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Corporate Worship, YES, that means TOGETHER...

A Year in the Spiritual Life... Discover Your Purpose: Corporate Worship, YES, that means TOGETHER...

Thursday

Corporate Worship, YES, that means TOGETHER...


Church- body- congregation- in the Greek it is ‘ekklesia’ and it means the assembling of God’s people. Hebrews 10:24-25 says provoke (or entice/challenge) one another to love and do not forsake the assembling of ourselves together…but exhort (build up) one another and so much more. In case you think ‘church’ is a modern idea and God didn’t give examples of it in the Old Testament, then look at Psalms 149:1-4. (The Message)
Hallelujah! Sing to God a brand-new song, praise him in the company of all who love him. Let all Israel celebrate their Sovereign Creator, Zion's children exult in their King. Let them praise his name in dance; strike up the band and make great music! And why? Because God delights in his people.
Something I want to point out here. There is an order to Praise and Worship, and it revolves around FOCUS. The focus of our worship should be God. In this text it says hallelujah, sing to God, praise Him, Celebrate the Sovereign Creator, exult the King, praise His name THEN it talks about the music (the actual artistry of sound). What we focus on is what becomes important in our lives. So if we obsess about the style of the music or what the conga drummer did that should have been done by the main drummer, or if someone on the Praise Team sung a flat note THEN WE MISS THE MARK! I have been soooo guilty of this. Nit-picking every little element of the music and missing the opportunity to usher God’s presence into my life, I have spent a month of Sundays, if not more, miserable about the praise and worship service: totally missing the point of why I was there in the first place. It is not about me, it is about sharing with other believers my faith, my trust, my hope in my Father. It is about my neighbor being strengthened and reminded that God cares for them, and by example showing the unbelievers among us that there is something bigger than themselves that calls to them, and that is the TRUTH of salvation.
The funny thing is there will always be those of us that still pout like petulant children and ask why? Why do I need to spend time together with those ‘churchy’ people? Why does God give us these examples of corporate worship? “BECAUSE GOD DELIGHTS IN HIS PEOPLE”  
We get together for so many things in this life: birthday parties, super bowls, getting engaged, getting married, celebrating a promotion or sending someone off as they embark on the next chapter of their life, like graduation, or just to send someone off on vacation… and still there are those that wonder why they should “get together” with other believers and spend some time worshipping God?
To those who feel this way, consider what the psalmist said in Psalms 84:10 “Better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere”. To me this is reason enough. Moving on…
Praise and worship should be clear. Whether you are “bringing in the sheaves”, or “giving it all away, away”, songs should be easily understood and followed. Not everyone can rap, and a service full of TobyMac-ish lyrics won’t minister to every age, just like old-style hymns won’t minister to kids who have no idea what sheaves are in the first place. This is not just a matter of personal or “Church” style, but there is a practical application as well. Let’s look at that next.
Earlier I said “showing the unbelievers among us that there is something bigger than themselves”. I want to talk about that for a moment. Corporate Worship should be evangelistic. There are often unsaved among the body on any given Sunday, and our Praise and Worship time should not be so “churchy” that it excludes the non-believer. Remember in the story of King Jehoshaphat that we covered a few days ago in “Jumping Jehoshaphat!”? After all the battles were over, the children of Israel sang and worshiped all the way home to Jerusalem and the other nations heard them and knew that God fought on behalf of Israel and they (the other nations and kingdoms) believed. Songs did that, not a 45 minute sermon, not a prophet standing under some tree…songs
Twenty years ago, my friend Teresa, had never been to church. She was raised in a home that was extremely worldly and she had never heard the name of Jesus in anyway other than as a curse word. So imagine her shock when she went to her first church service with her new boyfriend and all their songs said Jesus in them over and over and some even talked about blood and sacrifice. She told me later that all she kept picturing was a slasher-style movie scene in her head of some Michael Voorhees-like character cussing while ripping out his victim’s guts. She laughs now, because she knows what “power in the blood” means and why Jesus is so precious, but what grabbed her attention was the strangeness of the way the people at church spoke and the things they sang. She was full of questions that eventually got answered by her boyfriend and his parents (later her hubby and in-laws) and she became a believer. I tell this story to say this: our song service is another chance to present the gospel. Praise and Worship should be clear because it is a chance to expose the unsaved to the gospel and spark life in them for the first time.
How do we do this? We stay relevant. We are not part of the world because we are now new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17) but we have to live in the world around us, because that is where we were called out of. (John 15:19)

Webster’s online says relevance is this: Definition of RELEVANT

1 a: having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand baffording evidence tending to prove or disprove the matter at issue or under discussion <relevant testimony> c: having social importance

We need to change. Not what we stand for or who we are as believers, but we must modify our approach. Change is hard. We are creatures of habit. I can hear several of the people that I grew up around, in my head now, saying if it was good enough then, it is good enough now. And in one way they are right. We still want people to know they can have Victory in Jesus, but what does it hurt to sing that in a newer, fresher way? The message is the same, the delivery is different.
Are there any problems with staying relevant? Only if reaching the lost is a problem. You remember them right, the lost? “Those” people in the mall that don’t look like you because they have rings in their noses, and holes the size of quarters in their ears need Jesus too. So do the rappers, the punkers, the skaters, the bikers, the cowboys, the emo’s and any other sub-culture you can think of. Jesus died for them all. (John 3:16, Galatians 3:28)
I have heard one pastor say it like this: we catch the fish, Jesus cleans the fish. I heard another say this: get them born and let God change the diapers. Hopefully you get the point, catching fish takes effort, and it is work to bring babies into the world. We must prove we have a significantly better way of living life and present evidence to that fact. We must show we have importance socially but most vital is to show spiritual importance. That is relevance.
Finally, allow room for the Holy Spirit to move. If I haven’t lost you already, I may lose you here. I must preface this with two things. First, I believe that God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Malachi 3:6) and secondly that there is a Godhead or trinity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, and 16:8-13). Since God does not change, and He cannot lie, then the Holy Spirit is still active today! He is a comforter, a teacher, a friend. Allow the Spirit to show you the things of God and you and the body will never be the same. (We can talk about order in a service and the Holy Spirit at another time, but if you want to look at that read 1 Corinthians 13 and 14 to start)  
So if your corporate worship is country and western, or contemporary, or rock; remember these fundamentals:
1.      It must be God focused
2.      It must be clear
3.      It must be evangelistic
4.      It must be relevant
5.      It must allow room for the Spirit
6.      And IT MUST INCLUDE YOU!
Be blessed and be a blessing and remember that together is and adverb. 

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