Do you exercise authentic faith-filled worship
An interesting aspect of Bible study is something I abbreviate in my Bible as LFM. These three little letters are written beside many words in my study Bible. LFM stands for “The Law of First Mention”. It tells me that this is the first time this particular word is mentioned in Scripture.
The Law of First Mention basically supposes that there is an intrinsic nature of the first use of the word in its present context that really gives the reader fresh insight and clarity in examining the word throughout the rest of the Scriptures. So as your worship specialist, you can imagine that beside the word “worship” somewhere in my Bible, there is written ‘LFM’. It is positioned over Genesis 22:5.
In this passage, God revealed to Abraham that he was to give his son Isaac, mortally, as a sacrifice at the top of Mount Moriah. In this new and painful revelation, Abraham and Issac and some of his men travelled to the mountain. His heart extremely heavy after riding with this emotional weight for three days, Abraham finally dismounted his donkey and said to his consort, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you,” says Gen. 22:5.
The fourteenth word in the previous sentence is “worship” and it is the first time it is mentioned in Scriptures. The Hebrew word, transliterated, is “shachah” it means to literally “fall flat” before the Lord. That’s a hard-core definition in itself; however, in the context of being the LFM, I find that it also has another strong aspect, faith.
This act of worship, even though its gruesome consummation was thwarted at the last moment by the voice of God, was truly an ultimate act of faith on the part of Abraham. Abraham had faith in God to provide a lamb (vs. 8) and to ultimately bless Abraham for this act. This journey of faith really begins 10 chapters back, with then Abram, in chapter 12:
“Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran,” says Gen. 12:1-4.
Abraham showed true faith when he worshipped Jehovah. How is our faith reflected through our worship, or maybe more importantly, how is our worship reflected through our faith? From my reading about worship in Scripture I come to the following conclusion:
God’s acceptance of our worship is totally dependent on our faith.
When our act of worship costs us nothing, is faithless – it is practically inconsequential to God. However, when we worship Him as a response in undying faith to Him – our worship takes on a totally different look.
One of the best examples of faith-filled worship was Paul and Silas singing songs of faith in the prison (Acts 16:25) in their midnight worship service. The funny thing through that is that people were drawn to them, and they found favor with those all around, nice by-product.
I was at one of our churches earlier this year when during the worship service in this small church, an older lady sat in a chair in front of the congregation and sang an obviously home-spun psalm to the Lord. In that time of worship, I was deeply moved. Her voice wasn’t operatic; in fact, it was sweetly folksy. The piano was out of tune, and she didn’t even have a microphone. But, there in the middle of southern Missouri – I watched one of the most authentic acts of worship that I had ever seen in my life.
After the service, I asked the pastor about her, to which he explained, “She does this every week.” She just sits in front of the church and sings a psalm from her heart. That was faith-filled, God-honoring worship.
We need to facilitate worship, using all senses and creativity. We should use the latest equipment, and the latest instruments to facilitate worship – but much beyond that, it is my prayer for you, Church, that you pursue the same kind of authentic worship for our Lord as that elderly sister did, one that is totally consumed in faith. (John Francis is the Worship Specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention and produces MoWorship, a monthly worship podcast available at www.mobaptist.org/worship.)