Welcome back!  This is week 2 of our summer series on what worship is.  You can read week 1 here.  Let’s get right to it.

Worship is relational.

God wants relationship with his children, not religious ritual void of engagement at the heart level.

We believe that everything we do in Sunday services is an act of worship, and we certainly approach it as such with prayerful consideration, but did you know that not every act of worship is acceptable to God? Did you know that God sometimes rejects the worship of His people?

As early as Genesis 4, we see God rejecting Cain’s offering from the ground while accepting Abel’s sacrifice of the firstborn of his flock (see also Hebrews 11:4). In Amos 5, God rebukes an unjust people and rejects their offerings and songs. In Malachi 1, He calls Israel out for offering polluted food and blind animals instead of the first and the best. These are just a few examples in scripture where God finds worship unacceptable.

In John 4:23-24, Jesus says

“23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

We must worship Him in spirit and truth. Now, what exactly that means requires a lengthy discussion that we don’t have time for here, but I think we get a glimpse of God’s heart for true worship from David in Psalm 51:16-17:

16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

As this John Piper sermon on Malachi 1 expresses, worshipping God is first about acknowledging His greatness. That means pride has no place in true worship, but an unrelenting acceptance that we are the creature and He is the Creator. Humility is a non-negotiable of acceptable worship and David expresses that when he says “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

So when we come to worship together each Sunday, our songs, creeds, prayers, and other rituals of worship must be preceded by a heart that is ready to acknowledge the greatness and majesty of the God who created it. God cares more about the state of our heart toward him than the physical acts we engage in for worship.

Let’s not waste a minute. Let’s not waste a prayer. Let’s not waste a song where we aren’t fully committed to the God who calls us to Himself in love and is the object of each act of worship.

Jeremy Buzzard, Director of Music Ministries


Check out the songs we’ll be singing in Contemporary Worship (11:15am) this week:

NEPC Contemporary Setlist