May 8, 2016 – manuscript

How will deeper roots allow me to worship God more fully?

I ran a half-marathon yesterday morning with about 40,000 other runners.  This race is full of energy, excitement and adrenalin rushes.  It is so much fun.  The streets are lined with people cheering.  There are bands scattered throughout the 13-mile course.  The middle of the race is a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  When we enter the speedway, everybody cheers through the tunnel.  We make our first turn to hear several local high school pep bands and cheerleaders.  As we make our way around the track, we get a view of the famous pagoda and row of bricks.  The history associated with this moment is equal to entering Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Lambeau Field or Michigan Stadium.  These are icons in the sports world.  Many runners stop to enjoy the nostalgia and relive the moments they watched on television or in person.  Some runners even stop to kiss the bricks.  It’s an amazing moment for so many individuals.  In some cases, it is the reason why people run this particular race.

Of course, running a race isn’t just about this moment.  It’s about balanced preparation.  It’s about showing up ready to engage.  It’s about what I bring to the race.  It’s about being part of something that is larger than any one person that is present.  All of those things parallel why we worship.  All of those things are true about worship.  We probably don’t run to church, but we might “cheer” our kids out the door.

The dictionary definition of worship is “to honor or revere as a divine being or supernatural power” and “to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion”.  Worship is what you and I bring to the table that extravagantly honors our God.  Worship does not happen on Sunday morning only, but is a lifestyle that should be part of who God is transforming us to be.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I believe public worship gatherings are mandated by God.  Participating in them is a matter of obedience.

Here is a great example of why a worship lifestyle is important.  Perry Noble is the pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina.  He was speaking at an Orange Conference a few years ago about family ministry.  This is my paraphrase, but he told us about a conversation he had with his elders concerning children’s ministry.  He was adamant that children could no longer be in the auditorium during the worship gatherings because kids learn and grow better in an age appropriate ministry.  One elder pounded his fist on the table and adamantly replied those kids need to worship with their parents as a family.  I will never forget his response.  He said, “If they aren’t worshipping with their parents during the week, what makes you think they will worship with them here?”

Our final question in this series answers how deeper roots allow us to worship more fully.  Our worship throughout the week prepares us to worship with others on Sunday.  We should show up ready to engage worship.  We should bring something to offer God.  Worship is larger than any one individual in this room.  Worship is larger than instruments used and music preferences.  Worship is designed to usher us into the throne room of Jesus Christ, sit at his feet and soak in the fullness of his presence.  Again, we’ll look at several Psalms for our instruction.

Psalm 145:1-4

1I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.  2Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.  3Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.  4One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.[1]

Many times we have the attitude that worship as an event that we attend.  It’s this thing we do on Sunday morning and sometimes it keeps our attention and sometimes it doesn’t.  At times, it’s refreshing and fills us.  Other times, it’s empty and motionless.  I offer four aspects of worship found in Psalm 145 during  our time together this morning.

First, worship should take place in our lives every day.  Verse two speaks this very plainly, “every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever”.  There is no ending; it should be a normal part of day.  Throughout this series, we’ve talked about attitudes and actions that we must choose to grow deeper roots.  We’ve talked about praising God and giving thanks.  We’ve talked about crying out to God during bad days and dwelling in his presence.  We’ve talked about God’s sovereign activity in our lives.  All of those things help us worship every day.  There are a number of ways to include worship throughout the week.  Psalm 149 gives a short list of worship options.  Verse one is about singing a new song.  Turning on a Christian radio station or streaming Pandora or Spotify provide great options for this one.  Verse three is about dancing for the Lord and making a melody with a variety of instruments.  Verse five is about singing in the privacy of your bedroom.  Some people probably shouldn’t sing outside the privacy of their bedroom.  Verse six is about declaring God’s goodness with Scripture.  All of these things are worship components different individuals  engage with to worship our King every day.

Second, worship should be placed at the top of our priority list.  Verse one says, “I will extol you, my God and King”.  Extol means ‘exalted high above’ and ‘to lift or rise up’.  When you see people raising their hands in worship (and you think they’re weird), this is what they’re doing.  It is surrender.  It is reverence.  They are lifting their King high above everything else.  You don’t need to raise your hands for ‘exalted high above’ to occur in your life.  Some people sit with their eyes closed.  Some people drop to their knees.  Some people show no expression at all.  All of it is okay as long as we are exalting God high above everything else in our lives.  The people that lead us in public worship have the job of taking us to place where “exalted high above” happens every week.  When we chase “exalted high above” with our worship, it becomes a game changer in our lives and our church..  It changes our attitude about worship.  When we give ourselves to worshipping God with an “exalted high above” attitude, worship becomes as natural as everything else that has a high priority in our lives.

Third, worship should happen with generations coming together.  Verse four tells us that “one generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts”.  Occasionally, people will tell me they don’t need to attend church to be a Christian.  Those people are correct; there is nothing in Ephesians 2:8-10 that says church attendance attains salvation.  However, Christians who do not attend church are not obedient Christians.  The same is true for generations who force their personal preferences on other generations like it came straight from the Bible.  Psalm 145:4 indicates that “exalted high above” worship is mutual edification of multiple generations.  This kind of worship is publicly offering praise for what  God is currently doing in our lives.  This cannot be done alone.  Psalm 148 supports generational worship.  Psalm 148:12-13 says, “12Young men and maidens together, old men and children!  13Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.”[2]

Psalm 150

1Praise the Lord!  Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens!  2Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!  3Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!  4Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!  5Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! 6Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!  Praise the Lord! [3]

Fourth, worship gatherings should radiate the excellence of God.  Let’s look at Psalm 150.  We gather together to praise God for his deeds and according to his excellent greatness.  If our worship gatherings are to radiate the excellence of God, we are to give careful thought, prayer and planning to Sunday morning worship.  The ‘everything that has breath’ in verse six is described in Psalm 145:21 as all flesh.  Everything is all that exists.  If “exalted high above” worship doesn’t happen for all flesh in this church, we have the responsibility to pray about, consider and create something that does.  If “exalted high above” worship does happen for you in this church, we have an equal responsibility to keep it.  That is mutual edification of multiple generations.

Let me ask a few questions to ponder.

  1. How do you intentionally worship God throughout your week?
  2. Where does worship fit on your list of priorities?
  3. How well do we radiate the excellence of God?

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ps 145:1-4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ps 148:12–13). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ps 150:1–6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.