But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness unto his marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy (I Peter 2:9-10).
The above verses state that we were not a special people nor did we have anything significant in common outside of our sinning ways until salvation changed us and brought us together. Now, we are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a peculiar people. God has brought us together as one people; no matter how separate we were in our backgrounds, so that we can show forth the praises of Him who called us.
When we assemble as a new nation born of water and Spirit, we celebrate the King by singing praises to Him who brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light. This new kingdom or nation has its own songs, allegiances, laws, and culture. It is different by the peculiar people who make up the kingdom in their enthusiastic love for their King.
OUR PRAISE SHOULD MATCH OUR KING’S LOVE FOR HIS PEOPLE
What does it mean to show forth His praises? Many have elevated things, places, and people as objects worthy of praise. Movie stars, sports figures, and TV and hard-rock personalities top the list of people most admired and often worshiped. The adoring public has let these people set their life standards when the idols themselves have no direction in their lives. The Bible states, Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch (Matthew 15:14). There are ditches, such as drugs, fornication, lawlessness, and irresponsibility, in this life, but the end of this life is the big ditch, hell.
There are so many reasons to praise our King that even eternity will not be long enough to exhaust His greatness. The principle here is that our praise should attempt to match the only One who is worthy o f praise. The reason we use the word “attempt” is because even an eternity of praise will never do justice to the attributes and character of God. There will be continual revelations throughout eternity that will cause spontaneous praise to God.
God is endlessly creative, vital, and alive, so we should express ourselves to Him in the same way to show God we care enough for Him to be creative in our worship.
TELLING LIES ABOUT GOD
It is possible to let our patterns and practices of worship tell lies about God. Deadness of worship is probably one of the reasons Nietzsche proclaimed, “God is dead,” God is not dead, but sometimes we worship as if He were. Our worship should proclaim that He is the one true, living God, the One who has called us out of darkness.
Some of the lies that can be propagated by observing insincere worship are that God is boring, powerless, and irrelevant and that He will not answer prayer. He is none of these, and it is time our worship proves that He is alive and on the throne as King of the universe, as well as in our lives.
WHAT IS WORSHIP?
First, we should ask the question, who is to be worshiped? Worship is to praise God; it is not for the purpose that we should be blessed. Sometimes when the word worship is used, individuals immediately state their preferences for worshiping rather than God’s. He is our Creator, and worship from His created beings is both His right and His pleasure.
When Jesus descended from the Mount of Olives, the disciples and a multitude of people began to praise Him Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out (Luke 19:38-40). If even stones can praise the Lord, why not man, who is made after the image of God? Worship should be for His benefit, not ours. Since we have a very loving and caring God, He desires to return our love.
Instead of requesting a song we love to hear because its tune is pleasing to our ears, why not request a song that emphasizes what He has done in the past and intends to do in the future? One enjoys traditional songs while another prefers to sing only new choruses. One likes music loud and fast while another wants soft, slow songs. Which way is correct? The correct way is the way that will lift Jesus rather than man. If we cannot worship God while singing a slow song, we should reexamine our worship.
Worship is God’s enjoyment of us and our enjoyment of Him. Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp. For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation (Psalm 149:1-4).
How much pleasure are we giving to God by true worship? If God has given us a voice, two hands, arms to lift, and a mind and heart that can express our love, then praise ye the Lord!
The origin in English of the word worship is “worth-ship,” which expresses the value placed on someone or something. The true value we place upon God can be measured, to a large degree, by the quality of our worship. Our value of someone is demonstrated by the love we show, the thanks and appreciation we demonstrate, and the daily proof of our love.
The Greek word that appears fifty nine-times in the New Testament and is translated as “worship” is proskyneo, which means “come towards to kiss (the hands).” How do we come before His presence? We should approach with singing, humility, and a real show of love and appreciation.
WHERE DOES WORSHIP BEGIN?
Everyone worships, whether the object is a hero, possessions, success, pleasure, a political cause, oneself, or one of the many other idols. God made us to worship Him, but Satan was jealous. Although he was a created being, he wanted man to worship him. Many have chosen to replace the One worthy of our praise with chaff that soon is carried away with the wind.
The very heart of worship is giving not only of our talents and goods but also of ourselves. Romans 12:1-2 states, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Paul used the phrase, “living sacrifice.” To the Old Testament Jew, a sacrifice was dead. The animal was not a sacrifice unless it was dead, so a living sacrifice may at first seem a contradiction of being alive and dead at the same. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God (Romans 6: 10- 1 3).
We are to be dead to sin but alive unto God to worship God in spirit and in truth. If we are alive unto God, our motions, thoughts, and emotions can be constant acts of worship. When the body of saints are alive unto God and linked to heaven by worship, all things are possible. The praise service sometimes starts with a small burning flame that bursts into life as more people contribute, and soon it becomes a fire that fills the entire room. There must first be a blaze started from one or more people. Do not wait until someone starts the fire; be a fire starter.
There is much for which to praise the Lord. Even on days when it seems almost everything turns out wrong, turn discouragement around with a praise to the One who can make all things right. Praise can become an act of faith first, then a celebration as God unfolds His caring Spirit and loving kindness.
DEAD BUT ALIVE
Being dead to the world and alive unto God changes responsibilities and the pressures for success. If we have dedicated our lives unto God, the successes or what may seem as failures are left in the hands of God. We give Him the glory for success, and we understand that what may at first seem like failure can be used to strengthen our walk. We can then give Him glory for all things.
Ministers sometimes hang their heads when asked how many attend their church. They feel that a small congregation shows failure. It could well be considered failure if they consider the church as theirs rather than God’s. Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). It is God’s church, the numbers are in His hands, but we must be diligent to do our part. He will give the increase.
ENLARGING OUR BORDERS
Our everyday activities can be worship, provided they are done unto Jesus. Our work, schooling, and day-by-day living will be recorded in the eternal records as worship if we understand a New Testament principle. Colossians 3:23-24 states, And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. How do we change the work we do unto men so that it becomes worship unto God? It is a matter of attitude and priority.
We can just put in our eight or more hours on the job, or we can turn the job into eight hours of worship by the right attitude. If the job is only a place where we work to pay the bills and to buy the things we desire or need, it is not worship unto God. If the money from our job is partially used to reach the lost through the outreach of the church and we have dedicated the time we spend in a positive way that draws attention to God, the work is worship. God will then bless our work and take away some of the pressures that others experience.
When our homes are dedicated to God, and the money is used to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, our homes, as well as the church, become holy sanctuaries.
Jesus’ life on earth is the best example to teach any spiritual lesson. The lesson of “wills” is one of the most clearly taught lessons in the Gospels. Jesus’ will was only to do the will of the Father.
When men are put under pressure, they clearly show whose will is being done. Jesus’ most intense time of pressure, burden, suffering, agony, temptation, and decision was in the Garden of Gethsemane. The garden experience was what made Calvary a victory.
In the time of anguish, He prayed, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done (Luke 22:42). The flesh or human will wanted to bypass the cross, but the divine Spirit of Christ dominated the human cry. Human cries must be answered by conquering the human will and allowing the Holy Spirit to gain control. Jesus’ cry of victory from the garden, Not my will, but thine, be done, gives us also courage to face the tragedies of life.
WORSHIPING, A WAY OF LIFE
The way we worship has more to do with our lives than the type of service we attend. Worship was not intended to be scheduled for certain times or places. It is an attitude that should be a part of our lives. One of the reasons Jesus came was that we might have a more abundant life. This life is like a well of water springing up, a constant flow of spiritual strength that comes from the Holy Ghost. It is so different from the works of the law that Jesus described it as being “born again.” It was not patching up an old garment nor making new laws that superseded the old ones, neither was it to be a one-time experience. It becomes the focal point of an entire Christian walk, a way of life.
The tools we use in our public worship are not nearly as important as the attitude of the people who sit in the seats. We have already said that worship is not for us; it is for God. We do not need high-tech tools to get the Spirit flowing, even though they can help to focus the saint’s attention in the right direction. Do you think that if the disciples had high-tech tools in the upper room, they would have had to worship for only a few minutes rather than days? What about Peter? If he had a microphone to swallow, would there have been thirty thousand converts rather than just three thousand? I am joking, but maybe you see my point.
Does God’s presence depend on certain types of music, costumes, flashing light displays, video demonstrations, weird music patterns, and other copies of the rock-and-roll culture? There is a great difference between entertainment and worship to God.
The rock-and-roll or rap concerts can get certain kinds of people worked up until they dance, jump, and act like they are under some outside influence.
What happens when the music stops in a church? Does the worship continue in the same intensity?
THE ATTITUDE OF WORSHIP
Is the sacrificial attitude a part of the worship service and displayed along with the exuberance of praise? By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased (Hebrews 13:15-16).
The Old Testament method of being thankful started with an animal sacrifice. Man could not approach God unless he was preceded by a sacrifice. We approach God today mostly through prayer and praise, and we are told that to do good we must not forget to communicate with Him. The dictionary explains that communication is an exchange of thoughts or messages; in other words, it is not a one-way talk. God wants to communicate with us as we open the door through praise. Listening, as well as expressing our love and appreciation, makes our time spent with Jesus most valuable. We need marching orders from our King.
Jesus did not have the “martyr complex” when He took our stripes and torture and finally died in our place. Some people want you to know how many days they fast and pray. As Jesus said about the Pharisees, They have their reward. They are rewarded by your knowing how holy they are.
I think the real prayer warriors are those doing it unto God rather than to be praised by men. The prayer closet is often empty and in many homes does not even exist But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly (Matthew 6:6). The reward that the real warriors will receive is the one that counts, heaven. These are the ones who give unto God and do not feel they are giving.
The real worshipers come before God’s presence with singing. They have abundant lives that have nothing to do with applause. They are the worshipers, not the one who is worshiped.
The attitude of worship is to glorify God, and real worship does not always have to do with mechanics. The real effects of worship are changing lives and setting priorities that affect the kingdom of God. After all the shouting is done, the real value is not in the experience itself but in the change it caused in the lives of the worshipers.
Excerpted from: “The King and His Kingdom” By: Jack Tanner