Discipline of Worship: The Key of Focus
We’ve been discussing spiritual disciplines and 1 Timothy 4:7, “…discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness…” Exercise yourself for godliness. We discussed the importance of Bible intake as a discipline, and today, we want to talk about the discipline of worship.
Worship is a discipline because we’re easily tempted to neglect it. We are tempted to worship everything but God. We worship our toys, our work, our money and our friendships. Jesus, in Matthew 15:7-9, called some religious people hypocrites, saying their worship was just lip service and meaningless.
I’d like to share how we can open the door to acceptable worship that pleases God by using two keys. The key of F (the key of focus), and the key of B (the key of balance).
What is worship, anyway? Webster says it’s the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity or object considered important or sacred. Biblically, it comes from a word that basically means worthy.
Today, we’re going to look at the Key of Focus: God must be the center point of our worship. The one who created that stunning sunset, the one who told the ocean to stop at the shoreline, the one who commanded the creation of a billion galaxies with the power of his Word, the one who sent his only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to suffer and die for the forgiveness of our sins, and the one who made it possible for us to live forever with him. He must be the focus of our worship.
Our sincere and disciplined focus on him will cause a response: a whispered prayer, singing, giving, serving and so on, is worship. The natural response to our almighty God, to his holiness, to his goodness, and to his grace is worship. The more we focus on God, the more we see his holiness and understand and appreciate his worthiness, and we see our own unworthiness. We can’t encounter the holiness and worthiness of God without the response of worship. It’s about allegiance and submission.
The first key is the key of F, focus on God. Singing is not worship if focus is on the sound and not God. Giving is not worship if it’s just perfunctory or out of obligation. Praying is not worship if the focus is on our eloquence, or somebody else’s speech. Serving isn’t worship if it’s self-centered serving. There’s stuff that gets in the way of acceptable worship. Habits, traditions, distractions, and idols get in the way of worship.
Listen to what the prophet Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 7, verses 8-11. He says, “But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, ‘We are safe’—safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD.”
Keep that key of F handy, whether we’re worshiping in song, in serving, in giving, or in praying. Focus on the one true God, the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the triune God, Father, Son, and Spirit. Here are three quick things you can do to help you use the key of focus effectively. Practice, prepare, and participate.
1. Practice. Practice the presence of God. Practice whispering praise and thanksgiving all day long.
2. Prepare. Prepare for worship. We rush into church at the last minute or rush to our knees in prayer. Take five minutes beforehand and be still.
3. Participate. Participate in praise and singing, which ushers us into worship. Participate with your whole self.
Again, the first key to acceptable worship is the key of F, focus. Next time, I’ll talk about the second key to unlocking the door to worship that’s acceptable to God, the key of B, of Balance.
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