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Times of worship

How do we worship?

Psalm 95 is a good place to start when we consider how we really move into a time of worship. Here are the first two verses, to set the scene:

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.

Here is singing and shouting, in an attitude of praise and thankfulness, using the medium of music and song. The worship leaders have got it right here, it’s the best way to get started because the Bible tells us so. We are then told why we should praise God, in the next three verses.

For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

Our praise comes out of our acknowledgement of His sheer greatness, his magnificent otherness. We sing and shout in order to declare these truths. Then … we are ready for worship, as the next two verses tell us.

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

And how do we worship Him? We bow down to Him. We kneel to Him. We acknowledgement his worthiness. Then we continue to worship Him. Here’s an idea. We create an environment where it is possible for individuals to forge their own path in terms of worship to God and listening from God, but in a corporate context. All the leaders have to do is to prepare, to lay down the structures, to create the possibilities. So what are these worship possibilities? I have fourteen in mind (you could probably think of others), in no particular order.

  • Teaching

This was very much on the agenda for the original Church, they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. Teaching, through the sermon, has been the principle vehicle for those so gifted to preach on the Word and explain the times in which we live. Unfortunately some have been nudged onto this platform without the necessary gifts, gifted only to facilitate many a mid-morning nap! The function of the sermon or the teaching slot has to be as a conduit for God’s voice to be heard rather than any clever arguments from the teacher. When approached in this way it can be frightening for the speaker but exhilarating for the listener.

  • Music

For many, this is what worship is and a whole industry has grown up to re-inforce this idea. Yet, as we saw from Psalm 95, it is the biblical way for us to ready ourselves for worshipping Him, after praising and thanking Him. If music draws people to God then it is fulfilling its function, but if it draws people to the worship leaders, or to boredom (let’s face it, it does happen!) then it should be re-thought. Worship is so much more than this, in fact every one of the fourteen possibilities listed here is a form of worship, because they involve believers exercising their God-given gifts in exalting Him. Yet in the hands of a good worship leader, such as we have at our Foundations conferences, there is a great openness for God to break through and blessings for all.

  • Dance

Although this is obviously driven by music, it is primarily a visible expression of worship, with many Old Testament precedents, most famously King David dancing before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:14). It benefits the dancers and others and often is an encouragement for those others to get out of their seats. As someone with little grace and style I’m not the best person to comment on this medium except to say that, at its best, it can be very moving and, at its worst, it’s best to close one’s eyes. We have been blessed at our Foundations conferences to have the very best and have to say that dance both brought people together and brought them closer to the Lord.

This continues next week …

This is an extract from the book, Hebraic Church, available for £10 at http://www.sppublishing.com/hebraic-church-101-p.asp

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