Invitation to Worship

Invitation to Worship

Why do we worship … why do we sing

When the world is such a broken and messy place

Full of suffering, pain and worries …….

We do it because in God there is love and hope …

and worship stirs our hearts, awakens our minds and touches our soul

And brings the beauty of God into focus

I want us to look at worship this morning.

For those who are visitors or new to Lighthouse you may have noticed that worship is different.

It is more culturally relevant, more up-to-date than most Uniting Churches.

People raise their hands, some sing in tongues

We clap hands

Some dance and some wave flags

Some stand, some sit, some do both

Song brackets can be lengthy

The Worship Leader may bring a Scripture or a prayer

Actually none of this is new … it’s the way the church has worshipped for ever. We just got sidetracked somewhere around the Middle Ages and it had something to do with low literacy levels, the nationalization of the Christian faith and the human need for organization.

I want us to look at worship this morning using Psalm 95 as a Biblical model of worship. I could have used tons of other Scriptures but this one is good. Its also ancient, Jewish, faith-filled and God-directed.

The psalm is in three parts, there is ….

A call to Rejoice (verses 1-5), A Call to Reverence and a Call to Respond

95:1         Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;

let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

2             Let us come before him with thanksgiving

and extol him with music and song.

3             For the Lord is the great God,

the great King above all gods.

4             In his hand are the depths of the earth,

and the mountain peaks belong to him.

5             The sea is his, for he made it,

and his hands formed the dry land.

A call to reverence (verses 6-7a)

6             Come, let us bow down in worship,

let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;

7             for he is our God

and we are the people of his pasture,

the flock under his care.

And a call to respond (verses 7b-11)

Today, if you hear his voice,

8             do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,

as you did that day at Massah in the desert,

9             where your fathers tested and tried me,

though they had seen what I did.

10            For forty years I was angry with that generation;

I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray,

and they have not known my ways.”

11            So I declared on oath in my anger,

“They shall never enter my rest.”

A Call to Rejoice (V 1-5)

We see first that we are invited to worship as a community. Come, let us ..

We come with joy, thanksgiving, music and song.

We come shouting, singing and extolling.

Worship is meant to be vibrant.

According to the dictionary, that means: pulsing or throbbing with energy or activity.

It is alive – we are alive!

And God is a great God.

As we come together on Sundays, we come with one intent – to worship God.

We are not visiting with each other

We are not coming for a good time, or some kind of pick-me up.

We are not even here for the message.

We come because the Lord is the great God

The great King above all gods.

At the heart of our gathering is our acknowledgement of Him as the Creator –

The One who formed both the Abyss and the mountain peaks; the seas and the dry land …

Who flung the stars into space and set the universe into motion

He is God! Who formed us in His image and breathed His Spirit within us

We come is awe, with lips full of praise and thanksgiving

We can’t contain ourselves, so we shout and sing and make a beautiful noise.

Don’t come to church with a scowl – leave it at home

Yes, bring your troubles, but don’t expect to take them away when you leave

Jesus said, Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.

He said, Come all you thirst and I will give you living water.

Expect to dance, sing, shout and celebrate … for God is the great God.

A Call to Reverence (V 6-7a)

When we first enter in, we are joyous .. we have come to meet the King

But as we worship, we find the mood changes …

Yes, the Lord is the great God

He is the Lord our Maker … and our God

But now He is HERE …

A friend of mine is in London at present, and because the Queen is in Scotland (probably enjoying the vote against independence), the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are open for public visits.

She sent me a picture of the Throne Room.

Just imagine entering into the Throne Room – there is excitement in the air; this is the King’s special space. You are filled with breathless joy. You look around, you clap your hands as you see each new feature.

Then the King enters … everyone is hushed: He makes His way to the throne and … and ….

As we become aware of God’s awesome presence in worship, we suddenly realize how loved WE are …

All of creation (the pasture) is His, but He has taken us as His people and given us a place within it.

He cares for us – He feeds us and He laments over us (for that’s the meaning of being “under His care”).

Yes, He created us in His image and gave us dominion over the earth

But when we sinned, He did not cast us out, He came to unbind us and set us free

In Jesus, He gave us new life and He breathed His Spirit into us at Pentecost

Suddenly we are still … what can we say, in the face of God’s great love.

We are overawed … our exulting now seems so empty (IT WASN’T!!!)

But aware of God’s great love, we bow down before Him, kneel at His feet.

Our focus changes from His magnificent creative powers to His redeeming love.

We are still – we have no words

This is the moment when we open ourselves to the touch of the Father’s Love.

We are reverent before God – the dictionary describes reverent as showing deep and solemn respect.

The “fear of God” has descended upon us, and He has come to inhabit the praises of His people.

Graham Kendrick has written a beautiful song for this time in worship called “Amazing Love” – it’s a deeply moving reflection of God’s great love and our undeservedness.

My Lord, what love is this

That pays so dearly

That I, the guilty one

May go free!

Amazing love, O what sacrifice

The Son of God given for me

My debt he pays, and my death he dies

That I might live

In this time of reverence and great respect and appreciation of God, the Holy Spirit may come to remind us of the Father’s Love, of Christ’s sacrifice.

It is easy to stop focusing on God at this time …. To say, I’ve been standing too long, I don’t know the songs … Why don’t they just stop so that we can get to the sermon.

We miss the point – this is more important than the sermon. This is God touching our hearts, moving amongst us with healing and hope and restoration.

This is the Presence of God with us.

Be open to it. Be relaxed about it. Feel free to sit, kneel, even to lie down.

You have come to God and now He comes to you.

A Call to Respond (V 7b-11)

In the third part of this psalm – God speaks.

He will only speak when we are still enough to hear Him.

Now the worshippers become the listeners and the worshiped One become the speaker.

His words are a challenge … “Do not harden your hearts”.

God reminds us of others who had hard hearts at Meribah, and Massah.

At these places, the people tested the Lord … Exodus 17:7 says, “And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

It is a call to faith! To trusting obedience.

Trust God, even though you do not see Him.

Don’t question His motives, as if they are against you.

At Massah and Meribah the people who escaped from Egypt with Moses doubted that God was with them because there was no water, no bread and no meat.

Worship reminds us that we are not limited by the absence of things.

We have the Presence of God.

And we trust God – He is our Creator and Redeemer.

He made us with purpose, He saved us on purpose.

He has a plan, He will provide what is needed, even if the situation looks bleak.

Indeed, especially WHEN the situation looks bleak.

When they had NO water, God provided the Rock which gave living water

When they had no bread, God gave mannah in the morning

When they had no meat, God sent the quail.

Worship is about trusting God in the face of all things

It is about acknowledging Him and His purpose in our life.

Yes, we sing, we pray, we share, we listen to a message but the heart of worship is the acknowledgement of God with us.

When we come to the end of the service, we should go away, not necessarily satisfied with our earthly needs, but absolutely confident that God has everything in the palm of His hands.

We have an invitation to prayer at the end of each service – we pray for healing, for all kinds of needs … not every prayer is immediately answered but we are confident that God has heard and our need is known to Him. We trust Him and go away in faith, trusting Him.

So let me close with two conclusions.

First, worship is to be primary. The invitation from God to worship is fundamental. He is worthy of our worship and He longingly seeks people who are committed to worship Him in spirit and in truth. When we fail to worship, our hearts will become hardened which can lead to disobedience in us and discipline from God. Someone has said that there are two times to worship God ­ when we feel like it and when we don’t.

Second, worship is to be persistent. Every day is “today” with God. Ruth Graham kept a sign above her kitchen sink that says, “Worship services held here three times a day.” We can’t put off God’s invitation. When we do, it’s to our own peril. Instead of waiting until another time, do it today ­ or it may be too late.

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