Archive for April 28th, 2009

This blog is a part of a blog series called “The Heart of a Worshipper” series, or HWS. My prayer is that you will be blessed and transformed as you grow in your own worship of the King of Kings.

“Heart, Soul, Mind & Strength” Worship, Part 2

In Part 1, we began to look at Warren Wiersbe’s definition of Worship:

“Worship is the believer’s response of all that they are – mind, emotions, will, and body – to what God is and says and does. This response has its mystical side in subjective experience and it’s practical side in objective obedience to God’s revealed will. Worship is a loving response that’s balanced by the fear of the Lord, and it is a deepening response as the believer comes to know God better. And what should be the result of all this? Transformation.”
     (page 26, Real Worship)

The blog title came from comparing Wiersbe’s definition with Mark 12:30:

Mark 12:30

Wiersbe’s Definition of Worship

Love the Lord your God with
all your…
Worship is the believer’s response
of all their…
     Heart      Emotions
     Soul      Will
     Mind      Mind
     Strength      Body

Today we want to look at what it means to worship God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

With All My Heart and Soul (Emotions and Will)
Good worship defies description because it is a time when we experience the indescribable God. Psalm 34:8 says “Taste and see that the LORD is good.” I don’t know about you, but that has always seemed kind of strange to me. “Taste and see.” It speaks of both the experiential and the objective. Have you ever tried to describe how something very unique tastes? Well, our God is unique in the truest sense of the word – there is none like Him. Or how about describing to someone who’s never been in love what it feels like to fall in love. There are many words that you might use, but none are adequate to convey the experience. Similarly, true worship often defies adequate description. It includes adoration and subjectively experiencing the Presence of God or hearing the Voice of God.

In the first blog in this series, I quoted William Temple, the archbishop of Canterbury in the 1940s. He describes adoration as “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.” I can’t be sure, but I’m guessing that you’re a lot like me and you could use some of that remedy for self-centeredness.

How should our emotions be involved in worship? We worship God because He is worthy and because He commands us to, not because it makes us feel good or because it’s fun (even though it is fun and it does make us feel good!). True worship must begin with the character of God. True worship involves a revelation of who God is – the Holy Spirit reveals God’s nature and character to us and we are compelled to worship Him. It’s not an emotional thing, it’s our response to the truth of God’s nature and character.

Our response should involve our emotions, however, because one can’t look upon the nature and character of God without responding emotionally. To hold back those emotions or to deny them is being dishonest with ourselves and God. It also cheapens our worship. Our emotions are part of what it means to be created “in the image of God”. We worship and serve an emotional God – not one who is ruled by His emotions, but certainly one who experiences them. To deny our emotions is to respond dishonestly to what the Spirit is revealing to us. But worship isn’t based on our emotions or how we’re feeling; it’s based on the character and nature of God.

With All My Mind and Strength
Some friends were discussing some doctrinal issues and differences. I made a comment about sometimes becoming frustrated with discussions about seemingly minor points of doctrine that have no practical application. One of them appropriately corrected me, saying “But Sandy, this is loving God with our mind.” He wasn’t saying that arguing about doctrinal differences is OK; rather that honest discussions about what Scripture teaches sharpens our knowledge and understanding of it. 2 Timothy 2:15 says “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (NASB)

We love God with our minds by studying Scripture (even those parts that seem to us to have no practical application), by memorizing it so that we can carry it with us, by meditating on it so that God can reveal the full meaning of it to us, and by discussing it with others. I think it brings a smile to God’s face and a warmth to His heart when His children excitedly discuss His word. After all, He wrote it. Scripture tells us that ” All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV)

But it’s not study, study, study all the time…there comes a time to implement what we learn! Wiersbe describes this as the “practical side” of worship – “obedience to God’s revealed will.” Phil and I often jokingly say to one another “If you really loved me you’d ____________.” We fill in the blank with whatever chore it is that we don’t want to do at the time – wash the dishes, visit a client, be the first one to get out of bed and into the shower! We’re joking, because we know that our love isn’t conditional upon doing those things. But there is also truth in the statement. When we love someone, we do things to please and help them. Those actions demonstrate or show our love.

In the Lord, that means that we are obedient to God’s revealed will. What is God’s revealed will? It’s first and foremost the whole of Scripture and secondarily those things that He has revealed to use as His will for our lives (such as being called to teach Children’s Church or participate on a worship team or lead a small group). It sometimes seems like the equivalent of washing the dishes for the one you love, but when it’s done out of love and devotion to God, the “chore” becomes an act of adoration.

Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength Worship…Brings Transformation
True worship also must touch God’s holiness. Returning to Weirsbe’s definition, “Worship is a loving response that’s balanced by the fear of the Lord, and it is a deepening response as the believer comes to know God better.” No matter how near we draw to God, our worship must remain authentic (real) and respectful. God is not fooled by displays of worship that do not come from repentant and loving heart. As we worship God in holiness and truth, He reveals more of Himself to us. He allows us to gaze upon His beauty and to experience His love in a greater way. This evokes in us a deeper response in us.

Scientists have proven that looking at a picture of someone we are passionately in love with releases the same chemical in our brain that causes a person to become addicted to drugs. When we are in love with Jesus, gazing upon His face can have the same affect! I want nothing more than to become addicted to Jesus! I want my worship of the Lord to be “all gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable.” True worship brings us to the point of surrendering all that we are and all that we have to God’s purpose. That’s the transformation that Warren Wiersbe talks about.

It’s the transformation that Paul talks about in Romans 12:1-2. Notice that this is a passage about worship:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will. (italics mine)

Lord, Help Us to Worship You
Worship has both an experiential and an objective element. So we pray, Lord, free our minds and our emotions to respond as You would have us respond. Give us a willingness to be touched by You in worship, both experientially and objectively.

Worship is based on God’s revealed nature and character; it touches God’s beauty, His holiness and His heart. So we ask: Holy Spirit, reveal more of God’s nature and character to us. Lord, we ask that you reveal Your beauty and holiness to us. We ask that You show us Your heart. Give us Your heart, Lord.

True Worship requires that our total devotion and attention focused on God. So Lord, we ask for your help. We confess that we are easily distracted, and we don’t want to be. We want to focus on You and You alone.

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