Lesson 4 Worshiping Without Restraint

MAIN IDEA: God shows up when His people immerse themselves in worship!

In this class we have been studying the story of the Seventy found in Luke 10, but I’d like to suggest that the story doesn’t end there. We will now hear “the rest of the story,” which teaches us something about completely unrestrained worship; and we will consider how the full story illustrates two foundational truths about worship — truths we have affirmed throughout our study:
• Worship is our response to God’s revelation of who He is and what He has done.
• Our worship provides a place of meeting with God — He has promised to inhabit our praises.

“Don’t rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20

Unrestrained Worship
In Luke 10:20, Jesus told the Seventy that their names were written in heaven. This alone could have been enough for them — but there was more. They had responded to God’s revelation by joining Him in His work as they fulfilled their mission, and now they were about to experience God in all His glory as they worshiped while the King of kings entered Jerusalem:

Now He came near the path down the Mount of Olives, and the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen: Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven!
Luke 19:37-38

Though the Scriptures do not say specifically that the Seventy were part of “the whole multitude of the disciples,” it is logical to assume that these devoted followers responded to the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to worship Jesus as He entered the city to fulfill His destiny.

As Jesus came into the city, the Seventy — and the entire multitude — weren’t sitting quietly and waiting for someone to ask them to rise and sing verses one, two, and four! They were shouting, singing, waving palm branches, and running alongside the Savior of the world. Their worship was unrestrained. They were proclaiming to all who would listen that the King had arrived, that sins could be forgiven, and that we can live at peace with God as a result. Now that is experiencing God in worship!

Revelation, Worship, and God’s Presence
The Seventy had spent time with Jesus, and they knew He was the Son of God. They knew He had come to set the captives free. Jesus was and is the Lamb who was slain to forever provide a way to the Father.

These disciples had a revelation of God and had seen what He had done in their midst; their response on this day was unrestrained worship. God Himself fulfilled His promise to be present with them as they worshiped! God always inhabits the praises of His people.

As Jesus entered Jerusalem that day, He came in the midst of His disciples’ intense, loud, and unceasing worship. Imagine the scene with me.

Perhaps you are one in the crowd who doesn’t really know what’s going on, but you sense something amazing is unfolding before your eyes. You can hear the noise of all the people begin to swell. Someone special is coming. You can hear the shouts of praise and acclamation.

Surely it is the king or a member of the royal family. Why else would the people be so unrestrained in their praise and adulation? As you strain to catch a glimpse of this royal moment, you are confronted with true royalty — the High King of all time. And He is riding a donkey, just as you have read about in the Holy Scriptures.

Now, it’s decision time for you. If Jesus really is who they say He is — if He really is the Son of God come to set us free from sin — then you must respond! The worship of His disciples is overwhelming …

“ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Luke 19:38, NKJV

Surely it is Him! There is no way to stop the worship. The religious leaders have lost control. If the people stop praising Him, the stones will start to cry out. And at that moment you make the decision in your heart: Jesus is Lord! There is none other like Him in all of heaven and earth!

Your heart has been captured in your moment of revelation, and you lift your voice — your own expression of unhindered worship — in unison with the others, shouting, “Blessed is the King … blessed is the King … glory in the highest!” God Himself is present, and you will never, ever be the same!

The presence of God in Christ Jesus at that moment provides an indelible living image of God’s promise to be present when His people worship Him. God always inhabits the praises of His people! And when God is present — when the revelation of God increases — complete and unrestrained worship is our only reasonable response.

Are you picturing yourself in this joyous situation? What would you be doing? How would you be feeling? What do you think it would have been like to be one of the Seventy?

Tell Daughter Zion, “See, your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.” Matthew 21:5

[Jesus] answered, “I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out!” Luke 19:40

As we approach the end of our study together, I pray that the message of this lesson has given you a simple yet profound vision of real worship — unhindered worship in response to who God is and what He has done in your life.

I often wonder just how different our corporate worship times would be if each service began with a clear proclamation of God’s goodness and mercy toward us — before the first word of the first hymn or worship chorus was sung.

I encourage you to do that as you begin the next worship service at your church. If not from the platform, at least in your heart begin to focus on the revelation of God in your life — even as you sing. Then join in with the Seventy and all the precious saints around the throne of God and raise your own expression of worship. You are His beloved child, and He wants to hear your voice of praise and adoration more than you could ever imagine.

• What statement or Scripture you read in this lesson was most meaningful?
• Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response.
• What does God want you to do in response to this lesson?

Lesson 1 Our Response: Service and Surrender

MAIN IDEA: Responding to God’s revelation in a manner that is pleasing to Him involves service and surrender.

As we have seen so far in our study, God is love and His grace abounds toward us every day. Through Jesus Christ, the sacrificial Lamb of God, we are able to enter God’s presence and receive from the very throne of grace. What’s more, God continues to reveal Himself and His efforts on our behalf every day.

It is up to us to respond and worship God for who He is and what He has done. But what should that response look like? How can we respond to God’s revelation in a manner that is pleasing to Him?

Service: Love in Action
As we have seen, God’s love for us is everlasting. In expressing His love for us through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, God was being true to His nature:

“God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son.” John 3:16

God is love, and God made us in His image. Our response to God’s love should be to love in return — to love God and to love one another. We love because He first loved us, for all things begin in Him:

From Him and through Him and to Him are all things. [For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him.] To Him be glory forever! Amen (so be it). Romans 11:36, AMP

Still, we must respond — we must put our love into action! Love without action is similar to faith without works, it’s dead. Our love should look like the love we read about in 1 Corinthians 13, and it should result in service and good deeds. Spend a few minutes reading 1 John 3:16-19 to learn more about God’s love. How can you show others the love of Jesus?

In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself. James 2:17

Complete Surrender
As we have discussed, Jesus gave us the ultimate example of surrendering to the plans and purposes of God. He really did choose to walk the road to Calvary and take the weight of our sins upon His guiltless body. God mercifully sacrificed real, unblemished flesh and blood in order to make a way for us to enter His presence. Jesus, the Lamb of God, paid the complete and total price for our freedom, and our response of worship is likewise costly:

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Romans 12:1, AMP

We’ve considered that our response to God’s love is to express love, which requires action. We are to serve others in tangible ways. Even so, our words and actions are not enough. Our tithes and offerings are not enough. There is only one thing that makes our service appropriate and sufficient: complete surrender.

Totally surrendering our hearts and our lives to God — that is our reasonable, rational, intelligent response. Responding to God in this way requires surrender in every area of our lives: laying down our desires (if they are different from God’s) and taking up God’s desires every moment of every day.

Our lives really can become a living sacrifice, often in the most practical ways. Many times what we see as sacrifice is really God’s way of moving us toward our destiny. I was introduced to that truth as a teenager.

Sacrifice Is a Choice
Sports are important to most young boys and girls. Whether they are good at a particular sport isn’t always the issue. Just being on the team — being included and having an identity — is a big deal, particularly in the teenage years.

I grew up playing baseball and playing guitar. And frankly, I loved both activities. I guess I was born for a stage of some kind! I’m pretty sure I was great at both baseball and music … well, at least my mom and dad thought I was.

When I was a sophomore at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, my baseball career was in full bloom — and so was my music career. Until that year, both interests had coincided very well, but that was about to change. I can see now that God’s call on my life has always been music ministry, but at that time I really wanted to do both music and baseball. My two passions, however, were about to have a head-on collision.

Our baseball team had a makeup game one day that simply had to be played on Sunday morning. That was very unusual, but Jacksonville State was in town and there was simply no other time for the game to be played.

I was committed to lead worship that morning at the church I attended. I had pitched the entire game the day before, so I knew my role with the baseball team on that particular day was to sit in the bullpen and cheer for our team. Since there really was no chance that I would play on Sunday, I figured I was good to go — break out the hymnals and warm up the choir!

Unfortunately, my coach didn’t see things the same way. He wanted me to be at the game. I felt that both baseball and music ministry were crucial to me, but the fact was that something had to take a back seat. I didn’t realize it at the time, but God was working through my circumstances; and I was about to make a major adjustment in my life.

As I prayed about the situation, I just couldn’t find any peace about leaving 125 folks without a worship leader on Sunday morning. Trust me, I tried to find a way around the predicament, but it finally came down to a decision: something had to be sacrificed, and the time was now.

As I led worship that morning, I was so encouraged to see two familiar but unexpected faces in the congregation sitting close to my mom and dad. The parents of the pitcher for Jacksonville State — the starting pitcher in the game being played that morning — had heard about my decision, and they chose to join me in worship while their own son played the game! I honestly don’t remember who won the game that day, but I clearly see now that God won the battle for my heart and my life.

Years later, I happened to be listening to the radio as I drove through Mississippi. My old coach at Delta State was being interviewed as he was being inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. I had always assumed that I let him down that day, and that thought left me with such an empty feeling. But there he was on the radio years later talking about his former players, including me! He told the audience that I was a minister and one of the finest young men he had ever coached. God reached out through that radio and gave me closure that day. Through my tears of appreciation, I realized that what had been a sacrifice in my mind on that special Sunday morning turned out to be the launching pad that God had planned for the rest of my life.

We all have found ourselves at similar crossroads in life — possibly laying down something that we want to have or to do in order to follow the “still small voice” of the Spirit. But more often, complete surrender means surrendering our hearts, our thoughts, and our reactions to the daily issues of life to God’s direction. It isn’t always easy to exchange our lives for His, but the rewards are indeed great when we do. As Jesus said,

“Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.” Matthew 16:25

What do you think it means to “present your members as a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1)? What is one practical way you can present yourself to God as such a sacrifice?

Jesus has already made the supreme sacrifice of real flesh and blood on our behalf. Yet we must choose to surrender or yield our own unredeemed bodies as instruments of righteousness, rather than instruments of our own selfish desires.

A Renewed Mind — The First Step
You can present your body as a living sacrifice, but that process starts with a re-born spirit and a mind that is continually being transformed or renewed by the Word of God:

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

Ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil excess, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you. James 1:21

As born-again believers, we have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us to guide and direct us, but we must train our minds and our bodies to respond to His direction in every situation. This training process begins with renewing of our minds — reprogramming our thought life — which can happen only as we mediate on God’s Word. This process takes time — a lifetime, in fact — but the result is a life that is good and acceptable to God.

What are three things you thought about as you woke up this morning. Now compare your thoughts of this morning with the directions of Philippians 4:8: Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.

The Word of God is the only thing that can renew our minds, and it will contradict our typical thought life regularly. The key is found in preferring God’s Word to our own thoughts, and this a conscious decision on our part — often minute by minute. But God’s thoughts really are higher and better than ours!

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the LORD’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

It takes revelation and a renewed mind to fully appreciate all that God is and has done in our lives. As we make a conscious decision to train our minds to align with His thoughts and His words of life, we are ready to adopt a lifestyle of worship.

• What statement or Scripture you read in this lesson was most meaningful?
• Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response.
• What does God want you to do in response to this lesson?

Lesson 1 Created for Relationship

MAIN IDEA: God created us in His image so that we might have a relationship with Him and fulfill His purpose on the earth.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created. John 1:1-3

The Bible makes it clear: God has always been the initiator of relationship, and we are designed and equipped to respond. God created heaven and earth. He created man and woman and provided for their needs — including a place to meet with God Himself. In fact, the entire order and depth of God’s creation indicates that we were created in God’s image so that we might have a relationship with Him and fulfill His purpose on the earth. Let’s take a look.

Created in His Image
The story unfolds in the first chapter of Genesis. God spoke, and amazing things happened. God spoke light and entire solar systems into existence:

God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Genesis 1:3

God spoke water and land into existence and created every living thing — every plant and every animal that has ever lived on the face of the earth:

God said, “Let the earth produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit with seed in it, according to their kinds.” And it was so. Genesis 1:11

God said, “Let the water swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” So God made the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and creatures that crawl on the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:20, 25

But when it came to creating man, God reached down from heaven as a master craftsman at work, shaping the masterpiece — the centerpiece — of His creation. Yes, God created something very unique when He formed man from the dust of the earth — something above and beyond and quite different from all other created things.

He Created Us in His Image
The Genesis story tells us: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’ ” (Gen. 1:26). And the rest of the biblical story — from Genesis to Revelation — affirms that we are the embodiment of the image of God. God fully equipped us with His communicable attributes. He gave us intellect and the ability to reason. He made us with a will and emotions. Unlike every other part of God’s creation, God fashioned us in His own image. We have been given exactly what we need to fulfill His purpose for our lives.

Created for His Purpose
After creating man and woman, God bestowed His blessing on them and empowered them with a mission — a purpose:

God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.” Genesis 1:27-28

God revealed Himself and His plans for Adam and Eve very clearly, just as He continues to reveal Himself and His desire for us today. Our role is to respond to His revelation with worship as we fulfill our purpose, both individually and corporately.

From the first lines of the Genesis story throughout the pages of the Bible, God communicates His desire for us to know who He is, who we are in relationship to Him, how we should respond, and what we can expect. God created us in His image, and He has chosen to work through us to tend to His creation and fulfill His will on the earth — to do the good works He has prepared or planned for us. God wants to reveal Himself and His will to us every day, and as we respond appropriately, we can experience God as He works through us. The Bible makes it clear that each individual is God’s creation, and that He created us with His purpose in mind.

According to Genesis 1:27-28, what is our purpose? Let’s look at some basic truths about purpose. Read the following five comments and Scripture verses that follow.

• Purpose precedes creation
Creation occurs in the mind and heart of the creator. The creator conceptualizes the reason for creating something before the creation ever exists. For example, when building a house, the architect (creator) must begin with the purpose for the structure before the design can be formalized. God knew exactly what He had in mind before He created you and me!

It was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. Psalm 139:13-14

• Purpose determines design
Once the purpose is determined, a design is developed to accomplish that purpose. For example, the inventor (creator) of the fork and spoon clearly determined the purpose of each instrument before developing the design. The spoon was needed to transport liquids, and its shape dictated that purpose. Likewise, God determined our design before He created us!

We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10, NIV

• Our purpose coincides with our gifts and abilities
God created ducks to float on water and fly through the air. He gave them the unique characteristics of buoyancy and flight. In the same way, God has given us gifts and abilities that coincide with His plans for humanity. We are the body of Christ, and God fulfills His purposes on the earth through us. We were made with the ability to create, reason, and communicate unlike anything else He made. And each of us has been given specific gifts and abilities to fulfill His purposes. Our design is not an accident!

As we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts. Romans 12:4-6

• Our purpose is defined in our nature
Because God made us for relationship, we have been given the ability and desire to relate to God. We are the way we are because of why we are!

As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and appear before God? Psalm 42:1-2

• Our purpose requires a disciplined response
Our overall purpose is defined in Genesis 1:28 — to populate the earth and rule over it. However, our unique purpose can be found only as we walk with God. This requires daily attention through prayer, study of God’s Word, and worship. That is where we find our unique individual purpose — in God’s presence.

Do not neglect the gift that is in you … Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all. 1 Timothy 4:14,15

God desires a relationship with us. He continually searches for people who will respond to who He is and all He has done. God created us in His image, for His purpose, and for His presence. Our only adequate response is worship!

• What statement or Scripture you read in this lesson was most meaningful?
• Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response.
• What does God want you to do in response to this lesson?

Welcome to the Course


“An hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him.” John 4:23

There is a deep and growing interest in worship these days, and that makes perfect sense. After all, worship is the primary reason we gather as the body of Christ each week. We gather to focus our attention and energy on giving glory to God; and when we do, we encounter God in powerful, life-changing ways. As a result, we are challenged and empowered to join God as He works in the world.

There are many forms of worship and certainly many different styles of worship. The body of Christ is a broad and diverse family, and the form of our worship can often cause confusion and division. God is never the author of confusion, and His Word gives clear guidelines that empower and liberate all believers in their own worship expression. Authentic worship is simply a genuine expression of praise, adoration, celebration, and thanksgiving to God in response to who He is and what He has done in our lives.

Seven Words of Worship explores what this means for us as the body of Christ and as individuals, including how we may pursue authentic worship—not only in our weekly worship services but also in our everyday lives. Over the course of the study, you will be introduced to seven simple Words of Worship that can serve as a guide for knowing and experiencing God. As you apply these teachings in your own life, you will be inspired and equipped to develop a lifestyle of worship, which is God’s desire for every believer.

We are passionate about helping individuals and congregations develop a consistent lifestyle of worship. As you increase in understanding of who God really is and what He has done in your life, consistent and fervent worship will be your natural response. And as you worship, God will inhabit your praise and impact your circumstances.

You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. Psalm 22:3

Our Threefold Purpose
Seven Words of Worship is indeed a course initiated by God and birthed through years of effort by my coauthor and friend, Stan Moser. Although this is a collaborative work, I (Mike) will serve as the “voice” throughout this study, representing our collective insights that, we hope, will accomplish our threefold purpose:
• To help you gain a clear revelation of God and His desire for worship to be the focal point and passion of our lives (Rom. 12:1);
• To give you a solid understanding of the biblical foundation that leads us to become true worshipers (John 4:23-24); and
• To encourage you to enter into increased freedom in your worship expression as you respond to God’s revelation (2 Cor. 3:17).

I will meditate on Your precepts and think about Your ways. Psalm 119:15

About the Course
To achieve these goals, we will present some simple, foundational truths about biblical worship in a format of five short lessons for each of eight classes.

Each lesson combines Bible study and biblical narratives with real-life stories and practical application. The practical application questions and activities are in bold print. Please don’t skip over these questions and activities. They are designed to help you clarify, process, and apply what you are learning.

Another important personal-application tool is the Daily Review. Here you will be asked to review the lesson and pray, asking God to identify for you one or more statements or Scriptures from the lesson that He wants to make a part of your understanding and practice. The same three questions will help you to complete this process after each lesson.

Keep in mind that there are no wrong answers to this personal-application process. As God uses the lessons to draw you to some personal revelation or interaction, pray about how He would have you respond. Though you will sense a logical progression in the material, you also will revisit some core concepts along the way, exploring them from different angles and considering subtle nuances in order to maximize understanding and application. You’ll encounter several key Scriptures more than once along your journey to reinforce biblical truths central to our study and to help hide God’s Word in your heart.

Consider the following suggestions for making your journey through Seven Words of Worship more meaningful:
• Trust the Holy Spirit to be your teacher. Ask Him for guidance as you seek to gain greater biblical understanding of authentic worship and develop your lifestyle of worship. Open your mind and heart in ready obedience to all He will teach you.
• Be consistent in your personal study. A lifestyle of worship is a radical change for many, and diligent attention to the Word of God is the key.
• Take time each day to express your worship and appreciation to the King of kings! If possible, begin or end your classes with a time of worship.
• Before beginning each class, pray for revelation and breakthrough.
• Be sure to read and meditate on each Scripture. After all, this is a Bible study!
• Take time to respond to each practical-application question and activity (printed in bold).
• Record the statements or Scriptures that were most meaningful to you, as well as how God is calling you to respond. When God speaks, it is important to record it.
• Write down questions that arise during your study. Then, as the study continues, watch for God to provide the answers.
• Share one revelation or new understanding with someone. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and share freely with others what the Lord is teaching you about worship!

Our Hope and Prayer for You
As you make your way through the study, our hope and prayer is that you will be filled with a refreshing and clear perspective on authentic worship and challenged to fulfill God’s desire for you to lift your voice and your life as an expression of worship. Here are two biblical promises to encourage you:
• God has promised to inhabit our praises.
• God rewards those who diligently seek Him.

Focusing on these promises will help you begin each day with the expectation that God desires to meet with you and reveal Himself more completely to you.

As you believe and receive God’s great and precious promises in your life, you will encounter Him and experience Him in ways you can only imagine right now. You really can experience God in worship!