From my earliest recollections I was raised to love and worship God—I just didn’t know how. My religious and cultural backgrounds were very much intertwined. I watched as people would light candles, burn incense, stand up, and sit down many times during the service.
As I grew older, things got even more interesting when I went to church with my next-door neighbor. Everything was different! They had different statues, prayed different prayers, and sang different songs. Everybody knew just what to say and do at the right times—except me. Their worship was very different.
Well, not too long ago I found my diary from when I was fourteen years old. It was interesting to see my entry that said, “Went to church today. Lots of statues everywhere. Maybe someday I’ll find God.” I wanted to get to God and have a relationship with Him. I couldn’t figure out how any of these rules, traditions, or outward gestures would show God that I really loved Him. My inner heart’s cry was, “God, show me how to get to You. And just how do I worship You?”
Since then, I’ve thankfully come to a knowledge of God’s Word. This has helped me to answer these questions and to keep God first in my day-to-day worship.
John 4:23 tells us that God seeks for true worshipers to worship Him. What is the heart of true worship? And how would God have us to worship Him today? Are there benefits to this worship and keys to help us keep God first in our day-to-day worship? We’ll look at how we can be true worshipers.
First, let’s take a look at what true worship is not. This will help us understand what it is. In Mark, chapter 7, the religious rulers of the time confronted Jesus about his disciples. The Pharisees and scribes found fault with the disciples because they were breaking the elders’ tradition by not washing their hands before eating. Jesus replied, referring them to the words of Isaiah the prophet.
He [Jesus] answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias [Isaiah] prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered….
Jesus was teaching them that worship had nothing to do with one’s traditions or outward show of rituals but that true worship emanates from one’s heart. They were more concerned about outward appearances, such as whether people washed their hands, when on the inside, their hearts needed to be cleansed. They were elevating their man-made traditions above the Word of God, making God’s Word of no effect, power, or authority! True worshipers do just the opposite.
…we…worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
As disciples, we do not put confidence in things of the flesh or man’s traditions or vain worship. Nothing comes before God. While the children of Israel followed Moses through the desert to the Promised Land, God told them to have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:2 and 3). In our cultures, we live amid so many distractions. These could be temptations to allow other things to come before God. We could get caught up with work, family, and pleasures or pressures that would distract us from keeping God first in our day-to-day worship.
So then, what is the heart of true worship? We will see that God wants our allegiance, love, and thanks for Himself, first and foremost.
Matthew 22:37 and 38:
…Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
How are we to love God? We are to love God with all that we are—all our heart, soul, and mind. In Psalm 103, David wrote, “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” With his whole being, he blessed and praised God. The Word tells why our God deserves our complete devotion.
For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.
Man frequently likes to take credit for what God does. I remember in my daughter’s fourth-grade class she was told to sign a story she had written, “Created by….” My daughter asked her teacher if she could write, “Written by…,” instead of using the word “create,” because only God can create. Her teacher couldn’t wait to tell me about this incident. This was a great open door for me to share with her how only God can create something out of nothing. God is the Author of life, so we go to Him with a heart of thanksgiving and praise.
Psalms 100:4 and 5:
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
Our God is so good and merciful to us. Things of this world, as important as they may seem, will come and go, but His truth endures to all generations. What great reasons to be thankful and to praise God!…
This is an excerpt from the January/February 2009 issue of The Way Magazine.
Copyright© 2009 by The Way International. All rights reserved.
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