Grow Deep: It's Not What You Think, Week 4
Week 4: January 28-February 3
Present your bodies, a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God,
as your spiritual worship (or your reasonable work of service). -Romans 12:1
Worship, it's not what you think. What comes to mind when you hear the word “worship”? I grew up thinking worship was what happened on Sunday mornings: dressing well, going to church, following a liturgy, sitting and standing on cue, saying a confession, reciting a creed, hearing a sermon, praying with head bowed and hands folded, singing from the hymnal, shaking pastor's hand on the way out, and going home for Sunday dinner. If this is what you think worship means, you can just respond, “This is most certainly true!”
But take note, much of our large group Worship is Physical, very appropriate to the instruction “present your bodies.” With regret, I can remember times when I went through the physical motions but did not engage in worship. Something was missing. I was personally missing.
Worship is Personal, even in large, corporate worship settings. When I discovered a small group setting, I learned more about worship's personal aspect. A dozen Lutherans gathered around Jesus and His Word together in a home. We began by singing simple praise choruses and Scriptural songs. Centering on Jesus, we experienced worship in an engaging, very personal way. People were lifting their hands in worship and singing heartfelt praise to the Lord. The words we sang were personal, “I love you, Lord. Take my heart, Lord.” This experience taught me that Worship is also Pointed, directed to Jesus.
Worship is physical, personal, and pointed to Jesus, but it's not what you think. Martin Luther taught from Scripture that all of a Christian's life of faith is worship. Doing masterful work as a carpenter … worship. Serving as a homemaker and loving as a mother … worship. Helping a neighbor, picking up after yourself, taking out the trash … worship. Take note: all these are presenting your body, a living sacrifice, as reasonable and spiritual worship. Your daily walk of service before God is naturally physical and personal. All believers are worshipers. Each day the Holy Spirit empowers our ordinary daily doings and makes them pointed; that is, directed to Jesus and His presence.
Sunday, January 28
Read: Romans 12:1-2
After 11 chapters about God's many acts of mercy for undeserving sinners as we are, St. Paul lays out our reasonable, spiritual response: Worship! Live your daily life with a redeemed, renewed mindset. Not conforming to the fallen world's pattern, give your all, your whole self, to living like you are in a congregation of worshipers in the presence of God.
Reflect: How does the idea of “living sacrifice” apply to everyday life? If you could go “All In” with Jesus just for today, how would your planned activities be different?
For the Family: What is a sacrifice? What do you think the writer means when he tells us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God.
Monday, January 29
Read: Exodus 20:3-6
God requires that we have no other gods. To disobey in this command would be very harmful to our lives with Him. He also promises many blessings, such as long life, when we love and trust Him.
Reflect: What in this world do you trust? Government? Employer? Medical technology? Retirement plan? Support of family and friends? Make a list and sort them by most-to-least trusted. Then, think honestly. Where would you insert trusting God? How could any one of these become an idol?
For the Family: God tells His people that they should not worship any other god but Him. Do you know anyone at school or in your neighborhood who doesn’t desire to worship Jesus? How can you encourage them?
Tuesday, January 30
Read: Matthew 4:8-11
Satan tempts Jesus, offering Him rule over all the world's kingdoms. If Jesus would just bow down to Satan, He could bypass the Cross. The world and all its treasures would be His.
Jesus rejected the offer, a terrible deal for all of us sinners, whom He loves. No, worship is for God alone.
Reflect: Have you been tempted by any of the world's stuff? Where does that temptation come from? How does Jesus help you to say “no” to that specific temptation you often face?
For the Family: What was Satan offering to Jesus when he tempted Him in these verses? How did Jesus respond? How should we respond when we are tempted to do something we should not do?
Wednesday, January 31
Read: 1 Chronicles 16:28-36
God raised up David as king of Israel. David worshiped the Lord with thanksgiving. The Hebrew word for thanksgiving comes from the word for hand. Some people lift their hands in worshipful thanksgiving as they sing praises to God.
Reflect: You may have seen many worshipers praising God with uplifted hands. How do feel about that? Would you consider lifting your hands in a worship setting? Try it at home in your private devotions this week. Just worship Jesus.
For the Family: The writer of these verses says that God’s love endures forever. How do you feel knowing that God’s love for you will never change or end, but that His love will last forever?
Thursday, February 1
Read: Revelation 7:9-17
Around God's throne in heaven, the blood-washed, white-robed saints of every land and language worship the Lamb Who was slain.
Reflect: Try this when you worship on Sunday: mentally connect yourself with worshipers in churches around the world. Then see yourself connected with the worshiping saints in heaven. In what way can you think of yourself being as white as snow? Blood-washed?
For the Family: Talk with your family about what it might be like to be around God’s throne worshipping Him in heaven someday.
Friday, February 2
Read: Revelation 5:8-14
After Jesus died for all the world's sin and rose from the grave, He ascended to heaven and re-took His position as Son of God, with all authority. In this text, all the Holy Ones in heaven worshiped “the Lamb that was slain.” The Lamb is significantly exalted for His faithful work of dying to purchase a world of sinners and making us a kingdom of priests to worship God.
Reflect: Name some emotions that you might feel when you stand among those saints around the throne. What are some words you would use on that day for praising Jesus? Try using those words when you worship this week.
For the Family: Who is the Lamb in these verses? Ask your Mom or Dad why Jesus is referred to as the Lamb that was slain.
Saturday, February 3
Read: Deuteronomy 6:1-9
In this chapter, just after the Ten Commandments, Moses summarizes God's commands and His promises. The Lord is our God, the only God. You shall love Him with everything you have within you. His commands shall be written on your heart. Pass them on!
Reflect: Thinking about God's commands, how could they also be considered promises? Try reading them that way: It's not that you must love your neighbor, God promises that you will! How is that already true, to some extent, in Christians? When will the promise be entirely fulfilled? Today we are all worshipers, to some extent; on that Day we will worship perfectly!
For the Family: What are some ways that you can keep the commandments of God in front of you on a daily basis? Try one of the ways you discuss with your family today!