Study Guide: Joyful Praise

Sunday August 31, 2014 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

We need reminders of why we praise and worship because it’s easy to forget the meaning amid the distractions and idols of our culture. In this message Greg explores the reasons why we do and do not worship, and looks at the method and tradition presented in the scriptures.

Extended Summary:

Worship is ascribing worth to something or someone. So when we worship God we are simply assigning worth to our Lord. We often think of worship in terms of music, but the Bible talks about our lifestyle being a form of worship. The decisions we make about our time, our money, our friends, our neighborhood, and our families are all to be a reflection of the God we serve. We make kingdom decisions and take kingdom action in all areas of our life as a form of worship.

Throughout history pagan cultures have always had gods they’ve worshiped, but the primary motivators for this worship are usually fear or favor. People have worshipped out of fear of what the gods will do to them, or in an effort to court their favor to win a battle, have a bountiful crop, or experience fertility. This is not to be our motivation for worshipping God. The Psalms speak of joy arising in our hearts as we gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. Musical worship and praise of God is about enjoyment of Him that leads to a spontaneous overflow that comes out of as music, dance, instruments, or clapping of the hands. Worship completes the joyful experience. The expression is a natural part of the experience.

The Bible tells us that God alone is to be the object of our praise and worship. Although there are definitely people and things in our life that are lovely, amazing, and beautiful, we learn that God is the ultimate source of all that is lovely, amazing, and is the very foundation of beauty itself. James 1 tells us that “every good and perfect gift is from above” revealing that the ultimate source of good, which is God, is the one to be praised. We are worshipping the one who has brought us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. We don’t worship to get joy, but there is a completion of our joy when we do.

How we worship can vary greatly in style and method, but in general we ascribe worth by making a choice to focus all our mental capacity on God. Depending on what is going on in our lives worship at times can feel like a sacrifice, but it is for the sake of the kingdom that we sacrifice our comfort and preferences. We say God you are worth more than all my problems and solutions, and so we enter in with all our imagination to make our experience of the Lord concrete and impacting. Because we are integrated beings, we enter in with our whole body. What we do with our hands and feet affects our spirit. Woodland Hills is intentionally diverse in our worship styles week to week in an effort to mimic the coming kingdom where every tribe and tongue from every nation will gather together to sing songs of worship to our Lord. To settle for homogeneity and not strive for diversity in worship is to ignore one of the reasons Jesus died, to tear down walls and reverse Babel.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What further questions do you have about the text in Psalms and James? Is there anything unclear about the context?
  2. What has been your past experience with praise and worship (good or bad)?
  3. How has this impacted your ability (or inability) to enter into times of worship with all your imagination and mental capacity”
  4. How can our lives to be an act of worship?
  5. Is there anywhere in your life that has been neglected and you need to rededicate it as an area of worship?