walk in the word
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind . . .” Luke 10:27
On every page of the Bible is the idea of worshipping God—that we are created and saved to the praise of His glory. But so much of what passes for worship today misses that mark. You know what I mean? Worship is not about me and what God does for me and how He benefits me. Worship is all about Him—recognizing that I am for Him. I breathe for Him. I live for Him. I spend my life for Him. God is not some exalted human being at the top of the mankind chain. God is ineffable glory. He dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16). The essence of worship is proclaiming God’s rightful worth and position. It’s one of the reasons why we come to church: to sweep the stuff off the table of our hearts and minds that have crowded out His rightful place, the central place where He belongs.
In Luke 10:27, Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” And He said this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, your mind and your strength.” That means love (or worship) God with all that you are. But wait, the parts matter:
“Love the Lord your God with all your mind.” God wants us to think great thoughts about Him. You will expand your capacity to worship God by studying His Word. The Psalms are a great place to start.
We work very hard at our church not to sing dumb “worship” songs. For example, songs that say, “Jesus, I’m in love with you.” Is Jesus my girlfriend? Is that how I worship Him?
Then there are songs that are all about me. “Hold meclose, let Your surround me, bring me near . . .” La la la. “I will rise up like the eagles and I soar with You—” That’s not worship. An element of testimony is fine, but worship is singing to God. The fact that there’s human participation is nearly irrelevant by the time we’re done ascribing worth to Him. The joy of worship begins when we break the chains of self to be free to focus on God once and for all. So let’s be thoughtful in our worship.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.”
We should also feel some things when we worship. Where feelings are dead, so is our worship. How would it fly if I said to Kathy, my wife, ‘Well, honey, it’s Sunday morning and this is always the time when I tell you I love you. So, I love you. I’ll see you next week.” Would you agree that’s probably not going to work with her? Well, it’s not working with God either. Showing up because it’s Sunday and saying, “I love You. Are You happy now? I’ll see You next week” is going nowhere.
God wants us to enter into worship. His Word tells us we should feel:
1. Grief over sin. David said, “My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3) and “God does not despise a broken heart” (Psalm 51:17). When I come before God in worship, I feel grief over sin. I recognize how I measure up to a pure and holy God.
2. Fear.“Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him” (Psalm 33:8). When I come before God I feel respect and reverence. God is not my buddy.
3. Longing. “My soul faints for the courts of the Lord. Longs, yes, faints” (Psalm 84:2). “As the dear pants for the water, so my soul longs for God”(Psalm 42:1) Worship draws me to the place where I long for a deeper relationship with Him.
4. Thankfulness: “Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving” (Psalm 95:2).
5. Indescribable joy: “In Your presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).
You might be asking, “I want this—how can I feel these things?” First of all, drop your guard. Leave your protective armor at home. Don’t be so worried you might start feeling something. Relax a little bit.
Another thing: Participate. I invite you to step forward from the role of observer to participant. Open your heart and enter in; let God bless you and build your faith. You say, “Well, that’s hard for me. Got any tips?” Yeah, read on.
“Love the Lord your God with all your strength.”
God has given some us physical things that help us worship. Psalm 47:1 says, “Clap your hands, all you people.” “Oh, that’s not my way.” Well, why isn’t it? Do you think God’s up in heaven going, “I love how he’s so careful about not worshipping Me too much.” I don’t think so.
Another physical thing you can do is to raise your hands. “Oh, I’d feel so uncomfortable doing that.” Paul said, “I would that man everywhere would pray and lift holy hands to the Lord” (1 Timothy 2:8). I can’t explain it to you, but there’s something that happens when I lift my hands in worship—it’s like opening my heart.
If you don’t think you’re ready for that, try cupping your hands together in front of you as a physical sign of offering yourself to God—or receiving what He has to give. Begin with this.
You also have your voice. “Clap your hands all you people, shout to God with a voice of triumph” (Psalm 47:1). “Well, James, I don’t have a voice as loud as yours.” Well then, in the parameters of who God has made you, max yourself out. Don’t you love sitting beside that guy in church who’s singing off-key at the top of lungs? You may not like his voice, but he’s using what God gave him to praise His creator. God loves that guy.
When God is rightly worshipped, powerful things happen in our lives. God-things happen. Jesus, talking to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:23, gave us the invitation: “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.”
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