PREFACE

This is a personal study on the subject of worshiping God. If it turns out to be instructive or beneficial to others ... wonderful. Praise God for that.

[Images - Hands from re-worship.blogspot.com/2011/05/call-to-worship-for-easter-5.html.
Solo worshiper from markandchristierainwater.blogspot.com/2010/10/completely-abandoned-in-unabashed.html
Both used without obtaining permission. Will remove on request.]


I am undertaking this study because of a personal inner conflict I am experiencing. It has to do with the dichotomous character of God in relationship to ME. HE is King, Supreme Ruler, Creator and Sustainer of all that is. Apart from Him there is nothing. HE is the ONLY focus of worship.

On the other hand, I have become His child, a joint heir with Jesus Christ, in the kingdom of God. As Father, Abba, he enfolds me in His love. There are times when I can actually "feel" his embrace; his arms wrapped around me holding me close; guarding my soul from slings and arrows flung by our enemy.

When I am in prayer, which is thanksgiving and petitions, not worship, I go to Him as Jesus told us. I pray IN the name of Jesus but TO the Father. AT the same time, It is difficult to not address my Savior by name, for I know He lives and is the high priest who has covered me with unearned righteousness.

I am writing this and learning simultaneously. David implored God to "search my heart". When God the Holy Spirit searches my heart, He finds no fault not covered by my redemption, but I have a suspicion that though I believe I am fully surrendered, somewhere in my human ego I harbor a resistance to bowing down to any being. Pride? I don't know.

Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and others all refused to bow down to anyone except the Lord, God of Israel (and the universe).


DEFINITIONS

Here is a general definition from dictionary.com

wor新hip [wur-ship] noun, verb, wor新hiped, wor新hip搏ng or wor新hipped, wor新hip搆ing.
noun
1. reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred.
2. formal or ceremonious rendering of such honor and homage: They attended worship this morning.
3. adoring reverence or regard: excessive worship of business success.
4. the object of adoring reverence or regard.
5. ( initial capital letter ) British . a title of honor used in addressing or mentioning certain magistrates and others of high rank or station (usually preceded by Your, His, or Her ).

verb (used with object)
6. to render religious reverence and homage to.
7. to feel an adoring reverence or regard for (any person or thing).

verb (used without object)
8. to render religious reverence and homage, as to a deity.
9. to attend services of divine worship.
10. to feel an adoring reverence or regard.

Origin: before 900; (noun) Middle English wors(c)hipe, worthssipe, Old English worthscipe, variant of weorthscipe; see worth, -ship; (v.) Middle English, derivative of the noun

That's a lot of definitions. Most have to do with God (or some substitute for nonbelievers.) There are also many synonyms at thesaurus.com:

Main Entry: worship [wur-ship]
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: honoring, glorification
Synonyms: adoration, adulation, awe, beatification, benediction, chapel, church service, deification, devotion, exaltation, genuflection, glory, homage, honor, idolatry, idolization, invocation, laudation, love, offering, praise, prayer, prostration, regard, respect, reverence, rite, ritual, service, supplication, veneration, vespers


The BIBLE SAYS ...

In English language translations the word worship appears many times in the Old Testament but fewer in the New Testament. I estimate that more than half the instances in the OT are admonishments against worshiping any but God, the Lord. Especially singled out are man made idols of wood, gold, silver, etc. along with other deities men thought existed.

The very first command God gave to Moses concerns "other gods".

"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me." Exodus 20:2-3


Of particular interest to me is that on many occasions when the topic of "other gods" is cited in the OT, their existence is not denied. Perhaps in the spiritual realm there are demi-gods; certainly there are demons, fallen angels, who may be the personages revered by the heathens.

At the end of my journey through this subject I have listed a number of relevant Bible verses so you can see how I came to my understanding of worshiping God.


CORPORATE WORSHIP

Over the years I have been privileged to participate in group worship with a few people and large groups in the hundreds. The most exciting and satisfying worship I ever experienced was in a church basement many years ago. A Charismatic Prayer group met on Monday nights for Bible teaching and praise. We had good young leaders and a few instruments. At some point in the meeting the Holy Spirit overwhelmed us and we burst forth in melodic tongues. I imagined it was what it's like when a chorus of angels sing God's praises.

Church services I attend are called "Worship Service" in most churches. The format varies a lot by denomination and among independent churches. I have been in a lot of them, especially when I worked for a company that built churches. I was a consultant in the design and planning process so I spent a lot of time with church leaders and visited during their Sunday services to know them better.

Many were stilted or very formal in what they called the Order of Worship ... merely a name for the flow of the parts of the service, event by event. In old line traditional Protestant and Catholic services this flow was highly structured and controlled from the chancel.

I rarely experienced what felt to me to be worshiping God in such a format. I am not judging what was happening in the hearts and minds of the congregation ... just relating how it felt to me. I know that "feelings" are not a reliable indicator in the spirit realm. Feeling holy does not make one so. The devil can make suggestions that make a believer feel separated from God, but these are lies.

God never, ever abandons His children under any circumstances no matter how it "feels" at times. Corporate worship can be fulfilling if the Spirit is permitted to erupt in the people. Mostly this is discouraged because people who are really "in the Spirit" behave in ways regarded as unseemly. They may dance in the aisles or rows. Clergy often consider this being "out of control", which indeed it is. When one is under the control of the Holy Spirit, he can't help but manifest the overwhelming joy of the moment.

When I view the list of synonyms for worship, the one that jumps out at me is "praise". My corporate worship experience has consisted mostly of praising God for all the reasons HE is worthy of praise.
But is that really true worship?


PERSONAL WORSHIP

Jesus speaking ...

"But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers." John 4:23 NASB

"God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth. John 4:24 NIV


Jesus has told us what is required but not really how to do it. He taught us to pray with a model prayer we call "The Lord's Prayer" at the very same time He had just said don't pray as the heathen do, thinking they will be heard for many words (or rote prayer).

Another question I have, so far unanswered by the Holy Spirit, is why God wants worship. Is it for Him or for us? In human terms it makes Him sound like an egomaniac, which is what the ancient kings were. Some of them believed they were divine. Their followers believed it too. They all died and none have come back. Only Jesus Christ returned from the dead to prove His identity.

Bowing & Kneeling:

Bowing from the waist has long been a sign of respect accorded by one person to another for various reasons. It is still common in some cultures today. But to bow down seems more significant. A full bow connotes submission to authority or power. Most instances in the Bible have to do with prohibitions against bowing down to idols.

Kneeling is an entirely different matter to me. Several times in the Gospels some person comes and kneels before Jesus. They are supplicants. In each case they want something from Him. The act of kneeling before Him dsiplays their relative positions ... He being the superior ... the one with the power to grant or dismiss a petition.

It is common practice among Believers to kneel before the Lord or even to prostrate oneself. (This is standard form for Muslims when they pray to their god Allah). Kneeling before the Lord is proper and fitting. He is the power. My own inclination has been to kneel before the Lord in prayer but not in worship. I sometimes kneel to acknowledge His position relative to mine. This is a physical behavior. There are many who cannot kneel physically; people with no legs, paraplegics, and others with debilitating conditions. I conclude that kneeling before the Lord is a matter of the mind and heart more than the body. It is an attitude expressing submission to the greatness of God.

The Old Testament has many verses advising kneeling before the Lord and worshiping Him in fear and trembling. How does a contemporary, born again, Christian Believer reconcile worshiping God with fear and trembling, and the teachings and example of Jesus to know God as Savior, Friend and Father ?

For me it results in internal conflict. I fully recognize the awesomeness of my Creator even though He is beyond actual comprehension. His thoughts are not my thoughts. His ways are not my ways. I am human. He is God. I have been made; He made me. He desires my worship in Spirit and truth, yet He calls me His child. His Holy Spirit affirms in me this relationship given to me by belief in Jesus Christ.

"Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me."
John 14:12 NASB


So, maybe through this exercise the Spirit has led me to the answer I am seeking. I believe. Therefore my heart should not be troubled. Most likely I have been hearing the voice of the enemy, telling me I am failing to properly worship God. In fact, kneeling, sitting, standing, or lying down, it is my inner self who worships, adores, praises and loves God. Outward form has no meaning to Him. He is no respecter of persons or their finery. He judges the heart and I know my heart is right with Him.

When I was a young child I held my natural father is highest esteem. He was the most important and powerful personage in my life. I saw the same thing in my children when I was a young father. Through the passage of time and acquisition of knowledge they developed a more realistic view of me. They perceived limitations. Then came a time when it was right for them to become their own persons and regard me in a different light. As they matured and became Believers, I actually rose in their appreciation, primarily because they saw me as a servant of God.

My own experience was different in that my father was not a saved Christian, at least not as far as I could see. With time he declined in my esteem for many reasons. God on the other hand is ever increasing in my esteem. The longer and more deeply I know the Lord, the greater is my appreciation of who He is, what He does, has done, and will do.

Like most men, I cling to my earthly life but at the same time gladly will I relinquish it as He desires. I know. He can do it regardless. My life is in His hands. But my attitude is that He can take me off earth and I will go willingly and happily into eternal life with Him.

Thank you for reading/listening. I hope you receive a blessing from this.


RELEVANT SCRIPTURE CITATIONS


Deuteronomy 5:8-10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Deuteronomy 6:13 New American Standard Bible
You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name.
2 Kings 17:35-36 New International Version
When the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. But the LORD, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, and to Him you shall bow yourselves down, and to Him you shall sacrifice.
Nehemiah 9:6 New International Version
You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
Psalm 2:11 New American Standard Bible
Worship the LORD with reverence And rejoice with trembling.
Psalm 95:6 New American Standard Bible
Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
Psalm 100:2 New International Version
Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Isaiah 29:13 New International Version
The Lord says: These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught."
Matthew 15:9 King James Version
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Luke 4:8 New International Version
Jesus answered, It is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.

John 4:23 NASB
"But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers."
John 4:24 NIV
"God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
Hebrews 12:28 New International Version
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,
Revelation 14:7 New International Version
He said in a loud voice, Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.
Revelation 22:8-9 New International Version (NIV)
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!



Written by Wayne Hepburn, August 2012. I herewith place this document in the Public Domain


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