Summary: This is the fourth in a series of messages in conjunction with Dwayne Moore’s "Thirty Days of Praise"
Thirty Days of Praise
Worshipping with Others
* I read about a family that put together jigsaw puzzles. They started with fairly simple puzzles and moved to the more complicated ones. One night, the father brought home the first thousand-piece puzzle for them to try. The family immediately tried to tackle it. After an hour, however, they were all frustrated. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t even get the puzzle started. The father then discovered that he had accidentally switched the box top with the top from another puzzle. The picture they were looking at wasn’t the puzzle they were working on.
* As I study God’s word about this thing we call worship, I wonder if we have inadvertently replaced the ‘box top’ (as it were) in our model for worship. Let’s begin with a probing question, “where did I get my concept for what constitutes worship?” Truth be told, most of us developed our concepts about worship from some church experience of days past. In fact, if my background is Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, or numerous other denominations, my beliefs are that the more rituals and elements we have the more I worship. If my background is Assembly of God, Pentecostal, Holiness, Vineyard, or the like, my belief is that the more expressive I am the more I worship. If my background is Baptist, then what ever style my favorite church worshipped is what I believe is correct.
* Sadly, few take more than a superficial look at the Bible’s teachings on worship, the Christian life, and Christianity in general. This morning let’s take a Biblical look corporate worship or “worshipping with others” and let’s do so with an open mind and open heart. Let’s begin with one verse of scripture, 1 Cor. 14:26.
* Gordon Dahl: “Most Americans tend to worship their work, to work at their play, and play at their worship.” We are only one generation from Christian extinction.
* North America is the only continent on the globe where Christianity is not expanding.
* Because there is so much riding on our getting this right and because the Bible has so much to say about worshipping God let us give serious consideration to the teaching and understanding of corporate worship.
* Let check out some thought which assist us.
1) The Directions for our Worship. Honestly in the early 1970’s, when I took my first music director’s position I got the feeling that there was an order of service written-out somewhere in the Bible. The reason that I thought this came from the reaction I received one day when we were running a little late and so, I decided to leave out a hymn. Go figure.
a) The truth is that there is not one order of service, not one note of music, not one note of music, not one instruction about the “appropriateness” of prayer, songs, or the like. What is given to us are some elements (or parts) of the worship.
i) Hebrews 12:1 “present your bodies a living sacrifice to God which is our Spiritual Worship. “ We have already visited this text in this series.
ii) Colossians 3:15-16 and let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. 16 Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.
iii) John 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
b) Candidly, we can read or recite scriptures the rest of the morning and they all will teach us one truth; “Real worship begins in our heart.” It is an overflow of our relationship to the Father or a natural reaction to the presence of God. Additionally, we are repeatedly taught to “gather together and worship together.” Hebrews tells us to not forsake or neglect corporate worship and the reason is that it is so important. But never forget, it begins in our heart or it doesn’t happen.
c) For one set of directions we can go to Psalm 95 (read and give outline of Rejoice, Recognize, Revere, & Respond). Additionally, the Bible teaches us that we join together to worship in many ways. We can kneel, sing, play instruments, dance, lift up our hands, clap our hand, we can shout, we can pray, we can speak, & we can respond. Each and every one of these are vital, legitimate, and Biblical elements of worship which we must recognize, accept and even use. Why is this? Worship is something we do.
d) Listen to the Words of Dr. Eugene Peterson.
e) “Pastors are subjected to two recurrent phrases from the people to whom they give spiritual leadership. Both are reminiscent of Baalism [the pagan worship of the nations surrounding Israel]. The phrases are: “Let’s have a worship experience” and “I don’t get anything out of it.” The phrase “Let’s have a worship experience” is Baalism’s substitute for “let us worship God.”. . . Worship is neither subjective only nor private only. It is not what I feel when I am by myself; it is how I act toward God in responsible relation with God’s people. Worship, in the biblical sources and in liturgical history, is not something a person experiences, it is something we do, regardless of how we feel about it, or whether we feel anything at all. . . . The assumption that validates the phrase [“I don’t get anything out of [worship]] is that worship must be attractive and personally gratifying. But that is simply Baalism [all over again], worship trimmed to the emotional and spiritual specifications of the worshiper. . . . We may be entertained, warmed, diverted, or excited in such worship; we will probably not be changed, and we will not be saved. Our feelings may be sensitized and our pleasures expanded. But our morals will be dulled and our God fantasized.” (Peterson, Eugene. FIVE SMOOTH STONES FOR PASTORAL WORK. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1980. p. 145.)