Worship That Pleases God

One of the most common aspects and desires of the disciple of Jesus Christ is to worship God. By definition, worship is "the reverent love shown to God" and, "the act of paying divine honors to the Supreme Being; or the reverence and homage paid to Him in religious exercises, consisting in adoration, confession, prayer, thanksgiving and the like." It should be a willing and willful act of every disciple out of genuine and deep love for God for what He has done for each one of us, not something dictated by others or even by God Himself. Note well that Jesus said, “the Father is seeking such people to worship Him” (John 4:23) — not "commanding" or "coercing" people to worship Him. The commands are for how it is to be done, but whether or not we worship Him at all depends on how well we recognize His worthiness of our reverent love.

      If our goal is to be the best disciple we can be, and do the most we can do, then let us for today take a look at the matter of how we can offer up worship that is pleasing to God. When we consider the reality of who God is and who we are, we can hopefully recognize the worthiness of God to be worshiped, and the demand for us to offer up our best to Him as a matter of respect, rather than as a "requirement." I am afraid we often convince ourselves that our worship is "good enough" for God and we get comfortable with that, and then we cease trying to improve anymore and we do not seek to do any better in what we offer to God as our worship. I believe God is worthy of not just worship, but worship that pleases Him. How can we do that? May I suggest a couple of things that should happen before we come together to worship Him?

      Make God The Focus. Far too often in American congregations, God is not the focus. Is that hard to believe? Does that even sound right, or even possible? Sadly, it is the case, for even as these congregations offer up highly-emotional songs and emotionally-charged sermons and assemblies, the focus is not on God, but on the audience, and making them feel good about being there. In reality, it is completely backwards in the way man should approach God!

      The basis of everything we will ever do in our worship must be the exaltation of God, for it determines whether or not what is offered is worship at all. An exaltation of God must be the beginning point of all worship, else we begin to think about what we want, or what others might want and what God wants is not even considered. How can He be truly worshiped if His ways are not under consideration? Let us, like the psalmist, “Exalt the Lord our God” (Psa. 99:5), and “extol Him in the congregation of the people” (Psa. 107:32) as the basis for our worship of Him, and then let us express our reverent love for Him in worship. If we put God in His proper place — higher than all — then our worship will naturally follow.

      But making God the focus means I must be primarily interested in knowing and doing what God says I should do when I offer up my worship to Him. Why would I think I could be the one who determines what I can offer to Him as worship, and how I do it? Isn't that a bit arrogant? Even under the Old Law, God expected His people to make their offerings in the way He had commanded and demanded as their God. When they did not, He questioned them: “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence?” (Mal. 1:6). They had dishonored and disrespected Him by not offering what He had commanded. He would go on to say to them, “Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?” (Mal. 1:8). I am sure they knew that he would not! But what about our offerings to God today? Would He be pleased with what we offer to Him? To answer that, we must consider if we have done all things as He demands!

      Think About What God Has Done For You. To ensure we are offering true worship means we must ensure we are doing it out of love. Since we love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19), this means our love for Him will increase the more we think about what He has done for us, and how that love was demonstrated. So, on what should we think to help us to increase our love for Him, and improve our worship?

      First, think about the plan for our salvation that He established before time. Consider the fact that God didn't just come up with this plan for our salvation after we had sinned; He had it in place before we existed! As Paul wrote, God has “saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:8-10). Peter reminds us that we were not purchased with gold or silver or any earthly precious thing, but “with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times” (1 Pet. 1:18-20). It is simply beyond my comprehension why God — knowing that we would sin and how much we would sin — would conceive such a plan for such unholy and unrighteous people, much less love us! When I do think about it, my love for Him grows and I want to express my reverent love for Him,

      Next, think about that sacrifice that Jesus made, offering His “precious blood” to redeem us and forgive us of our sins. Every week when we come together and take out time in the worship assembly to participate in the partaking of the Lord's Supper, we are hopefully remembering the great sacrifice that was made by God and by Christ. How do you feel each time you partake? Does your love for God constantly increase because it makes you think about the great love that God showed to you by being willing to give up His Son (Rom. 5:8)? Does your love for the Lord increase when you think about the love that He demonstrated towards us (Eph. 5:2) in willingly suffering such horrible persecutions, torture, and the death on the cross for us — His enemies? Brethren, if that does not increase our love for Him and if it does not move us to want to more frequently and more acceptably offer up true worship to God and Christ, then I can tell you nothing else that would.

      Finally, think about your life, personally, and what God has done for you. Have you been blessed? Have you had good health? Have all your needs been supplied? These, and a hundred other questions could be asked to help us see that God has certainly provided for us when we seek Him first (cf. Matt. 6:33), and even more worthy of our love and devotion — and our worship. At the very least, we should bring Christ's sacrifice down to a personal level, as did Paul, to be reminded of one of the greatest reasons God is worthy of love and worship: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

            With the proper focus and proper motivation, it is then that our worship will be pleasing to God.            — Steven Harper