1 Chronicles 16:23-36
In this series, we’re looking at the six keys to connecting with God. We call these the Means of Grace, they are a means or conduit of experiencing God’s grace in our lives and connecting with God. Last week, we looked the power of being in a small group Bible study or Sunday School class. This week, we’re going to look at worship. But what is worship? Simply put, worship is our response to someone or something we deem of great value. Worship is about worth. It’s declaring this is important to you. It’s saying with our time, our hands, our voices and our attention that this is what’s important to me. You can worship anything. You can worship power, possessions, prestige, anything you deem of greatest value. And you can worship anywhere. Some people worship the Saints games, at LSU games, at concerts. But here’s the thing: You can worship anything or anyone but it is meant to be focused on our Creator and Redeemer. Worship is to give praise to God for who He is and for what He has done expressed in and by the things we say and the way we live.
Mary Louise Rowland asks, “Why do we come to worship, Sunday after Sunday, 52 Sundays a year for 5, 10, 30 years or even a whole lifetime? Getting up early Sunday morning, getting ready, getting the children dressed, driving to church in all sorts of weather, sometimes not feeling too well ourselves, angry at the government, worried about our health and financial problems, dressed in our best and on our best behavior, walking into the building, greeting friends, singing hymns, praying prayers, reading Scripture, listening to sermons, bringing our offering, taking the bread and the cup…why do we do this?”
First, we are made to worship. The Greeks knew their need to worship too, perhaps even more than we do today. Paul discovered this in Athens. Athens was a very educated, culturally rich and spiritually aware city. Everywhere Paul went, he saw statues to the gods they worshipped. And just to make sure no god was missed or left out, they had a statue to an “unknown god.” The people of Athens recognized that they were created to worship and all around them were the objects of their worship. The problem is that they were worshipping the wrong gods. What Paul saw all around him in Athens is a people who were reaching out and searching for the object of their worship. The Greek word used for searching means “groping for something.” It’s the image of a person in the dark feeling their way around a room looking for something. So Paul seeks to introduce and re-direct the people of Athens to the one true God and their Savior Jesus Christ. We see the same thing today. People are searching spiritually Searching is normal. God wired within us the hunger and desire to connect with Him. There is an imprint of the Creator on us and only He exactly matches that imprint on our heart and soul. And so we continue to search until we find the one and only true match and recipient of our worship. There is a longing and hunger within us to know, embrace, connect with, honor and worship our Creator and Redeemer.
You were made to worship. We were worshiping long before we placed our faith in Jesus Christ. There is something inside of us that longs for and searches for something of meaning and significance to give ourselves to. Everybody is worshiping and building their life around someone or something. You are going to worship someone or something with your life. Bob Dylan put it this way, “You may serve the devil or you may serve the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody.” You may worship the God of Creation and the Redeemer of all humanity or you’re may worship money, material possessions, yourself, your family or something else. But you’re going to worship someone or something because that’s who you are. And that’s why worship is so important. But you were not just created for worship. You were created to worship the One who made you. Worship matters because you were created to be in relationship to your Creator and Redeemer and worship Him and Him alone.
Second, God is worthy of praise and worship. He is the creator of the Universe. He created the fish in the sea and the birds in the air. He hung the stars of the sky and designed every strand of DNA in your body. He is the Savior of the World and provider of all your needs. He loves you unconditionally and He gave His only Son to die on the cross for the sake of your sins. He is worthy of all our praise and thanksgiving for who He is, what He has done and continues to do in our lives and what He has promised to do. Every time we get a glimpse of heaven in the Scriptures, we see the angels and heavenly host worshiping God and offering up praise. In Revelation 5:12: “In a loud verse they sang, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Because He is a worthy.
Third, worship reminds us who God is. Rick Warren says it takes less than 24 hours for us to lose a healthy fear of God. We come to worship to be reminded who God is, that God is God and we are not. It’s in worship that we see the power, majesty and authority of God. It’s in worship that we recognize who God is and how awesome and Holy He really is. That alone makes Him worthy of your praise. And so we come to remind ourselves who God is and what he has done. Psalm 145 reminds us that worship is not about us. It’s about God and His greatness for He alone is worthy, the Creator and Redeemer of the heavens and all the earth.
Fourth, there is a war over your worship. Remember when Jesus went into the wilderness after His baptism. He fasted and was tested for 40 days and 40 nights. The last temptation reads, “Again the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. And then he said, ‘All this I will give to you if you bow down and worship me.’” There are two things we learn from this passage. First, Satan has some dominion or power over this earth. He doesn’t have complete control but he still has some influence. Second, there is a spiritual battle over Jesus’ worship. Satan was competing for Jesus’ worship. And if there is a spiritual battle over Jesus’ worship, you better bet there is one over yours too. Every word, every action and every decision is a choice to worship God or someone or something else. Job encountered that battle. Remember, the enemy challenges God that if he could get Job to worship Him then Satan wins Job and the battle. So God told Satan you can do anything to Job you want but you cannot kill him. And so he took his career, his home, his family, his wealth, his health and seemingly, even His friends. Now you can wrestle with that theologically and say, “I can believe God did that.” But he did. One thing we know is that God’s glory was on the line and there was a war going on over Job’s worship and he didn’t know even it. He just thought he was having a run of bad luck. So let me pose a question to you, “When you’re having a very bad week with things going against your was, is it possible that there’s a war going on over your worship? Is it possible you’re being testing for you resolve to worship God? There are serious heaven sized ramifications over who or what you are going to worship. Guard your worship. Don’t let anyone or any thing get in the way of your worship of God and keep you from your purpose and your destiny. And don’t let it rob God of the praise that alone is. There’s a war over your worship and the sooner we realize it, the more we can guard against it and the more important our worship will become to each of us.
Fifth, we become what we worship. Psalm 115:1 says, “Those who make them (referring to the making of idols) will be like them and so will all who trust in them.” What and who you worship influences you. Poet Ralph Emerson Waldo hit the nail on the head when he said, “The gods we worship write their names on our faces, be sure of that. And a man will worship something…( it) will determine his life and his character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for we are worshiping what we are becoming.” Whatever you value most eventually ends up consuming you. It can be a new relationship, a new car, or a new job. It will consume your time, your energy, your thoughts, your passion and ultimately, your whole life. We were made in the image of God and when we worship God, it changes our character, our heart and our mind. You begin to value God more and the things and ways of God more as well. And as you do, He begins to consume more of you which then influences and eventually determine the path and destiny of your whole life. What you worship, you become.
Sixth, worship is fuel for the soul. Now remember, worship is not about us! But, worship does something for us. Praise and worship fills our soul, energizes us, heals us and it connects us to God, and prepares us for the journey ahead, the challenges that lie in our path and the work of the kingdom in our midst. Worship brings a new perspective. When we really worship God, we see things differently. We move from seeing through the world’s perspective to biblical worldview on life and circumstances. Worship increases our desire to obey God. Eugene Peterson writes: “Worship does not satisfy our hunger for God—it whets our appetite. Our need for God is not taken care of by engaging in worship—it deepens. It overflows the hour and permeates the week.” The more we worship God, the better we get to know Him. The more we know Him, the deeper our relationship becomes and the greater our desire to please Him. Worship helps us to see God’s sovereignty, to see that God is in control. There are times in our life when we feel everything is spinning out of control and it is in those times when we most need to be reminded who God is and that God’s in control. Worship gives us physical, emotional and spiritual rest. True worship brings peace to our troubled spirit and heart and gives us the rest we need from a world-weary heart. Worship gives us power. It empowers God’s people when we life Him up. It is through that power we gain conviction and direction. It delivers us from the circumstances or malaise which consumes us and instead gives us a sensitivity to His voice, an eternal perspective on life and a deepening commitment to follow and worship Him. Finally, worship creates a greater hunger in us for God. Tommy Tenney tells of a life-changing Sunday morning service, a divine encounter that forever imprinted on him. God said to him: “You know Tommy,” God said, “Your favorite worship services and my favorite worship services are not the same. You leave your services full and satisfied, but when you leave, I’m still hungry.’ Tears in my eyes as he felt closer to God than ever before.’ And then he writes, “I wish I knew then what I have discerned since- that God will leave our meetings full and satisfied only when we begin to leave them feeling hungrier for Him than when we first came.”