October 7, 2016
How We Worship
By Skip Heitzig
Every religious system in the world has a different way of viewing God and worshiping Him—even within orthodox Christianity. Some like formal worship; others like it informal. Some like it very liturgical and planned; others like it very loose. Some have the idea that a pipe organ is the only way to go; others opt for the electric guitar.Last week we looked at why we worship—the motivation. This week we're going to look at the modes of worship—how it should be accomplished, as outlined in Psalm 95.
Number one, we ought to worship with our peers—our Christian brothers and sisters. Notice Psalm 95 repeats, "Let us" (see vv. 1-2, 6)—a plural pronoun. This psalm is a call to corporate worship. The Jews were commanded to leave their homes three times a year and make a pilgrimage up to Jerusalem for different feasts. As families made their way there, they would be joined by their neighbors and then eventually by thousands of people en route to Jerusalem. As they would go, they would recite Scripture and sing songs, and it would reaffirm one's personal faith in God. "Look at all these other people doing the same thing—worshiping God!"
Therein lies the value of corporate worship: when we get together with other people who love Jesus and we see them render praise to God, it encourages us. That's why it's perfectly appropriate when you worship to keep your eyes open. You can close them if you want to, but I don't necessarily like to tune everybody out—their presence inspires me to trust in Him more.The Bible says that we should "not [forsake] the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but [exhort] one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25). We're all part of this great peer group called the body of Christ, so we worship with each other.
Second, we worship with our lips. Look at verse 1: "Let us sing…. Let us shout joyfully." I don't think you can do that without lips. Of course God reads your thoughts, but this is an encouragement to sing and shout joyfully. Aren't you glad it doesn't say, "Let us sing perfectly to the Lord"? The question is not if you have a good voice; the question is do you have a song in your heart?
A lot of people don't worship or sing because they have no song inside. But we as the church have something to sing about—we have a purpose to sing! In fact, one of the greatest ways to get out of discouragement is to worship. Even if you don't feel like it, do it anyway. You will find a lifting of the spirit that comes by that act of obedience.
Third, we are to worship with our bodies. Look at verse 6: "Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker." It's one thing to worship from the heart; it's another thing to express that openly. Now, many churches only allow one physical expression in worship, and that is sitting and looking in one direction. If you raise your hands, you're a little too kooky, and if you kneel down, you're a little too formal. But the Bible says we can kneel down—that's an act of adoration and submission—we can bow, we can stand, and we can lift our hands. All of these things are appropriate.
The final way we worship is with our lives. Verses 7-11 talk about the nation of Israel, who did not obey the voice of God. They attended Sabbath services, but it didn't change their lives—they didn't live in obedience to God Monday through Friday. Does it ever amaze you that we Christians talk so much about transformation but exhibit so little of it?
Rodney Smith said, "There are five Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, but most people never read the first four." But they do read that fifth gospel, don't they? When the world can look at us and see the thief who doesn't steal anymore, the liar who is now honest, the adulterer who is now pure, the change that has come over our lives, then they can say, "They have encountered the living God." Let's worship in such a way that the world can see we've truly connected with God and are placing adoration of Him above everyone and everything else.
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