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Sunday, November 1, 2015 am                                        Perfection 2015 Index

 

GOING ON TO PERFECTION 32
The Christian and Public Worship (1)
When We Assemble

 

Last year, in dealing with getting back to basics, we addressed the subject of worship.  Understanding worship is crucial to a life pleasing to God.  As we strive to go on to perfection, our attitude and understanding of worship ought to mature as well.  It is with this in mind that we want to address worship this month.   We want to focus on worship as a work of the local church: not simply what it is, but examine how it is to be done and to see if there is room for improvement both in what we do and in our personal attitudes as we worship. 

 I.                    Striving for excellence

a.        Excellence – is the quality of being outstanding.  It is striving for a standard that which is extraordinary.  It is striving to be the best. 
As Christians, what does God expect of us?  Do He want us to do just enough to get by or does He demand more? 

b.       God demands our best in worship

                                                   i.      Sacrifices had to be the best – from the beginning; God has set standards for worshipping Him.  Genesis 4:3-4 describes how Cain and Abel brought an offering to God.  Cain brought of the fruit of the ground, while Abel brought “of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.”  “And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Can and his offering.” 

                                                  ii.      Israel was expected to offer the best to God. 
Sacrifices included the first born of their flocks and herds -  Exodus 34:19-20, Lev. 27:26, etc.
The Passover lamb was to be “without blemish” – Exodus 12:4
Sacrifices were to be without blemish – Lev. 1:3, etc.  Some 17 times in Leviticus the expression, “without blemish” is used.  Numbers – 19 times, the expression is used.

                                                iii.      An illustration: When the temple was built – Solomon realized who he was building for – Jehovah God.  2 Chronicles 2-7 describes Solomon as he prepared and built the temple.  He used the absolute best of everything.  Why?  Because he realized he was building this for God. 
As he prepares to build the temple, he sends to Hiram of Tyre a request for cedars.  In his request he writes, 2 Chronicles 2:4–6, “Behold, I am building a temple for the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate it to Him,…5 And the temple which I build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. 6 But who is able to build Him a temple, since heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him? Who am I then, that I should build Him a temple, except to burn sacrifice before Him?  Notice the realization of the greatness of God and how He deserves nothing less than the very best.  
After the temple is completed as Solomon dedicates the temple in prayer he notes in 2 Chronicles 6:17-21 the greatness of God.  He even acknowledges that the best that was built was inadequate to declare the glory of God.  But it was his best that he offered.
After dedication, God accepted it as His place of dwelling (2 Chronicles 7:1-3).
NOTE: God is not so much interested in how ornate a building is (Acts 20:24-25).  Well intentioned men have built shrines to God with all sorts of elaborate decorations.  But God is not worshipped with man’s hands, but from the heart as David said in Psalm 51:16–17, “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.

c.        Passages that call for our best

                                                   i.      John 4:24 – we are to worship Him in spirit and in truth.  God expects us to respect His directions and to worship Him from the heart.

                                                  ii.      Matthew 6:33 - What does it mean to seek God first?  Serving Him is our priority. 

                                                iii.      Matthew 22:37 – love God with all your heart, soul and mind

                                                iv.      Romans 12:1 – present yourselves a living sacrifice

                                                  v.      Colossians 3:23 - Whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord

                                                vi.      1 Corinthians 10:31 Paul notes that whatever you do, “do all to the glory of God.”

                                               vii.      1 Peter 4:10-11 – minister your gifts as good stewards of the manifold grace of God, do what you can with the ability God supplies.

d.       Mediocrity is not acceptable to God.

                                                   i.      Malachi 1:6-8 condemns offering to God the lame and leftovers.  In vs. 12-13 he speaks of the apathetic attitude in worshipping Him (“Oh what a weariness”)

                                                  ii.      Lukewarm - Revelation 3:16-17 – the church at Laodicea was lukewarm.  God was sickened by such an attitude. 

                                                iii.      The one talent servant – did not do his best.  He did nothing!

 II.                  Giving God our best as we assemble

a.        Appearance – location – well maintained.  WE have a tendency to dismiss the importance of appearance, and there is something to be said about the outer appearance is not the heart.  BUT, often appearance is an indication of attitude and priority.  When a building is run down and the yard not maintained (to the BEST of your ability), what does that say to the community? 
When we produce inferior products, what does that say about the importance of whatever it is – be it a bulletin, a flier, etc.?
We realize we are not perfect, and God knows that, but He still expects us to give us our best with what we do have.

b.       Attitude – not casual, but serious.  More on this next week. 
A more convenient time – Felix – Acts 24 – is our worship a matter of convenience?

c.        Why are we here?

                                                   i.      We are here to glorify God! 
The very idea of what worship is points toward this.  The Greek word translated, “worship” in the NT means to do homage toward God.   Literally, the word means to prostrate oneself, as in assuming a position of reverence.   We are here to worship God – with reverence.  Reverence toward God demands our best – we serve Him with reverence and godly fear (Heb. 12:28).    
Romans 15:5-6, “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  In context, this would include (but not exclusively) our worship.
Consider what we have already addressed concerning mediocrity in Malachi 1.  Also John 4:24, etc.

                                                  ii.      To build each other up – Hebrews 10:24-25.  When our worship is properly executed, we are built up.  NOTE: This is reciprocal.   

                                                iii.      To reach the lost.  While such is not our primary purpose in our worship, the worship service provides an opportunity to reach the lost.  1 Cor. 14 does address the “uninformed” visiting with us.   1 Cor. 14:25 notes that when the uniformed observes genuine and intelligible worship, “falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.”  As we examine invitations, we do so as an opportunity to reach the lost (cf. Acts 2:40).

d.       Leaders – preparation!  Leading the congregation in worship is not merely an obligation, it is a privilege.  With whatever ability we have, we ought to use it.  But we need to take our leadership seriously.  A study of corrupted worship in the Old Testament often started with poor leaders – ungodly and corrupt. 
The leaders set the tone for the receptiveness of the audience.  To the best of our ability, we need to make preparation – in our appearance and what we do. 
Why do we have a duty roster?  So that you can know what you are supposed to do and make adequate preparation.   Make it a habit to learn ahead of time what your role is.  If you struggle with reading – when you know ahead of time you can practice the text.  Song leading – choose songs that are appropriate.  Etc.
 NOTE: Some of what we are going to address this month will deal with this (as well as the attitudes and actions of everyone). 

e.       How much effort are you exerting? 

                                                   i.      1 Corinthians 11:28 says, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”   This text is dealing with one properly partaking of the Lord ’s Supper (not that he is living a perfect life).  Paul notes that to avoid abuses in our worship, we should examine ourselves.

                                                  ii.      In light of everything we have noted in this lesson, it would do us good to step back and ask if we are genuinely giving God our best – being here, preparing to be here and participating while we are worshipping Him. 

                                                iii.      Is it just enough to get by or do you seriously plan what you are to do? Are there things we can do to improve our attitude, alertness and understanding? 

                                                iv.      Hebrews 6:11-12 – “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”   We are to manifest diligence, not sluggish actions.  Sluggish means slow to become involved in some type of activity

 

Worshipping God is a serious task.  As we strive to go on to perfection, is that greater understanding of Him reflected in the way we worship Him?  Think about it!