Worship is often associated with singing, but worship is so much more than. True worship comes first from the heart and then the lips. It comes from a place of gratitude, thankfulness, reverence. True worship touches the heart of God. Moves the heart of God. If this concept is totally foreign to you, let me explain it in an earthly analogy.
I want my children to send me a card on my birthday and on Mother’s Day. Gifts are not important to me. I don’t need them to buy me a piece of costume jewelry and mail it to me in Florida. What I need and what I want is a card which expresses how they feel about me. I know that they love me, but I want to hear it. Don’t send me a dollar store card.
My birthday was a week before Gregory’s. My daughter sent me the following card:
For My Mother- With a Heart Full of Love and Gratitude There were so many things you did for me when I was too small to realize how important they were … the sacrifices you made without saying a word, the times you taught me, encouraged me and guided me. Every day you did so many things for me that I could not count them all. But they helped me grow, and I love you for every one of them.
My son sent me the following card:
A mother shares so much, cares so much, gives so much… For every sacrifice you made, for every heartache you soothed, for every dream you stood behind, I love you so much. You’re a beautiful, giving person, someone who has worked so hard to care for the ones she loves. I’m so lucky to have you as my mother, so lucky to have you in my heart.
My children moved my heart. Brought a smile to my face. Brought me pleasure in their words. I will keep and treasure these cards. Given the choice between these two cards and a diamond broach – the cards win.
But what if I only heard from my children on my birthday and on Mother’s Day. What if just twice a year I received a phone call and got a card. That would not make me very happy, because I would long for my children and miss them if I did not hear from them. This is how God feels when you do your perfunctuary visit on Christmas and Easter each year. You know who you are. On the “to do” list is go to church on Christmas and Easter. God longs for you the rest of the year. You may not believe it to be true, but it is.
Like many parents who live miles from their grown children, I only get to see my children two or three times a year. But we talk every day. More times than not just for a few minutes. I want to know what is going on with them. How was work? What are you doing? Is there anything new? What are your plans? I want to hear their voices. My son had the hardest time understanding this concept. He often would not pick up my calls everyday. Screened me. “What is there to talk about everyday. Today is not much different than yesterday.”he would say. “I know but I just want to hear your voice, just want to hear that you are okay.” I would say. “Give me just five minutes of your time. It is important to me.”
Our relationship is built on a few minutes of communication each day and sharing what is going on in our lives and what is happening – sharing our dreams and plans. Knowing that we are here for each other. Reading the words of a Hallmark card. Expressing our love for each other.
So what does that have to do with worship. Many people come to church to check it off their to do list. Sunday – went to church – check that one off. They put in their time. They sit in their seat. They sing sometimes. Sometimes not. They look forward to the pastor being finished so they can go to the diner. They are giving God a dollar store card.
But He too wants a Hallmark. He wants to hear “I am grateful for what You have done for me. I love you. These words are from my heart – not just from my lips. Thank you. I honor you. I give you glory. You are my all in all.” When you mean the words that you sing, when your worship is an expression of your grateful heart, when your words are an overflow from a place of thankfulness, God’s heart is moved. No matter what is happening in your life, He deserves to be thanked that you have your life.
Let’s take another example. Marriage. You can do marriage two ways. You can go through the motions, or your marriage can be alive and beautiful and wonderful. You can live in the same house, or you can actually share each other’s lives and dreams. Each day you get to make a choice. Each day you get to make a decision for that day. Will I greet my wife with a kiss in the morning or simply walk out the door without so much as a comment? Will I spend some quality time with her or just go upstairs and spend my night in front of the computer? Will I sleep next to her with my back turned away from her, or will I express my love, affection and passion for her?
Each week we have a similar choice. Will I wake up, get dressed and drive to church or turn over in bed and say “sorry God I need my sleep.” We can show up at church and punch our time card, or we can get engaged. We can sing a song from our lips or express our deepest gratitude from our hearts. We can worry about who is next to us, or we can be focused on the throne of God. We can hear the Word of God, or we can receive the Word of God. We can worship passionately from the deepest part of our soul, or we can give God half baked praise.
The same choice presents itself each day. We can express our love and gratitude each day or go through the week reserving our God time to an hour or so on Sunday morning. We can be fully aware of what God needs us to help Him with each day, or we can go through the motions of our lives thinking that God and everything else in our lives are separate rather than connecting God to everything else in our lives.
This is the essence of individual worship. You and God together always. He goes where you go. When He wants to lead you somewhere, you follow. You are always together. It is not a forced relationship. You don’t debate whether God will be with you any more than you would debate whether you would take your six month old baby with you for the day or simply leave the baby home alone.
Worship is a life style. You are thankful to God for all He has done. Your acts of service flow from that place of thankfulness. If your husband came home every night with flowers and told you how much he loved you and missed you, how beautiful you were and how glad he was that he married you, you would probably be moved to show him your appreciation back by doing the things that make him happy like cooking his favorite meals. As he ate these delicious meals, his love and appreciation increases and wonderful cycle evolves.
God desires our gratitude. He deserves or praise. He deserves our thanks. He deserves our honor. He deserves our devotion. He deserves our love. He wants these things because it is how your love relationship with Him grows and deepens, it is from this that true worship flows.
What I have described is individual worship. What about corporate worship? This is a concept that might seem very foreign to you. You go to church. Other people go to your same church. You now really understand the heart and soul of worship, but what difference does it really make if anyone else is catching on to this heart and soul concept of worship.
So once again let’s look at a real life example of what can happen when like minded people “press in” together to achieve a single goal. Let’s take the New York Giants. They were having an average season. But the Giants don’t have average fans. They have fans that cheer and shout and get excited (yes like I believe everyone should do in church). They wanted their team to win. They believed their team could win. If they had anything to say about it, they were going to see their team actually win.
As the Giants had one victory, they got excited. After the next victory, they got more excited. They had made it to the Super Bowl. They talked. They motivated each other. They encouraged each other. They psyched each other up. They believed they had every thing they needed to win. They knew if they wanted to take home the trophy each person would have to operate in their assigned position. Each would have to fully utilize the gifts and talents they possessed. They would have to communicate and be on top of their game. They got one shot at taking home the prize. And they did.
It was a great game. Everyone was functioning in the place they should be functioning. The unbelievable Eli Mannig throw caught by wide receiver Mario Manigham will be forever recorded in history as one of the best catches ever. I will confess that I was praying throughout the game – whenever Eli threw the football. The victory was sweet. But did it really do anything for my life or yours. Was it life changing? Did the victory have eternal value? No it did not.
So what happens when a church does what the Giants did. When all the members understand the power of ‘pressing in.’ When all the members unite toward a common goal. When they worship from the deepest part of their hearts. When they seek God’s Will for their church. When they ask God to use them. When they ask to operate in their gifts and talents. When they shout. When they cheer. When they get it. I’ll tell you what happens. Miracles happen. The blind see. The lame walk. People are healed. Ministries are birthed. Don’t believe me. I challenge you to try it.
I have seen it so I know what I am speaking about is the truth. I attended a Women’s Conference run by the Abundant Life Worship Center in Nutley, New Jersey. These were not mild mannered women gathering to have tea and discuss the mundane issues of life in their Sunday best. These were prayer warriors on a mission. These were prayer warriors ready to do battle. There is no other expression I can think of to fully describe us women on that day.
One of the women had gotten a fatal diagnosis. Stage 4 cancer. The doctors told her there was nothing they could do. God does His best work when there is nothing we mere mortals can do. She was not accepting this diagnosis. Now we could have all gathered all around her and said a nice sweet prayer, but I told you these were not that type of women. They were prayer warriors. They came to do battle. They were going to do battle. Failure was not an option.
There was a large metal garbage can placed in the middle of the room where the meeting was being held. A match ignited the medical diagnosis. The diagnosis was thrown into the fire. The prayers began “Heavenly Father, we do not believe the word of man but only Your word. Your word says that we are healed by the stripes of Jesus. We claim your word over our sister. We command these cancer cells to leave in the name of Jesus. We speak life.” And on and on we prayed. Our prays touched God’s heart and strengthened our spirits. We declared the cancer gone. We felt the cancer leave. When she went to the doctor a few days later, he confirmed what we already knew the cancer was gone.
That is weird you might say. Any weirder than a football huddle where men are screaming over winning a trophy. This woman had young children, and she was battling for her life. She did not care what anyone in the room thought. She wouldn’t care if you believe this or not. She wouldn’t care if you understand this or not. She understood it. She believed that God could heal her. She believed God could remove these cancer cells. And He did.
So why doesn’t He every time. I can’t answer that for you. The bible says “God’s ways are not our ways.” I know for sure if He wanted me to know and understand everything, He would have given me a brain that could understand everything. But He did not give me such a brain, or you such a brain. If the Giants had lost the Superbowl would they have said their pregame psyche time was in vain. No, they each functioned as they each needed to function and believed in the victory.
Believe In Victory
We are to believe in total victory in each prayer. When we worship, we are to worship unconditionally. When we are praying, we are to pray for victory. When we are battling, we are to battle with one hundred percent effort.
I have an advertiser whose son was diagnosed with the same birth defect that Gregory died from. The doctors saw this birth defect when they took the sonogram. God supernaturally healed his baby. There was no warfare prayer with a mini bonfire. His wife went to the doctor the next visit, and the x-ray showed that there was no longer an abnormality. The x-ray had changed. The doctor could give no explanation. Why was his baby healed and not mine? I was sure that question – THE QUESTION of why you didn’t heal my Gregory – was going to be the first thing I asked Jesus when I got to heaven. It is not now even on my list.
That question has been replaced with this statement. “Jesus,all I want to say is thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you that by your great sacrifice I will be with my son forever!”
When you learn to worship from that place deep inside – you will find yourself at the throne of God. There will be no one else in the room with you even if, in fact, you are in a church filled with a thousand people. You will not notice the person to your right or to your left. You will not be aware of your surroundings. Time will cease to exist. The presence of God will embrace you. The power of Jesus will ignite you. The infilling of the Holy Spirit will inspire you. You will be unstoppable. You will be contagious.
Be the match that starts the fire in your church. Be the one who calls the team to play ball with their full heart and soul. Be the one who calls the troops into battle. There is a lost and hurting world out there. This is not work for the weak hearted. Ask for boldness. Worship in abandonment looking only to bring the glory of heaven to this earth plane which so desperately needs it.
Expect miracles! Claim miracles! God has not stopping being in the miracle making business!
“Thank you God that you are still the same God that parted the red sea, healed the leper and raised the dead!”
Alleluia and Amen, she shouted. Join me. Loudly. Like your life and the lives of those around you depend on it.