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Inspiring Worship

Growing the Church God's Way - "All-by-itself Growth"  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  41:25
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Definition inspire: “ fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”
If you don’t say, “I’m glad I went to church today” when you leave, it wasn’t inspiring.
What kinds of things have made you feel inspired in life? Can you think of a time when you were inspired? What was it?

1. We must aspire to have inspiring worship Joshua 24:14-15

A. Inspiring worship isn’t natural but supernatural.

The word “inspired” tells us that this feeling is something that has to come “in” to us from the outside. We are impressed with or exposed to something external that changes the way we think in a positive way.
Inspiration isn’t something that happens as a part of our regular day. We all have our “to do” lists, right? How many of you have “get inspired” on them? You might have it if you have a special project but it isn’t something we look for, expect, plan on or even seek every day.
There are times when we choose to be inspired, say if you need to paint or decorate something and want idea. This is exactly my point, inspiration isn’t natural in any part of our lives. The same is true of inspiring worship. Joshua said it best to the nation when he took over as leader.
Joshua 24:14–15 NIV
14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
We have to choose.

B. Inspiring worship involves participation without obligation. Isaiah 1:11-17

Many people go to church and suffer through boring services and think that is part of their call. Just going to church isn’t worship. Just giving money to church isn’t worship. Just taking the Lord’s supper isn’t worship. Just helping out in some area of the church isn’t worship. And when we do any of those things out of obligation, it certainly isn’t inspiring.
God condemned those who did things out of obligation and not from their hearts.
Isaiah 1:11–17 NIV
11 “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. 14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! 16 Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. 17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
We don’t offer sacrifices today so let’s change a few words. Your church attendance, what is that to me? I have enough people going to church. I have no pleasure in people coming to church just because they think I want that. Look around, I’ve got millions of people in church all over the world today. Don’t sing songs and pretend they mean something to you! Don’t lift your heads or bow your eyes. Don’t stand or kneel. None of that is what matters.
What is your view of heaven? Is it a canning factory? Do you think when you get to heaven God is going to give you a pair of white overalls and put you on an assembly line to can anchovies? Some of us think when we get to heaven we are going to be incorporated into a work detail for all eternity.
Or is your view of heaven a party, a family reunion, a festival? That is closer to what is going to be true.
When you go to a party, do you take a gift? Why? Is it out of obligation or do you want to bless the host? Too often we do it out of obligation.
Do you come to church to worship God out of a sense of obligation, that is what you’re supposed to do?
This sense of obligation is sometimes focused on God but sometimes on the pastor or other people in church.
Worship is not about doing God or your pastor or anyone else a favor.
Some feel like enduring a boring worship service is the goal!
[Image of cart with square wheels] People with an obligation attitude toward worship don’t see any humor in this illustration. This is their calling!

C. Inspiring worship has different forms but it isn’t a formula. 1 Samuel 15:22

There are many who think there is a formula for worship.
Saul viewed giving a sacrifice to God as part of a formula to get God’s blessing. Saul was going to lead his troops into battle and Samuel hadn’t arrived yet to make a sacrifice to God. He wasn’t supposed to do that, only a priest was to do that. But Saul thought he needed to do it so he did. Here’s what Samuel told him:
1 Samuel 15:22 NIV
22 But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
We do make sacrifices today, but there are things people feel like they need to do to please God. When it comes to church people focus on and emphasize a style.
What are the different styles of worship in churches?
Seeker focused or not.
Formal or free flowing
Liturgical or not
Traditional or contemporary
Christian symbolism or secular, business-like atmosphere
There are people in all those contexts who experience inspiring worship and those who don’t. There is no right or wrong style. Since this is true, it’s good that there are churches in all these different styles.
Inspiring worship isn’t a style. There is no formula that pleases God. He wants our hearts obedience not external rituals.

D. Inspiring worship is personal but it isn’t about “me.” Luke 18:9-14

It is very common today for people to have a “me” focus when it comes to worship.
The difference between feeling inspired and “the church meeting my needs.” Some people who used to go to church but don’t now say “I just couldn’t find a church to meet my needs.” or “I had a need and the church didn’t meet it.”
This reminds me of the Pharisee and the tax-collector.
Luke 18:9–14 NIV
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
You may think this is harsh to compare a person who emphasizes his needs to the pharisee. Okay, let’s not do that. Instead, let’s compare him to the tax collector. Does a person who says, “I don’t go to that church because it doesn’t meet my needs” sound like, “God have mercy on me as sinner.”?

Summary: We have to aspire to have inspiring worship.

All of this means that to have inspiring worship we have to work on it, to be intentional. That’s true of me and the worship team, the support teams that serve behind the scenes and work sound, make coffee, prepare communion, greet, serve in children’s ministry, greet or watch out for our safety.
Another aspect of inspiring worship is that you have to admire something.

2. We must admire God to experience inspiring worship.

It isn’t unusual to be impressed by someone’s talent or skill. We listen to people on TV sing and are at times blown away with how good they are. We watch people do dangerous tasks, like rock climbing and are on the one hand terrified for them but on the other hand inspired. We admire their skill an it inspires us.
It’s like the guy who watched a TV show about a man who overcame a great physical challenge. After the show his wife asked him, “Are you inspired to do something now?” He said “Yes, I’m really inspired to watch another show like that!”
Inspiring worship is about admiring God. We admire Him for who He is and for what He does. Sometimes He gives us a glimpse of Himself through reading the Bible. Sometime it is through what we experience.
Let’s take a minute and see if we can all come up with some thing you admire about God. There is a place in your notes that says,
“I admire God because ___________________________________________________________.”
I want you to come up with something to fill in that blank. We aren’t going to share this now, we’re going to share it later in our discussion groups.
Inspiring worship is about a vision of something greater than yourself that you admire, appreciate and aspire to.
The way we express our admiration is praise. There are different ways churches do this. We have a worship band. Other churches have traditional choirs, gospel choirs, some are unplugged with just piano or acoustic guitar, and some churches choose a non-instrumental for of worship. None of the ways people worship matter, it is that they worship and praise God.

Praise is a spontaneous response to inspiring worship. Psalm 19:1-14

When we see God as He is, we have to say wow! We have to praise him.
Psalm 19:1–14 NIV
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. 5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. 7 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. 11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
If you don’t acknowledge God in praise you haven’t been inspired by Him.

Inspiring worship brings us joy. 1 Peter 1:8-9, Psalm 28:1-9

We have joy when something good happens. There are times when God gives us a breath of heaven, joy inexpressible. Here is how Peter describes these times.
1 Peter 1:8–9 NIV
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
There are other times when we have joy in response to God helping us. When we’re down and trouble and you need some love and care. Hmm, those would be good words for a song, wouldn’t they?
I’m reminded of a Carole King song that James Taylor sang,
When you're down and troubled And you need some love and care And nothing, nothing is going right Close your eyes and think of me And soon I will be there To brighten up even your darkest night
You just call out my name And you know wherever I am I'll come running, to see you again Winter, spring, summer or fall All you have to do is call And I'll be there You've got a friend
God is the best friend we could ever want! Do you feel that way about God? When you are inspired by worship you do. Here’s how the Psalmist puts it.
Psalm 28:1–9 NIV
1 To you, Lord, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit. 2 Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place. 3 Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts. 4 Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands have done and bring back on them what they deserve. 5 Because they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord and what his hands have done, he will tear them down and never build them up again. 6 Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. 7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. 8 The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. 9 Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.
There is one more element of inspiring worship.

3. We must acquire new skills as part of inspiring worship. Ephesian 4:1-3

Understanding the goodness, greatness and wisdom of God motivates us to better ourselves, to become more Christ-like. Inspiring worship sets forth by teaching, explaining and applying God’s Word ways that we can grow as children of God.
Inspiring worship causes us to act, to change our behavior according to what God teaches us.
The book of Ephesians is letter Paul wrote to a church he started years before. The first three chapters of the book describe many lofty elements of what God has done for us. Then in Ephesians chapter 4 Paul pivots. He describes the practical way the truth he described in the first three chapters is to be lived out by Christ followers. Here is how Paul begins the practical section of this letter.
Ephesians 4:1–3 NIV
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Is this practical? How would you describe a life worthy of the calling we have received? Here’s how Paul described it, being humble, gentle, patient, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Is there anyone here in this room or who is watching online or listening to this that does this perfectly all the time? If so, would you stand please, we will all give you a round of applause.
This reminds me of the preacher who once asked his congregation if anyone in the room was perfect. He said, “If you’re here today and you’re perfect, would you stand.” Sure enough a man stood. The pastor was surprised. He said, “Bill, are you saying you’re perfect?” Bill replied, “No pastor, I’m standing on behalf of my wife’s deceased first husband.”
Let’s take these 5 things, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing one another in love, working on unity, and work on it this week, couldn’t we? Every one of us could pick one of them.
But I don’t want you to work on that. This week, I want us all to work on inspiring worship. Here are some things to work on:
Work on thanking or praising God by beginning each day thanking Him or praising Him for five things He did for you yesterday.
Work on choosing to worship God every day. Prepare for worship before you come to church. Set aside time each day to worship God in prayer, praise, meditation or singing worship songs.
Work on having joy in your relationship with God. Ask for help with your problems. Ask for joy inexpressible and full of glory.

Discussion Questions:

Share your answer to “I admire God because ___________________________________________________________.”
Share which of the three things you plan to work on and make a note of what others at your table share so you can pray for them during the week.
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