Last week, we begun a two-part series entitled “The Wonder of Worship.” We discovered that God is a holy, holy, holy God. He deserves our worship. In Deuteronomy 6:4-9 it says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words, which I command you today, shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
The key to the heart of true worship is to love our God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, and with all of our strength. Our desire to worship should be like our desire to eat. If the need for food goes unmet, we feel pain. When we go for an extended time without eating, the body shrinks—which for some of us is not a bad thing. But, when we go for an extended time without worshiping and we shrink spiritually, that’s a disaster. God made us for worship. God created you and me for Himself. When we are not fulfilling that drive, or when we worship that drive to worship something other than God, we shrink and become spiritually anemic.
We discovered last week that there are all kinds of definitions of worship out there. We looked that the fact that the entire service as we gather here on Sunday morning is worship. We will take a look at that in a few moments. But true worship is giving God the honor and praise that He deserves. It’s giving Him the worth that He is deserving of. Let’s look at 1 Chronicles 16:28-29:
Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
Give to the Lord glory and strength.
Give to the Lord the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come before Him.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches us, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Our primary purpose in worship is to glorify God. The focus of Christian worship cannot be human experience, entertainment, or anything except Jesus—His life, death, and resurrection. Let me say it again, our chief purpose is to glorify God. That is my intent as your pastor. When we gather together on Sunday morning I intend to focus on God and not man. So in worship we glorify God and there is a second aspect of worship and that is to enjoy God forever. Like I said last week, when we gather together week after week for worship, we are practicing for heaven. If we can’t worship Him for an hour on Sunday, what are we going to do when that’s all we’ll do for the rest of eternity? There should be joy as we come to worship Him. Especially when we remember what he has done for us. James tells us that every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of Lights. We don’t have anything that He didn’t give us. The scriptures tell us that we were enemies of God, but God through Christ made a way to become friends of God. The cross is the great equalizer. God in his mercy gave us a way out of our sins through Jesus Christ. When we remember that, we can’t help but praise him. Proper worship carries us into God’s holy presence, where He alone offers us hope, purpose and meaning. Without the joy aspect of worship, it becomes drudgery. We wonder, why do I come? (More on that later)
How does this fit with the I Chronicles verse? Who is to worship? The families of the people or as its translated else ware, the families of the nations are to worship him. The nations are to worship him. And how are we suppose to do it? We are to give the Lord glory and strength; we are to give the Lord the glory due his name.
Last week I told you I was going to give you some specific ways we can worship him. But I also want to walk with you through the worship folder and see how this all falls into place with the scriptures.
At the very top of the page you see the name of the church and the date. After that you see something that says, “Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost.” Did you know that there was something called the church year? Those who come from “high church” traditions would know what I’m talking about. The cool thing about the church year is that its entire focus is on Christ. It begins with Advent, then continues through Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and then Pentecost. While at college in Indiana and while in New York, I developed an appreciation for some “high church” elements, especially when they are explained as to why they are done. I will probably never be a “lectionary preacher”, that is I will probably never follow the set readings that go with the church year, but from time to time during the church year we will focus on the theme of that season.
The next thing in your worship folder is the welcome. This gives me as your pastor a chance to welcome everyone. Paul says to greet one another with a holy kiss. This is our 21st century version of that. We could even add the handshake portion if we wanted.
Following the welcome is the Call to Worship – Isaiah 2:3 says, “Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law,”
Songs of Worship — Psalm 81:1 — Sing aloud to God our strength; Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob.
Psalm 96:1-4 — Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.
Worship is more than music, however, I believe that a well planned and executed music portion of the worship service, opens hearts to the Word. Last week, I mentioned that we are not aware that worship has changed throughout the centuries. It has changed and will continue to change (that is the method will) however, one thing will not change; the message will not change. You will continue to see a blend of new and old in our services. As I mentioned last week, there are some OLD hymns that I would like to teach you as well as some of the best of the new songs and hymns. That doesn’t mean we’ll stop singing the great gospel songs as well. I plan to use responsive readings and creeds. All of these elements blended together create a link to the past and build a bridge to the future.
Invocation – This is so much more than an opening prayer, but an invitation for God to come and dwell among us.
Worship Through Giving – Deuteronomy 26:10 – and now, behold, I have brought the first fruits of the land which you, O Lord, have given me.’ “Then you shall set it before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God.
Ministry in Music –
Worship through the Word – Micah 4:2
Many nations shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
Benediction – A prayer of blessing and of protection that God will go with you as you leave this place of worship
You see if done properly, everything points to God and not to man. God encourages us to worship corporately. I know we are a highly individualistic society, but we are told, “[do] not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
We’ve covered quite a few practical ways that we can worship him, but are there other ways as well?
I think we’ve talked at this at length already – we can worship God through singing.
We can speak it
Hearing you praise and worship God with your mouth is of great encouragement. We are not only commanded to worship God with singing, but also with our speaking.
A surprising one is found in Psalm 100:1 – Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! – There are several great examples of how shouting becomes of offering to the Lord. Look at the story of the battle of Jericho. When God’s people obey and shout in God’s name that even full cities will fall in his name. We need to get excited about what God is doing in our live.
We can worship God through other ways that are mentioned in the God’s Word. What are they? Lifting our hands (Dr. Guy’s daddy illustration) weeping, bowing, dancing, falling on our faces (prostrate) and others.
What are the benefits of worship; who benefits?
- Most importantly – God does – sometimes I think we forget that God created us and he created worship. He created us to worship Him. The Garden of Eden was the original house of worship. God wanted to have a relationship with someone and he chose us.
- Others attending worship with us – Ephesians 5:19-21 – Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.
Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
- We do – this is the experiential element. How many times have you come to church out of duty, but because you were obedient, God worked in a miraculous way in your life? God can work simply in our obedience to Him. We can benefit from worship.
Think of worship as a divine theatrical event. God is the audience, the people on the platform are the prompters off stage helping the performers. You in the congregation are the performers. What a load it takes off my feeble mind, when I remember that what we do on the platform is for God. What you do in the pew is not for my benefit, but for God. God is our audience of One.