Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
Psalm 95:1-3 ESV
Can we sing to the Lord without ever opening our mouths, and without ever making a sound? Yes! We can! For, singing is not just about making music. Singing is about heart and attitude, too. And, it is about worship of God, if we are singing to the Lord. And, can we sing if we are tone deaf? Yes! For singing is not about sounding good, either. Again, it comes from the heart.
And, can we sing out loud songs of praise to God, perfectly on pitch, with a great sound, and not be singing to the Lord at all? Absolutely! If all we are doing is mouthing words, but our hearts and our lives are not worshiping God, and our lifestyles are not giving him honor and glory, then it doesn’t matter how good we sound. It is empty as far as God is concerned.
So, if we are going to sing to the Lord, if just in the quietness of our minds and hearts or out loud where we can be heard, then we need to be living holy lives, pleasing to God. For, if we are not, then the sound that we make will not be a joyful noise to the Lord. For, he takes no pleasure in empty praise, especially if our hearts are far from him, and if we are living in willful disobedience to him as a matter of habit.
So, for us to truly sing songs of praise to the Lord, and to make a joyful noise (doesn’t have to be a melodic noise) unto the Lord, then we need to be worshiping God, not just with our lips, but with our attitudes, and with our hearts, and with our lives surrendered to him (Rom. 12:1-2).
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Psalm 95:6-7 ESV
Different subject, same question: Can we get down on our physical knees and bow our heads or our bodies toward the floor, purportedly in worship of God, and not be humble at all, and not truly worship God at all? Yes!
And, can we stand up or sit down or be walking and not have our physical knees bent, and not have our heads bowed, and still kneel before the Lord and bow down before him? Absolutely!
For, bowing down and kneeling before the Lord is of the heart, not of the position of the physical body. And, worship of God is not a set of rituals we follow, either. For, we can follow all kinds of religious rituals and customs, and we can follow all forms of worship taught to us, and again it can be empty if our hearts are not given to the Lord, but we are still controlling our own lives.
Thus, the true meaning of bowing down or kneeling down before the Lord has to do with us humbling ourselves before God, being contrite of heart, repenting of our sins, submitting ourselves to his will, and walking in surrender to his will in obedience to his commands.
Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.”
Psalm 95:7-11 ESV
How do human hearts get hardened? I suppose there are many ways, but what comes to my mind is through bitterness. A person gets hurt, and so he gets angry, and he doesn’t deal with the anger, but he stuffs it inside his heart. He feels life has treated him unfairly. He didn’t get what he wanted, or he got what he felt he didn’t deserve. Things didn’t go his way.
So, now he is resentful towards those he feels have treated him unfairly. And, this turns to bitterness. And, then another situation happens, and he piles those emotions on top of the others, and again, and again, and again he does this. And, over many years he keeps adding resentment and anger and unforgiveness and bitterness to the pile that is already in his heart.
And at the core of all of this, in reality, is anger, resentment, unforgiveness and bitterness towards God, for that is what it all comes down to. Whether or not he (or she) recognizes it as such, this person is saying to God, “You messed up! You didn’t give me what I wanted. You allowed this bad stuff to happen to me. I didn’t deserve this! You didn’t protect me. You didn’t provide for my needs. You tricked me!” And, the list goes on and on.
And, that is the way it was with the children of Israel, too, after God rescued them from their slavery in Egypt. They griped and complained. They were not happy with Moses or with God. And, so they formed other gods and they worshipped them. And, they did all sorts of evil in God’s sight, in open rebellion against God. And, they refused to obey his commands time and time again. For, their hearts were bitter towards God.
And, they did not get to enter into God’s eternal rest. And, the reason why, God said, is because of their stubborn and hard hearts and because of their disobedience, which revealed their lack of faith (their unbelief).
Wrapping it Up
So, what message can we get from all of this? That it is possible to think that we are Christians, and that we are children of God, born of the Spirit of God, and that heaven is our eternal destiny, but for it all to be a lie.
It is possible for us to go through all kinds of forms of worship of God, and to attend worship services regularly, and to sing out loud songs of praise to God, and to get down on our knees and to bow our heads in prayer, and even to spend time reading and studying the scriptures, and to still not have a genuine relationship with Almighty God.
For, God doesn’t look on the outside, man does. He doesn’t look at our appearances or our performances as measures of our faith in him. He looks at our hearts. Yet, our attitudes and our behaviors are good measures of what is going on inside of our hearts, for out of our hearts can come all kinds of evil deeds if our hearts are not surrendered to Jesus Christ.
So, what’s the bottom line? It is that Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness. It is that his grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s soon return (1 Pet. 2:24; Tit. 2:11-14; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).
It is also that scripture teaches us that if we walk (in practice, in lifestyle) according to the flesh, that we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God. But, if we walk (in conduct, in practice) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God (and His Word), then we have the hope of eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
Basically, true worship of God is not what it is outward. It is of the heart. And, what is in our hearts comes out through our attitudes and our behaviors, and thus it is a good measure of what is in our hearts.
And, true worship of God is not in form only, but it is surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ, to be fully His, to go where he sends us, to say what he gives us to say, to do what he calls us to do, and to walk in obedience to his commands. And, it is no longer being conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but it is being transformed in heart and mind away from lifestyles of sin and worldliness to walking in obedience to our Lord, to do his will.
Then, when we sing praises to God, our praise will be genuine, and it will be a delight to the ears of our Lord. For, it will truly be about him and him alone, for our hearts will be given over to him to be lived for him and for him alone. What we do with our lives will be about him. And, we will want what we do and who we are and what we say to be for his praise and glory.
It’s All You
Lyrics by Tosin Iyawo Ogaga & Sue Love
Music by Sue Love @ Original Works
Vocals by Tosin Iyawo Ogaga
May 31, 2019
You are the reason I want to dance.
You are the reason I want to sing.
You are the reason, expressing myself,
I serve You in all the ways You lead me.
You are the reason my heart gives You praise.
You are the reason that I am alive.
I bring out Your best moves
Just so I do embrace You;
Sing out loud as You lead just to please You.
Let myself follow You. I don’t care who watches me.
All I want to do is to make You smile.
Let every fiber of me bring You praise.
Your love has lifted my feet to dance.
Your faithfulness leaves me singing for joy.
You, Jesus, are the reason, it’s all You.
Your grace gives me life.
*full lyrics used by permission of the lyricists