How do you describe the heart of a person who truly worships our Father in Heaven? Here are several ways.
A Heart that Celebrates (God’s Handiwork)
It was a beautiful summer evening when I decided to take our three-year-old twin girls and their two-year-old sister for a short walk around our neighborhood. Of course, a “walk” meant that they sat in their little red wagon while I pulled it along. When we rounded one corner, I couldn’t help but notice the brilliantly colored sunset, so I took that teachable moment to stop the wagon and exclaim, “Look, girls! See what God has done! Isn’t that great?!” And suddenly, all three of them stood up inside their wagon, looked at the western sky, and began to clap their hands in excitement. I decided to join them in their praise of the Master Artist.
I still remember the confused looks on the faces of passing motorists as they observed a father and his daughters giving a standing ovation to the invisible One who created each of them to worship him.
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. From the lips of children . . . you have ordained praise” (Psalm 8:1, 2).
A Heart that Sees (God’s Presence)
“‘And they will call him Immanuel’ (which means, ‘God with us’)” (Matthew 1:23). The most frequent promise in the Bible is God telling you and me, “I am with you.” Do we have the continual awareness that our heavenly Father is truly with us as we experience life on a daily basis? While washing our dirty dishes do we thank him for providing the food that filled them? While doing the laundry do we thank him for the clothes we wore? Is he with us on our commute to the office? Is he with us while we’re exercising or on the field of competition?
Most of us know what a coincidence is. But do we take note of the “God-incidents” in our lives? We notice that the young single mother in front of us at the checkout line has had her debit card rejected, and we have the opportunity to bless her and her children. Or we just “happen” to be driving to the same area of town where someone desperately needs a ride, and God ordains us to become a free “Uber” driver.
God reveals himself to us all the time and when we see him, we worship.
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5).
A Heart that Is Broken (by God’s Holy Spirit)
Following his sin with Bathsheba, King David wrote a transparent psalm of repentance in Psalm 51. He declared in verse 17, “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”
Like Isaiah who was in the presence of God and realized his sinful state (Isaiah 6:5), when we worship we become keenly aware of how far we are from his holiness. It’s been said, “The closer you get to the light, the more dirt you detect.”
I have noticed that those who worship God with freedom and joy are the ones who have truly experienced his grace and forgiveness in their lives.
A Heart that Is a Living Sacrifice
I have worshipped in a number of impressive church facilities over the years—spacious worship centers with beautiful stained glass windows, huge pipe organs, and seating for thousands. We are tempted to assume that effective worship is limited to man-made structures.
However, Paul describes pure worship when he wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1). Tom Warner once said, “We don’t go to a worship center. We are the worship center.”
In Matthew 17:4, Peter had such a profound worship experience on the Mount of Transfiguration that he wanted to build a place of worship there. But as someone once told me, “Mountaintops are great for getting a whole new perspective, but things only grow in the valleys below.” Perhaps that’s why Jesus immediately led his disciples down from that mountain. We are called to worship even when we are in the painful valleys of our lives.
“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15a). In spite of his intense pain and loss, Job chose to honor God instead of curse him.
A Heart that Focuses (On God’s Voice)
Back when I was “on the cutting edge of technology” with a box of transparencies and a 12-string guitar, a young youth minister named David Wheeler told me, “Mark, what I like best when you lead worship is that you become invisible.” At first I didn’t know what he meant, until I realized he appreciated being able to clearly see and hear God instead of anyone or anything else while worshipping.
Take a moment to read 1 Kings 19:11, 12. What distractions in your life come between you and the voice of God? Purposefully turn away from the “winds, earthquakes, and fires” in your life and listen for his gentle whisper.
A Heart that Praises (God and Others)
In his book, Disciple, Juan Carlos Ortiz writes that praise is the language of the kingdom of God. He notes, “There are only two languages in this world: The first is the language of praise. The second is the language of complaint.”
King David wrote, “His praise will always be on my lips” (Psalm 34:1b).
Every one of us speaks with an accent, even a slight one. You can usually tell if a person is from the Bronx, Wisconsin, North Carolina, or the San Fernando Valley. When you speak, do people hear praise and gratitude, or complaints and criticism? Based on your accent, where do people assume you live? In the kingdom of God or the kingdom of this world?
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6a).
A Heart that Is Grateful (to God)
“The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor” (Genesis 4:4, 5).
For a reason known only to him and our Father in Heaven, God regarded Cain’s act of worship as unacceptable. Perhaps God rejected his offering because he was not truly thankful for how he had been blessed.
People usually greet us with a quick, “How are you doing?” without giving much thought to their question. They expect a, “Fine, thanks. How are you?” Once we play a quick round of “verbal bumper cars,” the two of us are off and running. Sometimes I stop people in their tracks by replying, “How am I? I’m doing better than I deserve!”
That can bring a halt to the game because it makes people pause and think. And it gives me an opportunity to clarify my response: “To be honest with you, I deserve Hell. But I’m going to get Heaven!” Most people just scratch their heads and go on, but others have been curious enough to ask me about the why and how.
I am so grateful to know I will someday get the Heaven I don’t deserve. My ticket was bought with the blood of my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. It just hasn’t been punched yet! “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful” (Hebrews 12:28a).
A Heart that Loves (Our Heavenly Father)
My father was my hero. I didn’t worship him, but I admired everything about him. I wanted to be in his presence and I tried to follow his lead. Why? Because I knew beyond the shadow of any doubt that my dad loved me.
And I loved him.
Our Father in Heaven tells us in Isaiah 43:4, “You are precious and honored in my sight . . . because I love you.”
“He will take great delight in you; in his love he will rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25).
How can we not worship our Father who loves us that much?
That’s worth a standing ovation.
Mark Wesner preaches at the Moscow Christian Church in Rush County, Indiana.