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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Heart of Worship




“I will praise You with my whole heart” – Psalm 138:1a


A.W. Tozer, in his book Whatever Happened to Worship? said the following about worship:

 
I am of the opinion that we should not be concerned about working for God until we have learned the meaning and delight of worshipping Him. A worshiper can work with eternal quality in his work. But a worker who does not worship is only piling up wood, hay and stubble for the time when God sets the world on fire . . . . God is trying to call us back to that for which He created us – to worship Him and enjoy Him forever! (p. 12)
 
Tozer goes on to further state of worship:
 
If we are truly among the worshipers we will not be spending our time with carnal or worldly religious projects. . . . I can safely say, on the authority of all that is revealed in the Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship is not ready for heaven.” (p. 13).
 
As you can see, Tozer felt worship was very important if not the most important thing in the life of a Christian. And the Bible would bear that emphasis out too. Worship is what we will be doing for an eternity.
 
Worship has been greatly neglected by many. Some see worship as a mere warming up for the teaching of the word. But a spirit and heart of worship is what we should live in and especially come to church with to hear the word and then strengthen our heart of worship. Some have made worship out to be music alone, but music and singing is only a small part of what worship is. Worship is a heart attitude, a way of life.
 
Worship is designed and ordained by God not because He is a cosmic narcissist. Far from it! Worship is good for His people. Worship can be linked to every facet of our lives. We come to an understanding of our purpose and meaning in life through worship.  We become overcomers in life through worship. We reach the world as they see our lives of worship to the Lord. Marriage, family, and church all come together and are strengthened through our worship of the Lord. Worship is central to all we are and do in the Lord and that is what this study intends to show.
 
 
 
The Heart of Worship
PSALM 138 - 1 I will praise You with my whole heart; Before the gods I will sing praises to You. 2I will worship toward Your holy temple,  And praise Your name  For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.3     In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul.4     All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O Lord, When they hear the words of Your mouth.5  Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the Lord, For great is the glory of the Lord.6  Though the Lord is on high, Yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar.7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand Against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me.8  The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.
This is a magnificent Psalm that gives us a wealth of revelation on what worship is all about. In this psalm is the heart of worship. David wrote this psalm. We don’t know what the occasion was for David writing it. Some think it was in response to God’s blessing David with an everlasting kingdom (2 Sam. 7). Or it may have been in response to a victory over an enemy and “the gods” of that enemy. (In ancient times opposing forces relied on their respective gods. Victory or defeat were then connected to these gods.) Let’s look at it and see what it tells us about worship.
First, the heart of worship is a step of faith, an act of the will. Verse one says, “I will” (138:1a; Psalm 5:7).  Worship is not something we necessarily have to be in the mood to do. We don’t have to feel like worshipping to worship God. Worship begins with an act of faith regardless of how we feel. The Bible says we are to walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). I have learned that if, (even when I don’t feel like it), I step out in faith and worship the Lord, my feelings of worship follow my willful step of faith.
Second, the heart of worship involves praise (138:1b). “I will praise. . . .” “Praise” is the translation of the Hebrew term yadah and means, “to confess, praise, give thanks”. The word literally means, to hold out the hand; to revere; to worship with uplifted hands. We come to the Lord confessing and acknowledging our limitations, weaknesses and sins. We don’t come to God in pride. We come to Him in humility. And as we receive His forgiveness we lift our hands in praise and thanks. We all are who we are by God’s grace (1 Cor. 15:10). For that we should all lift our hands in praise to the Lord.
In Hebrews it states:
·         Hebrews 13:15 - Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
We need to practice the worship art of praise.
Third, the heart of worship is directed toward God. David states, “I will worship You. . . . .” The Triune God is the only One deserving of our worship. Why Worship God? The Bible tells us that God commands us to worship Him (1 Chronicles 16:29; Psalm 29:2; 96:6-9). God alone is worthy of praise and worship (Revelation 4:11; 5:9). It is God alone who has created the universe and sustained it by His grace and therefore it is God alone who is worthy to be worshipped (Nehemiah 9:6; Revelation 4:9-11; 14:6-7).
Another reason for worshipping God is because of His holiness in contrast to our sinfulness.  When Isaiah had his vision of the Lord on His throne in heaven it brought him into an immediate repentant awareness of His sin. God cleanses him from his sin and then gave Isaiah the opportunity to represent God. Isaiah’s immediate response to volunteer to go as God’s ambassador to Judah was an act of worship if ever there was one (Isaiah 6).
Acknowledging and experiencing the holiness of God results in our worshipping God  (1 Chronicles 16:28-29; Psalm 29:1-2; 96:7-9; 99:5, 9). God’s holy mercy in light of our sinfulness should also drive us to worship God (Exodus 34:6-9; Joshua 5:13-15; Nehemiah 9:1-3).
The apostle Paul when he got to the end of what God was inspiring Him to say about salvation and the nation of Israel in the book of Romans burst out in spontaneous praise and worship saying:
  • Romans 11:33-36 - 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord?     Or who has become His counselor?”35 “Or who has first given to Him  And it shall be repaid to him?”36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
When you realize all that God is and all that He has done, you cannot contain yourself but must bless God and give Him the honor and worship due Him (see also Psalm 115:1-8; 145:1-13; Revelation 11:15-17; 15:3-4; 19:1-4). We were lost helplessly and hopelessly in sin and were living in outright rebellion against God; we were His enemies (Romans 1-3); but God through faith in Christ by His free grace provision has made a way that our sins can be forgiven (Romans 4-5). While we were in sin, separated from God and at war with Him, in love and by His grace He sent His only Son Jesus to pay the debt of our sin on the cross (Romans 5:8). Anyone who trusts in Jesus to save them from their sin is forgiven by God and stands justified before Him which means they are in a state described as just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned (Romans 5:1). Then we are told of the new life to be lived in Christ, a life of holiness (Romans 6). If we try to live that new life in our own strength we’ll only achieve wretchedness (Romans 7). But when we depend on Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit we can be more than conquerors (Romans 8). Not only does God save us and give us power to live right, but He elects us to serve Him in certain tasks, just as He did with Israel (Romans 9-11). It’s at this point in Romans that Paul can no longer contain himself and bursts out with an expression of worship in his letter in Romans 11:33-36. The gracious salvation of the Lord drives us to worship Him (Revelation 5:9-14; 7:9-17).
Fourth, the heart of worship involves the whole heart. David says, “I will praise You with my whole heart; . . . .” (138:1c). Jesus expressed His repugnance at halfhearted devotion to God in His letter to the church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-19). Someone has said, “The world says half hearted devotion is better than no devotion at all; but Jesus says if you can’t worship me with all your heart don’t worship Me at all.” When we take into account the grace and mercy and blessing of God, anything less than wholehearted devotion and worship of God is inappropriate, offensive and blasphemous.  We are to seek and serve God with all our hearts and that is especially true of our worship (Psalm 9:1; 111:1; 119:10, 58, 69, 145).
The term “worship” found in this verse is shachah and means to bow down; prostrate oneself; to worship. In the Greek New Testament  “worship” is translated from the term proskuneo which means, “to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand; to fawn or crouch to, to prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore);  worship.” [1]
 
Picture in your mind the way a dog relates to its master. The prime attribute of a dog toward his master is that HIS MASTER IS HIS WORLD: security; provision; purpose for being; joy and happiness.  
 
Now notice the word wasn’t defined by saying, like a cat licking its master. Cats have no masters; or at least that’s the way it looks. Look at the contrast between dogs and cats toward their owners:
 
·         Dogs look up to you like you’re “God.” Cats look down on you as though they don’t need you.
·         Dogs follow you around the house and everywhere else. Cats don’t want any part of you most of the time.
·         Dogs want to lick you. Cats only want to be stroked and petted.
·         Dogs paw you. Cats claw you.
·         Dogs come when you call and will go anywhere with you. Cats won’t come when you call.
 
Be a dog not a cat in your worship relation to God. Be:
 
·         Totally devoted like a St. Bernard (used to rescue travelers lost in snow- small barrel of snaps around their neck)
·         Totally attentive like a German shepherd
·         Totally excited like a terrier
·         Totally obedient like a Golden retriever
·         Totally reliable like an Irish sheep dog or border collie who herd the flock
·         Totally strong in defense of their master like a bullmastiff
 
A have a friend who has a dog and it is a dog like all dogs that craves attention. If when I go over to my friend’s house I show any attention at all to his dog, the dog stays close and looks for more and more. The dog gets excited and jumpy (even though it is a big old furry dog). If I don’t pet it or rub its ears or scratch it, the dog nudges my hand with his nose and when I respond he joyously and excitedly licks my hand and shows me great affection. That’s the best way the dog knows how to show his appreciation and love. He doesn’t care who else is around watching him; he just goes all out to show he likes and appreciates my attention. That dog is far lower than a human on the chain of God’s creation, but humanity is far lower in relation to God in this universe, can we show God any less worship?
While God wants us to come humbly before Him, He does not endorse some of what is associated with worship at times. We should not take the above illustration too far. There have been instances when in the church people have literally acted like animals in their “worship.” This is out of order and not pleasing to God (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40). Our worship, as we will see, needs to be governed by the scriptures. If it isn’t found in the Bible, it isn’t something God endorses. Barking like dogs, squirming like worms and behaving like other farm animals is not worship, it isn’t revival, it is unbridled carnality and offends God not to mention discredits the Bride of Christ the Church.
Fifth, the heart of worship is a spiritual thing. David says he wholeheartedly praises God “before the gods I will sing praises to You” (138:1d). Worship is a spiritual thing; it takes place in a spiritual dimension where there are “gods.” Worship it makes a statement in the spiritual realm that God and God alone (the Triune God of the Bible) is worthy to be praised and glorified.
You must be born again! Therefore the first thing that must be in place for someone to worship God is that they be born again. When a person acknowledges and turns from their sins (i.e. repentance) and asks God’s forgiveness based on faith in Jesus Christ, they will be forgiven and the Holy Spirit will indwell them giving them spiritual eternal life (cf. John 3; Acts 2:38-39; 2 Cor. 5:17, 21). Just as you were born physically, you must have a second birth; you must be born again. Only with the regeneration and second birth of the Holy Spirit can you know and experience worship (cf. (Romans 8; 1 Cor. 2:9-14).
There will be spiritual opposition. There are many religions with many different “gods” (which are really no gods at all – 1 Corinthians 8:4-6). We need to understand that when we worship or seek to worship that all hell and the army of Satan will oppose us and seek to detour and distract us from worshipping God.
Put on your spiritual armor. We need therefore to put on the full armor of God to accomplish worship (Ephesians 6:10-18).  It is a shame and disgrace that sometimes those who worship false gods do so more wholeheartedly than those who worship the One true God! Some succumb to the distractions and deceptions of the enemy and have their heart of worship stifled. For some the opposition to worship is from within, form their carnal sinful nature (Romans 8; 1 Corinthians 3). Our worship should reflect the truth that God is real, omnipotent, holy and all loving. And we shouldn’t be bashful about our worship; stand up and be heard, you worship the Living God! (Psalm 42:2; 84:2; Isaiah 37:4, 17; Jeremiah 10:10; Daniel 6:20, 26; Hosea 1:10; Matthew 16:16; Acts 14:15; Romans 6:10; 2 Corinthians 3:3; 6:16; 1 Timothy 3:15; 4:10; Hebrews 9:14; 10:31).
Are there really any idols today? Read what one writer said about modern day idolatry:
What other gods could we have besides the Lord? Plenty. For Israel there were the Canaanite Baals, those jolly nature gods whose worship was a rampage of gluttony, drunkenness, and ritual prostitution. For us there are still the great gods Sex, Shekels, and Stomach (an unholy trinity constituting one god: self), and the other enslaving trio, Pleasure, Possessions, and Position, whose worship is described as “The lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). Football, the Firm, and Family are also gods for some. Indeed the list of other gods is endless, for anything that anyone allows to run his life becomes his god and the claimants for this prerogative are legion. In the matter of life’s basic loyalty, temptation is a many-headed monster. [2]
Yes, there are idols today and many are caught in the sin of idolatry. It may take a different form than in ages past, but it is idolatry nonetheless and it is just as sinful if not mores given the full revelation of God in His only Son Jesus Christ. We need to cast down our idols and worship God. God calls us to worship Him and cast down our idols (e.g. Jer. 4:1-4).
Worship is a Battle for Your heart
Worship is a battle for your heart. When Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil, it wasn’t long before Satan sought to win Jesus’ heart by getting Him to worship him. When we look at that incident we see the strategy of Satan exposed:
·         Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” (Mat. 4:8-10; see Exodus 20:2-3; 34:14; Deuteronomy 6:13; 10:20).
First , understand the devil wants your worship – “Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” To the devil worship is worth all the kingdoms of the world “and their glory.”  
Second, understand the devil thinks he can buy your worship; “And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”  The devil puts a price tag on your worship. Have you sold your worship?
Third, understand the devil should be shooed away – “Away with you Satan!” Satan is defeated (Col. 2:15). Jesus in us is greater than Satan in the world (1 John 4:4). God will cursh Satan under our feet (Rom. 16:20). All we need do is draw near to God in worship and resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:7).  
Fourth, understand worship is something we should do – “You shall worship the LORD your God.” Worship of God is not optional, it is something we need to do. And “the LORD your God” is the ONLY ONE to whom we are to give our worship.
Fifth, understand worship is equated with service – “and Him only you shall serve.” Jesus equates worship and service. We are not to worship people or anything else, we are to worship God alone (Acts 14:15; Matthew 6:24, 33-34; Luke 16:9, 11, 13). God alone is worthy to be praised and worshipped.
NOTICE: Here in Jesus’ words of response to Satan we find His definition of worship (and Jesus definition  is the only one that matters): For Jesus worship is service; presenting our lives to God every moment and living for His glory in everything we do. – “and Him only shall you SERVE.”
The apostle Paul echoes this definition of worship when he is inspired to write:
·         1 Cor. 10:31 – “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Worship is very practical. When your eyes are opened to see the magnificence of God the only reasonable thing to do is bow before Him. This is what Paul writes to the Romans after he has laid out the inspired and blessed powerful gospel he says:
  • Romans 12:1-2 - I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Worship is our only reasonable response to God’s gracious salvation. Romans 12:1-2 is really a response of worship. We so often take those verses out of their context. Worship is the key to understanding life. When we worship God appropriately, everything else will come together and begin to fit in place. These verses connect worship to living in a way that is holy and acceptable to God. Presenting our lives and heart to God entirely is the full sense of what worship is all about. Paul is inspired to say that this total commitment is the only reasonable way to respond to God’s provision. Are you beginning to see how worship is much more than merely singing in a service?
Worship strengthens us to resist conformity to the world; it works the worldliness right out of us. Romans 12:2 tells us worship helps us keep from conformity to the world; it works worldliness right out of us. To conform is to be put in a mold. Don’t let the world mold you. Worship God and let the Spirit mold you. Worship is god’s means of spiritual formation. Worship and be conformed to the likeness of Christ! (Romans 8:29).
Worship transforms us. This verse also tells us that worship has a transforming effect on us. Worship renews our mind and helps us to discover and prove God’s acceptable and perfect will for us in life. When we worship we live in the presence of God and that has a transforming impact on us. Moses looked at the back of God and was changed, we get to look into the glory of the Lord by the blood of Jesus and that changes us into the likeness of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:7-18).
Worship is the atmosphere in which we discern the will of God. With a heart of worship we are in the right frame of mind and heart to receive God’s word on His perfect will for our lives. It was during a time of worship that the Spirit chose Paul and Barnabas to go on a mission (Acts 13:1-3). If you worship, the Spirit may have a word for you too!
All of this is a consequence of worship defined in service. Serve the Lord with all your heart and you are worshipping. It’s in the service of worship that we are most reasonable, strengthened, and given direction in God’s will. That is fantastic! What a blessing it is to worship the Lord. God is awesome! Praise Him! Let’s worship Him!
Everything we do in life can be an act of worship. Paul was inspired to express this truth in the following way saying:
  • Colossians 3:23-24 - 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
Worship is doing whatever we do with all our heart as to the Lord. Mundane and even secular things we are involved in can become a means to worship. Mowing the lawn, yard work, your job, doing good works for others, serving in all aspects of the church, can all be a blessing to God and spirit building for us if we do them with all our heart – with a heart of worship.
Worship is God’s power tool to build us into the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:28-29). Worship is God’s spade to grow the fruit of the Spirit in us (Galatians 5:16, 24-25). Worship is God’s means to make us all we need to be so we can do all He calls us to do, for His glory, until He returns. “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!” (Psalm 29:2)
Worship is a way of life. Warren Weirsbe says of worship:
Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose -- and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.[3]
Sixth, the heart of worship is a public thing. Let’s look again at what David says in this psalm of worship. David says he wholeheartedly praises God “before the gods I will sing praises to You” (138:1d). These words tell us not only that worship is something spiritual, but that it involves singing in public. Worship involves open expression  “before the gods.” There are all kinds of outward expressions mentioned in the Bible as part of worship.  
Singing and using musical instruments is a Biblically supportable way to worship the Lord. Some churches forbid the use of musical instruments in their worship. Some churches forbid certain types of instruments or music in worship. But the Bible gives evidence that we can use all different kinds of musical instruments in our worship (Psalm 33:1-3; 71:22; 81:2; 87:7; 92:1-3; 98:5-6; 144:9; 147:7; 149:3; 150:3-6).
 
Singing with all our heart. When I was a young boy my parents used to drag me to church. There were reasons why I didn’t want to go. It was boring; I didn’t see much that was different in the people where I went to church. I did see something different in a few, but in most I saw other people who didn’t seem like they wanted to be there either. One thing that communicated this to me was the singing in worship. The church I attended with my parents as a young boy was one of those churches where people sing just enough to be able to say they were singing if asked, but not really enough to be heard. It was really dead singing; lips barely moving; heads looking down; and that embarrassed look if by chance they should catch anyone looking at them. For most singing was uncomfortable; their heart wasn’t in it. There were a number of reasons why I didn’t want to go to that church as a young boy, and the lackluster, halfhearted, dead singing was one of them. If God is all we say He is, then He is worth singing to – worshipping – with all our heart. Unfortunately I sometimes see the same thing today. If our worship is to be wholehearted, then our singing should show that.
 
Singing can be a gauge of one’s heart condition. When you sing in worship to the Lord, are you barely singing as though your heart were the size of a pea, or are you singing with all you’ve got as though your heart were the size of a watermelon?  When you sing do you sing to the Lord or for the benefit of the people around you? When you sing do you care more of what the Lord hears or more about what the person next to you hears? If your singing reflects more of a concern for what other people think about you than what God does, then your singing is exposing a part of your carnal fleshly nature. When we sing in worship we should sing with everything we’ve got to the Lord. I remember the church I attended as a young Christian; there was a reason why I attended that church. Worship was a big reason why I attended that church. It wasn’t necessarily the most polished or best worship, though the worship leader was a gifted and Spirit filled brother. Let me tell you about the most impressive part of the worship that helped draw me to this church.
 
Singing does not depend on ability. Those who lead worship need to be skilled and gifted in doing so (e.g. 1 Sam. 16:16-18; 1 Chron. 25:1-7). But as individuals in the congregation of the Lord all we need is a heart to worship in order to worship. Years ago there were two brothers who attended this church with me. They were impressively muscular manly men who had been broken in humility and built back up in love by the Lord. These were brothers in Christ who loved the Lord with all their heart. They were serious about their walk with the Lord. They left a mark on me and taught me something about worship I needed to learn as a young believer. What did these burly brothers in the Lord teach me? They loved the Lord so much that when they sang in worship they did so with all their heart and might. They sang loud and clear. Well, I need to mention here that these two brothers were not musically or vocally gifted. In fact they couldn’t sing a lick. These brothers sang so out of tune that if you sat next to them you’d be dragged into their tuneless praise. We’d try to arrange that they at least sat separate from each other because if they sat together and sang they’d throw the whole congregation out of sync in song. They knew they were out of tune and they would sometimes even apologize for being out of tune. But they did the best, the very best they could, and they sang with all their heart. We used to joke that by the time such singing reached through the clouds to heaven, the sound would be filtered so that it sounded like the best operatic voices. The important point is that their singing was with their whole heart. They sang to the Lord, not to people. How do you sing? Are you out of tune? So what? You may not be eligible for the choir or to lead worship, but you can still offer God a sacrifice of praise in song. Sing away my brother and sister in Christ, sing away! Your heavenly Father sees your heart in your sacrifice of song to Him and He loves it. Sing away!
 
What about our songs of worship? The Bible says whatever songs are used in worshipping the Lord should be psalmic (i.e. musical), hymnic (i.e. lyrically about God), and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:18-19; Colossians 3:16). This also implies that the songs sung to God in worship should be singable so that the congregation can join together in lifting their voices before the Lord in song. Music made in worship of God should be joyful (Psalm 81:1; 95:1-2; 98:4-6; 100:1-2). The music and song of worship should be centered on God and be an offering of praise and thanksgiving to Him for all He has done (Psalm 47:6-7; 57:7-10; 59:16-17; 61:8; 66:4; 67:3-4; 68:32; 89:1; 98:1; 101:1; 104:33; 146:1-2; 147:1; 149:1). Worship should aim at expressing thanks and praise for the redemptive work of God in Jesus Christ (Psalm 40:1-3; Revelation 5:8-14).
 
Worship is about Him it’s not about “me.” So much of worship in the present day focuses on us rather than God. The best worship is worship that starts, proceeds and ends with focusing on God and His work. Whether we realize it or not, that will have a great impact on us because when we fix our eyes on our awesome God, it puts our problems into proper perspective. You either have a small God and big problems or a great God and small problems. Worship focused on us or on people results in a reliance on human feebleness. Right worship exalts God in a way that enables us to get through the hardest of trials or situations.
What about physical outward expressions in worship? Clapping your hands in worship is Biblical (Psalm 47:1; 98:8). Lifting up your hands up in worship is Biblical (Psalm 28:2; 63:3-5; 134:1-2; 141:2; Lamentations 2:193:41; 1 Timothy 2:8). Saying, “Amen” in worship when we end our prayers (Psalm 72:19-20; Matthew 6:13; 1 Corinthians 14:16), to express agreement with God and His word (Deuteronomy 27:15-26; Revelation 22:20), and to bless the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:34-36; Nehemiah 8:6; Psalm 41:13; 72:18-19; 89:52; 106:48; Romans 1:25; 9:5) is Biblical. Bowing our heads and bowing our knees in worship is Biblical (Genesis 24:48; Exodus 4:31; 12:27; 1 Chronicles 29:20; Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:9-11)is Biblical. These are all Biblically sound expressions of our worship before God.
Worship should be decent and orderly. But having said all that, it’s important that our outward expressions of worship do not press beyond the Biblical guidelines prescribed for them. We should never worship in a way that draws attention to ourselves and away from God (Matthew 6:1-2, 5, and 16). We should be mindful of those around us and not only worship the Lord in a way that pleases ourselves and disregards how it affects others (Romans 15:1-2). The most important thing in worship is that our hearts are right before God (1 Samuel 16:7; mark 7:6-7; 1 Timothy 2:8). God is a God of order not chaos (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40) and because of that our worship should never be out of control (1 Corinthians 14:32).
Seventh, the heart of worship focuses on the holy presence of God. David states, “I will worship toward Your holy temple” (138:2a; see also Psalm 29:1-2; 96:7-9; 99:5, 9; Isaiah 6). When David says he will worship toward the Temple we need to keep in mind that the Temple was central to Israel because it was where God made His glorious presence known ( 2 Chronicles 7:1; see  context of 2 Chronicles 6 and 7).  In the future the glory of God will fill the Millennial Temple (Ezekiel 43).  When we worship we should aim at acknowledging and entering into His presence. God is omnipresent; but we do not always acknowledge or sense His presence. God’s presence is not dependent on our sensing it. But worship, if it is to be true worship, needs to be an act of prayerfully coming into His presence, His holy presence. The Temple was a holy place, a unique place because it was where God chose to make His present known. This was not taken lightly and moved God’s people to approach Him reverently. There should be a reverence when we worship God. When we worship, we are stepping from the mundane commonness of life into a special place where God is allowing us to meet with Him.
Notice it states, “I will worship toward Your holy temple. “ In other words, no matter what I am doing I will do it with a consciousness of Your presence; my life revolves around my worship of You.  
Eighth, the heart of worship praises God for His loving kindness and truth. David continues, “And praise Your name for Your loving kindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name” (138:2b,c). You can’t worship God without His word. You can’t worship God properly outside the parameters of His word. If your worship contradicts God’s word in terms of God’s revelation of Himself, His truth, and His word, you are not worshipping God you are blaspheming God. Worship should be the magnification of God and His word. When we worship we should get a deeper sense and see clearly, up close and personally the essence and substance, the profundity of God’s word.
When Jesus said that proper was worship involving “spirit and truth” (John 4:24), He was pointing to worship that was led by the Holy Spirit and that followed the truth of God’s word (e.g. 1 Corinthians 14:33, 40). Worship is defined and ordered by the word of God. God exalts His word even above His own name so we should keep it in heart and mind when worshipping Him. Some mistakenly look at God’s word as a hindrance to worship. They mistakenly say, “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). But the letter kills in the sense that it exposes the sinner as utterly sinful and then points them to the cross (Galatians 3:24). We wouldn’t know what worship is or how to worship without God’s revelation in His word. And we will not worship God acceptably if we go beyond its revelation of what true acceptable worship is. (See the value of God’s word in Psalm 119).
Ninth, the heart of worship is a cry for strength. In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul” (138:3). In worship we come weak and frail and declare our dependence on God seeking His answer to our weakness. We declare our dependence in worship by crying out to the Lord as the psalmist did (Psalm 56:9; 119:145, 146; 141:1; 142:1). This verse implies therefore that our lack of boldness is due in part to a lack of worship. If we worship the Lord He will embolden us and empower us to glorify Him in the lost world. Worship encourages us in the most basic meaning of the word; worship gives us courage.
Tenth, the heart of worship declares that in the end every knee will bow before the Lord.All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O LORD, when they hear the words of Your mouth. Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD” (138:4-5). “All the kings” will praise God and declare His glory in the end. We need to look forward to the final victory of God when we worship (Psalm 72:11; 102:15, 22; Philippians 2:8-11; Revelation 11:15; 21:24). This therefore means that worship instills hopefulness in us even when defeat looks us in the face. When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of God will raise up a standard against him and the way He does that is through the worship of God (Isaiah 59:19).
Eleventh, the heart of worship recognizes God’s willingness to meet with us. “Though the LORD is on high, yet He regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar” (138:6). Even though God is high and lifted up, holy and transcendent, he stoops down to meet with us in worship. In God’s presence is fullness of joy and everlasting pleasures (Psalm 16:11; Acts 2:28). Jesus is Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23). Where two or three meet in the name of Jesus, He is there (Matthew 18:20). Jesus is the word made flesh (John 1:1-2, 14). God has taken the initiative to meet with us through the blood of Jesus that now makes this possible (Hebrews 4:15-16; 10:19-22). That is a wonderful thing to worship the Lord about.
Lucifer was corrupted when he looked at his worship and became proud of himself. This led to rebellion against God and his being cast out of heaven (Isaiah 14; Ezek. 28). There’s something about worship that tempts us to be proud. We can be proud in the way we worship; such as the way we play an instrument or sing. Or we can be too proud to worship; we are embarrassed by the way we can’t sing. God gives grace to the humble but He opposes and knows from afar those who approach Him in pride (1 Peter 5:5-6). Humble yourself before God in worship and He will help you enter into His presence.
Twelfth, the heart of worship is God’s means to revival. “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me” (138:7). Even though we may be beaten down by enemies who persecute us; even though the things of life may be beating us down; if we worship the Lord, He will revive us (see Psalm 143). Worship revives the soul; even the soul of the elderly (Psalm 71:17-21). If you are down and nearly out in life, worship the Lord and God will lift you up out of that pit and revive your soul. Worship is a major means of overcoming depression and mental stress. Worship the Lord and He will lift you up (Psalm 80:14-19; 85:4-7; Isaiah 57:15-21).
Thirteenth, the heart of worship leads to spiritual maturity. David says, “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands” (138:8). The idea of the word “perfect” means to come to fulfillment; to come to maturity; to develop to the intended purpose and end. Therefore, worship is a means by which we become all God intended us to be. Worship is a way God makes us to be all we need to be so we can do and experience all God intends for us to do and experience with Him.
In the New Testament we are told:
  • Colossians 3:14-17 - 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Worship is at the heart of those verses. Worship is an expression of one’s love for God. When we express our love for God He works to mature us and perfect our faith. Coming into the presence of our holy God in worship gives us a glimpse of His glory. Like Moses in the Old Testament whose countenance was transformed by his contact with God’s glory, we too are transformed as we experience the glory of God in worship (2 Corinthians 3:7-18).
How important is worship? A.W. Tozer wrote of the importance of worship saying:
I would rather worship God than do any other thing I know of in all this world. ... I cannot sing a lick, but that is nobody’s business. God thinks I am an opera star! . . . The beautiful part of worship is that it prepares you and enables you to zero in on the important things that must be done for God. Listen to me! Practically every great deed done in the church of Christ all the way back to the apostle Paul was done by people blazing with the radiant worship of their God. . . . Wherever the church has come out of her lethargy, rising from her sleep and into the tides of revival and spiritual renewal, always the worshippers were back of it. (Ibid. p. 18, 19)
May God revive and perfect us for His glory as we seek to worship Him. And the way that prayer can be answered is in our worship of God. We need to worship the Lord in all we do and in all we think and in all we say. We need God to revive a renewed sense of His holiness and presence and worship is His prescribed tool to do that. This generation may be one of if not the last generation. Let’s make it a generation that worships the Lord.
The Welsh Revival of 1904-1905, of which Evan Roberts was greatly used, and that transformed Wales for the better and saw over 150,000 souls saved, was to a large part a revival centered on praise. It was a revival filled with worship and praise. One of the most popular songs that came out of this revival was Here is Love:


Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout Heaven’s eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.

Let me all Thy love accepting,
Love Thee, ever all my days;
Let me seek Thy kingdom only
And my life be to Thy praise;
Thou alone shalt be my glory,
Nothing in the world I see.
Thou hast cleansed and sanctified me,
Thou Thyself hast set me free.

In Thy truth Thou dost direct me
By Thy Spirit through Thy Word;
And Thy grace my need is meeting,
As I trust in Thee, my Lord.
Of Thy fullness Thou art pouring
Thy great love and power on me,
Without measure, full and boundless,
Drawing out my heart to Thee.[4]

 



[1]Strong, J. (1997, c1996). The new Strong's dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words (electronic ed.) (G4352). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[2] Your Father Loves You by James Packer, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986, page for April 17 found at http://www.bible.org/illus.asp?topic_id=772
 
[3] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Integrity Crisis, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991, p. 119. Quote of William Temple (15 October 1881 – 26 October 1944)
 
[4] Words: William Rees (1802-1883), vers­es 1-2 (Dyma gar­iad fel y mor­oedd); Will­iam Will­iams pos­sib­ly wrote vers­es 3-4; trans­lat­ed from Welsh to Eng­lish byWil­liam Ed­wards in The Bap­tist Book of Praise, 1900. Music: Ro­bert Low­ry, 1876 (MI­DI, score).