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Joe McKeever: Worship is a Verb

“I hope I get something out of this service today.” “I didn’t get anything out of Reverend Buster’s sermon.” “I got a lot out of the Bible lesson.” “We’re going to join because we like this church.” “We will not be back because no one spoke to us.”

As though it were all about us. Pastors have been terminated because church members concluded they were not being “fed.” As though the worship were all about themselves.

5) Worship is a verb. It’s directed Heavenward.

In I Chronicles 16 you find David’s song of thanksgiving on the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Israel. Notice the active verbs that he associates with worship of God …

Verse 8: Give thanks. Proclaim His deeds.

Verse 9: Sing to Him. Praise. Tell all about His wonderful works.

Verse 12: Remember.

Verse 23: Sing to the Lord. Proclaim His salvation.

Verse 24: Declare His glory.

Verse 28: Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

Verse 29: Ascribe to the Lord the glory of His name.  Bring an offering. Worship the Lord in the beauty of His holiness.

Verse 34: Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.

When we enter the Lord’s house for worship, we are not there to sit and listen, to passively dare the preacher to draw us out of our shells and make us worship. We are there to give thanks, proclaim His deeds, sing to Him, praise Him, to remember what He has done. We are there to declare His glory and to “ascribe” to Him glory and strength and every other attribute we can think of. And to bring an offering.

6) Worship benefits us, but it must not be “about” us.

When I worship the living God, I’m the one who benefits. Worship enlarges my soul. Worship grows me. Expands. Changes my perspective. Makes me a greater person.

Psalm 73 is our illustration of this. The songwriter was struggling with an issue that has perplexed God’s children through the ages: Why do the righteous have it so hard while the wicked seem to prosper? After stewing on this too long, the songwriter was tempted to speak out and share his frustration, vent his anger at God. Then his senses returned. “If I had decided to say these things aloud, I would have betrayed Your people. When I tried to understand all this, it seemed hopeless” (Psalm 73:15-16).

And then, something happened to reverse his thinking. He went to church. “It seemed hopeless—until I entered God’s sanctuary. Then I understood” (73:16-17).

That’s how worship works. It changes our thinking, reverses our self-centeredness, enlarges our perspective. Throughout the rest of Psalm 73, we see just how worship has changed everything in the hymnwriter’s mind: “Yet, I am always with you. … You guide me with Your counsel. … My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever. Those far from you will certainly perish … but as for me, God’s presence is my good.”

7) There is, however, a horizontal element to my worship.

When done right, worship it a verb. My worship connects with other people. — With other believers.

“Speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your heart, giving thanks always … submitting to one another in the fear of Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-21).

“Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in their midst” (Matthew 18:20).

Away with the idea that worship is a solitary business, that, as people are wont to say, “I can worship just as well on a creekbank with a fishing pole in my hand.” Some churchgoers who get a thousand things right about worship miss this point. They speak against the performance aspect of singer’s Sunday offering and resent the applause that almost inevitably follows. “She should be singing to God, not to man. And yet, Ephesians 5:19 acknowledges there is another dimension to this. When we worship with our songs, we “speak to one another.”  And—let us not miss this—we “submit to one another.”