July 20, 2018 • Life for Leaders
Praise the LORD, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD.
Do you want to experience new vitality in corporate worship? Are you eager to feel fully engaged as you join with God’s people for worship?
Most Christians I know would answer “yes” to these questions. I know I would. But how can we be renewed in our worship?
Some answer this question by seeking innovation in worship. Now, to be sure, we are called to sing “a new song” to the Lord. So innovation in worship is something for which we should aspire. But I know many people who seem to be on an endless quest for “the next new thing.” They get excited about their new church and its worship, but months later are beginning to wonder if it’s time to find another church with another style of worship.
I believe that often what we need, rather than innovative worship experiences, is a reminder of a few worship basics. We find several of these in Psalm 117, a two-verse call to worship.
“Praise the LORD” reminds us that worship is not primarily for us but for God. Though we are often inspired, formed, encouraged, and instructed in worship, God is the primary audience for our worship. The most important question I can ask after a worship service is not, “What did I get out of it?” but rather “What did I put into it for the Lord’s glory?”
Psalm 117 calls “all you nations” to “praise the LORD” and “extol him.” Worship is not just for Christians. It’s not just for Jews. All people are invited to join in. Our worship should never feel like some closed club. Rather, it should be something we make available to our neighbors as we welcome them into our worshiping communities.
Verse 2 emphasizes that worship is not something we do to make God love us. We don’t worship in order to get God to do anything. Rather, worship is our response to God’s love and grace. We worship because “great is his love toward us” and “the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.” Most of all, our worship is a response to God’s love poured out through Jesus Christ.
Psalm 117 reminds us of the verbal dynamic of worship, when we “praise” and “extol” the Lord. As we do this in the gathering of God’s people and in our private devotions, we prepare ourselves for worshiping God in all that we do, in our work and play, in our private and public lives, in church and in all the world.
Something to Think About:
What helps you to be fully engaged in corporate worship?
If worship is for “the nations” and not just the people of God, what difference might this make in our corporate worship?
Something to Do:
Take time to reflect on how you have experienced God’s love for you. Then, in response, offer praise and thanks to God. Worship him in response to his grace to you.
We praise you, O Lord, inviting all nations to join us.
We extol you, joining with all people to tell of your grace.
We worship you, Lord, because of your great love for us, and because you are always faithful to us.
We worship you most of all because of your love and grace lavished on us through Jesus Christ.
All praise be to you, O God! Amen.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
The Beginning of Worship
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.