A Resolution for Worship
written by Kayl Whitaker, Supply Worship Leader (December 31, 2023)
A new year is upon us and with it comes the season of “New Year’s Resolutions.” Gym memberships spike for the next 3-5 months, while home organizational supplies and health food items fly off store shelves! Christians set goals to improve spiritual lives like reading through the entire Bible in a year (shameless promo for CBc plan here!), making goals to follow a daily devotional plan, memorizing passages of Scripture or even whole books of the Bible, and various other goals.
All of these are absolutely positive and good, but I’d like to pause and ask a simple question to my fellow “resolvers" — what about our goals for worship? You might be thinking, “I attend worship every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening, what needs to be improved with that!?” But, however, we must remember that mere service attendance is not true spiritual worship. As this new year begins, we need to refresh our minds as to what worship is and how we are to worship.
I’d like to present two (2) key convictions that can help grow us as healthy worshipers both corporately at church, and privately during the week.
1. Worship Starts with Substance, not Style.
“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24 (ESV)
In this passage we see Jesus speaking to the Samaritan Woman at Jacob’s well in the town of Sychar. Jesus teaches her, among other things, that worship of God is more than a place, in reference to the temple, but that it can be done anywhere at any time. From this we can also connect that worship style does not matter to God. In his book, True Worshippers: Seeking What Matters to God, Bob Kaufflin says,
“For those of us who think of worship primarily in terms of musically driven emotional experiences, Jesus’s conversation with the Samaritan woman should be eye-opening. Jesus is talking about “true worshipers” and he doesn’t reference music once. Not a whisper of bands, organs, keyboards, choirs, drum sets, guitars, or even lutes, lyres, and timbrels… Broadly speaking, worship in spirit and truth is worship that springs from a sincere heart and lines up with the truth of God’s Word.” (26-27)
Music enhances our worship of God in ways that words alone cannot. Music connects with each of us and allows us to pour out our hearts to God on a much deeper level, but it should not be our central focus or the point from which our worship originates. True worship begins with our abject submission of self to God, humility in His presence, and expressing our love to Him as our response “in spirit and in truth” to His word. As the people of God we are word-shaped and text-driven, as indicated by our worship gatherings. It is the word that regulates our worship. By it we read, see, pray, preach, and even sing the word. Style is important, but substance is more.
2. Worship Flows from a Healthy Heart.
“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 (ESV)
The Bible is God’s special revelation to us (cf. Psalm 19:7-13). By it we come to know who he is, who we are, and how we can know him personally. In short, it is only by the word that we understand the gospel; how sinful man is made right with a holy God in the person and work of Jesus. Therefore, the deeper we grow in our knowledge of the Bible, the more intimate our relationship of God becomes.
Again Kaufflin writes, “The Word of God is the primary way God begins and deepens our relationship with him, and is essential for true worship.” (True Worshipers, 42) The one, true and living God desires to meet us in his word by his Spirit. And that is why we often say at Coats Baptist, right doctrine always leads us to doxology. The pure worship of God is the soul’s right expression of the word of Christ richly dwelling within us.
In all things, our worship begins with the Word of God, is enhanced by our growth in doctrine, even increases as we articulate sound theology and apply it to our lives. Marriages, for example, will grow in health and worship as they the bride understand the Lord Jesus Christ to be their true bridegroom (cf., Ephesians 5:22-33). The more a husband loves his Lord, the more he’ll love his wife. Marriage is to be the gospel in HD!
As we round the corner into the New Year, let us be resolved to worship. Allow me to encourage you to worship the Lord with intentionality, both corporate (i.e. as part of a local church) and private. As you make your resolution list for 2024, put “worship God” at the top. In fact, you need no resolution, just a call to deeper discipleship (Luke 9:23; Rom. 11:33-36)
When you begin your day with your new devotional book or scripture passage(s), make time after your study to simply worship God either by singing a song, hymn, or other spiritual song you know from memory or from a YouTube video, or just sit quietly in the presence of your heavenly Father and just ‘be’ in His presence. When you meet to worship with other believers in church, do so with a glad heart.
As you could tell I’ve been helped by Kaufflin’s book, True Worshippers. There are many good books on worship, but I’d recommend you give this one a read. Here’s the link if you’d like a copy. Perhaps God will use a short read on “worship” to light your fire as he did for me.
As we’ve been studying on Sundays, it just seems fitting to close a post on worship with “Gloria Patri.”
Glory be to God the Father;
Glory be to God the Son;
Glory be to God the Spirit, ever three and ever one: As it was in the beginning, now and evermore shall be, world without end. Amen.
My wife Leighanne and I have greatly enjoyed our time this year with you. Coats Baptist is a sweet church to call home. We hope to be with you more and more in the weeks ahead, as ever the Lord may allow. I pray this passage over you for 2024:
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)