LESSON 2: KEYS FOR WORSHIP
MAIN IDEA: Experiencing God in worship requires time and sacrifice.
When Jesus offered a God-sized assignment, the Seventy were ready to step out in faith and serve God. They responded to their revelation of God by offering their lives as living sacrifices. They had adopted a worship lifestyle, and Jesus was well-pleased. We can do the same thing today as we respond to God’s revelation of who He is and what He has done in our own lives.
There are four simple yet profound keys to experiencing God in worship, and the story of the Seventy gives us a clear pattern to follow. We will consider the first two keys in this lesson and look at the other two in the next lesson.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place. And He was praying there. Mark 1:35
Key #1: Time in God’s Presence
Experiencing God in worship starts with our willingness to give God first place in our lives. This means spending time with Him every day — through prayer and devotion to His written and Living Word. God rewards those who diligently seek Him. Apart from Him, we truly can do nothing — and that includes worship. We cannot worship God unless we spend time with Him.
Jesus set the example for us. He often got away from the crowds and distractions and spent time with the Father. While the crowds pressed in for His attention, Jesus knew the source of His strength — time with the Father:
The news about [Jesus] spread even more, and large crowds would come together to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed. Luke 5:15-16
Time with the Father is always time well-spent! We too must develop a hunger for God that supersedes our desire for the things of the world. We can’t receive a fresh revelation of God and the continual infilling of the Holy Spirit without changing our priorities in life. The apostle Paul gives us these instructions:
Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk — not as unwise people but as wise — making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:15-18
The only way we can know the will of the Lord and be filled with the Holy Spirit is to spend time in God’s presence. This is the first key to experiencing God in worship.
Following the example of the Seventy, we must spend time in the presence of God if we are to receive revelation. That is what the Seventy did first and foremost: they spent time with Jesus. As we do this, worship becomes our natural response — and the priority of our lives.
When do you spend time with Jesus? In what parts of your day could you carve out some more time to commune with Him?
Key #2: Count the Cost
The story of the Seventy actually begins in Luke 9. That’s when Jesus’ ministry took a major turn:
When the days were coming to a close for Him to be taken up, He determined to journey to Jerusalem. Luke 9:51
Until this time, Jesus had been setting the stage for His triumphant moment on the cross. He was the Lamb who would be slain to take away the sins of the world. There had always been a cross in His future, and the time had come for that climactic victory.
Jesus knew the road He was about to travel was the most difficult one anyone had ever known. He knew the cross would cost Him great suffering and death, but the time had come — the sacrifice had to be made. The world needed a risen Savior.
As Jesus made clear His plans to go to the cross, many of His followers declared their desire to go with Him, no matter what. Jesus responded by teaching them about the cost of discipleship:
As they were traveling on the road someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go!” Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” “Lord,” he said, “first let me go bury my father.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57,59,61-62
Jesus wanted those disciples to fully understand that the cost of following Him toward His destiny was real and measurable. The cost included persecution, rejection by friends and family members, inconvenience, and material loss. In the language of that day, the concept of burying one’s father implied waiting until the father died so that the son could claim his inheritance. Jesus knew, however, that a far greater inheritance awaited them as they stepped out in faith and followed Him — the same inheritance that awaits us today.
They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. Acts 5:41, NKJV
The Seventy followed and served Jesus — worshiped Him — at great cost to themselves. They gave up their time, their families, their earthly goods, and their own agendas to go and declare that the Kingdom was near. The New Testament is filled with examples of the loss and rejection believers experienced, yet they willingly suffered loss that others might know Christ. And they were greatly rewarded. The writer of the Book of Hebrew provides a clear picture of the cost these faithful believers endured as they followed Jesus:
Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to taunts and afflictions, and at other times you were companions of those who were treated that way. For you sympathized with the prisoners and accepted with joy the confiscation of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves have a better and enduring possession. So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised. Hebrews 10:32-36
Following Jesus required sacrifice then, and it requires sacrifice today. There are countless stories of ordinary people who have counted the cost and said “Yes!” to God’s invitation that I could share with you. However, I want you to focus on your own story.
Perhaps you already know what it’s like to spend time in God’s presence, hear God’s invitation to join Him as He works, and respond — and possibly you don’t always realize that is what is happening.
For every Bible teacher, for every choir member, for every home-group leader, for every person who invests even one hour in doing missions work or encouraging a friend, there remains a great reward. Recognizing and responding to God’s call takes so many forms. And every response requires faith and obedience. Every response is indeed an expression of worship (lateuro).
Perhaps God is using today’s study to stir your heart to action or greater action on His behalf. If so, then may I remind you that this stirring is God inviting you to join Him as He works right where you are! Your response to His invitation will allow you to continue to experience God in your life. Worship Him as you step out in faith, my dear friend. He is worthy. And He is waiting.
Let’s reflect further on the cost of discipleship: Jesus asked the Seventy to step out in faith and proclaim the coming of the Savior of the world. That sounds like an enviable role to us today, but the cost to them was severe.
What do you think the disciples’ mission might have cost them? Does your response include any of these possible answers: rejection by friends and family, loss of property and inheritance, verbal abuse, physical rejection? Perhaps you thought of other kinds of losses, both tangible and intangible.
Everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. Philippians 3:7
God wants to invite you to join Him as He works, as well. And His invitation will require faith and action on your part. If you sense that God is calling you to do something extraordinary in your life — something requiring faith and action — what might that look like? What cost might be involved?
LESSON 2 REVIEW
• What statement or Scripture you read in this lesson was most meaningful?
• Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response.
• What does God want you to do in response to this lesson?