Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Worship in 2008

This past Sunday I shared with our congregation some of my 'worship hopes and dreams' for our church in 2008, and I thought I'd post them here.

1) I pray that we as a congregation would grasp the truth that worship is first and foremost for GOD. It is not for us, but it is for Him. So often comments about worship, about the service, about song selection or style reveal that we, the worshippers, become the object of our own worship. In essence, the worship experience becomes about us. That's backwards. Psalm 134 lays out the correct order of worship for all believers;

"Come, bless God, all you servants of God! You priests of God, posted to the nightwatch in God's shrine, Lift your praising hands to the Holy Place, and bless God. In turn, may God of Zion bless you — God who made heaven and earth!"

See the order? First, we bless God...second, in turn, may God bless us. However, the success or quality of worship is NOT dependant on God's blessing us. Sometimes we may soar to the highest heights in worship, other times we may be in the depths. We may at times get on an emotional high or be driven to tears in worship while at other times, we may feel nothing. Either way, we can still fully worship God and enjoy His presence because...

2) ...what God looks for in a worshipper is NOT what man looks at. In John 4 Jesus, the object of our worship tells us exactly what God the Father desires in worship;

"a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth"

God is looking for those who worship Him in Spirit and in truth. What does this mean? It means many things, but in short,

worship in truth = worshipping TO and THROUGH Jesus. There is only one way to God, and it's through Jesus Christ. Any worship that exalts Christ exalts the Father and is true worship. But worshipping in truth goes beyond this as well; to worship in truth means to worship Him accurately. It means worshipping God for who HE has revealed Himself to be...worshipping Him fully, in truth.

worship in spirit (or "in the Spirit") = worshipping from the heart, from the soul. It goes beyond emotion to encompass all that we are. Remember a couple of things; first, the context of this command was in response to a woman who thought you had to be in a certain place to worship. Jesus responds by, in essence saying, it doesn't matter where you are...it's not about location, form, style, liturgies...it's not about what you do. True worship is all encompassing, or, from the heart. Secondly remember that in Romans we are told to "offer your bodies as living sacrifices...this is your spiritual act of worship" (Romans 12:1).

As one worship leader put it, worship is "all that we are, responding to all that God has revealed Himself to be, empowered by the Holy Spirit."

3) Worship is God initiated and God enabled. He calls us, He reveals Himself to us, and we respond to Him. That response is called Worship. The more He reveals, the more we see, and the more we see, the greater our response. On the corporate level, that response most often takes the form of music, but that is not the only form of worship. The Matt Redman song "Seeing You" captures this thought below;

This is a time for seeing and singing
This is a time for breathing You in
And breathing out Yourpraise
Our hearts repsond to Your revelation
All you are showing, all we have seen
Commands a life of praise
No one can sing of things they have not seen
God, open our eyes towards a greater glimpse
The glory of You, the glory of You
God, open our eyes towards a greater glimpse
Worship starts with seeing You
Worship starts with seeing You
Our hearts respond to Your revelation

My dream for 2008? That we become a body of believers that sets aside diversity and preferences and instead embrace the vision of living in unity and worshipping in such a way as to bring maximum glory to God. In short, to respond to Him in the most appropriate way...

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