I recently delivered the following sermon called “Love Expressed”. The message was largely based on the sermon by Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church. The premise is that visibly expressing worship to God is a Biblical principle.
Disclaimer: The first minute and a half of the below recording has an underlying music track glitch which could not be altered.
The following is based on the message “What’s So Important About Expressing Worship” by Pastor Robert Morris. All verses are from the NASB translation.
How many of you are married, engaged, dating, or in some kind of romantic relationship? If that’s you, I have a question. How would your special someone feel if you never expressed that you love them? Would that go over well?
Did you know that Believers are called the Bride of Christ? In fact, the metaphor of marriage is one of the primary ways used to describe our relationship with Jesus Christ. Us as Bride, and Jesus as Groom.
With that in mind, how do you think Jesus feels if we never express our love to Him? Is it right for us to withhold that from the Lover of Our Soul?
Some people might get a little defensive here, as we start talking about expressing our love. That might be you, whose thinking, “Well, I share my love in different ways. I’m not an expressive person.”
I completely understand. It is true that each of shares and receives love in different ways–that’s what we call our Love Language. But here’s the thing:
Are we loving God in the way that we DO express love?
You see, worship is love expressed. When we come together here, before the Word of God is preached, what do we do? We worship. We come together and we express our love to God.
At least… we’re supposed to be doing that. Perhaps for most of us, worship is just a time to stand around awkwardly, pretending to be participating, thoughts drifting to everything but Jesus, and mindlessly reading the words on the screen. Sound familiar?
But that’s not what worship is about! That’s not what worship should look like. I believe that the Church today doesn’t really understand what worship is all about or how to express our love to God properly.
Regardless of our perspectives or opinions, there is a Scriptural reason for why we should do certain things during worship.
It’s not denominational dogma, it’s Biblical doctrine. Dogma is an established opinion, whereas doctrine is an established teaching based on the Bible.
By example, we lift our hands during worship because its Biblical doctrine.
Now, let’s look at MATTHEW 2:11:
“After coming into the house [the Wise Men] saw the Child (Jesus) with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
The Wise Men, here, fell down and worshipped the baby Jesus. Was that the wise thing to do? Was that the appropriate thing to do? …that these kings bowed before the king of all creation, before the Savior of the World?
If you’re not sure on that one, Yes, that was absolutely appropriate. Is it not appropriate then for us to bow down before Our Savior?
Today, we’ll be looking at Six Biblical Expressions of Worship. The first is…
The Hebrew word we translate as Clapping, is “Taqa” (pronounced: taw-kah). Literally, it means ‘to strike or clap hands’. There are two reasons in Scripture why we clap as part of worship. The first reason is for victory.
Job 27:23 “Men will clap their hands at him And will hiss him from his place…”
Nahum 3:19 “There is no relief for your breakdown, Your wound is incurable. All who hear about you Will clap their hands over you, For on whom has not your evil passed continually?”
These passages demonstrate how people used clapping to denote victory over their enemies. The second reason to clap is for joy.
Psalm 98:8 “Let the rivers clap their hands, Let the mountains sing together for joy”
Psalm 47:1 “O clap your hands, all peoples; Shout to God with the voice of joy.”
When we clap our hands we’re expressing joy to the Lord and victory over the enemy. So, next time you worship remember that we’re stomping on the devil in victory and we’re praising Our King Jesus in joy!
The Second Biblical Expression of Worship is…
The Hebrew word for shouting is “Shabach” (pronounced: shaw-bakh), which means ‘to shout praise’.
Psalm 145:4 “One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts.”
Galatians 4:27 “For it is written, ‘Rejoice, barren woman who does not bear; Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor; For more numerous are the children of the desolate Than of the one who has a husband.’”
Here’s an important point: Worship is an act of faith – you should shout BEFORE you get the victory!
You know the story of the Israelites at the City of Jericho, right? In order to conquer that city, God told them to do something that sounded odd. He told them to walk around the city once a day for six days, and then on the seventh day walk around seven times while blowing their trumpets and then they were to give a loud shout.
What happened after that? The walls came down with a mighty crash.
Here’s what’s wrong with some people’s dogma (remember, dogma refers to an established opinion). They think “Once God moves, then I’ll shout.”
But God is saying just the opposite. His ways so often seem paradoxical or contradictory to human sense. God says, “You shout and THEN I’ll move!”
It doesn’t matter what you see or how you feel. First you shout and then God will do His thing. There’s a faith component there. Trusting God. Let’s expound on that point for just a moment. Here’s a countdown of the …
Top Five Reasons to Worship When you Don’t Feel Like It:
#5 Worship is by faith (as we just mentioned)
#4 Feelings should not dictate our actions; principles should
When we don’t feel like praying, that’s when we pray. When we don’t feel like tithing, we tithe. When we don’t feel like worshipping… that’s when we need to worship!
#3 Praise is a command
“Shout to the Lord!” “Clap your hands!” “Lift up your hands in the Sanctuary!” These various scriptures are all in the imperative form, meaning that they’re commands not suggestions.
#2 It’s being true to who you really are
When we worship even when we don’t feel like it, we are being true to ourselves. There’s a line of reasoning that says “when things aren’t going well in my life and I go to church, I don’t want to be a hypocrite. So, if I worship and shout to the Lord, I’m a hypocrite.”
The problem with that belief is that a Hypocrite is someone who is NOT acting like who they really are. When we go to church and don’t worship, THAT’S when we’re being hypocrites! You see, as Believers, we worship because that’s what Believers do: they worship God.
And here’s the number one reason why to worship even when we don’t feel like it”
#1 He’s Worthy
No matter what else happens, God is worthy of our worship! Period.
So, we talked about clapping and shouting, now here’s the third expression of worship.
The Hebrew word for singing is “Tehillah” (pronounced: teh-hil-lah), and means ‘to glorify God in song, to sing Scripture’.
Psalm 95:1 “O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.”
Numbers 21:16-17 “From there they continued to Beer (pronounced Bay’eer), that is the well where the Lord said to Moses, “Assemble the people, that I may give them water.” Then Israel sang this song: “Spring up, O well! Sing to it!”
God said if you sing and worship, the dry well would fill up.
Do you have any barren or dry places in your life? We should be singing over those circumstances. By example, some of you here should be singing over your business–!
The wrong thought says, “If my business would flourish, I’d sing!” But God says “You sing and it’ll flourish!” This is the principle all through Scripture.
On the cross, the crowd jeered and mocked Jesus, telling him to “come down so that we can see and believe” but understanding this principle, Jesus was probably thinking–”Believe and see!”
In 2 Chronicles 20, Israel was going to war and King Jehoshaphat asked the LORD what they should do. God said, “Get the singers and put them on the front lines. And when you go out have them sing.”
They did it and God caused a spirit of confusion to come upon the enemy and they turned and killed each other. When Israel got there, all the spoils were there for the taking.
Would it be okay if God caused confusion in the camp of the enemy and gave you the victory?
But how’d did all this happen?
They worshipped Him first and they expressed their worship.
Please bear with me, here. Don’t tune out this imperative lesson. While talking about these expressions of worship, I’m not trying to turn anyone here into someone their not. But here’s the thing…
Some of us are really expressive watching a football game or TV Drama but when we come to worship God, we use this excuse that says “Oh, I’m worshipping Him in my heart.”
Well, that’s good. But we’re a three-part being–spirit, soul, and body. Can’t we worship God with our body and soul also? Is God not worthy of being worshipping with every part of us?
The Fourth Expression of Biblical Worship is
4. Bowing and Kneeling
The Hebrew words we translate as Bowing and Kneeling are “Barak” (pronounced: bah-rak) and “Shachah” (pronounced: sha-kha).
Remember, these are all Biblical expressions!
Psalm 95:6 “Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”
What’s the difference between these two? Between bowing and kneeling?
Bowing = Submitting (whether willingly or not)
That’s what the wise men did before Jesus and that’s what Satan wanted Jesus to do before Him when Jesus was being tempted in the Wilderness.
Matthew 4:9 “…and [Satan] said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”
Satan wanted Him to worship and express his worship, because even Satan knows that true worship is always expressed.
Kneeling = Honor/Adoration
Why does a man kneel to ask a woman to marry him? To show her honor.
So, question: why not honor Jesus?
The Fifth Biblical Expression of Worship is …
5. Lifting Hands
This expression can come from two different Hebrew words. The first is “Yadah” (pronounced: yaw-daw), which literally means ‘to throw, shoot, or cast’. The second word is “Towdah” (pronounced: to-daw), literally meaning ‘ confession, praise, thanksgiving” but with a proper definition as ‘an extension of the hand”.
An example of Yadah comes from PSALM 50:23
“He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.”
Why do we lift our hands?
A popular answer might say it’s an act of surrender. That’s a good answer, but it’s not the Biblical reason–at least, not the one I want to hone in on today.
Afterall, for some people, you’d only ever see them raise their hands in duress, such as if they were being held up at gunpoint! They would raise their hands surrendering to fear, but not to express love? We’d raise our hands for a stranger but not for Jesus? There’s something not quite right about that.
Here’s why, Scripturally, we raise our hands. Symbolically…
Raised Hands = Blessing
The one to whom you raise your hands, is blessed. In the time of the Patriarchs–Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob–, blessings were passed to the next generation through raised or laying-on of hands. In Numbers 17, so long as Moses kept his hands raised, the Israelites were victorious in battle. In Nehemiah 8, Ezra prayed and blessed the LORD, and the people agreed with raised hands.
Psalm 63:4 “So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.”
Are we going to lift our hands while we’re alive? Because we certainly won’t have any trouble with that in heaven–so why not get started here?
Luke 24:50 “And [Jesus] led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them.”
Jesus did it. Why can’t we do the same back?
Psalm 134:2 “Lift up your hands to the sanctuary And bless the Lord.”
It doesn’t get much clearer than that!
Let’s bless Him! Let’s practice.
Now, I asked a while ago how many of you are married or in any kind of romantic relationship. How many here have children, and/or grandchildren? Do you like it when they express their love for you? Don’t you think God likes it when we do the same?
The Sixth and Final Biblical Expression of Worship we’ll be looking at today is…
The Hebrew word here is “Karar” (pronounced: kaw-rar), which means ‘to whirl, dance’.
Psalm 150:4 “Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.”
From this same passage, let’s read the full chapter, verses one through six:
Psalm 150:1-6 “Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse. 2 Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. 3 Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. 4 Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. 5 Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. 6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!”
Then, in Luke 7:31 Jesus said: “To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like?” Talking to the Jewish people, he was basically saying “You’re missing your day of visitation.” That is, they were missing Jesus even though he was right there, they were missing out on all he had to offer.
Later, he said in Matthew 23:37
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.
This is the same thing Jesus was talking about in the passage from Luke. He was telling them “you’re going to miss your visitation–you’re going to miss what I’m doing!”
He was saying, “You didn’t rejoice at my birth, so the Non-Jews had to do that. You should have been dancing when I was born, and you’re not going to be mourning when I die. You’re missing it.”
But they didn’t just miss it at that time in history because Jesus was there at that time. He can be missed at any time, even now.
Do you know when YOUR day of visitation is? It’s when you’re alive.
The Jews missed it (as a nation) during their lives, and we are faced with a similar choice.
David said in Psalm 146:2
“I will praise the Lord while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.”
Some of you are missing your day of visitation, because you won’t dance, and won’t clap or sing, and won’t shout, bow or kneel down.
And yet Jesus is here among us!
Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
Here’s here among us.
This is not a matter of Salvation: I’m not saying, if you don’t raise your hands and dance in church, you’re not going to Heaven. Obviously, that would be incorrect. What I am saying, is that everytime we come together to worship, we have an opportunity to truly connect with God. We have a chance to meet Him heart to heart.
I’m sure you’ve heard it said that Christianity is a relationship, not religion. Well, worship is one of the primary ways we can get to know Jesus and get in line with His Will. Worship time can be a place of Visitation, an intimate encounter.
Pastor Robert Morris tells the story of a young woman, a worship leader, from New Zealand. [By the way, if you didn’t already know this, England and New Zealand are both constitutional monarchies under the same leadership, the same Queen.] Anyway, this woman was obsessed with the Queen. And one time, the Queen came to visit New Zealand. There was a big parade and so this woman went to see the Queen. She had to climb on top of a garbage can to see above the crowd, and once she got up there she was clapping, and shouting, and very happy to see the passing monarch.
No one turned around to chastise her, telling her how foolish she looked because everyone else was also looking at the queen.
Sometimes we look at other people during worship and think “Why are they doing that? They look silly.” But we should be should be looking at the king!
And what this woman was doing, if the Queen had not been passing by, WOULD have been foolish. But it was the presence of the queen that validated what she was doing.
QUESTION: What are you going to do when the King passes by?
We need to stop worrying about people around us, look at the king, and express our love to him… because he is worthy!
Father God, thank you so much for helping us to see the importance worship has in our lives. If there’s any hesitation or struggling, we ask that you would do a work in us. Transform our hearts and minds and so-fill us with the joy in knowing you, that we don’t miss out on our moment of visitation. Help us to find the liberty of loving you, and expressing our love to You in the Biblical ways we learned about today.
If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your LORD and Savior today, if you’ve never completely turned away from your rebellion and received the gift of salvation provided through His death on the Cross, I invite you: take this moment to do so now. The most important encounter you can have with God is by following Him, by turning from selfishness and embracing his Love and his Forgiveness.
Lord God, you created us for relationship with you. In our self-delusion, we thought we’d be better off without you–but the truth is, in rejecting you, we’ve rejected Life itself. Please forgive us of our sins, of our desire to do things our way. We believe that you came as a man–Jesus–to live a perfect life and pay the penalty for our rebellion. All we have to do is turn away from the old life and follow you. Please heal us and help us to serve you. And may we never forget all that you’ve saved us from and for. May we continually express our worship to you!
In the Name of Jesus Christ, Our King