Wonderers To Worshipers

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What inspires worship to God?  There may be many answers, but one of the best is wonder, awe, and excitement when contemplating God and His marvelous works.  Wonder is the antidote to boredom in worship.  Boredom in worship is an insult to the soul and may be due to a loss of wonder in the power and presence of God.
Wonder is lost when God is forgotten.  Wonder is lost when God is not loved supremely and we attempt to serve more than one Master.  Wonder is lost when the cares of the world extinguish desire for God.  Wonder is lost when sin invades the soul.  Wonder is lost when spiritual growth is neglected.  When wonder is lost, worship dies.
David possessed a sense of wonder that ignites worship.  Consider his thought in Psa. 139:14-16, “I will praise thee: for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.  My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”
David Possessed a Sense of Wonder at God’s Marvelous Works.
He considers his own development in the womb and his own body which is due to the creative power of God.  He declares, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Fearfully refers to that property in an object the contemplation of which excites fear in the beholder.  As he examines his own body, mind and spirit, he is filled with fear of the One who designed it and created it.  The word wonderfully indicates the skill and wisdom used to create.  The human body is a work of art produced by the hand of an all-wise and all-powerful God.  Proper reflection upon these facts create wonder in us.
David Desired to Worship God as a Result of the Wonder in His Heart.
“I will praise thee.”  God is to be praised for His marvelous works.  When we contemplate God’s work in creation and God’s work in redemption, we are thrilled by His wisdom, power, love and goodness.  God’s glory is manifested in all of these aspects of His being.  Worship is homage paid to deity.  In our worship, we glorify our maker and our redeemer.  The doctrine of creation has a direct bearing upon our adoration, praise and devotion to God.  We are humbled in the presence of God.  By humility we surrender to Him.  We are purged of our pride.  We feel our own unworthiness.  God knows us in minute detail.  Before His scrutiny we shrink back.  We cannot hide from His presence.  Let us enter into His holy presence with fear and wonder.
When we truly know God and understand the wonders He has wrought, we will be filled with awe and  we will desire to come before Him in worship. What about boredom?  It vanishes when we enter into the presence of God’s glory with wonder!


Elements of Worship

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What is worship? Wiliam Temple makes the following comments, “Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness, nourishment of mind by His truth, purifying of imagination by His beauty, opening of the heart to His love, and submission of will to His purpose. All this gathered up in adoration is the greatest of all expressions of which we are capable” (quoted in Cries of the Heart by Ravi Zacharias, 207).
Worship is adoration of deity. There is only one God and worship is to be directed to Him. God is a spirit and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
What are the Elements of Worship?
In Malachi chapters one and two, the prophet addresses the sins of the people of God who had perverted worship. Perverted worship is a sign of perverted hearts. He calls God’s people back to pure devotion and adoration of God. He calls them back to holiness. Adoration of God in the spirit of holiness is needed today.
It is impossible to worship God without love. God loved His own people, but they failed to love Him back. Malachi 1:2. Love for God is manifested by keeping His commandments (John 14:15). Disobedience to God is iniquity. Love rejoices not in iniquity but rejoices in truth (I Cor. 13:6).
It is impossible to worship God without reverence. Malachi states, “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name…” (Mal. 1:6). The priests corrupted worship and so despised God’s name (authority). Reverence for God involves listening to God’s authority in Scripture.
It is impossible to worship God without sacrifice. Malachi continues his rebuke of the priests. “Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts? (Mal. 1:7-8). God deserves the very best that we can offer. Our sacrifices must reflect our love and reverence for Him.
It is impossible to worship God acceptably with the wrong motive. Malachi chastises the people because they had profaned the sacred (Mal. 1:12). They were more intent on pleasing themselves than pleasing God. Worship demands God pleasers.
It is impossible to worship God without instruction in truth. Malachi offers some strong words in 2:7, “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.” Honorable worship is guided by truth. Pure hearts are guided by truth. Vain worship is defined by teaching the doctrines of men rather than of God (Matt. 15:9).
It is impossible to worship God without obedience. Malachi addresses the desparity between the everyday lives of the people and their approach to God. They mistreated the wives of their youth by divorcing them (Mal. 2:13-16). What they did in their family life had an impact on their worship. They failed to honor God in their daily lives. Corruption has a way of permeating all of life. They failed to maintain the sanctity of marriage as God had commanded. Their corrupted hearts led to perverted judgment (Mal. 2:17).
Malachi cries out against the sins of the priests and the people. He calls for repentance that will lead to a renewal of the love of the sacred. Pure hearts will lead to pure worship. Corrupt hearts find worship wearisome. The pure in heart delight in the presence of God. Don’t measure your worship experience by externals. Measure it by your own heart.

Handclapping in Worship

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Recently, Judith Martin (Miss Manners) responded to a question asked by one of her readers concerning handclapping during the worship.  The question and response are worth consideration.
The Question:
Dear Miss Manners:  During the offertory collection at my church, some form of religious musical performance takes place.  It might be the choir, a soloist (vocal or instrumental) or the bell choir.  At the conclusion of the performance, the entire congregation applaudes as if at a concert.  To me, this borders on being sacrilegious.  Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to compliment the performers informally after the service?  Is this a common practice in other churches?
The Response:
Gentle Reader:  It is, alas, increasingly common for people to regard everything as a source of entertainment.  Miss Manners is grateful that you recognize that church music is indeed intended for the glory of God, not the pleasure of worshippers.  Praise for the performers might certainly be delivered after the service, but it shouldn’t be allowed to interrupt praise for God.  (Columbus Dispatch, Nov. 2, 2013).
1)  While I do not belong to the same religious group as the person asking the question to Miss Manners, I share the same concern that, in many places, the worship of God is being turned into entertainment for the audience rather than glory and praise directed to God.
2)  Worship must be directed to God, not man (John 4:24).
3)  Worship is a verb and so involves the right attitudes and actions on the worshipper’s part which are directed to God.  Consequently, you cannot worship by proxy.
4)  Handclapping is not authorized in the New Testament.  Col. 3:17.  We should not do anything in worship that is not authorized by God Himself.  Human innovations are the design of men and often have the purpose of pleasing men rather than God.
5)  Many worship assemblies have turned into concert and entertainment venues rather than avenues of praise and devotion to God.  Our worship degenerates when we become the focus instead of God.
6)  Is handclapping sacred or secular?  If sacred, then it would be authorized by God.  It is secular activity introduced into worship to please man not God.
7)  Miss Manners notes that there is some impropriety when the sacred is mixed with the secular.  It produces a sour note! I agree.  However, the violation is much more than social. It is spiritual.
8)  There is vain worship.  What is vain worship?  “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9).  The word “vain” means, “empty or worthless.”  Vain worship may occupy some time on Sunday, but it will never please God.

The Majesty of God

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     Robert Reymond in his book What is God? makes an astute comment concerning contemporary worship and the concept of the majesty of God.  Here is the quote, “Therefore, it is absolutely esential–indeed, it is a vital imperative for our spiritual health–that we who desire to know what God is like should always listen carefully to God’s description of himself in Holy Scripture alone, submit our hearts to that description without murmuring against it, endeavor to live our lives in accordance with it, and worship him in a way that befits his revealed perfections, that is, with reverence and awe.  And speaking of worship, I want to state categorically that, in my opinion, the intrusion into the contemporary church of superficial, flippant worship styles that abound everywhere today, with their applause for the church’s “performers” and their sappy contemporary music, is not and should never have been regarded as simply a matter of ‘cultural preference.’  Rather, as an infusion of the popular culture into the church it is a symptom of what A. W. Tozer describes in his book, The Knowledge of the Holy, as “The loss of the concept of (the) majesty of God from the popular religious mind.  The Church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble, as to be unworthy of thinking, worshipping men…”  (What is God? 48).
     This quote, it seems to me, is targeting the heart of many problems in religion in general and in worship in particular.  Our religion is more about us than it is about God.  We are more inclined to act to please ourselves rather than God.  We pay lip service to Him while ignoring His Will.  A study of God, based upon what the Scriptures affirm about Him, would be beneficial for every person and every congregation of the Lord’s people. We must love God supremely, worship Him only, and serve Him faithfully.