The Liberating Discipline of Worship

English Service on May 15, 2016
Messenger: Pastor Jim Allison
Title: "The Liberating Discipline of Worship"
Scripture: Psalm 95:1-11
MP3 オーディオファイル 28.1 MB
PDFファイル 232.3 KB

Psalm 95:1-11


“The Liberating Discipline of Worship”


I’d like to talk with you today about worship.  We have all taken time out of our schedules to be here for Sunday worship.  Even if we are here just out of habit or duty or whatever, we are here.  This is what Christian people do more than anything.  We gather for worship, whether we are busy or tired or whatever.  But it is possible to have this habit without ever really thinking about why we worship, what worship is, and how we can do it well.  


We had some discussion about this topic at Hanashiaikai recently.  I am glad because worship is at the heart of who we are and why we even have Open Door Chapel.  Psalm 95 is one of the best tools the Bible gives us for learning about worship and moving into a closer relationship with God through it.  I would like to focus with you on worship for a while in the messages I bring this year. 


By the way, in English it’s not “Psalms 95” or “Psalms, chapter 95” but “Psalm 95.”  That’s because the Book of Psalms is really a songbook.  It is a collection of songs that the people of Israel have used in their worship for many years.  We don’t have the exact music they originally used, but the people of God around the world have found in these songs an extremely valuable guide to our worship for thousands of years.  So it’s not really a mistake to call it “Song 95.”  


Open Door Chapel is a holy place.  We may tend to forget that because this is such an “at home” church.  But this is where we meet God.  Through prayer, singing, the Bible, and many ways, we encounter God here.  That means we are on holy ground.  I remember one of our members teaching her family’s children not to play on the stage.  That is because it is the altar.  It is the place that belongs in a special way to God.  Of course God is all places, but in this special building, the altar is the place we have set aside as God’s particular place to be.  Making a rule of not going there may be a way to show an important spirit of respect toward God.  As a church, we have chosen not to push that type of rule.  We don’t want to be legalistic.  But I feel the need to point out the risk on the other side, too.  We need to keep an awareness that this is a place of worship.  We are in God’s house.  It’s not just a building or the pastors’ workplace or anything else.  It is a house of worship.  My hope for these messages about worship is that God will use them to make the time we share here together each week more and more helpful to us and a greater joy to Him. 


You may recall that recently I gave a message from Philippians 4 on the connections between worship and the rest of our life of faith.  In it we learned things such this: true worship grows out of a day-to-day walk with Christ.  In it, we discover reasons and occasions to give praise and other forms of worship.  We worship so that not only Sunday morning but every day we can be closer to God.  Worship is not an escape from real life but something that helps us view the world more clearly, see things as they really are.    


Today let’s turn our minds to worship itself.  Let’s go back to the text and see what it shows us.  I think in it we’ll find the answers to three questions: (1) What is worship?  (2) Why should we worship?  (3) How can we best worship?


(1) What is worship?  It is expressing what has the highest value to you.  It is showing with your body, mind, feelings, and will—your whole self—what you see as the greatest, the most wonderful, important, and beautiful.  


Worshiping with the body.  Verse 1 talks about using your mouth and voice to sing and shout to God.  Verse 6 speaks of bowing down to worship Him and falling on our knees in front of Him.  Some people show their feeling to God most naturally through dancing or clapping hands or turning the volume of the music way up.  People of some other traditions don’t feel comfortable in a place with “happy clappy” music or more emotional types of expressions of praise.  But they may use physical forms of worship, too, such as a “mini-parade.”  You might have seen people in more formal worship services walking from the back to the front of the worship area in robes holding the cross and the Bible.  Some do this to show that they are finishing the past week’s journey of life and faith by placing it before God on the altar, then going out to begin the journey again with a heart forgiven, cleaned, and fed by God’s word.    


Worshiping with the emotions.  Verse 1 tells us to worship “with joy.”  There is a tone of excitement and mystery in the writer’s description of God’s greatness.  There is a sense of humility in seeing how we depend on Him as much as sheep do a shepherd. 


In the Presbyterian tradition of Hokusei Gakuen, where I serve especially on weekdays, there is usually not so much feeling expressed openly.  But if you look at how people around the world worship, in many cultures worshipers raise their hands, jump, or do many other things to show their feelings to God.  We find many styles of worship in the Bible, too.  Many people have heard about Christ from white, western missionaries.  Today, too, many do, but when they receive Christian faith, they give it a form unique to their own culture.  Sometimes they say to Western missionaries things like, “I love your Christ, but I don’t like your music.  You look all tight when you sing.  You look like you think worship is only from the head up.”  I think Christians in the West need to hear that.  I grew up in the American church, so I may be too close to that culture to notice things like that.  I may need to notice, for example, “Oh, there are Sundays when my worship seems to start and finish in my head.”  Worshiping with natural emotions is something I can learn from the Bible’s teaching and my brothers and sisters from different cultures.  


There are many others, of course.  For one, I may need to worship with people of more group-oriented cultures to notice how extremely individually-oriented my Western style of worship is.    


We can worship in many ways, and some fit different cultures and personalities better than others.  But God looks at our hearts, the Bible says.  And when He sees real thanks, praise, and joy there, He is happy.  I pray that we will be able to worship God from our hearts, no matter whether our worship is quiet or loud, programmed or free-style, in church, at home, while working, or whatever shape it takes.


Worshiping with the will.  There is a choice made to come before God, singing and praising (vv. 1-2).  The will is necessary to bow down and worship, to fall on our knees before God (v. 6).  We have to be willing in order to obey the command in v. 7, “Listen to his voice today.” 


Worshiping with the mind.  We have to think in order to obey commands like those in v. 8, “. . . Don’t be stubborn as you were at Meribah . . . .”  We have to look back at our lives, whether long ago in Bible times or just the past week since we were here for worship last time.  We have to see honestly where we obeyed God and where we didn’t.  Without that, God will always have to say about us (v. 10), “They do not know how I want them to live.”


Again, God teaches us to worship with the whole self.  In other words, if you go through the weekly worship routine and never feel anything about the love and beauty and power of God, you may not really be worshiping.  The same way, if you go through worship services time after time and never think of how you need to arrange or rearrange your life because of your relationship with God, you may not really be worshiping.  Worship is to involve the whole person and all parts of our lives, for the whole length of our lives.


Also, God wants our worship to lead to action.  He does not want us to just sit through worship.  If worship becomes a routine, following a program, then a person standing and giving his/her opinion about current events, we may not be worshiping at all.  We are here to be changed, to learn, to receive our orders, then follow them in serving hurting people in Christ’s name.  If we are rescue workers who receive our orders then just go home, something is wrong.   


(2) Why should we worship?  Many people around us do not see any need to worship.  They spend their time and energy and money on different things and may seem to be happy enough arranging their lives without any god.   


But is it really possible to live without worshiping anything?  The Bible’s God says no.  No one has no god.  Human beings are necessarily “religious” by nature.  Even if we deny the existence of God, we will replace Him with something else that we make number one.  It may be ourselves we serve and worship.  It may be some other idea or being, but no one lives without belief in things we cannot fully understand or control.  Living by some kind of faith is simply part of the reality of living as human beings in this world, in a Christian worldview.  


“If I have that, then I’ll be OK, be happy, know who I am, know why I am in this world,” etc.  Whatever you make that is your god, what you are living for, the object of your worship.  The author Becky Pippert writes (Keller):


Whatever controls us is our Lord.  The person who seeks power is controlled by power.  The person who lives for acceptance by other people is controlled by the people he or she seeks to please.  But one thing is certain: we do not control ourselves.  We are controlled by the lord of our life.    


What are you really worshiping?  You may get a big hint about this by looking at what upsets you.  Some people just feel terrible and completely lose their peace when they break up with someone and lose a romantic relationship.  For others who do that, it’s not that big a problem.  What really gets them upset is losing money.  For others, missing a chance for a job that could lead to a great career is deeply upsetting.  Case by case, it is different things, but what upsets us when we lose it often shows what we are really counting on to guide and give power to our lives.   


Your heart has already begun placing something in the position of number one.  Whatever that is, when you change it to God, you begin worshiping as He teaches us.  True worship is pulling your heart off these things that control you and actually are making you their slave and placing them in the hands of the One who can set you free to be your true, best self, as He designed you to be.


We worship because God deserves it.  We owe it to Him.  Psalm 96:8 says, “Praise the LORD for the glory that belongs to him.  Bring an offering and come into the courtyards of his temple.”  We relate to Him as the creature to the Creator.  Our lives and the whole world come from Him and belong to Him, as vv. 4-5 make clear.  


We worship God because (v. 7) He saves us, as a shepherd saves sheep.  Having someone that great in our lives gives us reasons and occasions daily to (vv. 1-3) “sing with joy,” “give him thanks,” “praise him with music and song,” and “give a loud shout.”   


Worshiping God for those reasons is different from doing it for what He gives us.  It is different from worshiping for how it makes us feel or for the good advice we get in a Bible message.  There are people who use religion to try to get things like money or a special feeling or a good reputation.  But that is not real faith, the Bible shows.  Real faith is about a love relationship with God.  It is about freely putting control of our lives in God’s hands.  We do that by confessing that we are “the sheep belonging to his flock” (v. 7).  He is the gift we receive when we come to know Him in faith.  


(3) How can we best worship?  For one thing, for this we need a worship community.  In Psalm 95, did you notice how many of the pronouns are plural?  Verses 1-2 read (italics added): “Come, let us sing with joy to the Lord. Let us give a loud shout to the Rock who saves us.  Let us come to him and give him thanks. Let us praise him with music and song.”  Then in vv. 6-7 it continues: 


Come, let us bow down and worship him. Let us fall on our knees in front of the LORD our Maker.  He is our God. We are the sheep belonging to his flock. We are the people he takes good care of. 


Also, this psalm and the Psalms in general are interactive.  When you read through them, it can be easy to become confused sometimes.  You may think to yourself, “Who is speaking here?”  Sometimes God is speaking, sometimes the writer speaks to God, and sometimes one person or group speaks to other people about God.  In Psalm 95, vv. 1-7 are the writer’s words to other believers.  There is no introduction of a new speaker, but by the time we get to v. 9, it is clear that God is speaking to His people.  


The point is that worship is a community event.  We need individual worship, too.  Please don’t get me wrong.  We need that every day.  But God did not basically design faith in Him to be an individual thing.  When we cut ourselves off from belonging to a group of believers, we miss something at the heart of faith.  Through community worship, God wants to bring us closer to Himself and closer to each other.  That is basically different from sitting quietly and watching a performance by musicians and speakers.  We grow in faith and love by taking active part in worshiping together.


This psalm ends with a section referring back to a well-known story from Exodus 17.  It tells about the Israelites as they came across the desert toward the Promised Land.  At Meribah they became thirsty and quickly demanded that God prove Himself again, even though He had just recently opened the Red Sea for them and saved their lives.  God told Moses to go to a rock, and the Lord made water come out of it to meet their needs.  But God was not pleased with His people.  It was not because they came to Him with their needs.  He wants that.  But He was not happy that they put Him to the test instead of trusting Him.  


Why end the psalm on a down note by bringing up this memory of the faithlessness of God’s people?  The writer seems to be warning us about the attitude we need to have in coming before God to worship.  The people of Israel could not approach God in worship on the basis of their efforts to be good.  They had not been good enough.  The truth is, neither have we.  So if your life of faith is all about your good works and you think that gives you the right to come before a holy God, you are greatly mistaken.  And you will probably try to turn worship into one more activity, one more attempt to show your goodness or earn God’s acceptance.  In truth, you must only rely on God and His goodness, not your own.  Real worship is possible only when you do this.


Like the people of Israel, we are at risk of believing in God but never really being changed.  If we lose our faith, in effect, and get all upset whenever troubles come along, our faith is not helping us.  It is not doing what God had in mind when He gave it to us in the first place.  He wants us to learn the habit when troubles come of following the words, “Don’t panic—praise.  Don’t worry—worship.”  As we do, we come to see the amazing truth: what we needed to handle life’s difficult problems was not an easier situation so much as a heart that knows how to place everything in God’s powerful hands.  


If we will not turn our hearts to God, even if we attend worship services for 40 years, we will still be in the wilderness.  We will not be at rest or be transformed through our worship as God intends.  But when we allow God to help us make worship a habit of the heart, having the ability to handle life’s troubles in peace becomes possible.   


A person skilled at worship is like an experienced sailor.  The sailor does not create the wind, but when it does come, that person is ready to let it flow around and empower and move him or her steadily forward.  Let’s ask the Lord to grow us more and more into a worship community that brings real honor to His name.


Holy Father, we pray as people who have received the great love you showed us in Christ’s life, teachings, death, and resurrection.  Help us learn to respond appropriately to this amazing gift by building lives based on worshiping you.  You deserve our greatest love, all our praise, our thanks, our service, and everything that we can give you.  Make us great worshipers who know how to receive with thanks and joy the wonderful gift You call Sabbath rest, we pray.  In Christ’s name, amen.      




Foster, R. (1988). Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers. 

Keller, T. (July 7, 2002). “Worship.” “Psalms: Disciplines of Grace” series. Redeemer Presbyterian Church. New York City. Retrieved May 8, 2016 from

Stedman, R. (October 19, 1969). “How to Worship.” Peninsula Bible Church. Retrieved May 5, 2016 from 9.mp3









ところで、英語では、“Psalms 95”や“Psalms chapter 95”ではなく “Psalm 95”です。詩篇は歌集なのです。イスラエルで長年礼拝の際に使われた歌を集めたものです。元々の正確な音楽はわかりませんが、世界中の神の民が何千年にもわたって、これらの歌の中に礼拝についての貴重な教えを見出しています。ですから“Song 95”と呼んでも間違いではないのです。







1.礼拝とは何か 2.なぜ礼拝するのか 3.最高の礼拝とは


1. 礼拝とは何か



身体で礼拝する。(詩篇95篇)1節では、口と声を持って歌をうたい、神に声をあげる 6節はひれ伏し主を礼拝する、主の御前にひざまずくと言っています。ごく自然に踊ったり、手をたたいたり、音楽のボリュームを上げたりする形で、感情を表す人たちもいます。別の習慣を持つ人々はそのようなより感情的な表現をする賛美を好みません。ミニパレードと言われる礼拝スタイルを行う人々もいます。聖書と十字架をもってローブ(式服)を着て後方から前の礼拝の場所に歩いてくる形式的な礼拝を見たことがあるかもしれません。過ぎた週の信仰生活を終え、それを神の前で祭壇の上に置き、心赦され、清められ、神のみ言葉に養われて再び出ていくことを示すのです。




私が平日勤務する北星学園の長老派の伝統では、あまり感情をオープンに表現しません。しかし世界中、人々がどのように礼拝しているかを見渡すならば、多くの文化において手を上げ、飛び跳ねるなど、神様に対する感情を表現しています。聖書の中にもたくさんのスタイルの礼拝を見ることができます。多くの人は、白人の欧米人の宣教師からイエスキリストについての福音を聞いてきました。信仰を受け入れた人々が、時々、その宣教師に次のように言うことがあります。「あなたのキリストは大好きだけれど、あなたの音楽が好きではありません。礼拝の時、賛美している姿が堅苦しくて、礼拝は頭の中だけで行うものかのように見えるのです」 西洋のクリスチャンはその人の声を聞く必要があると思います。私はアメリカの教会で育ちそれがあまりに身近だったので、自分の教会の文化に関して気が付かないことがあると思います。例えば「日曜日、礼拝に出ているけれど、その礼拝は自分の頭の中で始まり、頭の中で終わることがある」と気づく必要があるかもしれません。私にとっては自然な感情を持って礼拝することは聖書の教えや違う文化背景を持っている兄弟姉妹から学べることの一つなのです。




















「もしそれがあれば、私は大丈夫。幸せ。わたしが何者で、この世になぜ生きているのかがわかる」等。“それ”があなたの神であり生きている目的であり、あなたが礼拝しているものなのです。Becky Pippertがこのように書いています。




あなたは何を礼拝しているでしょうか? 大きなヒントは、何によって自分が動揺するか考えてみることです。ある人は、誰かと関係が壊れ、ロマンティックな関係を失う事で、打ちひしがれます。他の人はお金を失うと動揺します。またある人にとっては、キャリアアップが見込める仕事のチャンスを失う事など、人によって違いはありますが、私たちがそれを失った時に混乱してしまうものが私たちが頼りにしているものであり、人生に大きな力を持っています。










3. 最高の礼拝とは












なぜ、この詩篇の最後は、このような不信仰の話で終わっているのか? 作者は私たちに神様のみ前に出る態度について警告しているようです。イスラエルの民は正しい行いによって神に近づくことはできませんでした。私たちも同様です。もしあなたの信仰生活において、あながた何か良い行いをしたから神様の前に出る権利があると思うならば、大きな勘違いをしていることになります。そうであれば神に受け入れられるために、もっと活動的に、善い行いを示そうとすることになります。本当には、あなた自身の良い行いではなく、神様だけに、神様の素晴らしさにより頼まなければなりません。本物の礼拝は私たちがそうした時に可能となります。