Joy Makers: Real Worship

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I'm just trying to change the world, one sequin at a time." So spoke one of today’s popular entertainers. She has had a number of more controversial quotes, however. She also said:

"I want women -- and men -- to feel empowered by a deeper and more psychotic part of themselves. The part they're always trying desperately to hide. I want that to become something that they cherish.

"I'm telling you a lie in a vicious effort that you will repeat my lie over and over until it becomes true"

When she was called by one of her interviewers, “The Billy Graham of pop,” she said that she wants to “free (her fans) of their fears and make them feel . . . that they can create their own space in the world. I am teaching people to worship themselves.”

She further said, “I’ve been trained to love my darkness . . . I don’t want 5 dollars in your pocket, I want your soul.”

These are all quotes of Lady Gaga. She make think she’s innovative, but, quite honestly, her heart only reflects the tired mantra of another public figure who sought to teach rebellion. It was Satan who said, “I will be like the Most High.” It was Satan who began this whole practice of teaching people to “worship themselves.” And it is Satan who continues to tempt you and me to trade our God-focus for self-worship.

And self-worship, while it may yield temporary thrills, sort of like attending a Lady Gaga concert, the thrill quickly fades to guilt and an overwhelmingly sad meaninglessness in life that we soon discover to be a dead end.

Which just leads me to our text for today. In Psalm 51, we have the confession of David. This great King and psalm-writer took the self-worship road for a while. He discovered quickly, however, that it dead-ended in guilt and despair. You remember the story. David, out of his own desire for self-gratification, stole Bathsheba’s affections and tried to cover up his sin by murdering her husband. We’ve already talked about the first part of this psalm when we discussed how God can bring joy back to those who struggle with guilt. But, as I was studying this psalm, I found another lesson in here about joy. Read with me Ps 51:14-19. I believe these verses tells us of the connection between joy and worship. You see, I believe there is a definite connection. Real worship brings joy.


Now I know that many of you, when you hear that I want to talk to you about worship, may lose what little interest you may have had in listening to this message. You’re pretty much uninterested. The reason is that you find the whole “worship experience” thing to be rather boring. You come, you mouth every other word of a worship song, and leave in check-off mode. You say, “Yep, went to church today. I’ll just check that off my performance list.” You’re like the group of people the prophet spoke of when he said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” I believe that today, God wants to pour the gasoline of the Holy Spirit on the wood of your heart and ignite some of you with the passion of Worship.

Others of you are not uninterested, you are inhibited. You have thought that worship was an inward thing only. You look at people who raise their hands in worship and think that they just want to put on a show, but there’s a little hand-raising in your own heart, you just won’t acknowledge it. Quite frankly, you quench the Spirit in your worship. He is moving you, but you refuse to respond. I think God wants to free you up. I believe He wants you not just to agree with worship internally, but to experience it externally.

And others of us are empty. You lack joy and the fullness of the Spirit in your heart. You know that the Christian life should be one of joy in the Lord, but it’s not for you. The reason could very well be that, while you’ve become a believer, you’ve not really become a worshiper. I believe God wants to show you the deep joy that comes when you actually fulfill the purpose for which He created you: Worship.

So just what is this connection between worship and joy. How can genuine worship bring joy. Well this Psalm shows us how. In the first place, if I want my worship to bring real joy, I must understand that:



I think I’d be pretty close to the mark if I said that most of our worship fails to really connect with God. David recognizes this, I think, when he says in v 16, For you do not desire sacrifice or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offerings. Now, we don’t bring animals to God anymore, nor burn the flesh of a lamb to sacrifice to God anymore, but David’s instruction still relates to our own worship of God. As one commentator said, Sacrifices that fulfill the letter of the law and express mere conformity to that letter but are accompanied by no inner feeling . . . are futile. In our day we would say it like this: There must be reality! Singing worship choruses or hymns with little forethought is futile. Going through the motions of prayer without any real connection to God is useless. Coming to church because it is what is expected and not because you desire to worship God does you little good. There must be reality if worship is to connect.

And if there is to be reality, there must also be repentance. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise. A forgiven sinner alone knows what it means to be broken. Someone wrote, When a man has sinned, and the hammer of God’s law has crushed his heart in true repentance, and he has a contrite heart . . . he is ready for God’s further work on him. Someone else wrote,

All that David can offer to the Lord in worship then is his shattered “spirit,” his “broken … heart,” that is, the very center of his being, himself. Sin has “broken” him; judgment has “broken” him. But even more than this, when we discover God’s mercy in His incredible love for us in our sin—here is the final breaking. As our heart sobs, the Lord puts His arms around us. When we see Jesus expelling demons, forgiving sins, cleansing lepers, and hanging on the cross—then we are finally “broken.” We are among those who are forgiven much and who therefore love much.

You see, pure worship incubates in the heat of brokenness. When we see our sin, we are broken by our failure. Like Peter, who denied the Lord three times, we meet the eyes of our loving Lord and we are compelled to go out and weep bitterly. When we see God’s judgment against our sin, we are broken by our fear. We know we stand under the awful judgment of God and, without His mercy we are done. But, oh, when we see God’s mercy, we are broken by His love. Our heart does, indeed sob at the wonderful grace of Jesus. O, how we must learn the lesson of James 4 over and over again: God opposes the proud, but given His grace to those who are broken in humility. And if for one instant, you don’t think you need that grace this morning, you are in great need of a fresh glimpse of your sin, His judgment and His mercy.


Gordon MacDonald spoke of this in his chapter in the book, Mastering Personal Growth. He wrote that the older he became the more he realized his condition as a barbarian loved by his Father. He said that this may be the most important insight that comes with aging. Almost all old people who are growing have certain common traits. One of them is that they know without equivocation that they are sinners. And they’ve come to appreciate the central importance of grace.

He goes on to tell about a friendship he had with a man in his seventies and eighties. His name was Lee. Lee was a godly man who brought the most unusual people to Jesus.

One day they were having breakfast, and Lee told him about a recent trip he’d taken to Boston. “As I drove toward the city,” Lee said, “I realized that I was going to be parking my car and walking through the combat zone (Boston’s notorious red-light district). So I pulled into a rest stop and had a time of prayer so I could ask God to protect me from temptation when I walked past all those pornography stores and massage parlors.”

Gordon interrupted him, “Wait a minute. Lee,” he said. “I don’t want to offend you, but you’re 78 years old. Are you telling me that you’re concerned about sexual temptation at your age and after all these years of following the Lord?”

Lee looked at Gordon with an intense look in his eyes and said “Son, just because I’m old doesn’t mean the blood doesn’t flow through my veins. The difference between we old men and you young men is this: we know we’re sinners. We’ve had plenty of experience. You kids haven’t figured that out yet.”

Gordon wrote that now, years later, he understood a bit of what the old man was saying. This is why old men and women who are growing are among the most gracious and forgiving people there are.

It’s because growth cannot happen without a powerful respect for the reality of indwelling evil and its insidious work through self-deceit. It leads us to lie to God, ourselves, and one another. He concludes, the spiritual disciplines are designed not only to lead us into the presence of the Father but to sensitize us to the lies we can find so easy to believe.


And when you come in reality and the brokenness of repentance, you receive relief. That’s what David was praying for when he wrote, in v 14, Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, Psalm 130 says this: If You, Lord, should 1mark iniquities, O Lord, who could cstand? But there is dforgiveness with You, That eYou may be feared. The relief of being forgiven is the final connection of worship. That forgiveness swings wide the door and invites us into His presence and our joy is complete.


Pat Novak was a hospital chaplain intern who discovered the great power of God’s forgiving grace. He was making his rounds one summer morning when he was called to visit a patient admitted with an undiagnosed ailment. John was a man in his sixties who was not responding to treatment at all. His tests were inconclusive, yet he was wasting away; he had not even been able to swallow for two weeks. The nurses tried everything. Finally they called the chaplain’s office.

As Pat walked into the room, John sat limply in his bed, strung with IV tubes, staring listlessly at the wall. He was a tall, grandfatherly man, balding a little, but his sallow skin hung loosely on his face, neck, and arms where the weight had dropped from his frame. His eyes were hollow.

Pat was terrified; he had no idea what to do. But John seemed to brighten a bit as soon as he saw Pat’s chaplain badge and invited him to sit down.

As they talked, Pat sensed that God was urging him to do something specific: He knew he was to ask John if he wanted to take Communion. Chaplain interns were not encouraged to ask this type of thing in this public hospital, but Pat did.

At that John broke down. “I can’t!” he cried. “I’ve sinned and can’t be forgiven.”

Pat paused a moment, knowing he was about to break policy again. Then he told John about 1 Corinthians 11 and Paul’s admonition that whoever takes Communion in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself. And he asked John if he wanted to confess his sin. John nodded gratefully.

To this day Pat can’t remember the particular sin John confessed, nor would he say if he did, but he recalls that it did not strike him as particularly egregious. Yet it had been draining the life from this man. John wept as he confessed, and Pat laid hands on him, hugged him, and told John his sins were forgiven.

Then Pat got the second urging from the Holy Spirit: Ask him if he wants to take Communion. He did.

Pat gave John a Bible and told him he would be back later. Already John was sitting up straighter, with a flicker of light in his eyes.

Pat visited a few more patients and then ate some lunch in the hospital cafeteria. When he left he wrapped an extra piece of bread in a napkin and borrowed a coffee cup from the cafeteria. He ran out to a shop a few blocks away and bought a container of grape juice.

Then he returned to John’s room with the elements and celebrated Communion with him, again reciting 1 Corinthians 11. John took the bread and chewed it slowly. It was the first time in weeks he had been able to take solid food in his mouth. He took the cup and swallowed. He had been set free.

Within three days John walked out of that hospital. The nurses were so amazed they called the newspaper, which later featured the story of John and Pat, appropriately, in its “LIFE” section.

That’s the power of repentance and forgiveness. It reconnects you with God. It brings you great joy!


Does yours? Is your heart focused on God. Are you genuine in your worship, or do you just go through the motions?

Is your spirit broken? Do you have that sense of your need of God? Do you understand your absolute wretchedness and sin when you are left to yourself. Do you try to appease God with your works or impress Him with your praise. Do you approach in self-sufficiency or in complete humility.

And, is your conscience clean. Are there sins in your heart that weigh you down and block your connection with Christ? Do you have an uncontrolled temper; an unrestrained greed; a hidden sexual addiction or habit; an unchallenged pride; an unbridled tongue? Is your conscience clear?

You see real worship brings joy and it begins with connection. Real worship connects, but then,



To this point in the message just about all of us would be on the same page. We recognize that real worship begins with getting the inside right. In fact, we point to passages like Psalm 51 and we say, “See, the Lord doesn’t delight in sacrifices. He wants a broken spirit and a contrite heart. That’s an inside thing. So God just wants me to give my inside to Him. Outer worship is unimportant.”

That view, I’m afraid does this passage a great injustice. This psalm also focuses on the expression of our worship. In v 14 he says that, when he is forgiven, “my tongue shall sing aloud of Your rightesouness . . . and my mouth shall show forth Your praise.” In verse 19, David concludes his repentance saying, now that I am internally right with God you shall be pleased with pthe sacrifices of righteousness, With burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.

You see, inward praise isn’t enough. Yes, it is true that outward show without inward reality is hypocrisy and offends God’s holiness. But, in much the same way, inward worship without outward expression offends God’s glory.


Now, I know that some of you need to get your head around that. You have always thought that worship was primarily private: It was just between you and the Lord. Yet, here I am telling you that it must be outwardly expressed. You may want to disagree. Let me give you just a couple of reasons why I say that worship needs to be expressed publically.

In the first place, public expression is necessary because it provides witness. Our worship isn’t for us. God doesn’t want us to worship Him just so that we can feel at peace or gain confidence in the middle of some trial. He wants us to worship Him publically so that the world will see it and receive a witness of His glory. Consider a few scriptures:

Psalm 8:1 (NKJV)1 O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!

Psalm 66:1–2 (NKJV)

1 Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! 2 Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious.

Psalm 96:1–3 (NKJV)

1 Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. 3 Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.

You see, your public expression of praise provides a witness to the world. If your praise is not expressed, God is not glorified in the earth. You may be praising Him and you may be thankful, but no one knows it.

But there’s another reason that’s directly connected to our joy. John Piper gives us a very significant truth about worship, but it is a little involved so please listen carefully: He says he made a great discovery about worship while reading C. S. Lewis’s Reflections on the Psalms. Lewis was wrestling with the idea that God not only wants our praise, but commands it. Lewis wrote:

But the most obvious fact about praise—whether of God or any thing—strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise. The world rings with praise—lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game—praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least.…

I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: “Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?” The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value... It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.

There is the solution! We praise what we enjoy because the delight is incomplete until it is expressed in praise.

I compare it to a vacuum cleaner. You can bring it to the living room and spend hours rolling it over the carpet, but until you plug it in and complete the circuit, you won’t get any dirt off of the carpet. Outward expression is like plugging in the vacuum cleaner. It completes the circuit so that your worship achieves the purpose God intended it to achieve: It brings Him Glory and when it brings Him glory, it brings you joy, because that was why He created you.


In an article for The Wall Street Journal, writer Leonard Mlodinow shares a funny story from the life of baseball great Joe DiMaggio:

It was the summer of 1945, and World War II had ended. Former soldiers, including famous baseball stars, streamed back into America and American life. Yankee slugger Joe DiMaggio was trying to be "Yankee fan Joe DiMaggio," sneaking into a mezzanine seat with his four-year-old son, Joe, Jr., before rejoining his team. A fan noticed him, then another. Soon throughout the stadium people were chanting, "Joe, Joe, Joe DiMaggio!" DiMaggio, moved, gazed down to see if his son had noticed the tribute. He had. "See, Daddy," said the little DiMaggio, "everybody knows me!"

I like the way Steve Farish reflects on this story in a paper he submitted to the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2009. He writes:

The junior Joe DiMaggio made the innocent child's mistake of assuming all the glory at the Yankee Stadium that summer afternoon in 1945 belonged to him and not to his father. Human beings, however, make a far less innocent mistake when we live as if our lives were all about us and our glory.

You know the amazing thing? The amazing thing is that we even do this in our worship. Follow me: We think that we are only to internally praise God and get the warm fuzzies from our worship. We make even the praise of God about ourselves! God wants us to ACT. He wants us to visibly, outwardly give Him praise so that all the earth gives Him sees His Glory. And when we do, the circuit is completed. The power flows. The joy is released.


Why is this so hard for some of us? I speak from experience. The outward expression of joy is so antithetical to who I am. I have conscious debates sometimes about whether to lift my hands in worship. I feel so self-conscious. Anyone else like that? You know what I am finding? It’s nothing but pride. I am more worried about what someone else will think than about God’s glory. That’s nothing but sin. So God is teaching me to let go and outwardly express my worship to Him. You know, I have the feeling that I am not the only one. Listen, Peace Church, we must be a place filled the glory of God. If you and I are the living stones in which God lives by His Spirit, then, Let the rocks cry out! Let the hands be lifted to praise God! Let our voices be raised to sing about the one we love! He is worthy! Worship ACTS! And when it acts, mighty things happen


You could cut the tension with a knife. It was universal. Not a face in the town square didn’t contort with the furrow of fear. It was palpable. Everyone seemed worried except . . . except the king.

That was strange because, while others may be left with their lives once the invaders breached the wall, it was the King who could kiss his head bye-bye. They might spare the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker, but the king would be killed. But he didn’t seemed worried.

Well, maybe that was because he’d lost his mind. At least that was probably what some of the people thought when they heard him that morning. He said, “I know their army is bigger and their weapons are better, but we’re still going out against them.” But that wasn’t the most unusual thing that he said. Jehoshaphat, the King, went on to tell them that they weren’t going out fighting, they were going out worshiping. As they marched to battle they loudly and publically praised and worshiped God.

And then something powerful happened. The Bible says:

22 Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. 23 For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another. 24 So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.

That’s the power of worship!

Worship songwriter, Brian Doerksen writes,

The gathering of the church is meant to be a number of things: a hospital to heal the sick and wounded; a family where everyone is accepted; a school where we are taught the Word of God; and an army that engages and defeats the Enemy to see the kingdom of God advance.

Becoming a worshiper means becoming a warrior. And by toning that down—or cutting it out altogether—we have sent men and women away from the church in droves. It's time to call them back. We need warriors to return. But we need them to return as worshiping warriors. That doesn't mean that all we do is sit around and sing. What I mean the most by the phrase worshiping warriors is warriors who are surrendered to God. Warriors who know that their authority comes because they are under authority—warriors willing to wait (even when everyone else is rushing ahead) or act decisively to walk in obedience.

We can be little w warriors because our King is a capital W Warrior. He's a warrior, not because he loves to kill and destroy, but because he defends and protects his own. Our King is a warrior because there is a rebellion against his rule and reign, and when we as His people publically praise Him out of a connected heart, His glory is revealed, His victory is declared, and our joy is made full.


So let me just draw this together for us with about three specific conclusions:

First, since real worship connects, it opens the possibility of joy. When I really worship, and my heart gets vitally connected with the Lord, I am moved from ritual to reality and encountering the real presence of God is what brings confidence and guidance into my life. Remember: Joy is the current confidence that flows from the future hope and practical guidance made possible through the constant presence of God. Real worship connects me with that presence.

Second, since real worship acts, it overcomes the barrier to joy. What is that barrier? My own self-consciousness and pride. When I let go of my pride and openly express my worship, God receive glory.

Third, since real worship glorifies, it creates the reality of joy. the requirement of joy is that we do what we were created to do. When we worship Him and openly glorify Him we are doing exactly what we were created to do and that brings real joy into our lives. You see, you and I were made to worship!


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