Becoming A True Worshipper
By: Steve Shirley
In order to truly worship God, we must first and foremost follow what Jesus called the most important commandment, "... thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength" (Mk 12:30). Stating this in reverse, the greatest SIN of all is when we don't love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We will NEVER experience all that God has for us until we are able to TOTALLY surrender and love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. True worship flows from this total love and devotion to God. We will never fully know our Lord until we are able to be a true worshipper.
True worship is not something that can occur for 1 hour, 1 day a week on Sunday. True worship is a lifestyle. It is day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. It is a continual attitude towards God of love, praise, reverence, devotion, adoration, obedience, thankfulness, honor, submission, sacrifice, prayer, exaltation, admiration, confession, and more. We are grateful for His presence in our lives, for His unchanging nature, for keeping His promises, for His unceasing love and grace, for saving us, for His faithfulness (even when we aren't always faithful to Him), and SO much more.
True worship requires humility. God hates pride (Prov 6:16-19)(Prov 21:4)(Prov 16:18). True worship and pride cannot exist together. God gives grace to the humble (1 Pet 5:5)(James 4:6). We must worship God with a humble and contrite heart (Ps 51:17)(Isa 57:15). We also need to come to the Lord with a clean heart, with no unconfessed and unrepentant sin coming between us and the Lord (Ps 139:23-24)(Neh 9:3).
When we learn to worship the Lord each and every moment, it will totally change the way we live our lives. We can and will worship the Lord in our workplaces, being a "light" to others and doing our jobs to the best of our ability "for the glory of God" (1 Cor 10:31)(Col 3:17,23). We can worship God while at school, driving in our car, doing chores around the house, shopping, and in all other areas of life. We can also worship the Lord in our day to day lives by obeying what Jesus said was the 2nd greatest commandment, "to love thy neighbor as thyself" (Mk 12:31)(Mt 22:39).
True worship is sacrificial. When we give something that costs nothing, it is of little value. True worship requires that we give of our time, talent (using our spiritual gifts), and treasures (including finances). In the Old Testament, worship and sacrifices often went hand in hand. God asked for the best from His people when they made sacrifices to Him. When people did not give their best, God rejected it. I believe this applies to our worship today as well. When we do not give God our best and all that we have in our worship of Him, I believe God finds this unacceptable. When we love God with ALL of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, ALL means ALL areas of our lives will be sacrificed to God. In fact, Paul tells us in (Rom 12:1) to "present your bodies (as) a living sacrifice to God." That is costly... We should always remember our Lord's warning that those who are lukewarm "I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Rev 3:16).
David was one of the greatest, if not THE greatest worshipper in all of the Bible (except of course for Jesus). God said that David was a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22)(1 Sam 13:14). Although David sinned greatly many times (including murder and adultery among others), when confronted with his sin, he was truly sorry and repentant and asked for forgiveness. After his affair with Bathsheba, and the subsequent murder of her husband to cover up his affair (2 Sam 11), David spent approximately one year in unrepentant sin. He speaks in (Psalm 32) about how miserable his life was during that time. This was a mistake David apparently only made once in his life. David's apology to God for his unrepentant sin is found in (Psalm 51). The Bible is very clear that sin separates us from God (Isa 59:2)(Ps 66:18)(Jn 9:31)(1 Pet 3:12)(Prov 15:29). We cannot walk closely or worship God properly with unrepentant sin, so we need to confess our sin, repent of it, ask for forgiveness for it, and ask as David did for God to cleanse us (Ps 19:12)(Ps 51:2) and give us a clean heart (Ps 51:10).
It is also interesting to note, when we examine the Psalms, that most are not what we would call uplifting and happy. True worshippers are often forged in times of trouble and despair. It is quite easy for many of us to worship the Lord when things are going well, but a true worshipper will praise and worship God in the midst of the storms of life. When we can do this, we will be solid and immoveable in our faith, and we can maintain the peace and joy of the Lord no matter what trials come at us. David was a great example of this in the Psalms he wrote. As we stated earlier, God wants ALL of us, and David gave all to God. He often came to the Lord in sadness, grief, pain, loneliness, suffering, and he even questioned God at times. However, David did something most of us fail to do:
In the midst of his trials, He found joy (Ps 16:11)(Ps 35:9), hope (Ps 38:15)(Ps 39:7), rest (Ps 37:7), refuge (Ps 57:1)(Ps 59:16)(Ps 62:7-8), strength (Ps 18:1-2,32,39)(Ps 27:1)(Ps 31:4)(Ps 59:17), shelter (Ps 61:3), protection (Ps 3:3)(Ps 28:7)(Ps 59:11), and trusted in the Lord (Ps 56:3-4)(Ps 55:23)(Ps 31:6)(Ps 25:2).
He offered praise and worship to the Lord during his trials by blessing (Ps 31:21)(Ps 41:13)(Ps 68:19,35)(Ps 103:2-3), magnifying (Ps 70:4)(Ps 40:16)(Ps 34:3), glorifying (Ps 86:12), exalting (Ps 18:46)(Ps 21:13)(Ps 34:3) (Ps 57:5,11), extolling (Ps 30:1)(Ps 68:4), delighting in (Ps 37:4)(Ps 40:8), longing for (Ps 63:1), and fearing (revering) (Ps 5:7)(Ps 22:23)(Ps 34:7,9,11) Him.
He called God good (Ps 25:8)(Ps 34:8)(Ps 86:5) whether things were good or bad.
He was thankful to God (Ps 18:49)(Ps 30:12)(Ps 35:18)(Ps 69:30). Among the many things he thanked God for were, His faithfulness (Ps 36:5)(Ps 40:10), His righteousness (Ps 7:17)(Ps 35:28), His deliverance (Ps 18:17,19,43,48,50)(Ps 55:18)(Ps 56:13)(Ps 86:13), His lovingkindness (Ps 36:7)(Ps 40:10-11)(Ps 63:3)(Ps 69:16), and for choosing him (Ps 33:12)(Ps 65:4). Is it any wonder God called David a man after His own heart?
Speaking of the heart, the Psalms make it clear that the "heart" is of great importance to God, mentioning the heart 123 times. David knew the importance of having a right heart before God. The Bible tells us that God knows each person's heart (1 Sam 16:7)(1 Chr 28:9)(1 Kin 8:39)(Acts 1:24). Let's look at some contrasting examples in the Bible of those who worshipped God with a right heart and those who had a wrong heart.
The offerings of Abel and Cain in (Gen 4) are the first example in the Bible of worship given to God with a right heart vs a wrong heart. Abel gave to God the best he had from the firstborn of his flocks (Gen 4:4). Cain is not shown to give God the best of his crops (which was an acceptable offering: see Lev 2, Num 7). God accepted Abel's offering and rejected Cain's. How did Cain react? He was "very wroth (angry) and his countenance fell" (Gen 4:5). He was not sorry, nor did he ask for forgiveness for his offering. In addition, when God told Cain in (Gen 4:7) "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?" Cain wasn't interested in trying to change. These actions show us that Abel had a right heart for worship and Cain did not.
We can see two wonderful examples of Mary's heartfelt worship of Jesus. In (Lk 10:38-42), Jesus commended Mary for desiring to sit at His feet worshipping and learning, and gently rebuked Martha for not doing so as well. Later, in (Jn 12:1-8)(Mt 26:6-13)(Mk 14:3-9), Mary anointed Jesus head and feet using an alabaster box of perfume (worth a year's wages: Mk 14:5, Jn 12:5) and drying it with her hair! For doing this, she was rebuked by the disciples who said she was wasting money.... They believed the money should have gone to the poor. However, Jesus commended Mary's act of worship saying she had done "a good work upon me" (Mt 26:10), and He also said, "Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her" (Mt 26:13).
In (Mk 12:41-44)(Lk 21:1-4), Jesus commended the act of worship of the poor widow who gave 2 mites (worth less than a penny) to the temple treasury (which was all she had), and said that was worth more than all of the other offerings that were given out of people's abundance.
Music is a wonderful way in which to worship God. David appears to be the person who introduced music, with singing and musical instruments into the worship of God (1 Chr 6:31)(1 Chr 9:33)(1 Chr 15:16, 19-24, 27-28)(1 Chr 16:7). Sadly... however, many people today have come to believe that listening to worship music and singing songs to the Lord makes a person a true worshipper of God. Some even believe they can't worship God at all without music. True worship, as we have said earlier, is SO much more. The Bible exhorts us to sing songs (Col 3:16)(Eph 5:19)(Ps 30:4)(Isa 12:5)(Jer 20:13) and praises (Ps 47:6-7)(Ps 9:2)(Ps 68:4,32)(Rom 15:11) to the Lord. In fact, it says that God inhabits the praises of His people (Ps 22:3). God loves to hear His name lifted up and exalted, and there can be power when this is done. I believe this is one of the most important functions of our churches today. Churches should be an outlet for giving back to God in worship. However, for true worshippers, the time in church should only be a small part of a whole lifestyle of worshipping God.
*** Note: Isn't is wonderful that among all of the world's major religions, only Christianity is filled with songs of praise and worship for the Lord?
No one can be a true worshipper of the Lord without the presence of the Holy Spirit living inside of them (Phil 3:3). Jesus said in (Jn 4:23-24), "true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth." We need both the Holy Spirit AND truth, which is God's Holy Word in the Bible (Jn 17:17)(Ps 119:160)(1 Kin 17:24). Only born again Christians have both of these essential elements needed to be a true worshipper of God. It is said that everyone worships something. People idolize and worship Hollywood and sports stars, television, money, jobs, houses, etc... making them more important than idolizing and worshipping God. In fact, if we are putting ANYTHING ahead of God, we are making it an idol and worshipping it. The Bible calls this a sin, saying it is worshipping created things more than the Creator (Rom 1:25). Many people even worship something they consider God, but it is not the God of the Bible (truth), nor are the being led by the Holy Spirit (spirit). Without "spirit and truth," worship is unacceptable to God.
There are many churches that do not worship in "spirit and truth." The Bible says that God wants things done in a proper and orderly way (1 Cor 14:40), and God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor 14:33). Many churches abuse and misuse spiritual gifts in an attempt to worship God. This is disorderly and wrong and OFTEN causes confusion among both believers and non-believers who witness it. God gave us our spiritual gifts to build up and edify others. He did not give us ANY gift to edify ourselves. When these gifts are misused (not according to "truth") in an attempt to worship God, that worship is not honoring to God and I believe he rejects it.
In addition, there is a great problem in the church today of "emotion driven" worship. People are basing their relationship with the Lord on feelings, in worship, and in other aspects of their lives as well. Their lives go up and down based on how close they "feel" at any given moment. Much could be said about this, but we will simply focus on how this affects worship. When we are worshipping God to "get something out of it" or make us "feel better," we are missing the whole point of worship. It isn't about US, it is about HIM. Being uplifted may be the result of offering praise and worship, but we should not be entering into praise and worship seeking to build ourselves up. Often, when this is carried to the extreme, people will run from church to church to church, seeking to find an "anointed" church that will give them an "experience." When we allow emotions to dictate our relationship with Him, our relationship becomes chaos. When we "feel" close, we are happy. When we don't "feel" close, we are miserable and empty. Over and over, I have seen people who are depressed and sad because they haven't "had" or "felt" an experience with God in a long time.
We have this same parallel in our lives with our love for other people. As we said earlier, Jesus 2nd greatest command was to love others. We are commanded to love. Love is a commitment and not a feeling. When we base our love on how we "feel," our relationship with that person will go up and down. This is why we have so many divorces today. People don't "feel love" or aren't "in love" with their spouses anymore. We expect our spouse to "make us happy," and when they don't we are miserable and empty. People's relationship with God is often the same, in worship and love. However, God wants our commitment, not our feelings. In fact, He tells us that we are to die to ourselves and our feelings (Gal 5:24)(Col 3:5)(Eph 4:22).
On the other hand, many churches quench the spirit in worship, and this is wrong too (1 Th 5:19). When people are not allowed to worship (in an orderly fashion) with some emotion, that church is dead. One cannot be a true worshipper of God with no emotion. Can we imagine David or any of the great worshippers in the Bible showing no emotion in worship?
I believe God also rejects the worship of those churches who ritualistically repeat the same mantras and prayers week after week in their services, including the Lord's prayer... I have experienced this in my own life, and I know that they just became words to me. I just recited them week after week without even thinking about what I was saying. The Bible explicitly tells us this is wrong in regards to prayer (Mt 6:7). It is not wrong to be persistent in what we pray for (Lk 11:5-13)(Lk 18:1-8), but it IS wrong to just pray the same things over and over without pouring our heart into it. This also applies to worship. When we give without giving our whole heart, it is not done in "truth."
David gave us a good example of not worshipping in "truth" or following God's word on proper worship. In (1 Chr 13), we see that David desired to bring God's Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. He took the Ark and had it loaded onto a new cart. As it drove to Jerusalem, David and the people were worshipping God. However they were not worshipping God properly (in "truth"). God commanded in the Bible ("truth") that the Ark was always to be carried on poles (Ex 25:14)(Ex 40:20)(1 Chr 15:15) and only the Levites were to carry it (1 Chr 15:2)(Deut 10:8)(Deut 31:9,25). When one of the oxen stumbled, the Ark started to fall, and one of the drivers named Uzza placed his hand on the Ark to steady it. This was displeasing to God and He struck Uzza dead. This angered David, but also caused him to greatly fear God. The Ark was placed in in nearby house for 3 months. During this time, David realized from the Bible that he hadn't shown proper worship to God in how the Ark was handled. He then had the Ark brought to Jerusalem the way God asked (1 Chr 15). We should NEVER forget the importance of our worship being done in accordance with the Bible "in truth."
I would like to look at one more aspect of David's
worship to God. David had a heart and desire to prepare the next
generation to serve and worship the Lord. Before he died, David passed on his
leadership to his son Solomon and arranged for worship to be continued to the
Lord (1 Chr 23:1-5). He also made abundant preparations for Solomon to build a
permanent Temple for the Lord (1 Chr 22:2-5).
*** Note: God would not allow David to build the Temple because he had spilled much blood: (1 Chr 22:8)(1 Chr 28:3)(1 Kin 5:3).
I believe that preparing and teaching the next generation to be true worshippers of God is one of the most important aspects that we, as adults, can do as true worshippers. It is our responsibility to train up our children in the way they should go (Prov 22:6)(Eph 6:4)(Deut 6:7). Here are some good verses to keep in mind as well:
(Ps 78:4) ... Shewing to the generation to come The praises of the Lord, and his strength, And his wonderful works that he hath done.
(Ps 145:4) One generation shall praise thy works to another, And shall declare thy mighty acts.
(Ps 71:18) Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; Until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, And thy power to every one that is to come.
Also see: (Ps 22:30-31)(Joel 1:3)
Dear friends, we were created to worship God. We are commanded to worship God (1 Chr 16:29)(Mt 4:10)(Lk 4:8)(Rev 22:9)(Ps 95:6)(Ps 99:9) and praise God (Heb 13:15)(Jer 20:13)(Rom 15:11)(Ps 117:1). We are told to pray (which is also worship) without ceasing (1 Th 5:17). Satan HATES worship! He and his demonic forces will work with all their might to stop our worship. Do you know that even the demons believe in the Lord and tremble (Jas 2:19)? What makes us different from the demon believers? I believe the 3 key differences are: confessing that we are sinners, repentance of our sin, and our WORSHIP of God and Jesus. Satan and his demons will NEVER do this. Satan was cast out of Heaven because of pride. He wanted glory and worship for himself. God made him one of the chief angels, but his rebellion (as well as the rebellion of one-third of the angels) caused his downfall. This is a debatable point, but based on (Ezek 28:11-19), many also believe Lucifer (Satan) was created to be the chief worship angel. Satan is roaming about seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet 5:8), including stopping or hindering our worship. However, as Christians, our body is God's temple (1 Cor 3:16-17)(1 Cor 6:19-20), and the Holy Spirit lives in us. For that reason, (1 Jn 4:4) says, "greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world," and (Rom 8:31) says, "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
Clearly, one day in Heaven, we will be praising (Rev 19:5) and singing (Rev 5:9)(Rev 14:3)(Rev 15:3) to the Lord. If we aren't doing so here, we are certainly not prepared for Heaven.
Doing this study has had a much greater impact on me that I expected when I first started. I intended to only write a few pages, but as I studied, it grew and grew as I came to realize that this was a subject that I had not spent nearly enough time on. In preparing for this study, I read somewhere that Jonathan Edwards (my favorite Christian theologian) came to know God better and become more intimate with him through the study of the Bible. Those of you who know me, know I have a PASSION for studying the Bible and sharing it with others. Until I read that about Edwards, I had not really thought in terms of studying the word to know and become more intimate with God. The Bible tells us that one of our greatest desires should be to know Christ (Phil 3:10), learn of Christ (Mt 11:29), and increase in our knowledge of the Lord (Col 1:22-23). Solomon asked God for wisdom and knowledge, and this pleased God (2 Chr 1:21-22). I have been taught in the past that reading the Bible isn't something we do FOR GOD, it is something HE DID FOR US. I was told that reading the Bible doesn't impress God, because He gave the Bible to help us and bless us, and reading it doesn't bless Him. I have truly come to rethink this position based on the verses above. While I do believe that many people read the Bible with wrong motives, which offer nothing to God, I also believe that if we are reading the Bible to grow in our wisdom and knowledge of the Lord, become more intimate with Him, and love Him more, it can become an act of worship to Him. This has been quite an amazing revelation to me...
O Lord, it is my fervent prayer that this study, and all the studies on this site will help this generation, and generations to come, to know You a little better and worship You more. Thank You Lord for my wonderful wife and children, and that they allow me the time to spend in your word. Forgive me when I get out of balance. Please let me show in my words and actions, my desire to love You and worship You with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. May this be the desire of my wife and children and all generations that will come from them, as well as the desire of each and every Christian brother and sister around the world. To YOU be the glory and honor Lord! In Jesus' precious name, Amen.