Give to the LORD the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come before Him.
Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! (1 Chronicles 16:29)
It is no accident that the first table of the Ten Commandments deals with worship: whom we worship—only God; how we worship—no idols; reverence for God’s name—don’t use it vainly; reverence for God’s day—keep the Sabbath; respect God’s representatives—honor father and mother. Worship is primary—there is no greater command than to love God—and that is the essence of worship. Not just any worship is acceptable. We must offer worthy worship. Jesus said that is worship which is in spirit and in truth.
David was a shepherd, a soldier, a singer, and a sovereign, but none more significant than being a worthy worshipper. The Ark of the Covenant had been brought into Jerusalem and David leads the nation in a stirring service of praise. 1 Chronicles 16:29 is a command to worship.
Let’s begin by noting A PROBLEM: The Substitution for Worship. David’s worship was authentic and passionate. We may call what we do at 11:00 on Sundays “worship” but it may be a sham. Jesus spoke of those who draw near to God with their lips, but their heart is far from Him.
We could be worshipping secular substitutes. That is the warning of the first of the Ten Commandments, “I am the LORD your God. You shall have no other gods before Me” or “instead of Me.” There is also the danger of spiritual substitutes. We can substitute church activity for spiritual intimacy. Religious ritual can replace real relationship with God. Entertainment that focuses on our pleasure can substitute for experience that focuses on God’s praise.
Next, we set forth A PREMISE: A Definition of Worship. How would you define it?
Properly defined, the English word literally is “worth-ship” that is, declaring worth. “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power.” (Rev.4:11) What one worships is an indicator of what we value. It involves our attitudes and actions. Loving God is full commitment of our mind, will and emotions. It springs from the devotion of our soul and stirs the diligence of our service. This worthy worship properly defined is practically applied. According to Jesus in John 4:23-24, spirit and truth are both required for worthy worship. If we do not worship in spirit we will be dull, dry and dead. We may be orthodox in doctrine yet empty of power—what the Bible calls, “having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” If we do not worship in truth there will be a desire for emotional excess and fanaticism. Our hearts may be full, but our heads will be empty. Paul said he would pray with the spirit and with understanding—that is the balance—spirit and truth.
Worthy worship leads to A PRODUCTIVITY: Our Transformation from Worship. Though worship is about blessing God, it also blesses us. We are changed by it!
The nature of this transformation is that we take on the image of that which we worship. That is why our understanding of God is so important to get right. There is the need for this transformation. The church today has money, influence, organization, and education, but our impact seems minimal. Compare that to the first century saints—who had few funds, no influence, small organization, and little education—yet turned the world upside down! They knew the real God and really loved Him! Is that true of you?