What is your favourite type of movie? That might seem like a really odd question to ask when speaking about the topic of worship. But there is a point to the question. Action or romance, chick flick or comedy, Sci-Fi, drama or a movie based on a true story. We all have different preferences with regards to viewing movies. Our choice may depend on our mood, who we are watching the movie with, what kind of week we have had, and do we want some excitement or comfort...
This morning I want to speak to you as being the best worshipper of God you can possibly be. The idea of worship is as old as creation itself. In the beginning there was pure worship between God and his creation. It was beauty and glory and holiness and love unhindered. Put that into a movie... In today’s context, when you hear the word worship where do your thoughts go to? Music, Sunday Services, Praise, Communion, or Liturgy. Some of us approach “worship” happy, others sad, some think of worship is personal, while others like to go to worship together. Others may like worship based on their religious experience, or style of music. I hope to remind us this morning what worship is all about.
What does it mean to say “I am a Worshipper” of God? There are so many Scriptures in both Hebrew and Greek that are used to define worship. As I have studied worship over the years, I believe there are two key components of true worship, love and obedience. Here is one of the best descriptions I’ve come across; “Worship is to honor God with extravagant love and exciting submission”. Love and submission are at the core of worship, but there are many expressions of worship used in the Scriptures; here are a few of my favourites:
· Firstly, in the Old Testament - Hallal: To praise, celebrate, boast, rave; Towdah: Give a sacrifice of praise; Barach: To kneel; Makal: To twist, to leap, to dance, to twirl; Tehillah: To sing a new song; Zamar: To play an instrument.
· Secondly, in the New Testament - Agalliao-jump for joy, exult, be exceedingly glad, with exceeding joy, rejoice (greatly); Kampto-to bend; Humneo-to hymn, religious ode, to celebrate God in song, sing a hymn, praise (unto); Proskuneo-to kiss like a dog licking the master’s hand, to fawn or crouch, to prostate oneself in homage, to reverence, to adore, worship; Ainesis-the act of praising, to thank...
· The list can go on and on in various expressions and experiences of biblical characters...
Early on in my Christian experience God blessed me with a Scripture verse that has become dear to me; a life verse. Psalm 27:4 - One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. This Psalm became key in my become a worshipper of God: Overcoming fear, growing in confidence, sacrifice, shouts of joy, singing, music, prayer, guidance, seeing God’s goodness while waiting in patience.
I am a Worshipper
Back to our definition of worship, “What does extravagant love and exciting submission look like?” Extravagant love speaks to me of nothing else but God in the center of my life. Over the history of mankind, a lot of worship has been offered up to all kinds of gods, little g. In our worship of God, we are to have no idols. In other words, true worship is defined by the priority we place on who God is in our lives. Where is God on our list of priorities? Sunday mornings, once in a while, for sure when we are in crisis etc. True worship is a matter of the heart expressed through a lifestyle of extravagant love. If our lifestyle does not express the beauty of God through an extravagant or exaggerated love for God, we are missing the mark as a worshipper. I have learned over the years that being a worshipper of God is the reality of my everyday life. Do I love like God loves? Do I love people with the godly love? Do I treat people in ways that honour God? 1 John 4:19-21 speaks to love; if we don’t love our brothers, we don’t truly love God. Love is central to being a worshipper of God. Protect your First Love is a significant warning of Scripture (Rev 2:4).
The second thought relates to exciting submission which sounds like an oxymoron. Should excitement and submission even be in the same sentence. Submission has been given a bad rap in our day and age; isn’t submission for losers or those in second place. The Biblical idea of submission is a lot more appealing.
· Submission speaks of being like-minded (Phil 2:2).
In a similar way to love, being united, agreeable, like-minded is attractive to the Spirit of God.
In other words, we honour and worship God when we do so corporately in one spirit and purpose.
· Submission speaks of humility (Phil 2:5-11).
This passage highlights our humility towards each other – “consider others better than yourself”.
In a more profound way, Jesus exemplified humility by not considering equality with God something to be grasped. Initially, the Son of God made himself of no reputation, a nobody, a servant, a man, in order to show us the way to heaven, through the Cross; this is extreme. But in the end, there was great excitement as he was exalted to the highest place…
· Submission speaks of obedience (Phil 2:12-13).
Shine Like Stars… Do you remember as a kid putting those little fluorescent stars on your ceiling? In the middle of the night you could see them shine. The brighter the light in the room the brighter the stars would shine. Obedience is like that, Jesus shining his light on our lives and we in turn, reflect back to the world around us our love and obedience to God.
Think about these questions for a moment. There are times in our lives when God seems distant and nowhere to be found. Will you worship him in your everyday living? At times there are situations we face that seem too difficult to overcome. Will you worship him in your everyday living? Or is your worship dependent upon the abundance of God's blessings upon your life? Do you only worship God for what he can do for you? Do you worship only when times are good? These questions lead us to a certain answer. We can grow in our worship of God. Our worship and expressions of worship to God can get better with age as our inner lives grow in love and submission to God and each other.
I am a worshipper of God who has had to learn how to worship God in these ways - love for God and people along with a submitted heart. I am grateful that as a worshipper, God does not hold our learning and mistakes against us. I am able to pick up right where I left off and worship. Worship is all about learning to reflect, shine like stars, back to God his character and capabilities within us each and every day. It is about praising God for who he is. It is thanking him for what he does for us. It is praying when in need. It is singing when are hearts are blessed and full.
We say this regularly on Sundays. “God is good, all the times, and all the times, God is good.” In other words, some days are great and others not so. Regardless of our situations we worship. God is incredibly generous toward us. God, in all of his glory and goodness, chooses to respond to us through in our worship. This is his promise to us in spirit and truth worship. When we worship God with extravagant love and exciting submission, God will draw near to us and commune with us and by faith we receive his life, his light and love in our hearts. Hallelujah…
What a joy it is to worship God both personally and corporately. This morning I have reminded us that we are worshippers of the Most High God. When we offer God our true worship, we are inviting him to search our hearts for anything that is not like him. The promise of worship is this, God’s Presence shows up and we are invited to reach out and touch him and be transformed into God's likeness. I am a worshipper who desires to be surrounded by brothers and sisters who have an extravagant and passionate love for God and each other. And if your life is not submitted fully to him, then I invite you to make worship a priority in your life.
Let’s put the message into action in the days ahead:
· By loving each other and our neighbours as Christ would.
· By living in unity, humility and obedience.