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Monday, May 30, 2016

What type of worship does God accept?

Is there worship that God accepts, and if so, what are the key Biblical elements?  Are there examples in scripture?  Do we have a choice in how to worship God?  These are a few of the fundamental questions I ask whenever I hear a new worship song.  All of these answers are found in scripture and scripture is the fundamental basis and rule book on worshipping God.  One verse that will help is found in Psalms 29:2.

"Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness."

The Believer's worship is not only unto the One, True Lord, who humbled himself for the salvation of all, and upholds our lives, and very beings, by his grace, but needs to be an appropriate reflection of the glory He should recieve.  So how much of or what does this glory look like that God the Father so richly deserves?  To begin with, God, the creator and sustainer of everything in life, needs to be given all the honor and respect that His children can give.  Of course and unfortunately, being fallen human beings, this is limited. Not only should honor and respect be given voluntarily, but it is also commanded in numerous other passages.  In previous posts, it was noted that worship is an appropriate expression of love towards God, and, in essence, an appropriate expression of love is obedience.  There is one account in scripture that I keep being reminded of and that is found in Genesis  22, where Abraham is told to sacrifice Isaac.  That obedience was not contingent on anything other than what God commanded.  The feelings, emotions, thoughts, reasoning, and human common sense of Adam all went against God's command to sacrifice.  Also, Abraham did not change anything.  He didn't  say to himself,  " well, I'll just sacrifice Isaac's hand." Or "God doesn't actually mean that.....I'll sacrifice  a lamb instead, like everyone else." Or even "God told me to sacrifice Isaac,  but what he really means is that any form of sacrifice is fine, as long as my heart is right."  No, when God makes a command, it is to be obeyed, wholly.  This is what He expects, and commands, and this is what our reasonable response should be (Romans 12:1) and every effort to adhere to God's commands with appropriate responses, so to not cause confusion, is part of the responsibility of the believer.  Since we are fallen humans, the demands of God also remind us how infinitely short we fall, and can not fulfill in and of ourselves and how infinitely understanding and gracious our Father in heaven is.

The middle of this verse gives believers a hint of the very appropriate practice that should be in our daily lives.  I say "hint" because....well...believers won't  completely understand  worship until we are in glory.  There are all types of worship described in the bible.  On the other hand almost all of the "experiences" and various worship music found in today's contemporary worship movement, are not the various types of worship described in scripture.  None of the worship found in scripture is contingent on the believer, but wholly on God's command. Scripture does describe different types of worship, as HEART worship, VOCAL worship, and worship in our THOUGHT life.  A few of these do have in common that they're completely personal and no one other than the believer and God are the participants of that act of worship.  The tricky thing is that no act of worship is separated  into these 3.  All of our worship includes all 3 of these and each of these are further elaborated on in earlier posts. 

"Music is used as a tool to reveal God to man and as a tool for man to respond to God" from God's Word, The Final Word on Worship & Music - Dr. Dean Kurtz

The final thought in this verse is that the believer is to worship in the beauty of holiness.  To find out the meaning of this phrase, we need to first understand what exactly the word holy means.  In all its essence, holy means to set apart, but also it is a two fold meaning.  Holy means to be set apart, but in two ways: to be set apart UNTO God, but also apart FROM the world.  The Believer's worship needs to be holy.  Also, beautiful.  In God's eyes, worship that is holy unto Him is beautiful  because there is beauty within holiness.  For instance:  God's creation is absolutely beautiful and spending a clear and cloudless night just looking at all the beautiful stars is beyond words.  In order to get see all the beauty in the night heavenlies, it must be a clear and cloudless night, away from the city lights or other distractions.  It's quite hard to see all the beautiful stars when there are lights from a big city, or even any artificial light.  Some stars may be able to be seen, but those artificial lights are distracting from the pure beauty.  God's creation is beautiful because God created it, not because we think or know it's beautiful.  Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, as the saying goes.  The worship of the believer is similar in that any artificial distraction, detracts from the pure and beautiful worship that God intended for us to use to honor Him.

To learn more about worship, explore other blog posts, order my book, or simply study what God says about worship.

James 1:5-6