Psalm 33 TALK: A Call to true Corporate Worship

(All bible quotes from The Holy Bible, New International Version)

PSALM 33 TALK:  A CALL TO TRUE CORPORATE WORSHIP

(WHAT IS TRUE BIBLICAL WORSHIP)

 INTRODUCTION

What does it mean to truly worship God today?

I looked up many articles on the state of Christian worship and most spoke about how worship services are not a reflection of what the bible teaches about what true worship should be like. Take the following extract from an article written by a Reformed minister in the USA called Alex Dodson,

“So many of our worship services today put emphasis on the music, the worship leaders, the acoustic and sound system but not coming to the Lord in humble and true devotion. There are churches that have little of these things where people truly worship the Lord with a humble and devoted heart. God could not care less if we have the latest sound system and the best worship teams if we do not come to worship Him from our hearts. God wants our hearts”.

 This problem is not unique to the Church today. I found on the “Net” a article written well over 100 years ago by a famous Christian writer and preacher called J.C. Ryle who says this about worship in his day,

“How do we worship? This question is of great importance today, particularly remembering that many people who attend church do so very infrequently, and that many who do attend regularly are not concerned about how the worship should be carried out. It needs to be remembered that the Bible points out that not all worship is right in the sight of God”.

In Psalm 32 (which we know was written by David) we have David thanking God for his free and underserved gift of forgiveness and in Psalm 33, which we do not know the author, we have the writer calling all righteous people (those forgiven by God’s grace) to praise and worship the Lord.

Psalm 32 closes with theses words, “Rejoice in the Lord, and be glad, you righteous; sing all you who are upright in heart”

Psalm 33 verse one reads, “Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him”.

These two Psalms seem to be connected in some kind of way. Maybe the original editors of this first book of Psalms, and I believe David was one of them, chose to follow Psalm 32 with Psalm 33 because it teaches us how and why we should praise and worship the Lord who has saved us from our sins.

In this study I want to explore what Psalm 33 has to say about how and why we should worship the Lord and in the second half I will explore three important New Testament passages that touch on how and why we should worship God.

I have divided this Psalm into four sections:

1.     A CALL TO TRUE WORSHIP (1 – 3)

2.     THE PLACE OF THE WORD OF GOD IN TRUE WORSHIP (4 – 9)

3.     FALSE WORSHIP CONTRASTED WITH TRUE WORSHIP (10 – 19)

4.     A FINAL CALL TO TRUE WORSHIP (20 – 22)

 

1.     A CALL TO TRUE WORSHIP (1 – 3)

 H.C. Leupold accurately points out that there are actually six calls for worship in these first three verses:

  1. Sing joyfully vs. 1
  2. Praise him vs. 1
  3. Praise the Lord vs.2
  4. Make music to him vs.2
  5. Sing to him a new song Vs.3
  6. Play skilfully and shout for joy Vs. 3

The writer makes it clear God wants his people (you righteous) to worship him. This worship must be full of praise and joy for the God it seeks to glorify. God doesn’t need our worship but he certainly wants us to do it. Why?

I think the first three verses of Psalm 92 give us the answer to this question:

“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High,

Proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,

to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp”.

God doesn’t need our worship of him but we do and worship is not just what we do when we gather together with other Christians. Note that Psalm 92 speaks of proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night”. This means true worship is a lifestyle as Paul says in Romans 12: 1,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship”.

However Psalm 33 verses 1 – 3 is speaking of our corporate worship as it calls us to join with others making music together as an act of worship. Even though verse three speaks of playing skillfully I don’t think this means only the musically skillful should engage in corporate worship. The apostle Paul commends us to

‘Sing and making melody in your heart to the Lord’ (Eph. 5: 19).

True worship is not a matter of how skillful the worshipper is but whether or not the worship they are involved in is coming from a heart set on glorifying God. So much of today’s so called worship is no more than a platform for people to show off their talents and bring some kind of glory to themselves. I think God would rather prefer an average gifted singer who is seeking to glorify God rather than a highly skilled singer who is seeking to glorify themselves.

Some churches are so keen on the music being played and sung skillfully that only the really skilful players and singers perform while the rest of the congregation just passively sits and watches the show. This is not biblical worship and verse one does not call the professional musicians to sing and praise the Lord but “you righteous” and “the upright” to be the worshippers of the Lord they know and love.

This could even involve the composing and singing of new songs (VS. 3) but even old songs sung from the heart and sung out of a fresh new understanding of the ways of the Lord can be like a new song.

2.     THE PLACE OF THE WORD OF GOD IN TRUE WORSHIP (4 – 9)

 The writer now turns to speak specifically about the role and place of God’s word in this act of worship.

It is as though he is asking the question, why should I worship the Lord?

His answer is simple and dramatic; it is because of God’s revealed word. He now tells us two things about the word of God:

1.     What God’s word is like (verses 4 – 5)

 2.     What God’s word in fact is (verses 6 – 9)

 

1.     What God’s word is like (verses 4 – 5)

 The writer says this word of God is “true” and “he (God) is faithful in all he does” This means God’s word is exactly what God wants us to know and we can depend on it in all situations.

In verse 5 he tells us that God is a right and just God and therefore his word as he said in verse 4 is true and dependable.

Finally in verse 5 he says that “the earth is full of his unfailing love”, this is the major theme of the previous Psalm (Psalm 32) and of course we only know that our God is a God of love because of his revealed word to us. Sometimes nature might seem to suggest that the God behind it is cruel and unloving but no his word declares that he is concerned for this world and does love us. This is the message of the entire word of God which is aptly summarised by a verse like Deuteronomy 7: 9,

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments”.

2.     What God’s word in fact is (Verses 6 – 9)

 God’s word is in fact the creative force of the universe. Verse 6 says,

“By the word of the Lord were the heavens made”

He then speaks of the creation of the oceans which are to God in his hands like a man pouring water from a water container and its vastness being to God like a simple storeroom verse 7.

And where did all this come from?

Verse 9 says, “For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm”.

God made everything simply by speaking such is the power of his word.

Finally, we might ask, what has this got to do with worship?”

I think verse 8 answers this clearly,

“Let all the earth fear the Lord, let all the people of the world revere him”

The basis of all true biblical worship is the very words of God. As we stand in awe of the God who made everything out of his powerful word we are worshipping him. As we read and hear read in our churches the very word of God so we can be truly inspired to worship him with our praise, prayers and singing.

This means that all corporate worship services must feature the word of God. Passages of the bible must be read and explained. The explanation and application of God’s word is called preaching and like singing it to must glorify God and not the preacher. Some churches allocate only 10 minutes to preaching and boast of the fact and this of course shows how much they have fallen away from true biblical worship. However long and unorganised sermons detract from the glory of God and often are only a platform for the preacher to show off like singers who sing to glorify themselves.

3.     FALSE WORSHIP CONTRASTED WITH TRUE WORSHIP (10 – 19)

 In this section the writer wants his readers to see what false worship is and what it leads to as opposed to what true worship is and what it leads to. To help us understand what he is telling us I want to follow the two ways of worship separately.

1.     WHAT FALSE WORSHIP IS AND WHAT IT LEADS TO

 It has been suggested that if this Psalm was written in the time of David than a very real historical setting could be behind these verses. The most appealing historical setting in David’s time is 2 Samuel 10. In this passage we read of David’s conflict with the Ammonites after they disgraced a party of his men who only went to the King of the Ammonites to show respect and sympathy for the passing of the king’s father.

The Ammonites then hire 20,000 troops from Aramean and 12,000 troops from a place called Tob. These troops along with their own supported by chariots seemed to out number the army from Israel under the leadership of Joab. This was another time that the Nations around Israel that believed in and followed false God’s represented by idols opposed David and Israel who worshipped and followed the one true God of Heaven and earth.

The text of 2 Samuel reveals that God gave Israel a great victory over the false God worshipping Ammonites and their allies. Verse 10 of our Psalm reads,

“The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples”.

In verses 16 and 17 we read,

“No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save”.

Even if these words were not written in the context of 2 Samuel 10 they provide an accurate insight into what God did for David and his Nation at that time. The bible has many incidents in Israel’s history were the words of this Psalm are also an accurate insight into God’s dealings with the false worshipping Nations that oppose him.

In verses 13 and 15 the writer gives us God’s perspective on the false worshippers of this world when we read,

“From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind;

 From his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—

 He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do”

God knows the hearts and thoughts of every person and he does not take just a casual interest in the affairs of man. He is interested in everything that takes place here on earth. Not only that but he directs the hearts of man. This is the difficult concept of the sovereignty of God and the free will of man appearing to be at odds with each other. H.C Leupold gives us some insight into this biblical mystery when he writes,

“To the Lord must also be ascribed the work of influencing the thinking of the children of men more than is ordinarily supposed, not in arbitrary ways that would nullify the freedom of man in his decisions, but for both man’s good and God’s glory”.

There are many Old Testament stories that illustrate this kind of thing actually happening. A good example of this is in Exodus 9: 12,

“But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses”.

Pharaoh’s heart was set on not giving in to God’s demands through Moses and God, as Psalm 33 verse 15 says,

“Forms the hearts of all”. The ultimate outcome of this hardening of the heart of Pharaoh is the judgment of God on him and all Egypt and the rescue of his people, Israel from Egypt which brings glory to God and salvation from tyranny and despair”.

 This fact is another reason to praise and worship God. We also must learn to trust in God alone in our daily walk with him. I have been referring to relying on human talent and skill in worship services as opposed to looking for people whose hearts are truly centred in glorifying God. Paul warns and instructs us all in how we should daily trust in God in Ephesians 6: 10 – 12,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

2.     WHAT TRUE WORSHIP IS AND WHAT IT LEADS TO

 This passage also has a lot to say about those who truly worship the Lord. They offer great hope for those us who trust in the Lord and therefore worship only him. Verse 11 reads,

“But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations”.

These words remind me of Deuteronomy 7: 9 again,

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments”.

If we truly worship God from our hearts then we have this great promise of God to live by. Then we read of God’s blessing on those who truly worship him in verse 12,

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance”.

Israel was God’s chosen nation but we know from the New Testament that the new Israel is the true world wide church of Jesus Christ. Listen to this verse changed with this New Testament insight in mind,

“Blessed is the Church whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance”.

The final two verses of this section contain more promises of God’s care and blessing for those who truly worship him, verses 18 – 19,

“But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine”.

God wants to bless his people so much his eyes are upon us and even in death and earthly peril (famine) he wants to deliver us.

We have so much to praise and thank God for when we gather together to worship him and this should be what we focus on in our worship services not on anything else which is not of God and his word because that is false worship and is condemned by God.

4.     A FINAL CALL TO TRUE WORSHIP (20 – 22)

In the final three verses we have a final call to true worship.

“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.

May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you”.

The writer of the Psalm has just contrasted false worship with true worship. Those who follow others false God’s have a hope in human strength and talents, which will only ultimately lead to their destruction. But those who worship the true and living God verse 20 teaches us “Wait” and “Hope” “for the Lord”. They know the verse tells us that God is their “help” and “shield”.

What then do these verses teach us about what true worship is?

I think verse 21 puts it in a nutshell,

“In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name”.

Note again God’s concern and interest in our hearts. David had to learn this truth the hard way when he fell to the two great sins of adultery and murder. In his Psalm of repentance written soon after the prophet Nathan exposed his sins we read these words in Psalm 51: 16 – 17

“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise”.

This is the essence of all true worship of God both personally and corporate. We must come to God in repentance and faith. I think all true biblical worship services should include some kind of confession of our sins followed by the bible’s promise of God’s forgiveness in the death of Christ. This is the essence of Christ’s institution of the Holy Communion which he said in Luke 22: 19,

“Do this in remembrance of me.”

True Christian corporate worship services must always focus on what Christ has done for us when he died for our sins on the cross. In this “our hearts rejoice” and in this his, unfailing love rests upon us” as verse 22 of the Psalm reads.

Finally the Psalm concludes the nature of true biblical worship,

”We put our hope in you”

In these words our hearts and minds declare who is the focus of our lives and worship none other than God alone.

Let me now present my poem I hope to turn into a new song based on this Psalm.

 

WORSHIP THE LORD

 Worship the Lord yes joyfully sing

You people who trust in his love.

For God has given us his powerful word

That reveals he reigns above.

 

Worship the Lord yes praise his name

For by his word he made everything.

He just spoke and made the universe

And now he calls us to sing.

 

Worship the Lord yes trust in him

For man’s plans will always fail.

For God has a plan for this fallen world

Yes in him we can prevail.

 

Worship the Lord yes look to him

For his eyes are upon us now.

He wants to bless our daily lives

And be with us every hour.

 

Worship the Lord yes hope in him

For his son did die for our sin

So trust in him and what he has done

And even in death you will win.

 

 Jim Wenman

 

PART 2

THREE NEW TESTAMENT PASSAGES ON TRUE WORSHIP

 We have now looked at what Psalm 33 has to teach us about the nature of true biblical worship. Now I would like to look at this topic through the eyes of three important New Testament passages that relate to the nature of true biblical worship.

1.     WORSHIP GOD IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH:  JOHN 4: 21 – 24

 In John chapter 4 Jesus encounters a Samaritan women and in his discussion with her he reveals for us some important truths about true worship in verses 21 – 24 as Jesus himself believed them to be.

First I must tell or remind you about who theses Samaritans were. After the Northern Kingdom of Israel was defeated by the Assyrians a new race of people developed who became known as The Samaritans. Over the centuries leading up to the time of Christ The Samaritan religion had two main features, one was the idea that the canonical scriptures was only the first five books of the bible (known as the Torah) and the second was that the place of true worship was on Mount Girizim and not Mount Zion in Jerusalem. These people were despised by the Jews of Jesus day and most Jews went out of their way to not pass through Samaria when travelling to northern Israel of that time.

Jesus refuses to give in to the religious prejudices of his day and travels through Samaria to get to the Galilee area. Here he meets women-gathering water at a famous well. This woman is not only a women (the Jews looked down on men speaking with women) but was a women who had many husbands (an adulterous) also a thing Jewish custom would have frowned upon.

Jesus offers this women “living water’ or a life-giving change from God or what John 3 speaks of new birth in God. The women misunderstands what Jesus is offering her and then Jesus pinpoints this women’s particular sins namely adultery. The women then throw at Jesus the Samaritan version of a tricky question,

“Our fathers worshipped on this mountain but you Jews claim that the place we must worship is in Jerusalem” (verse 20)

Jesus then answers her tricky question and goes on to tell her that his coming will change the very nature of worship forever.

I believe Jesus teaches us three things about the nature of true worship in this passage.

1.     Real worship is not fixed to a place

2.     Real worship is a inner placed activity

3.     Real worship is lead by God’s spirit and truth

 

1. Real worship is not fixed to a place

In verses 21 and 22 Jesus says to the Samaritan women,

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews”.

Jesus is teaching us here that the Old Testament worship was very much bound up in a place namely the Temple in Jerusalem and note not the temple on Mt Girizim. The coming of Jesus and his death on the cross would change this forever as Luke teaches us in Luke 23: 45,

“The sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two”

Because of the death of Jesus we can now enter into the presence of God through the one mediator between God and man namely The Lord Jesus Christ.

This means that Christians who put emphasis on a fixed place for worship like a cathedral, church or place of religious significance are sadly miss-guided and need to learn the next two points Jesus makes in this passage.

2.     Real worship is an inner placed activity

Instead of an earthly place being the focus of true worship Jesus directs us to an inner place namely the human heart as the place of real biblical worship. In verse 23 he says,

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks”.

Jesus is teaching us that through his coming and particularly through his death for us the focus of true worship will be in our hearts or as he says here our spirit and it will be also a matter of truth or in other words his word working in our minds.

Worship that does not come from a heart transformed by the Spirit of God is nothing more than false worship.

This means the outward forms of worship are not the focus of worship but what is going on inside the believer. Outward forms might vary but the transformed heart of the worshipper must inspire them.

3.     Real worship is led by God’s spirit and truth

 The final verse in this passage contains Jesus formula for true worship. John 4: 24,

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Jesus now makes it clear what true worship is all about and it contains two important elements, namely God’s Spirit and God’s Truth, the bible.

Many Christians talk about Spirit led worship and sometimes what they mean by this is a bit confusing but to me this is simply a person seeking in an attitude of prayer the help of God’s spirit to lead us. When we come to corporate worship it means turning our time together over to God’s Spirit to lead inspire us. I have found when I have visited many churches in the past that when I have done this my message or songs have fitted together with the rest of the service in ways I could not have engineered because God’s Spirit has fitted them together.

This verse teaches that true worship is a matter of Truth and as I have said before the focus of all corporate worship must be the word of God.

And why must our worship services be this way?

Jesus answer is because of the nature of the God we are seeking to worship. God is both Spirit and Truth and so we come to him in worship in the same way in spirit and truth.

One person on the Internet put it this way, “Without the Holy Spirit residing within us, we cannot respond to God in worship because we do not know him”.

2. SING AND MAKE MUSIC IN YOUR HEART TO THE LORD:  EPHESIANS 5: 18 – 20

 In this passage Paul begins to advise his readers to not to get drunk with wine but to be filled with the Spirit. One commentator I read on this pointed out that maybe the worship non-believers observed in Ephesus was like a group of people drunk on wine. They were wildly singing and making so much noise they looked like a pack of drunks. This would explain why Paul then goes on to say how they should act if they are involved in Spirit led worship.

I think Paul gives us three important elements of Spirit led worship or as I have been calling biblical worship. They are:

1.     Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs

2.     Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord

3.     Always give thanks to God

 

1.  Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs

It is interesting that Paul says speak to one another with Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. He sees the role of music in the New Testament church as a form of mutual edification. This means the songs sung had real biblical content that taught and inspired us.

I just cannot get into many new hymns today that contain so very little biblical theology and I might as well sing nothing than some of the poorly written songs I sometimes come across in churches. It is not a matter of them being current songs or hymns as some older hymns of the church have the same problem. There was an era in the past when many hymns were written from a very “me” centered perspective. One such hymn is the hymn entitles, “I surrendered all”, the chorus goes,

I surrendered all,

I surrounded all;

All to Jesus, my blessed Saviour

I surrendered all.

This is not the worst example of a “me” centered hymn but I really liked the tune so I decided to have a go at rewriting it and came up with this chorus:

Christ surrendered all,

Christ surrendered all,

On a cross he died to save me

Christ surrendered all.

The last verse of my rewrite of this hymn tries to say that the surrender of Jesus should inspire us to seek to surrender our lives to him:

He was buried in a cold grave

But in three days he rose up free

Now he calls us to surrender

And live our lives in victory.

The singing of Psalms hymns and spiritual songs should seek to edify all who sing and hear them and at the same time give glory to God as well.

2.  Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord

Paul goes on to say where this music should come from when we are seeking to worship him. He says clearly that it should come from our hearts. This is the same principle laid down by Jesus on true worship from the John 4 passage. That is the true worship God is looking for from us is a matter of spirit and truth and therefore comes from true believers hearts seeking to glorify the God who has transformed them.

When worship is hollow and false is when it is outwardly showy but inwardly shallow. Many church services of worship are guilty of this and we should make sure that our worship services do not fall into this deadly trap.

 3.  Always give thanks to God

Paul’s final word on worship to the church in Ephesus is the note of praise in everything we do in our worship of him.

“Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

This is the same thing that Psalm 33 made clear that our corporate worship should always echo the note of joy and praise to the God who we are worshipping. Paul said this on many occasions and the one that comes to my mind is Philippians 4: 4,

“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again Rejoice!”

This was said particularly to two quarrelling ladies in the church in Philippi. We must give thanks for what the Lord has done for us and rejoice that we are saved only by his grace to us. If we do this we cannot fail to worship God in a most biblical way.

3.  OFFER YOUR BODIES AS LIVING SACRIFICES: ROMANS 12: 1 – 2

The final passage from the New Testament I will comment on concerning the nature of true worship or biblical worship is the famous one from Romans 12: 1 – 2,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”.

I would like to draw out three key points from this very important passage on Christian worship:

1.     True worship is based on the mercy of God

2.     True worship is a way of life

3.     True worship is not patterned on the things of this world

 

1. True worship is based on the mercy of God

 Paul has written eleven chapters stating how we come to God by his grave alone. Paul stated in Romans 5: 1 – 2,

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God”.

So now in chapter 12 he begins to teach the Romans how this grace of God should work its way out in their lives and he starts with what true worship should be.

It begins and ends with God’s mercy or grace to us so as we are saved by grace so we should live by grace. Paul believed that what God has done for us is the motivation for how God wants us to live.

This then is an important factor in determining our corporate worship services we should have grace based worship services. This means all we do should be for the glory of God and the edification of others.

2.  True worship is a way of life

Paul does not proceed to give us an order of service or even a pattern for us to follow in worship. He goes so much deeper and says,

“Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship”.

Paul wants us to see that worship is not some kind of special time of worship but rather true biblical worship is a way of life. So many come to church and do church but it makes no difference to their lives. We call these kinds of people “Sunday Christians”. God wants us to be his agents of giving to this world inspired by his giving to us.

The Old Testament forms of worship were rigidly set down in the first five books of the bible and they involved the sacrifice of animals. But the coming of Christ changed all that when he became the one true sacrifice for our sins on the cross. Now Paul says inspired by that sacrifice God wants us to give our lives in sacrificial service to him. I find these words unnerving and disturbing as they always challenge my commitment to God.

This I think is a good thing and we all must come to God in prayer confessing our sins and seeking to find his way of being more holy and pleasing to him.

How should these words of Paul influence our corporate times of worship?

Well I think they should make us seek ways and means of helping others even as we gather together to praise and worship our God. Recently I attended church in the Cook Islands and all the guests who attended the two church services were invited to an after church morning tea.

The local regular members of those churches put on the most amazing feast and before they partook of the beautiful tropical food on offer they made sure all outside guests were fed first. They served others before themselves and they partook in a good example of true biblical worship.

3.  True worship is not patterned on the things of this world

 The final verse of this passage warns us against the temptation of Christians and the Christian church being conformed to the pattern of this world:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”.

One major problem for corporate worship in the church of today is this very problem. Many Christians advocate we should change our patterns of worship to attract outsiders. Some times this called “God seeker services”. To me the danger here is falling to the danger Paul sets forth in this verse, namely,

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world”

Years ago I over heard someone setting out what this kind of service might look like. The person said, “well people today do not like or are use to corporate singing so we need to drop singing together and maybe just have someone sing to them”. This of course is in direct contradiction to what Paul commands us to do in places like Ephesians 5: 18 – 20 that we looked at earlier.

Yes we must be aware of outsiders and reach out to them in friendship and assistance but once we start determining what we actually do when we come together for worship by what the world does or expects us to do then we have really lost the plot or as the old expression goes,

“we have tossed the baby out with the bath water”.

This concept is not just something we should keep in mind when we are thinking of how we should conduct a worship service. It relates to how we live our lives we must not live them being squeezed in to the mould of this world, as some commentators have translated this verse. Rather we should “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. This renewal takes place as we read the word of God and come to a deeper understanding of what it is saying to us and we should let that be the controlling factor of our lives and worship.

What does this kind of renewal do to us?

Paul makes it clear, “then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”.

May our lives and our times of corporate worship do just that.

PRAYER: 

Father in heaven I come before your throne of grace a sinner seeking your forgiveness. I want to worship you the God who made everything in the universe. You are our one and only true God made known to us through your word. Your word that became flesh in the person of your Son who died on the cross to save us. May we always look to him and give him the glory he alone deserves. This we pray in his mighty name, Jesus Christ our Lord AMEN.