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Archive for the ‘worship’ Category

“I fear there are some who preach with the view of amusing men, and as long as people can be gathered in crowds, and their ears can be tickled, and they can retire pleased with what they have heard, the orator is content, and folds his hands, and goes back self-satisfied.” – Charles H. Spurgeon

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. – Colossians 2:8 (NIV)

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. – 2 Timothy 4:3 (NIV)

Oftentimes, the warning of sound doctrine is shared with ministers and pastors, even missionaries, upon ordination.  Hands are laid upon these individuals and they are anointed and appointed for service.   As leaders, those teaching the Bible and indoctrinating new believers into the faith, you will see the importance of sound doctrine serving as the foundation for all that you teach others.  I think we all get that, too.

As the worship leader…?

As the choir director…?

As the minister of music…?

Yep. Yes. Yeah. Uh-huh.  Yep.  You better believe it, brothers and sisters.  We at least owe God that much when say that we are ministering in His Spirit in what we call praise and worship.  Our praise and worship selections should minister to others beyond sounding good and making others feel good.  The selections better speak of how good and how great God is to us.

Let us not fall prey to the trap of appealing to and impressing people.  We do not want to send mixed signals in the house of God.  We want sound doctrine to go along with strong voices and skilled instrumentation. 

If it isn’t biblical, how can it be part of your praise? If God doesn’t do that or do that the way that we’ve been singing it, how does that fit into our worship? We need to get with the church staff and leaders who know the Bible better than us, then assemble the music department from top to bottom so that we can teach how to minister through music and song, praise and worship, with a biblical base and a sound doctrinal foundation.  Someone other than just the drummer and piano player ought to research the songs being played throughout the service.              

It is about worship.  It sets the stage for the Word to be preached.  It ushers souls to the point of readiness to receive the Word through preaching.  It is vital to the weary soul who needs to have his or her hardened heart to be broken up and softened in order for the Word to take root.

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A Great God

For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.- Psalm 96:4 (KJV)

God is great.

Take some time and try to wrap your brain around the concept.

He is greatly to be praised.

That is greatly.  It isn’t a small matter when it comes to praising God.  It ought to come bursting forth from within you or cause you to burst into tears, laughter or even just plain exclamations of joy. it should come forth from you to Him greatly, as in abundance and in enormity.  Your praise should match up with God’s greatness due to God simply being great; the great I AM.

. . . he is to be feared above all gods.

Yes, there are other “gods.”  People have established these gods with a little “g” throughout time and over the ages.  In the Bible, they are idols and are worshiped in the “high places.” They are the gods that caused the children of Israel to go astray in many cases throughout the Bible.  God, the God of heaven and earth, is highly above all gods.  He is to be feared above all gods, too.  Those other gods have no power, no spirit, and no strength that can even compare with our God, our Creator, and our Lord.  He is the supreme God who reigns supreme over both heaven and earth. 

He is our God.  He is great.  He deserves great praise and great fear from those who call themselves called into salvation by God.

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How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God
.- Psalm 84:1-2 (ESV)

Which will it be? Reverent or ritualistic? How will you approach God’s throne of grace today? Will you approach with a reverent heart and meet Him with your head held down in humility? Or, will you look at your calendar and to-do list, ready to check off or mark that you can sing “Another One Bites the Dust” to one of the many items you have listed for today?
Which will it be?
Reverence?
Ritualistic?
Will you get into the spirit of worship or not?
Will you come into His courts with thanksgiving?
Will you offer yourself in humble submission to the Lord?
What will it be today?
Which will it be?
Reverence?
Ritualistic?

For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.

Psalm 84:10 (ESV)

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Let the redeemed of the Lord say so… – Psalm 107:2

The Book of Psalms has been referred to as the prayer book of the Bible as well as the scriptural praise and worship guidebook.  The American Bible Society considers the 150 entries in Psalms as “prayers and hymns.” Psalms are literally sacred songs or poems, even hymns.  Essentially, every time that we look into Psalms, we need to understand that someone was expressing how they felt, what they came to realize or observe about God, or to help boost the spirits of others such as the poor, the afflicted, the needy, and those with broken hearts and spirits.

Psalm 107 has been debated when it comes to authorship, whether it is a  Davidic psalm or not, but its authenticity is without question.  The psalm opens with an exclamation: Oh give thanks to the Lord (v. 1).  In fact, it does not just open up with an exclamation.  It offers a twofold rationale for such a claim.  The author says: A) for He is good and B) for His lovingkindness is everlasting (v. 1).  It echoes similarities to: Psalm 33:3’s Sing to him a new song, Psalm 22:23’s You who fear the Lord, praise him!, and Psalm 34:3’s Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.  The reasoning and rationale for such praise and worship for the Lord stems from our relationship with Him and stirs up a response out of us towards Him.  Comparatively, Psalm 96:8 speaks of giving God the glory due to His name- who He is- and bringing an offering.  In essence, our worship comes from our hearts and work through our mouths, hands and feet by dancing, lifting up holy hands, and

I say praise Him.  Praise Him for who He is to you.  Praise Him for what He has done for you.  Praise Him for what He did not allow to happen.  Praise Him!

You don’t need a worship leader to stir you up.  The Holy Spirit has already started on you.  Be certain to stay in your Bible, especially Psalms.  If you can’t seem to find a way to lift your spirits for praise and worship, even that ye old Baptist midweek Bible study and prayer meeting, I suggest going back to Psalms.  Dig in and get built up.  Dive into it and experience newfound joy.  Let the words speak to you, but don’t let them speak for you.  Write your own poems, songs and “psalms.” Praise God with your own expressiveness through words. 

Praise Him in your own words.  Praise Him in your own way.  Praise Him on your own. Praise Him!

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A person who wholly follows the Lord is one who believes that the promises of God are trustworthy, that He is with His people, and that they are well able to overcome.
-Watchman Nee

We connect in church many different ways and at many different points. The unbeliever connects with the entire, universal body of Christ upon accepting Christ as Savior and Lord. Once a believer, that same person has an opportunity to connect with his or her local church as an active and professing member. As I said, there are numerous ways people connect to the church. however, we must also understand that we, as the church, must offer new and numerous points where people can get connected to the church.

We need to offer connection points, places where people can connect with Christ, connect with other saints and connect with what the church or its affiliates and partners have to offer. Here is a short list of connection points to consider. You may want to talk to your small group or Sunday school class to explore more specific connection points that exist for you and your ministry.
  • Entrances: Think about first impressions. You can look at them as “touch points” or whatever, but you need your best greeters and brightest smiles working the door. Certainly, you should have “people people” working the door and meeting the visitors and guests, even returning people, into your church. Make sure that your people offer those who come in an opportunity to sign up for the church newsletter (handing them a copy) and be sure to provide them with any essential church literature, i.e. first-time visitors FAQ sheet and an outline of the order of worship. [Sometimes we invite people to church without helping them to know what to expect.]
  • Sanctuary: Most churches have some period during their worship service where they welcome or recognize visitors and guests. Be sure that people act genuine without a whole lot of “coaching” from the pulpit. People like other people to be friendly in a natural sense, not out of a sense of duty or obligation like “because the pastor said to do it.” Let it be part of the natural organic chemistry of who you are.
  • Exits: Don’t let someone leave without thanking them for joining you in worship. Invite guests and visitors to a special area to receive “gifts” like a free CD or DVD of a past sermon by the senior pastor, calendars or other items with the church logo and contact information or something as simple as a tract and a coupon for redemption at your bookstore or gift shop.

Be sure that you allow people to connect at least at each one of these points, offering them prayer, an invitation to salvation or joining the church, or even a special time for visitors and guest with the pastor and his special greeters. If available, assist people to fill out contact information and include business cards for staff persons who will contact the person as a follow up to their visit.

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I will bless the LORD at all times;  His praise shall continually be in my mouth.– Psalm 34:1 (NASB)

There’s plenty of room for boasting when it comes to the Lord.  We call it praise.  It involves worship, blessing the Lord with the “fruit of your lips.”   Beyond what we say, it involves our very spirit in coordination with the Lord’s Spirit.  We can be lifted up in the midst of someone else shouting praises to His name as another pours out tears of relief from pain and another cries out His name in acceptance of His answers to the confusion of life.  Each of these people offer the Lord what they have to offer Him, and they offer it from the heart and in the spirit and truth.

What are you using to worship God? What about worship? Are you in it or into it?

The Book of Psalms is the Holy Bible’s hymnal of sorts.  It’s a book of praises and poems.  In several instances, it reveals that the entire volume is suitable for the wide variety of needs within the congregation on any given day.  Yet, Psalm 34 opens up with a proclamation and profession that should ignite contagious worship.  It opens with blessing the Lord at all times, praise continually in my mouthThe psalm continues to speak of how the writer will boast about the Lord so much that the “humble and afflicted [will] hear and be glad.”  Then, in verse 3, the psalm writer provides an outright and open invitation to worship together  Imagine how uplifted that congregation would be after that declarative opening  and the opportunity to get lifted up and join in the blessing.

 David wrote this psalm out of the pure inspiration of the Lord showing Himself as his protection.  David had pretended to be insane before Abimelech.  He truly was at his wit’s end at that point.  There was no real guesswork once God had delivered David from his enemies.  He could boast about the Lord.  He had earned some bragging rights about the God he served and the God who saved him. 

We don’t use extol like it appears in the King James Version.   We do understand that we can boast of the Lord’s goodness and grace.  We do know that we can brag about His mercy and His might.  We do know that we can bless the Lord for His loving kindness and His peace.  He’s done so much already for us.  There’s so much we can offer Him.  Let’s start by submitting and surrendering to His Spirit within us so that we can spark some blessing and boasting among us.

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15On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.- Mark 11:15-19 (NIV)

 Get the right perspective on what Jesus did in this passage.  He cleared some things out of the temple in order to clear some things up in the temple.  The church is to be a place where people come and offer praises and tribute to God.  People should be able to find the church to be a special place to them.

The church can be special to people because it is a:

  • Sanctified Place: It is a place set apart and designated for God’s people and God’s purpose.  Let us never forget that the place is sanctified to be occupied by set apart people doing the work that leads to the accomplishment of God’s purpose.
  • Safe Place: People should be able to escape from the worries and woes, the pressures and problems, and the hustle and bustle of this world in such a special place as the church.  They should feel free to become vulnerable because they are surrounded by people who love them and offer safety as they gather together as one local congregation.
  • Structured Place: You can dress it up with art and artifacts, even the stained glass.  However, people expect some things to remain consistent at the church.  Whether its pews or chairs in rows or otherwise, people expect there to be a place to gather and be seated.  They expect the place to be in some sort of order whether there is a posted order of worship or a handout like a bulletin, because God is about order.  People want the place to offer something that they can depend on when the world in which we live in has chaos as its order of the day.  There needs to be structure.

Think about this when you prepare for next Sunday’s worship service.  Consider what people need out of the worship and the message as well as what they need out of the place that they are coming to.

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