Summary: Our lives are to be joyful expressions of worship
Woodlawn Baptist Church
August 5, 2007
In Matthew 15:8-9, Jesus said, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me…” I pray to God He would never have to say those words about me again. I say again, because I know there have been times I have given God lip service. There have been times when I have worshipped God in vain.
I like the words of the great English preacher John Stott, “true worship is the highest and noblest activity of which man, by the grace of God, is capable.” But do I worship? If worship is the highest and noblest activity I am capable of, is my life a reflection of that? Is my time in His house spent in worship?
My guess is that all of us have pondered the issue of worship, and if you have been a believer in church for any length of time, then you have wanted to know whether what you’re doing is really considered worship by God. You’ve come to the end of a service and wondered whether even though you sang the songs and heard the sermon you really worshipped. You’ve seen people raise their hands and clap and sing and wondered if they were worshipping. Maybe you go through a season in your life when the songs, the words and the prayers just can’t seem to penetrate your heart – they don’t pierce your soul, they don’t move you closer, they don’t inspire you. Worship does not move you.
Here’s a question we need to answer even more: does our worship move God? Because while we’ve tried to make it something that moves us, true worship ought to move God. It ought to say something to God about us: about our desires, our priorities, our focus, about what our lives are really about. And here’s another little test for you: if you leave saying, “Those songs, that special, that sermon, that style of worship doesn’t appeal to me or move me…” then you’ve made worship about you. You see, worship isn’t supposed to move you. Worship is supposed to move God. The Holy Spirit is supposed to move you.
Some sixty years ago writer and speaker A.W. Tozer pondered this problem. Listen to what he wrote:
“Thanks to our splendid Bible societies and to other effective agencies for the dissemination of the Word, there are today many millions of people who hold right opinions, probably more than ever before in the history of the church. Yet I wonder if there ever was a time when true spiritual worship was at a lower ebb. To great sections of the church the act of worship has been lost entirely, and in its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the “program.” This word has been borrowed from the stage and applied with sad wisdom to the type of public service which now passes for worship among us.”
Listen, that was sixty years ago! And we are in worse shape today! You and I were created for worship. It really is the highest calling we have. I don’t want, you don’t want, and God doesn’t want us to waste our time in vain worship or in drawing near to him with our lips and mouths but not our hearts. In fact, He is so concerned that He receive right worship that He inspired men to write over and over about the who and what and how and when of worship.
Beginning today and for the month of August we’re going to consider just four of those passages, beginning in Psalm 95.
Let’s start with verses 1-7.
“O Come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand…”
If you were to describe worship in just a word or two from these verses, how would you describe it?
There is nothing somber or sad about worship in this passage. Sure there are times and seasons of life when our worship may include sorrow or weeping. There are times when our worship may be still and silent, but they should just be times. If your worship is always sad, always silent, always still, then you have a problem. The psalmist indicates that the child of God is going to have jubilant, joyful worship.