I’ve slacked in my posting of service plans in the last few weeks but want to let you know what is happening tonight and Sunday in worship at Stevens Street. The somber quiet of the upper room gave way to jubilant celebration as Jesus emerged from the tomb “on the first day of the week.” (John 20:1) We need to embrace both, and we will beginning tonight at 6p. Come ready to worship.
Song – “Beautiful Savior”
Scripture – Luke 22:14-38
Song – “At the Cross”
Scripture – Luke 22:39-23:1
Songs – “Jesus Paid It All” & “The Power of the Cross”
Scripture – Luke 23:13-25, 32-49
Song – “Hallelujah, What a Savior” (sung by Worship Choir ensemble)
Message – Pastor Sam Rainer
Songs – “By His Wounds” “This Is Our Freedom” “There Is a Redeemer”
Closing song – “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”
“Christ Is Risen, He Is Risen Indeed” (Worship Choir & Orchestra)
Scripture – 1 Corinthians 15:19-26
Song – “You Are Worthy” (Worship Choir & Orchestra)”
Message – Pastor Sam Rainer “Alive: With Christ”
Closing song – “Because He Lives”
A faithful worship leader - and a faithful church – “magnifies the greatness of God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit by skillfully combining God’s Word with music, thereby motivating the gathered church to proclaim the gospel, to cherish God’s presence, and to live for God’s glory.” (Bob Kauflin, “Worship Matters”)
It is important to realize that music is not worship; it is only a mechanism to express it, albeit a wonderful gift from God for the purpose of glorying in Him. Worship is not emotionalism or a well-timed key change. It is not a particular style. Worship is simply our response to God’s Self-revelation in His Word. Authentic, spirit and truth worship is Word-centered and Word-rooted. If we, as faithful worship leaders, want to lead through the power of the Holy Spirit, then our worship must be informed by and filled with the Word He inspired.
Ephesians 5:18 and Colossians 3:16 are parallel. To “be filled with the Spirit” in Ephesians 5 is the same as letting “the word about Christ dwell in you richly” in Colossians. They are interchangeable phrases that result in the same thing – that we “speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:17)
In other words, being Spirit-filled means being Word-filled. A worshiper doesn’t need music to worship, though a song in our heart is the natural outflow of the Spirit-filled life. As we are immersed in the Word of God, the Holy Spirit renews our mind by the Word, and we are filled with the Holy Spirit. And we worship. We are “transformed into the same image (of Christ) from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18)
The more you know Christ, the more you love Christ. The more you love Christ, the more you love the things that honor Christ. The more you love the things that honor Christ, the more you become like Christ.
So, how do we make worship Word-centered both personally and as a church? We treasure, sing, read, and pray it.
(individually) My goal is to value God’s Word more than anything else that occupies my time or thoughts.
(corporately) Everything we do as a church is to be guided by and saturated with Scripture – services, LifeGroups, committee meetings. Everything. I am thankful to be a member of a church where that is true.
(individually) Fill your life with songs that are Scripture-rich. And sing those songs to yourself throughout the day. An indication of a Spirit-filled life is that we have a song in our heart to the Lord (Eph. 5:19).
(corporately) We will continue to fill our services with hymns and songs that are rich in Scriptural foundation. Not only does it honor the Lord, but it edifies the church to sing God’s Word.
(individually) Read the bible daily. And read the entire bible continually. Note it, memorize it. Furthermore, come to worship as a regular practice. The Scriptures will be opened and explained, and the Spirit will apply them to your life.
(corporately) 1 Tim. 4:13 commands “the public reading of Scripture.” We will make it part of our weekly worship to read the Scriptures aloud and together. The Holy Spirit supernaturally blesses the reading, exhortation, and teaching of Scripture, and that is what we will do.
(individually) Pray Scripture back to God. Fill your prayers with promises and truths found there. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 37:4) The expressions of our thoughts and desires should be guided by God’s Word so that His desires become ours; that our minds are renewed to the point that our hearts are attune to the Lord’s will.
(corporately) The same is true as individually. We are what we sing and what we pray. Worshiping in truth means praying the truth. God is honored and the church is strengthened when we pray according to God’s Word because God’s Word is powerful. That is why, for example, we dismiss our services with a Scriptural benediction or prayer of blessing. We believe the grace that has come to us in God’s Word will go with us as we depart.
We will be a people in whom the Word dwells richly. This Sunday will be no exception. Here is the service line-up:
Scripture reading – Psalm 27:1-6
“Thou, Oh Lord”
“A Mighty Fortress”
“I Will Not Be Shaken”
Ministry report from Jesus Is Hope Ministries (Jimmy & Diane Arms)
Song – “O Church, Arise”
Message – John 2:12-25
Response – Invitation & Offering
We will observe the Lord’s Supper this Sunday morning. Communion services are always the richest worship times because the Lord’s Supper is the most magnificent proclamation of the gospel, and Jesus left it for us to observe until He comes again (1 Corinthians 11:26),
Here is the order for Sunday:
Baptisms of Davin & Drew Dyal (9a)
Baby Dedication of Aria Elise Herman (10:30a)
Scripture responsive reading - Psalm 103:1-5, 8-12
Songs – “To God Be the Glory” & “Before the Throne of God Above”
Scripture reading & prayer – Romans 10:8-13
Song – “Behold the Lamb (Communion Hymn)”
Message – “Sinners with the Sinless” (1 Corinthians 11:17-26)
As we lead the church in worship, the Holy Spirit leads us. That is what a faithful worship leader does – we magnify the greatness of God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. “Through Him (Christ) we…have access in one Spirit to the Father.” (Eph. 2:18) “For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God…” (Phil. 3:3)
To know the Spirit’s leading in worship, we could say there are three attitudes we need:
1. Eager expectation – Not a theoretical belief, but a belief in reality that the Spirit leads and works in worship. We should be seeking to know what the Spirit wants to accomplish in worship. How much do you really expect to encounter Him in worship each week?
2. Humble responsiveness - If we expect God to reveal Himself in worship, then we should be ready and eager to respond to His revelation. We do that by faithfully fullfilling our responsibilties, showing up every week prepared to lead. We should never consider any worship service routine or ordinary. God is near, and we should be ready to respond.
3. Desperate dependence – The Spirit’s leading and anointing is directly related to two things in the worshiper’s life – obedience and prayer.
obedience - the Spirit works powerfully through the person whose heart is fully devoted to the Lord, whose hands and heart are clean, and who lives obediently to the commands of Scripture (2 Chronicles 16:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 7-8). The extent of Spirit power in our lives is relative to our obedience. If we truly want to walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).
prayer – Spirit-filled, Spirit-led worshipers are deep, sustained pray-ers. It is what we are commanded to do (Colossians 4:2; Ephesians 6:18; Jude 20; Romans 8:26).
How desperate are we for the Spirit’s presence and power in our lives?
We will come to worship this Sunday expecting, responsive, and dependent. The elements for worship are planned – rich songs, a wonderful worship team, great teaching, Scripture reading. The Spirit’s power at work in us is what will make it authentic and honoring to God, so let’s pray to that end.
“…In Jesus Christ…”
“A faithful worship leader magnifies the greatness of God in Jesus Christ…”
(notes from choir rehearsal, 2.6.13)
We worship “in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:23-24)
Jesus is Truth, the “Amen,” The “Verily, verily” – the truth of Scripture is rooted in Christ
“For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory.” (2 Cor. 1:20)
“The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.” (Rev. 3:14)
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14) Literally, “tabernacled”
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 2:5)
What is the point? The location of our meeting place to worship God has moved from a building to a Person, Christ Himself.
He not only is the focus of worship but the means of worshiping God.
New Testament worship is Christ- and cross-centered.
What does it mean to magnify the greatness of God in Christ? It means that we make Christ and His cross the spectacle of worship; that the flow and content of our services have that as the focal point; that worshipers are encouraged to respond in faith to Christ
Why is Christ the focus of worship? Because He died to bring us to God.
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God…” (1 Peter 3:18
Through one solitary sacrifice, Jesus brings us into God’s presence.
That is our glory now and will be eternally (Rev. 5)
Jesus’ provides two things for us:
- Access to God
- Acceptable worship
The gospel is who God is and what He has done in the cross. It is everything about Christ – His eternality, incarnation, sinless life, obedience, atonement, resurrection, ascension, present ministry, and future return.
Not all of these elements are specifically mentioned in every worship service, but allusions to them are there. And if we continue in weekly worship, we will eventually hear them in the teaching, songs, prayers, and Scripture readings.
To magnify God in His greatness, we do so “in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6)
“No one has seen God at any time…Jesus has made Him known.” (John 1:18)
It’s not our acceptability or excellence. It is Christ’s.
Believers obey Christ as the one by whom our obedience is accepted by God. Believers know all their duties are weak, imperfect, and unable to abide in God’s presence. Therefore, they look to Christ as the one who bears the iniquity of their holy things, who adds incense to their prayers, gathers out all the weeds from their duties, and makes them acceptable to God. (John Owen)
At the end of choir rehearsal last night, we began defining the role of a faithful worship leader (as laid out by Bob Kauflin in “Worship Matters”). The matter of first importance in the church’s weekly worship gatherings is to magnify the greatness of God; not a reduced God, not a pop-culture God, not a God we invent to touch our felt needs or one we conjure up through the illusion of emotionalism, but a God who is awesome, holy, beyond comprehension; God in all of His greatness because, indeed, “…His greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:3) In short, we need to present and magnify God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture. Scripture gives us the telescopic view of God rather than a microscopic one (see Piper, “Don’t Waste Your Life,” ch. 2). In order for worship to be biblical and faithful, it must be guided by God’s Word.
So, as we prepare for worship this Sunday, and as we meditate on magnifying God’s greatness, I thought I would follow up with a few exhortations, as well as some Scriptures at the end.
- Magnifying the greatness of God corporately is only as authentic as He is magnified in me personally.
Worship begins in the heart and works its way out in our expression of it. Little, if any, eternal significance is registered if this is not in order. How is God being magnified in the meditations of your heart? Your thoughts? Your words? Does it authenticate your public magnification of Him?
- Volunteer ministry leaders aren’t responsible for the content of a service, but you are responsible for how you lead (and live) worship.
Your job is not to plan the weekly service. That is the task of our pastor, myself, and other paid staff, to a certain degree. You are not on the hook for that, but you do have to answer for your level of preparation in heart, mind, skill, and talent as well as your daily conduct and example of worship. Have you prepared before you arrived for worship? How faithful have you been in rehearsals and taking them seriously? How tuned in are you during a service? How do you magnify God when you walk off the stage?
- Always expect your pastor and church staff to make God’s greatness primary in worship.
We are a congregation, and pastors and ministers serve the flock. You should never settle for less from your pastors – wherever and whenever you are in life – than magnifying the greatness of God in every aspect of corporate worship. In every sermon, in every song, in every prayer, in every announcement. If not explicit, it should at least be implicit. Every time. Always. Graciously, lovingly hold us accountable.
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways!” (Romans 11:33) In the words of Kauflin, “How could anyone ever think worshiping God is boring?”
For further reading, here are the Scriptures I read last night and more: Isaiah 40:12-26; 46; 55; 59:16; 63:5-14; 65; 66
Here are the highlights in our worship order for this Sunday:
Baptisms (10:30a) – Tessa Briggs, Thomas Rector
Call to Worship – led by Matt Bragga
“O God, Our Help in Ages Past”
Baby Dedication of Bren Rainer
Message – John 2:1-11 – Pastor Sam Rainer
Dismissal – 1 Chronicles 29:11-13