Today was the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of our collective celebration which will culminate on Christmas, which is the anniversary celebration of our Savior's birth.
This morning, Pastor Ed Allen brought us a message about Worship from Psalm 95. He said that Worship is a good way to approach the difficulties of life.
What Is Worship?
Biblical worship is the whole-life response to God -- head, heart and will -- recognizing who God is and what he has done.
The Psalmist begins in verse 1 with an unabashed appeal to our emotions.
Joyful exuberance is to be part of our worship diet.
In suburban America, we're trained to analyze, not to shout aloud with joy.
We do bear in mind that joy looks different on different people, but let's try together to nudge the needle up.
We're willing to have awkward moments to be honest to ourselves and pour out praise to God.
How do we engage emotion? Start by recognizing who God is, recognizing his value.
The psalmist also challenges our will. Verse six asks us to bow down, to kneel.
Finally, the psalmist extends a direct call to our thought life. Move toward God with our minds (verses 8-11).
Verses 8-11 refer to complaining in the desert. "Meribah" -- Quarreling; "Massah" -- Trouble.
Grumbling is a really big deal to God. Stop it! Grab your thoughts and pull them to God. Keep your heart soft toward God.
Why Do We Worship?
1) We engage emotionally because he's like no other God (verse 3).
In a general sense, worship means to ascribe ultimate meaning and value to something.
We already worship what we value most -- transfer what we already do -- to God.
2) We engage our will because God takes care of us (verse 7).
3) We engage our mind because of who God is and what he's done.
Grumbling doesn't go well for us.
People with addictions surrender their control to the addiction and order their life around it. Whatever we value most gets that place.
We choose to worship God because through that act we are finally surrendered to one who fully deserves our surrender and who will care for us through our surrender.
How Do We Worship Well?
1) If we're going to worship well, we have to engage with our whole selves.
We can come to church and just observe, but that's not worship.
Engage emotionally, surrender our will (Choose God); and direct our thoughts toward him (Listen to his voice).
2) If we're going to worship well, we have to remember the why.
Keep in mind who God is. He cares. He's our Shepherd. He offers us rest.
Hebrews 4 -- The full Rest of God is finally made available through Jesus. We don't have to please everyone. Follow a list of rules. He offers Rest.
3) If we're going to worship well, we have to join a worship community.
All the commands in this Psalm are corporate. We need one another to worship well.
We need the support. We need the wisdom.
Ephesians 3:14-19 -- We grasp how high and long and wide and deep God's love is -- together with all the saints.
Then we practiced what we'd learned by singing songs of worship.