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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Spirit Filled Worship

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Ephesians 5:19
...speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord...

Daily Scripture Reading - Psalm 147

Puritan Catechism
Question #47 - Which is the third commandment?

Answer - The third commandment is, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain" (Exodus 20:7).

Devotional Thoughts
We know that we are commanded to be filled with the Spirit. This is not something that is optional for the believer, for without the empowering of the Spirit we really are quite helpless when it comes to living the Christian life. God's will, as it is explained to us in Ephesians 5 is that we are not to be drunk with wine but are instead to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We must yield ourselves in submission to Him and be controlled and lead by Him as we walk in obedience to the Word of God.

The question that arises though is a question about what a Spirit filled life looks like. If you believe what you see on television or what you hear from false teachers in the Word-Faith movement then you would think that the Spirit filled life is a life of ecstatic worship and comfortable ease where one is naturally healthy, wealthy, and wise. But what does the Bible tell us about the Spirit filled life?

The very first thing it tells us about Spirit filled living is that when we are filled with the Spirit we will worship God. We must note however, that this does not say that we will worship God as we want - it says that we will worship Him with a right focus in obedience to the Word.

When we are filled with the Spirit we will sing praises to God. The songs we sing are noted to be "Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs." These three types of songs are found in the Scriptures and many other great hymns full of sound doctrine have been written by the church to give expression to our hearts as we praise God. Psalms are just what we find in the Book of Psalms. Poetry given to us as God's Word to be sung back to Him. Hymns are songs of praise about God and Christ and our salvation. And spiritual songs, or sacred songs are akin to Scripture songs and songs sung about our testimony - about the things that God has done for us.

We sing to God, but we also sing to each other. The term used is that we speak to each other, using these songs of worship to God to also instruct one another in the truths of the Word of God. We teach each other about God and about sound doctrine through the songs that we sing. There are two reasons given here then why the content and the style of our worship matters. First, we are singing to God! We must approach Him with a right attitude, with humility and reverence. And we are singing to each other, and since what we sing is used to teach, we must be sure to teach truth!

But what does Spirit filled worship look like? To get that answer we must see what the Word tells us about the worship of God. Jesus is clear in John 4:24 that worship that is acceptable to God is worship in spirit and truth. So what is worship in spirit and truth?

First it is worship that glorifies God (1 Cor. 10:31). In fact, everything we do is to glorify God, so worship is an extension of the way we live. We do not go to church to worship and then go home, not worshipping again until we return to the church. No. We are the church. And we worship as individuals through our devotions, as families through our times of daily family worship, and as congregations, as we are the church and we gather weekly to worship God.

If we were to study the elements of worship in detail we see that Biblical worship includes Preaching (Apostles Doctrine, includes teaching/reading the Word), Fellowship, Prayer (and fasting on occasions), the Ordinances (Lord’s Supper and Baptism), Praise (singing Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs), and Thanksgiving (including Giving of Tithes and Offerings). And as important as the elements of worship are as they are explained to us in the Scripture, even more important is the attitude of the worshipper. God tells His people in Amos 5:21ff that the people may have the right form in worship, but their hearts invalidate their offerings, because while with their lips they praise God with their hearts they hate Him!

Worship in spirit and truth is not focused on us or what we can get out of the experience. It is about what we have been told to give! It is about giving God glory, honor, and praise.

Further, if we break it down, we can see how much more is expected of us when we are told to worship in spirit and truth. Let us take a brief look at a few verses to help us.

Worship in Spirit

1. Philippians 3:3, 7-11
Worship in spirit is offered with no confidence in the flesh. The true believer views his flesh as sinful without any merit or capacity to please God without the intervention of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

2. Revelation 4:10-11
Worship in spirit is focused wholly upon God with no thought of self.

3. Psalm 95:6-7
Worship in spirit must be reverent, not loud and obnoxious, with disharmony or showmanship!

4. Psalm 96:9; 5:7
Worship in spirit must be characterized by fear and trembling! We are worshipping a thrice holy God and cannot ever enter His presence with little thought or frivolity.

5. Psalm 29:1-2; Psalm 99
Worship in spirit must be holy. To be holy is to be set aside or separated from the world. We should not worship God like the world worships its false gods. Worship should be distinct from the world and not mixed with worldly values and practices.

6. 2 Chronicles 20:18-20
Worship in spirit must overflow with humility. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less! Again - the focus is GOD.

7. Psalm 51:15-17
Worship in spirit is worship with brokenness. We must come expressing a total dependence upon God for everything we need.

Worship in Truth

Jesus also said we must worship in truth. This means that our worship must first meet the above-mentioned requirements of worship in spirit, and then added to that, it must also be consistent with Scripture and centered on Christ. Here are a few more verses to read as we look at five ways we worship in truth:

1. Revelation 14:7
Worship in truth gives God honor, reverence, glory, and expresses His worthiness.

2. Psalm 45:11
Worship in truth is based in the truth that we worship Him because He is our Lord. We don't make Him Lord. He is Lord. Forever. The question here is whether or not we obey Him as Lord since He is Lord?

3. Psalm 66:4
Worship in truth offers praise to His name. We worship Him, not His provision or creation, not His works or ways. We worship HIM, as He is characterized by His many names revealed in Scripture.

4. Psalm 138
Worship in truth is worship in lowliness. We must have a proper opinion of ourselves, a low opinion of self. We are sinners and but for His grace we would not be able to approach Him at all. Our worship of Him is all based on His doings - His salvation, forgiveness, and grace.

5. Psalm 148, 149, 150
Worship in truth is worship in ways of which God approves!

Spirit filled worship draws attention to Christ - not to self. It points to Him. It exalts Him. It is worship from a humble, grateful heart. It is worship that is reverent. Reverence is seemingly missing in many "worship services" today where the attitude is one of entertainment instead of awe. As soon as we make worship about us we are offending God! So Spirit filled worship above all else is worship that is based upon and saturated with the Word of God.

Who is the focus of your worship? Did you pick your church because of how it made you feel or because the Word of God was preached and lived and sung without compromise? When you sing, is it about you or about God? If we worship based on personal opinions and attitudes of selfishness then ultimately we are worshipping ourselves and not God. So let us not pretend that we are worshipping Him if church is all about us. It must be all about Him.

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

A Luther Sermon by Charles Spurgeon
The Results, Preparation, and Barriers of Worship by John MacArthur

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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