By definition, worship creates an intimate connection between you and God.
It's an honest reflection of the condition of your heart and your relationship with Him. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll presents the final message in his classic series called Growing Deep in the Christian Life. In this study, Chuck will help you understand the biblical practice of praise, and there's no better model than the Psalms. One of the writers put it this way, he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide under the shadow of the Almighty. In worship, we connect with the living Lord. It's coming to a place in one's life either alone or with a few or with many, where one connects with the living God. The best definition I've come up with is a human response to a divine revelation. And so worship is an active response to God whereby I declare His worth in an intimate manner.
What happens when that connection occurs? Well, it magnifies my God. That's one of the major significances and purposes. My God is magnified. It enlarges my horizons. Never do I leave worship with limited horizons. My horizons are enlarged. Third, it eclipses my fears, those things that gnaw at me and eat at me.
I forget them. It eclipses my fears. It changes my perspectives. I was leaving the service a couple of three weeks ago, and I had my pickup parked out here in my spot. It was a Sunday night, and I had a friend tuck a note under the windshield wiper. At first, my stomach turned when I saw something under a windshield wiper, and I read of a change of perspective in my friend. It wasn't something I had done. I can change no one's perspective. It wasn't the mortar and the brick and the carpet and the wood of a pulpit or the sound system or even the music that comes from the place. It was the living God who invaded that man's life and touched him in a wrestling spot and calmed him.
He didn't know anything better to do than just thank one of the people who helped get that message to him. It changes my perspective. It enhances my work. When I put worship to work in my life, when I see it as woven through the fabric of my day, it's amazing how my tasks change.
They're enhanced. It refreshes my spirit. At this point, I have to say a word about music. I must address it, and I do on behalf of my many minister friends who see little place for it.
God bless them. You have found a place of worship when you find a place where music has a proper and prominent place centering its message on the word of God, and don't lose that place. Music is not preliminary. Music is not tacked on.
It's not a filler. It's not something we do getting ready for the important part. Music is a part of worship. God has given us a song.
In fact, Psalm 92 says it's good to give thanks to our Lord and to sing praises to his name. I wonder just this past week why it is that the song has dried up in our voices. Why are there so few who sing?
Just stop. How many do you hear sing through your Monday through Saturday world? How many of you in a profession hear your partner humming a song? How many do you see singing on a freeway? Now that's a new one. I have asked myself why.
I've come up with a couple of answers. One, the pressures of life squeeze out our song. Song requires creativity, relaxation, freedom from tension, and we're like that little cake decorator. We've got a great big cone of pressure and a little tiny opening, and there's no song coming out. Second reason we don't sing is because everything else sings for us. You get in the car, I was three cars away from a guy, and I was going, I can't stand that.
It was louder than, I don't know how his ears kept from bleeding, it was so loud. I didn't want his song in my car, but I couldn't shut it out. Remember, my windows are up. In our cars, in our offices, in our homes, even on airplanes now, grocery stores, department stores, they have mood songs, restaurants. Would you believe even elevators, you can't even be alone to sing a little song in an elevator. There's this dumb music coming through. Why? They say to deaden people's fears.
Some of that music is scary, I'll tell you, that's why. Start to sing again. Add it to your time with God.
Get up with a song, not someone else's song, before anything in the day has a chance to squeeze it out of you, you squeeze out the song. If you can't create one, find a hymn book, buy it, use it. Write along with your time in God's book, sing the songs back to him. He seeks that kind of worship.
You question that? John chapter 4, great chapter, John 4. The place is Sychar in Samaria.
The exact location is a well. Jesus is with a woman who has come to draw water and lo and behold he tells her her whole life story in a few sentences. She's blown away and she looks deeply into this Jew's eyes and she senses he's not one of them, not only by his voice but obviously by his dress. Something told her in the process of time, he's Jew, I'm Samaritan and she sensed I'm in the midst of a prophet. Verse 19, sir, I perceive you're a prophet. And realizing that he was certainly more than mere man, she begins to address a two-sided argument. It's funny what people talk about when they discover they're with a man of God.
It's amazing, I could tell you some remarkable stories, remarkable. And she says in verse 20, our fathers worshiped in this mountain and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Isn't that a two-way street? She says, in effect, don't talk about me, let's talk about worship. My folks say we ought to worship here, your people say you ought to worship there.
What do you think? In other words, don't talk about me, let's talk about some religious issue. But Jesus is far too bright for that. Jesus said to her, woman, believe me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem shall you worship the Father.
It isn't geography that concerns me. You worship that which you do not know and there are still many today who do, by the way. Many who go through the liturgical maneuverings of their worship, they go through the words, as they go from bead to bead, from book to book, from step to step, from one process to another in their religion, they're worshiping and they don't know whom, they think they do but they don't. You worship that which you do not know, we worship that which we know.
It isn't pride, that's fact. For a woman, salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming and now is.
I like that. When the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth for such people the Father seeks to be his worshipers. I love the way Zane Hodges puts this, this utterance on worship is timeless and absolutely definitive. The time has come. The time has come to worship.
But notice there are two musts. Verse 24, those who worship him must worship one in spirit, two in truth. The worship must be in keeping with the revealed word of God, that's truth. That's the Bible.
And worship must be in spirit. Now this is where it gets sticky. This is where it's hard to describe it. It is in the unseen. It is in the felt realm. It is in the invisible. It is in the realm of imagination, middle pictures, inner connection with the spirit. And it must be. For me to appreciate a great Bach piece that he wrote in his day for an offertory in his church.
I don't have to read the score. I have to enter into the feeling of that music. I have to let it capture me.
I have to be open to that. In order for me to enter into the spirit of a song done by the choir, the chancel choir, or by some fine soloist, or by a statement of praise given in testimony, I have to enter into the spirit of that moment unguarded, without resistance. And as long as I am resistant to it, I will not enter into the depth of worship. And I find friends that I am in the midst often of people who are afraid of those feelings. Who are in love with the truth but afraid of the spirit.
So fearful of being carried to an extreme we won't even let a little of the door of emotion open. And we are strong in the preached word, but we are weak in worship. Peter Gilquist writes in his book The Physical Side of Being Spiritual, a common complaint I hear over and over again is, I just don't get anything out of worship.
Often that statement is accompanied by another. Our pastor is the best Bible teacher I have ever heard. When the man opens the scriptures I really learn, but our church has no sense of worship.
There almost appears to be a pattern, says Gilquist. The churches that are strongest on the preaching of the scriptures are often the weakest when it comes to worshiping and giving praise to the Lord. May I give a word of encouragement to seminaries today? The men and women who study in your schools, don't come understanding worship.
Help them leave, at least understanding what it's about. I cannot speak stronger about the importance of a chapel service. The place where a man's thoughts regarding his worship service in the future are being, is being formulated right there. Cultivate a chapel service marked by quality.
Fine music, good speakers have less of those chapels with more quality. I think I first got a hold of true worship in the chapel service of the seminary that I attended. People learn they are educated by witnessing worship and then becoming, little by little, participants in it. I'm convinced that's one of the reasons for the growth in our church. You can find good Bible teaching many places, many places, thank the Lord. You can even find music in places, but you don't often find a sense of worship surrounding both.
He says there must be spirit and there must be truth. If I had the time to trace where worship appears in scripture, I could literally take you from Genesis to Revelation. You know the first occurrence in the Bible?
You'll never believe it. The first time worship is mentioned, Genesis 22, Abram is about to sacrifice Isaac on the altar and he says to his friends down at the base of Mount Moriah, I and the lad will go yonder and we will worship and we will come again. That's the first mention. If you put Job in the same context of the patriarchs, Job says it in verse one, at the end of chapter one where after he's lost everything he set in sackcloth and ashes and he said, naked I came from my mother's womb, naked will I return. The Lord gave, the Lord took away, blessed be the name of the Lord and the text says and he worshiped the Lord there. Yes, it's possible to worship on a hospital bed. It's possible to worship with a high fever.
It's possible to worship with everything having been lost. You don't need the comfortable surroundings and the soft seats of a pew. You don't need a choir. You don't need a pipe organ.
You don't have to have an orchestra. Those things help enhance it but it must be a part of one's personal life. But it must be in spirit and it must be in truth. You may think I'm weird but when I look at the fluid lines on a Michelangelo piece of sculpture and I see that white marble standing eight feet high, shaping David, I worship my God. He gave that gift.
He, through the hands of that gifted brilliant artist, sculptured that gift to mankind. When I hear the moving strains of a hymn, I worship. Not the hymn, not the player, not the singer. I worship the God, not the giver.
If I may return in closing to the words of Tozer, that magnificent jewel needs to be found by more and more of us. Look finally at Romans 12. You've been faithful to go from Psalms to John 4, locate Romans 12. I don't want you to leave without my mentioning one more part of worship many overlook. Worship is not only something to be enjoyed as a recipient, it is something to do as a participant. That's my whole sermon in a statement. Some of you missed it.
What did he say? Worship is not only something to be enjoyed as a recipient, it is something to do as a participant. Romans 12, I urge you brethren by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship. You serve on a board or a committee in this assembly, that's a worship experience. You teach a class of children or teenagers or adults, that's worship. That's a spiritual service of worship. You sing in a choir, do you play an instrument?
Do you sing as a soloist or a part of an ensemble? That's a statement of worship as a minister of the gospel. You work behind the scenes, not seen by the public as one who gives time to youth or to adults or to children, that's worship. You give regularly to the work of God, marked by sacrifice and consistency that is an act of worship.
Did you know that? It'll revolutionize your thought of Christian service if you see it as an act of worship. I tried my best to write in here that if you work in the parking lot it's an act of worship and I had the hardest time putting that in there but I think it can be.
You certainly learn to trust God, I'll say that. And there is dedication, I'll say that. Worship may be the missing jewel of the evangelical church but it need not be. You know, I want to confess, I don't like the word sparkle. I tried like mad to find some other word that would say it for me but when I thought of a beautiful jewel that has been cut, that has been shaped just right and put on a right kind of backdrop, it sparkles.
So I'm stuck with that word. Reminds me originally when I thought of it of something that's shallow and superficial but I'm thinking of something that's deep in that jewel. Let me ask you three probing questions that look into that jewel of your life. First question, does your public worship sparkle with creativity and variety? Does your public worship sparkle with creativity and variety? You let the hymns speak to you. Enter into the piece that's being played. Even the prelude, the offertory, the postlude. Does that enter into your being so that with some sense of creativity, you can imagine the words of the hymn or you can relive the beauty of that music?
Does it sparkle with creativity and variety? Second, does your private worship sparkle with quality and consistency? Years ago, I was working closely with a man who was trying to help me understand private worship. He went through a very, very low time in his life. I went by his home one afternoon to find him and he wasn't there.
His wife said I think he's down at the office. It was raining. In fact, by the time I got to his office down in the center of Naha, Okinawa, there were puddles of water and the rain was splashing down and I made my way around the corner to this little inauspicious office where he kept his things and before I saw him, I could hear him. I could hear him singing. He was singing the lines from that great hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing and he got to the part prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.
Here's my heart, seek and seal it, seal it for thy courts above. I stood outside that little bamboo shack looking through into the candlelight of his room and I never told him that I came for that was a sacred place. His private worship was obvious to me and I walked away having learned more in that brief moment than I could have learned in a year of instruction. He worshiped publicly because he worshiped privately.
The third question is a simple one. If not, why not? If not, why not? Let's bow together. The only reason I can think of that will take away real worship aside from just ignorance, just carnality is unbelief. The only person who is really justified in not worshiping is the unbeliever. For to worship you have to have a savior and your savior has to be the central figure of your life. If you've never met the person of Jesus Christ, allow me to introduce him to you. Without your even knowing it he died for you and he came back from the dead for you and he's coming again to meet you.
By personal invitation, coming to Christ and believing in his death and resurrection as the sufficient covering for your sins, you can have eternal life. That is true worship. Father this has been a great journey we have taken. Thank you for speaking to us, ministering deeply and touching the lives of some who've never known your son and they have become a part of your forever family. Thank you especially today for the role of worship in our lives.
Forgive us for being like that river three miles wide and four inches deep, moving rapidly but really not making that much significant difference. Worship quiets our hearts and brings us back to things that matter and as we have learned it deepens our relationship with you. So guide us into experiences of worship our Father that become increasingly more meaningful. Deliver us from the perfunctory practice of a religion, just business as usual, coming to church, sitting in church and leaving church. May we become the kind of people you're looking for, worshippers. You seek our worship and therefore Father may our lives begin to shine as a result of time spent in your presence. May we make a difference in this world that has lost its way and may worship play a major role in preparing us for that difference we will make. I ask this in the name of Christ who is the object of our worship and the subject of our praise.
Amen. We invite you to get in touch with us here at Insight for Living and request your copy of Chuck's book by the same title. Filled with humorous stories and down-to-earth applications, Chuck's book reveals how the practical side of theology is what helps us grow deeper in the Christian life. This classic book belongs in your personal collection. To purchase a copy of Growing Deep in the Christian Life, go to insight.org slash store or you can speak with one of our friendly ministry reps by calling us.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. You know, it's not the purchase of books and resources that fuels the mission of Insight for Living. These daily visits are made possible because people just like you give voluntary donations and we're especially grateful for our regular monthly givers. We call them monthly companions of grace. Through your gifts, you're providing a constant source of reliable Bible teaching for people who've come to rely on Chuck's daily presence. In this way, you're helping others grow deeper in the Christian life. To become a monthly companion right now, give us a call.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or you can sign up online at insight.org slash monthly companion. I'm Bill Meyer. Given the opportunity, what would you say to an auditorium filled with future pastors? Well, on the next episode of Insight for Living, we have the privilege of listening to a powerful message that Chuck Swindoll delivered to the students at Dallas Theological Seminary. So join us next time when Chuck identifies the essential ingredient for ministry right here on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Worship, Let It Shine, Let It Shine, was copyrighted in 1985, 1987, 2005, and 2011, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2011 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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