Be Joyful In Worship

Different churches have different ideas as to what worship is. Some say that worship must be quiet and dignified. Some go so far as to say that even musical instruments must not be used in worship. Others have very specific rituals that must be used in worship. On the other end of the spectrum are those who say that we are not worshipping unless we are jumping around and shouting our heads off.

The History of Worship

Worship in the early church centered around praising God. However, by the time of the Reformation, the church had gotten so far away from the true meaning of the Bible that very few people really knew what the Bible taught. Copies of the Bible were very few because the printing press had not yet been invented. People simply did not have access to the Bible.

So, many people, especially John and Charles Wesley began putting the truths of the Bible to music. This enabled the people to learn and remember the truths of the Bible. Singing these early songs became a normal and necessary part of their gatherings for worship. This served a very important purpose. The problem was that, for many, it became the central part of their worship service.

Rituals were developed for the same purpose. It did help the people to remember the truths of the Bible. Rituals became even more important for many after the invention of the printing press because then people could read the ritual instead of just memorize it.

So, for many, the meaning of worship became the reciting of and singing of the truths of the Bible. But this is not what the Bible teaches about worshipping God.

What the Bible Says About Worship

There are many passages throughout the Bible that talk about how to worship God. Perhaps one of the best is found in Psalm 100. The NIV version really brings out the meaning of verse 1 & 2. Psalm 100:1-2 (NIV) “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.”

You see, singing in the Hebrew culture was always joyful. Just listen to Modern Hebrew singing. It is very joyful and uplifting. “But,” you say, “I cannot sing. My singing sounds horrible.” The word singing” in verse 2 comes from the Hebrew word “ranan” whose primary meaning is “a shout for joy.” Actually, this word is used over 50 times in the Old Testament.

Thus, God doesn’t care how well you sing a melody, but rather, how well you express yourself with your voice. Sure, there may be some people around you that think that you cannot sing. But who are you singing for, them or God?

Actually, I kind of like the way that the King James Version puts it. It says to “make a joyful noise” unto the Lord. So, don’t worry about how well you can sing, just let God know that you want to praise Him.

The Purpose of Worship

Worship has nothing to do with how we feel. Worship is not to make us feel better or to even make us feel closer to God. It is not even for the purpose of learning more about God. It will do this, but this is not its purpose. This is why worship has nothing to do with any type of ritual or even teaching.

We use rituals to make us feel better. Rituals can help us center our minds on God. Rituals can help to know more about God. Thus, there is nothing bad about using rituals. Sometimes we even need them to redirect our thinking. However, rituals have nothing to do with worship.

The purpose of worship is to acknowledge the presence of God and to let God know how much we love Him. This is why real worship is always centered on God.

Modern Worship

Thus, when I talk about worship, I am talking about spending time praising God. This can be done while you are by yourself or in a gathering of many thousands. And if you are a part of a church that engages in real and true worship, you have an opportunity to learn to truly worship God.

I say that you have an opportunity, because I have noticed that there are two types of people in these worship services. There are those who are noticeably worshipping God. You can see it on their faces. Many are raising their hands and others are even dancing. But you can tell that they are lost in letting God know how much they love Him.

But there are others, even though they may be singing, seem to many miles away. They are going through the motions but are not really engaged in what they are doing. They are more of a spectator in the worship, rather than a participant.

It doesn’t mean that you have to raise your hands and jump up and down to worship God. Some people may be deeply engaged in worship God, yet show no outward expressions of what they are doing.

How Should You Express Yourself In Worship?

I have always said that you should act in a church service the same way you act at a football game (or any other sporting event). If you are very physically expressive (jump up and down and shout, etc.) at a sporting event, you should show the same enthusiasm in a worship service because that is who you are.

However, if you don’t express yourself physically at a sporting event, you will probably express yourself the same way in a worship service. You see, God doesn’t look at your outward expressions, but rather at what is going on in your heart. (This is true whether you express yourself outwardly or not.)

However, if God prompts you to express your love Him for in a physical way, don’t ignore Him. You may need to do more to express your feelings outwardly just to be more engaged in your worship. This is between you and God.

If you cannot be joyful in your worship, there is something that is standing between you and God. You need to find out what that is and correct it. God wants us to be joyful in our worship and express it to Him.


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