4 March 2022
Worship is the missing jewel among believers and the churches. We are very organized – in fact too thoroughly – we have our plans, programmes, our training and agenda – but worship is apparently missing. How can that be?, we may ask – do we not have our regular worship services, our planning sessions, our communion services, our discipleship programmes and so on?
I have believers asking, “why is the Lord not real to me? I have my quiet time every day; I do not miss praying daily -I read many Christian books and the Bible, and I noticed the reality of the consciousness of God’s presence in the lives of those in the books, but why is this lacking in my life?”
A Christian leader once shared: “During my quiet time, I kept looking at my watch and saying, ‘ I have only ten minutes left to go through my prayer list after reading the required chapters in the Bible’. He suddenly paused and realised that his quiet time had become something for himself rather than something for God; he then stopped and simply knelt down and quietly meditated upon the fact that he was in the presence of the Lord God and he worshiped Him. After pouring out his heart to God in worship, he experienced the overpowering awareness of God’s presence. He learned that true worship of the living God led to the reality of His presence and fellowship, and what a great difference that was – it was no longer him spending his time to fulfil his spiritual ‘duties’ and objectives but rather him learning to come before the presence of the living God to behold Him, giving Him all the time and devotion that He desired.
The experience of C.S. Lewis as a young believer may be helpful. Lewis was searching with an open honest heart on the matter of why God seeks to be praised and eulogized, why God always wants to be the centre of affection and attention, and this seemed to be a great stumbling block to him. To him,’ we all despise the man who demands continued assurance of his own virtue, intelligences or delightfulness; this picture seemed to him ludicrous and horrible both of God and of His worshippers – how can this be applicable to God’ – to Lewis, it seemed so unbecoming for this to be true of God.
Then Lewis got his answer;
“I did not see that it is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men..Even in Judaism the essence of the sacrifice was not really that men gave bulls and goats to God, but that by their so doing, God gave Himself to men.”
In other words, it was in the act of worship that God became a reality to them.
The more we worship the Lord God, loving Him, serving Him and expressing that love for Him also in serving others, the more we will desire to worship and serve Him.
“Now the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2Cor. 3:17-18). We are changed by beholding – changed into the same image of the One we worshiped or made Christlike. It is the desire of the Spirit of God that we behold the Triune God, that we worship HIm, and as we worship HIm, the Spirit is making us like the One we worship.
The person you truly worship will control you. Even the man of the world knows this. You will serve the one you worship. You will not have to be motivated or compelled. But God’s control of you is one of unselfish love, desiring the best for you. The reality is that you are not serving the church, the people in the missions, but you are serving the Lord God in your church; you are serving the Lord God when you ‘lay down your life’ for those you minister to.
Worship is not simple because the rewards are so great. As we learn to give ourselves to the worship of the Lord, He can be nearer and more real tous than our best friend or closest loved one. In worship we are activating the senses of our spirit and are made conscious of the presence of the Lord God. Indeed, God is a Spirit and He can only be worshiped by that which is spiritual in us, by our spirits.. God can be ‘seen’ and ‘touched’ by the senses of our spirits. We need to exercise our spirits as we seek to worship God. Then God can be real to us even though we do not see Him or touch Him with our physical senses.
The Missing Jewel – WORSHIP (B)
King David was perhaps the greatest king of Israel; he was a great soldier, a strong leader, an outstanding psalmist and one with many gifts. Although he failed God in the case with Bathsheba and Uriah, yet the Bible still recorded him as “a man after God’s own heart”.
What was it that caused him to have such a description? Was it his passion to be a great king and leader; was it to be a great conqueror in battles; what was his greatest passion and mainspring of his life?
Perhaps the answer is seen in Psalm 27:4:
“One thing have I desired of the Lord.” He desired only one thing -that was all and all else followed from this.
The one thing: “that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire (meditate) in his temple.”
David’s desire was a life-long longing to have an intimate fellowship with God…that he might behold and gaze upon the pleasantness and gracefulness of the Lord…in other words, to continually worship Him and to deepen in his worship of the Lord God. This was his consuming desire and passion; no wonder, despite his imperfection, he was still noted to be a ‘man after God’s own heart’. The one thing that characterised David’s life, through all his struggles and ‘sufferings’, running away from Saul for his life, in the face of impending death several times, facing the lion and Goliath, fleeing from Absalom….is his worship of God. Even when his own men spoke of stoning him, he said, “I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken” and he strengthened himself in the Lord. It is his worship of God and his intimate spiritual intercourse with God that saw him through very difficult moments in his life. Have we ever wondered why we are so easily shaken in the face of uncertainties? Is it because we do not ‘see’ the Lord and ‘know’ His presence with us?
We are created to worship God; we are created for Him, to become something to Him in order that He might find pleasure in us. God loves us with all His heart. He desires that we love Him in return with all our heart; and until we do, we will never know the sweetness of His love for us. With how many people do we share the deep secrets of our heart? Surely, we would be intimate with the person we know who loves us, the person who is committed to us, the one who has given himself or herself to us unreservedly. Such a One is our Lord God. There must be the response of love to love and this is nurtured when we learn to worship Him.
Worship demands discipline; it demands self-renunciation and the mortifying of the flesh. It demands the taking out of our lives everything that does not contribute to this one great objective. It does not just happen in our quiet time; we must walk in close fellowship with Him throughout the day and that requires a worshipful heart. To have an intimate fellowship with God continually, only one thing really matters for king Davd – worship Him from the heart. If we long for reality in our walk with God and we desire the peace and joy of God amidst the ‘storms’ of life, worship of Him is indispensable.
The Missing Jewel – WORSHIP (C)
We are familiar with Luke 10:38-42: the passage focuses on two sisters, Mary and Martha, who were both very busy. We may think that Martha alone was busy doing all the housework; Mary was also busy but she was concentrating on a different form of service. What is very significant was the interaction between the Lord Jesus and Martlha and that has a lot to do with the subject of Worship. We may also think that the passage has only to do with women involved in the home and housework but how wrong we can be if we miss what the Lord Jesus was communicating to all His followers.
When the Lord comes to the house, take note carefully Martha’s attitude toward Him.
“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.” What Martha was in fact saying was: “Don’t you care? You come into the house, You see what is happening, You see I’m doing all the work, and You don’t care. Mary is not doing anything!” (paraphrase)
What did the Lord say? – “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion which will not be taken away from her.”
Martha could possibly be furious (inwardly); instead of ‘ticking off’ Mary, the Lord Jesus was in fact praising Mary for her choice (which was to sit at the Lord’s feet and listen to His teaching) and on top of this, the Lord was rebuking her instead. But Marha needed to pause and listen.
The Lord was telling Martha that she was anxious and troubled about many things – underline “things”. Many things can infiltrate into our lives and trouble us. Things can smother us; they were smothering Martha. We must learn to live for the Lord, not for things. In contrast, note that the Lord highlighted “one thing” – one thing is needful and for Mary, this one needful thing had been chosen by her and it shall not be taken away from her.
Some of us may feel that we should not be unfair to Martha; after all, she was being responsible and the things she was involved in were ‘legitimate’. Like Martha, we may be ruminating, “But Lord, the home is my place, I’m looking after the family and there are legitimate and necessary things to be looked after and I am just being responsible”. Some may say that they need to pursue their careers, to have stable jobs and income and to be able to get all the ‘things” the family and we need.
What Martha may be ruminating, it may also be the same for many of us. We may think that others do not understand that we have many responsibilities and we have chosen to be responsible to fulfil them. The Lord is not telling us not to be responsible and He certainly is not telling us we should be lazy and not be busy in our daily life. We can be busy and not be troubled, or we can not be busy and be very troubled. It all depends on whether Christ is central in our life; it is focusing on being conscious of the Lord and being worshipful in the midst of our responsibilities. The Lord is telling us that the focus should not be on the ‘many things’ but on Him. We can be busy serving the Lord without a complaining spirit and without being taken up with things; instead we can be busy or resting, but accompanied by a spirit of resting in Him and being content. In whatever situation, be content with God and not with things. We can only do this if we learn to worship Him in the midst of all these responsibilities and stressful situations.
Mary has chosen the good portion. We never drift into being a Mary – we have to choose to do so, but we can drift into being a Martha. The saints who have chosen to be a Mary emit an aura of serenity, even in trying circumstances and in situations which may ‘break’ many. A person who had an emotional spiritual experience with an inconsistent devotional life of worship would not find this to be true. He or she may be up in the heights one day and then down in the depths the next day. We must decide who we want to be. Have we ever chosen the one thing that is needful, the one thing that king David chose, the one thing that Mary chose? Have we chosen to be occupied with the One who loves us and to seek for Him in worship with all our hearts, whatever the circumstances, whatever the responsibilities and demands, and whatever and whoever seeks to distract us from this preoccupation?
Mary chose the better part and it was not taken from her. Great was her reward, as we read in John 12:2-7. Mary took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. Although various ones commented that such an act was a waste, Jesus said,”Leave her alone so that she may keep it for the day of my burial”. Jesus approved of the devotion and love of Mary.
The person who makes the choice to put the one thing needful first shares the innermost secrets of the heart of the Lord. It is that person to whom He will speak, for love demands a love of its kind. Mary knew what it was to have intimate fellowship with her Lord and she received the honour of sharing the deep feelings of His heart. Mary’s act of devotion toward the Lord sprang forth from keeping and maintaining the one needful thing in her life – to sit at His feet, to listen to Him, to behold Him and to worship Him!
The Missing Jewel -Worship (D)
“The twenty-four elders fall down before him who was seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying ‘worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and we’re created.” Rev. 4:10-11.
The Apostle John was in the Spirit and he was brought to behold a throne in heaven with one seated on the throne. Here it is obvious to John that the One on the throne is God Himself.
“From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder and before the throne were seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God”(vs 5).
The Spirit of God is present before the throne.
“Then I looked and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might forever and ever! And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Rev. 5:11-14)
By now, it is clear that John was given the privilege to behold the Triune God in heaven before God’s throne and what he saw was WORSHIP of the three persons of the Godhead at the most intense level by great multitudes, including thousands of angels and every creature in heaven, on earth and under the earth and in the sea – can we imagine the worship of God from the great expanse of the breadth, depth and height of creation?!
Such a vision given to John must have been mind-boggling, causing him to see the awesomeness of God and the supreme majesty, transcendence and greatness of the Creator beyond description!
But the reality is that this is the accurate ‘picture’ and ‘vision’ in heaven, even now and forever. The total reality facing us here on earth, with all the pain, struggles, persecutions, sufferings and death must include this vision – total spiritual reality includes the spiritual reality in heaven. John was living at a time when God’s people were facing tremendous persecution and God wanted John to see the total reality and to pass it on to His people who were probably discouraged, disillusioned and wondering why God did not intervene in their situation.
Worship brings us into this reality when and where we see God the Father still sitting on the throne, reigning, in total control sovereignly. We see also the Spirit of God and the Lamb of God jointly receiving the worship, the glory, the honour and the power from all quarters of creation.
In heaven, worship of God is seen in the total submission of the worshippers as they bow down before God and give Him all the glory, honour and power which rightly belong to a him.
Notice also how the worshippers declare that God, the triune God, is worthy of worship and worthy to receive glory, honour and power forever; they were attributing worth to God, declaring that God alone is worthy and deserving of worship and glory, that He alone is to be exalted and glorified. The worshippers are to submit themselves absolutely without reserve to God, and to ascribe worth to Him alone.
When we truly worship God, we dare not and should not seek to be glorified, to be exalted, to be honoured, for only God is worthy of such.God is always present when we worship Him but often we do not see Him in His glory and beauty; a ‘mist’ seems to cloud our vision just like the mist hiding the splendour of a majestic mountain. For us, it is often the ‘mist’ of an unsurrendered heart. Drawing near with a true heart is the first condition of acceptable approach to God for true worship. We can honour God with our lips, but we do not worship Him with our hearts (Matt. 15:7-8). There must be commitment of a true heart for acceptable worship.A true heart is one that expresses completely the devotion of the whole person to God; there is no divided allegiance, no reserve of any area that needs to be surrendered to Him.
Remember that God’s callings are also His enabling. He lives in you by His Spirit to meet His own demands. Remember also that worshipping God is for all people, all tribes, all tongues, all nations, for all those who know Him through all generations – this would be realised and experienced when Christ comes again. Hallelujah to the three in one, our great God and king!