WORSHIP – Values and expressions

When we talk about “worship values” what we mean is “here are the things we feel are are really important … so here goes…

  • The Father seeks worshipers John 4 v 23 – so worshiping God is the highest calling and will continue through eternity. Worship is not a preliminary to the main thing, it IS the main thing!
  • God delights in our worship  – “he will take great delight in you… he will rejoice over you with singing” …”The greatest thing of all, oh Lord I see, – You delight in me”
  • Worship is a response to who God is and what he does and also an encounter with Him – a meeting!
  • We delight ourselves in him Psalm 16v11, Psalm 84 v1-4.
  • There are many ways to express worship – (see below)
  • It is to do with entering his courts and knowing his presence – not just the singing of songs and the saying of prayers …James 4 v 8, Psalm 95
  • We can come with confidence, Heb 10 v 22, as well as awe, Heb 12 v 28-29
  • God wants all believers to be priests and play an active part in worship 1Cor 14 v 26, 1 Peter 2v 9
  • In God’s presence we also expect gifts as he speaks Psalm 95 v 7b-8
  • Bread and wine was a part of NT worship – it focuses us on remembering the object of our faith, what he did, what he  accomplished and his future return
  • Worship is spiritually powerful 2 Chronicles 20v21-22
  • Unbelievers can recognize something of God’s presence when the church body worships. 1 Cor 14 v 25

Expressions of Biblical Worship …

There are many traditions but here are some Biblically valid expressions of worship..

  •  laughter and joyful songs Psalm 126 v 2;
  • singing 89 v 1, Psalm 105 v 2;
  • bended knee 95 v 6;
  • the bowed head 2 Chron 29 v3 0, Neh 8 v 6;
  • clapping and shouting, Psalm 47 v 1, 95 v 1, 98 v 4-6;
  • making music to the Lord 98 v 5;
  • lifted hands 28 v 2, 134 v 2;
  • prostration, 1Kings 18 v 39, Rev 11 v 16-17;
  • dancing, Exodus 15 v 20, 2 Sam 6 v 14, Psalm 149 v 3;
  • silence Rev 8 v 1;
  • stillness and waiting psalm 37 v 7, 46 v 10.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD WORSHIP LEADER ?

We live in a day of high profile worship leaders and song writers – but, amazingly, we actually know the names of some of the worship leaders from back in the reign of King David!

In 1 Chron’ 15 v 17 – 22 several key people are mentioned – all gifted and no doubt practised and skilled. All invested their talents to develop the corporate worship of the nation of Israel. I find their names fascinating… perhaps giving us some pointers as to the qualities we should develop as worship leaders or worshippers!

HEMAN (v17) means “one who is faithful”. To lead well requires a certain amount of endurance, determination and consistency on our part. Heman became that sort of leader. It would seem he had not had an easy life – in Psalm 88 we find him overwhelmed, feeling low, without strength or friends – and yet he faithfully and honestly cries out to God for salvation. God greatly values faithfulness! What matters is not whether we are overwhelmed or not, but where we go when we are!!

ETHAN (v17) is derived from the Hebrew words for “permanence and strength”. No one is strong in themselves, but how wonderful to be a person known for consistency, strength and a determination to worship. It is perhaps easy to be switched on for a big occasion, or, on the other hand, to be overwhelmed by our current feelings or circumstances. Our Father God is surely worthy of our taking up a more robust, determined, attitude of giving “permanent praise!”

KENANIAH (v22) is not a name found in baby name books today – but what a great meaning, “One established by Jehovah” If we serve in order to establish ourselves then we are, and always will be, insecure. Is our sense of being firmly established always dependent on what people say? or how the last event went? It is great to know that we are called by God to worship – there is no need to perform for HE already loves us unconditionally. He has established us. Our need for constant affirmation from others will grow weaker the more we bask in his love and enjoy serving without the need for applause.

ASAPH (v17) means “one who gathers together and removes reproach”.  As we gather to worship our congregation will always include folk wrestling with big issues, overwhelmed with sorrows, and with failures on their minds. Ethan drew people together to our God, who replaces those things with a sense of acceptance, faith, forgiveness and adoption. How wonderful to lead people into an awareness of the person, presence and love of God on a Sunday! Much as I appreciate the virtuoso worship, or musical, “performer”, truly gifted worship leading draws people together, reminds us whose we are, who He is,e is,HH and focuses us wonderfully on the object of our worship.

(Incidentally not only did Asaph write some psalms, he also grew in his gifting and developed, so that he is later described as a seer (2Chron 29v30) – A reminder that worship is intimately connected to the presence of God and the flow of his spirit and gifts …)

A last thought – A hundred and twenty-eight singing descendants of Asaph return from exile with Ezra the reformer (Ezra 2:41), and perform during the dedication of the new temple’s foundation (Ezra 3:10). I wonder what values we will pass on our children and grand -children?

WORSHIP – obstacles and benefits

The psalmist says “I will extol the LORD at all times, his praise shall always be on my lips”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, when people think of us, they think “He (or she) is really a worshiper!”?

Since God himself desires worshipers we can be pretty sure the “enemy of our souls” is keen to put hindrances between us and worship. “Life is too busy”, “worship is a luxury”, “we do that on Sundays”, I’ll get less done, and I’m busy”, “isn’t this a bit inward looking?”, “I need to answer these emails first” … All these and more need to be identified for what they are – “Worship Obstacles”

The truth is that our first priority is to live our lives for what one writer called “the audience of One” It is not a heavy duty to be before our God but a glorious privilege, our eternal destiny and what we were created to do!

Of course, God does not need our worship, He is entirely self sufficient and complete in his self. Although he is glorified by us reveling in him the truth is that worship brings many benefits to us!

  • We magnify the LORD. We cannot enlarge a perfect God but as when we look through a telescope at the moon we change our perspective of what we are looking at. God is already huge and magnificent and all powerful. When we worship him we enlarge our view of Him, and gain perspective on things we have made too big in our lives. Alternatively, if we fail to worship him we tend to diminish our view of who he is and magnify the wrong things.
  • We experience his presence. Grace gives us access to the Father at all times. If we learn to worship as a lifestyle then we can know the reality of him being with us all the time … in our work, family life and so on… what former Christians called “practicing the presence of God”
  • We receive fresh hope. I’m not sure “my problems disappear” as the song says … but I do know I see them in better perspective when I have an eye full of who he is and what he can do. I gain faith and the weight of burdens are lifted as I see God
  • We revel in the truth. The words of our worship songs are so important as truth fuels worship, as does the word of God… sing, read, pray and the truths of God will seep into your soul!
  • We receive fresh life and joy. We all get tired and weary but “those who wait on the LORD renew their strength” Someone once said to me “if you are tired, go to bed but if you are weary go to the Lord”. Good advice! I am grateful I have a wife who will spot the signs and tell me “you need a prayer walk!”

“Rejoice in the Lord… draw water from the well of salvation … the joy of the Lord is your strength”

Life gets cluttered and complex and confusing so let’s remember our number one priority, fight to overcome worship obstacles, and make the One who is THE first thing first in our lives!

WORSHIP IS POWERFUL!

I’ve just been reading 2 Chronicles 20 v 13 – 22. Responding to prophetic direction, from Jahaziel, the King organises a battle formation with a big difference – it has a worship band at the front!

Those he appoints then advance toward the enemy praising God for “the splendour of his holiness” and giving thanks to Him. As they advance “The LORD set ambushes for the enemy” – I’ve no idea what that looked like!! – But they defeated the enemy, and have gone down in history!

When in trouble we often do anything but worship, and turn to anyone but God! – Here, then , is an alternative response and also a great example of the power of corporate worship.

We can, one day, ask Paul and Silas for a similar New Testament testimony of the in-breaking of God’s power as they praised God. (See Acts 16 v 16… esp’ v 25ff)

Paul says “the weapons we fight with are not weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (1Cor10v4) I believe truth filled worship, in the Holy Spirit, is a powerful weapon.

Worshipping in spirit and truth has God’s power to break down strongholds of wrong thinking, which the enemy uses to hold individuals back.

The truth about God – who he is and what he has done is a great weapon to set people free, remind them they are adopted, beloved sons of a heavenly Father. This brings new life and engenders faith.

The name of Jesus and his wonderful character has power since God has given him “the name above every name” – every knee must bow! The blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sin, guilt and shame, and as we sing about it we are enabled to resist accusation and know we are righteous by his grace.

Knowing the wonderful presence of the Holy Spirit, as we enter into adoration and experience the wonder of him actually being with us, strengthens us for life and defeats an enemy who wants us to believe we are on our own…..

The content of our songs is important since worshipping in truth powerfully reminds us of who He is and who we are.

Leaders, like Jehosaphat, can set the example of being those who first “bow down and worship before the Lord” (v18) It is a wonderful relationship, not a method or a formality!

God loves to then come – to save, to heal, to set free, to set ambushes, to break folk out of prison … Honouring and enjoying the person and presence of God is the destination of worshippers. Worship is powerful, because God is!

Granary update

 

granary from asda car park

 

We are thrilled that our gift day in March resulted in giving and commitments of £190,662 towards the building works needed to bring the Granary into use.

In addition we have already raised the purchase price and funds to cover architects and legal fees… Thank God for such generosity!

We continue to pray for a further , estimated, £400,000 to complete works and would be so thrilled if you would support us in prayer.

If you would like to contribute please contact ….

info@hope-church.org.uk

or PO Box 230, Worcester. WR5 3ZE. U.K.

THE HEART OF A WORSHIPER

“I am of the opinion that we should not be concerned about working for God until we have learned the meaning and delight of worshiping him”      A.W. Tozer.

In AW Tozer’s book “Whatever happened to worship”  the writer says that, like an amnesiac, the human race experienced a dramatic fall and, as a result, we have forgotten that we were made to walk with our God and worship him. Even as Christians we can forget this and take our place in Sunday worship out of habit, duty, love of music, enjoyment of the people or atmosphere.

We must therefore learn, or re-learn, “the meaning and delight of worshiping Him”

A heart to give thanks.

The fall of mankind was characterised by a lack of worshipful gratitude – “though they knew God … they neither glorified him as God, nor gave thanks to him” (Rom 1 v 21) A  prime characteristic of those restored to relationship with God, therefore, is the cultivation of a renewed attitude of gratitude

When people think of you do they think of a worshiper?Remember, the Father himself is seeking worshipers.  (See John 4 v 23-4)

 A heart to give our whole self.

The “first” or greatest, command is “love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. (Luke 10v27) Our God requires, and deserves, nothing less than wholehearted worship.

In Romans 12 v 1 Paul takes up the notion of totally giving ourselves and gives us a picture of placing our whole selves on a sacrificial altar of worship – This in a willing and joyful response to the magnificent mercy of God in choosing us and saving us by Jesus’ work on the cross.

 A heart to seek Him.

In Psalm 42 v 1-2 the writer compares his hunger for God to the physical longing of a deer for water. He “pants” for God and knows that nothing less, or other, than the Lord himself can meet his thirst.

“Where can I go and meet with God?” is the great question of the worshipping heart. God has hidden things for us not from us; and he promises to be found by those who seek him wholeheartedly.

 A heart to delight in Him.

What a great command – “go on, indulge yourself!” – “delight yourself in the Lord” Psalm 37 v 4

The psalmist encourages us to exalt, boast and revel in our Lord – His attributes and actions. To delight ourselves is to glorify him!

A wonderful cook is most glorified in the licking of lips, the mopping of gravy, the longing for seconds, and the salivating expectation of more!! The very enjoyment glorifies the provider all the more as the consumer delights in the feast!

In the same way we are encouraged to “delight” in the Lord – to be enraptured, delighted; to honour and esteem, applaud and shout, relish and indulge ourselves! To luxuriate and be captivated and fascinated with all He is and has done. What a privilege!

 A heart to know Him

 David’s primary request was to “gaze on the beauty of the Lord” Psalm 27v4

It has been fashionable to say “I do not want to know any more about the Lord ; I just want to know Him”  Why settle for “either/ or” when it is the Lord’s will for you to have “both/ and”? We can cultivate our love Him with all our minds as well as all our strength and soul!

If I had said, to my future wife, “I don’t want to know anything about you I just want to experience you”, I would have been told to get lost, – and rightly so! If you love someone you want to find out their opinions, taste, family background, ambitions, gifts, character and desires.

Further earthly discovery sometimes leads to discovering areas of disappointment in one another. – BUT there is no disappointment in our God, for He is perfect and complete and His beauties are endless.

Let’s gaze on his beauty in ways that involves both learning more about him and experiencing his wonderful closeness – there will always be more to know!

 OUR PERSONAL PRIORITY

Matt Redman wisely says “The private place always needs to outweigh the public place”  Wherever your time and place is – do whatever it takes for you to meet with God. Developing the heart of a worshipper is the best thing you can do to glorify God and enrich the worship of your church.

Thank Him, give yourself to Him, seek Him, delight in Him, know Him!

 “If we give ourselves to God’s call to worship, everyone will do more than he or she is doing now. It will have the quality of eternity in it. It will be gold, silver and precious stones, not wood hay or stubble” A.W. Tozer.

Pigeons away … drains, (and gift day), here we come!

granary pigeon men

At The Granary, work has been completed, by contractors working on the problem of years of pigeon occupation and what is politely called guano!

It is great to see something actually happening on the site, as most of the huge amount of work so far completed has been legal architectural or planning. Much investigative work has also been done to find out where, and how, we can reconnect the building with services.

On Sundays 1 and 8 March we are having gift days for the redevelopment work, which we estimate will cost in the region of £600,000 (in addition to the purchase price).

The purchase is moving ahead slowly with contracts being written, valuations undertaken and searches being conducted.

It is so good that at the same time as we are working through the practicalities of buildings we are, as a church, having a period of focused prayer for our city. From a spiritual point of view “unless the LORD builds the house, we are labouring in vain”

BULGARIA visit, Jan 2015

Bulgaria jan 2015 leadershipI met some wonderful people, (and ate some wonderful food), whilst in Bulgaria! We begun with a leaders Saturday in Lovech, where the church has restored a formerly delapidated building into a great church facility. On Sunday the team split up and preached in 3 different churches – I went with Rosen, (2nd on left), to his church in Veliko Tarnovo. Great time of discussion and friendship building as we drove and I very much look forward to meeting again. The warm of their welcome was fantastic and I felt very relaxed and at home as I spoke about The Father’s Love, from the Prodigal Son… Left straight after the service to travel to Sofia where I spoke again to a church plant.

Experiencing different cultures and languages but discovering the same family, with the same Father is a great privilege!

Worship – Our highest calling

“Desiring God” is a great title for a book! – In that book John Piper argues that to be preoccupied with anything less than God is to rob ourselves of our greatest joy and privilege. God tells us to praise him above all else because He knows that’s the place of our highest fulfilment and satisfaction. We are made for Him – to worship Him is our destiny! To not worship Him is to miss out on what we are on earth for.

Let’s focus on aspects of corporate worship …

THANKSGIVING

To “enter His gates with thanksgiving ” is much more than “let’s wake everyone up with a fast one”! The first step away from God is that we don’t thank Him (See Rom 1v21) In the midst of all sorts of life distractions, therefore, it is so good to simply thank God and remind ourselves of his mercy, his kindness and wonderful nature. Such appreciation is our “gateway” into God’s presence.

PRAISE

An illustration – When we first married my wife was unmoved by the delights of, say, tennis,  (along with most others sports!), however watching together, learning about scoring, tactics, angles and spins has gradually led to appreciation and even outburst of “WOW that was fantastic!” Praise grows with understanding! – (I have also learned, from her, to appreciate our rich history and legacy of historic buildings)

We praise what impresses us – and the more we learn of who God is and what He has done the more we will be impressed with that understanding and praise him. That’s why songs full of truth about Who God is and What He has done are so helpful!

IT’S PERSONAL

We are not just praising a God but our God and Saviour. Our praise engages our emotions, as well as our minds, when we realise that We have a personal interest since “the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2 v 20)

IT’S HAS TO BE EXPRESSED!

Thinking warm thoughts toward my wife is not enough – Praise has to be expressed to really be praise. In all sorts of worldly settings praise is expressed through clapping, shouting, dancing, drumming, dancing … Wholehearted enthusiasm; maybe not very traditionally British but very Biblical. Watching Olympic fervour, or F.A. cup craziness could maybe help us learn to better express our praise to the One who is, above all else, amazing and genuinely wonderful!

ADORATION

We enter into worship to honour him but also to encounter Him. “Knowing you Jesus – there is no greater thing”! (Graham Kendrick) We are pursuing moments of love and adoration, encountering God’s presence and delighting in Him. “How lovely is your  dwelling place, … my soul yearns, even faints … my heart and flesh cry out for the living God”. “Better is one day in your courts than a a thousand elsewhere” (Psalm 84)

“In the end the heart longs not for any of God’s good gifts but for God Himself. To see Him and be in His presence is the soul’s final feast”. (J Piper)