Summary: A sermon that teaches us about the nature of true worship.
"A Heart for Worship"
Exodus 15:1 Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD, saying, "I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
2 The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.
Introduction: There is nothing in the church world today that elicits more discussion than the subject of worship. More articles, blogs and books have been written on this subject in the last few years than at any point in my ministry. There is even a book written by Thomas Long entitled "Beyond the Worship Wars" that seeks to define and describe what is going on in the church world today. The impetus for this is due in large part to the many changes that are happening in churches all across the denominational spectrum. We are seeing sweeping changes in the American church that are creating conflict, confusion and concern. I have to ask myself, "What is behind these changes?" What are people searching for? Why is there so much movement in evangelical circles where worship is concerned? I do not pretend to have all the answers but I believe that we can look into the Scriptures and find some answers concerning what constitutes true biblical worship. To start this study I would like us to look at our text.
I. The Responsive Nature of Worship
Notice that the first word in our text is the word, "...then..." which indicates that what follows is a respond to something in particular. Worship is a response, a reaction to what God has done and who God is and I also believe it needs to be understood that worship is what all Christians should be doing; that it is natural and normal for us to worship. A Christian who doesn't worship is a contradiction, a misnomer. We were created by God for worship.
ILL -- "Christ followers who don't put their hearts into worship are like roosters who won't crow at sunrise. They're simply not doing what God programmed them to do!" Peter Langerman
ILL -"Worship should matter to us simply because it matters to God. Worship doesn't begin with us. Worship begins and ends with God. And God is worthy of all praise, from all people, for all time." Louie Giglio
To learn what a heart for worship is let's notice:
a. The setting for worship
If you read chapter 14 you have no trouble visualizing the setting for this narrative. Moses has led the children of Israel to the shores of the Red Sea with Pharaoh's army in hot pursuit. The Lord protects them with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. Moses lifts the rod of Aaron and God parts the sea and they go across on dry ground. Then the enemy enters the dry sea bed only to be drowned by the rush of a wall of water released by God that completely destroys Israel's pursuers. At this point we begin chapter 15 with a spontaneous worship service on the eastern shore of the sea. Moses is the "worship leader" and we could call this time of worship, "Singing by the Sea." Now this might not be the ideal setting or even a setting you would feel comfortable with personally but the truth is worship is not dependent on the setting or the singing or anything else that we might feel is important. There is an outpouring of praise led by Moses and joined by the people. Can you imagine over a million voices lifted up to God? Most scholars think that the song of Moses as it is called was a round or a responsive song. Moses would sing a line and the people would repeat it. This goes on for some time and then it is joined by Miriam and the other women in verse 20.
If I learned anything from my experience in Cuba it is that the setting for worship is not as big a factor as we make it out to be in the American church. I worshipped at the Seminary auditorium with about 500 Cuban believers, I worshipped at 10 o'clock one night in an upstairs apartment with about a dozen in what they call a house of prayer, I worshipped in a small village in 2 different homes that were considered missions points with about 15-18 in each and a cow that was not 20 feet from the front door of one of the homes. We also visited a church in another home where the pastor was raising pigs not 20 feet from where the pews were set up for worship on Sunday with 40-60 believers. The point is if we have a heart for worship it will not matter what the building looks like or whether it is AC or not or if they have padded pews or not. The most important thing about the setting in worship is my next point and that is: