Worship: The Heart of Worship

Today I wanted to post the second part of my short sermon series on worship (part one can be found here). The full audio version can be found on the PRV website along with the audio file of part three presented by Shelton Taguma from Zimbabwe.

Core Values

I was re-reading our core values this past week when I ran across a beautifully written statement about this:

“God is eager to be known and experienced by all. We believe that God is searching for lost humanity in order to draw us into intimate relationship with Himself. In response to God’s initiative, we value the life-changing power of the experience of His presence.

The primary place where that relationship is nurtured and developed is in the act of worship – both private and corporate. So, experience-based worship is the central activity of all that we do in the Vineyard. It is worship that causes all else that we do to become an act of worship. We experience God’s presence as a palpable reality when we worship. As we worship we become increasingly sensitive and response to the Spirit’s presence so that we can do as Jesus did: “See what the Father is doing,” (John 5:19) and support His work with our lives.”

We are a people of the presence of God. We seek His presence as a child seeks their parents – as a calf is drawn to its mother, so we are to be drawn to the presence of the Lord.

This desire to be in the presence of God affects how we worship as a community for it must be:

  • Regular
  • Real
  • Non-religious
  • Relevant
  • Contemporary
  • Simple
  • Love-song-oriented
  • Honest
  • Free
  • Warm
  • Open
  • Personal
  • Tender
  • Non-manipulative
  • Non-hyped
  • Sincere
  • Intimate
  • Music

(the above list was drawn from Alexander Venter‘s book about the Vineyard called “Doing Church”)

There is just something powerful about music as it has a way of uniting our mental, emotional, and spiritual parts into one. It connects with us in a way that is deeper than our mind – we remember songs more so than sermons (which is why we need to be careful about the songs we sing and/or listen too)….

Don Williams says it best in this quote from his book “Start Here”:

“The aim of corporate worship is not simply to sing good theology or witness to our common experience of Christ. The object of our worship is God Himself, nothing less. As we sign to Him rather than about Him, our focus is taken off of ourselves and directed to the throne, whether we are shouting high praises before God’s awesomeness or kneeling in intimate devotion.”

Worship, it has been said, is the only thing that God gets out of this deal. It is the one thing that is directed purely upwards as we forget about ourselves and focus on Him alone.

This is why we were created – to worship God, to throw ourselves at His feet in totally submission. A lot of things in the world are going to pass away with the Blessed Coming of our Lord, but worship – that is something that we will be doing forever!!!

And no, that doesn’t mean that we are all going to be standing around on clouds playing harps. It means that we get to come into the presence of God and worship Him – giving Him everything we are – in an intimate fashion.

Intimacy

Some of you may be getting scared right now because I keep talking about intimacy… And you should be! Intimacy is coming close together with something – bearing yourself to that person to the point that that person knows who you are at a deep, deep level.

It is the same with Jesus – He is waiting and desiring to have that kind of relationship with you! How awesome is that?! We get to have a close relationship with the one who created the heavens and the earth!! Wow!

“Worship is a deliberate and disciplined adventure in reality. It is not for the timid or comfortable. It involves an opening of ourselves to the dangerous life of the Spirit.” -William Sperry

Know this; Jesus is a trust worthy Lord. He is someone you can walk with your entire life.

This does not mean that you all your dreams and desires are going to be fulfilled – God is not a magical genie or a big grandpa in the sky passing out presents to those who are good.

God is God!!!

He is holy and majestic – He is fearful and powerful – He is beyond anything we can imagine.

He is on a mission to bring all people into Himself while giving Himself to all people. He has taken on the pain of the world in order to destroy sin, evil, injustice, death and all that is bad. He is pursuing us in a loving manner – wanting to engage us one-on-one, to have us join with Him on His mission.

As CS Lewis said, He is not a tame lion, but He is good.

Dual Effect

As we push into intimate worship we will experience a dual effect:

  1. It will deepen our desperation, our longing and hunger for God
  2. While increasing awareness of our utter brokenness and depth of the Father’s unconditional love.

It is like the Prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 6:5-7 – he was immediately aware of his sinfulness and cleansed while worshiping at the same time….

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

Vineyard Theology of Worship

This brings us to the heart of our teaching today. In looking at the heart or core of worship, I want to look at Psalms 95.

Three Movements In Psalm 95

  1. Praise and Thanksgiving (vs. 1-5)
  2. Touching the Father’s heart (vs. 6-7)
  3. Hearing the Father’s voice (vs. 8-11)

(the three movements of Psalms 95 was drawn from Alexander Venter‘s book about the Vineyard called “Doing Church”)

First Movement: Praise and thanksgiving (vs. 1-5)

Praise is different then worship as the word itself shows:

Barak – 327 times – to bless, pronounce blessings, give praise, give thanks, extol; to be blessed, be praise; to bless oneself, be blessed; this can mean to speak words invoking divine favor (bless), or speak of the excellence of someone (praise)

Gen 24:26-27 is the first time this word shows up.  Abraham’s servant had just found Rebekah against all odds:

Then the man bowed down and worshiped the LORD, saying, “Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.”

The second main word for praise is:

Yada – 111 times – to express praise, give thanks, extol, make a public confession, make an admission; to praise is to speak of the excellence of someone or something; to give thanks has a focus on the gratitude of the speaker.

This word show up in Genesis 29:35 when Leah – Jacob’s wife – gives birth to her fourth son, Judah. In fact, the name Judah sounds like and is derived from “yada” meaning praise.

Praise is the first step towards intimate worship as it helps focus our minds, disciplines our feelings and softens our heart. It is a time of rejoicing for what He has done.  This is why we usually sing a fast song of praise at the beginning of our worship time. It is there, like in Psalm 95, to remind us who God is – who we are worshiping

Second Movement: Touching the Father’s Heart (vs. 6-7)

From there the Psalmist moved into a please of intimacy – A place of surrendering were we bow down, kneel and worship God with intimacy and adoration; A place where we encounter the living God.

In this place, each person may sense God differently. This is why two people can leave a worship time differently…

Worship is a heart thing were we are speaking directly to God versus singing about God, which is praise. Being a heart thing, we are too worship God no matter what we are feeling. We should be able to worship – to fully surrender everything to Him – when surrounded by kids, when we don’t know the words to the songs, when we are having a bad day, etc.

“Feelings are great liars. If Christians only worshiped when they felt like it, there would be precious little worship that went on. Feelings are important in many areas, but completely unreliable in matters of faith. We think that if we don’t feel something there can be no authenticity in doing it. But the wisdom of God says something different, namely, that we can act ourselves into a new way of feeling much quicker than we can feel ourselves into a new way of acting. Worship is an act which develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God which is expressed in an act of worship.”Eugene Peterson, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction”

The more we push in and fully give ourselves to God, the more we can recognize His presence outside of this the worship service

Third Movement: Hearing the Father’s Voice (vs. 8-11)

The last movement of Psalm 95 is hearing the Father’s voice

•    After we have praised Him and entered into an intimacy with Him, He talks to us
•    This is sort of like a worship afterglow – a spiritual jetlag.
•    This could be individual or corporately
•    Time of profound peace and stillness
•    This is why there are times when we just sit with the presence of God instead of jumping into the sermon,

Summary

“Worship in essences in intimacy with God that flows over into a lifestyle of service.” –Alexander Venter, “Doing Church”

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