Learning To Worship


                               By Phil Scovell





          Many find  it difficult  to worship God  because they  don't know
     how.  They  don't know how  because they've never  been taught.   Some
     believe, based upon many church services I have  attended, worshipping
     the  Lord is accomplished by raising your  hands, praising the name of
     the Lord loudly,  running up and down the aisles,  shouting amen until
     the rafters  vibrate, waving  flags and  banners, pounding  on objects
     which generate a  lot of noise,  leaping into the  air, dancing,  hand
     clapping, laying on the floor, foot stomping, yelling hallelujah  over
     and over again  until their tongue snaps off its roller, and generally
     creating as much  racket as humanly possible.   None of which,  by the
     way, am I against.  If you study  Old Testament worship, you will find
     many such things practiced  by the Jews so I  am in no way  belittling
     such forms of  worship.  Moreover, I've  done a great  deal of what  I
     just described.   It is why we  do it which causes me  to consider the
     motives.

          Is the purpose of worship to generate  a lot of enthusiasm so the
     preacher's sermon sounds better or a  lot of hyped emotions so we  can
     feel God?  Does worship make us a  better Christian?  What if we don't
     worship like everybody around us or like the person who is instructing
     us up at the pulpit?   Are we sinning if we don't raise our hands?  Is
     speaking in  tongues worship?  If so,  why do some believe  it isn't a
     gift  for today even if  the Apostle Peter  in Acts Chapter  2 said it
     was?   With all this in mind,  let  me tell you a true story about how
     to worship God which likely is rarely considered to be worship.

          My  75 year old friend, of  whom many of you  have heard me speak
     before,  picked me up  one night for  our traditional,  waist of time,
     Wednesday night bible  study.  I  say, waist of  time, because we,  in
     that church, rarely studied the bible.  Oh, the Bible was preached but
     it got to a point where it was no longer taught by the pastor.  This I
     never understood because the pastor was a great preacher and he was as
     good of Bible  teacher as I have  ever known.  However,  our Wednesday
     and Sunday night meetings had decayed into book reading  sessions.  He
     would read  to us  from some famous  book that  was currently  popular
     among mega  churches across the country.   Why we  couldn't read these
     books on our own was a mystery to me but then, I wasn't the pastor.

          This particular Wednesday evening was starting out just  like all
     the other boring Wednesday night bible studies, so called.  We had six
     to eight people who showed up and we met in the basement  and sat at a
     long table.   I was dreading the  Standard Operating Procedure  I knew
     was about to begin.  I also knew that the man who brought me, and with
     whom  I  normally   rode  with  Wednesday   and  Sunday  nights,   was
     discouraged.

          That very week, a friend of the family's son had been run down by
     a hit  and run driver and killed.  This man, and his wife, my friends,
     had  lost two sons to similar accidents.  One was changing the tire on
     his car  along side the  highway when he was  struck and killed.   The
     other son, and  his fiance where  likewise struck and  killed as  they
     simply  crossed the street as  they were on  an evening walk together.
     So, my friend was feeling  the grief of the death of his  own two boys
     based upon what had just happened to someone they knew.

          Wishing we didn't have to sit and listen to a  book being read to
     us, other than  the Bible  that is,  someone made a  comment about  an
     animal.  I can't remember what it was, I think it was about a pet, but
     within moments, as the  Holy Spirit took over the meeting, everyone at
     the table began  telling stories, some very miraculous, about animals.
     Some stories were very serious  while others were very funny to  hear.
     Soon,  a general  discussion  about  God's creation  came  up and  how
     marvelous God's handiwork  was.  These two basic  themes of discussion
     continued to  expand at  such a  rapid pace,  the pastor  never had  a
     chance  to crack his  most popular book  he had been  reading.  Before
     long, it was 9  o'clock, the time we normally stopped,  and the pastor
     closed in prayer.  Big deal!

          Walking  out  of the  building,  I easily  noticed  the emotional
     change in  the elderly man with  whom I was riding.   Walking down the
     stairs to the sidewalk, he chuckled and said, "Boy, I feel good.  That
     was  wonderful."  Keep  in mind, we  hadn't prayed  collectively as we
     often did,  we hadn't  read  the bible,  which we  normally didn't  do
     anyhow, and the pastor didn't even read his book which we  always did.
     Yet, this man was refreshed in the Lord but didn't know why.  I waited
     till we got into the car to tell him.

          As  I clicked my seat  belt in place  and my Brother  in the Lord
     started the engine, he said, "You know Brother Phil?  I wasn't feeling
     too well when we came tonight but I sure feel good now."

          I said, "I knew you were feeling poorly due to  the death of your
     family  friend and how  you could identify with  those feelings but do
     you know why you feel good now?"

          "No," he replied as he did a U turn on the side street the church
     was on and drove up  to the corner and  waited for the traffic  before
     turning left.  "Tell me why?" he asked.

          "Because," I said, "tonight, we worshipped the Lord."

          "We did?" he said; puzzled.

          When I pointed out that all  we did tonight was talk about  God's
     creation, I said, "we were magnifying the Lord.  Soon the  Lord became
     bigger  than our personal problems and that always makes a person feel
     better to know that he has such a big God that can do anything."

          He said, "Well, what  do you know.  That's exactly right.  We did
     worship the Lord tonight, didn't we?"

          I laughed and said, "We sure did, Brother, and you are  right; it
     was good."

          If you  read  the Psalms  carefully,  and  much of  the  book  of
     Proverbs, you  will notice  the  focus the  authors placed  on God  by
     circling the wagons, sort of speak, around God's creation.  King David
     was especially notorious for this.  Read it for yourself if  you doubt
     the validity of  my statement.  How did King David  magnify God in his
     life?  Just read the 23rd Psalm.

          One reason why I enjoy our African Gray parrot so much is because
     he always reminds me of God's creation.  Sure, we have dogs.  We  even
     have a  cat and rabbits and guinea pigs, a  couple of turtles, a frog,
     and a rat;   a pet rat, I  mean.  Most, if not all,  of these pets are
     domesticated.   Well, as domesticated  as a frog  or turtle can  be, I
     mean.   The parrot is, too, of course, but he still possessed with the
     wild nature God gave him.  Yes,  he bites hard when I stick my fingers
     in his cage.  When we let him out to play on his cage or his fake tree
     perch, he loves to nibble and bite my fingers.  He loves walking up my
     arm,  if I lay it down flat, and  crawling up the front of my shirt to
     stand on my shoulder.   He likes pulling my  hair, what's left of  it,
     nibbling on  my ear, trying to jam his  beak down my ear canal, biting
     my nose, and picking at anything he  thinks looks interesting.  Then I
     bend down  closer to his cage  or perch and he jumps  off my shoulder.
     He  is still a wild bird  and that alone always  makes me think of God
     and how He is the  creator of all things.  So what am I doing, you may
     ask, when  I  am  thinking  this  way?   Yes,  that's  right.    I  am
     worshipping  my Creator.    No, I  am  not worshipping  the  bird; I'm
     worshipping the bird's Creator who just so happens to be my Creator as
     well.

          I'm even weirder  than just that.  I talk to the parrot, his name
     is Chester, and I tell him about God and that He, God, created him and
     made  his nice feathers and his beak so  hard that he is able to crack
     nuts opened to feed himself.   Now, I know some are thinking that this
     bird doesn't know any such thing.  I believe he does.  I believe he is
     in touch with the Creator more than I am so I talk to Chester about it
     all.  I said I was weird.

          How do you learn  to worship God?  The best way is  to pray.  How
     do you pray?   You sit  in a chair quietly,  or kneel in front  of the
     couch, the settee if you live in England, and you wait before the Lord
     silently.  You push  away all the thoughts of the  world when they try
     to come  regardless of what they are.  No, I didn't say you attempt to
     empty your  mind; that's  a form  of meditation which  isn't wise  for
     anyone to practice for  any reason.  Why?   It leaves you  exposed and
     unguarded.    Just  pushing  away  worldly  concerns,  however,  isn't
     meditation; it is active concentration.  It is mental adjustment which
     allows for your  mind to focus on  more important things.   This takes
     practice.  The worldly problems love to crowd our minds with worry and
     doubt and unbelief  and fear and guilt  and shame and  frustration and
     stress, and a lot of other such things.  No, you don't need to picture
     the cross in your mind, or what Jesus may have looked like, or Heaven,
     or  focus on  a  burning candle,  or  anything.   You simply  exercise
     discipline over the  thoughts that are trying to  commandeer your mind
     and  emotions.  Then,  as the  things of the  world begin to  fade and
     drift out of focus, you do one  thing and one thing only.  You listen.
     For what?  You listen for God.  If you are born again, I guarantee you
     will eventually hear  Him.  Oh,  maybe not at  first because we  carry
     around a  large amount of  doubt and unbelief  in our thinking  and we
     feel its effect deep within our emotions.  If you continue  doing what
     the Bible calls, "Be still and know that I am God," (Psalm 46:10), you
     will soon begin  to, not only worship  the Lord in  your mind, but  in
     your spirit where the Holy Spirit dwells.  You will also begin to hear
     God.  Maybe not in  words or pictures but you will sense  His presence
     in a way you likely have never experienced before.  Then what happens?
     You will begin to worship  Him for who He is.  Who is He?   He is God;
     your Creator.

          When I  do this, I wait until the things of the world grow dim in
     my  thoughts.   Based upon  circumstances,  this might  take a  little
     longer than what feels comfortable.  The more we pray this way, on the
     other hand,  the quicker the worldly  things begin to drift  away from
     the forefront of our minds.

          At this  point, I  often begin to  just randomly  think of  God's
     creation.  Think about  His eternality and how He has  always been and
     always  will  be.   Consider the  creation  of the  universe  which is
     without end or  containment.  He created the universe  as a reflection
     of His nature.  Eventually, as you attempt to get your thoughts around
     these humanly  impossible things, you will settle  on Jesus and who He
     is  and why He wants to be in your  life.  Why will you defer to Jesus
     instead of God?  Because, you, nor anyone, can comprehend God.  Jesus,
     who is  God, became a  man for 33 years  so He could  identify Himself
     with  us as  His creation.   Now we  can identify with  Him because He
     became like us to make that possible.  Now do you understand why Jesus
     came to earth?  He came for you because He wants to get to know you in
     a very personally intimate way which words cannot describe.

          I still  find Christians uncomfortable  with this type  of prayer
     and worship.  In my  life, I have read dozens of books  on meditation.
     What  I am  describing as  prayer is  nothing like  eastern meditation
     techniques.  I know I am repeating myself but that isn't prayer and it
     isn't worship so don't do it.  If you have trouble with this, go  back
     and read  the Psalms, especially those  of King David, and  you'll see
     exactly how David focused on God, His nature, and his creation.

          There is  one other  way of achieving  this form  of intimacy  in
     prayer.   It  is called,  singing.   It is  quite  simple and  the New
     Testament  is in  no way  silent on  this subject  of  worship through
     singing hymns  and songs and  spiritual songs.   Singing, by  its very
     nature, causes the world to fade  and our minds and emotions to  focus
     on the Lord.  Instant worship!

          I want  to tell you  about one of the  bravest men in  the Bible.
     His name  is  Elijah.   I  say, his  name  is, because,  Elijah  never
     physically died.   He was miraculously and  spectacularly carried into
     Heaven by God and there was an eye witness to confirm it.

          Long before this  miraculous home going, Elijah  experienced some
     amazing things  through the  power of  God.   But, since  he was  only
     human,  he also  became fearful  and  scared and  frustrated from  the
     stressful activities of the ministry.  It gets worse when the  wife of
     the King puts out a  contract on you to have  you killed.  So,  Elijah
     did the only thing he could think to do.  He ran for his life.

          during his flight,  he ended  up in  a cave.   God did  something
     quite  humorous.   He asked Elijah  a question.   "What are  you doing
     here, Elijah," God wanted to know.  Well, Elijah hawked up this bilge,
     which is another way of saying he coughed up this theological garbage,
     about how he was the only person left serving the Lord (he didn't know
     about the  other 7,000 people the Lord already  had working for Him at
     the  time) and  that, dad  gum it,  the queen  was trying to  have him
     killed.  God told him to go out and stand on the mountain.

          Something mighty unusual  happened as Elijah made his  way out of
     the cave.   God  passed  by, the  Bible says,  and the  wind that  was
     generated  was so  powerful bolders  split in  half.   Now, I've  been
     through  Wyoming  many times  but  I have  never witnessed  a  wind so
     powerful and so strong  that it could split big  rocks in half.   Yet,
     the Bible says, God was not in the wind.  Odd, you might say.

          After  this big  God generated  wind storm,  there was  a massive
     earthquake that  rattled Elijah false  teeth.  Again, the  Bible says,
     God was not in the earthquake.

          Finally, there  was a  fire.   Now,  stop and  think about  this.
     Elijah  is  hiding out  high up  in  the mountains  where not  much is
     growing.  Yet, we are told  there was a fire.  Were the  rocks on fire
     or what?  It kind of makes you think that way.  Still, the Bible says,
     God was not in the fire.

          Then, the Bible does say, God spoke to Elijah in that  same small
     still voice and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"  You can read
     about this in First Kings chapter 19 if you doubt my interpretation.

          So  what  do you  suppose Elijah  learned about  worshipping God.
     Being on the mountain isn't what's important.  Hearing God's voice is.
     In fact, it is all that is important.


     Safe Place Fellowship
     Phil Scovell
     Denver, Colorado
     Mountain Time Zone
     WWW.SafePlaceFellowship.COM

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