TRUE WORSHIPERS Exalt
A particularly helpful word to capture the meaning of worship is the word exalt. What does exalting God really look like? This chapter offers numerous ways we can exalt God both inwardly in our hearts and outwardly in our actions. KEY STATEMENTS
Exalt seems to be an appropriate word to sum up how God calls true worshipers to respond to him. To worship God is to humble everything about ourselves and exalt everything about him. (p. 51) True worshipers, enabled and redeemed by God, respond to God’s self-revelation in ways that exalt his glory in Christ in their minds, affections, and wills, by the power of the Holy Spirit. (p. 53) The gospel is the greatest encouragement we could ever hope to have as we seek to exalt God through our lives. (p. 68)
FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
1) The author defines idolatry as “worship in the wrong direction.” He adds, “When I worship an idol, I’m saying, ‘Fulfill me. Console me. Protect me. Rule me. You are worthy of my strength, time, energy, and affections. Only you can make me completely happy’” (p. 50). What wrong directions are you drawn to in your own worship? True Worshipers Exalt 13
2) The author describes “a lengthy and painful process” in which he “came to see in a fresh and profound way that we’re redeemed to exalt God and God alone” (p. 51). In what ways is this similar to anything you’ve experienced?
3) In the section “Words of Worship,” notice the brief lists of Scripture passages. Examine these passages in your Bible; what picture do they portray of God and of our proper response to him? How do they help us understand humbling ourselves and exalting God?
4) The author asks the question, “What does exalting God look like?” How would you express the answer to that question in your own words?
5) In what kinds of circumstances is it typically hardest for you to turn your thoughts toward God? When you face such circumstances in the future, how could you more quickly become aware of God’s active involvement in your life at that moment?
6) How do you understand the connection between loving God and worshiping God? What link do you see between loving other people and worshiping God? True Worshipers Exalt 14
7) How can the reality of what God is really like be reflected in both our faith and our gratitude?
8) Notice the brief list of Psalm references at the end of the section “Through Our Gratefulness.” Look at these verses in your Bible and let them be your heart’s declaration of worship for God. Which of these passages means the most to you?
9) In what specific aspects of your daily life do you especially sense how your willing obedience exalts God and testifies to his worthiness?
10) For what things are you most likely to vocalize praise to God? For what other blessings can you become more vocal in praising God?
11) The author writes, “Every word we say is worship.” In the last twenty-four hours, how have your words exalted God? How have they exalted something or someone other than God? Are there any areas of speech in which you’re consistently drawn to worship something other than God? True Worshipers Exalt 15 12) In what avenues of service to others do you sense most acutely the gifting and enablement from God to follow Christ’s example of servanthood?
13) The author writes, “Evangelism, or telling others the good news of the gospel, is simply praising God in front of those who don’t know him” (p. 67). What encouragement does this give you in your own faithful witness for Christ?
14) In this chapter’s concluding section, the author writes, “We need God to worship God.” What does this statement mean to you? How does its truth turn our hearts toward the gospel?
RESPONDING IN PRAYER
As you think further on this chapter’s content and how it helps you in being a true worshiper of God, remember to respond directly to God in prayer. Consider expressing the following thoughts and requests in your own words: Holy God, how infinitely high you are above all things! I pray that you would give me a clearer picture of your glory in Jesus Christ, so that my every thought, word, and deed would point to your excellence, beauty, goodness, and sufficiency. For all my remaining time on earth, and all the endless days in eternity, let my soul keep growing in exalting you.
True Worshipers Gather
WORSHIP AND COMMUNITY
At times we may think that worshiping with other believers isn’t worth the bother. Why not just worship God on our own at home? That kind of thinking misses God’s purposes both for us and for the world we live in. In this chapter we explore those purposes as they relate to the gathering of the church. We also examine the intensified benefits of regularly worshiping together with other believers and practical ways to make the most of those benefits.
Thanking and praising God in the midst of the congregation is more than a good idea. It’s what true worshipers were made for and central to what God is doing on the earth. (p. 71) Meeting together is an event to look forward to as well as preparation for the rest of the week. In a continual cycle of the church gathering, then scattering, we find the relentless grace of God empowering us to live all of life for the glory of God. (p. 83)
FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
1) Note carefully the description of God’s people in the verse quoted just below the chapter title, Hebrews 10:25. How well does this reflect your own involvement with other believers in Christ?
2) With the example of “Steve and Sandy” in mind, what common distractions and diversions are most likely to keep you from being fully engaged in a weekly gathering of the church? True Worshipers Gather 17
3) The author writes, “Thanking and praising God in the midst of the congregation is more than a good idea. It’s what true worshipers were made for and central to what God is doing on the earth” (p. 71). How fully have you embraced this in your own purpose for life? How committed are you—in heart, mind, and action—to this shared calling?
4) Near the end of the section “A Gathered People,” notice the brief list of references from the book of Acts. What encouragement do you see in these passages for your own involvement with other believers?
5) In the section “Benefits of the Worshiping Community,” the author calls our attention to seven of these benefits (each with its own subheading). After reviewing these seven points, which of those benefits have you already enjoyed most? Which of them do you want to experience more fully? Which of these seven are particular strengths of the local congregation that you’re a part of?
6) After citing the exhortation in Hebrews 10:24 to “stir up one another to love and good works,” the author adds, “I’m stirred up as I benefit from the different strengths, gifts, and abilities God has given to other members of my church. I need to be stirred up regularly.” How have you been stirred up through being served by people in your church? True Worshipers Gather 18
7) The author quotes pastor and professor Iain Duguid: “There is something about corporate worship which is not present in individual worship, and that ‘something’ is a fuller expression of the reality of God’s presence” (p. 77). As the living “body” of the living Christ, how can believers together become more purposefully aware of the Lord’s presence?
8) In this chapter we see many ways we can give greater glory to God when we’re together than any of us could on our own. How does this help motivate you to more active and purposeful involvement with your church?
9) In the section “Embracing These Benefits,” the author offers six evidences of the difference it can make when we truly value meeting with God’s people. How would you evaluate yourself in each of those six areas?
10) “There are no normal Sundays,” the author states. “Just fresh opportunities to behold the glory of the Lord as we’re ‘transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another’ (2 Cor. 3:18)” (p. 83). What personal gratitude can you offer to God for these “fresh opportunities” coming your way each week?
RESPONDING IN PRAYER
As you think further on this chapter’s content and how it helps you in being a true worshiper of God, remember to respond directly to God in prayer. Consider expressing the following thoughts and requests in your own words: I praise you, God our Father, for the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints—the men and women and children you have redeemed through the blood of Jesus your Son, the people you’ve adopted and sealed into your family through your Holy Spirit. Thank you that these vast personal riches are something I can begin to enjoy even now in the local congregation that you’ve placed me in. Help me be faithful to gather with them gladly and to benefit in all the ways you intend, for your glory.
true Worshipers Edify
Worship and Maturity
God wants every believer to be a means of grace to others within their local congregation. He intends to use us to strengthen, encourage, and help others, while receiving those same blessings from others. In this chapter we look more closely at four priorities involved in our edification of one another—the priorities of variety, love, intelligibility, and the gospel.
It’s true that worship is ultimately about God, but one of the most important ways we worship God is by building up other members of the body. (p. 85) The best way to edify others through our serving is to build them more into Christ. (p. 94)
FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
1) This chapter continues to clarify that worship doesn’t mean that I “block out” everything except God and myself. Instead we can actually worship God as we build others up. How fully do you trust God to use you this way in the lives of other believers?
2) The author states, “Worship and edification are two sides of the same coin.” Explain in your own words what the author means. True Worshipers Edify 21
3) When you enter a gathering of believers, how often do you ask, “How can God use me to build up others here?” When you’re not asking that question, what attitudes or preoccupations do you focus on instead?
4) In what specific areas or ways do you think your church needs you?
5) In what specific areas or ways do you need the other people in your church?
6) The author states, “You may not be able to serve in the way you want to serve, but there’s no question that God has given you gifts to serve somewhere.” What are some of the ways you can effectively serve in your church?
7) The author stresses “the priority of love” in our serving “because this is the way God has served us.” When love is truly present in your serving, what difference does it make? When love is absent, what do others observe? True Worshipers Edify 22
8) It we sense a lack of love in our hearts as we’re asked to serve, how can that lack be addressed?
9) This chapter concludes by emphasizing the priority of the gospel—which remains “of first importance” (1 Cor. 15:3). What are some practical ways we can individually point to the gospel when we gather as believers and thereby draw attention to Christ instead of to ourselves?
10) In your Bible, look up the handful of Scripture references given in the paragraph near the end of this chapter: Luke 22:27; Romans 8:32, 34; 12:10; 15:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:16–17; and 1 John 3:1. In which of these passages do you most fully sense God speaking personally to you at this time, as you aim to serve others in love?
RESPONDING IN PRAYER
As you think further on this chapter’s content and how it helps you in being a true worshiper of God, remember to respond directly to God in prayer. Consider expressing the following thoughts and requests in your own words: Thank you for the vast and startling variety of gifts and abilities you’ve bestowed on the local congregation you’ve placed me in. What a privilege it is to see the effects of blessing, serving, encouraging, helping, and strengthening one another. Father, help me be faithful to edify others in ways that you have gifted and called me to do. Keep showing me all I can do to serve those around me, and how and when and where. Help me make the most of these opportunities, and use me to build others into Jesus Christ, the source of every blessing and the fountain of all grace.