The principle purpose of worship is not to teach but to worship God…

God is praised as Creator, Redeemer, and Judge. The worshiper praises, magnifies, and glorifies him not only for who he is, but also for what he has done in providing life, redemption, sustenance, hope, and many other blessings. In this way, worship becomes an experience of God. The worship is carried through an experience in which the opportunity is given to make a fresh commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

-Robert Webber, Common Roots: The Original Call to an Ancient-Future Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 129.

Worship is a means through which we can see, hear, smell, taste, feel, and come into contact with the infinite. Therefore the arts can mediate the message of Christ and minister to me in the depth of my being. . . . The future of the arts in worship, I believe, holds considerable promise for us in our continued discovery of worship as a verb.

-Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation, Second Edition

Good art “speaks to me. It makes me listen. It forms me.” . . . Somehow the art in worship surrounds me and gathers me up into itself. Like music, it enters into my soul and abides there. During the week it becomes a dominant image in my experience and pulls me to dwell on the theme and allows the theme to dwell in me. In this way, it forms me and energizes my spiritual pilgrimage.

-Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation, Second Edition

The function of art in worship is similar to the role of the clean house, the beautifully decorated dining room, and the lovingly prepared meal in a birthday celebration. It embodies the occasion in such a way that the event is served. Just as the house, the table, and the food [turns a] birthday into a special occasion, so art forms turn worship into a special event, serving it, assisting it, creating it.

-Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation, Second Edition

New Song: Great Things

Throughout scripture, there is a pattern.  God works to save his people and then the people praise him for the great things He has done.  It happens over and over again…Moses and the Red Sea…Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace…the psalms…and then even Mary sings after the angel tells her that she is going to be the mother of God.

For us today, it’s good to remember that God is still doing amazing work in our lives.  He is still destroying death, sin and shame.  God has done great things in my life…in your life!  This song by Phil Wickham starts in the psalms with us kneeling in wonder and inviting others to see what God has done…

Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker –Psalm  95:6

Verse 1
Come let us worship our King
Come let us bow at His feet
He has done great things
See what our Savior has done
See how His love overcomes
He has done great things
He has done great things

And that is the theme of the song that we keep coming back to again and again.  He has done great things!  As Psalm 126 says,

Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 

Chorus
O Hero of Heaven You conquered the grave
You free every captive and break every chain
O God You have done great things

We use a lot of different words for God.  He is our redeemer.  He is our savior.  He is also our HERO!  If you read the VOICE version, it helps us see this in context…

Our Savior, our hero—the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, by name—is the Holy One of Israel!…I am your hero, the strong One of Jacob from whom you come. I will rescue you, whatever the price. –Isaiah 47:4; 49:26 Voice

And what has he rescued us from?

…he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. -Colossians 1:13-14

How should we respond?  I don’t know about you, but I think singing and dancing is a good way!

We dance in Your freedom awake and alive
O Jesus our Savior Your name lifted high
O God You have done great things

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.-Galatians 5:1

Let them praise his name with dancing
    and make music to him with timbrel and harp.
For the Lord takes delight in his people;
    he crowns the humble with victory. –Psalm 149:3-4

For us today, God is faithful in big ways and small ways.  He comforts in suffering and protects us from evil.

Verse 2
You’ve been faithful through every storm
You’ll be faithful forevermore
You have done great things

the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. -2 Thessalonians 3:3

And I know You will do it again
For Your promise is yes and amen
You will do great things
God You do great things

Not only is he faithful in the past, he will continue to do great things for the promises of God are “yes” and amen!  As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians,

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.  And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

The bridge culminates in praise by declaring who God is.  Through out history and throughout our lives, he is God.  There are so many ways to say that.  For example, He is higher, above, unshakable.  But it all comes down to this:  he is the God who does great things.

As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. –Isaiah 55:9

Bridge
Hallelujah God above it all
Hallelujah God unshakable
Hallelujah You have done great things
You’ve done great things

New Song: Who You Say I Am

We’ve already been singing it for a few weeks, but I still want to walk us through the biblical basis for our new song, “Who You Say I Am”.  The writers have said that the theme is taken from John 8 which talks about how we will know, the truth and the truth will set us free.  Or in their words,

“It’s a real declaration of identity.”

The first line asks the rhetorical question, “who am I”?  David prays this in 2 Sam 7:18 when he says, “Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”  But this is also a theme that found in Psalm 8 and the book of Job.  Think about it!  In light of the vast creation, why are we so special that God would want us?  This is an invitation to wonder…

Verse 1:
Who am I that the highest King
Would welcome me?
I was lost but He brought me in
Oh His love for me
Oh His love for me
We are lost…you know that, right?…and that is a major theme in Jesus’ stories:  the story of the lost coin, the lost sheep and the prodigal son.  But this is not just a random story.  It is our story.  It is your story.  His love is for YOU.  As Jesus said himself, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”.
Chorus:
Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
One of the things I love about the song is the reference to adoption.  Don’t miss this!  You are NOT a  natural son or daughter.  God adopted you as his child.  And if you wondering where he says that, check out John 1:12-13, John 14:18, Romans 8:14-17, Romans 8:23, Romans 9:1-8, Galatians 3:26, Galatians 4:5-7, Ephesians 1:3-14, Ephesians 2:11-22, Hebrews 9:15, and 1 John 3:1-3!
Verse 2:
Free at last, He has ransomed me
His grace runs deep

I know we’re not done w/ the verse yet, but I wanted to point something out.  We are adopted into the family of God, but it wasn’t free.  Someone had to buy us back from slavery.  God paid the price with the blood of his Son.

You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ… -1 Peter 1:18-19a

Moving on…

While I was a slave to sin
Jesus died for me
Yes He died for me

We were slaves to sin.  That comes directly from the Word of God.  Sometimes it’s good to remember that this is God’s truth we are singing!

…you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. -Galatians 4:7

Bridge:
I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am

It’s such a simple line, but don’t take for granted that you have been chosen.  Matthew records these words that might be hard to hear, but are true.

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.” -Matthew 22:14

Few are chosen.  And not only are you chosen, you are not forsaken.  But that makes me ask, who is forsaken?  The answer might surprise you.  It’s Jesus.  He chose to be forsaken by the Father so you never have to experience what that is like.  In fact, on the cross he cried out,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” -Mark 15:34

And as Paul says,

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” -Romans 8:31

The only thing to do is accept the identity that God has given you and live for him.  You are a child of God.

You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

If you want to hear the story behind the song.  Check this out…

Worship . . . is meant to celebrate the coming of Christ (Advent); the birth of Christ (Christmas); the manifestation of Christ as the light of the whole world (Epiphany); the impending death of Christ (Lent); the events of his last week (Holy Week); the resurrection (Easter); and the coming of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost). These are the kairos events for Christians that give meaning and significance to our day-to-day lives in the world.

-Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation, Second Edition

Pentecost Sunday ends the extraordinary season that began on the first Sunday of Advent. In approximately six months the church has been carried through all the saving events of God—his incarnation, manifestation to the world, life, death, resurrection, and ascension as well as the coming of the Holy Spirit. All these crucial events form faith and the spiritual life. . .

-Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year

New Song: Build My Life

Worship is both vertical and horizontal.  What I mean is that it should start with praise for who God is, but also call us to be the church in the world, on the mission of God.

Worship is both transcendent and imminent.  What I mean is that it should remind us that God is the awesome creator of the universe and our Dad.

Worship is all of that and more.

The song, “Build My Life”, has aspects of all these things.  It praises God, who is worthy of every song, all our praise and even our very breath.  He is holy and beyond us and yet we can build our lives upon him and take his love to a lost world.  But it starts with a God who is worthy of praise…

Psalm 96:3

For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.

Verse 1
Worthy of every song we could ever sing.
Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring.
Worthy of every breath we could ever breathe.
We live for you.
And then it moves from the triune God to Jesus himself.  God as a man now stands before us.  He is worthy, as we see at the end of the book…

Revelation 5:12

In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

Jude 25

…to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

Verse 2
Jesus the name above every other name.
Jesus the only one who could save.
Worthy of every breath we could ever breathe.
We live for you.
Oh we live for you.
What I love about the chorus that comes next is the statement that God is holy.  It defines what holy means, but then acknowledges that we live with our eyes closed to it.  (God, please open our eyes to the wonder of your love that we see in Jesus.  Send us out to share that message of love.)  Check out the progression through the scriptures…

Isaiah 40:25

“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.

Psalm 17:7

Show me the wonders of your great love,
    you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.

2 Thessalonians 3:5

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

Chorus
Holy there is no one like you
There is none beside you
Open up my eyes in wonder
Show me who you are and fill me
With your heart and lead me
In your love to those around me.
Lastly, we come to the bridge that gives the song its title.  I think it’s important to clarify that, according to the scriptures, we build our lives on Jesus and the testimony of who he is.  We also see that the church, when it lives out God’s commands, is also a foundation.  The song is a little more general in that it says, “I will build my life upon your love…”.  However, as you can see from the scripture below, that there is a direct connection between Jesus and the love of God.

1 Corinthians 3:11

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 John 4:15-17

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.

Bridge
And I will build my life upon your love it is a firm foundation.
And I will put my trust in you alone and I will not be shaken.
Passion Music has a devotional based on this song and it ends with a prayer.  May this song become a prayer for us to the God who is worthy of all praise, came to save us and now asks us to share His love…

Father, show me who you are today. Fill me with your heart—all the things you love and want me to love—and empty me of the things which don’t build up your kingdom. Then lead me in your love to, in turn, love those around me with the love of Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.