Life Together: The Practice of Gathered Worship

Passage: Psalm 95
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

Sermon Summary

Humans are hard-wired to worship. While church membership may be in decline, our God-given instinct to worship is not. Today, however, people often look “horizontally” (to created things) for ultimate worth and value, rather than looking “vertically” towards God. Psalm 95 is a psalm that calls us back into true worship.

Worship is first and foremost a celebration of God—who he is and what he has done on our behalf. We are commanded to “make a joyful noise” to God (vs. 1), because he alone is worthy of our celebration and because he alone can bear the weight of our soul’s longing to ascribe worth and value. In praising God, we find that our own joy is being made complete.

Worship also calls for a posture of humble surrender. The psalmist commands us to “bow down” and to “kneel” before God. We bring ourselves low in this way because we know who we truly are (“the sheep of his pasture”) and our rightful place in relation to God (vs. 7). When we prostrate ourselves before God, we are in no place to make demands or arguments, but only to humbly receive his life-giving direction, being prepared to follow it without compromise or reservation.

Lastly, worship leads to obedience from the heart. We are not to be like stubborn sheep who “go astray in our heart” (vs. 10), but like sheep who hear God’s voice and obey it. Indeed, in the bible, to truly “hear” God is to obey him. If our worship doesn’t result in concrete obedience, we haven’t actually “heard” God, nor have we truly worshipped him. Ultimately, we can trust that obedience to God is always meant to lead us into greater rest. How can we not trust our Good Shepherd’s loving intentions towards us? He gave his life for his sheep!

Sermon Outline

  • Worship is a Celebration of God (vs. 1-5)
  • Worship Involves Humble Surrender (vs. 6-7)
  • Worship Leads to Obedience from the Heart (vs. 7-11)

Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide

Re-read the passage (Psalm 95)

Worship is a Celebration of God (vs. 1-5)

Q) Re-read verses 1-5. How would you describe the “tone” of these verses? What words and phrases does the psalmist use to describe the emotions we’re commanded to embrace when coming before God in worship? Is it hard for you to embrace these emotions? Why?

Q) Re-read verses 1-5 (again)! What are some of the reasons the psalmist lists for why the Lord is worthy of our worship? What does this teach us about God’s nature and character?

Q) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby said that worship involves a “joyful celebration of what God has done”. Share a memorable time in your life when you felt like you were truly and joyfully worshipping God. What was it like? What aspect(s) of “what God has done” were you celebrating at that moment (if you can remember)?

Q) Reflect on this quote from C.S. Lewis, which Pastor Bobby shared in his sermon.

“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, dishes, actors, cars, horses, colleges…praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment…it seems to be inner health made audible. The Scottish catechism says that ‘Man’s chief end is to glorify and enjoy Him forever. But then we shall know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.” C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms

  • What does Lewis mean when he says that “to glorify God and to enjoy him forever…are the same thing?”
  • How does this change, or enhance, the way you view worship?

Q) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby reminded us that while worship benefits us, worship is ultimately for God, not for us. How might this truth change the way we engage in corporate worship?

Worship Involves Humble Surrender (vs. 6-7)

Q) Re-read verses 6-7. What posture does the psalmist command us to take when coming before God? What reasons does he give for why we should take this posture?

Q) Practically, what does it look like for you to come to a corporate worship service in a posture of “humble surrender”? How do we prepare ourselves—spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically—to do so?

Q) Practically, how can you discern when your heart/attitude is not in a posture of humble surrender before God—both in corporate worship and throughout the week? What are some of the “warning signs” for you?

Worship Involves Humble Surrender (vs. 6-7)

Q) Re-read verses 7-11 and reflect on them as a group. Consider:

  • Why is this warning placed at the end of a psalm about worship?
  • Why does the psalmist use the example of the wilderness generation of Israelites? What is he trying to warn us about?
  • What is God’s response to their hard-heartedness?

Q) In verse 10, God (speaking in first person) says, “For forty years, I loathed that generation” (ESV). This wording seems incredibly strong. What did God “loathe” about the wilderness generation, and what does that teach us today about what God values?

Q) In his sermon, Pastor Bobby said that in Hebrew, the word for “hear” and “obey” is actually the same word—to truly “hear” God is to obey him. Is there area of your life where you’ve listened to God’s word without fully obeying it? What would repentance and obedience look like in this area for you?

Q) In verse 11, God says that the consequence for failing to obey him is not entering into the “rest” he intends for us. How might this truth—that obedience brings true rest—change the way we view obedience? How might it change the way we encourage others on to obedience?

Additional Application Questions

Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?

Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?

Prayer

Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.

 
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