12 Convictions of True Worshipers

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1. Worship & God's Love
Worship is a response to God's great love

This first Conviction is simple, but challenging. It goes like this:  Worship is a response to God’s great love.

Learning worship does not start with learning techniques. It begins with knowing God’s kindness toward you. When Paul urged us to present ourselves to God as living sacrifices, he began with the phrase “in view of God’s mercy.” In other words: Since we know God’s great love for us, let’s worship. If we are not deeply convinced of God's love, our worship of Him will be forced and mechanical.

Earning His Love vs. Receiving His Love
Remember Cain and Abel? Both worshiped—both brought their sacrifices—but one was acceptable and the other was not. My guess is that Cain approached worship thinking, What can I do for God to win his favor? Abel simply received God’s love and expressed gratitude. Those are the two primary paths people usually take. The one is called works, the other grace.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). The works way tries to earn a standing with God by what we do for Him; the grace way simply accepts by faith His love for us as a gift, and our worship then becomes a natural response to that love. The acts and attitudes of worship are simply the by-products of knowing His love, not the means of trying to gain it.

Love Drives Out Fear
We love God—and we worship Him—because He first loved us (see 1 John 4:19). That love wins our trust and gratitude, and dispels all our fears. Remember the problem at Mt. Sinai? Because of fear, the Israelites did not draw near to worship. (See Ex. 20:18-21). “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).

Ask yourself this question: “Has God’s love won my heart?” If you think you have to earn His love with your performance or achievement, listen to this: “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). His love for us is not based on our goodness, but on His own. You cannot earn it; you can only receive it.

Maybe you have trusted in someone and gotten hurt, or you think that God has let you down in some way, and there’s a wall between you and Him. That may be why you feel that you are just going through the motions when you worship.

Like Cats Purring
Many of us are like cats. Aloof and independent, cats are suspicious when someone approaches them. But once convinced of gentleness and good will, they will sit in your lap and purr. Let God’s love win your trust. He is not a heartless, impersonal taskmaster whose only goal is to keep you in line. He is the One who knows you better than you know yourself, and who has the key that can unlock the prison doors that keep you from the glorious freedom He has in mind for you. His is that rare love that sacrifices His personal gain for your well being. That’s what His death on the cross was all about. By that selfless act, God has shouted out, “I love you, Bill. I love you, Jennifer. I love you, ______.” (Fill in your own name.)

As we realize His love, our trust flourishes. Our fears of being let down—and all other fears, as well—evaporate. And like the purring of a contented cat, our worship effortlessly springs out of heartfelt gratitude. Our hearts have been won by His incredible love.

Conviction #1: Worship is a response to God’s great love

Lord Jesus, we know that Your love can totally conquer all our doubts and fears, and we invite You to do just that. Form in us an unshakable conviction of Your amazing love. We give up trying to achieve a standing with You and instead, by faith, receive as a gift the love You so freely give. May our worship spring out of knowing Your love. Thank You. Amen.

 (Excerpted from The Adventure of Worship by Gerrit Gustafson - Chosen Books, 2006)

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