Good morning, brothers and sisters, may the grace and peace of our Lord be with you!
Worship is The Most Important Spiritual Discipline
The act of worship can purify your soul, bring you closer to God, improve your relationships with others, change your attitude, transform your mind, comfort your sadness, increase your joy, renew your strength, and give you a more positive and optimistic outlook on life. The worship of God is of utmost importance in a church ministry. I constantly tell my coworkers in the Lord: If a church cannot do anything right, but does worship right, then there is still hope. But all hope is lost if the church cannot even do worship right. It is the same for Christians. If a Christian cannot do anything right, but knows to worship the Lord, then there is still hope. But if he does not even know to worship God, then there is no hope.
The worship of God is a church’s number one priority, and a believer’s first and foremost spiritual discipline. The best thing you can do for yourself and for the church is to worship God in spirit and in truth during each Sunday’s worship service. Koinonia is the actual manifestation of your relationship with God and your relationship with others. This expression of koinonia is at its peak during worship. When you are closest to God, you will also be closest to your brothers and sisters. No one can observe the Lord’s supper while despising his brother at the same time, and no one can worship the Lord when there is animosity towards other members of the body. This is impossible to do in the spirit. If anyone does this, it can only be done in the flesh, and not in the spirit. Just like all other relationships in Christ, the worship of God results in both a vertical union with God and a horizontal union with the other parts of the body. The path to meeting God cannot be walked alone. We must have our brothers and sisters as our traveling companions. The only exception is if you end up at a place where there are no other Christians; in that scenario, you have no choice but to worship God by yourself. Otherwise, there is absolutely no reason that you would worship God alone at home. You must stand in the congregation of the godly ones:
Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise in the congregation of the godly ones. (Ps 149:1)
Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name. (Ps 30:4)
Worshipping God is an act of the spirit. Jesus said, “the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.” (Jn 4:23) Worshipping God is also a collective activity. We gather together to worship God: “O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.” (Ps 95:1-2)
A Song of Ascents
In the book of Psalms, there are fifteen psalms called “Songs of Ascents” (Ps 120-134). These are songs which the Israelites sang while ascending the mountain together on their pilgrimage to the temple to worship God. In these songs, we can see that first, they are glad when they are going to the house of the Lord and second, they are joyful because they are with their brothers and companions.
(A Song of Ascents, of David)
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem …
May peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces.
For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, “May peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good. (Ps 122:1-2, 7-9)
(A Song of Ascents, of David)
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is, for brothers to dwell together in unity! (Ps 133:1)
This is a group of people ascending towards the temple to worship God. The temple was a foreshadowing of what was to come and has since been destroyed; Jesus is the actual realization of the temple (Jn 2:21), He is eternal and remains forever. Coming to the temple is coming to Christ, and through Christ to worship God. The Father loves us with an everlasting love (Jer 31:3), and His love is eternally unchanging. Our love, on the other hand, does change. If we want to continually love God and love Him more every day, then we must practice spiritual disciplines. God knows man’s weakness, so He commanded the Israelites to “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex 20:8). When Christians observe the Lord’s day, and keep the first day of the week as holy unto the Lord, it is like a regular maintenance of our spiritual lives. Worship is “to ascend”, and when we ascend, we sing praises to God. These songs join our hearts together: “We’re marching to Zion in sweet accord, beautiful, beautiful Zion”, so that it is as though we are one body bowing at the throne of God.
Surrounding the Throne of God
When we worship God, we acknowledge our position before Him. We stand in our positions as “created beings” and “those who have been redeemed” to give glory to God. In worship, there is only one seat, and that is the throne of God; His people surround His throne from all sides. The twenty-four elders were originally seated, but left their seats when they worshipped the Lord:
the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying… (Rev 4:10)
The throne is the center of worship. We must cast our crowns before the throne, and fall down before Him to worship Him. We must draw near to Him with a humble heart. We are not singing praises to the person next to us, we are singing praises to God. We are all worshippers, we are not an audience. The choir is not singing for us but singing for God. We can only say “Amen” as worshippers, offering up the song to God together, but we cannot cheer and applaud as if we were an audience. From beginning to end, there is only One who can receive our worship, and He is the God who sits upon the throne.
Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. (Ps 22:3)
And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped. (Rev 5:13-14)
If the throne of God is firmly rooted in the church, then the church will stand firm. If the throne of God is firmly rooted in your heart, then you will stand firm. When the throne of God is firmly anchored, koinonia will happen naturally. If a church does not worship God, it is impossible that the brothers and sisters there will get along peacefully and joyfully. We must first give glory to God in the highest, and God will give peace to those on whom His favor rests (Lk 2:14).
Worthy is the Lamb that was Slain
What marvelous grace given to us, that we can worship God! For we were once sinners, unclean and unworthy, unable to draw near to a holy God. But by the blood of Jesus, we now have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place (Heb 10:19), to draw near to the throne of grace (Heb 4:16). Without Jesus’ salvation, there would not be any children of God; without the Lamb that was slain, there would not be any worshippers. In some worship services, the songs have no substance. Some are just songs that make you feel good, while others make you transcend to some “spiritual” plane. It seems as if you are worshipping God, but in reality, everything is centered on yourself. Maybe there are some praise songs, but these focus only on the power of the Holy Spirit, without any mention of the salvation and redemption that comes from Christ. Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus must be at the center of our worship. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” (Rev 5:9-12)
Praise God for His salvation, so that we can come before the throne of grace together with our brothers and sisters, to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb 4:16).