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Sunday, November 9, 2014 pm                        Basics Index

Worshipping God as Individuals

 

This morning we presented a lesson dealing with the 5 acts of worship.   In that lesson we discussed how we worship God when assembled together.  But worship is not limited to the public assembly.  In fact, if that is the ONLY time you worship God, you are probably very weak and struggling as a Christian. 

In scripture we find examples of individuals worshipping God and tonight I want to discuss some of what the Bible has to say about this subject.

 I.                    Worship and service

a.        Is everything we do worship?  No!   
When we think of worship we are talking about an attitude of humility (to prostrate oneself, to view with downcast eyes, etc.) which responds as directed the one we are worshipping.  It is something we do for a set period of time – we enter into worship and we conclude our worship.  (cf. Acts 8:27 – the Eunuch had been to Jerusalem to “worship”).

b.       The primary Greek word in the NT for worship is προσκυνεω (proskuneo) and has this meaning – John 4:24, 1 Cor. 4:25, Heb. 1:6, 11:21, etc.

c.        The other word we want to consider here is λατρευω (letreuo) a word that means to serve.  It is a word that in the New Testament is often directed toward God and associated with worship (Phil. 3:3, Heb. 10:2), but it has a much broader sense than worshipping God.  It is a word that means we are serving Him which IS true at ALL times (ICNLDUING when we worship).  It is a word that means we are devoted to Him in all we do. 
Some verses to consider: Serve – λατρευω (letreuo) - Romans 1:9, “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers,
Hebrews 8:4–5,  For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”

Heb. 9:14,  how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
2 Timothy 1:3, “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day,

ALSO consider passages like – Rom. 6:18 which notes we are His slaves (servants), 1 Pet. 2:16 – bondservants of God. 
While each of these texts could INCLUDE worshipping God, the service to God is much broader.

d.       One way to differentiate between the two is by saying worship is about honoring and praising God, while service is about obeying God.  The point: WHILE everything we do is NOT worship, everything we do ought to be serving God. 

e.       Romans 12:1 is a passage used by some to say that everything we do is worship.  Different versions of the Bible contribute to this and cloud the meaning of the text.
 In the NKJV, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Paul is noting that in all our lives, all that we do belongs to Him.  We are devoted to Him and live for Him.  In that sense we are honing Him in all things, but that does NOT mean that in all things we are worshipping Him.  
YET, the NASV95 translates this verse thus, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
The ESV goes even further saying, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1, ESV)  
Such translations often lead some to say that texts like these teach that “everything we do is worship.” 

f.         Such an attitude almost always leads to a more casual attitude in formal worship settings (such as the assembly) and even a flippant attitude toward their importance or necessity.  It makes worship ordinary and routine instead of being a distinct time and action directed toward God.
Some of the proponents of “all is worship” want worship to be more spontaneous (casual and informal), more emotional (hand clapping, songs more about the music than the message, actions such as eating together and expanding the role of women in worship.  Such results are the reason we need to address this subject. 

g.        NOTE: Sacrifice is an act of worship, and this text says that we are living sacrifices (everything we do is directed toward pleasing Him),
Furthermore Colossians 3:17 tells us that all we do is “in the name of the Lord”
And 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us that all we do is “to the glory of God”, but such is NOT addressing worship as Jesus described it in John 4:24, in the sense of a period of time in which we praise God
.   There IS a clear distinction!

h.       Even as individuals, we enter into worship –
Matt 2:2, 11; “saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”” “And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

John 9:38 “Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him.” (John 9:38)

i.         Consider also Genesis 22:3-8 – Abraham offering Isaac is an example of the distinction. 
2 Samuel 12:20 – David worshipped after his child died

 

 II.                  Worship God individually

a.        Having said all this, we must understand that we CAN and should worship God individually.
Acts 16:25 finds Paul and Silas in prison at midnight worshipping God. 
 Do NOT limit your worship to when we assemble together!
In this fallen world, it is NOT enough!  We need personal time with God.
Heb. 13:15 tells us to continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God.
There are acts of worship that we can enter into privately.

b.       We pray – Matt. 6:5-7 tells us that when we pray do it in secret.
James 5:16, tells us to pray for one another
1 Thess. 5:17, pray without ceasing.
Ephesians 6:17-18, Praying always.
Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Jesus often found private time to pray! Matt. 14:23, Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, etc. 

c.        We study
Psalm 1:1-2 speaks of one who meditates on the law of God day and night
Psalm 119:11 speaks of hiding His word in our hearts.
2 Timothy 2:15 tells us that we ought to be ready to “rightly divide the word of truth.”
James 1:22-25 calls for us to be doers of the word and not merely hearers.  We are to “look into the perfect law of liberty and continue in it…”
Deut. 6:6-9 finds Moses telling Israel they needed to teach their children the word of God.

d.       We can meditate - A part of studying is MEDITATING on God’s word and our lives.  This is typically not something you can do for an extended period of time in a public worship setting (we take a couple of minutes as we partake of the Lord’s Supper, but much longer would not be practical).
When we speak of meditation, we are not discussing Eastern religious thought wherein someone seeks to empty the mind so that truth will seep in.  We are speaking of thinking about what we have learned and our standing in this life.
Phil. 4:8 calls for us to do this – thinking on things that are lovely.
Timothy was told, ““Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.” (1 Timothy 4:15)
Psalm 119:15  I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways.
Psalm 119:148, “My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.” NOTE: Some 5 times the word “meditate” is used in this psalm about the word of God.
In so doing, we are letting the word of Christ dwell within us richly (Col. 3:16)
Romans 12:1-2 also speaks of our minds being renewed – something that requires contemplation.

e.       We seek to evangelize the lost – many of the examples of teaching in scripture were in private or semi-private settings, as opposed to when the saints were assembled together. On such occasions we might offer prayers, and we will study God’s word. 
As we are teaching the lost, we are certainly serving God and in this instance it can certainly involve worshipping Him. 

f.         We can fast – while we do not live in a time where it is specifically required of us (fasting always was associated with times of distress), it is something we can do.
Matt. 6:16-18 spoke of fasting and said when we did it, to not draw attention to ourselves.
1 Corinthians 7:5, “Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Jesus also spoke of times of fasting (Luke 5:33-35, Matt. 17:21).  At times brethren fasted (Acts 14:21-23, Acts 13:1-2, etc.)  Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness.  Paul fasted for 3 days until Ananias came to him telling what he needed to do to be saved, etc.  

As I understand fasting, it is a time when you replace a normal activity (usually eating a meal) with spiritual activity – i.e. personal worship – study, prayers, meditation, etc.

g.        WE can sing to God
Many of us sing songs as we travel or get together occasionally and sing praises to God.  In such environments, we are worshipping Him. 
James 5:13 says, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.
Acts 16:25, having been beaten and arrested for the cause of Christ in Philippi, Paul and Silas at midnight are praying and singing hymns to God.
Often in the songs we read of singing as one rejoiced in the Lord.

 

 III.                Some acts of worship are reserved for our assembling together

a.        Some of the acts we can do individually should also be done when together.  Our study this morning demonstrated the acts of our “corporate” worship.    You will notice in this lesson we have SOME acts that are applicable in both private and public settings.  Consider what Paul told the Ephesian elders, “how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house,” (Acts 20:20)  
Where we find examples of both, we must still make proper distinction between the two.  This is NOT an argument to justify that everything we do is worship. 

b.       While not the purpose of this lesson, we are also reminded that there are some acts of worship EXLCUSIVE to the assembly.
1) The Lord’s Supper – Acts 20:7 it was when the disciples came together.  1 Corinthians 11 also emphasizes this noting that it is done “when you come together” (1 Cor. 11:20ff).   Paul is very clear with this as he distinguishes it from meals at home, etc.  There are some who reason that you can forsake the assembly and partake of the Lord’s Supper individually, but that is simply not the case.

2) Giving – some reason that if they give to personal needs (both physical and spiritual) that such excuses them of contributing to the Lord’s church.   Such fails to obey 1 Cor. 16:2.

 And there you have the subject of worship as individuals.  We worship God together but we also worship God personally.  When we do these things following God’s instructions the result will be as He promises, ““Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8).  Is He near to you?