We are in between two major studies – the Story of God, which we just finished, and the life of Jesus, which we will be starting in March.
This month, however, we are going to be looking at worship:
• What is worship?
• Why do we worship?
• What does worship mean?
The general outline we will be using these next few weeks in answering these questions is as follows:
- Trusting God – We have to really trust God before we are willing to surrender everything to Him in worship. For example if you don’t trust God then you are less likely to really let go and enjoy Him during musical worship. Instead you are going to try to maintain a certain demeanor while sings the lyrics.
- The Heart of Worship – Is there a difference between praise and worship? How do you worship God amidst distractions? Why do we signing songs for half an hour?
- How Worship Changes Us – Shelton Taguma will be teaching us from a Zimbabwe perspective. When I originally asked him to speak a month ago, all I knew was that he was a lover of worship – I didn’t know that he recently finished teaching a series on worship in Zimbabwe before he came to the States with this wife to have their second child. God really set us up… =/
- Non-Musical Worship – Worship God goes beyond the musical song service into everyday life. True worship is an ongoing daily relationship with Jesus that is real and personal.
I must warn you though… as I’ve been studying this topic, I have to say that it may sting some of you… worship can be a touchy subject full of emotions, so I just pray that you all while open your hearts and minds to Jesus as I’m sure I won’t be able to have all the right words or phrases… But I know that His Spirit will guide us all – individually and corporately as that is what Jesus told us in John 16:13-14:
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.
I looked up the word “worship” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary yesterday and this is what I found:
1. : to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power
2. : to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion <a celebrity worshipped by her fans>
To honor or reverence….to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor or devotion…
I then turned to the NIV Bible and noticed that there were two main Hebrew words used in the Old Testament:
Shachah – 170 times – to bow down low (in worship); prostrate oneself; pay one honor, homage: worship (39), bow down (33), bowed down (30), worshipped (23), pay honor (7), worshiping (7), bowed (6), bowing down (5) bowed in worship (2), prostrated himself (2) worships (2), bow (1) bow down to worship (1), bowed low (1), bows down (1), fell facedown (1), fell prostrate (1), honor (1), humbly bow (1), kneeling (1), knelt (1), paid homage (1), paid honor (1), reverence (1), worshiped leaned (1)
Abad – 290 times – to work, serve, labor do; to worship, minister, work in ministry; to be plowed, be cultivated; to be worked; to reduce to servitude, enslave, cause to serve; to be caused to serve, worship (a god): serve (88), worship (37), served (28), worshiped (13), do (11), work (10), serving (8), subject to (8), ministers (6), enslave (3), enslaved (3), labor (3), subject (3), work for (3), worked (3), worked for (3), worshiping (3), burdened (2), farm (2), hold in bondage (2), serves (2), till (2), used (2), work (2), workers (2), works (2), be cultivated (1), be plowed (1), been plowed (1), been worked (1), been (1), bondage (1), cultivate (1), do work (1), do (1), doing (1), done (1), drive (1), efforts (1), enslaving (1), farmer (1), fulfilling by doing (1), laborer (1), led (1), make slaves (1), make work (1), observe (1), perform (1), profits (1), put to work (1), reduced to servitude (1), servant (1), serve as slaves (1), service (1), slave (1), subjects (1), subjugate (1), submit (1), to subject (1)
If we move to the New Testament we find one primary word for ‘worship’:
Proskyneo – 60 times – to worship, pay homage, show reverence; to kneel down (before): worship (28), worshiped (17), knelt before (3) worshipers (3), fall down (1), fell on knees in front of (1), kneeling down (1), on knees before (1), paid homage (1), refused to worship (1), reverence (1), worshiping (1), worships (1)
Did you see anything in common between all of those definitions? I saw two main themes:
1. They are physical – bowing, falling down in front on, kneeling
2. They include some sort of surrender – becoming a slave, worker, giving homage or loyalty to
The word picture of worship would be someone entering the throne of a 16th century king – say King Henry VIII of England. When you enter into that room, the first thing you would do is say “Your Majesty” – you recite how power, just and kind the king is before lowing yourself down in an act of submission, the bow. You may even give him a gift to try to win his favor or perhaps you would present your petitions to him – asking him to do something on your behalf. After this you would have to wait for the king’s answer as to do anything else would result in him calling the guards and having you imprisoned or worse. If the King Henry’s reply was good, you would rejoice and praise him all the more.
This physical act of surrendering is also why it is very, very important to watch what or whom you worship. You will become what you worship – if you worship money, you will become a greedy person. Sex – a lust filled person; people – co-dependent person; power – egotistical person.
Idols make us into themselves, but if we worship the living God, we become more and more like Him in our intentions and actions.
Surrendering everything to God requires trusting God. It is very interesting to me the context of the first time “worship” is used in the Bible. Genesis 22:1-5
1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
Wow! Abraham had to really, really trust God as he was going to go and give his only son to Him…
This brings us to the definition of trust as seen in the dictionary:
- assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something
- one in which confidence is placed
Abraham had absolute assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, and truth of God. He knew that if he went up that hill in an act of physical submission of worship to the Lord, God Himself was going to take care of everything.
And what happened? God provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice instead of his son…
You know what else is interesting? The first time the word “trust” is used in the Bible is right after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea on dry land while the Egyptians who were pursuing them died:
And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant. –Exodus 14:31
They put their trust – their dependence and reliance in the person of the Living God who delivered them from slavery.
Isaiah chapter 12 sums this up very well:
1 In that day you will say:
“I will praise you, LORD.
Although you were angry with me,
your anger has turned away
and you have comforted me.
2 Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”
3 With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.
4 In that day you will say:
“Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”
In other words, let us put our trust in God because He was the one who pulled us out of darkness and brought us into light. He took us at our worse when we were trying to rule our own lives – when we were buried under anger, pride, addictions…when we were trying to make our own way and was stressed out and mad at the world – the one who saved us from all that, in Him will I trust and worship.
7 The LORD is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
11 This is what the LORD says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people:
12 “Do not call conspiracy
everything this people calls a conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
and do not dread it.
13 The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear,
he is the one you are to dread.
14 He will be a holy place;
for both Israel and Judah he will be
a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.
And for the people of Jerusalem he will be
a trap and a snare.
15 Many of them will stumble;
they will fall and be broken,
they will be snared and captured.”
16 Bind up this testimony of warning
and seal up God’s instruction among my disciples.
17 I will wait for the LORD,
who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob.
I will put my trust in him.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” –Jesus, John 14:1
Today we are going to end with communion… and as we do so, I ask that you take time to ponder these verses. To think about who or what you are worship with your life. Think about what or whom you trust… This is not an easy one time question; this is a daily question as we are constantly bombarded with things trying to take our eyes off of Jesus.
But for now, at this moment, let us turn our eyes to Jesus and remember what He did for us.