Within each stage of growth there are four directions we must reach toward in order to grow: in, out, up and down. The following material is designed to help you reach up in worship.
As was discussed earlier in this series, worship is best defined in two parts, to be in awe and to kiss toward. Being in awe is a condition of the heart. To meet this condition, it is essential that every Christian regularly evaluate the longing of their heart. Kissing toward describes the expressions of awe that we offer in the direction of Heaven. It is also important that Christians make regular evaluations of this part of their worship.
The following survey was designed to help you measure your effective use of the various expressions of worship exemplified by the early church. As each description is discussed, rank your achievement level on a chart that measures from 1 to 10.
1. Prayer - In Acts 2:42, we are told that the early Christians “continued steadfastly... inprayers.” In I Thessalonians 5:17, Christians are commanded to “pray without ceasing.” How is your prayer life? Do you encourage the prayer life of others through teaching and example? How would you measure your effective use of this expression of worship?
2. Singing - In Ephesians 5:19, Paul told the early Christians to worship by “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Not every Christian can sing with a beautiful voice, but every Christian is commanded to sing. The true effectiveness of singing is not measured by pitch or rhythm, but by message and sincerity. How well do you speak to your fellow Christians through song?
3. Study - In the early church, Bible study came in at least three forms, personal study (II Timothy 2:15), through the aid of a teacher (II Timothy 2:2, Hebrews 5:12), and through the aid of a preacher (Romans 10:14-15). How effective are you at personal study, listening to others, and sharing what you know?
In II Timothy 1:11, Paul said that he “was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.” In this passage, Paul differentiates between the work of a preacher and the work of a teacher. You should study this distinction further and ask yourself for which are you best suited.
4. Communion - Perhaps the best definition of communion is having a common union. Communion is expressed when people of common faith unite to memorialize and celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. In Acts 20:7, we find that the early church met every Sunday to take communion. In I Corinthians 11:28-29, every Christian was commanded to “examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” How much focus and self-examination do you give to the Lord’s Supper each week? How would you measure your effective use of this expression of worship?
5. Giving - In I Corinthians 16:2, Paul gave this command to the church in the city of Corinth: “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” In keeping with that example, you should consider making weekly donations to the needy and to the work of your local congregation. Under the Old Law, the ancient Hebrews were commanded to give 10% of their belongings. What percentage do you give to the Lord? How does your contribution to God’s work compare to your weekly spending on recreation and entertainment? How would you measure your effective use of this expression of worship?
The list above is not complete. Expressions of worship include more than just praying, singing or engaging in the other activities listed here. Worship can also be expressed through fellowship, service to others, personal change in character or triumphant endurance over hardship. Worship is a positive acknowledgment of God and it should be part of every moment of every day.
Whether worship is expressed in a church gathering, as is commanded by God (Hebrews 10:24-25), or individually, as is also commanded by Him (Matthew 6:6), worship is only acceptable when it comes from hearts that are filled with awe. Look for God in everything that you do and your very life will become an ongoing worship service to Him.
Now that you have examined yourself and made an assessment of certain areas of weakness, what are you going to do about the survey? Suggestion: Take time to list any areas that you deem to be a problem. Below each of these areas write the three following steps as well as a timeline you will use to judge your progress toward a solution:
1. Pray - Every positive change starts with prayer. Develop a schedule of times that you will petition God for help and direction in overcoming this problem. (Note: once each day is probably not enough.)
2. Act - Good intentions without positive actions never bring solutions. Solving this problem must become more than a goal. It requires a process. Write three or more steps that you plan to take to help solve this problem.
3. Reassess - Change often comes incrementally. Taking regular assessments of your progress, and then making adjustments accordingly, is vital to success. After every assessment, repeat the steps above and adjust the parts of step 2 as needed. Develop a schedule of times that you will take regular assessments of your progress.
It is very important that this activity not be shuffled to the bottom of your “to do list.” Tape the list to your bathroom mirror or the monitor of your computer. This assignment must have your attention. You cannot effectively follow God’s blueprint for growth if you do not engage in activities such as this. For God’s sake and your own spiritual development, post this list in an obvious place.
Next time we will look at a biblical survey that can help you grow as a leader by reaching down through evangelism. Until then, keep the faith!
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