How often have we gone to church and return home without worshiping God. Yes, there is music. Yes, there is some praying, Yes, there is the preaching of the Word of God. Yet, we feel an emptiness in our heart. What is the problem? Our worship is superficial. We forget that worship begins with our hearts. We get caught up with a form of worship, but our hearts are far from the Lord.
Jesus saw the hearts of the religious leaders of His day. He rebuked them directly with these words: “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” (Matthew 15:7) What would Jesus say about the worship in our churches today? Would He complement us on the quality of music? Would He complement the content of our prayers? Would he complement the “great” preaching? Would he be happy with all the conversations that occur in the church?
The above questions are important to me because as a pastor I can see how I can easily fall into the trap of seeing worship as something we do instead of being an expression of our hearts before God.
Many of the Psalms express the worship of an individual believer; however, Psalm 95 is about corporate worship. Psalm 95 answers the question: How do we worship Our Great God together? Here are seven elements of true heart worship that God wants to see in our churches today.
1. God desires worship music to come from our hearts. “O come, let us sing unto the Lord:” (Psalm 95:1) God is the creator of music. We honor and please God when our singing focuses upon Him. He wants us to enjoy the worship of Him in song. When we sing unto the Lord with our whole heart there will be a certain joy that brings our soul closer to God. Singing is not a performance, but an opportunity to express our love to God.
2. God desires joyful worship from His people. “Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. (Psalm 95:1) The religious leaders of Jesus day could never be described as people of joy. Is that true of churches today? Are we joyous in our singing? Are we joyous in our interaction with one another? Are we joyous in responding to the Word of God? We think spirituality and a frown go together; however God wants us filled with joy as we worship Him.
3. God desires worship filled with the awareness of His presence. “Let us come before HIS PRESENCE with thanksgiving.” (Psalm 95:2) Haven’t you experienced attending a “worship” service and not even think about the fact that God is present. We think about who isn’t in church. We observe some people who need the sermon more than we do. We may criticize the special music in our heart. However, we have forgotten the very person we have come to worship. As a pastor, I have found it very difficult to focus on God’s presence and do all the things that I need to do during the service. I have to just stop for a moment and say to myself: “God is here!”
4. God desires worship with grateful hearts. “Let us come before his presence WITH THANKSGIVING.” (Psalm 95:2) The great antidote for a complaining Christian is to become a grateful Christian. Every church should have time during the service when believers can share a word of testimony. Gratefulness expressed among other believers is an opportunity to give God the glory for all that He has done in each life.
5. God desires worship with attentiveness to the Word of God. “Make a joyful noise unto him WITH PSALMS.” (Psalm 95:2) The Psalmist is expressing the enthusiasm the people have for the Psalms. Do we have the same enthusiasm for the Word of God. Are we excited about the opportunity to hear God’s Word proclaim? One person defined attentiveness as: “Showing the worth of a person by giving sincere heed to their words.” How attentive are we to what God is saying to us.
6. God desires worship with reverence. “O come, let us worship and bow down:” (Psalm 95:6) Yes, worship is a joyful experience; yet it should not be worldly, man-centered, or superficial. We are to enter God’s presence with respect and honor. We shouldn’t take lightly anything we do in the worship service. Our goal is to honor God and give Him the glory that He alone deserves.
7. God desires worship with humility. “Let us kneel before the Lord our maker.” (Psalm 95:6) One of the great problems in our worship is that we are ignorant of God. We don’t truly believe in His Greatness. The reason for our humility in worship is seen in Psalm 95:3: “For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” God is great in all of His attributes. The goal of worship is not to elevate ourselves, but elevate our God.
When every member of a church begins to worship God from the heart, we will be surprised what God will do in our churches and in our lives. The greatest worship war doesn’t involve the type of music within a church, but the war within hearts to worship God as He would desire.
“Dear Lord, we often come to you without any real effort. We go through the motions and we neglect the real heart matters of worship. Please help us to focus upon you with loving, joyful hearts as we worship you. Help us to see your greatness as the Shepherd of our soul. Help us not to wander from you in our worship. Thank you for all of your blessings. Amen.”