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Sharpening our Focus on Worship

Updated: Nov 7, 2019

This outline was the start to a sermon series I did a number of years ago on worship.


I. Definition of worship: the classic dictionary def. is: “the performance of devotional acts in honor of a deity, as a church service; the act of paying divine honors to the Supreme Being; reverence; submissive respect; loving or admiring devotion.”

The theme of worship is far more central and significant in scripture than many Christians might imagine. Far from being a peripheral subject, it has to do with the fundamental question of how we can be in a right relationship with God and please Him in all that we do. Worship in the New Testament is a comprehensive category describing the Christian’s total existence. Worship is a subject that should dominate our lives seven days a week.” David Peterson

“Worship in the Bible may be viewed as a ‘reciprocal exchange’ between God and His people – an engagement with Him on terms that He proposes and in the way that He alone

makes possible in the Holy Spirit.” C. Westerman

“Worship brings the very throne of our God from the eternities into time and space directly in relation to the reality and the substance of the worship being expressed. It is upon this throne that our Lord sits to reign in the midst of His people. In His presence we are loved, instructed, directed, provided for and ruled. In this presence there is revelation, refreshing and rejoicing. Here it is that we are aligned with his good will. Here it is that we are given gifts of the Holy Spirit and “ministry”. It is here that we begin to know Him as we are known. It is here that we begin to know His will as well as we know our own and to say, “not my will but thine, O Lord.” Far more than being blessed with a sense of His presence, we can now come to fellowship with Him on His terms.” Ted Sandquist

“Worship is the meeting of God and His people.” in other words it is the response of God’s people when they encounter Him.

“Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness. Nourishment of mind by His truth. Purifying of imagination by His beauty. Opening of the heart to His love, and submission of will to His purpose. All this gathered up in adoration is the greatest expression of which we are capable.” Ravi Zacharias

“Worship is the response of God’s people to:1. the revelation of His attributes. 2. the manifestation of His presence. 3. the revelation of His will. 4. the wonder of His creation. and 5. the experience of His benevolent goodness, provision and protection.

Please note worship is a response!! True worship is a response to something about God’s character or ways that we admire, and/or a response to something that God has done. This is why I read a Psalm or a portion of scripture at the beginning of our service that focuses our attention on who God is. This is why our worship team tries to choose songs that focus on various aspects of God’s nature or His works or His thoughts and attitudes towards us. This is why we give time in our worship service for you to share with the body something that God has done or spoken to you about. This is why we give time for God to speak to us through spontaneous prayers, or scripture readings or prophetic words or tongues that are interpreted in our worship service. This is why we encourage you to get here early and make the most of our mixing times and not rush off afterwards – because – it may be your expression of genuine love and concern for someone that causes them to respond to God in worship that His church really can be a place where relational needs are met.

You see – We cannot truly worship unless there is something that we can all respond to. This is why we long for the day when our people all come to our Sunday morning service having already spent some time with the Living God, and thus having already worshipped – so that our worship team doesn’t have to push the worship car up the hill with the congregation inside the car. This is why I try to preach God centered sermons, and not a bunch of six steps to a happy life sermons, or how to be an all around good person sermon. Or how we can be the most successful and biggest church in our area sermon. It’s not about us. It’s about Him – who He is, what He is saying or doing, and how we should respond to what He is saying or doing.

Now we may not all respond to the same things; and we certainly will not all respond in the same way. But our primary goal on Sunday mornings is to create an environment where God can come and speak to and minister to His people, and His people can respond back to who He is and what He is saying and doing.

II. Call to Worship:

A. Commands to Worship: “You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him…” Deut. 6:13

“Worship the Lord with reverence, And rejoice with trembling.” Psalm 2:11

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in holy array.” Psalm 29:2

“Come let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” Psa. 95:6

“Worship the Lord in holy attire; Tremble before Him, all the earth.” Psa. 96:9

B. Reason for: “Come let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. (reason>) For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.”Psa. 95:6

“Exalt the Lord our God, And worship at His footstool; (reason>) Holy is He.” Psa. 99:5 & 99:9

Rev. 4:8-10

Rev. 11:16,17

Rev. 15:4

“Worship …rises or falls with our concept of God; that is why I do not believe in these half-converted cowboys who call God the “Man Upstairs”. I do not think they worship at all because their concept of God is unworthy of God and unworthy of them. And if there is one terrible disease in the Church of Christ, it is that we do not see God as great as He is. We’re too familiar with God.” A.W. Tozer

III. Aspects or Forms/Expressions of Worship A. Sing – 1.Commands to: “But let all who take refuge in Thee be glad, Let them ever sing for joy;“ Psalm 5:11 “Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion;..” Psalm 9:11 (cf. Psa. 30:4; 33:1,3; 47:6; 68:4; 81:1; 95:1; 96:1,2; 105:2; 147:7)

2. Example of Psalmist: Psa. 7:17; 9:2; 13:6; 18:49; 21:13; 30:12; 59:16,17; 61:8; 63:7; 65:13; 75:9; 89:1; 101:1; 27:6

B. Shout – 1. Command to: “…Shout joyfully to the God of Jacob.” Psa. 81:1 “….Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.” Psa. 95:1 (cf. Psa. 33:3, 98:4; 100:1)

2. Psalmist’s Example: Psa. 20:5; 27:6;

C. Clap Hands – “O Clap your hands, all peoples;…” Psa. 47:1

D. Proclaim – 1. Command to: “…Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.” Psa. 96:2

2. Psalmist’s Example: Psa. 26:7; 40:9

E. Stand – 1. Command to: “…And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel.” Psa. 22:23 “….Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.” Psa. 33:8

F. Play instruments – 1. Command to: “Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings.” Psalm 33:2 (cf. Psa. 92:1-3; 98:5,6; 147:7; 150:3-5)

G. Bow – 1. Command to: “Come let us worship and bow down;…” Psa. 95:6

2. Examples of: Psalm 5:7; 138:2; Neh. 8:6

H. Dance – 1. Command to: “Let them praise His name with dancing…” Psalm 149:3 “Praise Him with timbrel and dancing.” Psa. 150:4

I. Kneel – 1. Command to: “…Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” Psa. 95:6

J. Lift Hands – 1. Command to: “Lift up your hands to the sanctuary…..” Psalm 134:2

2. Examples of: Psa. 28:2; 63:4; 119:48; 141:2; Neh. 8:6

K. Exalt – 1. Command to: “O magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt Him together.” Psa. 34:3 (cf. 99:5,9)

2. Examples/Statements of: Psa. 18:46; 21:13; 46:10; 47:9; 57:5; 57:11; 97:9; 99:2; 108:5; 148:13

L. Bless – 1. Command to: “Bless our God, O peoples, And sound His praise abroad,” Psa. 66:8 (cf. 68:26; 96:2; 100:4; 103:1,2,22; 104:1; 104:35; 134:1)

2. Examples of: Psa. 26:12; 34:1; 63:4

M. Give Thanks – 1. Command to: “O Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples.” I Chron. 16:8; “Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name.” Psa. 30:4 (vs. 5=reason) (cf. Psa. 33:2; 97:12; 100:4; 105:1; 106:1; 107:1)

2. Examples of/Statements about: II Sam. 22:50; Psa. 7:17; 9:1; 18:48,49; 30:12; 44:8; 54:6; 57:9; 75:1; 79:13; 86:12

N. Rejoice – 1. Command to: “Let all who seek Thee rejoice and be glad in Thee;” Psa. 70:4 cf. in O.T. – I Chron. 16:31, Deut. 32:43; Psa. 2:11; 40:16; 68:3; 96:11; 97:1; 118:24; in N.T. – Matt. 5:12; II Cor. 13:11; Phil. 2:18; Phil. 3:1; I Thess. 5:16; I Pet. 4:13

2. Examples of Vows to Rejoice of Godly men/women: Hannah – I Sam. 2:1; David – Psa. 13:5; 31:7; 35:9; Habakkuk – Hab. 3:18;

O. Praise – (100 different verses in Psalms) 1. Command to: “Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones…” Psa. 30:4; cf. Psa. 22:23, 66:2, 66:8, 2. David’s example: Psa. 7:17, 9:2, 22:25, 34:1, 35:18, 35:28,

P. Giving/Offerings – I Chr. 16:29

Q. Exult – 1. Command to: “But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God…” Psa. 68:3 cf. Psa. 68:4, 149:5; Zeph. 3:14;

2. Expectation that we will: Rom. 5:2,3,11

3. Example of: Psa. 9:2, 35:9, Isa. 61:10,

R. Hating false gods/idols & those who worship them – 1. Command to: “Hate evil you who love the Lord, Who preserves the souls of His godly ones;…” Psa. 97:10

2. Examples of: “I hate the assembly of evildoers, And I will not sit with the wicked.” Psa. 26:5 (cf. Psa. 31:6; 101:3; 119:104, 113, 128, 163; 139:21,22; Ecc. 3:8)

IV. Attitudes towards Worship Proper: “Worship the Lord with reverence, And rejoice with trembling.” Psa. 2:11

Improper: “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me,…..” Matt. 15:7-9

Example: I Sam. 15:25f

A.W. Tozer said, “I want to define worship, and here is where I want to be dogmatic. Worship means “to feel in the heart.” A person that merely goes through the form and does not feel anything is not worshipping.”

Worship also means to “express in some appropriate manner” what you feel. And what will be expressed? “A humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder.” It is delightful to worship God, but it is also a humbling thing.”

V. How to Worship A. In spirit and in truth “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father, in spirit and in truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23,24

“God is spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Only the Holy Spirit can enable a fallen man to worship God acceptably. As far as that’s concerned, only the Holy Spirit can pray acceptably; only the Holy Spirit can do anything acceptably.” A.W. Tozer

B. By total obedience and self denial “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Rom. 12:1

VI. Examples of Worship: A. In response to God’s goodness & benevolent acts: Gen. 24:48 – Ex. 4:31 – Ex. 12:27 Ex. 34:8 – Judges 7:15 – I Sam. 1:3,19,28 II Chron. 7:3 II Chron. 29:28-30 Matt. 14:22-33 –

B. In spite of trial and tribulation: Gen. 22:1-5 II Sam. 12:20 Job 1:20

VII. Worship and dress:

VIII. Dangers in Worship: A. Worshipping Idols instead of God or Idolatry – Ex. 20:5; 23:24; 34:14; Deut. 4:19; 5:9; 11:16;

New Testament? – I Cor. 10:14-23

1. Reality of Demons behind the idols – Lev. 17:7; Deut. 32:17; Psa. 106:37

Is it possible that the reason we see so many Christians enslaved to the love of money, or enslaved to the momentary pleasure of entertainment (t.v., videos and movies), or enslaved to momentary pleasure of pre-marital or extra-marital sex, or enslaved to the drug of secular music; or enslaved to the theater of sports on t.v. is because there are demons behind those industries? Why else would a Christian who has tasted of the goodness and reality of God risk the severing of that relationship and often the severing of their family relationships as well?? Now am I saying Christians should not earn money or should never watch t.v. or a video or movie or watch a sporting event on t.v.? No, I will occasionally do all of those things. But when you do those things to the detriment of your own spiritual vitality and the spiritual vitality of your family and to the detriment of the impact that you are supposed to be having on the lost around you – then you are practicing idolatry. R.K. Harrison – p. 180

2. Reality of our Depravity/Choices – Romans 1:18-25

“Man was made to worship God. God gave to man a harp and said, “Here above all the creatures that I have made and created I have given you the largest harp… you can worship Me in a manner that no other creature can.” And when he sinned, man took that instrument and threw it down in the mud.” A.W. Tozer

IX. Judgment for Inappropriate Worship: Ex. 20:4,5 (cf. Deut. 5:8,9) Deut. 6:13-15 Deut. 8:19,20 Deut. 11:16,17 Deut. 30:17,18 I Kings 9:6-9 Acts 7:41-43 Romans 1:24,25

“Sooner or later arrogance always takes its toll and leads to error and ultimately a rejection of the word of God.” Ray Hughes in his article on worship in the Morningstar Journal

X. People chosen/appointed to lead in worship and praise: I Chron. 16:7, 37-42; II Chron. 20:21; II Chron. 31;2; Neh. 12:24

XI. Prophecies of Worldwide Worship of Jesus Christ: Psalm 22:27-29 Psalm 86:9


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