Jeremiah 18:1-4 (ESV) (1) The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: (2) “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” (3) So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. (4) And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.
Worship is so much more than singing, but there is so much worship in singing.
I’m reminded of that when I think of the songs we sang with the college students at The Salt Company in Ames.
I was an orphan, lost at the fall;
Running away when I’d hear you call,
But Father, you worked your will.
I had no righteousness of my own
I had no right to draw near your throne,
But Father, you loved me still.
And in love, before you laid the world’s foundation,
You predestined to adopt me as your own.
You have raised me up so high above my station;
I’m a child of God by grace, and grace alone
… an excerpt, and an excellent song – “Grace Alone” by The Modern Post.
You came from heaven’s throne
Acquainted with our sorrow
To trade the debt we owed
Your suffering for our freedom
The Lamb of God, in my place
Your blood poured out, my sin erased
It was my death you died
I am raised to life
Hallelujah, the lamb of God
… another excerpt, and another excellent song – “The Lamb of God” by Vertical Church Band.
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.
Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.
… another excerpt, and yet another excellent song – “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us” by Stewart Townend.
All of the songs that were sung that night, by college students mind you, were awesome songs to sing corporately.
But there is another pattern … do you see it?
This worship … it wasn’t simply singing, it was also learning. Those songs are full of truth.
The truth of our deadness in sin, the truth of the Father’s plan, the truth of our need for a savior, the truth of Jesus’ work on the cross, the truth of redemption, salvation, substitutionary atonement, justification, resurrection.
John 4:22-24 (ESV) (22) You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. (23) But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. (24) God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
We were worshipping “in spirit and truth.”
Oftentimes, we think our students (of every age) can’t handle “deep truth.”
If we are honest with ourselves, oftentimes we think we adults can’t either.
Why? Why do we think we (kids, students, adults, whomever) can’t understand these things? In ministries like SALT, the students are not only taught these truths, they sing them! With joy!
And we adults…we are taught these truths as well, through our studies, through the sermons, and sometimes through these very same songs! And if the faces and voices of those around me on Sunday mornings are any indication, we too sing them with joy!
I am blessed beyond measure to be part of a church whose “worship-in-song” teams lead us in truth like this every week. They take their charge seriously and faithfully. They are a blessing to me and my family because they understand that the songs we sing, even as we worship, are teaching us things about ourselves and about our God. And singing praises to our King using the very truth He delivers to us through His word is an awesome expression of worship “in spirit and truth.”
But sometimes, understanding truth takes work. My encouragement to you is that when you encounter some “hard truth”, even if is while you sing of it in worship, seek God’s voice. Find joy in the study!
Know that God doesn’t want your wisdom, rather, He wants His wisdom made manifest in the world through you. Ask Him for wisdom as you present yourselves to Him as empty vessels, to be filled with truth that only comes from Him – to be so intent on His voice that any voices that are influenced by the world are drowned out.
You don’t need to be smart to come to Jesus, you need to be broken, incomplete, empty, humble.
And Jesus will make you new – he will fill you with His truth.
But know this – when you come to Him seeking wisdom and understanding, be prepared to throw away what you think you know when He, through His word, tells you something different than what you’ve “always known.”
Romans 12:1–2 (ESV) (1) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (2) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Is your mind being renewed? Are you being transformed because of it? Is God’s truth evident and obvious in your acts of worship – not just in song, but your all encompassing worship – singing, praying, listening, learning, reading, giving, serving, and all points in between?
Or are you stagnating because the world’s truth has crept into your worship? Are your acts of worship suffering because they echo the voices that you are supposed to be deaf to?
John 10:27-30 (ESV)  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”
The voices you listen to will certainly shape your worship. And that worship will either be for God’s glory or for someone (or something) else’s. Guaranteed.
So, Christian, whose voices are you listening to?
Who is shaping your worship?