Praise & Worship

We often consider praise and worship as the same thing. And yes they are related concepts, but they differ. Praise is focused on what God has done for us—it’s about thanksgiving, gratitude, and appreciation. We should praise God because He has done many wonderful deeds! I for one am most thankful He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, so that whoever believes and trusts in Christ Jesus won’t perish but instead have eternal life (John 3:16).
Psalm 40:5 says, “Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.” This is an example of a believer’s praise for God. However, praise requires little of us and can be given in many relationships. For example, we are thankful for good service at a restaurant so we tip the waiter, we are treated nicely by our boss so we tend to speak well of her to others, we lavish our spouse with praise for doing the dishes without being asked, or we reward our children for making good grades.
Worship is different, however, and should be reserved for God alone. Luke 4:8 says, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’” Worship is something that comes from a deeper place within us. It is about adoring and revering someone for who they are. Praise can be easy because we are thankful. It can also be a part of worship. However, worship goes deeper—it goes beyond simple praise.
Worship is focused on who God is. That God made us, that He made the entire Universe, that He allows it all to continue to exist, that He is Sovereign, that He is the only King forever, that He is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega! That Christ Jesus is preeminent—that He surpasses all other things. He deserves our highest praise and deepest devotion because only He can rescue us from our sin and rebellion.
Worship requires something more of us because it gets to the heart of who we are and what we believe about God!
What is it that worship requires of us? How do we truly worship God? We let go of ourselves, humble ourselves, and surrender every part of our lives to His control. We enter into a personal and deep relationship with our Savior, Christ Jesus. We fear and respect Him, we revere Him, and we love and adore Him for who He is, not just what He has done. “The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (John 4:23). That means worship comes from within us and must be sincere, motivated by our adoration of Him.
Worship is about surrender! As Matthew 18:3 reminds us, it is like becoming children so utterly dependent upon Him. True worship is love and devotion like that of children. Instead of just being part of special activities like a worship night at church, worship becomes a lifestyle—an intricate part of who we are. It is in worship that we acknowledge Christ Jesus as the Lord of our lives and surrender our desires to His will and priorities.
Let’s look to scripture for an example of real surrender and worship. Daniel 3 is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who would not bow down and worship an idol even though their earthy king required it. Here is what real surrender looks like. Daniel 3:16–18 says, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.’”
Think about what those three men were willing to do to worship God. They were willing to be thrown into a fiery furnace. Focus on what surrender looks like, what it really means. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego demonstrate it is impossible to worship God and something else at the same time, so they chose God.
Such worship isn’t possible if you haven’t repented of your sin and believed in Christ Jesus as your savior. Trust Jesus as your savior and the resulting forgiveness that comes with a relationship with Him will set you free to worship Him.
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