Summary: The first in a series of four looking at the four viatl functions of the church. This sermon focuses on worship. (The phrase "four vital functions" is used with thanks.)
By James Galbraith
First Baptist Church, Port Alberni
May 6, 2007
1 Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
4 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.
15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.
If I were to ask you to write down what you thought the most important thing our church has to do, what might you say?
- increase the number of people in church?
- decrease the average age of those attending?
- bring in more money?
- finish the drywalling?
All of the above may be worthy pursuits, for different reasons,
but they pale in comparison to the activities of the church that must rest at the core of what we do and who we are.
I am convinced that there are four vital functions that every church, every Christian ministry, must seek to make paramount.
I didn’t come up with that phrase, “the four vital functions”,
but the more I cam to understand them the more I see them
as representing the essence of our service to our Saviour.
The first of these four vital functions is worship, which we shall look at today.
Some “data” on worship
Sing, Praise, (bless)
Proclaim (p. good news, Declare (tell),
Ascribe (give credit to), bring an offering,
come into his courts, Offer,
NIV – search for occurrences of term and derivatives
All that said, what is worship?
WORSHIP, as I understand, it includes activity which is focused on the direct praise and affirmation of God.
It is not getting something out of God, or bribing him with flattery, or looking for a “spiritual fix” to liven an otherwise dull day;
it is our hearts, mouths, souls and bodies telling God directly that he is great and good and worthy of our deepest respect, love-based fear and complete devotion.
worship = “to kiss towards”,
as in prostrating one’s self before an idol and kissing the ground at it’s feet.
Notice the first four words in the Psalm we’ve read - “Sing to the lord”
Not “about” the Lord, it reads “sing TO the Lord”,
and that makes all the difference.
Anyone can prattle on about God until they are blue in the face, myself included, but worship turns our eyes and voices upwards in utter love for our Saviour and deepest devotion to our God.
Head and Heart
Worship come from our hearts –
if it comes from anywhere else it simply is not worship.
But it is defined and refined by our heads –
we never abandon reason or drain our brain to worship –
Jesus himself tells us to keep our heads in it by worshiping “in spirit and truth”
Our ability to reason, to learn truth, can even lead us into a deeper appreciation for who God is as we learn more about him.
But our heads must make a connection with our hearts for us to truly reach the place where we proclaim our love for God out loud!
Our worship does not have to give us a “liver-quiver” every time we sing or speak our praise. To express emotion during worship is perfectly acceptable, but that does not make our emotions worship either.
We don’t need to shed a tear or burst a vein laughing every time we worship, but we do need to be free to express emotion if and when it comes.
If a song hit us just where God wants us to be hit, and it triggers a tear,
let it flow.
If a poem gladdens our heart is praise of our Saviour, we should express that joy as we are comfortable.
Worship takes our knowledge of God and love for him and expresses it – the form of expression is entirely up to us.
Now that we’ve talked about what worship is, let’s take a look at some of the different types of worship we can participate in.