Passionate Worship

In this clip you see “Bud” overwhelmed with the excitement of being a part of Santa’s kingdom and the opportunity to see Santa. Similarly, the believer should have a sense of excitement and enthusiasm that they are participating with God in eternal business. Believers who truly know God will be in awe and wonder that God personally knows them and is with them throughout life, not just for a season in the year. J-E-S-U-S is coming, I KNOW HIM!!!
This lesson will explore the passion and eagerness one should have about God in worship. In Psalm 42 you can see 2 characteristics of worship.

Passionate worship embraces emotion (42:1-3).
The psalmist opens with a heartfelt cry to God. He uses the analogy of a deer panting for water so his soul pants for God. This is a spiritual thirst that cannot be quenched with a mere passing of God. He looks forward to the next encounter with God, knowing only the living God can satisfy his desire for true substance.

Observing the psalmist’s statements one can surely sense the passion in his words. Passion has become a buzz word for many in our world today. People have passions for foods, sports, movies, art, jobs, service opportunities, heritage, relationships, and the list could never end. Being passionate is showing intensity along with focused energy and resources toward an activity, idea, object or person. It involves emotions, the will and behaviors. Other synonyms for being passionate are: avid, ardent, adoring, devoted, dedicated, enthusiastic, eager, fervent, fanatical, fixated, obsessive, lust, zealous. While some antonyms are apathetic, indifferent, bored, lazy, uncaring, unresponsive, uninterested, unconcerned, unmoved, unfeeling.

The point is for you to see the contrast of emotion. True worship invites personal affection but even more gives it an accurate focus. Our bodies are made to desire, even lust, for certain passions yet these things only point the fact that physical passions leave one empty. A passion for the eternal, “living God” is what truly satisfies a human heart.

Consider an illustration on passion.[1] Suppose I bring home a dozen roses to my wife. When she meets me at the door I hand her the roses. She gives me a big hug and a loving kiss in appreciation. Then suppose I shrug her off and say, “Don’t mention it; it’s my duty.” You see, duty to a person (or activity, idea, object, etc.) is good and proper but it lacks meaning if it neglects heartfelt emotion. If I am not moved by a spontaneous affection for her as a person, the duty of giving roses does not completely honor her. In fact, they undervalue her because it shows that she is only worth the physical price of a dozen roses rather than the human expression of true love.

Likewise, our worship duty to God is more than just showing up, perhaps with Bible and offering in hand to display. Our worship duty must include heartfelt emotion and affection toward a personal, loving God who invites warmth and intimacy.

This whole idea has been catching somewhat in younger generations. However, not nearly enough. Students tend to separate feelings from faith. Separation from a dynamic, vibrant, relational faith with a mental/knowledge based assent in God. Many of our teens have failed to connect the two and it is devastating our churches each year as students graduate into cultural oblivion. They say as the psalmist, “how I used to go with the multitude… to the house of God.” The solution to this tragic dichotomy can be found in the remainder of this psalm.

Passionate worship fortifies faith (42:4-11).
The psalmist acknowledges feeling and emotion as legitimate components to a life of faith. However, in the midst of roller-coaster feelings he reminds himself to anchor his life in the foundational truth of God and his character. “Put your hope in God”.

While true worship embraces emotion it is also balanced with foundational theological truth. As Jesus said, “worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Affections that honor God are rooted in the solid ground of Biblical doctrine. Or else, what is the meaning of Romans 10:2 “For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.”?

Unfortunately, again, student ministries lack this latter element as the hype and buzz attract the crowds yet failing to take them anywhere. Relevance and the likeability factor overshadows a living faith with spiritual depth.

To counteract this trend, we must return to the admonishment of the psalmist. Looking at the waves of the world sweeping over the next generation we must look to God. It is the Lord who gives direction from his Word and the power of prayer. It is the truth of God that strengthens and grounds us during challenging times. Our conclusion can be that of the psalmist, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

In other words, as we continue to wrap our minds around what it means to worship God we must understand that it involves our entire being. True worship weds together the heart, the head and the hands. It is about a life with a single passion to know and serve God.

-How can you tell someone is passionate about something or someone?
-What are your passions? What gets you excited? What motivates you to smile and anticipate its arrival? Do you ever feel this way about God? Why do you think that is?
-What is the perceived difference between feelings and faith?
-Read through the synonyms & antonyms of passion above. Which list describes you? Can you give any specific indicators that could confirm this to be true?
– How would you define spiritual depth? List about 10 characteristics of a spiritually mature person. Share and discuss this list with your family members. Schedule a discussion with your pastor/youth leaders for how they could encourage your family to make goals and implement this list.
– Read Psalm 42. Why are verse 5 and 11 repeated?

[1] Adapted from Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, John Piper, p. 93.

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