Welcome to FaithTrack where you will find ways to apply your faith to your daily life.
Worship is an integral part of faith. It is the way we are able to show reverence and adoration to God and be near Him. Additionally, it can provide us with great strength in times of weakness. Watch as Pastor Sam shows us what worship means to him and how it can mean a great deal to you.
Hi, and welcome to Faith Track. We have been exploring what it means to be a disciple and how the term disciple is just another word for dedicated student. As we seek to follow Jesus with intention and dedication, we become His disciples. In our time together, we will look at a good number of passages from the Bible, and I would encourage you to take what we discuss into conversations with others. For this, we have created a notes page with all of the Bible verses and discussion questions. You can access the notes page at cornerstonesf.org/notes during the original airing or cornerstonesf.org/faithtrack anytime afterward. In our last session, we looked at our calling to be a member of the body of Christ.
In this session, we are going to be looking at another important aspect of being a disciple, a life of worship. I submit to you that worship is more than a song. To be clear, I love the musical worship part of our church services, and I love the genre of Christian worship music. I see musical worship like a garden tiller to the soil of the heart. It breaks through the hard ground. There’s power in singing about and proclaiming important truths of God in song that softens our hearts and stirs our souls so that we can receive what God wants to plant and grow inside of us. As we read the Bible, we find that after our time on earth in this life is done, our time with God in eternity will be characterized by songs of worship to God. So musical worship, it’s good.
But worship is more than just these powerful and beautiful songs. In a biblical context, one of the primary Hebrew words for worship is ‘shachah,’ which means to get low, fall down, or lay prostrate before someone. Thus, worship is first and foremost how we position ourselves in relation to God. This posture is one of honor and respect. In Genesis, we see the same word used to describe a humble posture towards angels who spoke on behalf of God, respected people, and God Himself.
Abraham positioned himself this way when the angels spoke to him on behalf of God to tell him that Isaac, his miracle child, would be born. Abraham also bowed low when he wanted to honor the people who had shown him favor after Sarah’s death. Abraham’s most trusted servant bowed before God when God answered his prayer and provided and confirmed Rebecca as a future wife of Isaac. Jacob uses posture to humble himself before Esau at the reunion. Joseph’s brothers positioned themselves in this way when they went unknowingly before Joseph to ask for the opportunity to buy food in Egypt.
As God started to separate out and distinguish His people in the Book of Exodus, we see situations where this is used rightly toward God. In Exodus 4:31, we read: “And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.”
In Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, people were cautioned not to bow down in this way before false gods, the stars in the sky, the moon, or the sun. In Deuteronomy 26:10, alongside of offering the firstfruits, people were guided to worship God this way, in effect, saying to God: “And behold, now I bring this first fruit of the ground, which you, oh Lord, have given me,” and then guided, “And you shall set it down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God.”
As disciples, worship is how we position ourselves before the Lord. When a person bows down, what happens? Let’s think about it. In order to bow down, we must stop, get low, and take a position of submission. Effectively, we elevate the other and make ourselves vulnerable. This is not a position of strength and conquest. It shows surrender and a level of hopeful trust. Physically, we might do this by kneeling or bending forward to get low. Other times, we may feel compelled to lay prostrate in our quiet hands with God. That’s literally face down. I’ve only done this a few times where I felt really led to do it. I can tell you it was humbling and in a way that I was completely focused on what I was doing. It’s difficult to harbor pride when laying face down in prayer.
As disciples, our worship is demonstrated in how we physically come near to God. There are a number of physical postures of worship that we see in the Bible, and I’ll just mention a few here. So bowing or kneeling, as I noted it, Psalm 95:6: “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our God, our Maker!” Romans 14:11: “For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” That confession is to give worship.
Then we also see something that shows up. For me, when we think about biblical worship, it’s almost like the things that we do when we’re super excited about something. If you can think about a sporting event, something that comes very naturally, our enthusiasm for our favorite sport or favorite athlete might be a good way to think about how we could worship God, and hopefully, even more so.
So clapping, in Psalm 47:1: “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!” Then lifting hands, kind of, “Yeah!” Psalm 63:3-4: “Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless You as long as I live; in Your name, I will lift up my hands.” Psalm 134:1-2: “Come and bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!”
Even dancing, I won’t do this now, but Psalm 149:1-3: “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, His praise in the assembly of the godly. Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! Let them praise His name with dancing, making melody to Him with tambourine and lyre!” So, we play musical instruments as well.
There are other physical positions that we can take in prayer that demonstrate our faith. Pastor Terry has referred to this as authenticity in our worship. As we pray or sing about giving our hearts and love to God, we may demonstrate that intention by placing our hands over our hearts. When we ask God to remove something from us or to help us surrender, we can, in faith, lift these things up to God. If we sing and pray to lay burdens down, we can show our intentions to set them down. We can lay them down. When we acknowledge how God provides, or when we ask for what we need, we can hold out our hands in order to show our gratitude and openness to receive.
In his letter to the church in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:1: “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” According to Paul, our spiritual worship involves presenting ourselves to God. This involves being holy and acceptable, which means being set apart for His purposes. This can involve our physical positions of worship. But as we live out our faith in the right relationship to God, our very lives become worship.
As disciples, we live out our faith as worship. Hayford’s Bible Handbook defines worship as reverent devotion and allegiance pledged to God. It can also be the rituals or ceremonies by which this reverence is expressed. We know human beings worship when we’re expressing homage to God, that means honor and respect because He is worthy of it. It covers such activities as adoration, adoring Him, giving thanks, prayers of all kinds, the offerings of sacrifice, making vows, and can involve singing.
Here we see the breadth of worship. As we acknowledge who God is, our response to Him is worship. The more accurately we understand God from His word and revelation, the better we can respond to Him with our worship. As part of this lifestyle of worship, we can worship God with our choices.
In Joshua 24:14-18, Joshua asked God’s people to make a choice. He said, “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, then choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of your fathers served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for He is God.”
As disciples, we worship God when we choose to serve Him and to live according to His word. As we make the choice to live according to God’s Word and to serve Him, we must seek to understand what that means. This is a huge part of discipleship and part of the great commission to obey all that He commanded. We cannot choose to obey God’s ways unless we know His word. This is why every step and act of faith is, in essence, worship.
It’s important here to acknowledge that we’re not called to do acts in order to earn God’s favor. Instead, as part of the good news of the gospel, we have this gift of grace that’s given to us, and out of love, the overflow of joy in us, that leads us to a life of obedience, ways of living to honor God. It places God in His proper place as the one who created each of us with purpose and a plan. We acknowledge that He knows the best possible way to utilize our lives for the most good. Living according to His word helps our prayers to be worship, our serving to be worship, our songs of praise to be worship, our work to be worship, and even our rest can be worship.
As disciples, the entirety of our lives can be worship. Changing this paradigm in our lives can feel overwhelming, to make our very lives worship, but it’s the most freeing thing that I’ve ever experienced. My first 13 or so years of really trying to follow Christ and honor Him with my life, seven of which were on church staff, involved a lot of stepping in and out of this lifestyle of worship. Admittedly, I have spent most of my life with the concept of worship being songs I sing at church or put on when I want to enhance my quiet time or redeem a car ride. Through these years, I’m trying to make my life a little more godly and holy, while clinging to a strong distinction of where I thought God was or wasn’t, or where I wanted God to be, and where I wanted to do things on my own way. I spent a lot of time tired, discouraged, and frustrated.
Looking back, I realized part of this was an artificial boundary I created between what I saw as sacred and secular, so holy and in something that just doesn’t need to involve God. I wanted God to be involved in anything around the church or where I needed wisdom for making a big decision, or if I was seeking some kind of healing or miracle. However, I had a lot of things I was happy managing on my own.
As a result of this, my first 13 years of faith were really hard, especially when I joined the church staff. As members of the body of Christ, we are invited into some of the best situations in life and some of the worst, or the hardest. I have officiated and spoken at weddings and funerals. I prayed with those who were dying just before their last breath. I have blessed newborn babies in newly purchased homes. I’ve seen many people give their lives to the Lord. I’ve also walked with people who ultimately turned away from God, some who eventually even took their own lives. I’ve journeyed with people struggling with mental health and addiction, some who were set free and became a source of hope and encouragement to others, and some who never seemed to be able to get free.
It can be exhilarating, discouraging, and hard, especially when someone has a hurt or area of brokenness that they can not reconcile with God. It seemed that the times when God’s grace showed up were far more prevalent than the times when someone turned away that haunted me.
By the end of my first seven years of ministry trying to care for people well, giving all I could give, I came to the end of myself. I was running on empty. I felt what Paul said in Philippians 1:21, but in a slightly warped way: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” In many ways, I felt dying would be easier and better. I couldn’t bear the burdens I was carrying anymore. I knew suicide was selfish and not what God wanted for any of us. In that point of desperation, I encountered Matthew 11:28-30 again. Jesus’ words spoke to me: “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
I finally got it. I was not to bear these burdens alone. I’m not strong enough. In prayerful tears, I brought my burdens and the burdens I was caring for others, and I gave them to the Lord. My soul found rest in this act of worship. The amount of work didn’t change, but the burden of it did.
This is what the life of worship can look like. As we grow in the Lord, God gives us opportunities like the ones that I mentioned and to come alongside others. Nearly all of the things I described happened when I was not on church staff, but just actively serving in the community. Those on staff for churches just come across them maybe a little more frequently. Sometimes we walk with family and friends through these joyful or challenging things. Other times, it may happen as we serve at church, talk with coworkers, or get to know our neighbors.
So what is worship? Worship is everything we do in relation to God. As we invite God into our daily lives, into both the sacred and the secular, our choices and actions can be worship to Him as we live aligned with His words. As we learn and grow as His disciples, we will be given opportunities to walk with people through the joys and sorrows of life, ours and theirs, but we don’t have to carry our burdens or the burdens of others alone. We can share our burdens with others as they share theirs with us. Ultimately, we can worship and honor the Lord by entrusting these burdens to Him, and we find rest for our souls.
A life of worship frees us up to live how we were created to live, fully with God and unhindered by brokenness. A life of worship frees us up to live amidst brokenness in a way that we can help others come fully to God and live unhindered by their brokenness. Worship is more than a song. Maybe it’s allowing God to write a beautiful song through our lives. Let’s position ourselves rightly before the Lord, physically through gestures of faith, and lives live for Him.
I’d love to pray, and then we’ll hop over to our Zoom conversation. If you’re watching this after its original airing, or if you’re unable to join us for the conversation part of tonight, this is meant to be gone through in community. Faith Trackers, disciples, always walk things out, at least in pairs. Join us for the conversation if you can, or find another person or group of people to embark on this journey together. Our primary goal is that these teachings would be a tool that can help us dig into these key areas of growth as disciples of Jesus, but also be a place in which we can ask questions and grow as we move together as a community.
Let’s pray. Lord, we thank you that you have given us this amazing gift of grace. You’ve shown your love for us by your willingness to take our brokenness upon you, to die for our sins, to give us the opportunity to be reconciled to God, and give us the promise of eternal life. It is out of that amazing act of sacrifice and love that we are just filled with joy and the opportunity to have our lives be an expression of worship to You. Lord, whether it’s with music and song or whether it’s just in our how we posture ourselves before You, help us to be people of worship, to be people who express our love to You, who live in right relationship with You just through our very lives. That we would not have a distinction between the sacred and the secular, Lord, but that each moment with You can be something sacred. It can be something beautiful. It can invite You in and in a deeper way. And so Lord, I pray Your blessing over our conversations we’re going to have as we think about this, as we talk about this with others. I pray for Your blessing over our Zoom conversation as well. We just ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
I hope you can join us for the Zoom conversation. That will be in the chat, the link will be. And then if you can’t, let’s keep talking about this and we’ll see you again for the next session. God bless.