worship is not an action alone

7 04 2010

Since I just did several posts on the oft quoted John 4:23-24 I figured I’d tackle another oft quoted passage for understanding worship – Romans 12:1:

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

I’ll be brief. The word for worship here is used also in Hebrews 9:1 & 6. The word is in reference to the ritual duties of temple practices. So, this passage is saying that our act of being a living and holy sacrifice is seen by God as our version of Hebrew temple practices.

This passage does not tell us how we should define worship, but how we should define our version of Temple duties.

Worship is not the act, but the holistic proclamation of who is God by a person toward that person or thing.





are you God’s worshiper?

31 03 2010

I am finishing up my exposition of John 4:22-24. Let’s get at it.

John 4:24 – God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.

There really isn’t much to say since I already wrote about worshiping in spirit and truth last week.

One thing stands out in this verse that was not in verse 23: “His worshipers must…”

Must means there are no exceptions.

If we want to qualify as a 100% legit worshiper of the one true God then we must worship in spirit and in truth.

Sometimes truth can be tricky. A phrase like “all I need is Jesus” sounds great, but is it really true?

God created us not only to connect with Him, but also with other human beings. We need human community. We also need food, shelter, and water. We need air to breathe.

Loosely, it can be said to be true, in the sense that our eternal souls and spirits are only in need of Jesus.

I may be going too far with the truth idea, but the further I keep going in my journey in knowing God, it seems that God would really like for us to be more exacting in our lives as it aligns with Scripture.

Jesus really didn’t come down and say, “God is all you need” or “I am all you need.”

Jesus didn’t say all that matters is eternal life. So, focusing only on what our soul and spirit need is actually constructing a paradigm that Jesus never set up.

I’m sorry if this crushes your favorite song or wipes out half of the songs you sing, but we have please God with our worship. If God wants us to worship in truth, then we better take it seriously.





worshiping God in spirit & truth

24 03 2010

I decided to continue to dig into John 4:22-24 so today is John 4:23:

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

What does it take to be a true worshiper?

You have to worship in spirit and truth, but what does that require of us?

Truth is pretty clear: Psalm 119:160 says, “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” Worship must be according to Scripture and must be in Jesus.

Worshiping in spirit seems more mysterious. First, if we are to worship in spirit we need to be alive in spirit, meaning we must be born of Spirit. Though we are born human, our spirit is dead until it is born. This occurs when we believe in Jesus. If we never choose Jesus as Lord, then we will never be able to worship in spirit.

To be honest I don’t really have any concrete idea about how to worship in spirit. When I think about spiritual gifts they seem to happen by the will of God. When I think about learning in our spirit, it happens because the Holy Spirit teaches us. So, worshiping in spirit probably depends on the Holy Spirit working in us and through us.

I know I tend to worship in spirit more and more, but I can’t say that I did anything to make it happen. If there is anything under my control for this it first came from a dependence on God to work in me and to teach me about worship and to ask Him to make me a better worshiper.

The next part I notice from this passage is that the Father is seeking people who worship Him in spirit and truth.

This part sounds kind of like 2 Chronicles 16:9, “The LORD’s eyes keep on roaming throughout the earth, looking for those whose hearts completely belong to him, so that he may strongly support them.”

If the Lord is looking for people whose hearts are completely belonging to Him, then being a true worship would be part of it.

For a while I’ve been thinking about why it is important to worship correctly. I think is seems reasonable to say that being a true worshiper is part of being completely belonging to God. Therefore, being a true worship will allow God to strongly support us.





worship does not require knowledge

17 03 2010

I’ve been reading through John and came upon chapter 4 and noticed something about worship. You don’t need to know God to worship Him.

Verses 23 and 24 tend to get all the attention because they tell us that true worshipers worship in spirit and in truth. Verse 22, though, seems to be skipped over.

John 4:22, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” I think the main point was that the Jews worshiped a God that they knew, but I want to draw out another point: we don’t have to know what we worship in order to worship.

To be a true worshiper we must worship in spirit and in truth, but worship doesn’t carry those requirements. A good parallel can be illustrated through fandom.

My friend Scott Appleman had a conversation with a so-called fan and this is what he shared on facebook (BTW I didn’t get his permission, but I figured he wouldn’t mind):

This is why I hate the Yankees:
Me (to guy wearing Yankee hat): “Can you name three Yankees?”
Guy wearing Yankee hat: Baseball players?
Me: (stunned silence) Yes, baseball players.
Guy Wearing Yankee Hat: Recent ones?
Me: Yankees. Guy Wearing Yankee Hat: Jeter, Babe Ruth, and that guy who’s sleeping with Madonna.
Me: A-Rod.
Guy Wearing Yankee Hat: Yeah, I have his bobblehead when he played with the Mets.
Me: He didn’t play for the Mets. He played for the Rangers.
Guy Wearing Yankee Hat: Yeah, the Rangers. That’s probably worth something, huh.

There is a spectrum of devotion when it comes to fans. Some are hardcore. They know almost everything. They have enough knowledge to make a good Wikipedia entry. They know the history and the current happenings.

Some are born into fandom. Someone in their family is a fan of a team, so they are fans. They don’t know a lot, but they are loyal.

There are casual fans, they joined because they had to be a fan of something and they followed along.

Some are bandwagon fans who join when someone is winning.

Some are posers. They wear the stuff, but that’s about it. They don’t know anything.

Now, I wouldn’t call the Samaritans posers, but Jesus told the woman that she didn’t know God. She was more of the family fan, born into fandom. She didn’t know God.

Jesus, though, wanted her to be a hard core fan. She needed to know God and not just enough for a Wikipedia entry, she needed to experience God.

We can worship God, and not know Him, just as we can be a fan of a sports team and not know a thing about them. But when confronted by someone who knows the subject, we get exposed as posers.

There is an observation I made when processing Scott’s story. People don’t really like posers. We can be posers when we worship God. We can go through all the motions, where the clothes, talk the talk, but when it comes down to it, we really don’t know much.

Something else seems to happen when we are posers. Scott didn’t say that he hated Yankee fans; he hated the Yankees.

Is it possible that people hate God because of posers.

When we claim to follow something yet know nothing about it, we show that either we are not really followers, thus liars, or that whatever we are claiming to follow is not worthy of our pursuit.

When we fake full allegiance to God  it turns out bad. Either God has not transform us (which is supposed to be one of the reasons to follow Him), or He is not amazing enough to be pursued.

So, being a true worshiper not only is good for us, but good for God’s glory.





defining worship 2.0

3 03 2010

Sometimes we miss the obvious in Scripture. God has to bonk us on the head through the Holy Spirit and we find truth that transforms our lives.

I had previously posted a definition of worship. I thought it was good, but I have a new simpler definition, which actually frees up an avenue to explore praise. (I’m actually working on posts for praise, but they aren’t ready to go yet.)

First, though, I’d like to show that God is awesome and how this has nothing to do with me being smart.

I asked God what it would take for me to get to another level of depth in my maturation process. One of the things that God told me to do was to pray Scripture after I read through it – every time. I also realized I don’t know much about the Law; so, I combined the two and started praying Psalm 119, which often asks for revelation of the Law.

After doing this God brought to my mind the Ten Commandments.

(There is no Hebrew equivalent of the English word “worship.” Translators have chosen to take the words that are more literally “bow down” and ” serve” and use the word “worship.”)

Exodus 20:3-5:

“You shall have no other gods before Me.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.

“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God…

“Worship” shows up in verse 5 with the direct object “them.” The antecedent of “them” is “idol.” When observing the verses in context we see that God is comparing His position as God in their lives to idols/other gods.

It happened in a flash. God showed me something so simple: to worship is to declare something or someone god.

Whether we understand what worship looks like is not important in defining it. Worship is the internal or external manifestation that someone or something is our God.





becoming what you worship

4 11 2009

Psalm 115:4-8

Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of man’s hands.
They have mouths, but they cannot speak;
They have eyes, but they cannot see;
They have ears, but they cannot hear;
They have noses, but they cannot smell;
They have hands, but they cannot feel;
They have feet, but they cannot walk;
They cannot make a sound with their throat.
Those who make them will become like them,
Everyone who trusts in them.

Why is who/what you worship important? Because you become what you worship.

This is actually connected to last week’s post. Last week we saw that the Hebrews exchanged their glory for that of an ox. They became something less than human in worshiping an idol.

So continuing my story… The very next week in Sunday school we studied Psalm 115 and I found another interesting and related (to the previous post) thought by the psalmist.

First he describes the idols and all their shortcomings. Then in verse 8 he hits the reader hard. He proclaims that those who make them will become like them.

When we worship anything less than God we then limit who we are.

It’s easy to accept this when we think about worshiping non-God things such as money, relationships, careers, reputation, etc.

The hard part is realizing that for the most part worship songs fail to capture the completeness of God.

The even harder part is realizing that by limiting God in our worship we are limiting our life in Him.

This should inspire us to do is to continually dig into the word of God to discover more of who He is so that we will become more of who He made us to be.

Strive to worship God in His fullness, by doing so you will not limit what you become.





what you worship shapes you

30 10 2009

Psalm 106:19-20 (NASB)

They made a calf in Horeb
And worshiped a molten image.
Thus they exchanged their glory
For the image of an ox that eats grass.

The other day I read over Psalm 106 in Sunday school and noticed something really interesting. Look at verse 20. It says “they exchanged their glory” after worshiping the molten image.

What this is saying is that the Israelites gave up something of who they are when they worshiped the false god.

Now, it is possible that “their glory” means God, but if you look at Hosea 4:7 God said He would change their glory into shame.

I really think God is trying to tell us that what we worship shapes us.

That’s it. I’m not saying anymore this week. I have something more to share, but I will write an another post under the same idea next week.