My friends, we have walked this journey of transforming our minds now for six weeks. We began with Feasting on God’s Word, then continued with Claiming and Praying God’s Promises, Giving the Holy Spirit Authority, Pleading the Blood of Jesus, Thanking and Praising, and last week, Choosing Joy. This week, we will talk about finding God in worship. This is by far the most challenging to write, for two reasons. One, the enemy is very much apposed to this topic, because it is what he tried to get from Jesus in the wilderness (Matt. 4:9) and what he has wanted all along in order to be like God. And two, because it’s still growing and forming in my own life. So I will share what I have discovered thus far.
From the very beginning the plan was to worship God. Even wise men traveled from afar knowing that the only proper welcome to bring a new King was worship.
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose,* and we have come to worship him.” — Matthew 2:2
God even wrote eternity on our hearts (Ecc. 3:11) to be awakened by His call and to bring the Son glory. The pages of the Bible reveal men and women after God's own heart who stood apart from the idol worshipers to bring true worship to the One True God. Theirs are the stories we still read today and find inspiration and wisdom.
I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High. — Psalm 9:1-2 (a Psalm of David) Even the devil understood the intrinsic value of worship in finding the heart of God and the connection it created between creation and Creator, and sought to steal it for himself.
Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.’” — Matthew 4:8-10
A few years ago, I remember talking to our dear friend Ro on the phone, asking her about her relationship with God. I longed for the intimacy she seemed to have so naturally with God, Whom she referred to affectionately as her Friend. James too spoke of Abraham as a friend of God. I wanted that—yearned for it.
Not long after this conversation, I sat in prayer, seeking God for this very thing, He told me, "You will find Me in worship."
I confess, it probably took me close to a year to begin to pursue God in this manner, to seek more understanding. The pursuit to worship God more and deeper as ensued ever since. And as I have learned more about the incredible depths of God's love, I've learned that the heart of worship resides in Jesus' two greatest commands to us:
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” — Mark 12:29-31
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And love others. The first encompasses a life of worship. Our intimacy with Him each day as we intentionally seek His presence. To view every part of our lives from the perspective of God's Word and promises and to live these out in our lives every day. Singing songs of praise to Him in corporate worship or even in our own homes as we listen to Christian music while making dinner for our family. To seek Him just for Himself, because we are are grateful and stunned that the Creator of the universe desires first and foremost to love us, to delight in us, to be in an intimate relationship with us.
The second springs from the first, for when we love and worship God, His love flows through us, intertwines with our hearts until the separation is no longer distinguishable and flows to a broken and hurting world.
It's that simple, yet that challenging as it requires commitment, intentionality, submission and obedience. Extravagant worship (what God truly deserves) must cost us something. Are we willing to lose our lives to gain them back?
My experience has been that which we gain back is usually more than we give. That's the generosity of our God. He rushes in with His love and faithfulness and gives more than we ask or can even imagine (Eph 3:20). Moses stood on a mountain and asked to see God's glory. What did God do? He hid Moses in a crevice and brought not a mighty show of His power but His goodness.
The Lord replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. — Exodus 33:19
And this is part of what Jesus came to bring us, that we would be able to experience God's goodness and worship Him anywhere, even in the realms of our minds and hearts regardless of whether we are in a church or alone.
Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” — John 4:21-24
It is the connection of spirt to the Spirit and truth to the Truth. Worshiping God becomes the expression of our lives that reveals the hope within.
Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. — 1Peter 3:15
I propose that our thinking of worship has been limited to the walls of our churches and Sunday mornings, or to faith conferences that vibrate with the presence of the Holy Spirit. These are indeed vital to our growth and understanding of the power and necessity of corporate worship. I myself hunger for more of this in my life. (And I dare to say the difference between a church and a social center is the condition in which the members worship—or don’t.)
Yet with everything God gives and models for us, there is more—much more—than this one glowing facet of the jewel and prize known as worshiping the Lord your God with all your heart (spirit), soul and strength (body, perseverance, health). Just as He is three "persons" in one, we are called the worship with our three parts—spirit, soul and body. And I believe we are called to steward each part with care, that our spirits remain connect to the Spirit, that our souls are fed and cared for, that our bodies and minds are renewed and strengthened.
Worship is living our lives daily, walking in and with the Holy Spirit. Spending time in the Bible each day, seeking truth, knowledge and wisdom to know Him better. Believing His promises and claiming them for our lives. Giving Him praise and thanks everyday just for Him, for His constant love, presence, sacrifice and holiness, and for all He gives us. Choosing His joy even when circumstances make it difficult. Praying and believing He hears us and is working for our good.
He encompasses all. He is all. And He is more than worthy of all we have to offer Him. We don’t have to get our act together first. We don’t have to the perfect marriage and family. We don't have to wait until Sunday or for a conference. No prerequisites or qualifiers. He’s with us all the time. He longs for us to know Him and for us to be known by Him (1 Cor. 13:12).
When we love Him, we are worshiping Him. When we love others, we are worshiping Him. When we use our gifts, blessings and provisions to serve Him and others, we are worshiping Him.
Perhaps our greater challenge is bringing Sunday worship into everyday living. First and foremost, He desires that we be still and know Him. This is our highest form of worship and the place where He shows us His goodness.
And His glory.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. — Psalm 23:6
Praying He reveals His goodness to you today!