tremendous transforming power if we would just allow ourselves to understand it for what God created it to be. If we could just tear down the box that we’ve placed it tightly and neatly inside of, it would radically transform us and how we view everything!
Alright, so close your eyes again and clear your mind. Now, what comes to mind when I say the simple word: worship? OK. Now erase from your mind that very idea of what worship is!
That thought was a tiny, silly-hatted acorn. God sees a dense and mighty oak forest to explore by generations behind us and one that endures for all eternity when He sees worship! He sees a conduit wide open for His very power and Presence to be unleashed in and through our lives when He sees worship!
It’s an open Heaven! We have to break the barriers within our mindset of what worship is. We have to stop boxing it into a church service or an emotional feeling or a music genre. We need to uncage worship and see it as God sees it.
So, what is worship? It’s so much bigger than any definition, but as a starting point, Merriam-Webster defines it as:
Worship – extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem
We were made to worship.
We were created to worship the Creator.
We can’t help but worship.
Every person is worshipping someone or something at this very moment.
Right now, worship is being expressed all across the earth.
The question is, “What or who are we worshipping?”
What or who is receiving our extravagant respect or admiration or devotion?
If we’re honest, it might be a little embarrassing; kind of like this confrontation…
* Spongebob/Patrick Goofy Goober worship *
To be honest, we worship a lot of silly things in a lot of silly ways. However, as the elders in Heaven cry out in worship before the throne of Christ day and night:
“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.”
God is the only one worthy of our worship. In fact, He’s worthy of so much more than any act of worship that we could ever express. What is worship, though?
The Hebrew word that the Bible primarily uses (175 times) for our word English is the word Šāḥâ which simply means to bow down. To worship is to bow down our lives in order to exalt something or someone else; the object of our worship.
We were created to worship, but God gave us the free will to express that worship however we choose. It belongs to God and He is the only One truly worthy of it, but we are free to give that worship to anyone or anything that we choose.
When we look around us at the vastness of this universe and the amazing details of the world around us, it draws us into worship of the Creator.
20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature -have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
The root issue with so many addictions and life issues can be viewed as an issue with worship. When we choose to worship the created things rather than the Creator, we can easily become bound by the very worship that is intended to set us free.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen.
The scriptures go on to describe how this misplaced worship leads to every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity (v. 29). Beyond the obvious issue of misplaced worship of created things is the issue that we’re focusing on this morning.
How we worship God is limitless and boundless. There are countless ways to worship God and more ways to express it than imaginable! Worship is so more than a song, more than music, and more than a church service.
1 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. 2 Do not conform 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.
Again, true and proper worship is bowing down our lives to exalt God. Sure, we can do this through song, we can do this by physically laying prostrate or lifting our hands or shouting or clapping or declaring praises or dancing or playing instruments.
True and proper worship goes beyond all of these expressions of worship to a lifestyle. Worship is a lifestyle that lays down our own will so that God’s might be accomplished in our lives. It is a lifestyle of humility and honor and sacrifice and commitment. It is a lifestyle of extravagant respect and admiration and devotion to God.
Swinging a hammer is worship, raising children is worship, being a faithful spouse is worship, feeding the hungry is worship, visiting those imprisoned is worship, sitting with the lonely is worship, everything becomes an expression of worship when it is done for the glory of God.
We were created to worship. We cannot help but to worship. Who or what we are worshipping is what either sets us free and enables us to be transformed from an acorn to a forest of mighty oaks or what binds us and restricts us to remaining an acorn.
God gives us the free choice to worship, but there is one who demands it. Satan jealously longs to receive the worship that God is worthy of. And, if he can’t have it, he’ll simply make sure that it is given to anyone or anything other than God.
In Revelation 12, Ezekiel 28, and Isaiah 14, we read about a worship war that began in Heaven. Satan, a guardian cherub created by God, became corrupt as the most beautiful of all of God’s creation. He thought himself to be worthy of worship. He wanted to exalt his throne above God’s own. He and two thirds of the angels were cast out of Heaven after war broke out over it.
He continued the worship war in the garden by tempting mankind, created in God’s own image, created to worship, to put his own will above God’s will for their lives. He won that battle, but Jesus came and won that war. In fact, he even tempted Jesus, while wrapped in our weak flesh, to worship him (Matt. 4).
This worship war continues right now. In Revelation 13, we find that Satan will one day rise up and give a beast his power and throne of authority. In those end times, the whole world will worship him except those fully committed to Christ. He will control the world’s economy and literally put to death anyone who refuses to give him their worship.
Long story short, when we choose to worship God, the enemy hates it. God deserves, but does not force us to worship Him. He laid down His life for us, but doesn’t force us to worship Him. Satan demands our worship and is willing to steal away our lives to receive it. Satan is willing to deceive, steal, kill, and destroy to keep us from worshiping God.
Perhaps his best tool in our culture today is simply the tool of distraction. If he can keep our eyes off of Christ, then he’ll keep us from worshipping God. This is true every day in life, but it is especially true when we corporately come together to intentionally worship God.
Often the true condition of our hearts and of our spiritual health is revealed through our attitude toward worship. Our worship reveals our perspective toward the great salvation that God has provided for us:
1 Peter 1:8-9
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Perhaps the greatest example of this dynamic is the contrast in the attitudes toward worship between David and his wife Michal in this encounter found in 2 Samuel 6.
Here, the ark of the covenant, which carried the very Presence of God, where God was enthroned, is being returned back home in Israel. It had been stolen by the Philistines before the reign of Saul and had only been taken back as far as the house of Abinadab where it remained for 20 years.
David was now king and had defeated the Philistines. It was time for God’s Presence to come back home to Jerusalem, the city of David.
2 Samuel 6:1-5;13-22
1 David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. 2 He and all his men went to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. 3 They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart 4 with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. 5 David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.
2 Samuel 6:13-22
13 When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.
17 They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. 18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. 19 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.
20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”
21 David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”
David wasn’t worshipping before people, he was worshipping before the Lord. Yes, he embarrassed his wife, and he was even humiliated, himself by his extravagant worship. However, it wasn’t about him, it wasn’t about Michal, it wasn’t about the slave girls, it was all about God. True and proper worship!
Picture what that scene must have been like. Hundreds of thousands of people celebrating with all of their might before the Lord! Music and dancing and shouting and food and offerings – a celebration of worship all because of the Presence of God sitting on a gold-covered, wooden box!
Now, God’s Presence dwells within us. When we come together to worship, how much more extravagant and how much more undignified should our worship be than theirs on that day?
We can choose to worship God every day and in any and every circumstance.
We worship the person of God. God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore, we can worship God regardless of our circumstances. He’s always good and always worthy of all our worship!
We worship the person of God, we praise the acts of God. We worship the person of God, we praise the acts of God. Now sometimes we offer up a sacrifice of praise, in faith, for what God is going to do, but we praise Him for His acts.
This is how Job was able to fall to the ground in worship to the Lord when he learned of the tragic loss of all of his children and livestock. He worshiped not because he felt like it, not because he was happy about anything, not because life was going well for him, not because he was feeling blessed; he worshipped only because of who God was.
This morning, it’s time to stretch our minds and our understanding. It’s time to cast away our acorn view of worship. It’s time to see worship as God sees it; that dense forest of mighty oaks enduring for generations to come!
It’s time for worship to become more than a song, more than music, and to live lifestyles of worship. It’s time to bow down, to lay down our entire lives before God; true and proper worship. It’s time to plow up our hardened hearts like Michal who look in disgust at others while they look so silly and undignified while they worship.
It’s time to be like David – caring only about the Lord. Not caring about who is around us, what they are thinking, or how foolish and humiliated we are – caring only about expressing the worship that God is so worthy of in any way that we possibly can – worshipping with all our might – allowing that inexpressible joy of the Lord to rise up in and through our worship as we remember who God is and all that He has done for us and all that He has yet promised to do!
It’s time to worship! Feel free to sit and soak, run and dance, sing and shout, bow or lay prostrate, wave a flag or clap your hands, play the strings or bang a tambourine, declare praise in tongues of men or of angels; worship freely and however the Lord leads you to, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you and how undignified you may look to yourself or others. Let’s worship God who is worthy of it all and so much more!