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Sunday, November 8, 2015 am                                            Perfection 2015 Index

 

GOING ON TO PERFECTION 2015 (34)
The Christian and Public Worship (2)
Attitudes in Worship

 

This month we are examining some things that can help us as we worship to draw closer to God.   Drawing closer to God is certainly a step in the direction toward perfection.   In our last lesson we addressed striving toward excellence in our worship.  Worship is certainly an important part of our lives, which is why we must strive to give Him our very best.  But we must be careful to avoid our worship being merely rituals performed according to His specified pattern.  Equally important is our hearts and our attitude which is why today we want to address the attitude of a Christian in worship. 

 I.                    The seriousness of worship

a.        What is worship?  The word worship in the Bible is associated with ideas such as to prostrate oneself, do obeisance, or to kiss the hand (BDAG, Thayer, Vine’s).    The idea is to hallow God as we render acts devoted to Him.  I mention this because true worship takes into account HOW He instructs us to worship Him.  More in a little while on this. 
When we discuss various positions in which people prayed to God, it is not so much binding a particular pose, but it is descriptive of a sign of reverence for God.

b.       Worship is NOT: Entertainment.  It is not about us displaying our talents and abilities. It is not about us doing what we want and calling it worship. It is not about us, but about God! (though when done properly we will benefit from it)

c.        God is worthy of our worship

                                                   i.      We are commanded to worship God – Revelation 22:9, John 4:23,24

                                                  ii.      Last week we noted briefly that one reason, perhaps the primary reason we worship is to glorify God.  We noted that He is worthy of our reverence and honor.   As we deal with attitudes in worship, let us elaborate upon that.

                                                iii.      Reverence – reverence means to act with dignity and to show due respect to one who is worthy of such. 
We are in the presence of our Creator.  He spoke this world into existence and by the same word He holds it in place.  One day we will stand before Him and give an accounting for the lives we have lived
He has manifested His grace, mercy and love to us.  He has cared for us and given us His word that CAN heal the world.  He has given us instructions as to how to show Him due reverence.   He is worthy!  He is holy! 
Hebrews 12:28 calls for us to serve Him with reverence and godly fear.
Examples of this reverence:

1.       Moses is told to take off his shoes at the burning bush – Exodus 3:5-6 – holy ground

2.       Nehemiah 8:5 as Ezra reads from the law of God, we are told all the people stood up.

3.       Psalm 89:7 says, “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, And to be held in reverence by all those around Him.

                                                iv.      God is Spirit (John 4:24) – as we approach God, we must realize that He is Spirit and not worldly, material substance (like us).   Therefore, as we seek to worship Him, let us realize that He cannot be worshipped with mere external observances (cf. Acts 17:24).  That is why reverence is so important in our worship. 

d.       Casualness – one of the reasons many fail to strive for excellence in worship (and in life) is because we live in a very casual society.  It is seen in the way we greet each other, what we wear and how we communicate, our demeanor wherever we go, etc. Many today do not even own anything other than casual attire and see no need for it.  Occasions that used to call for respectful appearance and demeanor are no longer treated that way. 
Sadly religion, and in some instances, the church has bought into this concept in its worship and its attitude.   Formality is being replaced with the “come as you are attitude” and it’s not just about what you wear (though that IS often an indicator).
1) It is seen in some of the modern, looser versions of God’s word that have casualized the message and removed the sacred tone of the message.
2) It is seen in the songs and prayers of some – we are hearing calls for “praise songs” that emphasize melody and perhaps repeat some phrase about how wonderful is over and over without any message, instead of older songs that have deeper spiritual meanings.  (We will address some of these things as we examine various acts of worship.)
3) It is seen in what people wear, including those directing the worship.  NOTE: I am not imposing a dress code, per se (the Bible doesn’t do that) but noting that often times what we wear is a reflection of our attitude.
4) It is seen in the influence of the social gospel in the church – make its work more about fun and games and addressing social ills rather than the undiluted gospel. 
5) It is seen in that attitudes and actions of some – habitually late, giving God less than our best in various ways (see last week), failure to start on time, etc.
God deserves better!

 II.                  Attitudes for true Worship

a.        Worshipping God in spirit – John 4:24,
Let us realize that worship is more than the mere act we engage in.  It also involves the heart.  Romans 1:9 – we serve Him with our spirit in the gospel of His Son. 
The idea of worshipping God in spirit is that we worship Him with our being – with a proper attitude that governs proper actions.  
Romans 6:17-18 speaks of how we obey from the heart (that form of doctrine).

b.       Worshipping God in truth – John 4:24.  In addition to worshipping God from the heart, we must follow His instructions.
 Matthew 15:9, teaching (and practicing) the commandments of men makes our worship vain.
A study of worship, for the very first act in Genesis 4, shows that God specifies how we are to worship Him.  In Israel He gave very specific instructions for the tabernacle, how sacrifices were to be done, the priesthood, various times of worship (Sabbath, feasts, monthly observances, etc.).
In the New Testament we learn that God did such with reason (cf.  Hebrews 8:5).  We learn from that book that much of His instructions had future implications in mind.  God KNEW what He was doing and He still does!  That is why we MUST follow the pattern He has established for HOW we worship Him.   It is not about us!
As we study the various acts of public worship (there are 5 of them), we find in each one that it:

                                                   i.      Glorifies God

                                                  ii.      Edifies us

                                                iii.      Is simple in its execution and can be done anywhere

                                                iv.      When done properly requires both “spirit” and “truth”!

We ought to be VERY careful before we think that we can improve upon God’s simple instructions for us.  NOTE: That is WHY we don’t use instrumental music (more to come in future lessons)

c.        Purity of life
Psalm 29:2, “Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
As we have continually emphasized – worship is yet another area where living a godly life, by serving God throughout, makes it acceptable to Him and meaningful to you. 
Continually throughout the prophets, Israel and Judah were condemned for offering superficial worship without genuinely living for God (cf. Amos 5:21-24). 
God is insulted when the only time we acknowledge Him is in worship. 
Example: Matthew 23:25-28 (outward appearance is inconsistent with inward lives).  Matt. 23:14, they devour widows houses and for a pretense make long prayers, etc.

d.       Unity in purpose – when we come together, we are to come together!  Our public worship consists of acts where together we worship God.  There is an implied fellowship (used properly) that ought to exist.   1 Corinthians 11:17-18, Paul notices the division in their midst and addresses it.  He describes how the Lord’s Supper is something that brings us together (cf. Acts 20:7).  He further elaborates on this in chapters 12-14 where he discusses the way we treat each other as we worship God.
Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus speaks of dealing with our differences before we bring our gifts to the altar (Heb. 13:15 which speaks of the fruit of our lips being an offering and sacrifice of praise to God).

e.       Humility – Psalm 138:6, “Though the Lord is on high, Yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar.” 
When we approach God in worship, as always, we must acknowledge our place before Him.   We need a humble heart.  In Luke 18:10-14 we find two men praying in the temple.  The one heard approached God with humility!

Matthew 6:5, again dealing with prayer notices how the hypocrites love to be heard and seen.

f.         Gratitude – finally, our worship to God must be with thankfulness.  When we are thankful for what God has done for us, we want to give back to Him or our time and our abilities.  Certainly this is done as we properly worship Him. 
Colossians 4:2, again speaking of prayer says, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 speaks of our liberal giving.  It comes from a purposed heart, “not grudgingly or of necessity; For God loves a cheerful giver.”  This is a product of gratitude!
A thankful attitude will make our worship pleasant.  It will put more joy in our singing, more thought in our prayers and memorials, and cause us to be freely willing to give to God in whatever way we can. 

 

These are some attitudes that will help our worship to God be pleasing to Him.  A proper attitude will help us to do all that we do heartily, as to the Lord.  In our worship, we will be striving for excellence as we engage in each act of corporate worship.  What is your attitude in worship?