Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Psalm 111 Turning God's Works into Worship

KEY TEXT: Psalms 111:2-4 Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful.

KEY THOT: God’s works is to be “studied” by all who delight in them. It is through His works that we discover his attributes: “full of splendor and majesty is his work and his righteousness endures forever” (v.3). We would not have known God’s splendor, majesty and righteousness apart from his works. He also reveals his grace and mercy through his “wondrous works” (v.4). The works of God reveal God’s character which ultimately forms the foundation of true worship that is "in spirit and in truth”. Worship that is inspired and inspiring must be Spirit-led and Truth-based. Spiritual worship has nothing to do with musical style or format. It has much to do with the depth of our knowledge of God through his works. 

The more we know of God’s works as revealed in Scripture, in His Creation and in our personal life experience, the better our understanding of God's character and the deeper our worship of God. Worship is built on a true knowledge of God’s character as revealed in His works—both in the past and in the present. It is not inspired by any particular musical style or instrumentation or format. It’s inspired only by the Spirit and the Word--and nothing else. The Spirit and the Word are the cause; the musical style, instrumentation and format are the effects. We must not put the cart before the horse. We must not place our faith in musical paraphernalia to enhance our worship. In fact, external paraphernalia of worship can sometime distract us from the heart of worship--which is Jesus Christ himself.

Jesus says we are to worship God “in Spirit and in Truth” (John 4:24). Paul affirms the same teaching but in two places:
  • Ephesians 5:18-19 Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.
  • Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Paul uses the identical expression to describe worship in the above two passages: “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” In Ephesians 5:18, he highlights the ministry of the Spirit in worship. In Colossians 3:16 he emphasizes the ministry of the Word in worship. If we put these two passages together, the message is clear: worship expressed as "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" should be inspired by the Holy Spirit and the Word of Christ. In other words, worship must be “in Spirit” (Spirit-inspired) and “in Truth” (Truth-based). And the truth is built on God’s works as revealed in Scripture, in nature and in our experience. 

It is only when our worship is founded on the strong ministry of the Spirit and the Word that our worship can be inspired and inspiring.

The psalmist reminds us our worship is a response to God's self-revelation in His works:
  • Psalms 92:1-4 It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
So God works for us and in us not just so that He can bless us but that we can bless Him. It is through his works, that we understand who God is and turn his works into acts of worship.

Father God, we worship You because of Your works for it is through them that we know of Your attributes of love, mercy, righteousness and grace. Thank You for revealing Yourself through Your works. Amen.

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