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But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (I Peter 2:9)
It seems that there has been quite a move over the past few years towards more 'authentic' worship. Yet if I were to ask you to define worship, what would you say? Can you worship without emotion, or can you worship without thought? Is worship a feeling, an attitude, an intellectual/spiritual focus, or some combination of all three?
God must be very concerned about this topic, because it is mentioned in Scripture well over 200 times! Throughout the Bible, adoration of the living God is a common theme of extreme importance. In fact, one of the reasons God saved us in the first place was to establish a "worship team" that would perform for eternity. (see I Peter 2:9).
As we enter into this season of remembering the death of the Savior, it becomes crucial to have an accurate understanding of what it means to truly worship God. These days, it seems that there are as many different styles of praising God as there are denominations and groups- so where do we start?
There is one passage from the Old Testament that should be well thought through by anyone who seeks to bring adulation to the Lord. The text is Isaiah 29:13- notice carefully what God says:
And so the Lord says, "These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away. And their worship of me amounts to nothing more than human laws learned by rote."
If you want to come back to the "heart of worship", you must begin with the "heart of you". On the outside, people may see you bow your head, raise your hands, dance in the aisles, or shout to the Lord- but all that is putrid pretense to Christ if your heart is in the wrong place.
To have your heart in the right place and truly worship God is to meet at least three conditions. Go ahead- give these three a try, and see if your duty to glorify God becomes an authentic experience.
The Bible knows nothing of a lone ranger Christian. If your times of praising God are confined to your closet, you're missing the point. Our attendance at church symbolizes our thankfulness and commitment to God. Take time to prepare yourself and be on time for the most important part of the service.
"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)
Too often we forget that there is a key horizontal aspect to praising God. You cannot simultaneously offer praise to God and harbor bitterness towards another. Don't go to church and play sweet on the outside when you are sour on the inside- that's called worshiping in bad taste.
Pay attention to the focus of your heart and mind. Don't worry if the band is off-key, the vocals are flat, or the guy next to you who has too much cologne. The enemy wants to distract you from bringing honorable praise to God, because authentic worship is an amazingly transforming process. If Satan can divert you from turning your eyes upon Jesus, he has already won the battle for the week. Believe me, spiritual warfare is going on inside the walls of the church every bit as much as it is on the outside. The devil knows what worship is more than we do, so he is incredibly effective in getting our focus off the glory of God and on to our petty problems.
This weekend, make it your prayer and your purpose to go to church with the singular focus of being a true worshiper- He'll be glad you did!
Dare 2 Share is a church assisting ministry that provides resources for youth leaders and equips teens to relationally and relentlessly reach their generation for Christ. Over 1,400 of these resources are provided completely FREE! D2S also conducts nationwide youth evangelism training conferences. The events are structured for students in junior high and high school, ranging from 12 to 18 years old. Regardless of gender or denomination, D2S teaches from a Christian perspective. D2S is based in Denver, Colorado and has impacted the lives of more than 300,000 teens since 1991.
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