I used to go to church for the music. I wasn’t concerned with His word, I wasn’t concerned with my heart, and I wasn’t really concerned with my sin either. I just knew I loved music and that the music I heard at church resonated with me more than other types of music. I didn’t like the fast songs either. I wasn’t interested in praising God… at all. That part wasn’t intriguing to me. I liked the slow songs. I liked the songs that made me cry. I liked the songs that made my heart so heavy that I thought it was going to explode.
After I really gave my life to the Lord, I realized what I was intrigued by wasn’t simply slow music. I was intrigued with the worship. I knew God was calling me to be a worshipper. I could stand in front of a congregation and sing a nice slow song but when I gave up sin for the love of Christ, it became much deeper for me. I became a worshipper, and God slowly but surely revealed to me how worshipping Him was about much more than singing to Him.
God began to reveal to me the beautiful consequences that came with being a worshipper. It all began with a phrase that I will never forget – “anybody can praise the Lord, but only few will truly worship Him.” And that is what He desires. God is seeking for true worshippers. God has shown me over the years why worship is important, why I do it, and what it means. It has become less of a noun and more of a lifestyle.
Now don’t get me wrong, God deserves our praise and praise certainly gets God’s attention, but I believe He is after our worship.
Let’s go back to the basics. What is worship you say? Worship is voluntary. It’s much more than the music you listen to at church or even in your quiet time. Worship is a feeling or expression of reverence and adoration. It’s to show respect and love. We worship God, not for selfish gain, but because He loved us first. We worship God because of who He is and not what He has or will do. We worship because He is deserving and not because we deserve anything. We worship Him because He is GOOD and because He’ll be good always. We worship Him because there is truly NO ONE like our Father.
In the old testament, God required animal sacrifices. This gave his people a temporary covering for their sins. Jesus hadn’t yet died and taken on all of our sins, so they still solely belonged to us. The bible says that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness, which why humans were mandated to sacrifice dead animals. This was God being merciful and gracious as always by giving us a way to be cleansed from our sins. Animal sacrifices was a way to worship the Lord, show we feared Him, and to again cover our sins. (This act gave subtle insight to the perfect and complete sacrifice of Jesus Christ.)
They couldn’t just offer any old animal to the Lord though right? It had to be their BEST. They had to be making a true sacrifice in order for God to honor their worship. (Cain and Abel). The beauty of the new testament church and our current standing with God is that we can offer Him ourselves. We can offer our hearts, our minds, our souls, our bodies, and our lives to the Father. We have the option to become human sacrifices, and if done in holiness and in reverence to God and His word, He will ALWAYS honor that sacrifice.
In thinking about this concept, I was reminded of a quote I read once – “The problem with living sacrifices is that they keep trying to crawl off the alter.”
It’s humorous but so true. We can’t put our lives on His alter and then decide that’s not the way we want to honor Him. It’s not enough to just make a one-time decision to honor God with our lives by offering them to Him in a “living sacrifice”. Declaring this is only the first step. and it’s meaningless if your life doesn’t reflect the sacrifice you claim to make. If your lifestyle doesn’t express holiness through a love for God, and you don’t live in extreme submission to God, you simply are not a living sacrifice. Thus your worship isn’t true, and it is going to be honored.
Here are a few things to consider when trying to determine if you are presenting your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God (which is indeed our reasonable service):
- Worship is a lifestyle. True worship is a expressed in your lifestyle. We made the choice to be saved, but that’s not enough. You have to make the conscious choice to LIVE. IT. OUT. That’s what it means to be a living sacrifice or to live a lifestyle of worship. Don’t make empty promises or give God “going with the motions” styled worship. Give him you.
- You can’t live unholy and think you’re producing a holy worship. Because your “living” worship is a reflection of the life you do indeed live, your worship will be unclean if you are living an unclean life. And God doesn’t want that. He wants pure, real, TRUE worship from His people. He desires for us to bring all of our uncleanness to Him, so He can purify it therefore purifying our sacrifice. He doesn’t want us to live in fakeness or uncleanness believing that we are doing him a favor by singing songs in church, lifting our hands, working in ministry, or whatever the case. He wants authentic worship that represents us striving for holiness.
- Worship is only true when there is change. If you don’t change, there is no evidence to support your worship. Change is the fruit of true worship. Every single time we worship the Lord in truth and authenticity, He will change us. He uses our worship to mold us and make us into people who live lives that look like Jesus – whether its healing our emotional or physical wounds, giving us a new outlook, or changing our hearts about a situation, there is change attached to true worship. If there is no change, we need to be checking our hearts to decide if our worship is true.
- To worship is to sacrifice. You can give up your old way of life, old habits, disobedience, and your sin. Worship is an exchange. You give something to God in order for Him to give something to you. He honors our true worship with rewards. Don’t worship the Lord solely because you need something but if you’re wanting Him to move, worship will surely get His attention. Think of what you need or desire from the Lord. Beauty in exchange for ashes? Purity in exchange for sin? Love in exchange for hate? Peace in exchange for chaos? Go to the Lord in worship, and what Him give you more than you could ask for.
- Worship invokes the presence of God. If you can’t feel Him, worship Him. If you just need to know God is near, worship Him. If you need Him to touch you, worship Him. If you need to reconnect with Him, worship Him. If your life is spinning out of control and you need to be in His presence to refocus, worship Him. Even when you feel like He’s left you or doesn’t care about your trials, worship Him and watch Him manifest His presence to you. And in His presence, you’ll find E V E R Y T H I N G you need.
- Lastly, true worship calls you to action. Worship is a verb. It calls you to go into the world to win souls for the Kingdom of God. It calls you to share your story in order for someone else to receive their healing. It calls you to trade in your mess for His glory. It calls you to honor Him by walking in the calling He has placed on your life. It calls you to go deeper in Him.
I can talk about worshipping the Lord all day. I can tell you what it means to me and what it looks like in my life until I’m blown in the face but until you see the blessings of worshipping God truly and authentically, it’s meaningless. So today, decide that you’ll worship Him. Make the decision to worship Christ in spirit and in truth. Make the decision to move past singing in church and identifying that action as “worship”, and step into living as a sacrifice unto the Lord and let THAT worship speak for you.
As always love God, love people. And choose today to surrender your life, your plans, and your will, in worship and watch God reveal Himself to you like never before.