What It Means To Worship

O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.
–Psalm 34:3

One way the members of the early church received the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives was through worship. Acts 2:47 says they were “praising God and having favor with all the people.”

What is worship? Today many churches use “worship” as a synonym for “music.” And it is very easy in our minds to separate “worship” from preaching. But the Bible never makes that separation. Music is an essential component of worship, but it is not the only component.

So what does it really mean to worship God? Donald McCullough once wrote about the experience of attending a performance by famed tenor Luciano Pavarotti. McCullough said, “He held nothing back, it seemed. Every single note was filled with boundless passion and glorious beauty. We had to respond: we jumped to our feet and we clapped, hooted, and whistled. We did not stop, not for a long time. Wave after wave of grateful applause was sent up to the platform, calling forth encore after encore. In the midst of this mayhem of gratitude, when my hands were beginning to ache from the pounding, I thought to myself, ‘This is deeply satisfying, a profound joy.’ It felt right to offer praise in response to such excellence.”

That is what worship is: expressing our praise and admiration to God for who He is and all He has done in our lives. In Psalm 34:3, the psalmist said, “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” If you place an object under a magnifying glass, that object is enlarged. The psalmist said worship is coming together to magnify the Lord, to make Him larger.

You might say, “Wait a moment, Pastor. When you magnify something, aren’t you distorting reality?” Think about it this way: I can take two nickels out of my pocket, put one in front of each eyeball, and completely block out the sun. How can something as small as a nickel block out something as large as the sun? It is a matter of perspective. Those nickels are right in front of me. And it is the same way with God. Every day, you and I focus on the problems that are right in front of us. Those are the nickels, so to speak, that block out God from our view. There needs to be a time every week when we shift our focus and let God regain His proper perspective in our lives. And that is what worship does for us. When we worship God, we are focusing on Him rather than our problems. We are thinking about His bigness, His power, His wisdom, His forgiveness. The larger God is, the smaller our problems become. That is why worship is so vital.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Up With Worship” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Donald W. McCullough, “The Trivialization of God” (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1995), 103-4.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.


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