12/14/15: Is That Worship?


What happens during the praise and worship time in your church service? Usually there’s participatory Bible reading, prayer, and singing. Oh the singing! At some services, the music is quite exciting. The musicians are practiced craftsmen on their instruments, the singers have worked with vocal coaches and rehearsed their songs to perfection, and the choir director or worship leader has every change and bridge exactly mapped out. The lyrics are even projected up on huge screens so no one has to look down at a song sheet or complain about not being able to join in. These can truly be exhilarating times…

…but is it worship?

Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary says of worship:

(Worship is the) reverent devotion and allegiance pledged to God; the rituals or ceremonies by which this reverence is expressed. The English word worship comes from the Old English word worthship, a word which denotes the worthiness of the one receiving the special honor or devotion. New Testament worship was characterized by a joy and thanksgiving because of God’s gracious redemption in Christ. This early Christian worship focused on God’s saving work in Jesus Christ. True worship was that which occurred under the inspiration of God’s Spirit.

Revelation 4:6-11 gives us a glimpse into how worship is handled in Heaven:

Before the throne there… were four living creatures… And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” (NKJ)

The Greek word for ‘worship’ used in this passage is the one most frequently used in the New Testament. ‘Proskuneo’ means to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand; to fawn or crouch to, i.e. literally or figuratively prostrate oneself in homage, do reverence to, and adore. Is this where our worship takes us? Like the living creatures and the elders of the Revelation, does our worship take us into the presence of God to honor Him or is it simply a time to pump us up? Is our worship ‘proskuneo,’ or is it ‘ethelothreskeia,’ a worship devised and prescribed for ourselves, contrary to the contents and nature of the faith that ought to be directed to Christ; used for the misdirected zeal and practices of ascetics (as described in Colossians 2:23 as “self-imposed religion”)?

Notice that when the living creatures and the elders worshiped around God’s throne, not one personal pronoun for themselves was used. They never said I, me, my, or we. Every word of worship was directed toward God. There’s a time to praise God for what He’s done for us, what He’s brought us through, how He’s cared for us, etc. But we miss the richness of His presence when we don’t understand that worship happens when we focus exclusively on who He is. His worth is enough for our worship without mention of ourselves at all.

So I ask again, in our church services, are we truly worshiping God, or are we going through some motions because the bulletin says it’s that time in the service? Let’s try singing more songs with no personal pronouns pointing back to us. You may be hard-pressed to find them, but sing songs of worship throughout this week – God-centered melodies that don’t mention you at all. Then take that focus to church next week for a transformed worship experience.


©2009, 2015 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

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~ by sanewriter on December 14, 2015.

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