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The Wonder of Worship with Special Guest Abby Norris

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Episode Synopsis

Jani and her guest, Abby Norris, teach on worship—what it is and how to incorporate it into your discipleship meetings.

Audio Transcript

Jani: Welcome everyone to He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund and I have a friend with me again today. Abby, you win the prize for being willing to come back and help me another week with discipleship! Thank you very, very much.

Abby: You are so welcome.

Jani: I really appreciate Abby being here. Those of you who have been listening know that Abby is a busy lady, a mom of four little ones, homeschooling, discipling, she’s writing a discipleship curriculum with Ashley Ginsburg that hopefully will be published in 2022 (maybe early 2023). She’s a very busy woman and yet she’s willing to help me once again today on this discipleship lesson. I asked her to come because she’s doing it, and I think it’s good for you to have another voice speaking into this.

A Note To The Leaders

Jani: Before we begin, I just want to speak to the leaders, and then Abby’s going to give a word as well before we begin our actual lesson. Leaders, I hope you’re thinking through how things are going in your group so far. Are you beginning and ending on time? It might have been difficult last week when we had to pause so many times, but hopefully you’re limiting it to two hours. If you find I’m speaking too long, then just cut me off. But give yourself to your women and honor their time. How is your meeting place and space working out for you? Now is a really good time to adjust things to make sure you’re operating at the highest level of excellence for our King Jesus. Also make sure you’re praying for your group members and checking in with them. The Lord is listening and working and blessing your efforts to serve him well. So I want to encourage you leaders.

Abby: And I know some of the lessons have been longer the last couple of weeks and it’s intentionally built that way because as we begin this series on discipleship, and especially this first priority about knowing Jesus, it’s about developing habits. And sometimes developing a habit takes teaching and it takes practice and it takes modeling and those things can take a while. And so some of these few lessons, first few lessons may be a little bit longer. But that’s the reason, because we want a strong, firm foundation for you as you continue to disciple. So take time, be willing to put in a little bit of extra time to really get these foundational, first few lessons how to read the Bible and prayer and things that are coming in the next few weeks. Take time to get those deep down foundational truths. And that’s why the lessons may be a tad bit longer the next few weeks.

Jani: Thank you, Abby. I think that’s clarifying for our listeners and our leaders, as well.

Worship & Teaching Time

Jani: We want to start our lesson today, our discipleship time with worship, and that’ll be our our teaching time as well. Because sometimes, it’s hard in a discipleship group to think about worshiping the Lord together. What I would encourage you to do right now is take a few minutes to go around your group and ask each other what worship means to them. How would they define worship? So just pause and do that right now.

Jani: I hope you had a good time sharing there. I would describe worship as my response to anything that makes me say, “oh, whoa, that’s wonderful. That’s fabulous. I want more of that.” I think worship is anything that my heart turns to for comfort or joy or hope or or pleasure. Humans, we each one of us here around our tables, we were made to worship. God made us that way. And we will worship something whether it’s food or money or children or marriage, sex, beauty, power, health, popularity, sleep, exercise, you name it. We will worship something. My object of worship can change from day to day.

What is true worship?

Jani: But what is true worship? Well, true worship is participating in the most beautiful and intimate love relationship in the whole universe. It is the highest and most noble act you as a human being can ever do. Why did Jesus come? To make worshipers out of rebels. God is seeking those who will worship Him. Abby, read for us, John 4:23.

“But the hour is coming and is now here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the father is seeking such people to worship Him.”

John 4:23

Jani: God’s on the lookout for true worshipers. I love that. As he’s looking down on us today, let’s worship Him. We often think of worship as singing to him and that certainly can be worship. You might hear sometimes if you’re at a Bible study, “Well, let’s have a time of worship before we open the word.” But there are many ways to worship Him, both singing and reading the Bible. You know, we call our Sunday gatherings as a church a “worship service” for the very reason that there are so many ways to worship God. We worship Him through our giving, through prayer, through singing, through listening to the word and then applying the word and obeying the word. These are all forms of worship. Indeed, listen carefully, whenever we respond properly to God, we’re worshipping Him. Any proper response to God is a form of worship.

Responses in Worship

Jani: Now, there are many responses that can be appropriate in worship, it depends on what part of his godness our king is presenting to us. Worship can be awe before His Majesty. Fear, before his judgement. Joy before his saving intervention. Conviction when he exposes our sins. Dedication to his purposes. Obedience to His word, I mean, the list goes on. Think of Job in your group. Open your Bibles to Job 1:20-21. Job 1:20-21. Abby, will you read those verses for us?

“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked shall I return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.””

Job 1:20-21

Jani: Did you catch that? He fell on the ground, tore his clothing and worshiped. Whenever we respond properly to God, we are worshiping. Job humbled himself and worshipped God even in his agony. Hebrews 12:28-29 puts it this way

“Thus, let us offer to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe. For our God is a consuming fire.”

Hebrews 12:28-29

Jani: What does God consider an acceptable attitude in our worship? Well, Hebrews 12 teaches us awe, fear, a sense of our place before his power. It’s helpful to look at recorded heavenly scenes of worship for our glimpses of what our future worship will be like someday. Worship will be perfect once we’re in heaven. Nehemiah 9:6 records that,

“the host of heaven worships you”.

Nehemiah 9:6

Three Aspects of Heavenly Worship

Jani: There are worship services going on continually before His throne. If we were to be ushered into heaven, or if God would draw the veil away and we could look into heaven, we’d see worship going on right now. They can’t help but worship God. Leaders have everyone in your group open up to Revelation 4. Revelation 4, the last book in the Bible. We have another peek into heaven in these two chapters. Revelation 4 and 5, we’re going to be looking at some verses here and I would like to encourage you to see three different aspects of heavenly worship as we get a peek into heaven here. The intellectual aspect as we use our minds, the emotional aspect as we use our hearts and the physical aspect as we use our bodies. Let’s look at these three aspects.


Jani: First of all, let’s see that worship is intellectual. God wants us to use our brains when we worship Him. Abby, will you read for us all Revelation 4:8?

“And the four living creatures each of them with six wings are full of eyes all around and within and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.””

Revelation 4:8

Jani: Now this is called a trilogy of trilogies. Trilogy one is, “holy, holy, holy”. Holy is repeated three times. That’s a trilogy. Trilogy two is, is the “Lord God Almighty”, three names for God, Lord God Almighty. So we have Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. And then trilogy three says this, “who was and is, and is to come”. The four living creatures thought through one subject, the godness of God, who is this God we worship? And they worshipped him in this articulate, thoughtful praise, a trilogy of trilogies.

Jani: Now, look at still using our intellect, look at how the subject is changed to creation by the 24 elders in Revelation 4:11. Where it says,

“Worthy, are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things and by your will they existed and were created.”

Revelation 4:11

Jani: Finally, in Revelation 5:9-10, both the living creatures and the elders together sing a new song about redemption. Abby, will you read Revelation 5:9-10?

“And they sing a new song saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open it seals for you were slain and by your blood, you ransom to people for God, from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.'”

Revelation 5:9-10

Jani: Did you get that? They created a new song. Songwriting is brain-work as well as hard work. We understand that here in music city, don’t we Abby?

Abby: We do.

Jani: Yes, anyone who’s ever written understands, if you’ve written music, it’s you’re using both your brain and your heart. Worship is intellectual. Let’s learn to engage our minds. Worship involves our intellect. Let’s not check out when we’re worshipping God.


Jani: A second aspect of worship is our emotions. Worship is also emotional. God wants us to use our hearts. Oh, we don’t have a lot of time to turn there. But just think back with me in your mind, your intellect, of Abraham and Isaac back in Genesis 22. That was a heart wrenching act of worship. Oh, think of the emotions Abraham was feeling in Genesis 22. He says in in Genesis 22:5. Abraham says to the men who were with him,

“I and the boy will go over there to worship and come again to you.”

Genesis 22:5

Jani: What must Abraham have been feeling as he bound Isaac’s hands and laid him on the altar, and then took out his knife to sacrifice his only son, his beloved son in worship? Genesis 22:10 tells us about that. Oh, my worship is emotional. We could look at other passages in Scripture, but I wanted you to see it’s not just here in Revelation 4 and 5. But let’s look at these emotions here in Revelation 4:9, we’re told to give thanks. In 4:10, will you read that verse for us again, Abby, 4:10?

“The 24 elders fall down before Him who is seated on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne.”

Revelation 4:10

Jani: Yes, they they’re casting their crowns. That’s an emotional experience really. They’re bowing in adoration and awe and gratitude and saying, “My wealth, my position that I have, I’m giving it to you, I want you to have my all.” Or in 5:12, it says, “they say with a loud voice”, that means they’re using emotion. They’re not just shouting. But that word loud means, “Oh, I can’t contain it anymore. Lord, I’m I want to say this loudly to you Worthy is the Lamb.” You see, worship is emotional, as well as intellectual.


Jani: Third, worship is also physical. Let’s not be afraid to use our bodies when we worship. Think again of Job 1:20.

“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground in worship.”

Job 1:20

Jani: In our passage here in Revelation, look at how these worshipers used their bodies. In 4:10, we read that the 24 elders fell down and they cast their crowns, they used their bodies, and in 5:14, we read that they, the four living creatures, fell down and worshipped.

Jani: Now, each of our churches and each of our discipleship groups is a mini sub culture. There are certain ways we tend to practice worship when we’re together. However, let’s be women who can stretch a little in our own sub culture. Do you ever feel like getting on your knees or even your face or standing up or maybe raising your hands? You can use your body in worship, I encourage you to, even in your group.

Jani: Leader, you can lead in this. Maybe sometimes, you just want to raise your hands together as a group or those who want to. Remember that worship is participating in the most beautiful and intimate love relationship in the universe.

Worship As A Group

Jani: Alright, now we’re going to have you as a group, participate in worship together. We’re going to have you look at two different passages of Scripture and read them aloud together. They are John 1:1-5. Why don’t you turn there right now. John 1:1-5 and keep your finger there. And then turn also to Colossians 1:15-20, Colossians 1:15-20.

Jani: Now leader, this is how I want you to lead your group. I want you to have someone in your group read both of these passages aloud or have different members or you could even go around, everybody read a verse but read John 1:1-5 and Colossians 1:15-20 aloud as a group, remembering that we’re concentrating on our first priority during these early meetings together, Jesus Christ. And then I want you to think, what do you see about Jesus in these verses? And worship him together after reading them out loud together. Worship him together in prayer by saying, “Lord, You are.” Look for things in these verses that you can say, “Lord, You are.” And thank him and praise him for who he is. And then leader, you’ll need to close that prayer time of worship together. You close it in prayer.

Jani: Okay, you’ve had your time of worship and you’ve tried that together. I hope it went well for you now. Next, I want you to have one of your women share her life story, whoever was assigned for this week. So you’ll pause the podcast again, and have that person share her life story in 15 minutes, and then pray for her.


Jani: Next, we’re going to sharing on accountability. Abby, could you talk about this for us?

Abby: Sure. So last week, we had everyone do three quiet times, write down the passage you read and the two questions that we talked about. So have everyone pull out their assignment. Maybe the piece of paper that they wrote down those quiet times on and ask for volunteers, or you may have to draw names to share one thing that God taught them this week either in their Knowing God column, or maybe What Should I Do column of their paper, but ask women in your group to share what they learned this week in their quiet time.

Jani: Yes, thank you, Abby. Abby mentioned, what she does sometimes is draw names. I do that in my group as well. One of our first things that we do is we have everybody write their name on a little slip of paper, I keep a basket near me. And rather than our always going around the circle, or my calling on someone, because I’ll tend to call on the same people. It’s just better for me to pull names out. My name is in there as well so if my name is drawn, then I will share if I did the assignment and it’s good for us all to be accountable to each other. Thanks, Abby.

Next Week’s Assignment

Jani: I would like to give you your assignment for next week. So get out your pencil and write this down. We want you to enjoy at least three more quiet times this week using the questions from Acts 22:8,10. Which are again, who are you, Lord? And what shall I do, Lord? Then, come ready to share a little bit about your current prayer life. Do you use any prayer aids like a journal or a book? How do you record your prayer requests your own and others? And then you have thought and decided about a book that you’re going to read together. So assign how many pages are going to be read this coming week. For instance, in my group, we’re going to be reading Brother Lawrence, Part One. In our version, it’s through page 25. Do you do an assignment like that as well?

Abby: We do, yep. Same way.

Jani: Then finally, choose one or two women to share their life graphs for next week. So your four assignments are: three quiet times written out with those two questions, come ready to share a little bit about your prayer life, your reading together, what part of the book you’re going to read, have that read and then finally, one or two women ready to share their life story.

Share & Pray

Jani: Now, we’re going to close the podcast by encouraging you to do this. Leader, if you have one more woman ready to share about her life story, do that. And then go to sharing and prayer. If not just go directly to sharing and prayer. Go around your table and share prayer requests with one another or draw names and have you share in that order. About what is the state of your heart? What’s been occupying her thoughts lately, your thoughts lately? And at the end of this time together, I’d encourage you to exchange names for special connections in prayer. Draw a name and decide to pray particularly for that one person, that person would be your prayer partner, and maybe contact them or get together face to face if you can. Abby, do you have anything to add?

Abby: I think you’ve done a great job, Jani. I don’t have anything to add.

Jani: Well, it’s Abby’s and my prayer that this lesson will help you in your discipleship times together. And that during your times, God is restoring your soul through intimacy, through accountability, through teaching and worship, and vulnerability as you grow closer together. Our prayer is that he may restore all of our souls. God bless you.

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

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He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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