Today is sermon #2 in a series of messages titled “Priorities for the New Year”. Last week we examined the fact that “Love Must Be A Priority” Without love, nothing that we do or say will be profitable. We saw that we must First “Love the Lord with all of our heart, soul mind & strength” Secondly we examined the fact that we are to “Love our neighbor as we love ourselves” Today we will see the fact that “Worship Must Be A Priority”
Many people love to talk about the good old days. Many like to remember the times of revival, the days of Sunday morning then evening services, then weekly Wednesday services and Bible study, the weekly prayer group at church, large weekly youth group. Oh how God moved. Now many churches are like we are, Sunday morning service that really needs to be only one hour at most so we can get on with the day, Sunday school attended by some, a Bible study, some youth.
Some of you may already be thinking about what you are going to do this afternoon, or dreading something about next week. We have lost sight of why we are here. It is not about us. We are here to worship God! The problem is that most people are asking the question “What can God do for me? What can God do for me in the way I like it and want it given to me during the one or two hours I am here.” Too often let’s admit that this is our attitude rather than asking “what can I do for God?” I can tell you what you can do for Him, give Him what he deserves, Worship!
Worship is dynamic, worship is alive, you can’t find deadness in worship anywhere in the Scriptures. We need to understand that real worship will change our lives and the lives around us. A.W. Tozer said, “Worship is the missing jewel of the church.” I believe that one of the problems in our church and in our world of consumerism, TV, internet, instant need for SELF gratification and self-centeredness, ….. people do not have a biblical understanding of worship.
Someone once said of American Christians, “We have become a generation of people who worship our work, work at our play and play at our worship.” When our worship grows stale, so does our passion for God. Worship is the furnace of the spiritual life. I’m afraid too many come to church because it’s Sunday, rather than coming on Sunday to worship. Far too many come to get blessed, rather than to bless.
What Worship Is Not.
1. Worship is not AN EVENT.
We say we “worship” at 9:15. We have a call to worship, but calling these things that, doesn’t ensure that we will worship. You can attend a worship service without worshipping. Jesus echoed the words of Isaiah when He said of the Jews of His day, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” Matthew 15:8
2• Worship is not MUSIC.
Notice that we have an opening worship song. We may sing hymns of worship, we may sing praise and worship songs but having the music does not guarantee our worship and having either style of music should not stop you from worship. If it does stop you, who are you serving or worshipping? Your desires or God’s? Music is a VEHICLE to take us to the place of worship.
3. Worship is not A PERFORMANCE.
In a performance saturated society if we are not careful, we will see worship as a performance to be graded rather than something we give to God. We may see ourselves as an audience and the people on the platform as performers and often if the performers of a show don’t do the show as we like or if the contents of a show aren’t as we wish, we change channels or we turn it off. Ever happen in church for you? None of us should be spectators. All of us should be participants in the worship of God.
4. Worship is not A FEELING.
Some people base their Sunday church on their “feeling.” I felt I didn’t get anything out of the sermon. I feel the music is bad. I wish I would have felt moved. Using the word “I” or an equivalent is not God directed.
5. Worship is not something that’s CONFINED to one day a week.
A mother gave a party for her baby after he had been baptized at church. She invited friends & family over…the baby was on the bed asleep in the parents bedroom…as the guests arrived they placed their coats on t/bed…Amid the activities the mother forgot about the baby…she went in the bedroom…coats were on the baby…baby died.
They quickly had forgotten about what was the reason was for the party and the baby, the emphasis of the day. And I can’t imagine anything more tragic for the family of God than to smother true worship underneath all the other stuff we do all week long. If we would live in an attitude of worship, wonder, & praise the other 6 days a week it would revolutionize our Sunday services!
What Worship Is.
1. Worship is A RESPONSE TO GOD.
How often do you come to worship with the intrinsic thought that God needs to respond to you? When we worship God, we are responding to Him. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love God because He first loved us.” Because God has loved us and called us and saved us and provided for us, we respond to His love and mercy & saving power by declaring His worth in worship.
2. Worship is HEART-FELT.
In John 4:23, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.” Worship involves digesting precious truths deep into our hearts. Genuine worship is not an emotion, but is always emotional. God’s grace always touches our emotions.
3. Worship is THAT WHICH VALUES HIM ABOVE EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING. Worship is declaring worth and value. There are people in this world that I highly value. They have great worth to me personally. Yet, I do not worship them. I worship God because He is absolutely worthy and supremely valuable. You know what is of the utmost value: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.” No one or no thing should be of higher value to us than God.
As much as we love our families, work, sports, hobbies, TV, your self outward appearance / vanity, closet, house, car, money, all things of this “world”, we must love God even more. What is “most” valued in your life shown by your actions? When God is your greatest value in life, that’s worship
4. Worship is a CHOICE.
We are called to worship the Lord, not ourselves, at all times. We worship ourselves when we feel we haven’t gotten what we desire. Worship is GIVING,, giving, CHOOSING TO GIVE OUR ALL TO GOD.
1. We Worship Because of Who God Is.
Praise is a response to what God does. Worship is a response to who God is. I praise God; I thank Him for His mercy when He answers my prayers. I praise Him in response to His works, but I worship Him for who He is, simply because He is God. I am not worshipping Him because of what He will do for me, but because of what He is to me. When worship becomes commercial, it ceases to be worship.
In Psalm 95 we are told who God is. vs. 1, He is called, “the Lord” and “the Rock of our salvation.” In vs. 3, He is called, “the great God” and “the great King above all gods.” In vs. 4-5 He is praised for His work as the CREATOR of all things. In vs. 6, He is “our maker.” In vs. 7, He is not just some out of touch deity, but He is “our God,” He is personal. He is our great and gentle Shepherd. In vs. 8-11, He is the God of history who called and delivered the nation of Israel.
The all knowing, everywhere present, awesome unbelievable God left that and revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. Jesus is our Immanuel, “God with us.” We worship Jesus because Jesus is the Savior. He is “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Heb.1:3). He is the Shepherd; we are the sheep. He is the Creator; we are the creatures. He is the King; we are the subjects. He is the Master; we are the servants. He is the Vine; we are the branches. He is the Owner; we are the possessions. There is not a hair that falls from your head that escapes His attention. If you truly understand Jesus coming down to earth, the most natural response in the world is for you to worship Him.
The How of Worship.
1. We are to Worship Corporately.
Read the books of Acts when the church was exploding. It exploded when people surrendered to Jesus and they always gathered together to worship and grow. That’s why Hebrews 10:24-25 commands us: “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” As someone has said, “Jesus came to change our vocabulary from I, me, mine to we, us, and our.”
2. We are to Worship Verbally.
Notice our “Call to WORSHIP” today? David says sing, sing, sing, proclaim, declare, praise, say among the nations “The Lord reigns” and even the sea must roar, the earth rejoice, field exult and even the trees sing…..and you say you can’t carry a tune! Finally Hebrews 13:15: “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”
3. We are to Worship Physically.
Psalm 95:6 we are told to “bow down” and to “kneel” before the Lord. Psalm 47:1, “Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!” Psalm 63:4, “Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.” Psalm 134:2, “Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, And bless the LORD.”
Worship involves both attitudes (awe, wonder, reverence, respect adoration) & actions (bowing, clapping, praising, giving, serving.) Worship is our response of ALL we are: mind, emotions, will, & body. Worship is much more than a few songs you may like or not like on Sunday mornings. Worship is a lifestyle. Worship is constantly putting God first in what we say, what we think and what we do.
4. We are to Worship Obediently.
Worship is a matter of obedience. Some people put on a show of worship but then don’t obey the Lord all week long. Someone said, “It is not how high you jump, but how straight you walk when you hit the ground!” Bishop Ryle said, “The best public worship, is that which produces the best private Christianity.”
A high school girl wrote the following letter to a friend:
I attended your church yesterday. Although you had invited me, you were not there. I looked for you, hoping to sit with you. I sat alone. A stranger, I wanted to sit near the back of the church but those rows were all packed with regular attenders. An usher took me to the front. I felt as though I was on parade.
During the singing of the hymns I was surprised to note that some of the church people weren’t singing. Between their sighs and yawns, they just stared into space. Three of the kids that I had respected on campus were whispering to one another throughout the whole service. Another girl was giggling. I really didn’t expect that in your church. The pastor’s sermon was very interesting, although some members of the choir didn’t seem to think so. They looked bored and restless. There were several people who left and then came back during the sermon. I thought, “How rude!”
The message got to me and I made up my mind to speak to someone about it after the service. But most everyone in the back had rushed out the door. I looked for someone who wanted to discuss the sermon, but they were huddled here and there talking about anything but the sermon.
My parents don’t go to church. I came alone yesterday hoping to find a place to truly worship. I’m sorry, but I didn’t find it in your church. I won’t be back.