Today we continue with my series for the month of June: Worshiping God Up Close and Personal. The Holy Spirit led me to focus on worship and to take pride in our Father who created, transformed, and redeemed us. I have termed this month God Pride Month. We are bragging about our God! We want all creation to know how great and awesome He is. Therefore we praise and worship Him openly and with abandon. In this posting we look at the difference between worship and praise.
Beginning with praise we see several Biblical words translated as ‘praise’. The primary words include: Halal (Heb)-to be clear of sound or color, to make a show or to boast, to be clamorous, to rave or celebrate; Yadah (Heb.)-to hand over, to throw at, to revere as with extended hands, to confess praise (from root word ‘yad’, meaning open hands); Thillah (Heb.)-laudation, hymn, praise (from ‘halal’); Epainos (Gk.)-laudation, commendable thing, praise; Doxa (Gk.)-dignity, glory, honor, praise, worship; Humneo (Gk.)-sing a religious ode; sing a hymn.
From these words I developed a cumulative definition. To praise is to clearly boast, rave or celebrate in words and song by handing over or throwing ourselves and our words toward the Father with open hands lauding His works, honoring Him, giving Him glory and commending Him for what He has done.
Praise is physical! We physically express our adoration of God. Praise is neither passive nor quiet. You cannot praise the Lord in spirit and in truth by observing others praising Him or by keeping your mouth shut. Then you are only offering passive compliance while withholding your soul and body from participation!
When we praise the Lord we openly demonstrate with our words, body, sounds, and even colors and express how awesome He is to us and what He has done in us and for us. According to scripture, praise is almost always loud, accompanied by musical instruments and songs. Voices are emphasized over and over in praise and worship, i.e. the words we speak and sing are IMPORTANT! We should praise Him in a ‘loud voice’! Halleluiah! When Nehemiah praised God upon completion of the wall around Jerusalem the Word says ‘the sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away’. (Neh. 12:43)
Now let’s look at worship. Worship is a broader, deeper and higher concept of bringing glory to God. It is not confined to music, song, dance or words, but may include all of those. Worship is translated through several Hebrew and Greek words that elaborate on the concept. The primary words include: Shachah (Heb.)-to depress as in prostrate homage to royalty or God; to bow down, crouch, beseech, to stoop; Cegid (Heb.)-to worship; Cagad (Heb.)-to prostrate oneself in homage, to fall down; Sumphemi (Gk.)-to say jointly, i.e. assent to; consent unto; Sebazonai (Gk.)-to venerate; adore as in worship; Thereskeia/Threskos (Gk.)-to ceremoniously worship, to demonstrate.
From these words I have a more complete definition. To worship is to lower oneself in humility by bowing, prostrating or falling down to demonstrate homage, adoration and veneration toward God; including joint unified consent in demonstrated ceremony toward the One being worshipped.
Again we see the physical demonstration of expressing our love of God….bowing, prostrating, falling before Him in demonstrated adoration. Note that worship can also include a form of ‘ceremony’, i.e. doing some formal act in worship. For example we worship God when we receive the elements of communion. This is a formal, unified act of worship in the church. Worship requires a strong dose of humility, similar to coming before royalty. Under the old covenant, praise occurred in the outer court and beyond, never in the holy place (inner court) or the holy of holies where the Spirit of God resided. Only worship was offered in the holy of holies. It was offered in humility, bowing, and demonstrating veneration of God and His presence.
Worship is a more intimate act than praise. Worship is all about who God is, rather than what He does. Worship implies an intimacy, close proximity to the Father, that is not associated with praise, It implies entering the Most Holy Place……in gatherings of people it implies joint congregational consent and demonstrative agreement to go together; Entering the Most Holy Place together is unified worship, demonstrated by the Body agreeing (or consenting) that the One worshipped is worthy to be worshipped. Where there is agreement, there is power and glory in the church.
So today may you praise and worship Him with abandon, throwing yourself toward the Father, loudly, humbly, physically, and boastfully declaring that God is the Great I am, the Lord of Lords, and the soon coming King of Kings!
I continue this week on the theme of worshipping God under the New Covenant. Jesus said there was time coming when we would ‘worship in spirit and truth’. To worship Him in truth speaks to the fundamental truths of the new covenant position we have by faith in Jesus. Jesus said ‘I am the way’. These truths ‘make a way’ to enter into the holy of holies; to approach the throne of grace.
First, to worship Him ‘in truth’ means we worship from a position of righteousness. Christ is the end of the Law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes (Rom.10:4). This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Rom.3:22). Sin separated God from man from the time of Adam until the time of Jesus. Sin was and is ‘unrighteousness’. However, from the cross forward sin no longer separates believers from God because Jesus took all sin and became sin on our behalf. Now we have righteousness in our spirit-man because we believe in Jesus. We are righteous; therefore we worship from that position of righteousness, His righteousness is IN us!
Second, we worship as ones holy and worthy to enter the holy of holies, i.e. to come close to God. Under the Old Covenant sacrifices of blood would come from animals deemed worthy. Jesus was the perfect or worthy sacrifice of atonement for sin, thus positioning believers to be made holy and worthy to enter the presence of God. He sets aside the first (covenant) to establish the second (covenant). And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Heb. 10:9, 10) Further on in Hebrews it says…..because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Heb. 10:14)
Third, we worship as sons of the Father. Jesus is the first born of many brothers (Rom. 8:29) We believers are the second born, i.e. the second to experience resurrection life through being ‘born-again’. Therefore we approach the Father from the truth of being a ‘son’. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become sons (children) of God--- born not of natural descent, nor of human decision, or a husbands will but born of God.(John 1:12, 13) Think of how young boys and girls adore their Dad. They brag about him at school. They desire to be with him…..just in his presence while he is working or playing. As sons and daughter we worship our Father knowing we are family members like Jesus. We worship knowing the Father loves his sons and daughters completely and unconditionally. This powerful position of truth under the new covenant frees us to worship freely!!
Lastly, we worship with open access to heaven’s blessings. Jesus made a way where there was no way. Jesus said he was ‘the way, the truth, and the life’.
Jesus made the way past the veil of the holy of holies to the mercy seat of the Father. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us his very great and precious promises so that you may participate in the divine nature…… (1 Pet. 1:3) As sons and daughters we come to Him and have BEEN given His blessings, favor, abundance and provision for life. All we do is receive them!
Praise be to our Father that we can worship Him in spirit and TRUTH! We live in a time and dispensation of great freedom, great responsibility, and great blessing. Worship Him today in TRUTH!!!
In my last post I revealed the key difference between Old Covenant and New Covenant worship. We now live under a better covenant whereby we have open access to worship the Lord. But, there is guidance from scripture that we must worship under this covenant in spirit and truth. Jesus said, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23, 24) Today let’s look at four aspects of worshiping ‘in spirit’ under the new covenant.
First, to worship ‘in spirit’ we must worship in freedom. Jesus said in Luke 4:18 “He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners”. Under the new covenant, we worship freely, no longer bound by the old covenant rules and regulations. We worship free from sin and veils and curtains that would separate us from God’s presence. Jesus came to make us free, and therefore to worship freely and in freedom. We have freedom from the law of sin and death and freedom from the power of sin. We are free to worship led by the spirit, not as demanded by the law.
We worship by faith. That means we worship by faith and not by sight. Eph. 3:12 In Him (Jesus) and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. By faith we approach to worship the Father, confident that all sin of the past, present and future has been put away through the blood and redemptive work of Jesus Christ. We worship the Father intimately, yet confidently knowing that Jesus met all the requirements of the Law of Moses. He met the requirements of blood sacrifices for the Day of Atonement. Therefore, instead of one High Priest entering the Holy of Holies, each year on the Day of Atonement, every believer can enter every day by faith in the one sacrificed (Jesus). He made a way…a way we worship by faith.
We also worship in His presence. The Old Testament tabernacle contained a symbol of God’s presence: the table of showbread. Upon it were 12 loaves of bread, representing the 12 tribes of Israel. “Showbread” was also called the “bread of the presence” because it was always to be in the Lord’s presence. It symbolized the Father’s willingness to commune and fellowship with man. Every Sabbath day the priests would remove the bread and eat it in the Holy Place (inner court), then put fresh bread on the table. Only priests could eat the bread, and it could only be eaten in the Holy Place, because it was holy. But a new way came forth to declare God’s willingness to commune and be present with us. Jesus said “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. … Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.” (John 6:35, 49-50). We have the ‘bread of life’ within us as born-again believers. We now have God’s presence with us continually.
Finally, to worship in spirit is to worship with His power. The Old Covenant was under girded by fear of God’s power. If anyone even touched the ark of the covenant they would die. But when we are born-again we have the Holy Spirit which by it’s very nature is the ‘spirit of power’ within us. 2 Tim. 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. We respect His power, but we do not avoid His power. It’s already within us, and, many times in worship He demonstrates His power through spiritual gifts, healing, and outward signs when believers lay hands on others.
Consider the magnitude of worshipping God ‘in spirit’. Worship Him confident He will embrace and fellowship with you as you enter His presence.
I have designated this month ‘God Pride Month’ in our church. I will post a series on worshiping God up close and personal. We are going to boast and brag about our God, our heavenly Father, our Savior King, our Redeemer, our Messiah, our mediator of a new covenant. We are going to proudly speak His Name in praise and worship as we focus on Him and worship Him!
In Exodus 19 we find Moses about to go to Mount Sinai to meet with God. We know from reading Exodus 19-40 that Moses has a powerful, fateful encounter that sets the course of history for hundreds of years. He receives the covenant of the Law…all of the legal requirements for spiritual and social righteousness that would guide man’s relationship with God. It was a frightful, earthshaking experience for Moses and especially for the Hebrews. They were so filled with fear they were glad that only Moses was called to the mountain. They were glad that God was not going to talk to THEM! They told Moses ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.’(Ex. 20:19) That encounter, followed by the giving of the Law, set the stage for mankind’s worship of God until the time of Jesus.
The Law prescribed construction of a Tabernacle, celebration days, and described the form and process of worship. Within the tabernacle was the ark and in the ark was the Testimony (the 10 Commandments). It was here (the Holy of Holies) that God’s presence would reside. A curtain provided visual and physical separation between the presence of God and the people. Only one person, the high priest, could enter God’s presence and, then, only once a year on the Day of Atonement following the required blood sacrifices. Hundreds of years of worship can be summarized by the words of Ex. 20:21; the people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. Mankind’s worship experience was relegated to worshiping at a distance.
We know from scripture that Jesus’ death on the cross changed the covenant and, therefore changed man’s relationship with the Father. We know that the moment Jesus gave up His spirit on the cross, the earth shifted and all things became new in terms of our relationship with the Father. And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. (Matt. 27:50, 51) The words from Hebrews 12 summarize our new relationship in worship via the work of Jesus; a work that opened the door to intimate, personal and corporate worship of the Father.
You have not come to a mountain (Mt. Sinai) that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them., because they could not bear what was commanded: ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned. ‘The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, ‘I am trembling with fear.’ But you have come to Mt. Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Heb. 12:18-24
We live and worship under a new order; freely approaching the Father knowing He put Mt. Sinai in the past and Mt. Zion in our present. We enter His presence boldly and confidently. We worship accompanied by thousands of unseen angels in a heavenly scene. We worship as a church, a corporate body of believers, the ‘church of the firstborn’ whose names are ALREADY written in heaven. YOU and I now worship with confidence and freedom approaching the throne of grace in joy because our spirits have been ‘made perfect.’ Thank you Father! You are awesome, oh God!
We no longer worship ‘at a distance’. Today’s experience and our reality of God’s presence should be up close and personal! We come to Him freely. So, enter His presence with thanksgiving and joy today! Brag about Him. Boast of His greatness and His grace as you worship Him!!