It’s coffee time! And worship time! For me these two go hand in hand. Sound strange to you? Read along and maybe you’ll join me.
As a church attender for fif-… ah… many years, I’ve attended many “worship” services. You too?
If so, you’ve probably noticed the similarities and the differences. You’ve felt at times as if the worship ushered you into the very presence of God, while at other times you wondered why this particular meeting was even labeled a “worship service.” You’ve most likely worshipped with tens, hundreds, or thousands at time, and hopefully you’ve found your deepest worship with just a close few, maybe friends, likely family, definitely a spouse, and hopefully one-on-one just you and your Abba. Through singing, preaching, praying, instrumental music, in your own living room, on a mountain peak, or in a huge arena, you’ve worshipped. You have perhaps worshipped through grief that seems it will bury you, and at other times, through joy and ecstatic delight. You may have found yourself worshipping alone even though you were in a crowd, or more sadly, alone in a crowd of worshippers when your heart and mind were far away.
So what is worship? What do we need to know that will draw our hearts to be true worshippers?
As I’ve studied Revelation chapters 4 and 5 lately, I’ve seen true worship in its ultimate, eternal character. Worship in this heavenly scene involves:
Bowing down. Throughout the New Testament the word translated “worship” is proskuneo. This Greek word refers to kissing the hand in reverence or of bowing down, kneeling, or prostrating oneself. Here in Revelation 4 and 5 the elders and 4 living creatures are falling down before the Father and The Lamb in worship. Their reverence and awe is evident. How long has it been since you knelt to worship or lay flat on your face worshipping Him in reverence of His holiness? I remember hearing of a preacher who left indentations in the floor boards beside his bed because of his faithful kneeling to pray day after day. Wow! To be that faithful in prayer and worship!
Speaking. Revelation 4:8 says,
“And the four living creatures… day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’ ”
They never stop saying it. Never!
The 24 elders then join them, also speaking in worship of God. (4:11) They say,
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”
In chapter 5, we read of their worship of Jesus:
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
And in Revelation 5:11 thousands of angels join the proclamation, reciting,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
And by the end of this heavenly panorama in chapter 5, EVERY creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea join these worshippers around the throne in saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Ascribing worth to the one being worshipped. Everything these worshippers said attributed worth to God or Jesus. The Father was worshipped as the creator. The son was worshipped as the Lamb slain to ransom people for God, for being The Redeemer. Jesus was also worshipped as the only one worthy to carry out God’s redemptive plan and His judgment on the Earth. How often do we appeal to God or His son Jesus about our wants and wishes, but quickly go away without admiring their glory, acknowledging their love and power, or simply sitting in awe of their majesty and holiness?
Humility. If you didn’t pick up on this, let me say it straight out: Father God, the Lamb of God and the Spirit of God are the only ones who are worthy of our worship! We need to lay down our will, our desires, our image, and our pride when we come before God. That’s what prompts us to fall to our knees or flat on our faces, the realization that we are nothing and He is all that matters. If we don’t choose humility, it will one day be thrust upon us. Make no mistake, “Therefore God has highly exalted him [Jesus] and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11) Every knee. Every tongue. Not just those knees and tongues who chose to follow Him. But the knees and tongues of those “under the earth” who reaped a different destiny because of their pride and rejection of Him.
Singing. There is music in Heaven and music in our worship here on earth as well. There are trumpets and loud noises and singing. A song of redemption sung by the redeemed! I am a trained music educator. To those who say you can’t sing, and therefore you don’t sing in church, may I free you up? A baby can’t talk, but it doesn’t learn how by not trying. A 5-year-old doesn’t know how to read, and they never will if they don’t try. Everything you do in life, at one time you didn’t know how, but you tried and you learned. It’s the same with singing. Just do it. When we first married, my dear sweet husband sang out of tune because he had been raised in a house that had an out of tune piano. But years of singing in church has turned him into quite a singer. So I encourage you, bring that sacrifice of praise! The sacrifice you may be making might just be sacrificing your pride and not worrying about what people around you at church think about how you sing.
A Last Word.
Before you go to a church to worship this week, try worshipping alone. My personal worship time each day, from the time I started having kids until today, has almost daily involved a cup of coffee, a snuggly blanket, His Word, a pen and a notebook. Also, it often involves a combination music and dance, speaking and quiet meditation, reading and praying, writing and interceding, tears and joy, questioning and listening, confessing and crying out to Him, praise and love, bowing-sitting-falling facedown, and a huge dose of humility or humiliation depending on the condition of my prideful heart.
When you do congregate with your brothers and sisters this next Sunday at our Father’s house, examine yourself. Are you going through the motions or going before the very throne of God to honor and praise Him? Are you worshipping Him in spirit and in truth as John 4:23-24 tells us to? It’s quite easy to “get in the spirit” in an exciting musical “worship” setting, but are you truly worshipping? It’s not just the clapping or hand raising or the feeling of euphoria. Are you humbling yourself? Ascribing worth to God? Bowing down? Speaking or listening? Singing? … Dig into His Holy Word; get to know Him more. The more we know of the truth of who He really is, the more our hearts truly worship Him in spirit and in truth.