Monday, July 11, 2011

The Morning After: Principles for Effective Worship (Psalm 100)

Today begins my vacation. Before I left, I wanted to preach on something that will be constantly on my mind as I drove in the car a few thousand miles and spend lots of time with the family. I wanted to remind myself how I can go on vacation and still worship Jesus!

Psalm 100 is one of those Psalms that helps put things in perspective. Since it is so short, let me just quote the entire Psalm here:

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing. 
Know that the Lord Himself is God; 
it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
and His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting,
and His faithfulness to all generations.

What a great Psalm! There are seven imperatives in this Psalm: shout, serve, come, know, enter, give, bless. All of these imperatives are given because the author of this Psalm was very concerned how we would worship. I summarized these into Five Principles For Effective Worship:

1.  Worship with Joyful Excitement (vs. 1)

"Shout Joyfully to the Lord." This is a command. Charles Spurgeon once said that "our happy God should be worshipped by a happy people." Sometimes, the Christians I know are the most boring people on the face of this earth. My greatest concern is never the volume of the shout, but it is the joy that is behind the person. Could it be that we are more enthusiastic about our sports teams than God because we find more joy in them than Him?

2.  Worship with Willing Service (vs. 2a)

We are to serve God with gladness in our heart. When we serve the Lord in this way, it counts as authentic worship to Him. But not if our heart is torn to serve because of pressure, guilt, or duty. We should serve Him because it pleases us to do so.

3.  Worship with Joyful Singing (vs. 2b)

He mentioned shouting in general, but then talks about singing specifically. Music is one form in which we are to express our joy in the Lord. Isaac Watts wrote the Hymn, Come, We That Love the Lord." It is hardly ever sung, but he penned these insightful words in the 3rd stanza:

Let those refuse to sing, who never knew our God;
But favorites of the heavenly King, must speak His praise abroad.

Dead people do not sing. But those the Spirit of God has brought to life love to sing praises to Him.

4.  Worship with Proper Humility (vs. 3)

In order to properly worship the Lord, we must have a good idea of Who it is that we are worshipping and who we are. He is God, we are not!

5.  Worship with Overflowing Thankfulness (vs. 4-5)

We worship through being thankful for Who God is and what He has done. We should be moved to thankfulness because the Lord is Good (all the time); He is Loving; and He is Faithful.

If you want to listen to this entire message, please visit our church website. The sermon is usually posted by Tuesday at 12pm.

Which of these five points motivates you to worship?

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