During our last Worship Factor post entitled “Is It Praise, Or Is It Worship, Part 1”, we discussed the first two distinct differences between praise and worship that were listed in the article entitled “Tapping Into The Image Of Christ. The distinctions discussed were:
DISTINCTION #1: Anyone Can Praise Him, But Only Those Who Are In Him Can Worship Him
DISTINCTION #2: You Can Praise Apart From Worship, But You Cannot Worship Apart From Praise.[i]
Each distinction are equally important so if you missed last weeks article, click here to gain a better understanding of these two distinctions.
Today, we will continue this discussion by expounding on the next two distinctions. Due to their similarities, we will cover them simultaneously.
NOT ALL INVITATIONS ARE CREATED EQUAL
Have you ever excitedly received a wedding invitation just to arrive and discover that you are only welcomed to sit in the back of the building? Or how about that graduation invitation you received provided you with perfect seats in the nose-bleed section? That’s because not all invitations are created equal.
Invitations vary based on the preferences of the host. There are standard invitations, special guest invitations, VIP invitations, invitations for the guest(s) of honor, invitations with assigned seats, and invitations with expiration dates, just to name a few.
But what happens when a person is invited to an event, arrives with invitation in hand, but the host decides not to honor that invitation? That small piece of paper granting privileges is rendered null and void. What if the invitation contains an expiration date or time? If the guest arrives beyond the date or time allotted, again, the invitation becomes useless.
When I was invited to go to South Africa, I was asked by the immigration officer what my “length of stay” would be. According to South African visa rules, a visitor from the United States was invited to stay in the country for up to 3 months without having to request a special permit.
In the process of time, I requested a special type of visa primarily used by missionaries. Once obtained, the guest is then welcomed to stay for as long as 3 years. My new 3-year invitation was stamped in my passport.
I left the country a couple of times while my “invitation” was valid to visit Botswana. Upon my return, nothing more was required of me than to show the customs agents my “stamped invitation”, and I was welcomed back with opened arms.
With that said, our next two distinctions invitation induced. I shall group them together because of their similarities. The distinctions may appear to contain very subtle differences, but the emphasis must be placed on the “length of stay”.
DISTINCTION #3: Praise Invites Him To Come, But Worship Invites Him To Stay
DISTINCTION #4: Praise Ushers In His Presence, But Worship Ushers In His Habitation
How often have we gone to church during a service filled with the electric presence of God, then return home just to find that our spiritual lights have been cut right back off? But if you leave church charged with the same atmosphere of praise, haven’t you noticed that the more you praise Him, the more intense His presence becomes even beyond the church walls?
With our praise, we invite Him into our atmosphere, and He will “hang out” with us as long as our praise continues. But a lifestyle of worship tells Him, “I don’t want You just to hang out with me. I want to abide in You so that You can abide in Me.”
Abiding implies “moving in”. When a visitor comes to your home, your normal tendency is to put your best foot forward. Typically, you will ensure that the areas your visitor will “hang out” in is clean. You may often prepare a snack or meal especially for that visitor. And finally, you’ll put on your best behavior during the visit. Once the visitor leaves, you are free to relax. You’re back to “business as usual”.
When someone moves into your home however, that person is no longer considered a visitor in your eyes. You may properly prepare the place for their arrival. You may even prepare a “welcome” meal for that person. But it won’t be long before you begin to relax and become transparent in the presence of your new co-dweller. You won’t necessarily clean up like you once did when he or she visited. You’ll resume your habit of cooking just as you cooked before your co-dweller arrived…that’s if you had a habit of cooking at all.
Within a matter of just a couple of days, your co-dweller will begin to learn who you really are. As a visitor, he or she only had a surface knowledge of you. As a co-dweller, that same person begins to gain a more in-depth knowledge of you, and vice versa. Soon, this person begins to feel more like family to you than a friend.
A FRIEND THAT STICKETH CLOSER…
Several years ago T. D. Jakes gave his congregation an assignment. He instructed everyone to close their eyes and picture their lives as if each of their lives were a house. Each room represented a specific area of their lives. One room may be the workplace, another family, yet another could be finances, etc. He then instructed them to search the entire house. “If the Lord Jesus showed up at your door, would there any rooms in your house that He isn’t invited to enter? Everyone has a dirty closet somewhere”, he said.
He then explained that if there were any rooms in their lives that Christ was not invited into, then He was no more than a visitor in their lives. For me that marked the difference between friend and family. Yes, I am a friend of God, but have I allowed myself to truly be His daughter?
As we look more closely at these two particular distinctions between praise and worship, remember I stated that they address “length of stay”. While first distinction invites the Lord to stay, the second invites Him to abide. What determines the length of stay? Your level of maturity.
Young, zealous Christians will happily praise God publically and privately. These babies welcome His continued presence…until “life” happens. Immature Christians who struggle to manage their emotions will continually embrace God’s presence until anger gets the best of them, hard times frustrates them, or until the pain of offence robs them of their victory. In these instances, Jesus’ invitation is stamped with a “short-term” stay and oftentimes the expiration date is imminent.
The mature Christian on the other hand embraces Christ’s presence through the midst of every storm, every offence, every set back, and every fall or failure. Even when this person makes a mistake, like David, the prayer becomes “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me”(Psalm 51:11). And like Job, the testimony becomes, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15) because “I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12).
The mature Christian recognizes fully that no matter what, life without Him is a life not worth living. Therefore, this person would never want to experience one moment without His presence in their lives. Even when the seasoned saint doesn’t feel God’s presence, he/she is ever-sensitive to His presence and continues to honor Him for abiding with them. In these instances, a permanent residency with a special VIP pass is stamped on Jesus’ invitation.
God has declared that He inhabits our praise, One of the definitions of the Greek word “yâshab”, or inhabit, is “to sit down”. When we praise Him, we invite Him to come in, and take a seat. But when our praise is finished, all too often, we open the door and bid Him goodbye. But His desire is to live in the midst of your worship. He longs for permanent residency. He wants you to
- invite Him in,
- give him unlimited access to every room,
- and allow Him to renovate it.
He wants to make it beautiful. Will you let Him?
 Psalm 100:4, John 4:23-24
 John 15:4.
 Psalm 22:3 (AMP)
 Meyers, Rick. E-Sword. Computer software. E-sword. Vers. 10.4.0. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 June 2015. Strong’s Hebrew & Greek Definitions