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Summary: What it means to be a church member

Some people go through life like Calvin, the obnoxious little seven-year-old in the comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes. Now, Calvin has a sense of humor, but it’s all cynical and gruesome. There is no joy connected with the humor. It’s somewhat like the faces of those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, but live life as sour as a lemon dropped in pickle juice! Have you ever known people who, when they walk in a room, the lights go out?

Praise is the act of worship most required of humans toward God Almighty. Yet praise is often the missing quality of so-called worship services.

In the Bible the word “worship” appears in only a few forms. One word literally means “to serve”, and it is where the term worship service originated. Another word is “dox-a”, meaning “to give glory”. We sing “the doxology”…Praise God from whom all blessings flow….

A third [and the most prominent] word in the New Testament carries the meaning of “to kiss towards”, as in bending before a king to kiss his ring. This is the center of true praise and worship. We have a King; we bow to kiss towards His throne.

Worship is one of only two valid reasons for a church to exist (the other being evangelism). The Book of Psalms is the original worship and praise book for God’s people. Psalm 146 and 147 neatly answer the questions:

WORSHIP:

WHAT is it…WHY do we do it…HOW do we do it?

What is Worship?

I. Internal praise

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! Psalm 146:1

The soul, the very internal and eternal essence of a person, is the beginning point of praise. I cannot praise God, except that I have been changed in my heart (inner being), by His grace. Scripture tells us that without a spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ there is no way to please God [1] . Order of business #1? – give your heart to Christ, and God will change that heart so you’ll give him praise! Worship is internal praise, and…

II. External praise

I will praise the LORD while I live; Psalm 146:2a

The Bible tells us that one of the eternal pleasures and duties we will have as a church is to worship the King forever. My prayer for a long time in my private devotions has been, “Lord, allow me the presence of mind to have my whole life magnify Jesus.” I wish I lived up to that better than I do, but that is my prayer.

Worship is internal and external and it is…

III. Vital praise

I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Psalm 146:2b

Singing praise, in this context, has little to do with correctly hitting those little spots on the lines and spaces. To sing is to bring forth the innermost of who we are as people, created for, and in the image of a holy God. The songs of a people or a culture, tell the pulse of who those people really are.

Vital praise means we bring forth from our hearts that internal praise we have for God. Internal must, at some point, become external! And it should be LOUD!

In David’s day they sang these Psalms. The choir would sing the words of the praise, and the congregation would echo back HALLELUJAH! It’s like the cheerleaders at a football game want the crowds to shout back the letters to spell out the home team’s name; in worship the worship leader sang the praise and the people echoed-back that praise towards heaven.

We tend to be stodgy, bordering on downright comatose in our “worship” when we refuse to be enthusiastic. We become like the church that had a visitor. The services were always rigid and formal. The minister quietly and systematically read his sermon. He made the mistake of saying something about Jesus being our only Lord and Savior. The visitor said, “Amen.”

Everyone was stunned…the minister almost lost his place when he looked up to see what had happened. He continued reading, and the fellow said, “Amen” a second time. The usher got to him this time; “Sir, you must be quiet.” But later in the service the minister commented on a great truth about the gospel, and the man this time shouted, “AMEN! AMEN!!” This time the usher said, “Sir, if you don’t be quiet, you will have to leave the service.” The man said, “But, I got Jesus, man.” To which the usher replied rather aristocratically, “Yes, indeed…we see. But you didn’t get Him here!”

Psalm 146 is a hymn written by King David, an individual who had been helped by the Lord. We have something in common with the king – we are all pilgrims who stumble – we are all in need of help. And God is the Great Helper! It’s something that ought to create praise…internally, externally and vitally!

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