you ever been in a worship service where God's power and presence were
so evident that when you left you knew you had truly experienced the
Lord? We've had services like that here. On the other hand, we've all
experienced services where we had to fight back a yawn and wonder if
God was there at all.
suggest that the difference between these two services was not the style
of the music or the content of the sermon, but the condition of our
hearts. It is only when our hearts are right before God that will we
ever enter into true worship.
an evangelical, Bible-teaching church, we understand that the purpose
of the church is for edification and evangelism. God has left us here
to build one another up, so we can go out and tell others of the glorious
gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing should stop us from our two-fold purpose.
Still, authentic worship, the joyful praise of Almighty God is the force
that drives us.
Unless we learn to stand in awe of God and wonder at his glory, we will
never have God's passion for edification or evangelism. It is no wonder
that A.W. Tozer said that "Worship is the missing jewel of the evangelical
church." The point is that worship must come first.
I believe that one of the problems in today's church is that we worship
our work, work at our play, and play at our worship. When our worship
grows stale, so does our passion for God.
In this psalm we will try to rediscover our passion for God that comes
through worship. Let me first of all give you my definition of worship.
Worship is the reasonable, heart-felt response of those who have
known God's grace that values Him above anyone or anything else.
Therefore, worship is much more than a few songs on Sunday mornings.
In fact, worship is a lifestyle. Worship is constantly putting God first
in what we say, what we think and what we do. When we gather together
to sing songs of worship, we are merely putting music to the song that
is already in our hearts. Consequently, when we do not value God above
everything, there is no song in our heart and our music is just noise.
In Psalm 95, we see two reasons why we should worship God.
First, we should worship God for who He is.
We often link the words worship and praise together. However, they are
two different responses. Praise is a response to what God does. Worship
is a response to who God is. If my dog sits when he is supposed to sit,
and comes when he is supposed to come, I praise him. I scratch his ears
and tell him he is a good dog. I may praise my dog but I don't worship
him. I praise God when He answers my prayers. I praise Him in response
to how he works in my life. But I worship Him for who He is. I worship
him simply because He is God. If God were never to answer another prayer
while we live on this earth, we should still praise him for what he
has already done for us.
Let's reread verses 1-7, and I want you to underline the statements
that tell us who God is.
Who else is like our God?
Who else could we say these things of? Who created us, and blesses us?
Who else or what else could we worship that comes close to God? No one!
This is why after the first 2 of the 10 Commandments God says, "For
I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God." God is jealous when we worship
anyone or anything other than Him. God is jealous when we value anyone
or anything before Him. Righteous jealousy is a sign of true love.
God's jealousy is part of his love for us. I love Carol more than any
person in the world. I am so much in love with her, that I would become
very jealous of anyone who tried to steal her affections. I don't want
her to share her love with anyone else but me. It would infuriate me
if I saw another man start to hug and kiss her in ways that only I should.
In fact, if you want to see me go into a jealous rage, just try to come
between me and her. Once, a person who is very dear to me started to
say negative things about Carol. I told that person that no matter how
close we are, if they continued to say bad things about Carol, I would
never talk to them again.
Ephesians 5 shows us that Christ's love for His church is how man's
love for his wife should be. Since God is preparing us to be the bride
of Christ, it is no wonder He is jealous of our affection. How do you
think it makes God feel when he sees us chasing after the gods of this
In the Old Testament, God said that his people were committing spiritual
adultery when they worshiped false idols. I want you to understand that
it breaks God's heart when we worship the god of money or the god of
possessions, or the god of pleasure more than we worship him. He doesn't
want you to put your family, your work, or your ministry, in front of
him. God alone is worthy to be worshiped. He is the exclusive object
of our highest adoration.
second motivation for worshiping God is because of who we are in relation
(Verse 7) This is important for you to keep in mind because one
of Satan's favorite tricks is to sneak up on you, after you have sinned,
and whisper the lie that you can't be a Christian and do the things
you do. And if you believe that that is the truth, you will become disillusioned
with your walk with the Lord. And you will walk around with your head
hanging down, declaring that you are nothing more than a stupid, little,
But when you can keep in mind that you are God's sheep, then you can
hear the voice of the Holy Spirit telling you that God thinks that you
are the greatest person in the whole world. God's opinion of you is
not hinged upon your performance as a Christian. He holds you in high
regard simply because you're his. In and of ourselves, we are nothing.
Our value is only in who owns us.
God made us and He bought us back with the precious blood of the Lord
Jesus. Therefore, we belong to Him. He is our shepherd, we are his sheep.
Occasionally, we will hear about someone who abused his pets. When we
see the video of the sick, starving animals, it makes us angry. We say,
"That person doesn't even deserve to own a pet." Then there are people
who go to the other extreme. We've known people who've treated their
pets as though they were one of their children. They dress them in sweaters
and treat them like people.
Now let me ask, if you were a pet, which type of owner would you want
to have? Let me tell you about your Owner, your Shepherd. He is Almighty
God. He loves you infinitely and cares for your every need. He finds
His greatest joy in you. He is constantly thinking about you. His thoughts
towards you are more than the number of the grains of sand of all the
beaches in the world. And those thoughts are to prosper you, not to
hurt you. God loves you so much that there is not a hair on your head
that escapes His attention. How can we not worship someone who loves
us so much?
In order for us to enter into true worship every time we meet, we have
got to get it into our minds that worship is for God, not for us.
We may be blessed, comforted, encouraged and edified as we worship,
but all that is secondary. When you enter into the doors of a house
of worship, you ought to tell yourself that you are here for the sole
purpose of worshiping God. When we leave a worship service we shouldn't
be thinking about whether or not we liked the selection of songs or
if the sermon was any good. Instead we should ask ourselves if we honored
God during the service! We should be wondering if we put our hearts
into the worship!
Not only does this psalm give us the reasons for worship, but it
gives us some ways to worship.
First of all, we are to worship corporately. Notice the use of the plural
pronoun "us" in this psalm. In fact, it uses the phrase "Let us" six
times. It says, "Let us sing;" "Let us shout;" "Let us come before His
presence;" "Let us worship;" and "Let us kneel."
A survey of the first 5 books of the Bible should convince us that God
was very concerned with the way his people worshiped him. He prescribed
all the elements and the order of worship: from the construction of
the tabernacle & the temple, down to the smallest details of the clothes
the priests were to wear.
As the Israelites prepared to possess the Promised Land, God commanded
the people that they were not to offer sacrifices wherever they wanted
as the other nations did. Instead, God commanded them to worship in
a place he would designate. Eventually, that place was identified as
Jerusalem. And 3 times a year the entire nation was commanded to come
together to worship the Lord. So to the Jews, worship was considered
to be a communal event. For a Jew not to go to Jerusalem to worship
as a nation would be considered an act of rebellion.
This is why the psalmist concludes this great psalm on worship with
a call to obedience in verses the last part of verses 7 through 11.
The Psalmist recalls how Israel rebelled and disobeyed God in the wilderness.
After the Lord delivered them from slavery in Egypt and brought them
to the edge of the Promised Land, they hardened their hearts. Instead
of entering into the fullness of all that God had for them, they wanted
to get a new leader and go back to Egypt. And because of this, they
weren't allowed to enter into the Promised Land for 40 more years.
Notice in verse 10 that God said that their problem was a heart condition.
The same is true when it comes to worship. God wants us to enter into
& experience the fullness of his presence through worship.
Instead of doing so, we start to grumble and complain about the style
of music, or about the content or the length of the sermon. And we find
ourselves wishing we had stayed home in bed rather than being glad we
came to the house of the Lord. And on the way home, all we do is criticize
everything that happened in church that day.
Brothers & sisters, instead of grumbling & complaining about the music,
we ought to rejoicing that as we ministered unto God through singing,
he ministered unto us.
Instead of grumbling & complaining about what someone said, we ought
to be in awe that we were able to catch a glimpse of God's glory as
that person shared what God was doing in their life.
Instead of grumbling & complaining about the sermon, we out to feel
blessed that God spoke to us through his chosen spokesman of the pastor.
The point I am trying to make is that worship is a matter of obedience
of the heart. If you refuse to worship the Lord, just because you don't
like the style of the music, it might be because you are in rebellion.
If you can't get past the preacher's style of preaching, and hear what
the Spirit of the Lord is trying to say to his church, it might be because
you have hardened your heart to the point you can no longer hear the
And if you find it easier to stay home, rather than gathering for corporate
worship, perhaps you need to go to doctor Jesus and have your heart
checked. I'm not saying you need to be in church every time the door
opens. There is nothing wrong with taking vacations, or family outings
that keep you from gathering with the rest of the saints. But these
should be exceptions rather than the norm of your life.
Look, I know that worshiping with other believers is not always convenient.
I know how hard it is to get your family up and dressed so you can get
here on time. I know how nice it would be to sleep in on Sunday mornings.
But if you think it's hard to make it to church on some Sundays, imagine
the inconvenience gathering for corporate worship was for the Jews.
For most of them, the 3 worship holidays meant weeks away from home
as they traveled to and from Jerusalem. Yet, God seemed perfectly content
requiring such sacrifices for the purpose of gathering his people in
Though we can worship God anytime and anyplace, worshiping together
gives us a unique opportunity to experience Jesus.
The Bible tells us that the Lord is, "Enthroned in the praises of
That means Jesus allows his presence to be sensed in a special way when
the church gathers for corporate worship. When we gather together for
corporate worship, Jesus is actually in our midst singing praises to
the Father with us.
The prophet Zephaniah gives us a beautiful picture of what Jesus does
when he dwells among a worshipful church. He said, "Shout for joy,
daughter of Zion, rejoice with all your heart. The Lord your God is
in your midst, exulting with joy over you, dancing with shouts of joy
Do you realize that if God were to open our eyes to the heavenly realm,
we would have seen the Lord Jesus singing, raising his hands, and dancing
with shouts of joy as we sang to our heavenly Father this morning?
Do you think that seeing Jesus worshiping beside you might have changed
how you sang this morning? If you could see Jesus sitting next to you
right now, do you think you might fall asleep during the sermon, or
start to doodle on your bulletin?.
I've got a feeling that each and everyone of us would have sung like
we never have sung before, and right now you would be giving me your
This is the way every worship service will be for you if you will remember
that Jesus is in our midst.
Secondly, we are to worship verbally
In v. 1 we are told to "sing" and to "shout" to the Lord. Now I may
not be the brightest bulb in the pack, but one thing I know for sure
is that you can't sing or shout without opening your mouth!
Now I know that many people don't like to sing because they can't sing
on key or carry a note. When I first got saved, I decided I was going
to join the church's choir. So after going to several weeks of practice,
I felt I was ready to make my singing debut. After the service, we went
over to eat with our best friends, who also were in the choir. The wife
told her husband that he sure was singing off key this morning. What
she didn't realize is that I had taken his spot behind her, and I was
the one who was singing so bad. Needless to say, that was also my last
performance in the choirs.
This is why I love the fact that God tells us that we are to sing and
shout "joyfully," not perfectly. In any church at least 50% of the people
can't sing well. But that doesn't mean that only 1/2 of the church should
sing. After all, God knows whether or not you sing well, because he
is the one you gave you your singing ability. God took the credit for
our singing ability when he said to Moses, "Who has made man's mouth?
Have not I, the LORD?" So it doesn't make any difference how well you
can sing, God still compels you to open your mouth and let whatever
comes out be your joyful songs of worship to Him.
Thirdly, we are told that we are to worship physically
In verse 6 we are told to "bow down" and to "kneel" before the Lord.
Here is some other ways found in the book of Psalms that tells us how
we are to physically worship the Lord:
"Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of
"Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, And bless the LORD."
All of these are legitimate postures for worship. The point is that
we are to have the freedom to express our worship with our voices and
with our body. You can bow. You can kneel. You can stand. You can sit.
You can clap. You can lift your hands. Because these are biblical forms
of worship, you are free to use them in your worship of God!
Let me show you about one more posture of worship I see from time to
time. (a frown and scowl) That's not the posture of praise but of a
spoiled child who isn't get his way. That's the posture of someone who
hopes someone else will notice his/her disapproval. If you don't particularly
care for a song, just put a smile on your face and worship through prayer.
Don't ever try to stifle the joy of the Lord by your posture and expression.
Let me finish by sharing a concern I have about today's worship. Some
people perceive worship as a way of getting God to show up in a worship
service. They believe that if you sing loud enough, long enough, or
emotionally enough, then God will manifest himself in a powerful way.
While it is true that God moves in response to our worship of him. Yet,
he only responds if the worship as been a simple response to his grace.
If the worship was a gimmick to get him to perform some kind of spiritual
magic trick in our midst, no matter how long, or how loud, or how emotional
the worship was, he will not move.
The danger of perceiving worship as a mechanism that brings about God's
presence, is that eventually we will start to focus on the act of worship
itself, rather than on the one we are worshiping. Which will result
in worshiping worship instead of worshiping God.
When we start to worship the worship, instead of God, our worship services
will become more of a spiritual dog & pony show, than an event that
honors God. And we will be tricked into thinking we've encountered God,
when all we've really experienced is our emotions.
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