One of my favorite parts of church is the singing. My life was always filled with music. We learned how to play the recorder in Grade 3. In Grade 5 we were given the chance to sign up for the school band. When I went home and told my parents I needed a trumpet, they were quite surprised. All through my school years I was part of the choir, which is where I learned music theory. Later I took that knowledge and taught myself to play the piano and the guitar.
Songs can stick with us for years. It will be a long time before people stop hearing the music of Disney’s Frozen every time they hear the phrase, “Let it go.” The songs we sing in church have the same power. We may not be able to remember them in their entirety, but parts of those songs can sink deep into our memories. They help us remember powerful truths about God and life. And no matter our situation, we can pull those songs out of our hearts, any time and any place.
Scripture describes what we do with our songs using many powerful words. One of these tells us to take the words we sing and use them to take God from the back burner of our minds and put Him front and center.
In our church we call the musical part of the service worship or praise and worship. To worship is to say that something is greater than ourselves. When we worship God we say that He is bigger, stronger, wiser, more powerful, and having control over our lives. Worship also declares that God is important and necessary in our lives. Without Him we are nothing, but with Him we have all that we need.
Another word defining and describing the results of our worship is to magnify. Scripture tells us to magnify God, and it is done as we sing to and about Him.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together. (Psalm 34:3 NKJV)
I will praise the name of God with a song,
And will magnify Him with thanksgiving. (Psalm 69:30 NKJV)
We are familiar with the idea of magnifying. The round shape of a magnifying glass is usually the first image that comes to mind. Magnifying devices are made to fit in the slots of your wallet for reading small print on the go. You buy larger sizes to help you enlarge entire pages of books. A microscope helps us see what we never knew existed.
Sometimes the world around us is too small to see. For ages of time no one knew about single-celled organisms. No one dreamed of the details of such creatures because we didn’t even know they existed. Now we can put them under microscopes of varying strength and not just see them, but investigate some of their smallest workings.
When things are too small we don’t understand them. We can’t use them to their fullest or guard ourselves against them. It could be the fine print on a coupon or a killer virus. If we can’t see it, or have difficulty seeing the truth of it, we put ourselves in danger.
But when it is magnified it becomes clearer. What was unclear is easy to see. What we didn’t know can be understood. Even what we thought couldn’t exist because of its size, we find out is real and thrives.
As we walk down the street, sit at our desks, and live on this crazy planet, we need more of God. Some of us know He is there, some of us feel Him more, and others wonder if God is really here at all. Worship helps us magnify God in our lives. It makes Him easier to see, helps us understand Him, and opens us to the reality of His love and life.
When two godly men freed a young woman from the control of a demon. The men who owned her as a slave and profited from the demon’s fortune telling stirred up a crowd and got the men beaten and arrested. While they sat in their cell, chained and hurting, they began to worship.
Paul and Silas didn’t sing that night to bring on the miraculous earthquake that followed or to draw the jailer to faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:16-34). Their worship was about taking their eyes off of their situation and onto the one true living God. They magnified God and made Him the center of their lives and situation. God and His greatness became supreme and their pains and troubles became smaller. Those pains and troubles didn’t disappear, they were just put in their proper place, subject to the glory of God.
When we don’t feel God near or we find ourselves in great need, we need to make God bigger. The words of Scripture and tunes of worship remind us of Who God is, what He is capable of, and how He relates to those who draw near to Him. God has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He says that even if we are faithless He will remain faithful. He offers us comfort, peace, truth, forgiveness, power, hope, love, and life. He doesn’t want to harm us but desires to help us overcome.
Some worship songs are “all fluff and no stuff.” They are exciting and catchy. Such songs could be new or older than your grandmother. Learn to worship in a way that magnifies God in your life. It isn’t about getting excited as much as it is about seeing more of God, recognizing the truth of your life in His presence, and declaring how much you need what He has to offer.