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A Model of Worship for the Imperfect Man

When we think of what worship should look like we often skip directly to Revelation as the model of corporate singing.  I think that is right in one sense because that is what worship ultimately will look like in the perfected state.  However, I think Scripture gives us many models of what worship should look like and sometimes there are more helpful models for us in our imperfect, not yet glorified state.  We don’t yet have perfect voices, perfect skills, nor perfect motives and thoughts.  So how can we, unglorfied believers who still struggle with the remnants of sin in our life, rightly approach our God and worship Him in His presence?  I think we see a good example in Isaiah 6.  While I don’t think this passage is prescriptive in that this is the only way we worship personally or corporately, I think it can be a very helpful template for us.  We see four things modeled in this passage that can be helpful for both our corporate and personal worship and communion with God.

An Adoration of God’s Attributes

“In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said,

“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,

The whole earth is full of His glory.”

And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.” – Isaiah 6:1-4

In my own personal times of worship and communion with God am I taking time to adore God purely for who He is?

In our corporate times of worship how are we as a ministry putting the holiness, righteousness, power, and magnificence of God on display for His people?

An Acknowledgement of Man’s Sin

“Then I said,

‘Woe is me, for I am ruined!

Because I am a man of unclean lips,

And I live among a people of unclean lips;

For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.’” – Isaiah 6:5

In my own personal times of worship and communion with God am I taking time to acknowledge my weaknesses and failings?  Am I regularly confessing my sins?

In our corporate times of worship how are we as a ministry giving opportunity to God’s people to reflect on their life and confess their unworthiness before God?  How are we coming into the sanctuary to serve God’s people?  Do we have clean lips and hands?

A Remembrance of God’s Mercy & Forgiveness

“Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.’” – Isaiah 6:6-7

In my own personal times of worship and communion with God am I claiming the promises of grace and forgiveness in Christ?  Am I not wallowing and despairing in my sin but knowing I am secure in Christ rejoicing in the love of God shown to me at the cross?

In our corporate times of worship how are we as a ministry reminding God’s people of the great grace that was shown to them at calvary?  Is there ample opportunity to rejoice in the Gospel and express our thankfulness for Christ and His work?  This should be the majority of our worship diet.

A Commitment to God’s Service

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” – Isaiah 6:8

In my own personal times of worship and communion with God how am I responding to His grace?  Is there a sincere commitment to love Him, serve Him, live for Him, even die for Him?

In our corporate times of worship how are we as a ministry encouraging God’s people to commit their lives to Him?  Do they walk away from our worship times with a desire to bring the good news of the Gospel to the world, serve in ministry, and give to the Kingdom?

How Can It Be?

Julian here.  I’ve been dwelling today on the words that often echo in my mind from the great hymn:

“How can it be that Thou, my God, shoudst die for me?”

This should be the most astonishing, joyful, and humbling question of our lives.  Let us consider the heart of this inquiry:

Thou, My God -

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” – Genesis 1:1

“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”  – Exodus 34:5-7

“Behold, God is exalted in his power; who is a teacher like him?” – Job 36:22

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” – Isaiah 6:3

“I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself” – Isaiah 44:24

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” – 1 John 1:5

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” – James 1:17

This is the “Thou, My God” who has DIED…FOR ME!?  How could this possibly be?  How could the God who created and sustains all things, the one who is Holy and set apart, who is unmatched in his mercy, kindness, justice, power, righteousness, wisdom, with Whom there is no change – how could HE DIE FOR ME?!  It almost seems impossible, for He is both eternal and unchanging.

But, through Christ, it is made possible.  For He humbled Himself.  He is all of these things, who possesses all of these attributes, yet the eternal, unchanging God saw fit to take on a mortal body so that He could die for me.  And why did He do it?  How can it be?  The answer: Amazing Love.

So if you want to know how amazing God’s amazing love is toward us – look above and consider is attributes.  And then, consider just how infinite the magnitude of His decent to take on a mortal body that could die for me.  This is the magnitude of His love in coming to die for sinners.

 

The Heart of Worship

I have had the opportunity to serve for a number of years now at Community Bible Church in the music ministry.  God has given this church many gifted instrumentalists and vocalists and they truly are just that, a gift to the church.  Having recently attended the WorshipGod conference put on by Sovereign Grace Music I got to see how God uses many different types of instruments, voices and musicians to exalt Himself in song.  Music is an incredible gift to the church that God uses to point our minds and affections toward Christ!

I often ask myself, however, what if I never learned to play the piano?  What if I never learned to sing?  What if I was unable to sing?  I’m not just talking about being unable to match pitch or carry a tune…what if I literally had no voice?  Would this exclude me from worshiping God in song?

As we look at the New Testament, there are not many verses that deal directly with worshiping God in song.  But if we look at the few that are available to us, we find something quite astonishing.  Let’s look at a couple of examples:

“And do not get drunk with wine, for this is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Ephesians 5:19

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” – Colossians 3:16

So here are two of these few verses that deal with the songs we sing corporately as a church.  Surprisingly, instruments are not mentioned.  The quality of the voice is not in view.  Ensuring the maximum tonal quality of the room in which we worship together is not demanded.  What then, is the impetus behind corporate singing?  What is it that causes corporate worship to happen?  What are the true instruments of worship?

The Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit that moves on the inner man to cause true worship.

The Word of Christ.  It is the truth of the Gospel dwelling in us that centers our mind and focus on God, resulting in true worship

The Thankful Heart.  It is that wonderful moment when we are gripped by the truth of who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for us that makes our hearts thankful.  It is the Gospel that causes our heart to truly in engage in God glorifying singing and making melody.

So to you who feels like your worship is ‘inadequate’ because your lack tonal quality or the ability to play an instrument, take heart!  None of these are required to fulfill the command to sing to God.  Pray that the Spirit would work in your heart to set your affections on Christ.  Get in the word and let the Gospel saturate your thinking so that you arrive on Sunday morning with a thankful heart.  Then sing, shout, whatever it takes to make a joyful noise to God.  Let your singing flow from these things and nothing else.

Worship leaders: pray that God would cause these things to be present in our times of corporate worship.  God has given us music as a gift to be used for His glory in the church.  Take full advantage of it, yes, but let it serve the main thing not become the main thing.  The purpose of music in your church is not to highlight the art itself, but to highlight Christ.  Do all that you do in your ministry to serve that end.  But more importantly, pray for the Spirit’s work in the hearts of those in your congregation.  Pray that the truth of the Gospel would flood the preaching in your church and the lyrics of your songs so that it overflows into the hearts that walk through your doors on Sunday morning.  Pray that God would give us thankful hearts and that it would result in music and singing that exalts His Son.

 

- Julian

Not My Own

Here’s a rough recording of a new original song we are currently working on called, “Not My Own”. It emphasizes that the believer has been ransomed by Christ to worship and live for Him; and not for self or anything else. It’s a work in progress, so check it out and let us know what you think.

[Verse 1]
Chained in sinfulness, chasing happiness
where real joy could not be found
Lost in futility until You found me
Opened my eyes to grace, and mercy
And now I see that I don’t belong to me

[Chorus]
I am not my own
My debt was nailed upon the cross
I have been redeemed
My ransom paid at highest cost

[Post-Chorus]
Bought with a price, with precious blood
Jesus saved my soul for
He tasted death to set me free
Now, I am not my own anymore
I am not my own anymore

[Verse 2]
Pardoned from my sin, born again in Him
I’m no longer what I was
Crucified with Christ, raised with Him to life
No longer I, but Christ lives in me
And now I’m free, for He has purchased me

[Bridge]
Freed to worship You
Serve and live for You
I am Yours alone

Exalting Christ Conference 2011

Song Lists
What a blessed time we had together at the Exalting Christ Conference! Here is a list of the songs that were sung in case you’re interested in singing them at your church. The chord and lead sheets for our originals are under the music section of our website.

Wednesday Day Sessions
Your Love, O Lord
My Faith Has Found A Resting Place
You Are God Alone

ECMI Missions Dinner
Across The Lands
Famous One
How Sweet and Awesome (O Son of God)*

Wednesday Evening Session
He is Jesus
All Hail the Power
Greater Than We Can Imagine
Lord God Almighty*
Glories of Calvary
In Christ Alone
All I Have is Christ

Thursday Day Sessions
Holy, Holy, Holy
Thy Mercy
Jesus, Messiah
How Great is Our God
Micah 7:7
Made Me Glad
Great is Thy Faithfulness

The Cornerstone Seminary Dinner
Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)
Let Your Kingdom Come

Thursday Evening Session
O For a Thousand Tounges to Sing
Humbled By Your Mercy*
Your Grace is Enough
For Christ Has Come*
Sing for Joy*
Praise the Father, Praise the Son
Behold Our God

Friday Day Sessions
Come Thou Fount
The Father’s Love
Still
O Great God
I Will Glory in My Redeemer

*Exalting Christ Music Original