Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Meaning of Worship



“The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their

mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far

from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but

rules taught by men.’” (Isaiah 29:13, NIV and the Septuagint)


One of the in-words in churches today (at least where I live)

is what they call worship time. By this they pretty much mean

singing choruses accompanied with keyboards, guitars, drums

and lead singers up front, each with a microphone. Am I against

this type of music? Not at all if it is from the heart. Some of it

is great and I enjoy it very much. On the other hand, some of it

can be like what C.S. Lewis once said about some church music –

second-rate words set to third-rate music!


In some places where I have preached I have been very much

amused with all the electronic gadgetry I had to avoid tripping

over on my way to the pulpit! But what does all of this have to do

with worship? Perhaps a lot. Perhaps nothing.


What is worship anyhow? Is it just music or does it embrace

much more than this? The word itself comes from an old

English word, worth-ship. In other words, to worship God is

to acknowledge his worth. That can be done in endless ways,

but first and most of all it needs to be an attitude of the heart

and mind, a deeply engrained part of our belief system.

Without these the words that I say and the songs I sing in

so called worship services are meaningless.


And unless I am living a life all week long that acknowledges

the worth of God -- in my manner of living, my attitude,

my words, my actions, my behavior, and my relationships –

my so-called worship with other believers on the Lord’s day

or whatever other day is also meaningless.


While man looks on the outward appearance, God sees and hears

what’s in our heart. Recently I was in a church sitting in front

of a person who sang rather loudly, off key! It sounded like

something else, but if his heart was in it, it was of great worth

to God. And if my heart is not in my on-key singing, then

my worship is meaningless to God and in vain. As we noted

yesterday, the worship that God requires is that which is

in spirit and in truth. In other words, that which comes from

the heart. Also, as a Daily Encounter reader informed me,

“Praising the Lord in song is noted some 70+ times in the Psalms

and each time a manner of praising is mentioned, we are told

to do it joyfully.”


Suggested prayer: “Dear God, please help me in all that I do

and am to acknowledge your worth in all ways, always.

And grant that I will worship you by acknowledging your worth

in my total life all week long so that when I worship you with

others, my worship will come from my heart and be truly

in spirit and in truth. Gratefully, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

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