Following Jesus' resurrection, the disciples spent 40 days of intense instruction with our Lord about God's kingdom and the promised gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-5), before His ascension (Acts 1:9-11).
Then, 10 days later, on the biblical festival of Shavuot (Pentecost in Greek), 120 of His followers were gathered in an acoustically rich "upper room" and the promised gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:3-5) was poured out upon them (2:1-4).
This surrender to the fullness of the Holy Spirit equipped them to "worship the Father in Spirit and in truth" (John 4:23-24) and empowered them (and now us!) to fulfill their spiritual destinies and purposes, with Spirit-filled living and worship.
In one of his first books, The Church on the Way, Pastor Jack Hayford emphasized that biblically-based, Spirit-filled worship "is neither a cerebral pursuit...nor an emotional binge."
Further, he outlines biblical guidelines for worship and welcoming God's presence into their midst. He says, "Let us then worship...
1. With our regenerated spirit (Rom. 1:9)
2. With our renewed mind (Phil. 2:3-5)
3. With our revived emotions (Col. 3:23, Rom. 12:11-15)
4. With our rededicated body (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
Old Testament worship was primarily priestly-led occasions of joyful music and inspired lyrics, which focused on God's virtues and character. Many of King David's psalms invited the people to come together and praise the name of the Lord with music and song!
"O come, let us sing unto the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms!" (Ps. 95:1-2).
"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing" (Ps. 100:1-2).
The New Testament worship moves us from temple-centered, priestly-led worship to private and personal worship, where our individual bodies are called temples of the living Lord (2 Cor. 6:16). In this spiritual model, the Spirit-empowered praise and worship in song engage our inner person, the very elements of our soul and spirit.
The apostle Paul taught the Colossians and Ephesians a practical pathway of surrendering to the fullness of the Spirit, which we can follow today:
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Col. 3:16).
"Do not be drunk with wine, for that is reckless living. But be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (Eph. 5:18-19).
Spirit-filled praise and worship is a result of our surrendering to the fullness of the Spirit of God, in our lives and fellowship. Open to Him. Be filled and empowered by His precious Holy Spirit, today!
Ordained to the ministry in 1969, Gary Curtis is a graduate of LIFE Bible College at Los Angeles (soon to become Life Pacific University at San Dimas, California). He has taken graduate courses at Trinity College in Deerfield, Illinois. and Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. Gary served as part of the pastoral staff of The Church on The Way, the First Foursquare Church of Van Nuys, California, for 27 years (1988-2015), the last 13 years as the vice president of Life on The Way Communications Inc., the church's not-for-profit media outreach. Now retired, Gary and his wife have been married for 50 years and live in Southern California. They have two married daughters and five grandchildren.
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