Why Worship Matters: A Sermon Recap
The science exists that points to the power of music. It has the ability to educate children and adults alike. Music can strengthen our memory and sharpen our thinking. In effect, it shapes our brains. But, it is worship that shapes our hearts. When we gather for worship, we are not merely watching a concert, doing religious karaoke, listening to a speech, or just hanging out with semi-good coffee. Worship is not just a mass of jumbled together religious consumers. We gather to declare God’s presence and salvation.
Psalm 40 gives a powerful portrait of how the Hebrews would gather for worship and the emphasis of the worship they offered. In it, we discover that worship is directed toward God alone and we benefit from the spiritual formation through the practice. Worship is declarative and it is discipleship. Here are three ways to think about worship.
1. We gather because we’re grateful (v. 1-3).
In these opening verses, David leads us to express gratefulness as a response to God. As you read the psalm, it is easy to see that it opens in verse one and ends in verse 17 with our need for salvation. God is not distant, sitting with arms crossed, waiting for us to pay our debts, and then find a way to get to Him. Rather, God rescued us from our previous patterns of life. He takes us out of that miry, muddy, dank, desolate pit and then sets us on solid ground. It is a portrait of our own salvation. There is no hope in that pit. There is nothing but hope when we stand on the rock of our salvation. So, because God meets our greatest needs, we are grateful.
2. We gather to worship continually (v. 4-10).
Worship is not a one-time, sporadic, stop-gap measure. In worship, we openly, blatantly, bluntly, conspicuously, consciously, boldly speak about the Lord. Verse five shifts our perspective to see that we can never fully declare all of the works of God. We tell of His righteousness, faithfulness, constant love, and truth. It is why worship is not about “filling up our tank” but filling the world with God’s praises. Worship is not to show up looking for a religious nursemaid with a bottle but a time to mature by setting our mind’s attention and heart’s affection on God’s greatness. By doing so, we experience the joy of our salvation. If you want joy, focus on God. If you want maturity, focus on God. If you want to increase your faith, focus on God. Worship a constant perspective shift away from the idolatry of self and towards God. It aligns us with God’s heart and will.
3. We gather to pray for God’s future work (v. 11-17).
Worship recognizes that life’s troubles will surround us. It is the confession that our own sin overtakes us. So, we cry out now for God’s work on tomorrow. We ask Him to deliver us from our sin and from our troubles. As we seek God, we can rejoice because of what we have already experienced. It sets our perspective to know that as He has delivered, He will deliver in the future. We do so because as the psalmist declares, “The LORD is great!” (v. 16). Afflictions are real and sin is deadly but God is our Helper and Deliverer. The LORD is great. Worshiping our eternal King will lengthen our perseverance and strengthen our faith because we know of His greatness. Worship declares to the world that our lives are different because we are disciples of the great God. In worship, we are pleading with God to continue His work in us. Then, as we worship, we continuously declare that victory is inevitable for God’s people.
As you worship, do so to make God famous. As you do, God will mature your faith and we’ll all see God’s greatness.