Introduction to Study
It appears that the continuing struggle in the area of worship in our churches will continue for some time. When I ask myself what is the root of the problem, I come up with two answers. First, people do not worship not because they do not want to but because they don't understand it. We have seen that when we take the time to teach people Biblical worship, they walk away worshipers. Second, people who are not sold out to God, who do not have a vibrant ongoing relationship with Him, will never be true worshipers. This study will attempt to help us in our efforts to better understand these two answer, and to dig into what the Bible says about worship and the place it has in the contemporary church, or today's church.
If you have read or gone through the study entitled "Experiencing God", you know that there is more to the Christian life than just going to church on Sundays. You know that there is more than just praying once in a while when you need something from the Lord. Henry Blackaby, in this wonderful study, gives us seven basic steps that are needed to experience God in the way that He intended us to know Him. This is a great study for the Christian who truly desires to be all that God would have him be! If you desire to deepen your walk with the Lord and experience Him and all that He has for your life, I encourage you to take the time to go through "Experiencing God."
While worship is a part of our relationship and growth as Christians, it becomes the medium to which all other areas of our Christian life line up. Without worship, ones prayer time becomes one sided. We become receivers and not givers. Always asking for something instead of giving. Worship stems from that intimate time spent with the Lord. It is the time when we give to the Lord through our singing, praise, and declaring His holiness.
It is the time when we give to the Lord through our singing, praise, and declaring His holiness. It is more than a life of prayer and Bible study. It is more than a quiet time together with the Lord. Worship is what comes out of an understanding and realization of who God is, and what He means to us personally as Savior and Lord. Part of our quiet times together with the Lord needs to be filled with worship. Give praise to the Lord for what He has done in our lives and for who He is. Worship is a wonderful thing, and becoming a worshiper is what God created us to be.
Let me state upfront that this study does not present itself to be a complete guide to worship. It does not attempt to explain in full all there is to know about worship. It is merely an introduction to praise and worship and is meant to help people begin to understand true biblical worship, and to help them become true worshipers.
The reason for "Experiencing Worship" is to offer a brief study on the topic of worship to be done in a small group setting. It was written for the worship leader, worship team, choir, family and any Christian who desires to better understand worship. My heart's desire is for every to understand or at least begin to understand true biblical worship, and to begin to teach it to others and they become true worshipers. This study can be used as a tool for the worship leadership and worship teams in your church to use as they grow in their leadership roles. It can be used in choir rehearsals as they better understand their roles in worship and leadership. It is designed to the leaders in music to become more than just singers or players. May they become the true worshipers that God would have them be.
Just as many people miss out on all that God would have for them in this life, so many Christians miss out on the most important thing we can do -- worship. I once read that the only thing Christians do on earth that we will do in heaven is worship. If that is true, and I believe it is, then we should understand what we are doing now because we will spend an eternity doing it. I do not want to waste my life pretending to worship when God's desire is for us is to worship Him in spirit and truth now. He never said wait till you get to heaven then I will show you how to worship. He desires it each day of our lives from the moment we accept Him as Savior and Lord till the day we die. In fact, you will discover that God even requires and even commands those who call Him "Savior" to worship Him.
During this study, you will be involved in six weeks of studying the Bible, practicing some expressions of worship, reading through a daily devotional on worship and sharing with those in your groups what you have learned. Each week you will discover something new about worship. When you get together with your group, you will share with each other what you have experienced and go over your findings in the scriptures. Each week you will put into practice what you have learned from your private study and group sessions. You will begin to experience worship through your study, discussion, devotional, and private and corporate worship times. You will also begin a new life of worship as you put into practice true Biblical worship. This study is outlined as follows:
Week 1 - Why We Worship?
Week 2 - What Is Worship?
Week 3 - What Is Praise?
Week 4 - Corporate and Personal Worship
Week 5 - A True Worshiper
I hope that you will pursue a life of true worship that is pleasing and honoring to the Lord. He deserves our best in all we do. As you begin this study on the topic of worship, I pray that you will allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you seek out what God would have for you as you Experience Worship.
This study material is designed to give each of us a better understanding of biblical worship and how we may apply it to our lives in personal and corporate worship.
At the beginning of this course, you will be asked to share your understanding of worship; then at the end, you will be asked to give your definition again. I hope that through prayer, studying the scriptures, and experimenting, you will come away with a new and fresh heart for worship. My desire is that you become as close to our Savior and Lord as possible through worship. You will see through this study that worship is more than just one day a week. It is more than just coming to church once a week to listen, sing, and hear a sermon. You can worship the Lord daily as He desires you to come to Him in true biblical worship.
You will find during this study on worship that God desires each of us to come to Him on a personal level. He desires our praise and worship and wants to draw each of us closer to Himself. He loves you, has saved you, and wants you to have the fullest life possible in Him.
I will be sharing with you in bits and pieces my own experiences and journey of how I came to better understand worship and began applying it to my life. I pray that my limited knowledge and understanding will help you begin to discover this wonderful opportunity of expression that we have to give to our Creator and Lord.
We have included our Experiencing Worship Devotional in this new edition of our study. It is designed to be done each day between your weekly sessions. There are seven days of devotions to help in your understanding and learn. We pray that will help and bless you.
What would you like to gain from this study?
I encourage you to begin each session with prayer, asking the Father to reveal what He desires from you in regard to worship and your relationship to Him. Because prayer is an essential part of worship, spend at least 5 -10 minutes in prayer before you continue.
Take a few minutes to answer the questions below. Plan to share your answers with your group . When the study is finished you will be asked to answer these questions again and to compare the two results.
In your own words give your definition of worship.
"Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord"
What is the place of worship in a Christian's life as you understand it?
What is the place of worship in your life now?
"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him." John 4:23
What does this verse mean to you? What does the Lord want from each of us more than anything else?
Do you feel you are a worshiper?
The Father is not seeking worship itself, but worshipers. When we offer our worship to the Father it is not worship He seeks but the interactive relationship with His children. In John 4:23, the word "seeking" is zeteo in the Greek. In its context it has the added connotation of "require" or "demand." So our Father is requiring or demanding us to worship Him in spirit and truth.
WHY WE WORSHIP
The need or desire to worship is born in every person. It is not something that is taught or developed. It is created within us to do. Think if you will of every culture in the world. No explorer has ever found a tribe or culture that did not worship. Each culture worships something or someone. Some worship self or money, some idols, others false gods. Because we are born with a desire and instinct to worship, the question is not do we worship, but whom do we worship.
"Worship is first and foremost for His benefit, not ours, though it is marvelous to discover that in giving Him pleasure, we ourselves enter into what can become our richest and most wholesome experience in life." Graham Kendrick p. 58 A True Heart for Worship by LAmar Boschman
"Our entire being is fashioned as an instrument of praise. Just as a master violin maker designs an instrument to produce maximum aesthetic results, so God tailor-made our bodies, souls and spirits to work together in consonance to produce pleasing expressions of praise and worship. When we use body language to express praise, that which is internal becomes visible." Don McMinn p.60 A True Heart for Worship by Lamar Boschman
What would you say if I told you that worship is the most important thing a Christian can do? You might come back with the response that evangelism is the most important thing we do as Christians. We are told to go and tell. Consider the following by answering a few questions:
Why do you feel we were created?
What was the first commandment given to Moses?
Did you know that we are called to worship? Worship is not an option with the children of God. It's not something that we can decide to do if we feel like it. Worship is the first commandment that God gave to Moses.
Then God spoke all these words, saying, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me." He goes on to say in the next verses: "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God". (Ex. 20:1-5 NAS)
God's first and second commandments dealt with worshiping Him and Him alone.
Ex. 34:14 says "for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God".
Because we were created to worship, to have fellowship with God, nothing else we do in life will fill that void. Until our relationship with God and our worship life is meeting the core need in our lives, we will not be able to truly find happiness or fulfillment in anything else. Do not look for what only God can give you in a mate . You cannot truly have a full and rich marriage without first having a full and rich relationship with God. Let's look further into this.
Even as a Christian, I sometimes find myself needing more in life. I don't mean to be worldly but I tend to look in the wrong direction to fulfill those needs. The problem is, only God can fill it.
Have you ever set out to fulfill a goal in your life? What happened when you met the goal, you still felt empty? Or have you decided that reaching a certain financial level would help to make your life better? When you reached it, nothing really changed, just more debt and frustration. In many cases the desire to continue to earn more becomes lord. Even Christians are susceptible to searching for things in the world that will fill an emptiness. The reality is that only God can fill that void.
So many times in looking for a mate, we expect to find someone who will fill that emptiness inside. We want that person to fill the void that only God can through a personal relationship with Him. If we find what we need in God, then we will not need to look for it in others and in things. Developing a close relationship with the Lord is all that He desires. When this is first, your marriage will be close and intimate. You won't feel the need for what God has already filled within you. Develop a relationship with God that meets the core need of your life first, and your relationships and finances will be much more fulfilling. They will become the icing on, and not the ingredients in, the cake.
What does Matthew 6:33 say?
What does Romans 12:1 tell us?
So if worship is the most important thing we can do as Christians, then what about Jesus' last command to us to "Go and tell...?" I was always under the impression that our main purpose in life was to share Jesus with others. I believed that the great commission was the main focus of every Christian. I later found out that worship and a close relationship with the Lord was first and foremost for the Christian. You see, if we are truly people of worship, not just in the church on Sunday's, but are truly people who love God and worship Him with our total being, then we will draw people to Christ through our lives of worship. Worship becomes the tool to draw people to the Lord. When they see genuine worship, it will be something they will be drawn to. Not because of what we do, but because of who we do it for. When we worship God and die to ourselves, it's then that He takes what we give and turn it into something useful for Him.
Yes, we must go and tell others of Christ, but a result of our worship will be people coming to Christ and thus drawing others to become worshipers. We will look closer at this during week 3.
Saved to Worship
Have you ever thought about why God sent His Son to die on the cross for you? I asked you earlier to state why you felt you were created. Was it to keep you from Hell? Was it so your life would be easier? Why did God choose to send His only Son to die on a cross for you? John 3:16 states, "for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." I believe that love was the motivating factor as to why God sent His Son. He loved us that much. He desires for us to spend eternity with Him. And what do you think we will do in heaven for eternity?
Read Revelation 4:8-11. What does John say about what he saw in heaven?
God saves us so that we might spend eternity with Him, so that we might be the worshipers that He seeks in John 4:23. "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such the Father seeks to be His worshipers."
Who is a true worshiper? Can one who doesn't know Christ as Savior worship Him in spirit and truth? A true worshiper is a Christian, one who is saved. God saves us that we may be become worshipers. There is no difference between a Christian and a worshiper. Let's look a bit further in scripture. Read the following passage:
Acts 18 :13
Could the word "worship" be replaced with the word "salvation" in this passage? Try it, and read the scriptures again. What Paul was doing was persuading men to become saved. To Paul, when men became saved, they became worshipers. He used the both words to mean the same thing.
A believer is just another word for worshiper. I read once that "the goal of salvation is to produce truly acceptable worshipers." Our reason and goal for witnessing to people should not be to save them from Hell, although that is a good reason; it should be to call all people to worship the God who is worthy of worship.
When I first realized the truth of Jesus and the cross, I discovered that God loved me and desired for me to give my life to Him. I wept, fell on my knees, praised Him, and worshiped Him. It was the only response there could have been as a result of what Christ had done for me. Worship was the response, and at that moment I became a worshiper. This response was not special to my situation. It is revealed a number of times in the scriptures. Let's look at a few verses. List the different responses of worship:
Matthew 2 :11_____________________________
God does not save us for our sakes but for His. When we become saved we are saved in order to worship Him. Because of our great redemption, we are to worship.
So as Christians the question is not should we worship, or whom do we worship, but how do we worship? What does it mean to worship in spirit and truth? Next week we will look at worship that is acceptable to the Lord and worship that is unacceptable.
These exercises are designed merely to help you begin a life of worship. They are not to manipulate anyone into worship but only to help.
Exercise for Week 1 - Every time the spirit prompts you to remember, voice externally "Praise the Lord. I praise you God for who you are."
That's all. Each time you think about it, voice this simple praise to the Lord. Do this every day this week.
Write down what you experienced after the first week. Plan to share this with those in your group.
We have included our Experiencing Worship devotional for you in this study to read each day of the week between sessions. We hope it adds to your growth as a worshiper.
"Worship is not about the style of music, but the heart. Music is only a tool to better help us worship the Lord. To label worship with music is to limit the expression of worship."
End Week One
WHAT IS WORSHIP?
As Christians the question is not should we worship, or whom do we worship, but how do we worship? What does it mean to worship in spirit and truth? What is acceptable and spiritual? What is unacceptable to God? What are acceptable expressions of worship?
Worship can be defined as recognizing and proclaiming the worth, value, majesty, honor and glory of God and giving homage, respect, reverence and praise to God. I like the following definition: "Worship is one's heart expression of love, adoration, honor, and praise to the Living God with an acceptable attitude and a acknowledgment of His supremacy and Lordship."
Genesis 18:2 uses the Hebrew word for worship which is shahah. What is it that Abraham does that is shahah or worship?
Worship is something that we do. It is an acceptable attitude expressed such as Abraham did as he bowed down. Worship is purely and solely for the Lord and should be a natural outflow of an inward attitude of our pure affection.
Where does worship start?
Can someone who doesn't know Christ as Savior worship God?
The answer to that question is obvious to those of us who know Christ as Savior . If you do not know Him, take the time to invite Him into your heart today. Ask Him to save you from your sins and be Lord and Savior of your life.
Worship begins as we understand who Christ is and what He means to us, how He saved us from death and hell, and how He gives us joy and abundant life here on the earth. As we grow to know Him better through a personal relationship and through our prayer life and bible study, we begin to develop a deeper part of that relationship "Worship." This is the part where it becomes difficult at times to express how we feel because of the depth of our love. When a man and wife get married, it is obvious that they love each other. As the relationship grows, it becomes more intimate and meaningful. It becomes more difficult to say in words what they feel for each other because all the words have been used up. Saying I love you is just not enough anymore. In our expression to God of what He means to us, we must continually search for words and ways to express to Him our deep devotion and love for Him. As a husband shows the worth of his wife through loving her, so do we show God's worth through our love and expression of that love to Him in a deeper relationship.
It is crucial to understand that we do not worship merely the way we want to. We cannot do anything we want and call it worship. Our worship must be biblical and acceptable to the Lord. Let's look at some instances in the Bible where people worshiped in their own way.
Read Exodus 32:1-10 and explain what happened to the people of Israel.
It is important to note that these people thought they were still worshiping God. Their folly occurred when they made Him into an image, which was the golden calf. We cannot reduce God to an image or thing.
What was the result of their worshiping this image of God? Exodus 32:25-28
Read Leviticus 10:1-3. Explain what happened.
What appeared to have happened there was that Nahab and Abihu presented an offering to the Lord that was not according to God's requirements. It was their own offering concocted by themselves and not God.
What was the result of their own self-styled worship? What happened to them?
Read Isaiah 2:6-10. Explain what happened to these people as a result of their straying from God's plan for worship.
Read Mark 7:6-9 and explain.
The Pharisees tended to do many things that were outwardly correct in their worship; and yet their hearts were cold, and their attitude was not acceptable to God. Having the right attitude is crucial in acceptable worship.
What are acceptable ways to worship?
1. Psalm 24:3-6
2. Hebrews 12:28-29
3. Deut. 26:10
One of the most meaningful acts of worship recorded in the New Testament is in John 12:1-3. What was the act of worship that was given to Jesus, and by whom was it given?
Who is God referring to in Acts 13:22, and what does He say about this individual?
Read the following scriptures and give a brief summary of this person's heart towards God and worship. Psalms 29:2, 95:6, 96:9, 99:5, 99:9, 132:7.
This is obviously a man who had a great heart of worship for the Lord. In verse after verse he gives praise and worship to God out of his love for Him.
Do you believe that with all that had happened to David, with the death of his child and the constant threat of his enemies, he was a man that felt like worshiping all the time?
Do you think that it was always easy for him to express praise to God midst the trials and difficult times?
Most of the time when we enter into a worship service, we come with the attitude of what can I receive from this service? Has the worship leader picked good songs this week? Will I leave feeling that I have worshiped? I hope the sermon is funny this week.
When we enter a worship service, the question in our minds and hearts should always be; what can I give today in worship through my singing, listening and participation, that will be pleasing to the Lord? How can I be obedient in worship and not seek self but God. David did this very thing. Throughout the Psalms David praised God and worshiped Him. I don't believe he expected anything in return. It was always a giving thing with him. The result of his praise, however, was that God did bless him and protected him from his enemies. He praised God for the protection before and after it had occurred. It would be my life's goal to have the Lord say of me that I was a man after God's own heart.
You will also discover that worship is coming before God with a heart to give and not receive. If worship is the outward expression of an inward attitude, then entering a worship service with the attitude of what can I get out of this service is not true worship. If you enter into a relationship with the attitude of what can I get out of this relationship, you will never experience real love. You will only desire to take and not give. When I think of the greatest act of love that anyone can do for another, I think of someone giving up his or her life for another. The Bible says, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13 NIV The key here is giving. The same applies to worship. You cannot have a relationship with the Lord that is true without giving.
Read Gen. 22:5-18. How does this act relate to worship?
Read Verse 5 again. What did Abraham tell his servants he was going to do?
Abraham was obedient to the Lord in his willingness to sacrifice his own son. Although there was thought of self here, the desire to please the Lord through giving, his only son, was the ultimate act of worship. He listened to the Lord and obeyed.
Read Psalm 27:6, 50:14, 107:22, Hebrews 13:15. What word is most common in each of these verses?
We sing "we bring a sacrifice of praise..." Is it really a sacrifice? Some days I'm sure it is, and that's what God desires of us in our worship. Sacrifice requires giving something up. In the Old Testament, it was the best of the flocks that were sacrificed. God required their best. So it is with us in our worship today. God requires or zeteo our worship. If you are like me, sometimes it takes a sacrifice of self to worship because we don't always feel like it. However, when we start through the sacrifice, God honors and blesses our worship to the point where we end up receiving much more than we could ever give. When we enter our times of worship with the attitude of how much can I give to the Lord today through my prayer, praise, singing, and listening, then you will come away knowing that you have worshiped. Whatever you were needing when you entered will come as a by-product of your giving. Keep in mind there are many times when emotions are gone and the worship may seem stale, but if we are faithful in our worship, God will be pleased.
Write down an experience in your life when you gave without the thought of getting something in return. What was the result of that gesture?
Just as with our tithing, you cannot out-give God in your worship and praise. He promises to respond when we are faithful to lift Him up.
We need to be careful when we worship that the expression is a result of what is real and true in us. Our motives and hearts need to be in the right place. Psalm 24:3-6. Many times we are caught mimicking someone else in their worship or copying the worship leader. Worship must come from within you. It is a product of who you are in Christ and a result of your love to Him. Worship is the result of our relationship to Him.
Does worship end with the song service?
What are some of the expressions of worship listed in the following verses:? Psalm 100:2
2 Chronicles 6:19
1 Tim. 4:13
1 Cor. 11:25-26
Lamar Boschman says it best "When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart."
What does 1 Peter 2:5 say about how our worship should be?
Exercise for Week 2 - Continue to voice the simple offering of praise that you did in week one. This time add the phrase "Father, I thank you for loving me and dying for me. Thank you for all you have done in my life. I love you." This week in the worship service, come with the attitude of giving. Don't even think about what you want to get out of the service. Make your main focus giving to the Lord in singing, praying, and listening, and reading scripture.
Write down what you experienced after the second week. Plan to share this with those in your group.
Go through you daily devotional.
End Week 2
Copyright © 2001-2003 by C. M. Press, LLC. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For more information, please visit www.experiencingworship.com