Our Feelings in Worship
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.(Psalm 73:25)
What are the feelings or affections that make the outward acts of worship authentic? For an answer, we turn to the inspired psalms and hymns of the Old Testament. An array of different and intertwined affections May grip the heart at any time.
Perhaps the first response of the heart at seeing the majestic holiness of God is stunned silence: “Be still, and know that I am God.”(Psalm 46:10) “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him!(Habakkuk 2:20)
In the silence arises a sense of awe and reverence and wonder at the sheer magnitude of God: “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!”(Psalm 33:8)
And because we are all sinners, there is in our reverence a holy dread of God’s righteous power: “The Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.”(Isaiah 8:13) “I will bow down toward your temple in fear of you.”(Psalm 5:7)
But this dread is not a paralyzing fright full of resentment against God’s absolute authority. It finds release in brokenness and contrition, and grief for our ungodliness. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you not despise.”( Psalm 51:17)
Mingled with the feelings of genuine brokenness and contrition, there arises a longing for God: “As the deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”(Psalm 42:1-2) “ My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”(Psalm 76:26) “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)
Only those who have seen the depths and despair of their sin and have experienced the vast love, the incredible grace and the amazing mercy of God in redemption can fully and truly worship God with all their heart. We as humans have attempted to categorize sin in levels of evil. It’s always interesting when you ask a group of people to name their list of sins in order. Some time ago the Catholic Church provided a list of the Seven Deadly Sins. The unfortunate result of these efforts allow us to minimize our sins in comparison to other sins. We have even learned to excuse our sins by comparing ourselves with others.
Sin from God’s view has no levels. Paul tells us in Romans that we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We have all gone astray, we read in Isaiah and we have turned to our own sinful, rebellious ways.
In our state of sin we come to the cross of Calvary. In the darkness of that day we see the horribleness of our sins from the view of God. As Christ took upon Himself my sins and your sins, we see the ugliness of those sins so terrible that the Father turns away and Christ, the sin-bearer is left in that pit of darkness for you and me.
As His blood is spilled our bearing the punishment we rightfully deserved, we can only stand in awe that God would take our punishment upon Himself.
Now I don’t know about you but this kind of love and grace I’d beyond my comprehension and I can only stand in awe and amazement when I feel it washing over my soul.
Rita Springer penned the words to the song:
Because when I think about the Lord
How He saved me, how He raised me
How He filled me up with the Holy Ghost
And He healed me to the uttermost
When I think about the Lord
How he picked me up
And He turned me around
He placed my feet
On solid ground
It all makes me wanna shout
Hallelujah! thank you, Jesus!
Lord, you’re worthy
Of all the glory, and all the honor
And all the praise
This is the heartbeat of a worshipper. One day all our other identities will cease. In heaven I will no longer be a pastor or preacher. I will never preach another sermon or teach another class. I will never work as I have on this earth so my identity as such will cease. But what I am now, a worshipper, I will be then and more. I’m just rehearsing here while I wait for that day when I see Him and fall before Him and give Him praise and worship for rescuing someone like me. For loving someone like me. For giving this undeserving sinner grace and mercy.
The next time you choose to worship, engage your heart and soul. Feel the presence and see the majesty of God and let your soul cry out in praise and adoration to the One who is worthy to be praised. Hold nothing back, get beside yourself and worship with all your being. Lose your fear and shame and timidity. Be the soccer mom or dad that loses their dignity when their child scores the goal. Be more radical than the most rabid sports fan. Go ahead make the place of worship resound with shouts of praise and tears of joy as we rejoice in all the goodness of the Lord. Go ahead, give it a try, I dare you! And get ready for heaven’s response back!
Dr. John Thompson