Sunday, November 30, 2014 am                                Basics Index


Worship – 5
Concerns About Worship Today

 Today we conclude our study of worship in our year long study of the basics.  Addressing the subject of worship we have defined worship, addressed the seriousness of worship, identified when we assemble and why, and we have noted HOW to worship God both publicly and privately.  In our lesson today we want to notice a few abuses in worship.  In this lesson we will address these abuses in broad terms.  There are so many abuses prevalent that we cannot possibly notice all of them.  But these are presented to provoke thought.

 I.                     Unauthorized worship – the first concern we address is worship that is not authorized.

a.        As we have noted continually, God has a pattern and we must respect that pattern.   
In worship, God has always demanded we worship Him His way. 
Genesis 4:3-7 from the very beginning God has established boundaries
Leviticus 10:1-3 – Nadab and Abihu burned for offering strange fire
2 Chronicles 26:16-21, when King Uzziah attempted to burn incense to God in the temple, the priests tried to stop him.  When he persisted, he broke out with leprosy and died a leper.
When the tabernacle worship was established, God was very exact as to how He is to be worshipped. 

b.       Under the New Law we have seen how to worship God.  He tells us what to do and HOW to do it!

c.        Today there are many innovations introduced into worship - instrumental music, burning incense, choirs, social activities, lighting candles to set the mood, etc.  Such things are without authority and reject the pattern of God’s word.  As such we must reject them as well.

 II.                    Emotional and entertainment driven worship – the trend of the day. 

a.        We are living in a time when far too many seek to appeal to the crowds by offering something that gets them worked up into a frenzy.  Songs are sung that are more emotionally driven than doctrinal.  The service becomes more about performance than participation.   It is more about how one feels than whether or not he is right (and often clouding the two).

b.       Here is an example: Max Lucado, preacher for Oak Hills church in San Antonio (formerly the Oak Hills church of Christ before they changed their name) said this about entertainment: "No longer can we afford the luxury of thinking that the people who are sitting in our pews are going to be there every Sunday. We have to arrest their attention. We have to use every device possible to reach them and to teach them and we need not be so apologetic about entertaining them. I mean, they been entertained all week long, every time they turn around. l have no apology for putting a good singer in front of them to entertain them if they're not Christians. You've got to do something to reach them ... " (Preaching magazine, July-August 2005, p. 14).[1]

c.        For many today, worship has become about worshiping and serving the creature rather than the creator. (Rom. 1:25)  Paul said in the process of doing that, they “exchanged the truth of God for a lie.
Consider: Who is hand clapping designed to appeal to?  Who does celebrity and talented music and performances appeal to?  They are about man and not about glorifying God.

d.       Worship done properly will build us up and it does “move us”, but it begins with truth and reason.    It is about our hearts being what they ought to be.
Consider Acts 8:30, notice where Philip begins, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
Acts 26:25, Before Festus and Agrippa, Paul said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak truth and reason.”
Isaiah 1:18, the Lord’s call to Israel, “Come and let us reason together.”

e.       It is our words and heart that makes our worship acceptable.  Psalm 19:14, David said, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

 III.                  Emotionless Worship – ritualistic, without spirit.

a.        As we have seen, there is great danger in our worship becoming emotionally driven, but there is also danger in making it emotionless.  Another way of saying emotionless is without heart or without spirit.  It is worshipping God by merely going through the motions, and without our minds and hearts fully engaged. 
I am fearful in some circumstances, in response to overly emotional or emotional driven worship services, we have swung the pendulum the complete opposite direction.  We have become so formal and ritualistic that any feeling is lost. We treat the worship as a ritual we are trying to get over with so we can get on with the rest of our lives.  “I’ve done my duty to God for the week.”

b.       Oh what a weariness!   Malachi 1:12-13 speaks of God rejecting their worship – among the sins were flawed sacrifices and an attitude of weariness.  It is in a context of insincere worship (Mal. 1:6-14).
In Matt. 15:8-9 Jesus quoted Isaiah saying, “‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”” (cf. Isa. 29:13)

c.        Sometimes we do not sing with fervor, follow along with the prayers, consider the sufferings of our Lord as we partake of the Communion, give without purpose of heart, and sleep through the sermon and studies.

d.       John 4:24 – our worship needs to be WITH spirit.  IT is with the heart we worship God. 
When we teach and admonish one another, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord, there is to be heart involved.  How can we say “amen” if we are not praying with the leader?
Does not the “worthy manner” associated with the Lord’s table call for thoughtfulness.
Do we TRULY love His law so that we want to hear more of it?

e.       We need to prepare ourselves to PROPERLY worship God.

 IV.                  Casualness

a.        I am afraid that many have made worship services more casual than they ought to be.  It is seen in the attitudes, actions and appearance of too many.  Consider some examples

b.       Coming in late.  I realize there are times when things come up that cause us to be late.  Sometimes it may be a simple oversight (such as forgetting your Bible and lesson book so you go home and get them), but you do your best to get there as quickly as possible.  There are some whose coming in a few moments late show their dedication (i.e. – one whose job requires them to work up to the last minute – but they don’t let that keep them from  worshipping God while others would use it as a crutch). 

My greatest concern is with those who habitually come in late.  Their problem has to do with time management.  Coming in late disrupts the service or class and I believe it shows a lack of respect for God and your brethren who are putting forth effort to worship God properly.  Usually, if we will start just a few moments earlier we can eliminate the problem.

c.        Our appearance – While I am not trying to impose a dress code because the Bible doesn’t have one, I do believe that appearance is often an indicator of attitude.  Whether we want to admit it or not, there is such a thing as an appropriate standard of dress which is dictated by the occasion.  The workplace has a dress code.  Special occasions have a dress code (weddings & funerals).  If we were invited to be in the presence of some dignitary, we would dress up appropriately. What is the dress code for worshipping God? (I will let YOU answer that for yourself)

d.       When as we come together, are we giving God our best and the respect He deserves?  Do we treat it as a special occasion where we are going to appear before our creator and worship Him?  Or do we just hop in the car taking no thought as to where we are going and what we look like?  Are your clothes clean and neat?  Are YOU clean and neat?  My concern is that there are some who “dress down” to worship God and they dare you to say anything.  They want to be as relaxed as possible.  And whether you like it or not, it is a product of our casual society where the dress code and attitude has become more casual.  Have we allowed the church to adapt to the casualness of society?

e.       What about those who lead the congregation in our worship?  You are setting the tone for the seriousness of the occasion.  Is yours a casual attitude?  A “pet peeve” of mine (and I admit this is MY opinion) is the wearing of t-shirts with sports logos and cartoon characters and sometimes worse.  Is that appropriate for the occasion?

f.        I mention these things to provoke you to think about it.  Are you giving God your best? For what it is worth, under the Old Law, the leaders had a “dress code” for service.

 V.                   Sinful lives – I just want to mention this as it is a whole subject within itself. 

a.        When we assemble is it part of a life that is totally devoted to Him, or is it something we do for the sake of appearance.  Do we reason that if we give God a few hours each week then we are free to live ungodly lives the rest of the time? 
God despises the lukewarm Christian (cf. Rev. 3:15-16).  He demands our ALL!

b.       Could it be for some that the reason the worship service is “boring” and “not edifying” because our life is out of favor with God?  That is no way to live. 
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, NKJV)

 VI.                What does the Lord require of us? 

a.        We have noted in this lesson just a handful of concerns associated with our assembling to worship God.  Consider the following verses as we conclude our lesson:

b.       Micah 6:6-8, “With what shall I come before the Lord, And bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, With calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, Ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

c.        1 Samuel 15:22,  So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

d.       Psalm 51:16-17, For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.

e.       Hosea 6:6, For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (cf. Matthew 9:13, 12:7)

f.         Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 May we strive in all that we do, to worship God His way and with a heart pleasing to Him.  He deserves that.  It is VERY FUNDAMENTAL to our faith!  Think about it.