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Devotion for February 13, 2008

Devotions

In an interview with Christianity Today, Matt Redman, a British worship leader and songwriter, gave a definition of worship that could have come directly from today’s reading in Exodus 15: “Worship is about revelation and response.”

We know that God had already announced to Moses that the Israelites would worship Him once they left Egypt (cf. 3:12). He didn’t intend their worship to be restricted to this singular occasion. Worship should be God’s people’s natural response, woven into the fabric of their everyday life.

Confusion and arguments often fill conversations about worship, specifically about styles of worship songs. Some people are adamant that traditional hymns are far superior to contemporary worship music; others say that they like more contemporary rhythms and melodies. From Exodus 15, we won’t settle that question, but we will identify important elements for the content of our worship songs.

Notice that Moses’ worship song has God as its primary subject. The song declares who God is and what God has done. The song narrates in great detail how the Israelites have been saved by God. He has defeated their enemy. His power and strength are unparalleled. The Israelites use this spectacular display of God’s power to tell what He’s like. It is a celebration of God’s divine attributes.

This song of worship looks forward as much as it looks back. It speaks confidently about the future of the Israelites (vv. 13–18). If God has defeated the Egyptians, He’ll do the same with the Canaanites and the other peoples the Israelites will face. They believe that He will fulfill His promises to them, and their worship is an expression of hope and trust.

Moses teaches us what true worship is. Worship isn’t just feeling good about God and celebrating our affection for Him. Worship calls us to tell about God’s character and then respond with thanksgiving, with praise, with hope.

Apply the Word

Reading the Psalms is an important way for learning how to worship God. Over the next couple of months, read through the Psalms and keep a worship journal. Write down what is revealed about God in each Psalm. What aspects of His character are highlighted? Then record how the psalmist responds to God. Does he use words like praise, exalt, and trust? Let the vocabulary of the Psalms teach you more about worship in your personal prayer time and in your corporate worship.

BY Jennifer Michel

Jen Pollock Michel is a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. Her first book, Teach us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith, is published by InterVarsity Press. Jen earned her BA in French from Wheaton College and her MA in Literature from Northwestern University. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and five children, and serves on staff at Grace Toronto Church.

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