This morning, I felt the Lord leading us on a short detour from our “I AM” message series to cover a subject of great importance.
This morning, we’re going to learn of an action that is very simple, yet has profound results. It is something that we all were created to do. It is something that, whether we realize it or not, we all do. This act has the ability to fill our lives with the presence and the power of God. It has the ability to transform not only our own lives, but even entire nations. It changes atmospheres and releases freedom. It gives us peace and assurance in the midst of troubles and tragedies. It has the ability to overpower defenses and release victory. In fact, it has been even been documented to crumble walls built higher, thicker, and stronger than Trump’s plan for the US/Mexican border.
What is this simple, yet powerful act? Worship!
Worship is incredibly powerful. It is one thing that we were created to do and one of the things that our free will lets us make the choice in. We can choose to worship God or withhold it from Him and worship lesser things. It was worship that Satan, before his fall, so greatly desired. He wanted to exalt his throne above that of God’s. Satan, who was created by God and described as the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty; anointed as the guardian cherub. Pride corrupted his wisdom and he thought himself more worthy of worship than God. Worship created a war in heaven. After being cast down to the earth, Satan deceived Adam and Eve and continued the worship war on earth that continues to this day. There is coming a day, however, when the war is ended and every knee bows and every tongue confesses worship to God (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:10)!
The Hebrew word primarily used for the act of worship is shachah (shä·khä’), meaning to bow down. The worship that we were created for is to bow down before God. Worship is so simplistic, yet so very misunderstood. When we think of worship, we often think simply of music and singing. In fact, we’ve even created a specific genre of music and labeled it “worship”. Though music and singing are awesome ways to express our worship to God, these are only a few of the countless ways to worship.
This morning, we’re going to learn from some examples found in the scriptures of the power of worship. From these examples, we can also apply in our own lives these reminders of, when we find ourselves in similar circumstances, what God can also do for us as we worship Him. To begin, however, we’re going to first take a simplistic and practical look at worship.
God gave me this vision of our reality, which lead me to this message and understanding of what worship is and why it is so powerful. Here, we have two containers. This empty one represents us and this full one represents God. We are dry, dead, and desperate for God’s presence and all that He has to offer us.
Remember that the literal meaning for worship is to bow. So long as we either do not recognize, or deny our need for God and so long as we refuse Him worship, we remain unchanged. If we recognize our lack and need and think that we can improve and lift up ourselves to change our condition, we still remain unchanged. It is only when we choose to bow ourselves down that God can begin to transform and fill our lives. In fact, it is to the degree of our worship to God that determines the degree of what God can do in and through our lives.
If we choose to allow Him to move in one area of our lives, then we worship Him for what He did for us there. However, that little worship leaves us with a far greater potential for transformation and change. If we choose, however, to fully surrender our lives in worship to God, not only can He radically transform us, but He can begin to move through our lives as well!
Our relationship with God is a bit like a teeter-totter. It is not possible to exalt God without humbling ourselves. It is also not possible to boast pridefully in ourselves and without mocking and putting down God.
Since we have the free will to worship whomever or whatever we please, it becomes that much more powerful when we choose to worship God. The reality is that we worship many things. We worship celebrities. Many who stand arms crossed in a church service can be found at a sports stadium or concert shouting, clapping, cheering, and waving their arms in the air. They claim it to be appropriate to do such things to worship their favorite team or band, but uncomfortable to do to worship God. It’s always amazing to me that a common, ordinary object could be purchased for a few dollars, but, if used buy a celebrity, could sell for tens of thousands of dollars.
We lay down our lives for our employers all for the sake of money. We’ll gladly take on the overtime for that time-and-a-half or double-time pay. We’ll boast that we just spent 60 hours at work last week. We’ll put up with people who offend us and will do things outside of our comfort zones, and even dangerous situations, all for the sake of money. To spend a few hours a week at church, especially an hour at a mid-week service, seems a bit excessive for God, however. If someone offends me once, I’ll use it as an excuse to avoid church altogether or to avoid serving in that particular ministry for a lifetime. If it makes me uncomfortable, it’s not for me. Indeed, we’ve gone far from the pages of the New Testament where to be a Christian meant me giving my all for the sake of God’s Kingdom; literally laying your life on the line. Today, being a Christian now all too often means I get my needs met by the church and give whatever I feel like giving and have little to no commitment.
We could go on and on and thoroughly convict every one of us of the things that we worship over God, but that’s not the purpose of this morning’s message. It is easy for us to sing a few songs a week and to praise God and feel that our worship to God is complete. True and proper worship, however, is so much more! To worship is to bow down. Many of us here this morning have never even taken a few minutes to physically bow down during a song to worship God. God is calling us not only to physically bow down in worship from time to time, but to literally bow down our lives to Him.
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.
Worship is a lifestyle. It reaches far more than merely a song. Romans chapter twelve goes on to encourage us to break free from the pattern of this world, to honor all others above ourselves, to zealously serve the Lord, to live at peace with everyone, to overcome evil with good, to serve our enemies, to show hospitality, to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. These, just like music, are all expressions of worship to God. They are all ways that we bow ourselves down and exalt God.
Personally, I am so thankful for Jesus. He paid the price for a debt that I owed. This truth should totally humble us and give us reason to extravagantly worship Him forever. However, it unfortunately often feeds our prideful, consumer mindset toward God. To worship God costs us dearly. For us, Jesus paid the price, He is our sacrifice. In order to approach God in worship, a sacrifice is mandatory.
We see through the old covenant with God the many various sacrifices that were required for worship. In the new covenant, it cost the life of the sinless, perfect son of God. It also costs us our lives. In the old covenant, bulls, rams, lambs were sacrificed. In the new covenant, we are a living sacrifice. In fact, David said when being offered all that he needed to worship God by a servant in his kingdom, “I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24:24, 1 Chronicles 21:24) Apparently, David wasn’t a fan of socialism. 🙂 Truthfully, though, David knew that to properly worship God, it had to cost him something.
Worship is a choice that we can always make. We would think that the greatest and most glorious worship would be after a great victory, when all wrongs are made right and the rich blessings of God are poured out abundantly. Indeed, this is one of the times when we find people worshiping God with great joy. One such place is found when the arc of the covenant is returned to Israel. We’ll skip some of the happenings here just for time’s sake:
2 Samuel 6:1-5;13-16;20-22
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.
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.
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 rulerover 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.”
Can you imagine an entire nation celebrating in worship with all of their might? What an incredible event that had to be. It was such a time of rejoicing that King David even got carried away and began dancing with all of his might half dressed. It is here that worship is again defined clearly as David said, “I will become even more undignified than this and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” Israel celebrated the presence of God as it returned in a wooden box. How much more should we, who carry God’s very presence within us by the Holy Spirit humiliate ourselves undignified and with all of our might?
The most powerful act of worship, however, is not displayed during the times of great joy and celebration. Anyone can worship God in those times. Even those who do not know God and couldn’t care less about what He desires can worship during those times. No, the most powerful times of worship are in our most desperate of times. It is in times when we are pressed on every side, when it feels that everyone and everything is against us, when we lose our family, friends, wealth, health, and certainty that creates the atmosphere for sacrifices of praise. This very act is recorded in the life of Job.
God gave Satan permission to steal everything but Job’s life away from him. It was not a lack of faith in God that caused his great demise, but rather the bounty of Job’s faith that God was about to prove to Satan personally. Don’t forget this in times of hardship. Trials and tribulations come not due to a lack of faith and not to destroy our faith, but to prove and mature our faith. Job was the greatest man in the eastern world and yet everything he held dear was stripped away from him suddenly. His response? Worship!
20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”
22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
Now this, this was a powerful act of worship. Job had no logical reason to worship God who had just allowed him to be broken down to nothing. However, job offered up a sacrifice of praise. He truly worshiped the Lord in Spirit and in truth during one of the most difficult seasons of his life.
Next week, we’ll learn more about when and how we should worship as we gather together for Palm Sunday. This week, we leave with this word of warning and encouragement:
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.