Summary: Third in a series of messages on doing "whatever it takes" to grow in our walk with Jesus. This message focuses on worship.
A “Whatever it Takes” Commitment:
1. Does not hold to convention
2. Is not hemmed in by circumstances
3. Does not heed convenience
4. Is not hampered by criticism
5. Does bring honor to Christ
Read Psalm 95
I do whatever it takes to love God when I…
(Note: The first letters of the points of this message form an acrostic for the word "worship".
Worship based on God’s command rather than my comfort
Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song…Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker
Psalm 95:1, 2, 6 (NIV)
Worship isn’t about me – it’s about God. Every verse in this Psalm revolves around God. And since worship is all about God, he is the one who gets to decide how I worship. But, unfortunately for all of us, our worship has a tendency to be based more on our own background and traditions than what the God has to say about worship in His Word.
That was certainly true in Jesus’ day. The religious leaders of the day had perverted worship and twisted around into something that they were comfortable with rather than what God desired:
Jesus answered, "Isaiah was right about frauds like you, hit the bull’s-eye in fact: These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their heart isn’t in it. They act like they are worshiping me, but they don’t mean it. They just use me as a cover for teaching whatever suits their fancy, ditching God’s command and taking up the latest fads." He went on, "Well, good for you. You get rid of God’s command so you won’t be inconvenienced in following the religious fashions!
Mark 7:6-9 (Message)
I’ll admit to you this morning that I’ve gotten caught up in that kind of attitude myself sometimes. In fact, I need to ask your forgiveness this morning, because in the past I’ve said some things about worship that I’m now convinced were wrong. I can clearly remember telling you that you should do whatever is comfortable to you when you worship God – if you’re comfortable, go ahead and clap; if you’re comfortable raise your hands, etc. But our comfort is not really the issue here. The issue is what has God commanded us to do.
Here are just a couple of verses regarding worship that are clearly God’s commands to us:
Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.
Psalm 47:1 (NIV)
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD.
Psalm 143:2 (NIV)
Now I’m not saying that we should clap our hands or raise our hands all the time. I’m not even saying that all of you ever have to do those things. But what I am saying is that when you decide whether or not you are going to do those things, the standard should not be “am I comfortable”, but rather “what does God want me to do”.
Overflow with joyful praise
Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song
Psalm 95:1, 2 (NIV)
The kind of worship the Psalmist describes here is vocal, vibrant and vigorous. We are to sing for joy and shout aloud. We are to extol God with music and song.
If any of you have ever gone to a sporting event, you’ve probably experienced that kind of worship. Unfortunately, the object of that kind of worship isn’t God; it’s your favorite team. When I go to the U of A basketball games, there is a certain amount of excitement that is generated by the cheerleaders, the band or the PA announcer. But the most exuberant cheering occurs when the fans react to seeing the players make a great play. The Psalmist indicates that worship is a lot like that. It’s not so much trying to manufacture a vocal, vibrant and vigorous praise, but rather that kind of praise is a natural overflow of seeing God and then responding to Him.
And so time after time in the Psalms we are exhorted to sing for joy to the Lord and to shout out our praise to Him. In the New Testament, Paul also encourages us to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
Have you ever wondered why music is such an essential element in our worship? I have a theory on that. We know that God has commanded us to love the Lord God with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind. Let’s focus just a moment on the “all our mind” part of that command. We know from science that our brains have two sides – a left side that is primarily the center of our logical thought, words, and language and a right side that is primarily the center of our creativity, visual stimulation and random thought. And singing is the one activity that best utilizes all of our mind at one time. The left side of our brain focuses on the words, while the right side focuses on the music.