Does worshipping God through song recharge you spiritually? As we continue our Loaded Questions sermon series, John Elmore shows us the importance of worship music in our relationships with Christ.
Do You Not Understand? | John 3
Why Do You Call Me Lord? | Luke 6
Have You Not Read? | Matthew 21:12-16
Do You Love Me? | John 21:15-19
Why Are You So Afraid? | Mark 4:35-41
Do You Want To Go Away As Well? | John 6:60-71
Who Do You Say I Am? | Matthew 16:13-28
Do You Want to Be Healed? | John 5:1-18
Does worshipping God through song recharge you spiritually? As we continue our Loaded Questions sermon series, John Elmore shows us the importance of worship music in our relationships with Christ.
Good morning. My name is John Elmore. I'm one of the teaching pastors here and thankful to be with you this morning. I want to tell you about my wife's car, because every three months, I get a text from Laura, like clockwork. In fact, I could probably predict it. It's probably about to happen, frankly. I'll get a text every three months from Laura, and it says simply this: "My car is dead." I know it's going to happen, and it's inevitably going to happen again, because there's an electrical drain somewhere in her car. We have no idea what it is.
It's not because the kids leave the dome lights on, though they do. This is something else. There's some electrical drain leak happening within the car that we have not yet been able to fix. So, what I do is I'll leave Watermark and drive home. We live about five miles away. I'll pull up to the house, and her car is there in the garage. I don't know why it always dies in the garage. Praise God. It doesn't die on the side of the road. It's always in the garage. There's some kind of weird electromagnetic field that zaps her car in our garage.
If you're a car mechanic, help. I don't know what's happening. No. A car mechanic here was like, "Dude, bring it in." We just haven't been able to do without the mom tank for 24 to 48 hours. Anyway, I get to the house. The garage is open. I walk over. She drives a Suburban. It's this old Suburban. I don't know if you've looked at me recently, but I have to get the car from the garage into the driveway beside my car. I have no ability to do that. The car is dead. Look at me. I don't have muscles. I can't push the car out. But I do.
So there I am, one foot in the car, on the steering wheel to make sure I don't hit anything, and I'm pushing a Suburban with one leg. That's a supernatural feat…except for the fact that our garage has a slight incline. So, really, I just kind of get it going, and then slam on that dead brake. I get it right beside my car, and then beside my car, I get these. I pop my hood, and I attach one to mine, positive and negative (I always make really sure of that, because this is a life-and-death situation here), and then I get these onto hers. I don't know if it's negative or the chassis or what, but whatever I do, it usually works…sometimes.
I get it attached to my car. I'll go back in, and I'm like, "Lord, please. You have to start the mom tank." I turn that key, and it doesn't start, but eventually, enough charge gets through that from my car, and the thing turns over. I take it off. I don't know which one you're supposed to do first, but here I am. I get those out, put them back, and then I go inside, but before I do, I'll do one of these numbers, a little swipe off the inside engine. I kind of wipe it on my face.
I go in, and I'm like, "All right, babe. I've got to get back to work, because I'm working there too, but it's going. You're good." She can go about her business and do whatever she needs to do. She's like, "How did you do it? You're amazing." I'm like, "Yeah, I know, I know. It's okay. I'll see you in three months when it does it again." If I was a really good husband, I would actually take it in and figure out what the drain is.
Why I'm talking about the drain and the charge is because I know for a fact that every single one of us… No matter what happened to you last week, I know you have been spiritually drained. It's an inevitable aspect of our lives that we're just draining. As we walk in the flesh instead of the Spirit, there's lust and materialism and greed and pride and angst and anger and fretfulness and fear and worries, and then you have sickness and weakness, and it just drains us. It drains us supernaturally, spiritually.
I walked into this very room last week, and I was drained. Like, drained. I woke up angry. Do you ever have those mornings? You don't even know why. You're just already set off. The kids weren't being good. I remember, specifically, I was like, "No. You know what? I'm not going to read the Bible today, God, because I'm mad. Let's not even go through that routine, because you know I'm mad. I know I'm mad. I'm not doing it." Which is ridiculous. I should have.
I go downstairs. I'm being short with the kids. We get into the car, and Laura goes, "Hey, you know it's not us; it's you. Right?" We're driving to church. I was like, "No! It's because the kids are not being obedient. Judd wouldn't wear his clothes and [blah, blah, blah]." She goes, "No. Penny even asked me, 'Why is Dad acting like this?'" Out of the mouths of babes.
I'm the one who had been drained, but something happened in this room, sitting right about over there, that reversed everything. I came in spiritually drained, and something happened in this room that spiritually charged me, just like those cables. Something connected to my soul and recharged me, and I walked out altogether different because of what happened in this room.
Today, I want to tell you the antidote to the spiritual drain, and I want to tell you, specifically, that you were, in part, the solution to the spiritual drain that was on my life that whole week and especially on Sunday, and God as well. It's this thing God has given us: corporate worship, the singing of songs over one another, to one another, as we sing to God. It's both horizontal and vertical.
So, today, we are talking about worship by song. In case you're thinking, "Wait. Everything is worship. Everything we do is supposed to be worship," you're right. You're exactly right. It's why we end every week and say, "Have a great week of worship." It's 1 Corinthians 10:31, where it says, "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God."
Every act of our lives is to be unto the glory of God. It should all be in worship for him, except for the fact that there's this unique subset that he says you're also supposed to worship by song. Yes, everything, but particularly, there is a subset of worship by song that uniquely charges us, just like these cables, as we sing over one another and to the Lord. So, today, we are talking about how worship wins wars, how worship is God's will, and how we worship Jesus because he is worthy. Here's our starting text. It's Matthew 21:12-16. I'm going to read it now.
"And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, 'It is written, "My house shall be called a house of prayer," but you make it a den of robbers.' And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.
But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things he did, and the children crying out in the temple, 'Hosanna to the Son of David!' they were indignant, and they said to him, 'Do you hear what these are saying?' And Jesus said to them, 'Yes; have you never read, "Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise"?'"
There is the loaded question. We're continuing the Loaded Questions series, and today, the loaded question is right there, what Jesus asks the Pharisees. He says, "…have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise'?" Why? Because we are children. We're spiritually children before our God the Father, and our response should be worship and praise in song as saved children, saved souls, redeemed by Christ. It should result in this and not in indifference or indignance.
So, again, when Jesus enters in, certainly once for all, but daily as we yield to him, he drives out that worldliness as we praise him and not the world, as we look to him instead of our bank account multiple times a day. Confession. Like, wondering, "When is that credit card payment going to clear? When is that bill going to hit? Is there enough there? Do I need to transfer some in?"
Worrying about the bank account, thinking about what I don't have instead of being thankful for what I do have, about greed and materialism and comparison and all the worldliness. Jesus comes in and flips all that over and restores it to praise of him when we worship him, because worship wins that war against worldliness. As the old hymn says:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus;
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.
The vacuum there that just gets sucked in from all the worldliness gets won over by worshiping Jesus.
Secondly, worship wins wars in weakness. It says, "And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them." They came to him, and he healed them. We come to Jesus in our weakness. We don't self-effort, self-actualize, but rather in our weakness, in our desperation, we go to him and worship him, and then worship wins that war against weakness.
Recently, one of our Community Group members, Marisa Frizzell… Her dad was diagnosed with a terrible brain disease in which his brain is deteriorating in rapid succession. He has less than one year to live as we speak today. He doesn't even know his own children's names anymore. He's sweet as can be to them, but because of the memory loss, doesn't even know their names.
They always would have a Christmas gathering, and this particular time, the Frizzells said, "Hey, would you bring your Community Group and just sing worship with and over my dad?" So, on a beautiful Texas December night, we gathered as a Community Group with Mr. Serna and Mrs. Serna and all of the brothers and sisters and in-laws and grandkids.
As Mr. Serna sat there in his lawn chair and we were singing songs, though he doesn't know his own children's names, he sang with a smile on his face, palms lifted up to heaven, every single word of every single line to every single hymn and song. As I'm, shamefully, just scrolling through, trying to keep my place and figure out what the next line is, he knew them by heart.
There's something about music that God knows… It gets stuck within us, and our memory can bring it back from somewhere deep within. In that moment, worship won over weakness. I will tell you that Mr. Serna, when his time is (and God ordains his days, not medical science)… When his days end, it doesn't end; it just changes, because he will worship Jesus forevermore and worship will win the war over weakness.
Worship wins the war also against self-worship. "But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did…" They saw them. Jesus walks on the temple mount. He's there in the temple, and he's healing the blind and the lame that we just read. " [When they] saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, 'Hosanna to the Son of David!' they were indignant, and they said to him, 'Do you hear what these are saying?'"
The Pharisees knew that for them to say, "Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord…" They were quoting the psalms to Jesus. They're like, "Do you know what those people are saying? They're saying you're God." He's like, "I'm healing the blind and the lame." "Yeah, but we run this show. This is our temple mount. We're the ones who do this. We're the ones who have the law on lock. We get the glory. People follow us." They were glory thieves.
When Jesus is there before them, they see the wonderful things, yet they're indignant. They wanted self-worship. How do I know this? Because two chapters later, Jesus exposes the hearts of the Pharisees in Matthew 23. Listen to what he says. "They do all their deeds to be seen by others. They love the place or seat of honor. They love being greeted in the marketplace." In John 12:43, he says,"… for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God."
I want to reread this passage from Matthew 23, and I'm going to put a little twist on it for our day and age. "They do all of their posts to be seen by others. They love the place of honor in the story feeds, looking at how many people saw it. They love being 'liked' and followed." Never before in the history of the world have we ever, ever quantified friendships or followers for all the world to see. That's crazy. It's toxic. It's poison to us, that we would have a counter, publicly, to show people how many followers we have.
Think what that does to a person, as we're talking about self-worship and the danger that can be to someone. Like, admission: I deleted Instagram because I realized I was looking at those things, not to mention losing an hour and a half daily, probably, of just mindlessly scrolling and looking up and being like, "Oh my goodness. It's 11:00 p.m. I should have gone to bed an hour ago."
Here's the deal. Social media is amoral. It's lacking in morals. It just depends on how somebody uses it. You can use it for self-worship or you can use it to worship God. Whether you post or follow, do it all to the glory of God. Right now, Courtney Frey is posting on social media to Watermark Community Church's social media account. Why? For the glory of God, that she'd be able to tell others about Jesus and the body and how they can come to know him. It all depends on how you use it, whether for self-worship or God's worship, but worship wins the war.
I was driving recently in the car. I was singing without the radio, which is problematic for everyone. Penny, my daughter, was in the back seat, and she goes, "Daddy, do you have a song stuck in your head?" I was like, "I do." She was like, "Well, I know how to get it out." I was like, "You do? How do you get a song out of your head?" She goes, "It's easy. You just start singing another song, and Pop! the other one goes out."
I'm like, "Oh, Penny, I'm going to preach that to the people." Like, I need that. The two can't coexist. You can't be worshiping self while worshiping God. Your worship of God will push out the worship of self. Worship does win the war against self-worship, and Pop! it will go out. So, we remain in this state of worship.
Right here, in Ephesians 5… I'm going to read the passage of verse 18 and following, but in the second part of verse 17, it says, "…but understand what the will of the Lord is." Anytime you see will of the Lord in the Word, you're like, "All right. I'm leaning in. I need to know this." It is the antidote to the spiritual drain on our souls. He's about to tell you, "This is how you be filled by the Spirit, spiritually, supernaturally charged up. Here's how." He says this:
"And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."
Now, when you're drunk, so I've heard… (Some people know my story. That's why they're laughing. They're not like, "It's not funny to be drunk." It's because I used to be a drunk.) When you're drunk, you say things you normally wouldn't say. You do things you normally wouldn't do. You think things you normally wouldn't think. I have a litany of regrets. Some people are like, "I don't have any regrets in life." I have so many regrets. Every time I sin I have a regret.
There are all of these things I normally wouldn't do, but when I was "under the influence" of alcohol, I did bad things. God is saying, "Hey, understand what the will of the Lord is." When you're drunk, it leads to dissipation or debauchery. That's not going to end well. But be filled by the Spirit. Similarly, yet couldn't be more different, you're going to think things you normally wouldn't think, you're going to do things you normally wouldn't do, you're going to say things you normally wouldn't say when you're yielded to the Spirit instead of yielded to drunkenness, because you will be under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Now, this is important. You can't get more of the Holy Spirit. When you trust in Jesus, it says that you are filled, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit can get more of you. That's where the filling comes, and here is how the filling comes. This is the how, which is incredible, because we don't think about this all the time. Have you ever wondered, "Why do we sing three songs at the beginning of church? We just do that. Right? Because it's routine, and it would be boring if you just walked in and got the sermon. We need to sing and get some emotional hype going. Right?" No.
It's because there is a supernatural, spiritual charging that comes through those little sermonettes, those little three-minute songs that are packed with theology, but it's not just that they're packed with theology. God has wired this so that as we come together, these things, spiritually and symbolically, are attached to all of us. He says, as you address one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, there's this inner connectivity that's happening that's recharging us from the drain that has been on our souls for the whole last week when we come together and sing.
He says this is a means by which you are filled with the Spirit, with those psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. It's horizontal, this act of worship by song, but it's not just horizontal, although I want to tell you, before we go vertical, a time that horizontal happened to us during a major drain. We had found that Laura had breast cancer, and that very day, all our Community Group showed up at our house. I can see us sitting on the couch, and they're surrounding us, just singing over us. They're singing songs.
I mean, you talk about a drain. When you find out your wife has breast cancer… It was like a bomb had gone off, and all the energy in life had drained. There they're singing for us truths that we didn't have the energy or ability to even sing in the moment. Now, you're probably thinking, "Well, that's because you have three worship leaders in your Community Group. That must be incredibly nice." We have Shane and Beth Barnard and Jon Abel, so it's like, "Well, that's great. Why don't you send them over to our Community Group to sing a few hymns?"
Here's the thing. Before they were a part of our Community Group, I jumped on eBay. We had zero singers in our group. Well, no one who actually did it professionally. So I got these hymnals, and I was like, "Every time we have Community Group, we're going to sing 'Come Thou Fount,' 'Rock of Ages,' 'Be Thou My Vision,' 'Praise to the Lord.'"
There's something incredibly humble and vulnerable, but beautiful, when you're singing without any instruments and you're just singing truths over each other, horizontally, in that spiritual filling by the Spirit as we address one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. But it isn't just horizontal. How could it be? Of course. He says, "As you sing and make melody to the Lord in your heart." It's all to God. We're just a secondary benefit.
He wants us to charge each other as we're reminded of these truths, but it's all going up as praise, a fragrant offering to the Lord, vertical, giving thanks always to God for everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, there's this vertical aspect. Augustine said this amazing quote: "He who sings prays twice." When you sing, you pray twice, because when you pray, you're praying with your mind; when you sing, body, mind, and soul are all engaged, overflowing to the Lord. "He who sings prays twice."
Secondly, it's God's will that you sing new songs. Not just that you sing, but that you sing new songs. This is found in the Bible over 10 times: new songs. I'm thinking about it. I'm like, "But why?" All of the psalms are there and great hymns. Why new songs? I think because God knows, like the Pharisees, we're prone to religion. We're prone to routine. When we get too routine and mechanical, our hearts drop out. Our mind is doing it, maybe our body is doing it, but the heart has lost that spark, that connection.
So he says, "Sing a new song." As God delivers you in a new way, write a new song. Sing a new song. David rightly says in Psalm 40… When God rescues him out of the miry pit, the bog, he says, "He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God." Notice it says "He put…" "God the Father put this song in my mouth." Because of what he did, I'm now overflowing in praise. It came for him, it's by him, and it's to him.
Today, the songs we just sang are new songs. They're new because they were written by our Watermark music team, the Watermark pastors. I say that word pastor intentionally, these Watermark pastors and leaders, because they are leading us in this horizontal and vertical praise. Those are new songs written right here by those Watermark worship pastors and leaders. A new song. We're going to have a chance in a little bit to sing more of those new songs. Our worship set isn't over. We're going to revisit and apply everything we've talked about today, these new songs.
Thirdly, it's God's will that you sing with more than your voice. Again, we're body, mind, and soul. In Psalm 63, it says, "Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands."
I've said before, but as I got to 1 Timothy 2 and read, "I want men everywhere with holy hands lifted in prayer," I'm like, "Man, that doesn't sound like a choice. It sounds like it's something God wants." That's not natural to me. I didn't grow up in a tradition where you would raise your hand. If someone did, they probably would be like, "Um, Pastor, that person has a question. They're raising their hand. Or maybe they need to use the restroom or something." It was just not normal.
When I'm looking at the Scriptures, because I did a little study, here's where you have raised hands, either in prayer or in praise: in Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Job, multiple times in the Psalms, in Lamentations, and again in 1 Timothy, and then you see it in Revelation where they're falling on their knees, casting crowns and covering their faces. It is God's will that you worship with more than your voice and that your body is engaged.
So, today is just permission to the church to worship with more than your voice. Here's the thing too. I don't walk in to the worship set and, like, Boom! field goal, and just all three songs… I don't. I'd be thinking, "Man, is the small of my back showing? Is my undershirt tucked in? Do I have pit stains?" What I do, as I'm worshiping… I'll cover my heart. I'll be praying as I'm reading the lyrics, and then some particular lyric will speak to me, and I will put up my hand or both or cover my face.
Eric Hassfurther, a friend of mine here at Watermark, says he'll get on his knees. Someone was like, "Where?" He was like, "Right there in the rows." There's not a lot of space, but he's like, "I need that," that yieldedness and submission and surrender. So, today is permission. Here's the thing: it's biblical. I know sometimes it can feel weird.
In the Scriptures, David was doing this and dancing when he brought the ark, and his wife looked out the window, and it says she despised him in her heart because of his worship and praise to the Lord. I think sometimes we can be more like his wife than David, where we're looking around like, "Why is that guy…? He's just out for attention." You don't know that person's heart. They're worshiping the Lord in freedom, and that's between them and God.
Then others, you might think, "Well, they never raise their hands. Weren't they listening today?" Like another good friend of mine who's a contemplative. He just wants to sit. Oftentimes, he won't even sing, and he's just looking at the lyrics and listening to the words. God has wired all of us differently. It's not a one size fits all. But I do want to extend you that biblical permission.
Then we have our incredible deaf and hard of hearing over here to my right, your left. Do you know that every Sunday they are worshiping with more than their voices, with their bodies in motion, worshiping the Lord in song? It's beautiful. It's God's will that we worship with more than our voices.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. Jesus is God and is alone worthy to be praised. So, every song written unto the glory of Christ, packed with theology, put to song, as we address one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, lifting a cacophony up to God, a fragrant offering of praise. So, Jesus, the loaded question… He said to them, "Yes; have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise'?"
He was saying, "I'm the one." He quotes Psalm 8. He says, "It's me! The blind see. The lame walk. It's me, and I've come to save you. Don't be indignant or indifferent, because when you praise me, when you worship me, you will find the wholeness of all you were made for." To cast off worshiping the created rather than the Creator, but instead, in him we live and move and have our being.
Jesus knew. He came to rescue us, the Lamb who was slain. As John beheld him, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world." God, seeing us in our broken state, the dead battery… "There's no way those dead could ever be alive unless I go. They could never live according to the holy decree. I must go."
So Jesus takes on flesh. The eternally begotten Son takes on flesh to come and dwell among us, living this perfect life we could never live, to rescue us, to ransom us; the Lamb of God sent as a sacrifice, our substitute, to die the death on the cross, be buried to prove that he was dead, and then raised again; the Lamb who was slain who now lives and is worshiped in heaven and here forevermore.
Friends, apart from him, you are a dead car that is going to be immovable. There is no way. There's no amount of good work I could ever do to my wife's car if that battery is dead. It doesn't matter how long I work on it, try, effort. If the battery is dead, it's dead. But when Jesus comes and connects us to the source, things become alive. There's something that happens when Jesus comes into the picture and we're connected to the source.
We're no longer dead, but rather there's power, because he's flowing through you, through us. It says God dwells in the praises of his people. You're being spiritually drained, maybe dead, and today, through the praise and the worship and the hearing of the gospel, there can be life and power moving through you, coursing through you, to remember that Jesus alone is the source of life and worthy to be praised now and forevermore.
Lord Jesus, we worship you. We worship you. Who else would we worship? But in our sin, we're glory thieves, just like the Pharisees. We want to be liked. We want to be followed. We want to be loved, because we're broken. Lord, heal us, these drains upon our souls. You have ordained that we can be filled by the Spirit by doing what we are about to do.
Friends, I forgot to say it. Don't leave. It's early. Don't leave. We have more songs. Your kids won't even be ready. Don't leave. Stay and be filled by the Spirit as we sing over one another and to our risen Lord and Savior Jesus, because he is worthy. He is worthy, and we will worship him forevermore. Worship wins the war, it is God's will, and Jesus alone will be praised. Stand to your feet, and let's sing to our Lord!