Lesson 5 Never-Ending Worship

MAIN IDEA: Our worship invites God’s presence, His presence brings increased revelation, and we respond with never-ending worship.

Worship is critical to our lives here on planet Earth, and worship is our destiny throughout all eternity. Throughout our study together, we have seen example after example of God’s people responding to Him with worship. And their worship invited the presence of God — their lives were changed forever.

We also have been given a clear picture of our never-ending worship around the throne of God in heaven. The cycle of worship begins with our response, and it is indeed never-ending. As we’ve learned, worship is continual in heaven as the angels and elders cry out day and night.

There is no shortage of God’s presence in heaven, and the worship never stops. Imagining Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem gave us just a small glimpse of what our eternity will hold. Our response will be worship — the kind of unrestrained worship offered by the crowd gathered on the dusty road outside the city of Jerusalem.

As we saw in the last class, Jesus went to Jerusalem to fulfill His destiny right in the midst of his followers, including the Seventy, and they could not keep silent. They had devoted their lives to Jesus, they had seen Him do mighty deeds through their own obedience, and they had the personal assurance of spending eternity with God. They had every reason to worship the King — and so do we! Never-ending worship was their destiny, and it is ours as well.

We have a lot in common with the Seventy. They were ordinary people who had taken the opportunity to spend time with the Savior, to believe and receive His words of life, and to reach out to those around them who needed to know that the Savior was near. Although Jesus is no longer physically with us, He has provided the Holy Spirit who resides in us and teaches us all things:

The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in Him. 1 John 2:27

Like the Seventy, we have been given a mission. Jesus has called us to go forth into our neighborhoods, schools, churches, and workplaces to declare that the Kingdom is near and available. His Holy Spirit empowers us to speak words of love and healing and deliverance to those in need:

This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but shuts off his compassion from him — how can God’s love reside in him? Little children, we must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth. 1 John 3:16-18

Just like the Seventy, we can fulfill our mission by choosing to spend time in God’s presence, respond to His revelation, and make a place of meeting as we worship Him. God’s amazing love for us makes it all possible. The cycle of worship is never-ending: He loves us; we respond; He inhabits our response; and we worship even more! God is waiting right now for us, even as we complete this study.

Each of the four living creatures had six wings; they were covered with eyes around and inside. Day and night they never stop, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is coming. Revelation 4:8

Blowing to the Box
When I think of “instruments of praise,” I’m reminded of an analogy I heard many, many years ago — one that tells about being a band parent, which brings to mind the many band competitions Teresa and I have endured.

We have been band parents ever since my son, Lee, was able to pick up a horn and play. That means that I’ve been to countless band contests — those all-day events where you are guaranteed to sit in the bleachers somewhere and watch as many as 50 or 60 bands perform their halftime shows for the judges in the press box.

Frankly, it’s a fairly boring way to spend a Saturday — that is, until your band takes the field! At that point, it doesn’t matter that you have heard the song a thousand times; the “band parent within” takes over! You may know every note and every step that is coming, but your response cannot be restrained.

As the song comes to its conclusion, the band turns toward you; and in one final moment, they start what is known as “blowing to the box.” Every band director teaches the same message: this is the moment where you blow your instrument with all your heart, soul, and strength. No matter what instrument you play, as you face the press box, it’s time to put your very best performance on the line. Lift your head, blow a little harder, and play a little louder! It’s time to let them hear all you have to give!

And though we band parents have experienced this moment countless times, there we are again: standing on the bleachers, waving our arms in the air, and screaming at the top of our lungs as our children “blow to the box”!

The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great rejoicing, while the Levites and priests sang to the LORD every day, accompanied by the LORD’s instruments of praise. 2 Chronicles 30:21, NIV

As a worshiper, the message is clear: when we turn our attention to the One we worship, our worship expression and experience is totally dependent on where we see our Father seated. If He is in the press box, carefully judging our performance (and our lives) because it is His job to see if we meet some performance standard, then we will approach our Father with caution and fear.

But if we see Him as the Father who has climbed to the top of the bleachers to get a better view of His dear child — as a Father who waves His arms and screams His support with all His strength to let us know that He loves us and is there for us — then nothing and no one can keep us from experiencing God at that very moment.

Worshiping God in response to who He is and what He has done is a privilege that we simply cannot ignore. We were made for worship, and even now God is waiting for us to respond.

Our God is truly the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords. His name is Jesus, and He’s waiting for our response to His revelation! Worship while you wait. Worship while you are under the weight of circumstances. Worship when He seems near and when He seems so far away. Your name is written in the book of heaven; and when this life is over, you will be worshiping Him day and night for eternity. Now that’s something to celebrate!

You see, worship really is the key to experiencing God. He’s ready when you are.

Do you feel you are more prepared to worship God completely since you’ve participated in this course? What are some ways you will worship now that you didn’t before?

Points to Ponder
• When we experience God in worship, we are empowered to serve Him — and worship Him more.
• Experiencing God in worship requires time and sacrifice.
• Experiencing God in worship requires us to trust and obey and keep our focus on Jesus.
• God shows up when His people immerse themselves in worship!
• Our worship invites God’s presence; His presence brings increased revelation; and we respond with never-ending 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?

Seven Words of Worship is based on the book Seven Words of Worship published by LifeWay Press ©2008 · Mike Harland and Stan Moser

No part of this course may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, except as may be expressly permitted in writing by the publisher. Requests for permission should be addressed in writing to LifeWay Press®; One LifeWay Plaza; Nashville, TN 37234-0175.

ISBN: 978-1-4158-6609-2 Item number 005170866

Dewey Decimal Classification Number: 264 Subject Heading: WORSHIP \ SPIRITUAL LIFE

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission.

Scriptures marked NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers.

Scriptures marked NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version, copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.

Scriptures marked AMP are from The Amplified® Bible, copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.lockman.org)

Scriptures marked MSG are from The Message by Eugene Peterson, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scriptures marked KJV are from the King James Version of the Bible.

Leadership and Adult Publishing LifeWay Church Resources One LifeWay Plaza Nashville, TN 37234-0175

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 3 Worship and The Word

MAIN IDEA: Worship strengthens the Word in us.

As we respond to the revelation of God’s great love by laying down our lives — as we become a living sacrifice — we can always expect resistance. Worship is our response to the revelation of God, and there is a heavenly battle that always centers around worship. That is one reason why worship is such a divisive element in many churches today.

As we saw yesterday in the story of King Jehoshaphat, we are equipped for battle through prayer, fasting, worship, and the Word of God. The battle is won in prayer; our strength and encouragement are found in the presence of the Lord as we worship; and the Word of God is our mighty weapon — the sword of the Spirit — with which we take the offensive:

Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. With every prayer and request, pray at all times in the Spirit, and stay alert in this, with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. Ephesians 6:17-18

In this lesson we will focus on the powerful combination of worship and the Word of God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

A Powerful Combination
God’s Word and worship are indeed a powerful combination. In worship we both receive the Word of God and strengthen the Word within us. Worship apart from the revelation of the Word (the Living Word and written Word) is incomplete. But worship in response to God’s revelation brings that Word to life in a powerful way. Worship and the Word go hand-in-hand, and this powerful combination is a crucial element in living the abundant life that Jesus promised:

“I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance.” John 10:10

The world we live in is full of struggles, fears, and temptations. Jesus, the Living Word — the Living Two-Edged Sword — faced them all in the wilderness. He was tempted just as we are in every way, yet He was without sin. His response to the Adversary is our example to follow:

Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. And he said to Him, “I will give You all these things if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.’ ” Then the Devil left Him, and immediately angels came and began to serve Him. Matthew 4:8-11

The battleground was temptation, but the core issue was worship. The Enemy wanted Jesus to worship something other than God, but Jesus drew upon the Word of God within to fight the battle. Do you ever stop to consider how Jesus can truly understand our temptations? Offer a prayer now thanking Him for this aspect of who He is.

Nothing has changed since the time when Jesus was in the wilderness. The Enemy still wants us to worship something other than God — Father, Son, and Spirit — and the answer to this and every other challenge or temptation is still “It is written”! The Word of God is always the answer.

As we have studied previously, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Prayer prepares us for the battle, and worship strengthens the Word that has been deposited in us — often giving us new revelation or understanding of the Word.

Revelation in the Midst of Worship
Have you ever found yourself singing a worship chorus or a great hymn — possibly one you have sung many, many times — and suddenly you recognize another truth of God that had eluded you previously? That is the picture of revelation in the midst of worship.

The song “Praise the Lord,” written by Brown Bannister and Mike Hudson and popularized by The Imperials, is a great example of revelation coming in the midst of worship. You see, every time I sing this song, I’m reminded of so many biblical truths. Just take a look at the insights this one verse brings.

Now Satan is a liar
And he wants to make us think
That we are paupers
When he knows himself
We’re children of the King
So lift up the mighty shield of faith
For the battle has been won
We know that Jesus Christ has risen
So the work’s already done

Praise the Lord,
He can work through those who praise Him,
Praise the Lord
For our God inhabits praise,
Praise the Lord
For the chains that seem to bind you
Serve only to remind you that they drop powerless behind you
When you praise Him

This is the reason we gather as the body of Christ each week — to receive more and more revelation. And this is why we also must “gather within ourselves” daily to receive the Word. Worship is the key. Every time we worship, we strengthen the Word that is in us and open ourselves to receive further revelation as well. And the Word of God never fails as this verse, written by the prophet Isaiah, tells us: “Just as rain and snow fall from heaven, and do not return there without saturating the earth, and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please, and will prosper in what I send it to do.” Isaiah 55:10

How is it reassuring that God refers only to Himself and His Word in this passage, not to us? What are some ways that you have seen or heard about God’s Word doing what He sends it out to do?

• 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 2 A Lifestyle of Worship

MAIN IDEA: A lifestyle of worship is essential if we are to overcome in order to “become.”

Laying down our lives in response to God’s love cannot be relegated to a weekly worship service. Yes, it is important to gather God’s people in worship. That is our time to enter His presence corporately, hear the Word, and be energized to go back into the world and live for Christ. Our corporate worship is essential, but it is not enough.

Worship must be part of our everyday lives if we are to become living sacrifices — not conformed to the world but transformed by the renewing of our minds. This renewal takes time, attention, and energy. It is a daily process, and one that is not easy. In fact, it often is a struggle — a struggle against virtually every force we encounter in our daily lives.

Recognizing and Preparing for the Battle
There is an enemy of God, and therefore an enemy of ours, who wants to steal, kill, and destroy our lives. The apostle Paul explains the battle this way:

Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. Ephesians 6:12

The battleground is clear: our bodies will become a living sacrifice on one altar or the other — either to God or to the world system. God so loved the world that He gave all we need to overcome, but we must do our part, and this involves two things. First, we must recognize and acknowledge the battle for the conformity of our minds and our lives. Second, we must be equipped to overcome those powers and principalities that assault us and our families, fellow believers around the world, and our nation.

We have been given exactly what we need for the battle: God’s armor. With His armor in place, we really can stand against the Adversary. Paul described the armor of God in his letter to the Ephesians:

Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:13-17, NKJV

There are many wonderful books and Bible studies available that can help us learn more about the armor of God, but for now let us consider another powerful tool that can help us to stand against the enemy of our faith: worship! Our expression of worship always invites God’s intervention in our circumstances.

“A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy.” John 10:10

Worshiping in the Midst of the Battle
As we worship, our attention is focused clearly on God, recognizing that He is our provider and our defender. Our response of worship in even the most difficult situations invites the presence of the Lord; and when God is present, we cannot fail.

The story of King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20 provides a great picture of worship as an intentional response in the midst of warfare. God’s people were in serious trouble. They were facing a great multitude who wanted to exterminate them from the earth. Now that is warfare!

Jehoshaphat declared a fast throughout all of Judah and gathered the people together to pray and ask help from the Lord. As they assembled in the house of the Lord, Jehoshaphat began to worship God, proclaiming His greatness and recalling all that God had done for them. Notice that their first response to the threats of the enemy was prayer and worship!

As the king worshiped, he declared, “We do not know what to do, but we look to You” (2 Chron. 20:12). As they focused on the One whom they served and worshiped, God inhabited their worship and spoke through one of the worship leaders. God’s strategy was clear: He was sending them out to simply stand in the presence of their enemies and watch God work. The worshipers went first into the battlefield, and they led Israel to complete victory! Jehoshaphat and all of Judah responded to God’s revelation spoken prophetically that day with worship:

Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground [shachah], and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD to worship Him. Then the Levites … stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel shouting in a loud voice. 2 Chronicles 20:18-19

True to God’s direction, Jehoshaphat sent the worshipers ahead of the army. As God’s children began to sing and worship, the Lord miraculously defeated their enemies:

The moment they began their shouts and praises, the LORD set an ambush against the Ammonites, Moabites, and the inhabitants of Mount Seir who came to fight against Judah, and they were defeated. 2 Chronicles 20:22

What had looked like a battle with flesh and blood was won in the spirit and in the natural as they responded to God’s revelation with worship!

We have much to learn from this story. We, like the Israelites, worship the One who made us for worship, the One who redeemed us from our sinful nature — from death itself. We worship in response to God’s revelation. We make an informed decision to surrender to His love and become a living sacrifice, wholly pleasing to Him. That is our reasonable service. As we worship in the midst of the battle, God has promised His presence; and He will give us the grace and the strategy to overcome the Adversary in our lives!

Read More About It
• Judah is threatened: 2 Chron. 20:1-2
• The people fast and seek God’s help: 2 Chron. 20:3-4
• Jehoshaphat prays and worships in the assembly: 2 Chron. 20:5-12
• Jahaziel receives a word from the Lord: 2 Chron. 20:13-17
• The people worship: 2 Chron. 20:18-21
• God responds: 2 Chron. 20:22-23
• Judah is victorious and rejoices: 2 Chron. 20:24-30

• 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?

Class 5 “Response”

“Each of us was created by God for relationship with Him, but we can only enjoy that relationship by God’s grace. God’s great love for us, demonstrated in Christ Jesus, initiates our response.”

Let’s begin to connect with this class by considering the following questions:
• What are some ways that others have “laid down their lives” for you through the years?
• Was there a time in your life when you called out to God to meet a specific need? How did He respond?
• What were some of the ways that you considered reaching out in love to people in your community who don’t have a relationship with Jesus? Brainstorm some more possibilities and consider asking another person to be an accountability partner in this task.
• Have you experienced a time of spontaneous worship? What was it like?
• What are some things that have kept you from fully loving others? How can worship make a difference?

Watch and listen as Mike sets the stage for our study on worship by explaining how it is our “Response” to God and what He has done.

Engage by reflecting on the following questions from the Word of God and Mike’s message:
• Read 1 Samuel 16:7: The LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.” How might we apply that verse to the story that Mike tells of the colonel at his former church? How does it apply in your own worship lifestyle?
• In the transparent recounting of Mike’s airplane experience, he reminds us that perception is often not reality. Is there a time when you have had a similar experience? If so, what did God teach you through that experience?
• In the video, Mike says, “Freedom in worship is not you or me overcoming our inhibitions. Freedom in worship is God overcoming you.” Is there a time when you felt like God “overcame” you in worship. Would people’s perceptions have matched the reality of what God was doing at the time?

Father, I am so grateful that You responded to my need for You in my life through Christ Jesus. You are the one true God! My response is worship — now and throughout all of eternity with You. Amen.”

Think about any terms or concepts that are new to you for this class.
• Responding to God’s revelation in a manner that is pleasing to Him involves service and surrender.
• A lifestyle of worship is essential if we are to overcome in order to “become.”
• Worship strengthens the Word in us.
• Worshiping God while we are waiting for Him to act opens a place for Him to intervene.
• God wants us to worship Him with all our heart and soul.