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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Spirtual Service of Worship

Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

There is a difference between worship itself and the ways in which I worship. Worship does not equal acts of service, just like love does not equal acts of love. Because I love my husband, I give him a back rub. A back rub does not equal love, but rather is an expression of it. It is entirely possible to give someone a back rub without loving them. It is even entirely possible for me to give my husband a back rub without being motivated by love in my action that day.

In John 4:23-24, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well that “the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." God wants us to grow in our Biblical understanding of who He is (in truth), and He wants us to worship Him with sincerity of our affection (in spirit).

Worship is my love, adoration, affection, and reverence for God, and this manifests in my actions. My actions only constitute “service of worship” if they are a manifestation of a heart of adoration, affection, and reverence for God.

Dear God, I pray that you grow me in an accurate knowledge of you by opening my eyes to your truth in Scripture. I pray that you would fill my heart with increasing love, adoration, affection, and reverence for you as I see who you are in Scripture. I pray that my actions would stem from this love, adoration, affection, and reverence of you, so that they would be a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to you. In Jesus’ glorious name, Amen.

Below is a link to a great sermon by Pastor John Piper on worshipping in spirit and in truth. I listened to this sermon twice today because it was that good and because my mind is too slow to soak up all the goodness with just one listening.

Here are some highlights:

“Worship is first and foremost an experience of the heart. Prayer without heart is vain. Songs without heart are vain. Confession and creeds and liturgies and sermons that don't come from the heart are empty and worthless in God's eyes.”

“Worship must be vital and real from within and it must be based on a true perception of God. Now verse 23 (John 4:23) sums this up with the key phrase "in spirit and truth": ‘But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.’ The two words, spirit and truth, correspond to the how and the whom of worship. Worshiping in spirit is the opposite of worshiping in mere external ways. It's the opposite of formalism and traditionalism. Worshiping in truth is the opposite of worship based on an inadequate view of God. Together the words "spirit and truth" mean that real worship comes from the spirit within and is based on true views of God. Worship must have heart and worship must have head. Worship must engage your emotions and worship must engage your thought. Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full of unspiritual fighters. Emotion without truth produces empty frenzy and cultivates flaky people who reject the discipline of rigorous thought. True worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love deep and sound doctrine. Therefore, as a pastor I agree with Jonathan Edwards when he said, "I should think myself in the way of my duty, to raise the affections of my hearers as high as I possibly can, provided they are affected with nothing but truth, and with affections that are not disagreeable to the nature of what they are affected with." I think of it something like this: The fuel of worship is the truth of a gracious, sovereign God; the furnace of worship is your spirit; and the heat of worship is the vital affections of reverence, fear, adoration, contrition, trust, joy, gratitude, and hope. But something is missing from that analogy, namely, fire. The fuel of truth in the furnace of your spirit does not automatically produce the heat of worship. There has to be fire, which I think is the Holy Spirit.”

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