WORSHIP: what it is, how we do it

PSALM 95: WORSHIPPING

WORSHIP ….. OK WHAT ONE WORD POPS INTO YOUR MIND?

PERHAPS there is no one subject that Christians have more different perspectives on than worship.

Some Christians believe that authentic worship can only happen in special religious buildings full of statues and painting and candles led by special people in special clothing

Other Christians believe that all of that stuff prevents real worship

Some Christians think real worship happens when you celebrate the the Lord’s Supper in the right way, using the right the words in the right order led by the right person who has been ordained by a bishop

Other Christians believe that real worship is about being spontaneous when ordinary Christians can respond to God in any way they want when they feel moved by God

AW. Tozer once said , “Worship is the missing jewel of the church.”

What Tozer was saying was that despite all the songs, sermons and services which go on, real authentic worship might not be that common.

SO WHAT IS WORSHIP AND HOW DO WE WORSHIP?

If we are going to find the answer to those questions anywhere, the place to start is the book of Psalms in the books of Psalms we can over hear God’s people at worship.

SO WHAT IS WORSHIP REALLY ALL ABOUT?
When do we know we are really worshipping?
What kind of worship is acceptable to God?

These are crucial questions because there is nothing more important than worship to the church

Think about it ….. Worship is the only activity of the Church which will be part of our eternal future. In the Age to Come after Christ returns there will be no need for mission any longer, no need for discipleship and spiritual growth, we’ll be as like Christ as we can be but every glimpse we get of that future shows the church at worship

Psalm 95

1 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.
3 For the Lord is the great God,
    the great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
    and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.
6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
7 for he is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care.

THE MECHANICS OF WORSHIP ….

OK here is what I think ……. Worship happens when Divine Revelation provokes an appropriate human response, look you can see what I mean in the Psalm

REVELATION …. “HE IS”

RESPONSE …. “Let Us”

REAL WORSHIP HAPPENS WHEN THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT, GOD REVEALS SOMETHING ABOUT WHO HE IS AND WHAT HE DOES AND WE THEN AS HIS PEOPLE RESPOND IN AN APPROPRIATE AND AUTHENTIC WAY

So real worship happens when our intellect, sense and emotions are stirred not by the music, or manipulated by the preacher but by who God is and what he has done, is doing and promises to do

Just think about the different ways that God reveals himself to us might include

REVELATION
God’s Word
Creation
other believers using the Gifts of the Spirit
The words of Hymns and songs
Through preaching
Through Christian books
Still small voice

In the book of Psalms we see and hear people responding in the following ways

RESPONSE

Singing
Confessing
Standing in honour before
kneeling
bowing
prostrating
holding up hands
dancing
shouting making a joyful noise
trembling
silence
being in awe

Warren Weirsbe: “Worship is the believer’s response with all they are – mind, emotions, will, body – to all that God is and says and does.”

SO WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT REAL WORSHIP IS A BIT LIKE A CONVERSATION

God Speaks …. We Respond

“God must speak to us before we have any liberty to speak to him. He must disclose to us who he is before we can offer him what we are in acceptable worship. The worship of God is always a response to the Word of God. Scripture wonderfully directs and enriches our worship.” John Stott

DANGERS TO WORSHIP, some churches tend over emphasises one aspect and neglect the other so ….

TOO MUCH FOCUS ON REVELATION LEADS TO A DRY INTELLECTUALISM

TOO MUCH FOCUS ON RESPONSE LEADS TO AN EXTREME EMOTIONALISM

And remember Worship doesn’t just happen in a church service ….. God can reveal himself in a beautiful sunset or through the compassion of someone who loves us, worship happens if we respond appropriately

Worship is also not just about singing. We worship when we respond to God’s command and will in obedience ….. And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

The missing “R” in worship …. There is a missing “R” between Revelation and Response. ….
Receptivity, we need to be receptive, open to the Holy Spirit.
God’s could be revealing himself in all sorts of times in all sorts of ways but we can’t respond unless we are receptive, open to the Holy Spirit. Taking time to pray before worship etc

THE EMOTIONS OF WORSHIP

DIFFERENT Churches have different “atmospheres”

Some churches Worship is all about rejoicing ….. singing, dancing, clapping, exuberant

Some churches Worship is all about reverence … about silence, seriousness, solemnity.

So which is it?
BOTH! we need to respond to God with both rejoicing and reverence depending on how God has revealed himself

REJOICING
“sing for joy”
“shout aloud”
extol with music and song”

Oswald Chambers puts it: “A joyful spirit is the nature of God in my blood.”

REVERENCE
“bow down”
“kneel before”

Psalmist responds with rejoicing as God reveals himself as the source of his Salvation

1 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.

He then responds with reverence as God reveals himself as the all powerful creator

6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;

Worship involves our authentic emotional response to what God reveals about himself.

TWO DANGERS IN WORSHIP

MANIPULATION …. Churches can manipulate our emotions, make us express something we are not genuinely experiencing …. Ie Only response acceptable is rejoicing

SUPPRESSION …. Churches suppress emotional responses. … Ie Only response acceptable is reverence

SUMMING UP

According to Psalm 95 …. The worship of God’s people should be

communal,
vocal
emotional

SO LET’S DO IT, ,!

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