Guest Post: The Heart of Worship – A Journey to Intimacy – Nic Payne

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-What’s ahead and Why?
-The Case for Worship
-Extrinsic Action Creates Intrinsic Emotion (The 7 words for worship)
-Style is not part of the equation, but intimacy is
-In Spirit and in Truth

What’s ahead and Why?

We have a unique opportunity ahead of us as a church family. Friday, February 3rd will be our first church-wide worship night at Grace. And as excited as we all are in planning it, I started asking myself why? We’ve been talking about a worship night for years. So, why now? Is it necessary?

In the next few weeks leading up to the big night, I’d like to explore with you not so much who we are as leaders of worship or even modeling lives of worship, but fundamentally why worship matters – that is to say, why we place value on it in the first place.

The pivotal question for me has never been, why do we worship through song together, or seek God out in the secret place, or live out lives of worship, but rather, what IS worship and why do we do it at all? What are we hoping to accomplish?

Worship is a unique expression. As a culture we sing songs together: Take Me Out to The Ball Game, Happy Birthday, Auld Lang Syne, any wedding I’ve ever been to and ‘Y.M.C.A.’ spring to mind. But worship isn’t singing and requires no music – Worship is a position.

Consider this first week a primer on worship, one that will give us a grid and language to base our conversations on as we go deeper over the next few weeks.

The Case for Worship

I believe the case for worship starts with identity. If we have a weak understanding of our desperate need for the cross, or a watered down revelation of the Gospel of Christ, (*see below), or an immaturity as carriers of Holy Spirit (**see below again), our image of God (and therefore ourselves) will be skewed and under the influence of a lie. Worship is based on worth. So if we don’t believe in our bones, all the way down to our subconscious that God is truly good, and worthy of worship, why would we want to? Despite what we say, ultimately people do what they want to do.

Extrinsic Action Creates Intrinsic Emotion (The 7 words for worship)

Long before David, “… danced with great abandon before God”, Israel camped around the presence of the Lord. Scripture talks a lot about the presence of God, especially in the OT. The Hebrew word for presence is the word ‘face’ so when it talks about us coming before the presence of God, it’s actually talking about coming before the face of God. And the face of God in scripture is always representative of favor or delight. Worship is seeing delight in our Father’s face as he lifts our heads to look at him.

There are Seven Hebrew words for ‘praise’ and every one of them carry a physical expression. Each one could be its own lengthy post. But I’ll zip through just a few of them here:

Barak – To kneel down, to bless God as an act of adoration
“O come let us worship and bow down; let us kneel (barak) before the Lord our maker.” (Ps 95:6)
“Then David said to all the assembly, “Now bless (barak) the Lord your God.” And all the assembly blessed (barak) the Lord, the God of their fathers, and bowed low and did homage to the Lord and to the king.” (1Chr 29:20)
“I will bless (barak) the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Ps 34:1)

Yadah is a verb with a root meaning, “the extended hand, to throw out the hand, therefore to worship with extended hand.”
“Oh that men would praise (yadah) the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.” (Ps 107:15)
“So I will bless thee as long as I live; I will (yadah) lift up my hands in thy name.” (Ps. 63:1)
“Give thanks (yadah) to the Lord, for his lovingkindness is everlasting.” (2Chr 20:21)

Shabach means, “to shout, to address in a loud tone, to command, to triumph.”
“O clap your hands, all peoples; shout (shabach) to God with the voice of joy (or triumph).” (Ps 47:1)
“One generation shall praise (shabach) thy works to another and declare thy mighty acts.” (Ps 145:4)
“Cry aloud and shout (shabach) for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isa 12:6)

Towdah, Zamar, Tehillah, Halal…these words all document expressions that the people of Israel used to show adoration for their God. It seems in many ways that our culture today tends away from physical expression of adoration for the Lord. But biblical precedent leaves us without a whole lot of wiggle room – praise and worship of the Lord comes out of the heart, and involves the body.

Style is not part of the equation, but intimacy is

Regardless of how you grew up, singing the great and theologically rich hymns of the faith, or the poppy praise songs of the 90’s, or the uplifting CCM of the 2000’s, (or in our fearless leader Pastor Jason’s case, Petra***) style in the end matters very little if you have no real affection or adoration for the Father.

God is not ‘like’ a father, he IS a father and he has called us to position ourselves to give Him adoration in the unique expression each of us has to give. Why is this? He only does things out of love. So is he insecure? Does he need to be told how great he is particularly on Sunday mornings?

God is looking for worshipers (not worship, but the ones who bring him worship.) He chooses for us to become worshipers not because he needs someone to make him feel good about himself, but because he knows that you and I become like what we worship (focus on, think about, dwell on, spend time with), and he knows that we need reminders of who we are. Paul knows it too, “take captive every thought” he told the Corinthians because he understood the only thing standing between believers and God was their thought life. This is where the battle is and this is where we seek breakthrough and to take back ground in the moments of encounter and worship.

Through a life of fearless worship David won such a place in the heart of the Father that God decided to call Jesus, his own son, ‘the son of David’ throughout all eternity. Imagine that. God named his son (who was also God), after a man. And this was before grace was sent to us as a gift in the person of Jesus. Through extravagant and affectionate worship David found intimacy with God, and God called him a man after God’s own heart.

In Spirit and in Truth

True worship can’t hide anything. To worship in spirit and in truth means nothing is hidden. This is the type of intimacy the Father wants with us. It’s the reason Christ came. He became sin, taking our place, and we were given his place of intimacy with God. It is finished. We are as loved as Jesus himself, seated with him in heavenly places, coheirs with Christ. Scripture says it will take all of eternity for God to show us his goodness. This is a God worthy of our worship.

On Friday we’ll be singing a song that says:

You didn’t want Heaven without us
So Jesus, you brought heaven down
My sin was great your love was greater
What could separate us now?

This is lyric designed to worship a God who pursues us and greatly desires intimate moments of worship with us. He is good. He’s better than we think, and once we experience enough of his love and transformation and encounters with grace, the walls we build and the weights we carry melt away and all that’s left is to ‘lift up holy hands’ in intimate adoration.

Over the next few weeks pray with me. Thank the Father for sending Jesus to give us his irrevocable intimacy. Ask God to search us and know us, and ask Holy Spirit to challenge every single one of us to take greater risks in worship than we have before, and that this night more so than any before would be a fresh encounter, new experience, and a breakthrough for all of us. We’re standing on the edge of undiscovered country. And I cannot wait to go exploring with you through the land we’ve been promised, discover more of the goodness of our Father, and the miracle he is about to do in our lives and in our communities.

Cheers,

Nic

* Gospel of Christ: Jesus dying not just for us, but as us, literally handing over his both his life and his righteousness to us, God birthing us as new creations with new hearts and spirits, then Jesus himself living through us in our place, not to mention who we are as believers in Christ (inseparably united with him in spirit, perfected for all time, blameless, holy, sons and daughters.)
1 Pet 2:9; 1 Cor 4:1; Rom 8:14, 17; 2 Cor 5:17,21; Heb 10:14; Heb 3:1; Jam 5:16; 2 Tim 1:7; Mat 28:18

** The greatest gift we ever could ever have asked for, Jesus himself, said it was better that he leave so we could receive him – the Counsellor, Comforter, Holy Spirit)
“There is only one voice to hear. It is the voice of the Holy Spirit whose business it is to make you like Jesus. He talks to you in the way the Father talks to His Son. It’s the same voice, full of rest, loving, and with quiet joy. It is the voice of patient kindness and gentle goodness that lifts our hearts to experience His faithfulness.” – Graham Cooke.

*** Petra – Beyond Belief Song (Original Music Video)
(respectfully submitted without comment)

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