Worship is the result of a transparency and intimacy with God that comes as a result of knowing who you are to Him and who He is to you.
Just like any relationship, the quality of intimacy will depend on how much you are known and really know that person.
The most significant scripture on worship is when Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:23-24: But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worshiphim in spirit and in truth.
We must worship Him in “Spirit and in truth” – a word in the Greek which means we means genuine, real, not concealed.
So we want to be genuine. By His Spirit and with total transparency, by helping you to realize how God sees you, the depth with which you can relate to God and how you see Him changes. Only then can you go to a more personal, more intimate, and more transparent worship of God than you had when you came here tonight.
First, let’s look at who you are to God.
You Are Greatly Loved
You are greatly loved by God. He sent His Son to pay the penalty for your sins by dying on the cross so that He could have a relationship with you! When you accept and receive His sacrifice for sin personally and acknowledge Him as Lord, you become his sons and daughters! (John 1.12) You are a special treasure to God! He sets YOU apart! As HIS – HIS daughter!
You Are Set Apart
When God sets something apart, He sets you apart from the corruption of the world. We are set apart, sanctified, by God to be holy. Stop and think of some of the things God calls holy. The burning bush was “holy.” God called Sinai His “holy” mountain. The bush or the mountain were not more moral than other bushes or mountains. Holiness means set apart from the ordinary.
God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, set it apart, made it holy. Calling the seventh day holy didn’t mean that days one through six were worldly, bad or sinful. God said they were good, very good. But they were not holy, they were just ordinary days. God set the seventh day apart from the rest. When God sets something apart, He is insistent that it not be treated as ordinary.
You Are Special
My mom has two sets of dishes: one for every day use, and one for special occasions. The dishes she uses every day become chipped and cracked and must be replaced. But her special dishes are only used for very special occasions. Because she has collected very pretty dishes, when we use her special dishes we treat them with great care and put them back into a special cabinet. If I took one of her special dishes and put it down for the dog with dog food in it, she would be very upset that I was taking something special and treating it as ordinary! I would not be giving those special dishes the honor they deserved. That’s a small insight into the way God looks at you because He has set you apart to be holy!
You Are the Temple of God’s Holy Spirit!
The temple of God is His sanctuary, His holy place. You know that your body is a temple that belongs to the Holy Spirit: the Holy Spirit lives in you. (1 Cor 6.19) Just as the temple was holy because of God’s presence there, so are you when you invite the Lord’s presence into your life! That is why it is so important that you don’t allow anything to come between you and the Lord because it will negate the power and presence of His holiness in you!
What makes you holy? The Pharisees found out it wasn’t observing feasts, being educated and having information, and memorizing the law: In Matthew 23.1-36 Jesus calls them hypocrites, and John the Baptist calls them vipers. Jesus even told them that when someone was converted under them they became more of a child of hell than they were!
The presence of God is what makes you holy! His presence alone is the key to a supernatural life! Where He is present, all His attributes are present with Him! When we treat as common or unclean something God’s presence demands otherwise, we restrict the power of God in our lives. What makes you holy? The presence of God!
You Show the World Who God Is
God is very serious about the difference he puts between the things His presence makes holy and things than man “profanes” or makes “not holy; not consecrated.” When God warns against profaning something He has made holy (such as His name, His Sabbaths, His sanctuary, His altar, His ordinances, etc.), He uses forceful and firm statements and strong judgments to convey His seriousness. Why is God so concerned that His people be vigilantly careful with what He designates as clean and unclean, holy and unholy, or appropriate and profane? Because these designations define His nature, His character, and His way to the world.
Clearly, the issue of what is set apart and made holy to God is not a minor one to God. He pronounces severe judgment on profaning the Sabbath He called holy (Ex 31.14, Ez. 20.15-24, 22.6-16), for offering profane fire in human effort (Lev 10.1-2), on profane prophets and priests (Jer 23.11-2, 15-17, Ez. 22.26), and severely acted against Ananias and Sapphira in the New Testament when they lied about something they said was set apart! In Acts 10.15, the Lord spoke to Peter: What God has cleansed and pronounced clean, do not you defile and profane by regarding and calling common and unhallowed or unclean.
God is concerned that His people be vigilantly careful with what He designates as clean and unclean, holy and unholy, or appropriate and profane, because these designations define His presence, His nature, His character, and His way to the world.
Separated from God
Instead of always trying to do things to make us holy, we need to realize it is God’s presence that makes us holy. It isn’t what we do, it’s who we are. Once we realize who we are it will affect everything we do.
What stops us from intimacy with God? Sin separates us. That’s why Jesus came to take the penalty for that sin – a break in intimacy with God the Father – AWAY, and that is why the Holy Spirit is here to help you stay free from sin! (John 16.8).
When we have an intimate relationship with God and we become one with Him, we will live out that relationship and that identity will dictate and direct the things we do.
God knows who you are and knows your heart! He understands you: knows your struggles, your weaknesses! He wants an intimate walk with you! By covering up or denying your sin, it is as if you are trying to have an intimate relationship with your spouse but you are hiding the fact you are involved with another person or hiding secret sins you are involved with. It LIMITS AND HINDERS intimacy—when not based on TRUTH, there is not really intimacy but a separation from it.
That is why God sent Jesus to take away the penalty for sin and remove those obstacles between us and the Father—He has already dealt with it so you CAN have an intimate unhindered transparent and real relationship with Him!
Doesn’t that help you to know, really knowwhat you mean to God?
Let’s now look at who God is to you:
He Wants You to Know Him
God is looking for those who worship Him in Spirit and in truth. (John 4.23) He is seeking those to worship Him in spirit and truth. If He is seeking, it is obvious it is something difficult to find… He is looking for that worship that goes beyond praise. Praise is giving thanks and glory to God, acknowledging who He is or what He has done. Worship is entering into the Holy of Holies where God’s presence dwells.
Sadly many worship a “god they don’t know.” Paul said inActs 17:23, …as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:… Many believe that God is Who they believe Him to be, choose Him to be, or preferHim to be– a smorgasbord of things they’ve gathered along the way mixed in with the way they saw their own father, and what fits well with their lifestyle. Once I was talking to a doctor about a problem my son Jesse was having. When I wanted to verify the doctor knew who he was talking about, I asked, “Do you remember Jesse?” to which he answered “Yes, I remember HER!” Of course, I knew he didn’t know who I was talking about because Jesse is my SON!
In the same way, we can worship a God of our own making—but He wants us to worship Him in SPIRIT and TRUTH. That means we need to know Him as He IS! How? We know Him as He ISby reading HIS Word, spending time with Him, STUDYING, and knowing Who He says He is!
You may say you know God. But do you really ‘know’ him? You may know of him but not have a relationship with him. You can say you are close to God, and you can know aboutHim, yet not really know Him, His Spirit, or His ways! Somehow we could have become an empty shell of robots performing ritual duties without a real intimate relationship with God. Why? Because we need to pursue the consecration He provided – be set apart. We need to deal with that sin that limits our authentic transparency and intimacy, since without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12.14).
Instead, we don’t want to talk about holiness or even the need for it – it’s depicted as too “out there” – unattainable, unachievable. It’s being dropped from sermons and doctrines for fear of offending. Yet, holiness is the dividing line between true intimacy with God because holiness is how we seeand really know our God by access into His presence. The real, and living way that Christ opened for us to get us through the separation so that we could have boldness to enter into the Holy of Holies by the power and virtue in the blood of Christ (Hebrews 10.19-20).
What is truth? Just prior Jesus defined it: John 3:21: But he that doeth truth [true; not concealing] cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. Jesus is truth (John 14.6). Truth sanctifies [consecrates, purifies] is the Word of God (John 17.17). When we worship Him in truth, we come to Him intimately and transparently, set apart, purified and forgiven!
He Wants An Intimate Relationship With You!
Who is He to you? What worth do you ascribe to Him?
This is clearly seen though the pattern of the tabernacle, which presents a clear word picture that Christ came to fulfill. Through the tabernacle God revealed to His people a pattern of worship consistent with His holy presence and that made it possible for sinful man to have an intimate relationship with Him. It was the pattern of tabernacle worship that God used to reveal what the blood sacrifice, atonement, the veil of separation, the mercy seat and access into it, the Holy of Holies and priesthood means.
Let’s walk through this pattern together and apply these principles to our worship tonight!
1. You must draw near to God. The picture of this was evident in Old Testament life. Even approaching the tabernacle began with the awareness of sin in a person’s life. When the Israelites recognized that they had sinned and that the sin separated him from God, if he wanted forgiveness he made his way to God’s appointed place: the tabernacle. Ran TO God and not AWAY from God, because He has made provision and dealt with sin and its penalty so sin no longer separates you from God!
I believe the “abomination that causes desolation” has begun in the Church. It began by the “daily sacrifice” being taken away because of “transgression” [national, moral, religious sin]. What is the “daily sacrifice”? The daily sacrifice was the means by which we are constantly reminded that sin has to be dealt with and burnt on the altar of sacrifice before we can live in an intimate relationship with a Holy God.
Sometimes we are way too concerned about being rejected by God. Like Adam or Cain, we hide in the garden or try to cover up our sin feeling insufficient for an intimate “let’s walk together” relationship with God. In knowing who we are, grace will not excuseus from sin, but will expose it so we can bring it to the cross where it will give us total and transparent access to our Father! Then we can enjoy unhindered intimacy with God – not hiding our sin or covering it up but accepting His forgiveness.
Sin shouldn’t push KEEP US away from God: He wants our weaknesses, our insufficiencies, and our failures to drive us TO Him!
2. The Outer Court (where we begin – the praise that is part of our worship – in close proximity to the marketplace and the hustle and bustle of the streets with the passions and affairs of the world). Note that the although you have come nearer to the Holy of Holies by entering in at the “gate,” there are things that must be satisfied before you can bring the “outer court” experience to the “Holy of Holies” experience. Any common Israelite could enter the courts, but only the priests into the tabernacle, and only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies (and that only once a year, on the Day of Atonement). Now we are all priests… His chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2.9), and the veil of the temple has been rent so that we can all have a real relationship with our God!
3. The altar of sacrifice (bronze altar) was within the court, facing the entrance. Suffice it to say that the entire sacrificial system was placed at the very center and heart of national life. Studying the Old Testament sacrifices, what they meant to them and the pattern and what they mean to us, is amazing. The unceasing sacrifice of animals and the never-ending fire at the altar of sacrifice shows that God was burning into the hearts of His people the awareness of their sin and how it separated them from Him. Also burns into our awareness the awesomeness that the sacrifice was paid by Christ and the only way to come to the Father is through the blood of Christ – by His Spirit and in Truth—not concealing anything!
The altar of sacrifice, interestingly enough, was also an altar of acceptance– where you dealt with where you were in your life. Some could bring oxen but others could only bring a bird. Worship includes laying down your idea of what your life should be, laying down your pain, your sorrow, your expectations.
4. As you approach the Tabernacle you must wash… and as you do you are looking into the bronze laver to wash, which was made of polished bronze, or mirrors. Reminds us of being pure of the washing of water by the Word (Ephesians 5.26), and the Word being the mirror we must constantly behold ourselves in if we are doers of the Word and not only hearers. (James 1.22-25)
5. The Tabernacle itself was divided by a veil into two chambers: Only priests were allowed into these chambers. In the Holy of Holies, blood was sprinkled between the angels who were looking down to testify that by the blood the wrath of God against sin was satisfied. A clear word picture that by His mercy and through the sacrifice Jesus paid for our sins, God’s justice and judgment toward sin was satisfied. It is referred to almost 200 times in the Old Testament. It is a small, glorious room (15’ x 15’) with no created nor artificial light, but God’s own “shekinah” glory lights it up. No human voice is to be heard here; only the voice of God.
In Daniel 8.11, when the daily sacrifice is done away with, the place of His sanctuary was cast down, and by reason of transgression it cast down the truth to the ground. What does that mean? The daily sacrifice—the reminder that the blood of Christ has paid the price for us to have a personal relationship with God is cast down and the truth of the gospel is done away with because we don’t have the intimacy with God that He provided for us to have!
I believe that Christians are substituting the Outer Court experience for entry into the Holy of Holies, which Jesus died to give us. Instead of our sin driving us tothe Lord, we are letting it keep us fromthe Lord! The veil of the temple has been rent, we are a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2.9), His desire is to put His laws into our hearts and write them in our minds (Heb. 10.16). He wants us to remember, and have burned into our hearts and souls, that the wages of sin has been paid in Christ’s sacrifice, and we came come freely to Him without guilt and without condemnation!
When we allow sin to keep us from fellowship with the Lord, when we substitute vain repetitious emotional praise that focuses on US as the subject, when our praise and our worship is all focused on our needs and our position and does not lead us to focus on who God is and what He wants, we have substituted the outer court experience for true intimacy with God. Because we don’t KNOW, really KNOW, how He feels about us, and we don’t REALLY KNOW Him and His heart!
He is the One that did not leave you in the outer court of praise. He became your sacrifice, where you could leave your sin behind and come into the Holy of Holies freely with without fear. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for one reason: so He could have fellowship with you unhindered by sin!
In World War 2, Hitler let churches stay open as long as they did not speak about sin, the unchanging truth of the Word of God, the cross, and the diety of Christ! We need to know the dangers of cults moving in by ignoring sin and the payment for the penalty of it! We need to see sin as God sees it—something that should show you the power of His love so much that He took the penalty of it. Something that needs to be dealt with (not ignored, not excused) so we can have a real relationship with Him!
If a couple believes they have intimacy yet one person is hiding infidelity, wrong associations, what they do and who they are, that is NOT true intimacy. The things that come against intimacy need to be dealt with before true intimacy can happen!
How do we establish whether we are allowing the “outer court” experience to substitute for entry into the Holy of Holies???
*In the Outer Court, the subject of our Praise is many times ourselves; in Worship God is the subject, not for what He has done, but for Who He is.
*In the Outer Court experiences, we can dance and shout and sing; in the Holy of Holies only God’s voice is heard, and we are silent before Him. In the Outer Court you can praise in many ways: declaring thanks (Heb. 13:15); clapping your hands and shouting (Psalms 47:1); playing musical instruments and dancing (Psalm 150:4); singing praise songs (Psalms 9:11); psalms, hymns, & spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19-20); making a joyful noise (Psalms 98:4); lifting our hands (Psalms 134:2); by being still (Psalms 4:3-5, 46:10); or by being loud (Psalms 33:3, 95:1-6). In the Holy of Holies you are silent before Him and only His voice is heard!
*Praise can lead to worship, but many times you can praise the Lord and never enter into true worship. Any one can praise in the outer court, but only the priesthood can worship in the Holy of Holies.
*Worship leads to brokenness and service: Every true worshipper needs to know that when you draw near to God in worship your knee will bow. Worship is #7812. shaw-khaw´;a primitive root; to depress, i.e. prostrate (especially reflexive, in homage to royalty or God):—bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop, worship.
* Humility will be the result of true worship. You realize it’s all about God and there is nothing you can do to bring God’s presence. It’s all about God and God alone. We tend to depend on our ability, skills and latest songs to usher God’s presence, but it’s only when we let go off our pride and own ability can we experience God’s presence. In Isaiah chapter 6 we read about Isaiah, a strong man chosen to show God’s word to his generation and declare God’s Word to them. When he sees God high and lifted up in chapter 6, we see he is “undone” and realizes his true identity.
Job, who in God’s own words was His servant, none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God and turns away from evil (Job 1.8), after God spoke directly to him, said, [I now see] I have rashly uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know… I had heard of You [only] by the hearing of the ear, but now my [spiritual] eye sees You. Therefore I loathe [my words] and abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42.3, 5-6)
Are you daring enough to be exposed to your true identity and allow God to break you in your time of worship? A true worshiper will be willing to lay down himself in exchange for intimacy with God. He knows you anyways! And it’s OK with Him that you’re not perfect – He knows that too!
*True worship will find us prostrate, or at the feet of God. The story of the woman who broke the alabaster and poured it at the feet of Jesus demonstrates this type of worship. This woman laid all she had at the feet of Jesus, considering it nothing next to the worth of who He is. Paul considered all but dung compared to the excellency of knowing Him. When true worship is present, there is no lifting up of ones self, accomplishments, positions or pursuits: there is a humbling acknowledgement that bends or bows before your Lord.
*True worship brings “ALL within us.” In the book of Psalms 103:1 it says, “Bless the Lord O my soul and all that is within me bless His holy name.” It does not say worship Him when you feel good but with everything that is within you. Even if it’s your sorrow, joy, doubt everything that is going on inside, you can use it and present it to God as an act of true worship unto God.
*True worship will bring transformation. If there is genuine surrender to God’s Lordship, we won’t just cry tears of emotion, but we will have genuine surrender that leads to transformation because of the presence and Lordship of Christ. We see many people with superlative emotions in worship, but it isn’t about how we feel or what feelings we can work ourselves up to in emotional music, but a true intimate insight into the Spirit, nature, character, and power of God. When Paul was struck down by God’s presence on the way to Tarsus, he was a changed man, and people saw the change in him. How does God’s presence change you?
* True worship is between you and the Lord. No one else would be there during the intimate time you have with your husband: it’s a secret place between you and him. There is an intimate place where cymbals and dancing and loud music and compliments or praises don’t belong. It is a place where you don’t want to check your email on your cellphone or answer the phone or watch television. It is a place of union between you and God where His purpose becomes yours, and you become one with Him, as Jesus prayed in John 17.21 and 23: The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, And give the godless world evidence That you’ve sent me and loved them In the same way you’ve loved me.
*True worship brings an excitement about the things of God: When we worship before Him and are changed and moved by His presence, others “take note” that we have been with Jesus (Acts 4.13). Moses needed to cover his face with a veil. Being in the presence of God helps us to know Him as He is, resulting in our testimony, our boldness, and where our confidence is, being strong enough so it is not easily shaken. Give me ten minutes with someone and I can tell you what excites them, what moves them, and what they are confident in. Do you delight in talking about the things of the Lord? Do others want more of Jesus after talking to you—are you the “salt” of the earth making others thirsty for more of Christ, and preserving against decay like salt does??? Or are you “good for nothing,” not making any eternal difference? When Jesus comes to your tree, does He find fruit on it, or is it just taking up ground???
Living A Life of Worship
1. Realize that God has set you apart to be His; and that His presence in you makes you holy and consecrated and set apart for Him!