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Following Jesus by Practicing Worship – Part Three

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Recap: Our Response to God – For All God’s Worth  

This week I’m finishing what I didn’t do in my teaching last week. First to recap: God reveals him/herself as The Word in creation, in Israel and fully in Messiah Jesus. Our response to God is worship, which is acts of adoring surrender (proskyneo, to prostrate and kiss, John 4:23-24), and a daily lifestyle of service (latreuo, to serve, Romans 12:1-2). In this way we express God’s worth for all to see and know. Worship exalts God as King over us and the world (Psalm 22:3): we receive, on behalf of all created things, his Rule & Reign of Love, anticipating and embodying the future Kingdom at Jesus’ Second Coming, when God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. That will be pure consummated worship. So, every time we worship, alone and together, we actually enter into that heavenly reality now, by faith.

What I’m describing is seen in the Old Testament, e.g. Isaiah 6:1-8f; and especially in David’s psalms, where YHWH’s Kingship (worth) is exalted in creation and covenant (e.g. Psalm 19). Psalm 95 is one of many that teach this experience of worship. It’s especially instructive for worship leaders. NOTE: a) each movement is a response to obey a call or invocation, “Come…”; and b) all three movements are body postures expressing inner convictions.

Hebrew Worship: Three Movements of Encounter in Psalm 95

  1. Enter God’s presence with joyful praise, vv. 1-5: “Come…” enter with music, song, joy and thanksgiving. Why must we do this? (Worship is reasonable, not blind faith!) The theological reason is: YHWH is the great God-King above all gods (v.3) – whether we believe/feel it or not, it’s true! God IS the great God of both salvation (v.1, covenant) and nature (vv. 3-5, creation). God in Messiah Jesus is our Creator-King who made us, and our Warrior-King who saves us – making all things new. Therefore, proclaim this, “shout (it) aloud” (v.1)… For All God’s Worth! The psychological reason in doing this is: joyful praise focuses our mind, emotions and body on God – beyond all our ‘stuff’!
  2. Encounter God’s person with intimate adoration, vv. 6-7: At some point the mood and movement shifts: we bow down, kneel and kiss God in adoration. Why? Because the more we see God for who he is and what he’s done for us, the only ultimate response is to pay homage and surrender. We appreciate more fully that YHWH really is our Maker (v.6, creation), who gives us a total makeover as our Shepherd-King (re-creation and new covenant). God makes us his beloved flock (v.7) at great cost to himself – the precious blood of Messiah (1 Peter 1:18-21). As he adoringly “pastures” and cares for us, carrying us as little lambs, we cannot but surrender to his intimate embrace.
  3. Embrace God’s voice with implicit obedience, vv. 8-11: Worship ends with us inclining our ear to hear God’s voice. In the restful afterglow of intimate embrace God whispers words of love, of healing, guidance and instruction – prophetic words and teaching of God’s Word by gifts of the Spirit. Hebrews 12 similarly says that whenever we worship we enter heavenly worship (vv.22-24)… then God speaks (vv.25-29). So, we must listen, discern and obey what God says to us “from heaven”. Do NOT resist or harden your heart, or you will NOT live in and from the peace and rest he gives you in worship.

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