COLUMN: Authentic worship begins with a right heart

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By Patrick Nix | Lighthouse Baptist Church

The word “spirit” in John 4:24 is not referring to the Holy Spirit — it has to do with your heart (emotions, feelings, affections).  Worship is extravagant love (meaning: “to kiss at”).  We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19) — our love is both responsive and reflective.  Mark 12:30 says God gave us emotions to use for his glory — just like he gave you a body and  mind.
Worship is inclusive, not exclusive.  I say this because so many people are so definitive of the “How’s / How-Not-To’s.”
The book of Psalms mentions many ways to worship God but these are in no way the boundaries of true worship.  It is not limited to, but starting with: Posture: kneel, on face, standing upright, dancing;  Music: only 10 instruments of praise are listed in Psalms; Voice: singing, shouting;  Hands: raised, clapping. I’ve asked this before, but what if an alien read the Bible and saw your church and a mosque thru the windows. Which would he judge is more biblical by the way we worship?  Also, Sunday is just one day, 11 a.m. to noon is just one hour. Worship must be a lifestyle.
It’s possible to worship God in vain (Matthew 15:8-9). How? Heartless worship — Engaged mouth, disengaged emotions. But what if you don’t feel anything?  You can’t just force the emotions, can you? No.  The only thing that moves the heart is a greater pleasure  (compare late-life biographies of Lewis / Darwin).  Usually the joy/romance fades over time, thru external forces, such as not enough alone time.
The number one enemy of worship is a sense of duty and ignoring the prize.  Hebrews 11:6 says faith is believing God is, and coming to him for reward.  It’s not wrong to be motivated by desire / drive / delight (Psalm 37:4).
Worship must include our honesty.
The “truth” mentioned in John 4:24 isn’t God’s truth — it’s yours.  It’s being truthful and  genuine about your own condition.  Worshiping God without compulsion or facade.  Here are three stages of honesty in our worship. Take a look at them and find where you are
A. WHY?  - barrenness / darkness / emptiness — Psalm 73:21-22.
We can find ourselves hopelessly discouraged and depressed, being in a place without a song, like when the Jews hung their harps in the willows.  Christ endured this place for three hous alone.  Being honest means that we might have to repent, accept responsibility.
B. WHEN?  - longing / desire / confusion — Psalm 42:5.
Being honest means we might have to keep waiting and dealing with heartache. Most of Psalms was written from this stage! Jesus said that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be fed.
C. WOW!  - gratitude / wonder / satisfaction — Psalm 63:5.
These moments are more rare than we’d like — but the possibility of another fuels us on to endure the first two stages.