Praise and worship are mutually co-operative activities and are frequently very similar to the way they are outwardly expressed but they are not one and the same, each has its own nature and purpose.
Praise is not a very difficult concept to understand as we do it in our daily life, we praise our loved ones such as our children our friends our parents our heroes etc as they please us.
But to praise God we have to understand that it has to be done only in God’s way as in Psalm 66:8 Psalmist says “Let the sound of His Praise be heard”.
Praise is not praise unless it is vocalized or shown forth. Isaiah 40:9 says “Lift up your voice with a shout lift it up do not be afraid” We will never grow mature in our expression of praise until we are willing to praise God in a manner pleasing to the Lord. He wants us to praise Him authentically and genuinely.
Praise is not contingent upon our feelings it is based on God’s goodness and greatness which never changes. Notice how David said in Psalm 103:1” Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Some times “we are down n the dumps” or we are dry spiritually in these times we must ask our souls to say “Oh my souls Bless the Lord”.
Praise must function according to our will and not our emotions as the Psalmist says in Psalm 42:5-6 “My soul is downcast within me for I will yet praise Him”. When we are truly impacted by the greatness of God Praises come out easily. One delightful way to concentrate on the Character of God is to study the names of God
Psalm 54:6 says “I will praise Your name O Lord for it is good” Psalm 34:3 says “Let us exalt His name together”
The Hebrews praised God’s name for them a person’s name was indicative of his character. God liked this custom and decided to reveal His character to the Israelites by giving them a variety of names for Himself. In keeping the Hebrew tradition Leah gave the name “Judah” to her 4th born son “Judah” means “PRAISE” she says in Genesis 29:35 “This time I will praise the Lord” and God took liking in the name for it was from the tribe of Judah “MESSIAH” was born. The scripture alludes to the tribe of Judah more than any other of the twelve tribes and one reason was because the tribe was known as “PRAISERS” Psalm 114:2 says “Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion” God makes His sanctuary among His praisers.
WHY SHOULD WE PRAISE?
There are 6 reasons why should we praise:
1. Because we are commanded to do so
Psalm 150:1 says “Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens” Psalm 150:6 says “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.” It is for our own good, God doesn’t require praise without a thankful heart so to grow in His Grace we have to praise Him with a thankful heart.
2. God is enthroned in our praise
Psalm 22:3 “But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel” He is so pleased with our praises that He surrounds Himself with our praises and He loves it. Isaiah 60:18 contains the KEY as it says “but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise.” Let’s look at Psalm 87:2 it says the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
3. There is Power in the Praise.
Old Testament people used to sing praises after every victory. Exodus 15:1 Moses sang a song of praise after the pharaoh and his army was drowned in the red sea. On many other occasions we see people praising the Lord with Power Paul and Silas were praising the Lord when the Power of the Lord broke the chains and set them free.
4. Because it is good to praise Him.
Psalm 92:1 says “It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High” Psalm 135:3 “Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant”
5. He is worthy to be praised
Psalm 48:1 says “Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise”
6. We are created to praise Him
Jeremiah 13:11 tells us that God has chosen Israel to Praise Him
1st Peter 2:9 tells us “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”
Isaiah 43:21 tells that we are “the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise”
WHEN SHOULD WE PRAISE
There are 6 times we can praise Him
1. When we feel to praise Him
James 5:13 says “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise”
2. When we don’t feel to praise Him
Psalm 42:5 says “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God”
3. Rising up early
Psalm 57:8 says “Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn”
4. At Midnight
Psalm 119:62 says “At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws”
Hebrews 13:15 says “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise fruit of lips that confess His name.”
6. At all times
Psalm 34:1 says “I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips”
HOW SHOULD WE PRAISE
There are 9 ways we can praise Him
1. By lifting our hands
Nehemiah 8:6, Psalm 28:2, Psalm 63:4, Psalm 134:2, Psalm 141:2, 1st Timothy 2:8 etc etc all these scriptures tell us how.
There are 5 reasons to lift up our hands in praise
a. God spoke to Moses Numbers 7:89 When Moses entered the Tent of Meeting to speak with the LORD he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the Testimony. And he spoke with him. 1st Samuel 4:4 the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim 1 Chronicle 13:6 the ark of God the LORD, who is enthroned between the cherubim
b. To submit fully to the father to hold you. When a child stretches up his or her arms towards his or her father to pick them up and hug them and embrace them.
c. We can concentrate better.
d. Hands-up means surrender I cant do anything or I give-up.
e. We are ready to receive as in some sports such as cricket, American football, baseball a player lifts up hands to receive the ball, same way we receive the loving discipline of the Lord.
2. Clapping our hands
Psalm 47:1 “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy” It is very important that we link the clapping of our hands with HEART that ascends to the Lord, because the clapping of hands without heart is empty and of no use.
3. Playing of Musical Instruments
Psalm 150: 3-5 tells Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, 4. praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, 5. praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals……But we should not become dependent on the musical instruments so that when the instruments stop our praise should continue and ascend to the Lord.
2nd Chronicles 5:12, 7:6, 29 26, Psalm 135:2 Rev 4:9-11 In the tabernacle God gave instructions to make the furniture but there was NO PROVISION for a CHAIR. The priests continually stood before the Lord, standing is very appropriate expression of Praise for us today as we are NEW TESTAMENT Priesthood. Bible shows us standing is a proper posture for praise and worship see. Standing means respect as for when a dignitary such as the President of the country or the King or Queen of a country arrives everyone stands in respect. It also indicates alertness while we are standing we are wide awake and stimulated in our minds.
5. Kneeling, bowing down or prostration
Psalm 95:6 says “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker” Rev 19:4 says “The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: Amen, Hallelujah!”
It is the most common form of praise we use today There are many verses in the bible.
Psalm 66:1, 81:1, 95:1-2, 98:4-6, 100:1, Psalm 47:1 says “shout to God with cries of joy” The Hebrew word “Hillel” from which we get the word hallelujah means cry of joy when the Israelites shouted the walls of Jericho fell.
8. Speaking in tongues
This is another way of praising God.
Psalm 149:3 says “Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp.” Psalm 150:4 says “praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute” And there are many more verses in the bible for dancing.
ENTERING INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD
We should remember that there are varying manifestations of the presence of God. There are at least three levels to consider.
1. Omni Presence of God.
He is present everywhere and at all times.
2. Particular Presence of God.
Mathew 18:20 says “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
3. Special Presence of God.
2nd Chronicles 5:13-14 says “The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God.” This is the special manifestation or Presence of God, we want to see the literal cloud, today God wants to come at a point where we are totally taken up by God where we cant see anyone or anything in our praise and worship.
OUR APPROACH TO GOD’S PRESENCE
There is no formula or pattern (ACCEPT WHEN WE STUDY THE TABERNACLE) John 4:24 tells us that “God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” As worshipers we must have a deep prayer life and must cultivate sensitivity to the Spirit of God in order to discern the ways of God.
THE COST OF PRAISE
1st Peter 2:5 tells us about a sacrifice of praise “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”
A sacrifice is not a sacrifice until it costs In Old Testament sacrifice was called for death and in New Testament sacrifice of praise is also called fro death – a death to our comfort, our pity party, our ego, our desires and on and on.
Costs of Making time. Energy Sometimes it is hard after a whole days work or after a busy weeks schedule.
Cost of preparation we have to prepare our hearts and attitude.
WEAPON FOR SPIRITUAL WARFARE
Through Prayer, Intersession and Praise Exodus 15:1 Moses sang a song of victory over Pharaoh and his men drowned in the red sea.
2nd Chronicles 20: 20-22 “Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his [d] holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever. 22 As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.”
In Acts we read that Paul and Silas were singing songs of praises when the chains were broken and they were set free.
Like a rocket when it burns fuel and energy it breaks the gravity of the earth and then it starts gliding.
A runner prepares for years for a 9 seconds 100 meter race.
5 FIVE THINGS WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND
The Father is looking for true worshippers ( In John 4:23)
1. Worship is usually Intimate whereas Praise is distant…Anyone can praise
Luke 19:37-40 that if the disciples will not praise the rocks will cry out and obviously the rocks have no relationship with God. Psalm 148:3-12 Tells us that the trees, mountains, rivers, sun, moon and stars all praise the Lord yet they have no relationship with God.
2. Worship brings us close to the heart of God
3. Worship requires relationship and it is a two way street giving and receiving, communion and fellowship with the Lord. Praise is always seen or heard but sometimes worship is quite. Praise is horizontal whereas worship is vertical.
4. Worship is more of function of spirit as praise is through flesh, which is highest of the expression “inspired by the Holy Spirit for the occasion”
5. The worship is in vain (useless) if the heart is not in it – Matthew 15:8 “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
WHEN CAN WE WORSHIP
Abraham when he was going to sacrifice his son in Genesis 22:5 said “He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” When Abraham was walking with his son Isaac actually you could feel the situation he was in he knew that God has promised him that his generations will be like stars and sand and here he is walking with the only son who would also be sacrificed in a moment but he wanted to worship his God with ALL that he had trusting Him.
Notice Job even though all his children were killed Job 1:20 “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship”.
Notice when King David heard the news of his son’s death in 2nd Samuel 12:20 “Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped.”
HOLY SPIRIT AND WORSHIP
Intimacy in worship is impossible without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual worship is exclusive privilege of those who have Holy Spirit dwelling in them. Holy Spirit is an integral part of our worship. The scriptures do contain examples of heathen men worshiping. Heathen men and women are capable of recognizing the awesomeness of God and worship him accordingly but they will never know the intimacy of worshiping the Lord.
Songs and poems born in the Spirit will never die and are forever, preaching, discipling, mission work, evangelism, outreach, radio ministry, TV ministry, large and small crusades, INTERNET, home groups, prayer meetings, whole night prayers, fasting and all will finish but the Worship will continue for ever and ever and ever. Rev 15:4 “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,”
Philippians 2:10-11 “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”
What we receive from the Holy Spirit
John 3:27 “To this John replied, A man can receive only what is given him from heaven” Romans 11:36 says “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”
WORSHIP IN TRUTH AND SINCERITY
We should worship in truth and in accordance with the word of God for John 17:17 tells us that “Your word is truth”
Millions worship the Lord such as people from other religions calling the names of their gods who are not true gods therefore their worship is in vain. We can know that we are worshiping the true God through his scriptures. Many are worshiping there works, their friends, their possessions etc.
In John Chapter 4 Jesus gave us the greatest revelation of worship and to understand the heart of worship we must carefully consider his word in John 4:21-24 Jesus declared “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Jesus was showing that worship would no longer be bound to a certain time or place neither in Jerusalem where Jews worshiped or at mount Grasim where the Samaritans worshiped rather it was going to be a function of the Spirit of man reaching out to the Spirit of God. Under the old covenant worship was a series of outward ceremonies that did not necessarily involve the hearts response of the participant but now Jesus has inaugurated a new and better covenant. God no longer wants ceremonial worship at a fixed locality; he now desires worshipers who will worship in purity of Spirit.
Second application of worshiping in truth is that the worship be only through Jesus Christ John 14:6 tell us that only Jesus is the truth “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Those who do not recognize the mediation of our great High Priest cannot approach God and therefore cannot find the intimacy of relationship.
As we enter into the depths of worship intended for us by God, our times of worship will become transformational. 2nd Corinthians 7:1 tells us that In order to maintain deep communion with God one must first be cleansed from the filthiness contacted from the world.
Intimate fellowship with God will of a certainty bring a refining in our lives the inner recesses of our hearts will be illuminated by the Holy Spirit and the dross will be purged for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrew 12:29).
HINDERING ATTITUDES IN WORSHIP
First. No doubt a major problem that cripples our worship is PRIDE.
Pride is probably the greatest hindrance to worship. Pride has ruined for worship services than all forces of hell combined. It is pride which gravitates towards conservative low-key-worship because the ego is never fed by all-out-worship. It is pride that refrains us from lifting our voices without fear in the congregation. Pride will rob us of joy and release that comes when we dance or lift our hands or bow in the presence of our Lord. It is one of the most insidious hindrances to worship because it is so difficult to discern.
The very essence of worship is self abasement and humility. How is it that we are able to say “I exalt the Lord” without once humbling ourselves?
First. Pride is sin. Let us be willing to cast aside our charismatic sophistication and worship the Lord with all our hearts giving the heed to self and maintenance of a spiritual image.
Second. Sometimes we don’t feel like doing it “The Sprit is willing but the flesh is weak” we must participate in worship especially at the times when we don’t feel like it. If we allow our worship we controlled by our feelings we will never worship because we feel like it but because Christ is worthy.
Third. Our presumption we come to the house of the Lord and say “Hi Lord how are you, good to see you again this week and God says “The voice is familiar, but I don’t recognize the face” we assume our right to approach Him even after living selfishly last week. How often we presume upon God’s Grace and expect the Spirit of blessing without any sacrifice, investment of prayer or humble repentance on our part.
Forth. We are caught-up in watching the proceedings of a worship service there are so many performances and special songs which does little more than to comfort the ears of audience. Worship is not a performance by one party on behalf of others. We all have been called spiritual priesthood to offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise to the Lord.
Romans 12:1, 1st Corinthians 3:16, 1 Peter 2:5-6, Rev 1:6.
Fifth. We often become sentimental in worship when we taken up by either the music or melody of the song. Overly familiar songs are in danger of becoming sentimental for us. These are the songs that are so well known that they loose their effectiveness in stimulating our minds to worship.
When Israel rejected the word of God through His servant Ezekiel the Lord said in Ezekiel 33:32 “Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.”
We have been created as human beings to enjoy music. God has placed that sensitivity in us it is good, but God has intended that music to help us open our hearts to God and become more receptive to Him.
Sixth. Our hearts are not parts of the words we are singing. Nothing is more repugnant to the Lord than half heartedness and hypocrisy. At one point Israelites were sacrificing to the heathen gods and they were turning around and fulfilling the Mosaic sacrifices to God Notice what God said to them in
Amos 5:21-23 “I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.”
Seventh. Fear of manipulation, we feel that we are being manipulated by the worship leader and you think in your heart that you will not be manipulated or hyped by anyone. This is not the problem of the leader this is my refusal to enter into the worship.
PRICE ATTACHED TO WORSHIP
1st Chronicles 21:24, “But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” When David told Araunah that he wanted to buy his threshing floor to build an altar to the Lord, Araunah offered to let David have the threshing floor for free and he would throw in the oxen, wood, and wheat as well for the various offerings. But, David refused because he knew that he was to blame and he wouldn’t offer sacrifices to God that had cost him nothing. He insisted on paying the full price. It’s kind of like Christ, the full price had to be paid or there was no forgiveness.
LEADING THE WORSHIP
When we’re standing up on the stage, and the people are following our leading, we need to realize that some are truly worshiping because they understand worship. However, others are following because they are watching our example. What an awesome responsibility for us, as leaders, to completely understand what it is we’re offering to God before we do it. Is it well-rehearsed songs that are accompanied by familiar actions of worship? Are we still upset because of a morning gone awry with our children, and not truly in the place we need to be spiritually as we lead others? I don’t think worship was ever intended to be easy or something that we give with no thought. When it says a “sacrifice of praise” it changes our job description slightly.
I pray that my worship has cost me something when I offer it to the living God. May I never forget that I am standing in the presence of the Creator of heaven and earth who balances His justice with grace and his judgment with mercy. To have access to One so great through the Cross of Christ, is beyond anything my mind can comprehend. I’m not in His presence because somehow I’ve won the lottery. I’m there only because of the blood of Jesus Christ.
Let’s talk about one woman who worshiped Jesus in Mark 14: 3-9 we read “While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard (Spikenard). She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages[a] and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.”
Did you ever wonder why this woman did not just open the lid and dab a little ointment on Jesus? Couldn’t she have used some if it on Him and saved the rest? After all, this ointment was very costly. Spikenard was an ointment imported from India. One whole jar of it would have cost the equivalent of a common worker’s annual income. This was more than a token gesture; this was a sacrificial offering.
The woman was Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. She is mentioned in the gospels three times and each time she is found at the feet of Jesus. Mary knew what real worship was about. It was six days before Passover and the city was filled with people. Based on the previous events of the last few days, Mary’s house was hopping with excitement and awe. Her brother Lazarus, had just been raised from the dead by Jesus and word had traveled fast. You see many knew of the special relationship between Jesus and this family. When Jesus came to Bethany, this was the house where He stayed and these were his friends. This occasion was special, but had a dual meaning. It was a dinner to celebrate the miracle of resurrection for Lazarus, and also a final meal for Jesus with those whom He considered family.
A trial, a cross, and a tomb would lay ahead for Mary’s friend. Mary didn’t come to this dinner to make a request or fellowship with other people. She didn’t come to this occasion with an event mindset. She came with spiritual anticipation of His death and prepared His body in public ceremony.
The highest purpose of worship is for God, not for us which she demonstrates by her actions and her offering.
Mary didn’t just use a portion of ointment to anoint Jesus. She did not try to keep any of it for her own purposes; instead she broke the box, and poured out all the ointment, eliminating any possibility of its being saved for another occasion.
So many want to worship the Lord with all kinds of restrictions and reservations. They make a great demonstration of their token gifts, but they keep the greater part of their lives for themselves. They may give an hour or two to God each week, but the rest belongs to them. They may give to God a small percentage of their income, but they retain ownership of the rest. They may use some of their talents and gifts in God’s service, but the greater part is expended in self-interest.
Such people know nothing of true worship and understand nothing about the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Jesus uses broken vessels. A broken vessel can no longer retain its contents. It is powerless to withhold; therefore, it freely spills out all that is within it. This is the purpose of the breaking. It is not so God can take pleasure in our pain. No! The pain is part of the process when we are broken, but it is not the purpose. The goal is the fragrance, the sweet aroma that fills the air…and the nostrils of God.
Although Mary was a host to many, she was a worshiper of one and her actions alone transformed the dinner into a worship service. . Her worship was rejected by those in the room but she didn’t allow rejection to dictate her response (worship) to Jesus. The fragrance of her gift alone brought all the attention to Him. She wiped His feet with her hair which for a woman signifies her glory and identity. She invested herself in worship to Christ and became low to lift Him high.
The spikenard, her gift that day, also represents the essence of the contents of our heart. Our mind, will and emotions are the ingredients that make the fragrance of life so valuable.
We must be willing to break the box around our hearts to release our praise unto God. Many worship inside the boxes of religion, pride, religious personalities or musical styles.
Only through this process the pure love of a broken life will become the anointed fragrance of worship by which we can adorn our Savior. I believe in this day and hour, God is looking for those who are willing to “waste” their very best on Him. He is worthy of our offering.
CHOOSING SONGS FOR WORSHIP
Avoid songs which are not speaking to your heart and are not 100% biblically correct.
Final we should be willing to try new things and be ready to experiment and explore all the God has in store for us in WORSHIP.