It’s time for a brief review. The definition of Worship according to the Timabridged Putnam Dictionary is: (v.) Extolling the character and acts of God in thought, word, and deed.
I have been focusing on the first half of this definition for some time, and for good reason. Worship must first be for who God is and not what he does. If we were to neglect God’s character as the basis of our worship, then worship would be based on our experience. When we felt God’s presence we would worship, but when times got hard, we would turn a cold shoulder. God is worthy of our worship based on His identity alone. God’s characteristics merit our praise even if he never directly intervened in our lives. Having built this foundation, I want to move on to the second half of our definition of worship – extolling God’s acts!
“Sing to the LORD, bless his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Tell his glory among the nations; among all peoples, his marvelous deeds. For great is the LORD and highly to be praised, to be feared above all gods.” Psalm 96:2-4
What has God done for you today? Yesterday? How about last year? Why stop there? What about when he made you? What about the cross? How about the empty tomb? What about healing the lame? What about delivering the children of Israel from slavery? How about creation? All of these were topics for Psalms of praise.
The fact that God has delivered his people in the past, joined with the knowledge of God’s unchanging character, gives hope to those in bondage that God will deliver them. The fact that God has healed the sick, joined with the understanding of God’s unfailing love, gives hope to the sick that God can heal them. Remembering God’s acts stirs our souls to worship. If we do not see his acts in our present tense, remembering what he has done gives us hope to cry out. (see Psalm 85) If we feel the favor of God in our lives, then acknowledging and thanking God for his favor puts us in the proper mindset, and according Proverbs 3:5-6, contributes to God making our paths straight.
But we mustn’t stop here! Extolling God’s acts stirs us to action. As mature worshipers, our worship must move beyond words. It is right and good that we sing songs of worship and praise to God! The psalms are full of the exhortation to “sing to the Lord a new song!” But we cannot stop there. If we are ambassadors for Christ, then we must be about the things Christ did! Part of our worship to him is to walk in obedience to his commands. Here is a fascinating thought. Walking in love toward one another is worship to God. Breaking the bonds of the oppressed is worship to God. Walking in forgiveness is worship to God. Giving drink to the thirsty and food to the hungry is worship to God. This is where worship meets maturity.
This week’s homework. Be the tangible expression of Christ’s love to one person this week.
“And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17