Worship Is More Than a Song

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Darlene Zschech

Worshiping our Savior, Jesus Christ, is fundamental to living a
faith-filled, Spirit-led Christian life. There are multiple worship
methods, plans and styles that vary among cultures and geographic
boundaries.

The Lord enjoys the diversity of sincere worship when
expressed through His Spirit and in truth. Worship should be a way of
life, with many facets of expression.

Some worship leaders declare that a certain defining style
of worship is the only correct way to worship the Lord, but that is a
narrow view of His inexhaustible riches. Music and song are ways we can
praise God’s name, but the Word says we can worship God with feasting
(see Ps. 22:29) and with sacrifices and offerings (see Is. 19:21), among
other means.

 Regardless of the method, the act of worship must be in spirit and
truth—from our rational consciousness and consistent with the rest of
our lives (see John 4:24). We don’t have to be great singers or
musicians to worship God. But we do need to be in a personal
relationship with Him and live with the truth of His greatness
reflecting through all we are becoming and all we do.


I have lived under the weight of many unhealthy labels in
my life. But I have a longing in me for the King of heaven to label me,
along with Mary of Bethany, as an “extravagant worshiper” (see John
12:3).

Extravagant worship is not achieved by taking shortcuts. I
have tried shortcuts to worship, and I have tried to do things my way,
but I ended up frustrated and farther away from my goal.

Worship involves the giving of ourselves totally to the
Lord. It is neither a ritualistic activity nor a musical emotion. It
reflects the selfless generosity of Christ.

Worship is a movement of our hearts, our thoughts, and our
wills toward God’s heart, thoughts, and will. To practice extravagant
worship, you’ll need to get good at saying, “I lay down my life.”


Sacrificial Worship Pleases God

In the Old Testament, Noah was an extravagant worshiper.
Genesis 8:20-21 tells about his building an altar to the Lord after the
flood and sacrificing offerings on it.

Noah had just witnessed the drowning of all mankind save
him and his family. Yet he was still obedient to God’s instruction to
offer a sacrifice of praise when they were on dry land again.

When the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma of Noah’s
sacrifice, He gave us a covenant promise that He would not ever destroy
all living creatures again because of one man who offered extravagant,
overgenerous worship in obedience to God’s command. Noah lived through
extreme circumstances, but he still praised God in the midst of them.


Likewise, when God tested Abraham, He said, “‘Take your
son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of
Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I
will tell you about'” (Gen. 22:2).

Abraham built the altar and then bound his son and laid
him on it. But when he took up his knife to slay his precious boy, “The
angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’

“‘Here I am,’ he replied.

“‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do
anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not
withheld from me your son, your only son'” (vv. 11-12).


Abraham was excessive in his act of worship. He was prepared to give to the Lord the thing he loved the most.

David wanted to offer a sacrifice to the Lord to stop a
plague on the Lord’s people. So he asked Araunah to sell him a place on
his threshing floor to build an altar (see 1 Chr. 21:18-22).

Araunah wanted to give the area and livestock needed for
David’s sacrifice at no charge. But David said, “‘No, I insist on paying
the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or
sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing'” (see vv. 23-24).

When Paul and Silas were in jail, even though they had
been flogged for preaching the gospel and now had their feet in stocks,
they prayed and sang to God. Suddenly, while they were worshiping, a
violent earthquake opened all the doors of the prison.


Thinking his prisoners had escaped, the jailer was so
distraught that he was about to kill himself, but Paul and Silas stopped
him and led him to salvation before they were released. God
supernaturally delivered them from that prison (see Acts 16:23-39).

Throughout the Bible, whenever someone demonstrated
extravagant worship, God reacted with extravagant blessing. What makes
worship extravagant? It must cost us something.

Worship is an act of obedient faith, even when
circumstances offer opportunities to fear. It is also a life of
extravagant love for God. Worship, love and obedience are tied together.

As you seek first the kingdom of God and obey the Spirit
of God, He calls you on to a deeper knowledge of Himself. The first
commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all
your soul, and with all your mind (see John 14:21-24; Matt. 22:37).


David prayed, “Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear
your name” (Ps. 86:11). Make this your prayer as you serve God
passionately with your life. This will cause the blessings of heaven to
pour out upon your world.

Love Expresses Worship

To be a worshiper is to fall in love with God, the Author
of love, and accept the love He has for you. God gave you His Word as a
living love letter that contains everything you will ever need to get
through this life and beyond.

His love is at work within us, filling us to the measure
with the fullness of God. If we could understand even an inkling of this
love Christ has for us, our hearts would be full of extravagant worship
for the One who loves us so much.


The many songs I’ve written to express my love for God
don’t come close to what I’m trying to say. But I can demonstrate my
love for God by living out my part of the Great Commission and bringing
the Author of love to our love-starved planet. I can determine to love
others as He loves.

When I was saved I cried and cried in the presence of God.
Tears of gratitude flowed easily as He restored my heart and filled me
with His unconditional love. Now all I want to do is sing of His
awesome, healing love forever.

One of the biggest challenges in life for the mind and
soul is simply to accept God’s love for you as a gift. It is the
greatest absolute in your life.

John 3:16 states, “For God so greatly loved and dearly
prized the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (The Amplified
Bible). Because His love is in our hearts, we have the power to love
others (see 1 John 4:7-13).


Loving others is an act of worship toward the Author of
love. But until you know through personal experience who God is, you
will never know the depth of His love for you. And until you know that
you are loved, you can never love others as you love yourself (see Matt.
22:39).

Know Your Worth to God

Many people, including myself, have battled with
insecurity, inadequacy and intimidation. It is difficult to carry the
weight of inferiority into our time of worship.

Worship is a time to focus on who God is. It is a time to
enjoy the awesome authority and anointing that He puts on His people who
come into His presence with praise. Sometimes the enemy works very hard
to keep us from worshiping freely, but sometimes we simply lack
discipline in our thought life.


If we read the Word and keep God’s truth in our hearts, we
will focus our attention on His greatness and on the value that He
places on us. God sees all our inadequacies through the blood of Christ.
Because of Jesus, our heavenly Father sees us just as He sees His
Son—beautiful and perfect.

God looks at us just as a loving parent looks at his
children. My three daughters could be naughty, but I look at them, and I
think they are perfect.

Unapologetically, I think they are magnificent. That is
the heart of a parent. How much more does God look at us and say, “Oh,
they are My precious, beloved children.”

When you understand who you are in Christ, a rest enters
your soul that cannot coexist with striving and struggling. Just as
darkness cannot coexist with light, striving for approval does not
coexist with confidence in His grace. And who you are in Christ matters
more than what you do.


I was the girl “least likely to succeed.” But my future has never relied on anyone else’s opinion of my ability.

I’m a testimony of God’s grace. The very least we can do
is give God our lives and let Him show us the great things He can do
through our yielded hearts and hands.

We have been created with the divine purpose of having
Jesus as the center of our existence. We were created to worship Him in
all we do (see Heb. 10:19-23).

Through worship we put Christ as the chief cornerstone of
our lives, and the power we have access to in His presence is real. He
longs for us to draw closer to Him.


God has cleansed our hearts and made them pure so that we
can stand in His presence. We can continue to praise our mighty Lord—to
sing, clap, dance, celebrate, get soaked in His presence and be
overwhelmed by His grace.

Offer Him Your Heart

One thing that can stop us from being truthful worshipers
is feeling as if we have nothing to offer to God. Feeling empty-handed
with nothing to contribute to the relationship with God can stop us from
plunging boldly into worship.

God says, “I don’t need your talent. I don’t need your
gift. I don’t want all the stuff that you can do. I just want you. I
want your heart.”


God doesn’t want what you are going to be or what you would like to be. He wants all that you are today.

When we worship Him, He is exalted, and our problems
shrivel in His presence. Everything about us—the good, the bad and the
ugly—is decreased as we focus on Him.

Offer yourself to God in worship. Let that explosion of
faith force you to praise His name and offer your attention to bless
Him. Through your worship, love and obedience, you will bless God
because He looks past all the stuff of life and looks straight at the
heart.

Darlene Zschech has been part of the Hillsong Church
praise team since 1986 and is the co-producer of Hillsong Music
Australia’s highly successful albums. Adapted from
Extravagant Worship by Darlene Zschech, copyright © 2002. Published by Bethany House. Used by permission.



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