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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What do I really love most?

by Jeff Hegstrom
In their book, Worship: Rediscovering the Missing Jewel, Allen and Borror describe worship as “An active response to God in which we declare His worth!”
How would you describe worship?  Most of us may have some preconceived ideas of what we think worship is.  How many of you have thought about worship as: music, singing, emotions, feelings, an experience, or a Sunday morning church service?  What other thoughts or words come to mind?
  • What does worship mean to you? 
  • What describes true worship in the life of a believer?

If you’re serious about wanting to draw closer to God, you must commit to a life of worship.  This is not optional for a believer!  True worship is what God desires of His creation:

Exodus 20:3-5, “Do not worship any god except me. Do not make idols that look like anything in the sky or on earth or in the ocean under the earth. Don't bow down and worship idols. I am the [Lord] your God, and I demand all your love.” - CEV

Matthew 22:37-38, “Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.’” - NIV

We were created to worship and love God; but sometimes, we choose something or someone else to worship.  It might be money, career, fame, material items, a significant other, ourselves….and the list goes on. When we worship anything other than God, we are sinning by disobeying His first and greatest commandment - "to love Him".  And, we are failing to do the very thing that He created us to do.

Exodus 34:14, “You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about His relationship with you.” - NLT

Psalm 106:36, “They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them.” - NIV

In order for us to truly understand what we are created for, we need to understand that worship is an active response to God.
“Authentic worship is a response to an authentic encounter with the living God.  When we worship God, we declare His worth.  But in order to declare the worth of God, we must first discover His worth.” (Buddy Owens, Editorial Director of Purpose Driven Ministries:Saddleback Church)

That leads me to this question: What does it mean to you to declare God’s worth?

Take a moment to read Psalm 136.  Notice that “His love endures forever!” is stated twenty-six times.  Have you truly grabbed onto that concept?  Just in case, let me say it again… His love DOES endure forever!  And because of that, we have cause to worship and love Him forever.
Another Psalm to reflect on is Psalm 100;  What are some ways that you can actively “give thanks to Him and praise His name?”

We respond actively in worship to who God is through our prayers to Him, through reading and understanding His Word.  We respond to God through singing and music, through building deeper relationships with one another, through tithing, giving, serving, loving, sharing, and being obedient. We can worship God in every area of our lives.

1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
  • What are some ways you could apply this in your own life and give thanks to Him today?
A God so amazing demands and deserves more than just a Sunday morning response to who He is.  He requires a daily response of worship from us.  You might say, “how do I respond to God in worship everyday when I’m not surrounded by other believers?”  It seems so much easier to join in worshiping God with others who are worshiping Him, than it is to initiate worship to Him by yourself.  We have to remember that - worship is an active response, a choice that we make.

God wants us to worship Him every single day, and we do that by continually being obedient to Him.  Romans 12:1-2, “So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him.  Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it….God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (The Message)

To continually be obedient to Him, is to fix our minds on God and who He is every day.  If we begin to lose sight of that, we must “renew our minds” and get our focus back on God and who He is. 

Proverbs 4:25-27, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.  Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

This act of surrender causes our minds to focus on God and who He is.  And when we are concentrating on God and His worth, we can respond to Him in true worship.  The more we renew our minds, the more we worship God completely, and the more completely we worship Him, the closer our relationship with Him becomes.

Every circumstance in life is an opportunity to Worship God!  Right now, you might be thinking, “How in the world are the difficult circumstances in my life opportunities to worship God?”  In each one of our circumstances, we have a choice to make.  We could curse God, or worship Him.  We could ask, “why us,” or we could say, “why not us.”  We could complain about the stuff He has taken away, or we could thank Him for all He has given us.  We could focus on us, or we could focus on Him.

2 Corinthians 4:18, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Worship is not about us.  It’s all about Him!  When we focus on ourselves, we quickly discover that we have limitations and hope is easily lost.  But when the focus of our lives is on loving and worshiping God, we find He has given us eternal hope!

Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
Romans 8:39, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God.”
Matthew 19:26, “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
  • What do you really love most? 
  • How does worship that is centered and focused on God, give you strength and encouragement in your life today?
God wants to transform you and me into true worshipers.  He is ready to strengthen those who choose to worship Him today because He is worthy of it.

Taking it to the next level:
  • What is one truth that you have discovered about worship and being a true worshiper? 
  • Where do you need to grow? 
  • What one step will you commit to over the next two weeks to grow toward becoming and living your life as a true worshiper of God?
Worship is one of the "7 Marks of Spiritual Health" in life and ministry.  The RM team will be writing about all seven.  This month, Nelson, Brad, and Jeff are writing on worship.  Please feel free to comment and join in on the conversation.

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RM’s vision - to equip leaders to minister relevantly in churches that will be healthy and thriving.

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