Dr Kevin Blackwell

Information on Church Health, Disciple Making, Ministry Leadership, theology and Spiritual Growth

These 4 Things May Be Limiting Your Worship

Christ is the one through whom God created everything in heaven and earth.  He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see, kings, kingdoms, rulers and authorities.  Every thing has been created through Him and FOR HIM”. Colossians 1:16

Through Jesus everything has been created.  Everything has his touch on it, everything.  The things we can see, the things we can’t see, even the rulers and authorities have been created through him.  Not only through him, but FOR HIM.   That is a big statement.  Those two words are critical to understand because they inform our biblical worldview like few other statements.  Everything exists because of him and for his glory.  During the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem, the religious rulers told Jesus to stop the people from praising him, to which he replied that if they did the rocks would cry out.  Everything is created to worship.  The birds of the air sing for his glory. The flowers of the field express his glory. The Psalmist says in Ps. 19: 1-2, “The heavens tell of the glory of God.  The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.  Day after day they speak; night after night they make him known.”  All of creation is pointing to a creator and all of creation exists to praise Him.

You were created to worship.

Some of us have lost our main purpose.  When you do not regularly encounter the living God, commune with him and have intimacy with him, you become miserable.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart….”  Deep in your heart is something that cries out to the Lord.  He has deeply planted eternity in your heart. To not respond to that deep longing will make you miserable.  When you are not having regular worship encounters with God, you will lose your sense of purpose. It all begins with the condition of your heart. “Who may climb the mountain of the Lord and stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and heart are pure.” Ps. 24: 3.

These worship hindrances may be limiting your encounters with God and thus diminishing your sense of purpose:

A Disobedient Heart. When you live far from God’s will you will feel far from his presence.  It is impossible to have a powerful worship encounter with the living God when you are living out of his will.  In 1 Samuel 15, Samuel is confronting King Saul on his disobedience. God had given Saul clear direction on the destruction of the Amalekites and he had neglected his duty. When Samuel seeks him he finds him on Mount Carmel setting up an altar to himself and the animals that were supposed to be sacrifices for the glory of God were walking around. Saul gives lame excuses on why he didn’t follow through with the Lord’s will and Samuel’s response is something we all need to hear:

“What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice.  Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as bad a sin as witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols.” 

Worship is a lifestyle. It is something you do everyday.  It is not something you come and do, it is something you live and be.  “Obedience is far better than sacrifice.”  In speaking of the Pharisees Jesus said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they replace God’s commands with their own man made teachings.”  Matthew 15: 8-9.  Powerful words.  God is not listening to the words coming out of your mouth when you worship.  He is listening to the music of your heart.  You can raise your hands, you can sing loud, you can bow down, you can appear to be a great worshiper of God, but if your heart isn’t in submission to his Holiness, your mouth will never sing songs that will be pleasing to him.

Worship begins or is limited through your heart condition. True worship is your spirit and his Spirit connecting in a deep intimate encounter and that absolutely can’t happen if you are living in blatant disobedience.  Disobedience and praise cannot sustain one another. Either rebellion will dissolve into repentance resulting in true worship, or the hardened heart will win out and attack the things of God.

An Unforgiving Heart. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus deals with various conditions of the heart.  He literally gets right to the “heart of the matter.”  Notice the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:23, “If you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and suddenly remember that someone has something against you. You should LEAVE.”  Jesus is literally saying you should leave a worship service and stop worshiping Him.  The context of this verse is couched in a discussion on holding anger in your heart toward someone.

If your horizontal relationships are bad, it will affect your vertical relationship with God.  If your heart is divided through anger, hostility, bitterness and rage you will be unable to worship the Lord in purity and honesty.  Hatred in your heart will limit your connection with a loving God.

“If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people whom we can see, how can we love God, whom we have not seen. And God himself has commanded that we must love not only him but our Christian brothers and sisters.”  1 John 4:20-21. 

Forgiveness can be difficult and costly.  But the price of unforgiveness is even more.  It is a boulder you carry around on your back. It is limiting your worship and hindering your relationship with God. It has been said that holding unforgiveness in your heart is like drinking poison while expecting it to hurt the other person. Some of us need to heal  relationships before we truly experience the joy of the Lord’s presence.

An Unbelieving Heart. In Mark 6 Jesus comes to a much anticipated place to preach, teach and perform miracles. Nazareth was his own hometown.  A place that desperately needed the same touch that other villages had received.  A place that was despised by those around them.   It was in need of the power of God.

Jesus enters the synagogue and teaches the people. They were amazed at his wisdom, astonished at his knowledge of the prophets. Mark 6:3 changes everything.  “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.”

Imagine having the presence of God and the power of God in your midst and seeing no miracles take place. Familiarity led to apathy and led to their unbelief. “This is just Mary’s son.”  “We know Jesus, he lived among us.”  He is nothing special.  They refused to believe.  With familiarity and apathy came a disconnect from the power of God.Familiarity led to apathy and apathy led to unbelief. “And because of their unbelief, he could not do any mighty miracles among them.” Could it be that so many churches are not experiencing the power of God due to the unbelieving hearts sitting in the pews?

What if God did something in church Sunday that you didn’t expect?  For many of us if God does something without it being in the bulletin, we get disillusioned.  Many of us will go to church this Sunday and hear the preacher, sing the same songs we have sung a million times, sit in the same pew, shake the hands of the same people we did last week and leave feeling good about coming to church.  The potential is there for us to miss out on the presence and power of God.  To the people in Nazareth, Jesus was just Mary’s boy, the carpenter.  Who is he to you?  Have you become so comfortable, so familiar with the stories, the songs, the sermons, the scriptures, the invitations that they have all lost their power?  When was the last time God amazed you? We often sing that great song, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene” but I will honestly tell you that I don’t see too many church folks standing amazed in the presence of God.  I pray that we will not become so familiar that we lose the power of it.  Some of us have lost our belief that God is going to do something amazing in our midst.  We are merely going through the motions of worship.

A Cluttered Heart. Psalm 66: 16-20. Many of the Psalms reflect the troubles and spiritual struggles that David experienced.  Yet, one event changed his life, he finally confessed his sin and repented of his past.  He became prideful and his pride let to lust which led to adultery and murder. His heart became cluttered with ungodly things so that he lost his focus of God.

If you came to my house today my wife would not let you come through our garage to come into our house.  It is overdue for a good cleaning out.  Over the time we have lived there we keep placing stuff on top of stuff.  I was noticing last week that there are parts of the garage I cannot see anymore due to all the stuff we have stacked over the years.  Cleaning out the clutter of my garage is certainly in my future plans.  What my garage has become is what some of our hearts are now.  Over years, we have stacked up our disappointments, our defeats, our distractions and mistakes to where our hearts have become cluttered messes.

Look at the words of these verses in Psalm 66. “Listen to what he did for me.”  Essentially David says, “I cried out in praise, I confessed the sin in my heart, God listened and paid attention.  And afterwards I experienced his unfailing love for me.”

“What joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty.” Psalm 32:2

I think much of the worship Psalms of David found in Psalms is a result of the amazing forgiveness he experienced from the graceful hand of God. Unconfessed sin serves as concreted on our ankles, chains on our souls, leeches on our heart.  It will suck the spiritual life out of you.

Cover your sin and God will expose it, but if you expose your sin God will cover it.

Dwight L Moody said, “God has cast our confessed sin into the depth of the sea and put a no fishing sign on that spot.”

“Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Ps. 139:23-24.


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About Me

I have been in ministry for 29 years serving in various capacities including senior pastor, youth pastor, education and associate pastor. I serve at Samford University as Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the Ministry Training Institute. I am co-author of the book, Cultivate Disciple Making. I received his Bachelors Degree from Samford, a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Master of Theology from the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His doctoral work was in the area of church health and revitalization.  I am currently a Ph.D. candidate at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation thesis is An Analysis and Critique of Disciple Making Within Ecclesial Movements in the United States, 1970-2020, With a View Toward Implementing a Faithful New Testament Missio Ecclesia


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