Class 2 Devotional: Dependence on God through Spiritual Practices

Worship and Repentance

Psalm 15:1 asks a rather bold and scary question:

Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?

Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?” [Psalm 15:1 NLT]

As we talk about worship and repentance, we aim to answer this question.


How are we to enter in God’s presence?

Repentance as consecration

I’m going to start this discussion with repentance because our worship is “in vain” if our hearts are not repentant. We know repentance means “to turn” or to “change your mind.” But maybe consecration is a more useful word than the super-religious term repentance. It may be that we connect sin too closely to repentance.

Do I need to repent? Only if I’ve sinned… Perhaps by making repentance the response to sin, we’ve lost the power of the concept. If our goal is to worship God, enter his presence, to be in relationship with him, then the concept of consecration may be much more helpful. One of my goals with this study is to help you consider repentance separately from sin…


Consecrate: to prepare yourself to enter into God’s presence and to do His will.

In the context of spiritual disciplines or practices, repentance is perhaps more essential than any other practice. Why? If our hearts are not turned to God, if our practices are merely for ourselves, then what we are doing will not lead us to be any more like Christ.

Consider the Levites who managed the Temple operations. What was the first requirement for them before they entered the Temple? Consecration. God required Abraham’s descendants to be circumcised. The people Moses led needed to be called to repentance to get the Egypt out of them. The army Joshua led needed to be consecrated before they crossed the Jordan (Joshua 3).

It wasn’t simply that Jews were circumcised… and then they were good with God. God continually called them to repentance and consecration. Clearly, Christians face the same challenge. Sometimes we treat baptism as our “circumcision” or our “ticket to heaven”—this can be called “the conversion gospel.” Yet we were born again into a relationship with God that is defined by knowing God—“this is eternal life” (John 17). Being born isn’t the only change or transformation we need… maturing and continuing to change takes… discipline(s).

Perhaps we should equate repentance more with consecration. Consecration asks the question, “Is my heart prepared to come before God?” Am I in a humble, contrite position, trembling at God’s word? (Isaiah 66:2) Let’s be honest, in some ways we’re never prepared to meet with God.

The goal of repentance isn’t to be a person without sin but rather to live in relationship with God. That’s why we continue to live in repentance regardless of whether we identify a specific sin we need to change. Thus, the concept of consecration perpetuates the need for continual reflection and growth in our relationship with God.

The whole purpose of this class is to invite us into continued consecration… spiritual transformation.

As with most of these spiritual disciplines, even if they start individually, God’s vision is for us to come together as a community. Repentance applies to individuals but repentance should also be communal. Even though God wants every individual to repent, he delights in a community that is consecrated to draw near to him…


Worship is Life

Romans 12:1-2 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. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.

How do we define “worship”?

• To bow down to, to magnify, to glorify, to “kiss the feet of”

• To declare the greatness of… and to invite to reign over you.

Worship is also both an individual and a communal act. If we worship individually, our corporate worship means so much more. However, if we don’t worship individually, corporate worship can feel awkward, insincere, or even fabricated. It’s easy to get people focused when we are around people…

Here are five principles to help us offer “true worship” to God.

1. Worship starts with consecration. Worship starts when you make room in your heart for God. Empty out yourself of self-absorption, “my will,” and desires for anything that is not God. A spiritual discipline to help with this is deep breathing. Exhale and breathe out the junk, giving it over to God. Inhale the Spirit of God, accepting his reign over your life. Repeat until you’re focused on God, not people, ready to worship Him.

2. Worship is physical. Sometimes we mistakenly try to disconnect our bodies from our souls. Teaching that “your body is evil, but your spirit is good” is not from the Bible, but from Plato! Your soul is your whole self. Your body connects your mind and heart. Therefore, worship should be a whole-body experience. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. That is why your physical posture can help prepare mind, heart, and spirit to worship. Worship takes physical effort, and it may be tiring. This is where we can use physical practices such as kneeling, bowing, raising our hands, or even falling prostrate before God.

3. Worship is authentic and emotional. In worship, we bring our hearts into our relationship with God. This is where your preparation for worship matters most. We may need a conversation or confession to work out our own stuff before we come before God and offer our hearts. Jesus also commanded us to reconcile with others before worship. Spiritual disciplines of confession of sin and reconciliation can help. If we come unprepared to worship, our words won’t match our hearts—and we risk worshipping in vain. As in any relationship, if you don’t share your emotions, you risk being disconnected and distant.

4. Worship is spiritual. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit inside us. In worship, we connect with the Spirit of God: we acknowledge him, recognize him, welcome him, surrender to him, praise him. Each of these are spiritual practices meant to help us in worship. Notice how Paul describes this worship connection to the Spirit, the Father, and Jesus in Ephesians 5:18b-20 “Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

5. Worship is communal. Worship is both individual and corporate—God wants us to come together to worship him! Yes, it matters that we worship individually, preparing our hearts by worshipping “in our closet.” But God’s true vision for his people is not to have 8 billion solitary worshippers, but rather “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” Maybe it would help if we think about what it means to assemble (the Greek word that we translate church). Our worship service is our opportunity to “worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28) as we assemble from every tribe, nation, and language together as one, praising God, singing, praying, proclaiming the Lord’s death and resurrection (communion) until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:26).