Do you sometimes wonder if your worship should be better than it is? How can I worship God in a way that makes sense and makes a difference in my life? Worship is not a concert where I just listen to the singer and enjoy the performance. Worship is not just a way for me to sing and make music – although it includes that. Worship is a matter of the heart. Worship is when I personally express my devotion to God because of Who He is what He has done in my life. When it comes to worship, what matters most is the heart. In Psalm 95:1–7 we have the what, why, and how of worship.
WHAT – Give God a verbal expression from my heart because of His greatness: “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.” (vv 1-2) The what is that we are to “sing to the Lord,” “shout joyfully,” and come before Him “with thanksgiving.” The psalmist doesn’t say, “Do these things if you feel like it.” He says, “Do these things, period.” Worship is not based on feeling. Worship is based on who God is. And He is merciful, generous, wonderful, and loving.
WHY – God is a great God and is above every god: “For the Lord is the great God, And the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” (vv 3-6) The why for such praises is that He is “The Rock of our salvation,” “the great God,” “the great King above all gods,” “our Maker,” “our God and we are the sheep of His hand,” and the Creator of all of the world.
HOW – Submit and surrender to God: “For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.” (v 7) The how is in our submission and surrender to Him. In this we offer our bodies as living sacrifices—this is our “reasonable service [of worship]” (Rom. 12:1).
The remainder of verse 7 and the first part of verse 8 are the beginning of a warning, a tale of what happens if we are not thankful. “Today, if you will hear His voice: Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion”. The people of God let society distract them from God’s ways. As a result, they missed out on the blessings and the rest which only God could provide (Psalm 95:11). The same is true today. There are Christians who have hardened their hearts. They have turned from what God wants them to do. He has provided for them and they turn away. They resist Him and they wander in the wilderness. The wanderings will never cease. They will never rest from this continual hardening and they will never see God provide rest for their souls. As a result, you miss out on the blessings and the rest which only God could provide (Psalm 95:11). The heart is the essential part in worship, not the voice.
God wants us to keep our hearts focused on Him. God’s desire is not just to see us doing grateful things, but to see us doing grateful things out of the overflow of a truly grateful heart. See if expressing gratitude to the Lord doesn’t “magnify” Him in your eyes, increasing your depth perception of this One who knows your name, counts the hairs on your head, and manifests His love for you with one blessing after another. See if the practice of intentional gratitude doesn’t transport you even nearer to Him–not just where your faith can believe it but where your heart can sense it. Thanksgiving puts us in God’s living room. It paves the way to His presence. What can you praise the Lord for today?