What is Worship?

Stamp of Approval

…and all God’s people said: Amen!

One of the most common sayings on a Sunday morning.  It can follow a prayer, a song, or a particularly powerful sentence or scripture.  Each week the halls of every building that the church, the living and breathing people of God on a journey, gathers will ring out with this two-syllable word.  It is the reassuring affirmation that spans generations and languages.

Amen

The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon

Strong’s Number: 281

Definition:

  1. firm
  2. at the beginning of a sentence: surely, truly, of a truth
  3. at the end of a sentence:
    1. so be it, may it be fulfilled
    2. a way of making a statement or proclamation one’s own

Jesus has a way of grasping His audiences attention.  He began sentences with a statement of truth, an Amen focus.  A deeply rooted truth that was meant to teach those present about the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 18:18, NAS Emphasis Mine)

The Worship, the true biblical approach to giving everything that we do and say to God in reverence of what He has done for us, of God’s people is the resounding Amen to the Word, the truth, of God.  It is our way of affirming everything that God has done, is doing, and will do in and around His people.

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen” (Revelation 22:20-21, NAS Emphasis Mine)

The last word recorded in the New Testament, from the book of Revelation written by John, is Amen.  Think about that for a second.  Let the reality sink in.  The final sentence of God’s divinely inspired collection of eye-witness accounts is the proclamation of truth and affirmation that one day Christ will return and restore creation to it’s original sinless state. (If there was any time for a shout or a cry of Amen and applause to erupt, it was there! –  John nailed it!)

When we say Amen to the work of God in Christ we make His victory our own.  When we say Amen to call of God to live our lives in honor of Him we make His ministry our own.  When we say Amen to the living power of Holy Spirit the world stops and takes notice!  God meets us where we are and gives us the opportunity to respond with a resounding Amen, and when we do we clothe ourselves with righteousness and reflect His love, grace, and truth.

Make your worship an Amen from this day forward!

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Whistle While You Work

Work!  It is a past time that every adult knows all to well.  It comprises most of our day and awards us with a paycheck to spend how we best see fit.  Work, on some occasions, defines who we are.  It can also determine how other people view us.

So when you think about work what is the first thing that comes to mind?   Do you immediately think about how much you like, or dislike, your current job?  Is there a hint of sarcasm or annoyance?  Do you think about your co-workers?  Or perhaps a past job that you really loved?  When you think about work do you think about God, and how what you are doing can be honoring to Him?

In the Old Testament writings the authors expressed this idea of work is several ways.  In the original language the Greek word for work is ‘Abad, and it simply meant to work, serve, or labor.

‘Abad

The KJV Old Testament Greek Lexicon

Strong’s Number: 05647

Definition:

  1. to work, serve
  2. to labor

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15, NIV Emphasis Mine)

The earliest reference of work by man in the Old Testament comes the minute he is placed in the Garden of Eden.  He has been given a position of authority and granted the task of taking care of the creation that God has made.  Work, in this sense, is not a task that Adam fights and dreads, but is one that he accepts as a gift from God.  It is done is service and obedience to God.

Work, however, is not simply viewed in the sense that we relate to it today.  Work is more than a job, it is an act of worship before the Lord.

“Fear the Lord your God, serve Him only and take your oaths in His name.” (Deuteronomy 6:13, NIV Emphasis Mine)

“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!  Serve the LORD with gladness.” (Psalm 100:2, ESV Emphasis Mine)

When we serve something, we honor it and give it our undivided attention.  When a Christian serves the Lord they must be sure to bring glory to God and not themselves.  We are to focus our attention solely on God alone.

Worship is a ministry of service before the Lord.

We are called to be Christ’s representatives before a lost and broken world.  We are called to worship God in all circumstances and locations.  When we serve God by being faithful, honest, and diligent in our jobs we can have a dramatic impact on our families, friends, and co-workers.

When you work, work for the glory and honor of God!  Be a beacon of Hope in your place of employment.  View your job as a place of ministry!  Let others take notice, and always be pointing to the Lord above.

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Just Want to Say Thank You

In the third installment of our biblical framework construction, we will journey back into the New Testament and look at the attitude of gratefulness and what it means to be truly thankful in the biblical sense.  What does it look like to be thankful?  What images come to mind when we think about what we are thankful for?  Do we think of Thanksgiving and the time we spend with family?  Do we think about our friends and the influence they have on our lives?  Do we think about our jobs, hobbies, interests, teachers, pastors, churches…?  Do we think about God and what He has done for us through His son Christ Jesus?

As we begin to delve deeper into the attitude of gratefulness and explore what it means to express that feeling of thanks and gratitude in a biblical sense, we will begin to grasp the immensity of what is happening in the passage below.

“Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” (John 6:11, NIV Emphasis mine)

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is using the Greek word Eucharisteo to express His thanks for all that the Father has given.

Eucharisteo

The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon

Strong’s Number:   2168

Definition:

  1. to be grateful, feel thankful
  2. give thanks

Christ directs His attention to God and gives thanks for the bountiful harvest they are about to enjoy.  He expresses His true gratitude and shows those who are present that God gives gracious gifts and has the power to transcend our human limitations.  Jesus thanks God for what He has given and what He has provided, and we are to do the same.  We are to be thankful for everything that God has gifted us with.

We are also to be thankful for all that God is.  He is the great I AM, He is the ruler over all creation and we are to be thankful that that responsibility is His and not our own.  We are to elevate Him to his Proper place and position in our lives.  In Revelation, I think that the vision that John has of the elders in heaven hits this attitude of ascribing thanks beautifully.

“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:

“The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever.”

And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying:

We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
and have begun to reign.” (Rev. 11:15-17, NIV Emphasis mine)

In our lives, we are called to give thanks for what God has given and for who God is.  We are to rejoice in the triumphs and good times that God has granted us with.  We are to rejoice in the trials so that we can be a witness and encouragement to others who suffer.  We are called to rejoice in the God of the universe because He alone(Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is the ruler of all.

So the next time you begin to be thankful, will you only thanks those around you or will you first thank your God for all that he has done, is doing, and will do and for who He is in your life?

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Credit Where Credit is Do

As we continue to delve deeper into the depths of understanding biblical worship and ways in which it has been expressed, we must begin to recognize the fundamental need for praise.  A need that we have to give praise and adoration.  We all have a strong desire to praise something; whether that something is a spouse, celebrity, an article of clothing or something that surpasses even our own understanding.  As God’s creation, we are designed to praise, direct attention, and boast about the one who made us in His Image.

Our second word that we will be looking at will be the word Halal

Halal

The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon

Strong’s Number:   01984

Definition:

  1. to shine
    1. (Qal) to shine (fig. of God’s favour)
    2. (Hiphil) to flash forth light
  2. to praise, boast, be boastful
    1. (Qal)
      1. to be boastful
      2. boastful ones, boasters (participle)
    2. (Piel)
      1. to praise
      2. to boast, make a boast
    3. (Pual)
      1. to be praised, be made praiseworthy, be commended, be worthy of praise
    4. (Hithpael) to boast, glory, make one’s boast

It is first seen in Genesis 12:15

“And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace.” (Gen 12:15, NIV Emphasis mine)

This passage lets us see that Abram’s wife, Sarai, was praised to Pharoah and the officials “boasted” in her beauty.  The official’s were lifting her up before their ruler as someone worthy of their earthly praise.  The wording here suggests that she was set apart from the rest of the women in the region and there was something special about her appearance that made them stop, stare, and prepare to situate her before royalty.

This understanding of praise leads us to the Psalmist’s expressions of authority, dominion, love, and devotion before God in Psalm 150:1-6

“1 Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
 praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:1-6, NIV Emphasis mine)

In our natural state of ascribing worth and power to a certain person, place, or object we begin to state the position that is held.  In the case of Genesis, it is Sarai who is being upheld before men for her beauty and wonder.  In the case of the Psalm, it is God who is being upheld before men for His character, not His appearance.  The Lord desires our hearts, souls, minds, and our strength.  When we give all that we have to Him and then lift Him to His proper place in our lives, we begin to live the life He intended and begin to walk in the grace He gives.

The next time you begin to praise the Lord, will it be out of obligation?  Or will it be in recognition of what He has done, Is doing, and will do in the lives of His people and the story of His Redemption?

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Faces to the Ground

In order to better understand the term “worship” in its biblical form, we must dive deeper and seek to understand the biblical concepts that have lead to its translation.  We must begin to build a biblical framework to look at the meaning behind several words that are used to describe physical postures and other acts of worship.  The first word we are going to look at is ‘Proskuneo’ and it is first seen in Matthew 2:2

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalemand asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Mat. 2:2, NIV Emphasis mine)

The last time that we see this word in the New Testament is in the final chapter of Revelation.

“I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things.And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me.But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!” (Rev. 22:8-9, NIV Emphasis mine)

In all, the Greek word Proskuneo is found fifty-four times in the twenty seven books of the New Testament.  As is seen above, It is translated into English as the word ‘Worship’.  There are words that come before and after such as: ‘have come’, ‘fell down’, and ‘at the feet’ that help to describe what is taking place.  However, these words only scratch the surface of the original meaning and intent of the author.  According to biblestudytools.com and the Strong’s Concordance, Proskuneo is defined as:

Proskuneo

The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon

Strong’s Number: 4352

Defintion:

  1. to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence
  2. among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence
  3. in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication
    1. used of homage shown to men and beings of superior rank
      1. to the Jewish high priests
      2. to God
      3. to Christ
      4. to heavenly beings
      5. to demon

We now begin to see the immensity behind this word, the complexity that it has historically played.  It is used in reference to kings, nations, Christ, God, and even demons.  In the New Testament, It is used as a way to describe a physical posture of submission and surrender.  When we bow down with our face to the ground, we let go of all self-centered ambition and give all that we have to the one whom we are before.  It is a pledge of service, an act of seeking mercy, a posture of recognition, and a way of hiding shame and acknowledging lordship.

“At the most basic level, suppliants come to him for life and health and even for a place of honour in his kingdom.  At the most profound level, he is to be acknowledged as the one who, in this earthly life, was truly ‘God with us’ and is now the resurrected Son of God.”(87)

– David Peterson “Engaging with God”

The next time you come into the presence of the Lord, will you only speak of Him, or will you fall down surrendering all you have before Him in recognition of who He truly is?

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Building a Biblical Framework

The last series discussed the basic principles of worship and presented that biblical worship is rooted in three primary categories:

Reception, Response, and Relationship.

Without the acknowledgment of the these three aspects there will be a disconnect in giving God all glory that He is do.  The foundation of what worship is to look like in the daily living of those who follow Christ has been established, now it is time to build the framework that will allow a deeper understanding to what the bible has laid out through thousands of years.

In the English language, worship is most commonly used to describe an array of emotions, postures, and attitudes.  The Miriam-Webster dictionary breaks down this term as follows:

wor·ship

1: reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also : an act of expressing such reverence
2: a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual
3: extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem <worship of the dollar>
This definition, however, only touches a small portion of this immense word.  In order to better understand the term “worship” in its biblical form, we must dive deeper and seek to understand the biblical concepts that have lead to this words translation.  The Bible is a collection of approximately sixty-six books from a multitude of authors spanning several thousand years.  These books are broken down into two sections based on God’s promises and their fulfillment.  These sections are known as The Old and New Testaments. They are written in primarily two separate languages that used diverse terms to describe the attributes of worshiping the One True God.
In the next several weeks I invite you to the table, where these attributes will be discussed in further detail in hopes to illuminate the caliber of what is meant when God is worshiped in Spirit and in Truth.
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Worship: Rooted in Response

Worship is the choice to approach God and respond after we have been called.

“Worship is an active response to God, whereby we declare His worth.  Worship is not passive, but is participative.  Worship is not simply a mood; it is a response.  Worship is not just a feeling; it is a declaration.” (16)
-Allen and Borror “Worship: Rediscovering the Missing Jewel”

Worship is our chance to give back to God a portion, or should I say a small fraction, of what He has given us.  We have been given life: a planet that sustains us, families and friends to support and love us, marriage, children, and the most important gift of all: “God poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”(Romans 5:5 NIV)

In spite of our broken nature, we are to praise God in all that we do.  Some may not have great experiences with the “natural” gifts listed above and that is a result of this world’s separation from God.  Separation from the sustaining love of the Creator.  However, we are still called to respond to God in truth and in love.  Our response in worship is critical, it can lead to surrender and a renewed spiritual life or it can lead us to pride and spiritual death.

Contrary to popular belief, worship is not a passive activity that is done on Sunday morning and left at the church door to be picked up the following week, thus perpetuating the never-ending cycle of misunderstanding.  Worship is our chance to participate, everyday, with what God is doing in and through us.  It is our chance, as his divinely appointed bipeds, to shine His light and show the world what Christ looks like.  Participation is key if we are to grow closer to God.

Biblical worship is more than a mood or emotion, it is more than a tingly feeling that we get when we hear or see something extravagant.  Worship embodies all that we do in reverence of who God is and what He has done throughout history.

We have been called to receive and respond: Will we respond to the cross of Christ and take it to the world?  Will we respond to the Gospel and proclaim it to the nations?  Will we respond to the promise of new life and anticipate heaven?

May we respond to the Word through our everyday worship and preach it through our actions and attitudes.

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Worship: Rooted in Relationship

Worship is an active partnership between God and creation as relationships are cultivated.

“Worship is a conversation between God and God’s chosen people.  There is a mutual exchange, a holy dialogue, an invested sharing back and forth in worship” (9)
-Constance Cherry “The Worship Architect”

True biblical worship is a relational conversation, not just between members of a congregation, but between God and His people.  A conversation that consists of both speaking and learning when to be quiet and listen.  God has a lot to speak to His people, if only we would slow down and listen to what He has to say to us through things like scripture, prayers, songs, sermons, and silence.

Scripture is our direct link to the heart, story, and attributes of God.  It tells of creation, fall, and redemption.  It speaks of faith on monumental levels.  It is the inspired word of God penned on paper.  The Bible is our guide book, our comfort, our direction, our encouragement, and our ultimate love story.  Scripture directs the church, it directs how we relate to one another, it dictates our actions, it shows us how to truly love one another.  Our relationship with God is rooted in the scriptures and we should digest what they teach us and give all glory to God through shouts of praise, joy, weeping, meditation, and prayer.  God speaks to us through His written word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit and we should respond by living our lives in reverence of Him and what He has done for us.

Corporate worship, or the times that we come together as one body to give glory and honor to God, are filled with relationship characteristics.  We must acknowledge that we are all active participants in a corporate setting.  Our prayers, our songs, our offerings, our sermons, and our fellowship are all a conversation to God and a chance for God to speak directly to us as one body gathering in His name.  Corporate worship should not be just a time to talk about God and teach what he has done, but should also include a chance to talk directly to God because He is present in our churches.

Relationships are two-sided, with each party contributing to the conversation.  In our churches, our worship should reflect a healthy relationship with God, a mutual sharing back and forth.  In order for this to happen we must both speak and be willing to listen.  “Be still, and know I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NIV)  We must be willing to corporately and personally be willing to quiet ourselves, our minds, and our tongues to listen to what God has to tell us.  Silence is necessary, silence helps us to listen, silence allows us to be attentive to the will of God and grow in our relationship with Him and one another.

We have been called into a holy relationship: Will we build relationships that take the cross of Christ to the world?  Will we have a strong corporate and personal relationship with the Gospel and proclaim it to the nations?  Will we cultivate our relationship with the one who promises new life and anticipate heaven?

May we grow in our relationship with the Author of the Word of Life through our everyday worship and preach it through our actions and attitudes.

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Worship: Rooted in Reception

Worship is rooted in our reception; it is expectant and always preaching.

“Every weekend we should anticipate the coming of Christ.  After every worship service, we should celebrate the fact that he is alive forevermore, and consequently, so are we!  After every worship service, people should leave our services with an anticipation of heaven.” (43-44)
-Kevin Navarro “The Complete Worship Service”

Worship is always preaching, because it is the way in which we live our lives from day to day.  It is not only found in a specific building on a particular day, nor in the songs that we sing, the message we hear, or the prayers we say.  Worship is everything that is done in reverence of the Lord; whether that is working behind a desk, constructing a building, walking through a city or park, or even spending times with friends and loved ones.

Worship is our response to the greatness of our Creator!  It is our avenue of thankfulness and adoration.  What better way to celebrate what has been done for us than to give everything, yes everything, that we are back to the King.  He has given us new life, a reason for being, a love that knows no end.  We should approach God with all that we have and always anticipate His promises.

We have been ushered into the most holy place, and have been allowed into the presence of the One True God through the cross, the ultimate alter, of Christ.  “For where two or three of you come together in my name, there I am with them.”(Mat.18:20, NIV)  When we gather with other believers, we are directly in the midst of Christ and we should celebrate that fact!  When we enter into “corporate” worship, we should approach the throne of God with reverence and awe.  We should be overwhelmed by the majesty and might, surrendered to the holiness and presence, and compelled by the invitation and commission of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We have been given the task of discipleship and the furthering of God’s kingdom here on Earth.  Will we choose to enjoy a few songs, tolerate a sermon, and get free child care?  Or will we actively listen and apply what we learn through services, bible studies, and private devotional times?

We have been called to respond: Will we receive the cross of Christ and take it to the world?  Will we receive the Gospel and proclaim it to the nations?  Will we receive the promise of new life and anticipate heaven?

May we receive the Word through our everyday worship and preach it through our actions and attitudes.

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Are we only hitting the “tip of the iceberg”?

Have you ever stopped to wonder what people mean when they use the term “worship”?  Are they simply referring to the music?  Or perhaps they are referencing the entire service?  In either case, only the surface of such a diverse word is being utilized.

Worship is more than what we do on a Sunday morning;

it is more than the music,

the preaching,

or the prayers.

Worship is a lifestyle; it is everything we do in adoration of the Lord and it is rooted in our reception, response, and relationship to God and all those who surround us on a daily basis.

Worship is rooted in our reception; it is expectant and always preaching.

“Every weekend we should anticipate the coming of Christ.  After every worship service, we should celebrate the fact that he is alive forevermore, and consequently, so are we!  After every worship service, people should leave our services withe an anticipation of heaven.” (43-44)
-Kevin Navarro “The Complete Worship Service”

Worship is the choice to approach God and respond after we have been called.

“Worship is an active response to God, whereby we declare His worth.  Worship is not passive, but is participative.  Worship is not simply a mood; it is a response.  Worship is not just a feeling; it is a declaration.” (16)
-Allen and Borror “Worship: Rediscovering the Missing Jewel”

Worship is an active partnership between God and creation as relationships are cultivated.

“Worship is a conversation between God and God’s chosen people.  There is a mutual exchange, a holy dialogue, an invested sharing back and forth in worship” (9)
-Constance Cherry “The Worship Architect”

Worship is a conversation between creation and the creator, between man and God.  Worship is a two way street whereby we communicate with God and He answers through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Our worship must be lived out is such a way that it demands an explanation.  We must be living testimonies as we encounter the world and worship the Lord.

In the next three weeks we will unpack and expand on each characteristic  of Worship: Reception, Response, and Relationship.  I invite you to join me at The Table as we discover more of what it means to Worship God.

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