Spirit and Truth

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” John 4:23-24

These verses are set in the context of Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at Jacobs well.  In this story Jesus underscores two key aspects of worship that will help take your engagement with God in worship to a new level!

Please check back on Wednesday 5-20 top catch the rest of this post!

Praise and Worship

In this post we will touch on the meaning of praise and worship to help us fully appreciate and immerse in this amazing experience.

Praise is telling a story.  Psalm 100 extorts us to:

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise”

Therefore we begin our church service by singing “to” God with our story of thankfulness and telling of His great wonders.  And we sing “about” God for all listening to hear!

There are over 20 words used in the bible to describe the various expressions of praise.  In total we will discover praise involves our entire being using our heart, mind, hands, feet, voices and instruments we pluck blow or strike to proclaim this great story.

Praise is our sacrifice

In the Old Testament days, before Jesus, God’s people had to bring spotless animals to church where the priest would offer them as a sacrifice to God. Today, because of Jesus, all believers qualify to enter directly into God’s presence with our sacrifice.

You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:5).

Since Jesus offered his blood to cover our sins we no longer need to bring lambs and goats to church.  All we are required to offer is our sacrifice of praise.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise.” Hebrews 13:15

The effort we make to come together on a Sunday morning in corporate worship, offering our hearts and voices, is our sacrifice of praise.

Worship is derived from an old English word weorþscipe, or worth-ship, representing the Hebrew and Greek Old and New Testaments word-pictures that mean to bow down or lean forward towards as if to kiss in a show of honor.  So we show God his worth to us by gathering together for a worship service where we honor Him by hearing His Word, fellowship with His people, praying, giving in the offering, and singing His praises.

During our time of music we move from our posture of praise to the position of worship as we bow our hearts to introduce themes like, honor, invocation(to call on God) consecration(dedication), supplication(petition).

We have discovered praise and worship to be an intimate two way experience.  As we reach out to God we find that he graciously responds by wrapping his arms around us as well.

The songs we sing cover a variety of styles and themes intended to be pleasing and honoring to God, Jesus and Holy Spirit.   Our style ranges from the latest contemporary music to timeless hymns.  So we sing uplifting praise songs giving adoration and thanksgiving to our savior remembering all He’s done and engaging worship songs where we “bow” our hearts and experience God’s presence in a special way together as a congregation.

You can come away with a sense of joy, celebration, freedom, changed and refreshed, as we praise and worship together.

We hope to see you at our next worship service!

Where praise begins; the Word of God

In this post we will look at the important role the Word of God plays in our worship.  In other lessons we looked at the biblical definition of worship and praise; “offering ourselves as a living sacrifice, bowing bow down as a sign of honor, leaning forward as if to kiss, and telling the story of His goodness in the form of praise and worship in song.”  In a similar way we honor God by honoring His Word as an act of worship.  When we refer to worship in the context of a contemporary church service we are usually speaking of the musical part of the service.  At CPC we believe that everything that happens in a Sunday “Worship Service” is worship.  The music, prayer, the offering and the Word of God.

This post is based on Nehemiah 8:2-6

So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. Ezra the teacher of the Law stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam.  Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

This scripture offers amazing insight into praise and worship.  First, we see that both came as result of hearing Gods Word.  These guys listened to a sermon for about six hours!

So here is what happened.  The preacher did not close his bible where in our culture signifies it is almost time to go to lunch.  After the sermon Ezra apparently held the book up for all to see and the people started to praise.  There are many meanings of the word praise in the bible.  In this instance it means “salute.”  The preacher stopped preaching and everyone saluted!

This is why in our church we try to lead songs that are chocked full of the Word of God.  Our songs contain deep truths that hopefully result in the congregation responding with a salute to God in praise and bowing down our hearts in worship before we leave His house on Sunday morning.

Consider Nehemiah 8:2-6 before you come to church on Sunday!  Come expecting to enter into an engaging praise and worship experience.  In the old days before Jesus, the people had to go through all sorts of rituals, including I suppose, 6 hour sermons before they were prepared to praise and worship.  But now, because of Jesus, we can “come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16 and Hebrews 13:15 “Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.

We can have a relationship with God, through Jesus and Holy Spirit, continually all week long, then come to church ready to praise and worship our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

We hope to see you at our next worship service at CPC to praise living savior together.

Prescription for Praise

Today’s topic is on the subject of praise.  Our scripture for this post comes from 1 Chronicles 15:13 “…We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.”  This is the story about when David decided to bring back the Ark of the Covenant that was hidden away during the reign of Saul.  David summoned Israelites from far and wide to come join the celebration,  We find in 1 Chronicles 13:8 that:

“David and all the Israelite were celebrating with all their might before God with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, cymbals and trumpets.”

We will discover that however well intended was Davids motive, this scene was more akin to unrestrained chaos then the worship God desires.  The result was that a man named Uzzah died when he touched the Ark because he was not authorized to do so.

David’s heart may have been in the right place but he forgot to recall Gods’ instruction to his forefather Moses.  The Ark was the center of worship in the 1Tabernacle of Moses.  God gave detailed instruction concerning how He wanted to be worshiped.  All tabernacle worship was to be conducted by those from the tribe of Levi and each Levite had their own responsibility including some who were priests who alone could enter the Holy of Holies to worship before the Ark, some were musicians who blew trumpets, and the others who served in the Tabernacle preparing for worship.

At first David was angry that God rewarded His worship effort by striking Uzzah dead.  But a light must have gone off in David’s head because he did finally discover what went wrong.

“It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the LORD our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.”  1 Chronicles 15:13

So “how to do it” is important to God.  David regrouped and got it right and in 1 Chronicles 15 & 16 we find a model for praise that remains valid to this day.  The first is that David established that only Levites, probably just the priest Levites, could carry the Ark (v15.)  Then David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their fellow Levites to sing joyful songs accompanied by musical instruments (v16).  Then in verse 22 we find that Kenaniah was placed in charge of the singers and musicians because “he was skillful at it.”  In other words Davids first attempt back is chapter 13 must have sounded pretty bad so David narrowed it down to those who were qualified spiritually and could carry a tune.  Here for the first time we see the appointment of “Director of Music” and organized musicians as what we would call today a “Worship Team.”

Now to the heart of this lesson.  In chapter 16 we find the prescription for praise.

“He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to extol, thank, and praise the Lord, the God of Israel.” 1 Chronicles 16:4

So let’s look at these three key words in 1 Chronicles 16:4; extol, thank, praise, to help us understand how to praise God.  Our Worship Leaders, or Ministers of Music if you will, take this instruction into consideration when selecting songs for use in our worship service.

Zakar, or extol, means to remember, recall, or call to mind.  There is a sense of invocation or petition connected with this word, so we can praise two ways by extolling.  We sing “to” God recalling his wondrous works of the past while petitioning Him to do wondrous works in us today as we praise.  We may also sing “about” God in the same manner.

Yadah, or thank.  Thanksgiving is a key element of praise.

Halal, or praise.  To boast about, or act madly about.  Halal is one of about 20 words translated praise each with a different connotation but this one is of the more uproarious nature of praise.

“Praise it telling or signing a story either to God or about God, giving thanks to him as we we recall all he has done for us and petitioning Him for his continued presence in our praise”

Wonderful news for us all!
We do not see very much teaching on praise and worship in the New Testament.  The reason for that is simple.  It was taught in the Old Testament and does not need to repeated in the New Testament.  God’s character and the way he desires to be worshiped and praised is unchanging.  Musical styles will change with our cultures, that is to be expected, God made many flavors of people whose diverse expressions of praise He may enjoy.   But scripture suggests that the key concepts of praise and worship carry through no what the style of music or type of instruments are used to glorify God.

But something important thing did change in relation to worship and praise in the New Testament!  Because of Christ as our High Priest who covers our sins, all of us can can freely enter directly into God’s presence to worship Him.  You do not have to be a Levite, just a believer in Christ.  He has made us a Kingdom of Priests.  Here are two keys New Testament scriptures:

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” (Hebrews 13:15)
“You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:5).

So today we are all worshipers.  We still have worship leaders who are skilled to organize corporate worship in a unified fashion, but the truth is we are all worshiping in Gods’ presence together.  In fact we tell the Worship Team that they are not so much “worship leaders” as they are “lead worshipers.”  What we hope to instill in our people is that they all are the “Worship Team.”

To conclude we will leave you with an assignment.  Please read 1 Chronicles 16:7 to 37.  This is where David demonstrates for the first time how to praise, keeping the three words we looked at in mind:  Extol (remember/petition), Thank and Praise.

Please read 1 Chronicles 16:7 to 37 for yourself, but I will leave you with a few examples from that text.

8Give thanks to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 9Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. 12Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, 24Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. 34Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

So as we gather for worship at CPC each week come prepared to extol thank and praise God together!

1Tabernacle literally means “hut” but in relation to the Biblical Tabernacle of David and Tabernacle of Moses where God’s presence was centered tabernacle means “dwelling place.”  Today God desires to “tabernacle” with us, we in Him, He is us.