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In Part 1 of this series, we learned that lifestyle worship means walking through our days with a surrendered heart to God, so that everything we do brings glory to Him. Today we’ll look at the three directions of worship: inward, upward, and outward.
Jesus said in Mark 12:30 that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. When we say to God, “I love you with all my heart,” what we (hopefully) mean is that He is more important to us than anything else.
Imagine if a man tells his wife, “Honey, I love you; I love you.” He sounds convincing enough, but then he leaves, and she doesn’t hear from him for days. He doesn’t send her any texts or tweets. No communication whatsoever. He shows up seven days later and says, “Honey I’m back to tell you I love you.” Then he disappears again. She has no idea where he is for seven more days. He walks back in and says, “Honey, I’m here to tell you again that I love you.” How long would his wife put up with that before she would say to him, “Stop, I don’t want to hear that anymore; I don’t believe you”? See, it’s one thing to say, “I love you,” but it’s another thing to act like it.
Unfortunately, there are people who come to church and sing the songs and proclaim loudly how much they love God. They may even raise their hands when they sing. Yet, when they leave He doesn’t hear from them again for a week. They don’t pray to Him; they don’t talk to Him; He hardly crosses their minds. How convincing do you think it is to God that they really love Him? Not very convincing, is it? When we truly love the Lord, we’ll love Him all week long. We’ll give Him more than lip service—we’ll worship Him from our heart.
When we truly love the Lord, we’ll love Him all week long. We’ll give Him more than lip service—we’ll worship Him from our heart.
Worship begins inside of us. However, one can only keep it inside for so long. At some point, it’s going to come out. We can’t keep something that exciting and that awesome hidden. It’s inevitable that praise and thanksgiving will begin to flow through us to express our love for God.
Some examples of upward worship are singing, clapping, kneeling, shouting, sharing a testimony, dancing, and raising hands. All these are wonderful ways that we can praise Him, and they’re all done with our bodies.
One of my favorite verses is Psalm 45:1. It says, “My heart is stirred with a noble theme as I recite the verses for my king.” Listen to that. The more the psalmist recited verses and meditated on his king, the more his heart became stirred. That’s how it is with us. The more we think about God and focus on Him and the more we recite Bible verses about Him, the more stirred we will become inside our hearts.
The Hebrew word for “stirred” in Psalm 45:1 includes the idea of boiling.1 What happens when you put water in a pot and then put that pot on a hot stove? It begins to heat up. If you leave the pot on the stove long enough, what will eventually start happening? It will begin to boil. Soon steam will start rising out of the pot.
The illustration about the boiling pot reminds me of a lady in the church where I grew up. Our congregation was relatively reserved and quiet most of the time during our services. By her lifestyle everyone knew that Aunt Bessie loved the Lord, and I’m sure she did the best she could to keep a lid on her praise at church. However, about every six weeks or so, I guess it just built up inside her to the point where she couldn’t hold it in anymore. So, right in the middle of the service, we’d hear what started out as a small squeal but grew louder and louder. Aunt Bessie was shouting! It was kind of like steam in a whistling teakettle; it’s going to make some noise when it finally comes out!
That leads us to the third direction of worship. Just like steam in a pot, as our praise goes upward toward God, others can see it. Psalm 40:3 puts it like this: “He put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God. Many will see it, and fear, and trust in the Lord.” When others look at us they can be changed by our worship.
Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. But, do you remember what he went on to say? “The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Worshiping God means that we will also love others. We can’t say we love the Lord and not love other people. It’s just not possible. We should want others to experience His love and peace as we do. We can’t truly worship God and not want to share Him with other people.
We can’t truly worship God and not want to share Him with other people.
A passage that sums up all three directions of worship is Hebrews 13:15-16. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name (upwardly). And do not forget to do good (inwardly) and to share with others (outwardly), for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (NIV).
True, biblical, lifestyle worship should permeate every aspect of our lives—through and through. Nothing can bring us more joy and fulfillment in this life than worshiping Him in spirit and in truth.