Worship is a broad subject.
Every church has worship protocols. Some churches worship freely, and others limit the expressions of the worshippers. What do you think when you hear the word “worship?”
Some think of church, hymns, music, dancing, praising, or liturgy.
Others think of bowing, crying, chaos, reading, or obedience.
And yes, most of these are considered norms of how worship is expressed. But let’s look at the first time “worship” was mentioned in the Bible.
Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day, Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and WE will come back to you.” (Genesis 22: 1–5, NKJV)
Abraham’s first act of worship was not singing a song at the temple with his Hebrew friends. Abraham only wishes that were true. God asked Abraham to express his worship by revering His word and being willing to offer his only son as a sacrifice. We are glad the final outcome was not the child’s death but God definitely broke the mold when He requested this act of worship.
Abraham’s responded with great faith. Abraham also proved His trust in God when He said, he lad and I will go yonder and worship, and WE will come back to you” (Gen 22: 1–5),
God did not make a mistake when He chose Abraham as the father of faith.
Below are the Hebrew words for worship.
1. HALAL: To jump, dance, to be loud and clamorous (scriptural reference, Psalm 150:2)
2. YADAH: To throw your hands up and forward while confessing to God (scriptural reference, Isaiah 25:1)
3. TOWDAH: To lift your hands in thanksgiving (scriptural reference, Psalm 107:22)
4. SHABACH: A loud, joyous shout of testimony (scriptural reference, Psalm 145:4)
5. ZAMAR: To worship the Lord while playing an instrument (scriptural reference, Psalm 98:4)
6. BARAK: To kneel in reverence and submission (scriptural reference, Psalm 66:20)
7. TEHILLAH: To sing a spontaneous, unrehearsed song of the Lord, from your Spirit (scriptural reference, Psalm 22:3)
From the words above, worship is a response of the heart and actions that reflect the response from the heart. We also see a reverenced kneel and a loud shout. That is quite a contrast. Worshippers and churches come in all sizes and all have unique worship expressions.
Worship is personal and genuine worshippers express themselves according to their convictions and their understanding of the scripture.
Freedom to Worship is Paramount
Yes, churches have protocols for worship and worship values. Some churches value reverence, liturgy, private prayer, and singing hymns. Other churches value hand-clapping, hand-raising, and dancing before the Lord.
In all the differences it is the leaders and the congregants that establish the protocol of worship. Every church has its own worship culture. The church that allows the raising of hands during singing worship sets the culture through the expression that is allowed or cultivated.
The quiet church applies “quiet as the protocol.”
The loud church rides the loud wave and invites the congregants to go higher.
Worship in the scripture
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (II Corinthians 3:17, NKJV)
One protocol of worship is liberty. Liberty is the freedom to express our worship in authentic ways. True liberty to worship is the freedom to allow everyone to worship freely, and the freedom for others not to worship. Personal worship can never be demanded.
God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth.” (John 4:24, NKJV)
True liberty allows every worshipper to worship as their heart and the Holy Spirit leads. So worshippers express their worship according to the intuition of the Spirit and according to the truth.
Let’s make it plain. The Spirit is the Holy Spirit, and the truth is the Word of God.
Sanctify them by Your Truth. Your word is Truth. ( John 17:17, NKJV)
John Piper said, “Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full of artificial admirers. On the other hand, feeling without Truth produces an empty frenzy and cultivates shallowness. True worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love deep doctrine. Genuine biblical worship has strong affection toward God and is rooted in the Truth of the WORD of God.
So we worship by the Spirit, through the Spirit, and according to the truth of God’s word. Truth is defined as authentic, raw, and genuine. All genuine worship expresses the Holy Spirit in an authentic spirit-led obedience.
Expressions of worship from Psalm 100.
Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His Truth endures to all generations. (Psalm 100:1–5, NKJV)
Genuine ways to express worship
- Make a joyful shout
- Serve the Lord with gladness
- Come before Him
- Enter His gates with thanksgiving
- Enter His courts with praise
- Express thanks
- Bless His name
All the expressions of Psalm 100 are not commands but suggested ways of expressing our worship of God. Again, authentic worship is Spirit led and truth based. Authentic worship is also personal and relational.
Everyone worships differently.
Freedom to worship is the second-best freedom, God has given.
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