On November 18th, 1979 I gave my life to Jesus, and I was clueless. I didn’t know the first thing about how to live for Jesus. I didn’t know about the Bible, church, doctrine, and I surely didn’t know about worship.
I was a rock and roller who God graciously drew unto himself. And I mean graciously because I didn’t deserve it.
Because of that, I fell in love with Jesus. I was the sinner who was forgiven much. And even though I didn’t realize it at the time, because of that love, I became a worshiper.
I was like the leper in Matthew 8. I didn’t know a lot, but I knew that Jesus could make me clean.
Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. 2 Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”3 Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.
Over the years I have come to realize that people express their worship in a myriad of ways. The church that was instrumental in leading me to Christ and giving me my foundations was a hymn-singing church. In all honesty, it didn’t fit well for me. The instruments and melodies were strange to me. It was not what I was used to. Except for a few classics like “How Great Thou Art” and “It Is Well” most of the songs didn’t express what was in my heart.
I am not saying that hymns are bad or inferior, I am just sharing my experience. As I have grown in the Lord, there are times when I love singing the old classics.
John Wimber said
“Our heart’s desire should be to worship God; we have been designed by God for this purpose. If we don’t worship God, we’ll worship something or someone else.”
My heart was desiring to worship God.
Eventually, I started attending a church that was in the midst of what we call today the Charismatic renewal. They sang choruses. I understood these songs, and they resonated within my heart. It was like I could sing my prayers and praise directly to God.
It was nothing fancy like some have today. We didn’t even have the words projected up on the wall. Instead, the songs were so simple we could memorize them and sing them to God.
A few years after that God started tugging at my heart to go into ministry. I eventually moved to Los Angeles and attended LIFE Bible College. My uncle pastored a church in a suburb of LA, and so it was decided that I would do my internship there.
Their form of worship was country and western hymns and southern gospel songs. Once again I experienced another form and style of worship. Although it wasn’t organs and grand piano’s, it still wasn’t what I was used to. Young rock and rollers struggle to get into southern gospel music.
Over the years I have worshiped with Baptists, Pentecostals, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Churches of Christ, Charismatics, and even Catholics at times. What I have found is that no matter the style, form, or tradition, three characteristics are constant in real worshipers.
I want to share with you those characteristics.
3 Key Characteristics That All Worshipers Have in Common
The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 24
1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.2 For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths.3 Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?4 Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies.5 They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior.6 Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.
God Is Worthy Of Worship
In verses 1-2, David gives us the first characteristic of a worshiper. Real worshipers realize that God is worthy of worship.
Worship is not something that we do because of what we get out of it. Our level of goosebumps or emotional response is not what worship is about. We worship because God is worthy of worship. He created the heavens and the earth. He is the one who keeps things from falling apart.
Real worshipers do it for Him, not for themselves. He is the focus.
When I realized that worship had nothing to do with the form, style, music, lyrics, or emotions, I learned how to worship no matter what setting I was in. It brought me beyond my preferences and prejudices.
Worshipers Trust That Jesus Has Made Them Acceptable
In verses 3-4 of this Psalm, David uses the language of worship in stating who is qualified to worship. “Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He then gives an example that none of us can measure up to. Pure hands and hearts, no idols, no lies.
Well, I don’t know about you but on the surface that leaves me out. But is that correct?
The writer of the book of Hebrews gives us an astonishing reality concerning this.
19 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
Notice that it says in verse 21 “fully trusting Him.” When I worship, I am trusting Him that I am acceptable and that my worship of Him is acceptable. Just like the leper in Matthew 8, even though I know that I am unclean, I am trusting that not only will He make me clean, but he will not reject what I am offering.
This means that whether I am singing “The Old Rugged Cross, “Come, Now Is The Time To Worship,” or “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” if I am trusting Him to make my worship acceptable, then it is acceptable. It means that if we sing verses 1,3 and 5, or repeat I love you Lord 100 times if I am trusting Him to make it acceptable, then it is acceptable.
We can climb the mountain of the Lord. We can enter the Holy place. Jesus paid the price. Can I get an Amen?
Worshipers Seek His Face
Matt Redman is a popular worship pastor and musician. He talks about how God had to strip away all the things he had made worship into to get him back to just seeking the face of Jesus. Take a moment to listen to what he says.
David writes in verses 5-6 that worshipers will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God. They will seek His face.
What ends up happening to a person who worships is that their heart and life is changed. No longer is this world and living in it about themselves. It is about getting to know the God who created us. It is about coming to know Jesus in a real and meaningful manner. It is about experiencing the presence of the Lord in every aspect of our life.
The leper in Matthews’s gospel acknowledged that Jesus was worthy to be worshiped by kneeling before Him. He trusted that Jesus would accept him. He became transparent and sought Jesus alone.
These are the characteristics of a worshiper that God is developing in our life. At least he is in my life, and I have confidence that He is doing the same in you.
As John Wimber said…..
Worship is not about personality, temperament, personal limitations, church background, or comfort. It is about God.