Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What Is Worship? (a 15 minute Bible Study)

Article from Intouch.org

Releasing Our Preconceptions and Learning to Exalt the Lord
Psalm 96

One of the most controversial issues in the church today is worship. Sadly, the phrase “worship wars” is used to describe the conflict between various music and service styles. Maybe it’s time to open our minds, drop our preferences, and learn what the Lord says. In the Scriptures, the word worship means to bow oneself down in humble respect to a superior being.

The goal is to meet and exalt the Lord in such a way that we come away transformed. Like Abraham, we humble ourselves and honor God by believing Him, obeying His commands, and withholding nothing from Him (Gen. 22:1-18; Heb. 11:17-19).

The Old Testament gave very specific regulations for worship, but when Christ came, He changed the way we approach God (Heb. 9:1-15; 10:19-23).

Now Jesus tells us that the only way to worship the Lord is in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). Since the Holy Spirit lives within each believer, our meeting place with God is no longer an external temple but the internal spirit of man (Phil. 3:3), and the sacrifice we offer is ourselves (Rom. 12:1-2).

Because the New Testament records only general guidelines for churches to follow (Acts 2:42), each culture and era has been allowed the freedom to determine the specific elements of their meetings. However, the spirit of our gatherings should match that described by Paul in Colossians 3:12-16.

Although detailed practices and methods are not prescribed for the church, Psalm 96 lists timeless ways to praise and exalt the Lord.

But sometimes we don’t glorify the Lord when we meet with Him. In Mark 7:6-13, Jesus warned that it is useless to honor God with our lips while our hearts are far from Him. If our attitudes are divisive, argumentative, or selfish, we have failed to worship the Lord (1 Cor. 11:17-22).

Questions for Reflection

1. Where is your focus during church—on yourself, others, your preferences, or the Lord? What hinders you from concentrating on God? What do you need to surrender to Him?

2. Private, personal worship shapes your mind, emotions, and will—and prepares you to give God genuine honor through corporate expression. How can you exalt the Lord each day with your thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions?