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The Imperatives of Worship

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I’ve always liked hearing oxymorons, or self-contradicting phrases. The word itself comes from “oxus” which means sharp and “moros” which means dull. Here are some of my favorites.
I’ve always liked hearing oxymorons, or self-contradicting phrases. The word itself comes from “oxus” which means sharp and “moros” which means dull. Here are some of my favorites.
Jumbo shrimp
Freezer burn
White chocolate
Plastic silverware
Airline food
Sanitary landfill
Truthful tabloids
Professional wrestling
And, here’s another self-contradictory phrase: boring worship. That reminds me of the little boy who asked his mother if she could remember the highest number she ever counted to. The mother didn’t know so she asked him about his highest number. He answered, “5,372.” The mother was puzzled and asked him why he stopped at that particular one. The boy responded, “Well…church was over.”
In various surveys, when people are asked why they don’t go to church, they often reply that church is just too boring. While I recognize that sometimes a church service can seem dull, especially to a non-Christian, I want to suggest this morning that true worship is anything but boring. The very essence of what worship is does not allow us to be bored. When we come before the majestic God of the universe, who has created everything and has done amazing things in our lives, we can’t help but break out into adoration.
As we learned last week from , worship should always incorporate two elements: rejoicing and reverence. And, perhaps most importantly, worship must lead to a response. If we don’t respond, we risk becoming hardened before Him.
Introductory Comments
Before we jump into this morning, I want to make a few introductory remarks.
1. It’s difficult to make divisions in this psalm because it’s really a seamless garment of praise, woven together to catapult us into deeper exaltation. I’m sure you got a taste of it when we read it together earlier.
2. Remember that this psalm follows the blunt indictment of the closing verses of . Since this whole section of Scripture, from , was sung as a majestic medley, we must be careful to not just pull out the parts and end up forsaking the whole.
3. This song of worship is based upon David’s anthem of adoration as found in , when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to its resting place. In fact, if you compare the two songs, you will find a lot of repeated phrases. The context of , however, covers the period of time when the exiles returned from captivity.
4. This psalm is really a grand missionary hymn. The psalmist reminds the Israelites that the blessings of God were never intended for only one group of people.
5. The call to sing songs and break out into praise is given in the context of Christ’s Second Coming and glorious reign. We sing not just because of the past and the present but because we know what’s coming in the future.
Before we get to the outline let me ask and answer some questions.
Who should be worshipped? The Lord God. He is mentioned by name or by pronoun in every stanza but verses 11-12.
What is worship? To worship means to “fall on your face or bow down” and is found more than 170 times in the Bible. We recognize our place before God and acknowledge His position before us.
How should we worship? With music (verse 1); with proclamation (verse 2); by giving Him glory (verse 8); by bringing an offering (verse 8); by coming into His courts (verse 8); by living holy lives (verse 9); and by witnessing for Him (verse 10).
Why should we worship? In verse 2, because God has saved us; in verse 4, because of His greatness and His fearsomeness; in verse 5 because of His power; in verse 6, because of His splendor, majesty, strength, and beauty; and in verse 13, because God is righteous and true and He is coming to judge.
Where are we to worship? We are to worship the Lord among the nations (verse 3); in His sanctuary (verse 6), and in His courts (verse 8).
When are we to worship? Verse 2 calls us to sing and proclaim His salvation day after day.
4 Imperatives of Worship
At the risk of breaking the flow of this holy hymn, I see four imperatives for us today:
Exalt His Name (verses 1-2a)
Extend His Kingdom (verses 2b-3)
Express His Greatness (verses 4-9)
Expect His Coming (verses 10-13)

1 ­ Exalt His Name (vs.1-2a: )

The first imperative is to Exalt His Name. We see this in verses 1-2a: “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise His name.” We’re called in this passage to sing to the Lord three different times. When something’s repeated in triplicate its done to get our attention ­ much like the “Holy, Holy, Holy” of .
“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise His name.” We’re called in this passage to sing to the Lord three different times. When something’s repeated in triplicate its done to get our attention ­ much like the “Holy, Holy, Holy” of .
Singing out to our triune God started way back at creation in where we read that “the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.”
There has been singing and shouting from the beginning of time and there will be more singing at the end of the age
Revelation 15:3 NKJV
They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!

Notice that we are to sing a “new song” to the Lord.

This word can mean something that is brand new and can also mean, “delightful, precious and exquisite.”
New hymns and new praise songs are essential to meet the ever-varying manifestations of God’s multi-faceted character.
When we walk with Him daily and experience new ways of encountering Him we can’t help but break out into joyful praise and new songs.

And so, we’re to sing to the Lord a new song.

In the last part of , “all the earth” is to break out into song, exalting God for who He is and what He has done. This call to sing was not limited to Israel but is intended for the whole earth. The Book of Revelation gives us some further insight in 15:4: “Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” All nations will come and worship. That brings me great hope and fires me up to be involved in what God is doing around the world.

2 ­ Extend His Kingdom

That leads us to the second imperative of worship: Extend His Kingdom. Take a look at verses 2 and 3: “…proclaim His salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples.”

we’re to proclaim His salvation.

do it ­ day after day

The only message that we really have today is that Jesus saves. Your friends and family members need to hear ­ from you ­ what salvation is all about. Have you followed the terrible story about the Russian submarine that sank to the ocean floor? Over a dozen attempts were made to rescue the 118 people on board but none of them worked. As a result they all perished. Aren’t you thankful that Jesus has provided a way out for you? Instead of being trapped below an ocean of sin, Jesus gave His very life in order to rescue you from certain destruction.
Because of what we’ve received, our method is to proclaim His salvation on a daily basis to those around us.

When you fall in love with the Lord Jesus, which is one of the benefits of corporate worship, you will want to tell everyone.

Our mandate as believers is to make sure this gospel message is not just shared with people we know, but that it goes out to “the nations” and “all peoples.”

I’m thrilled to be involved with a church that takes this mandate seriously as we partner with missionaries serving all over the globe ­ from Israel to Spain to Africa to the Bahamas to Mexico to Irian Jaya to the Philippines and to several cities in the United States. Representatives from every nation and tribe and village all over the earth will one day be in Heaven. Don’t you want to have a part in helping them get there?

3 ­ Express His Greatness

As we Exalt His Name and look for ways to Extend His Kingdom, we will be drawn into the third worship imperative ­ we will want to Express His Greatness. Follow along with me as I read verses 4-9:
God is not just a tribal god, but is King over all the nations. He is most worthy of praise. While some people worship idols, only the Creator God is worthy of praise. I had an interesting experience on Monday. After working in the yard most of the day, enjoying the peace and quiet, I took two of our girls to the circus. It was really fun. I got a kick out of the ringmaster as he announced the different acts. He said things like, “Ladies and Gentleman, I welcome you to the circus…we have a special performer here tonight straight from Argentina…” Later in the show, he introduced this same performer as being from Italy! At the close of the circus, he said she was from Alabama.
When the circus ended I went home and watched another performance on TV. I don’t want to just criticize the Democratic Convention because the Republicans certainly had a “circus-atmosphere” as well, but I was intrigued by President Clinton’s “championship walk” down the hallway as he prepared to enter the stage area. Did you see it? You could feel the energy growing and his adrenaline flowing. He started clapping to pump Himself up as He walked onto the stage in the midst of a cheering throng of people.
As I watched all this, I couldn’t help but think of how much we like to praise people. Whether it’s a circus performer or the president of the United States, we love to applaud the attributes of others. And yet, this psalm brings us back to what’s most important
­ only God Himself is great and most worthy of praise
. He is to be feared and honored above everyone and everything else. Verse 5 tells us that
He has no rivals because He is the creator (v. 5)
. As such we should worship Him with all that we have.
In verse 6, four attributes are personified as if they were attendants surrounding the throne ­ “splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.” Not so with the one who causes things to exist where there was nothing before.
arrayed in splendor
clothed with majesty
armed with power and glory that is brighter than the sun.
armed with power and glory that is brighter than the sun.
The psalmist has renewed urgency in proclaiming the Lord in verses 7-9.
Three times in a row he challenges us to “ascribe,” or give, to the Lord what is due His name
we recognize
His greatness
we will want to honor Him
The last part of verse 8 gives us a practical way to do that
This specific word refers to “thank offerings,” or those things that people would give out of gratitude to the Lord for all that He has done.
I can think of at least three ways that we can bring an offering to the Lord today.
1. tells us to offer our bodies to the Lord.
2. When we adore God with songs and hymns, says that we are offering a sacrifice of praise.
3. We also worship God as we offer our financial resources to Him and His kingdom purposes Verse 9
Verse 9

Expect His Coming

As we exalt His name, we will eagerly look for ways to extend His kingdom. This then motivates us to express His greatness. The final imperative is found in verses 10-13. Here we read of the reign of the Lord and His coming judgment. C.S. Lewis points out that this psalm looks upon divine judgment as an occasion for rejoicing.
The word “judge” in verse 10 carries with it the idea that God sovereignly rules over the nations, and will judge everyone with fairness and equity. In verses 11-12 we see that the whole creation, when pondering God’s rule, breaks out into joyful praise. The heavens will rejoice, the earth will be glad, the sea will resound, the fields ­ the corn and soybeans -- will be jubilant, and all the trees of the forest will sing for joy.
When Adam sinned, creation went out of kilter. When the second Adam returns, all of creation will be delivered from bondage. : “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice…and will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
The last stanza of this hymn gives us great hope that Jesus is coming again. And when He does, He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in truth. He will dispense justice, will vindicate believers, and will establish truth forever. His kingdom will have no end.
In the mean time, we are called to wait and worship. We are also called to tell others about the glorious gospel before it’s too late. : “…See the Lord is coming…to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly for all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” We also need to be ready ourselves so that we do not shrink away in shame when He suddenly appears.
Jesus is coming again. You can be sure of that. I don’t have time this morning to go into a fuller explanation but you can expect His coming. And that has obvious implications on the way we sing, on the way we sow, and the way we serve.
Action Steps
As we wrap up this morning let me give you some action steps.
1. Read a Psalm every day. If you start tomorrow morning with and read a different Psalm every day, and two on Sundays, you will finish the Book of Psalms before the end of the year. This alone will help increase your passion for worship. You might even want to read them out loud or sing them if you’re able.
2. Listen to worship music every day. I want to encourage you to incorporate praise songs and Christian music into your lifestyle. Some of you listen to other kinds of music or talk radio when you’re in the car. Try to listen to a Christian station or play a tape or CD that draws you into worship
3. Pray for 5 neighbors for 5 minutes for 5 days a week. As we’ve discovered in this psalm, singing leads to sowing. When we praise Him we will want to proclaim Him. We are praying for 5 of our neighbors on different nights of the week. On Mondays we pray for one family, on Tuesdays we pray for another. As you pray, look for opportunities to care and to share. This will help prepare your neighbors for the Jesus Video, which will be distributed to every home in Livingston County in December.
4. Pray for our missionaries on a regular basis. We currently have 17 different missionary families. Maybe you could add missionaries to your family prayer times. Or, you could join us on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m. or Tuesday evenings as we gather to pray. We’re planning to have each of our TLC’s “adopt” a missionary this fall and begin to pray and correspond with them. If you have Internet access, you can see pictures of all of our missionaries on our web site, complete with their email addresses. There is also a list of all of our missionaries in the track rack in the hallway.
5. Get ready for Jesus to come back. If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus yet, you need to ask Him to rescue you from your sins. If you’re a believer, make sure you’re walking with Him, and that there’s nothing going on that would cause you to be embarrassed if He came back tonight. Let me make one final suggestion. If you have not read the “Left Behind” books yet, I encourage you to do so. They will help cement the certainty of the Second Coming in your mind, and will help motivate you to tell others about Jesus.
I can think of one more oxymoron this morning. Here it is: A Bored Believer. If you truly understand what being a believer is all about, it will be impossible to be bored. If we are exalting, extending, expressing, and expecting, we will be fired up and will experience the joy of what it means to partner with God in His kingdom work.
And so, stop sitting. Start singing, sowing and serving. I guarantee you will never be bored again.
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