WORSHIP IN THE NOW & NOT YET
In this blogpost I want to share some of my ideas about worship. We all know that worship isn't just singing Christian songs. But what is the added value of singing then? I want to take you through some Bible stories and thoughts around this topic that have developed in me over the years.
WE WORSHIP A KING
First of all, when it comes to worship, we need to realize that we are worshiping a KING. We are not worshiping an idea, or a feeling, or something we believe in – we are worshiping a KING.
A scene in Revelation records that written on the robe of Jesus is: KING OF KINGS, LORD OF LORDS. He is the focus of our attention, the focus of our adoration.
You and I were created to worship. When we were still in our sin, we ignored this life-purpose, but now that we have been redeemed by God, He has set us apart to be His royal priests again. God has redeemed us from the life we were once in, the curse of sin that we were under, and the darkness we walked in – to be a chosen and holy people of priests.
1 Peter 2:9-10 (NIV)
But God chose you to be his people. You are royal priests. You are a holy nation. You are God’s special treasure. You are all these things so that you can give him praise. God brought you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people. But now you are the people of God. Once you had not received mercy. But now you have received mercy.
The glory of God needs worshipers. When Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem with a great parade, the people shouted: Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! The Pharisees said to Jesus that He should tell them to stop, but Jesus responded: If they keep quiet, the rocks will cry out!
But He doesn’t want rocks to cry out to Him. He wants living souls with bodies and brains to worship Him – because He deserves it!
I believe we are called to live with an attitude of worship. Our whole lives are a living sacrifice of worship to God – as Paul puts it. Worship is far more than just singing songs. However, there is power in the act of worship, because it ignites the life-attitude of worship.
This is why Sunday morning is so crucial for our spiritual lives. Sunday morning is supposed to be fuel for your faith. A breath of fresh air for the soul. It empowers you to live a life of worship for God. This is the purpose of both the worship & the word.
I write my messages with the purpose in mind to help you to put the things you are going through in God’s perspective. I pray that my words on Sunday will affect your acts on Monday – to live a life of worship.
It is the same with worship. We were created to worship. It is why we exist. To live for the glory of God. And of course, this worship is not limited to singing songs. It is a life-attitude that affects everything we say and do. But singing songs helps us to get the focus back on what we are created for.
It is my prayer that we’ll be the church where people leave sweaty, hardly any voice left, encouraged and fulfilled.
I pray that our Sunday morning experience will be so filled with worship that we will see God move – touch – speak – heal – restore – encourage. And that this will be the experience of anyone walking through our doors – whether they have already made a decision for Jesus or not.
WORSHIP IN THE NOW & NOT YET
When we worship, we worship King Jesus in the time between His first and second coming. It is the time when we can experience the Kingdom of God – the love and grace of God and the forgiveness of sins, the healing power of God and the nearness of the Holy Spirit – but not yet in full.
When Jesus will come back in all His glory, He will restore on earth everything that is broken. This is when we can experience the full Kingdom and all its benefits.
Worship helps us to see and experience the Kingdom now so that we can stay strong in the not yet.
As Kingdom Worshipers we are heralds. We are celebrating & proclaiming the victory of the King. We rejoice in all of His goodness and we praise Him as if we are in heaven already. At the same time, when we worship, we realize that our feet are still standing on the surface of a world that is broken. And so, another element of our worship is prayer. Let Your Kingdom come, and Your will be done. Here as in heaven.
It is powerful to praise our King and express our faith in the coming fulfillment of His Kingdom – even when we don’t completely experience this yet. We see this dynamic in the life of David as well. David is probably the most devoted worshiper in the Bible. There is a great variety in his tone of worship.
2 Samuel 6:12-15 (NIV)
So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13 When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
So we see very strongly the aspect of celebration here in David’s life as a worshiper. He is going all out! Dancing around, celebrating God’s presence and His goodness.
When his wife reprimanded him for dancing around half-naked, David replied: “I didn’t do it for you, I did it for God. I’m celebrating”. Aint no stopping me now!
I love this. You know, if the Gospel of Jesus Christ is actually the truth, why would we not give our all in worship.
People can get exciting about the stupidest things! A stadium can just explode, just because the team with the red shirts scored against the team with the blue shirts. Bring that into the perspective of us being redeemed by God, brought from the darkness into the light – now that’s a reason to celebrate! So why would we stand around with our hands in our pockets?? We should be party-animals!
THE HEAD TELLING THE HEART
But worship isn’t always a party. As I mentioned, also in David’s life, we can see a completely different side to his worship. In the Psalms we often see him telling his own heart and soul – worship God. However bad things may be now – God is still God and His love never fails.
Psalm 103:1-2 (NLT)
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
Worship becomes a reminder. We don’t always feel like worshiping. But sometimes we just need to worship through our setbacks and disappointments.
Sometimes singing a song of worship is your head telling your heart – don’t give up! God is here! You may not feel it or see it, but that doesn’t make it less true!
Psalm 13:5-6 (NIV)
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
I love that word ‘rejoicing’. It actually says: find joy again. Re-joice.
True worship = lifting your hands high, while your feet are stuck in the mud.
This is one reason why songs are so important. Melody helps us to memorize. Some of us can instantly quote all kinds of Bible verses – but for some of us, its lyrics of worship songs that come to mind in the tough times.
A true worshiper will sing, whatever the background music of his life is. The melody may change, the tempo and the rhythm may change – but a true worshiper will worship, because he knows that this is why he exists!
PAUL & SILAS
There is one story that demonstrates the power of worship in difficult circumstances. It shows that through worship, the Kingdom NOW can break into the NOT YET.
Acts 16:16-26 (NLT)
16 One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit that enabled her to tell the future. She earned a lot of money for her masters by telling fortunes. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”
18 This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her. 19 Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. 20 “The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials. 21 “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.”
22 A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23 They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24 So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
Paul and Silas are experiencing what it means that the Kingdom of God is already here, but not yet fulfilled. They are walking in God’s ways, spreading the Gospel, delivering someone that is demon-possessed – but as a result they find themselves tight up and beaten up in a cold and smelly prison.
Then they decide to worship.
25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. 26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!
Something powerful happens when we worship. Especially when we worship at a moment or situation that doesn’t feel very worship-ful.
1) When we worship – we invite the Kingdom
Paul and Silas sit there in a cold and dark prison – but through their worship, God’s presence lights up the room. They know that they are not alone.
I am glad that I know a King that can light up any room. However dark and grim a situation may be, when God is present, there is always hope.
When we decide to worship, we decide not look to our circumstances, but to look to Jesus. We recognize the circumstances, but we know that they will not get the upper hand. And we invite the Kingdom of God to come into our circumstances.
2) When we worship – we experience the Kingdom
Paul and Silas worshiped in their prison cell, their feet chained in a big wooden block and their hands cuffed in chains – but their Spirits were as liberated as they were when they first accepted Jesus.
When we worship, we get to experience the presence of God – which one day will fill the entire earth. When we worship, and His presence comes down – we experience the Kingdom now in the not yet. We join in the choirs of heaven – as if we are already there.
3) When we worship – we see the Kingdom break through
Truly powerful worship, like that of Paul and Silas, throws open the door for God to break into our current circumstance and right what is wrong. And when He breaks in, chains will break off. He will cut us loose from everything that is holding us back to live a life of worship.