Praising God – The Focus of Worship
PRAISING GOD – THE FOCUS OF WORSHIP
PREACHER – GRAYDON SCHOLTZ
Reading – Psalm 95
I really hope that doesn’t happen to me tonight….
Firstly I want to thank Ant, even though he isn’t here at the moment, for the opportunity to preach. I was really challenged and stretched in preparation for tonight and in many ways I am preaching to myself. Tonight I have gone for the very Anglican 3-point sermon.
The first point to be dealt with is the focus of worship; where our worship should be directed?
The second point is why we should offer praise and worship to God?
The final point we will deal with is how we can keep God the focus of our worship.
Let’s dive straight in….
1. The Focus of Worship
As human beings, from the very beginning, we were created for worship.
The Bible is very clear on this point. Revelation 4:11 says that we were created for God’s pleasure and enjoyment.
Immediately then we can see that we are not merely placed here on earth for our own satisfaction.
We were created for praise and worship and God has placed a need in us to worship.
Within this idea of praise and worship lies the idea of surrender, when we worship something, anything at all, we place that ‘something’ above ourselves, it is an acknowledgement from us that what we worship is greater than ourselves.
When our worship is not directed at God we find replacements for Him. A lack of surrender to God causes selfishness; we become worshippers of ourselves and our selfish desires.
We think of money, sex, food, and fashion as something that we are in control of but in actual fact it is those very things that control us and produce every action we make.
This isn’t what God intended, what we worship should be truly greater than ourselves.
In Romans 12:1 Paul highlights this point of surrender, He says:
(Rom 12:1) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
The Focus of worship is God. He deserves our affections, our time, and our bodies.
This brings us to the second point of the evening.
- 2. Why we should offer praise and worship to God.
- A. We praise God because the bible commands us to.
Psalm 95 starts off with an appeal to the nations, “Oh Come let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
In many Psalms there is a declaration to the world that the Lord is worthy and due of all praise.
Right through scripture we see commands and requests to worship God.
Moving back to Romans 12:1 we see God calling us to offer our lives in worship to Him. This far exceeds the idea of praise and worship simply being songs that we sing once a week on a Sunday. Praise and Worship includes our thoughts, words and deeds.
Going back one verse to Romans 11:36 we see that God, through Him all things exist, deserves the glory forever and ever. Mark Driscoll, who is becoming one of the most prominent and influential preachers of our era, defines the term glory mentioned in Romans 11:36 as preeminence, prominence or of the highest honour.
He goes onto say that the object or person that is in the position of glory in your life is that object or person that you treasure most of all; it is what centers your existence.
We make decisions every day to give time, money and energy to different things and these are worship decisions. We make time for some things and therefore take time away from other things. Where we offer the most of our lives, this is where our focus of worship will be.
I feel as though scripture keeps commanding us to worship God because above all the things that could be worshipped, He alone is worthy.
The second reason why we should praise god is….
- B. We praise God because of who He is.
Psalm 95:2-3 says: (2) Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a
joyful noise to him with songs of praise! (3) For the LORD is a great God, and a great
King above all gods.
Before God did anything for us, he deserved praise and worship. The famous encounter of Isaiah and God in Isaiah 6 always stays with me as I learn more and more about worship. This encounter shows so clearly what happens when people see who God is, when they encounter God intimately face to face.
When we see God and all He His, we simply cannot remain the same. Isaiah saw God’s holiness and repented, crying out in surrender and worship to Him. When we see God’s holiness, righteousness, love and mercy we see that God is greater than ourselves and so we surrender.
Darlene Zschech, who was for many years the Worship Pastor ofHillsong ChurchAustralia, defines worship as the ‘inevitable result of creation catching a glimpse of the creator”.
We must be cautious in thinking that worship is about music or songs, we must be cautious also of the idea that worship is meant for the Holy, the gifted and anointed. Praise and worship is meant for all of us, it is the response to God that is fitting for everyone, regardless of whether you’re an incredible singer like Colin or a shredding guitarist likeJordan. People can know nothing about worship and can sing worship songs amazingly and people will credit them with being a good worshipper and this might now be the reality. In reality a person who cannot sing at all can be an incredible worshipper; this is because worship begins within the heart. It is the outward response to the deepest spiritual transformation. As with many things with God, He looks at the heart and not the external actions or abilities, He looks at the motives for the actions rather than the actions themselves.
- C. We Worship God because of what He has done.
Psalm 95 clearly calls us to worship God because Verse 4 and 5 ‘He made and controls nature.’ He created the seas, the mountains and land simply for His glory. This reveals to us how powerful, almighty and sovereign our Lord is, He holds the earth together and is therefore far greater than us. He created us in His own image, formed us in His own likeness, He breathed life into us and is worthy of our praise.
As humans we marvel at lightening and gaze upon magnificent sunrises but we forget that God is the creator of those incredible things and so how much greater must He be and how much more deserving of praise is He than the things that He creates. The worship of creation is quite a popular thing nowadays and yet people are simply so blind to notice it. There is nothing wrong with marveling at nature and acknowledging creation’s beauty, but this is only the first step in a two-part process.
Creation is meant to glorify God, to turn all eyes to Him and yet somehow we have lost our way. Praise and Worship is meant for God and God alone.
Of course I can’t leave out the greatest thing God has ever done for us. It is the centerpiece of our focus of worship. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is what should be capturing our attention, captivating us into worship.
Isaiah 53 :5 says He was wounded for our transgressions and crushed for iniquities.
He chose to put His royal robes on us as He chose to be a slave, He died that we might know His Father and He rose again to show that death and sin were no more.
We were so unworthy to receive this act of mercy and love and if we truly believe that Jesus did this for us then how else can we respond but in praise and worship.
So How do we keep Jesus as our focus of worship?….
- 3. How do we keep our focus of worship on Jesus?
There is NO denying that in our world there are so many things that are competing for our attention, so many things that seem like they mean well.
However the truth is there is nothing on this earth that deserves more praise and glory than our Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. See when we worship God, we begin to change; we begin to be more like Him.
I love how 2 Corinthians 3:8 puts it:
2Co 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Not that we will then deserve any more praise or become any more worthy but that we will start living like Jesus did and start caring about the things He cared about.
To keep God our focus of worship we need to firstly be spending time with Him and reading His word. Now I really suck at this and I think in way or another we all battle with this, it can be difficult but there is really no point in making excuses because this doesn’t help our cause. The simple truth is we need to be in God’s word and being filled with His Spirit continuously I order for our eyes to be fixed on Him.
I won’t carry on speaking about this issue of quiet times or personal devotions because it is, for everyone, and a personal issue and is between You and God.
To help keep our focus we must also analyze our lives and see whether or not there are any aspects of our lives that are stealing our focus away from our worship from Jesus. This is a plan of Satan, to steal from our lives, to rob us of our joy and destroy the work God has done in us. Right back in Genesis and throughout scripture Satan longs for us to bow down to him and so he perverts the things God has created like sex, wealth and music and transforms these things into objects of worship. Where are spending most of our time? Our money? Our energy? The simple question is “are we bringing glory to God with our lives?”
It is a difficult reality to face but it is in scripture and whether we face up to it now or when we are standing face to face with God, it will be dealt with.
I’ll close by asking a two question,
1) Are we living out the transformation we claim to have experienced?
2) Are we showing God how much we value the grace and mercy He poured out for us in His Son Jesus by offering our lives as living sacrifices or are simply cheapening the beautiful sacrifice Jesus offered for us?