Worship should be joyful!

An oxymoron is a self-contradicting phrase. A phrase where the words just don’t fit together. Phrases like white chocolate, jumbo shrimp, plastic silverware, truthful tabloids, professional wrestling. My favourite, especially with the new film of superspy Johnny English, is probably “British Intelligence”

But here’s another oxymoron, another self-contradictory phrase: “boring worship.”
I realise that a church service can seem dull, especially to somebody who is not a Christian. But true worship is anything but boring. The very nature of true worship would never allow us to be bored. If we do find worship boring sometimes, then I dare to suggest we are doing it wrong. And by we, I don’t mean the worship leader. I don’t mean the musicians. I don’t mean the preacher. I mean all of us, we the worshippers, we must be doing something wrong somewhere if we find worshipping God boring.

So this morning we are going to learn about worship. Listen very carefully, because afterwards we are going to have an opportunity to practise what has been preached!

Psalm 96 teaches us so much about worship:-
Who should be worshipped? God! God is mentioned in every verse except 11& 12.
Why should we worship? In verse 2, because God has saved us; in verse 4, because of His greatness and because He is to be feared! in verse 5 because of His power; in verse 6, because of His splendor, majesty, strength, and beauty; and in verse 13, because God is righteous and true and He is coming to judge.
Where are we to worship? We are to worship the Lord among the nations (verse 3); in His sanctuary (verse 6), and in His courts (verse 8).
When are we to worship? Verse 2 calls us to sing and proclaim His salvation day after day, every day!
How should we worship? With music (verse 1); with proclamation (verse 2); by giving Him glory (verse 8); by bringing an offering (verse 8); by coming into His courts (verse 8); by living holy lives (verse 9); and by witnessing for Him (verse 10).

When we think about HOW we should worship, there are two vitally important things I want us all to get hold of today:- The first point is this.


The word worship means to “fall on your face or to bow down”. It is found more than 170 times in the Bible. Worship is the proper response of human beings to Almighty God.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

God has chosen us and called us so that we will be able to praise Him for the wonderful salvation He has given us! Worship is our RESPONSE to God. The Wise Men worshipped the Christ Child for who He is – King and Lord of all. When He calmed the storm, the disciples worshipped Jesus for who He is and what He had done. (Matt 14:33) Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” When the Risen Christ appeared to them, those same disciples worshipped Him even though some of them still had doubts and questions. Paul tells the Corinthians that in their worship, (1 Cor 12:24f) if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, 25 and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” In other words, even somebody who is not a Christian will be brought to a place of worship when they are confronted with the presence of the Living God. Romans 12:1 tells us that worship is our response to God, not just for an hour a week when we meet together, but all day every day. Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship. Worship, in view of God’s mercy! So our worship is our proper response to the amazing God He is and all the amazing things God has done for us. Our proper response comes in singing and praising God!

Psalm 96:1 Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.

Sing a “new song” to the Lord! This can mean something “brand new”. It can also mean something which is new because it is fresh. Whether we are singing songs we have known for years, or learning new hymns and choruses and praise songs, we should sing all of them from our hearts as “new songs”.

I really enjoy the topical news quiz, “Have I got news for you”. The way the contestants find humour in current affairs is hilarious. They show repeats of old programs with news from a couple of years ago and call it “Have I got OLD news for you”. Somehow it isn’t nearly as funny. It’s not up to date. It’s not relevant. That’s why just about the only thing that doesn’t get endless repeats on television is old news bulletins. Nobody wants to hear the old news – there’s another oxymoron – “old news.”

Sometimes the reason we find worship difficult is that there isn’t any “new news” in our Christian experience. If it’s been a long time since we’ve experienced God doing anything new and fresh in our lives then it’s very hard to sing a new song to the Lord. Sometimes that’s why we get bored! It’s all old news. No new songs to sing! Martin Luther said, “Christ is now as fresh unto me as if He had shed His blood but this very hour.” When we walk with God daily and experience Him in new ways we won’t be able to stop ourselves breaking out into joyful praise and new songs. Fresh outbursts of rejoicing and reverence are important to God and helpful to us.

But worship must be centred on God. God doesn’t want us just to get emotional or sing loudly for our own sake. Our focus should not be on how worship makes us feel. Our worship must be centered on God alone. David danced and shouted, but he did it “before the Lord.” We need to make sure our music is centred on Christ. Instead of singing about how happy we are to be together worshipping God, the Psalms call us to sing directly to God. To worship is to engage our body, soul and spirit, complete with all our emotions, in a total preoccupation with God who is the Rock of our salvation. … On to my second point –


It is important that we remain respectful and reverent in our worship. We must never forget that we are worshipping the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We are worshipping God who is Almighty, Every Present, All-Seeing and All-Knowing. We are worshipping our Creator and our Sustainer and our Redeemer. So our worship must remain reverent.

But Bible worship is not only reverent. In the Bible reverence is the second most important characteristic of worship. The first most important characteristic is JOY. Rejoicing! Celebrating! There are 579 references in the Bible to joy and rejoicing and being joyful and glad and happy. And 142 of these, one whole quarter, come in just one book – the book of Psalms – the prayer book of Jews and Christians for 3000 years.

Psalm 96:11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; 12 let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy!

Message translation: “Let’s hear it from the Sky with the Earth joining in, and a huge round of applause from the Sea! Let the Wilderness urn cartwheels and the animals come dance. Put every tree in the forest in the choir!”

Our worship is meant to be joyful! Full of joy! Worship is not meant to be private or silent. We sometimes worship God in our heart or even sing quietly, when God is longing for us to sing out to Him. In the Bible worship is vibrant and vigorous. We are to participate with joyful, grateful praise and to be exuberant in our worship. Someone has said that the characteristic note of Old Testament worship is exhilaration. No chorus or hymn is too loud, no band or orchestra too large, for praising the Lord of Hosts!

There are many reasons why our worship is not as vibrant and vigorous as the worship we see in the Old Testament, or in other places around the world today. Maybe it’s a cultural thing. Maybe we’ve just gotten into a rut. Maybe were just not very expressive in general. Or, maybe it’s because we don’t have much joy in our hearts. Whatever the reasons, the Psalms challenge us all to become much more exuberant and expressive in our worship.

Our worship is not just allowed to be joyful. Our worship is supposed to be joyful!

118:24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
32:11 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
100:2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
28:7 My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
33:1 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
33:3 Sing to him a new song; play skilfully, and shout for joy.
47:1 Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.
47:5 God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets.
100:1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
98:4 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;
98:8 Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy;

Our worship is not just allowed to be joyful. Our worship is supposed to be joyful! In so many places the Psalms show us at least three reasons to be joyful.


God is worthy to be praised! And our praise should be joyful!

Ps 5:11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.
126:3 The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
92:4 .. you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD; I sing for joy at the work of your hands.
30:11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with
31:7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
70:4 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;


Psalm 96: 2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples.
5 For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.

God our Saviour is worthy to be praised! And our praise should be joyful!

71:23 My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you- I, whom you have redeemed.
95:1 Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
35:9 My soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation.
105:43 He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy;
68:3 But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.


Some people call this praise. Other people make a distinction between praising God for what He has done and adoring God for who He is within Himself.

Psa 96:4 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.
6 Splendour and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to his name; bring an offering and come into his courts.
9 Worship the LORD in the splendour of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.
10 ¶ Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.

God is great and splendid and majestic and strong and glorious. God is holy and righteous and just. God reigns! God is worthy to be praised!

9:2 I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
145:7 They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
67:4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the
nations of the earth.
90:14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
21:6 Surely you have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the joy of your

C.S. Lewis says, “We praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.”
If it were possible for a created soul fully to ‘appreciate,’ that is, to love and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul would be in supreme blessedness. To praise God fully we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God, drowned in, dissolved by that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression. Our joy is no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds.

So – worship is our response to God. We should sing a new song to the Lord – a fresh response to a fresh experience of God! And that worship should be joyful!


Our worship is not just allowed to be joyful. Our worship is supposed to be joyful!

I read once about a Christian conference where people were given helium-filled balloons and told to release them at some point in the service when they felt like expressing the joy in their hearts. All during the service balloons were going up, but when the service was over, 1/3 of the people were still holding on to their balloons!

This morning, let US Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.

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