Questions to think about:
- How can worship help me?
- What good does it do?
- Why worship at all?
- How do we have meaningful worship individually and corporately?
“Worship” is to show by action one’s respect, reverence, allegiance, or honor to a deity. The worship of God is nowhere defined in Scripture. It is not confined to praise; broadly it may be regarded as the direct acknowledgement to God of His nature, attributes, ways, and claims, whether by the outgoing of the heart in praise and thanksgiving or by deeds done in such acknowledgement. (It’s obeying any of God’s commands that are written to you in the Bible because of the above reason and out of love.).
The vocabulary of worship in the Bible is very extensive, but the essential concept in both the Old and New Testament is “service.” In both testaments, worship (Hebrew “boda” and Greek “latreia”) is signifying originally the labor of slaves or hired servants. And in order to offer this “worship” to God, His servants must prostrate themselves and thus manifest reverential fear and adoring awe and wonder.
In the Old Testament there are instances of individual worship (Gen. 24:26ff; Ex. 33:9 – 34:8). But the emphasis is upon worship in the congregation (Psa. 42:4; 1 Chron. 29:20). In tabernacle and temple worship, ritual was prominent. Apart from the daily morning and evening sacrifices, the celebration of Passover and the observance of the Day of Atonement would be highlights in the Jewish calendar. The ritual acts of shedding of blood, presenting incense, pronouncing the priestly blessing, etc., would tend to emphasize the ceremonial to the detriment of the spiritual aspects of worship, and even tend to introduce a sense of tension or conflict between the two attitudes (Psa. 40:6; 50:7-15; Mic. 6:6-8). But many in Israel would be able to take the public praise-singing (Psa. 93; 95-100) and prayers (Psa. 40; 79-80), and use them to express their love and gratitude to God (Deut. 11:13) in a real act of inward, spiritual worship.
This highly-developed public worship offered in the tabernacle and temple is a far cry from earlier times when the Patriarchs believed that the Lord could be worshiped wherever He had chosen to reveal Himself. But that public worship in the temple was a spiritual reality is clear from the fact when the sanctuary was destroyed, and the exiles found themselves in Babylon, worship remained a necessity, and to meet this need the synagogue service, consisting of: the Shema (Jewish confession of faith stated in Deut. 6:4-9; 11:13-21; Num. 15:37-41); prayers; Scripture readings; and exposition was created. But later in the second temple, the daily services, the Sabbath, the annual festivals and feasts, and the praises of the hymn book (Book of Psalms) of this second temple ensured that worship remained a vital factor in Jewish national life.
In the New Testament, temple and synagogue worship are again found. Christ participated in both, but He always inculcated the worship that is the love of the heart towards a heavenly Father. He taught that the approach to God through ritual and priestly mediation was now unnecessary. At last, worship is true, a service offered to God not only in terms of temple worship, but of service to one’s fellows (Lk. 10:25ff; Matt. 5:23ff; Jn. 4:20-24; Jas. 1:27). At the beginning, however, the Church did not abandon temple worship; and probably Christians continued to attend the synagogue services too. And when the break between Judaism and the Church finally came, Christian worship may have been modeled on the synagogue service.
The great contributory factor in the break away from the Jewish Sabbath, temple, ritual, etc., was the bitter antagonism of the Jews against the Church. But so far as the New Testament is concerned, our notions of Christian worship are very vague. Clearly the day of worship par excellence was the Lord’s Day (Acts 20:7), although we do hear of daily services at the beginning (Acts 2:46).
Worship would be conducted in believers’ homes. In such circumstances, official ministers would be unnecessary. Simplicity would be the keynote of these house-church worship services, consisting for the most part of praise-singing (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16), prayer, reading from the Scriptures and exposition. The love-feasts followed by the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:23-28) were also common features of Christian worship. But the emphasis throughout would be upon the Spirit and the inner love and devotion of the heart – The New Bible Dictionary, p. 1340.
The essence of worship consists of giving one’s life to, in attitude and action. It’s the spiritual service of worship (Rom. 12:1) – The Compact Dictionary of Doctrinal Words, p. 222.
- “proskuneo” (Greek “pros” – towards; “kuneo” – to kiss) – an act of homage (showing/acknowledging one’s loyal servanthood to another) or reverence – Matt. 4:10 – Vine’s, An Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, New Testament, p. 1247.
- “sebomai” (Greek) – to revere, stressing the feeling of devotion – Matt. 15:9; Mk. 7:7.
- “latreuo” (Greek) – to serve – Phil. 3:3; Acts 7:42.
So, to worship is to acknowledge or show by word and/or action (service), in attitude, motive, and/or thoughts your supreme respect, honor for, loyalty/devotion to the person(s) or things revered.
Matt. 4:10 (Deut. 6:13-14; Ex. 20:3) What did Jesus tell Satan (and God tell the nation of Israel)?
Are you worshiping (showing or acknowledging your loyal servanthood to) the LORD God and serving (in supreme devotion and honor) Him only, or do you worship other gods (e.g., movie stars, musicians, athletes, cars, clothes, food – Phil. 3:19, computers, TV, phones, career, politics, college degrees, a boy/girlfriend, sports, music, social media, etc. – 1 Jn. 2:15-17) also?
Why are you worshiping anyone or anything besides the LORD God, especially when you consider Lk. 4:8?
And why should you “only” worship the LORD God?
What will it take to cause you to “only” worship (serve with supreme loyalty and honor) the LORD God?
2 Ki. 17:34-36 What weren’t the people of Israel doing?
[“fearing the Lord” – supremely respecting so as to hate sin].
What did the Lord command them – 2 Ki. 17:35-36?
Are you fearing the LORD God (supremely respecting God) by hating sin and obeying His commands (Prov. 8:13; Deut. 17:19)?
Do you humble yourself before God in bowing down (Acts 9:40; Lk. 22:41)?
How does one serve the LORD?
Matt. 4:10 and Matt. 6:24
Eph. 4:11-12 with Col. 3:16 and 1 Cor. 14:26
Are you serving the LORD by following Christ (being willing to die) in doing God’s will by obeying His commands; by worshiping/serving Him only; by fasting and/or praying; by sharing the gospel; by presenting your body a living and holy sacrifice (in giving your life to God); by feeding, clothing, and/or visiting needy, sick, and/or imprisoned believers, and by teaching God’s Word to build up believers spiritually?
Rev. 22:8-9; Col. 2:18 Who are we not to worship, and why (Heb. 1:13-14)?
Do you ever worship (acknowledge supreme servanthood, loyalty, and honor to) angels or any people or things other than God (e.g., Mary, the Pope, your family, girl/boyfriend, etc.)?
Who only are we told to worship?
Acts 4:24; 17:24
Acts 10:25-26; 14:8-15 What did Peter say to Cornelius, and why?
What did Barnabas and Paul say to the Lycaonians, and why?
Do you ever idolize religious or spiritual people because of their great faith, their answers to prayer, their fine speaking or teaching ability, or for any other reason?
Why shouldn’t you?
What will keep you from doing so?
Gen. 8:20; 12:7-8; 26:18, 25; 35:1-3, 7
How and where did these four men of old worship God?
[To “call upon the name of the Lord” means to use the name of God in worship by proclaiming/praising the works and character of God (H. Leupold, Exposition of Genesis, vol. 1, pp. 227, 421), or proclaiming/praising/acknowledging the whole nature of God revealed to man (Keil-Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 1, p. 120).].
[It means “to worship God” (Gen. 4:26), a synecdoche (a figure of speech) or “to be a true worshiper of God” (Rom. 10:13), a pleonasm (a figure of speech) – Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, Dr. E. Bullinger, pp. 410, 631.].
Do you call on the Lord’s name (praise/acknowledge His nature and works) as an act of worshiping Him?
Why should we (1 Pet. 2:9; Rom. 15:11)?
The word “altar” (Hebrew “mizbech”) means a place of sacrifice, and was erected mainly to commemorate some event in which the person had dealings with God. In Ex. 20:24-26, God instructed Moses to tell the people to make an altar of earth or stones, upon which to sacrifice their offerings. The form of this passage, in which God tells Moses to pass on this instruction to the people, suggests that it, like the Ten Commandments at the beginning of the chapter, was addressed to each Israelite individually, rather than to Moses as their representative as in Ex. 27. It may be that the layman, under this provision, was permitted to perform this himself (Josh. 8:30-31; Deut. 27:5; Judg. 6:24-26; 2 Sam. 24:18-25; 1 Ki. 18).
Acts 1:13-14; 5:42; 12:12; 16:24-25; 20:7-8
How, where, and when did these people worship God?
Does your worship of God ever include: praying to Him (1 Thes. 5:17), singing to Him and teaching other Christians (Col. 3:16), praising and thanking Him (Rom. 15:11; Heb. 13:15), evangelizing (Matt. 28:19-20), taking communion (1 Cor. 11:23-26), and teaching and/or listening to God’s Word (Eph. 4:11-12; 1 Pet. 2:2), and why?
Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21-26
What does God rather delight in in our worship of Him?
Do you worship God with these characteristics rather than performing religious rituals out of a hypocritical, sinful heart?
If not, when, and how do you plan on starting?
Why will God not accept these acts of worship – Isa. 1:15?
What should they do first, Isa. 1:16-17?
Are you ever guilty of trying to worship God while having unconfessed or on-going sin in your life?
If so, what should you do first before coming to worship God, 1 Jn. 1:9?
Why should we, Psa. 66:18?
Psa. 29:2 How are we to worship the Lord?
Do you ascribe (i.e., acknowledge back to God) His attributes and perfections while being yourself in holy array (separated from sin) and in right relationship with God because He is due glory (honor and praise) because of His name/Personage (who He is)?
If not, how do you plan on being holy or Spirit-filled (in a right relationship with God, Eph. 5:18; 1 Jn. 5:14-15)?
Psa. 5:7; 48:9; 63:1-2; 89:7; 100:1-4; 138:2
How does the Psalmist say that he worships God?
Are any of these expressions of worship a part of your worship of God?
If so, which, and how often?
Psa. 95:6; 103:1-5; 149:1
How does the Psalmist tell us to worship God?
Again, are these things a part of your worship of God?
When did you first realize that they should be?
How often are they expressed in your worship of God, and why?
Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Philemon 1:2 Where did these churches meet for worship?
Have you ever had a worship service in your home, and why?
Lk. 19:45-46; Isa. 56:7 God’s house was to be known as what?
How much is God’s house today known for this, and why?
Jn. 4:20-24 (Phil. 3:3)
How must true worshipers worship God the Father (or whom does the Father seek to be His worshipers)?
[“Spirit and truth” means rendering such homage to God that the entire heart enters into the acts and doing this in full harmony with the truth of God as revealed in His Word. A balance between a humble, spiritual attitude and doctrinal soundness is important. Such worship will not only be spiritual instead of physical, inward instead of outward, but it will also be directed to the true God and in accordance with how He wants to be honored, served, and given supreme allegiance to, as set forth in Scripture. Jesus basically states the same thing in Matt. 15:8-9, except here, He uses the words “heart” and “doctrines”.].
Acts 15:21; 13:14-15; Lk. 4:16-20
What else is involved in worship?
How much of your worship of God involves reading and/or listening to God’s Word and exhortation, and why?
Heb. 13:15 (1 Pet. 2:5)
What kind of sacrifices are we to continually offer up to God?
Are you acknowledging back to God that He is all-powerful, all-wise and all-knowing, present everywhere, loving, patient, kind, forgiving, merciful, full of grace and truth, righteous, just, holy, eternal, Self-sufficient, infinite, unchanging in character/attributes, faithful, good, sovereign, holy wrath, Creator of heaven and earth and all that is in them, and so forth (read Psa. 145:8-17; 89:8-14; 119:10-18)?
With what other kinds of sacrifices is God pleased (Heb. 13:16)?
Had you ever realized before that doing good and sharing is an expression of worship if done with the right motives (i.e., supreme respect and love for and devotion to God)?
How much of your worship of God involves doing good and sharing, and what is your motivation for doing these things?
What is a living and holy sacrifice and a spiritual service of worship?
Are you presenting your body/life to God in an acceptable manner (i.e., holy, ceasing from sin), or are you doing your own thing with your life (i.e., self-centered goals and life-style)?
How, and why?
Acts 17:24-25 (Psa. 50:9-12) Where doesn’t God dwell?
How does this thought affect you?
Does God need our gifts or sacrifices or service?
Why (Acts 17:25)?
Then why offer God anything or do anything for Him (Heb. 12:28)?
Heb. 10:24-25 What should we not forsake?
Is this what you are doing?
How can you do this?