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Sunday, December 13, 2015 am                                                Perfection 2015 Index

 

GOING ON TO PERFECTION 2015 (39)
The Christian and Public Worship (7)
Worship and God’s Word

 

Today we conclude our study of the various acts of worship.  Our goal in this study has been to better understand striving for excellence in all that we do, including within our worship.  We know that God demands our best.  These past few lessons have focused on the Lord’s Supper, Giving, Singing, and Prayer.  Today we want to notice God’s word.  I say, “God’s Word” because there are several things we do in worship that involve God’s word – we read the Bible, we together study His word as sermons are presented, invitations on Wednesday evening come from the Bible and Bible classes are designed to build us up in the word of God.

As with every other act of worship, we need to use God’s word with the absolute best of our ability.  This includes “rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)

 I.                    God’s Word in Truth

a.        God’s word in worship – That we are to consider the word of God in our worship is obvious.  How can we know what we are to do if we don’t take time to learn it?   Consider also the following:

                                                   i.      Acts 2:42 – they continued in “the apostle’s doctrine”  along with other acts of worship.

                                                  ii.      Acts 20:7 – the disciples came together to break bread.   On that occasion, Paul preached to them till midnight. 

                                                iii.      1 Corinthians 14 continually addresses understanding of truth as we are together.  Paul speaks of teaching to build up the body and emphasizes understanding with one’s ability.

                                                iv.      Many New Testament letters were written for churches and expected to be read in their midst and applied – 1 Thess. 5:27, see that this letter is read among the brethren.
Colossians 4:16 – read it in the church and share it with Laodicea.  And read their letter as well.

b.       The nature of the word of God – it IS the word of God.   Much of the “truth” of preaching and teaching is to ensure that what we preach IS truth.  God’s word is the ONLY source of authority to which we must appeal – Matthews 28:18, John 17:17, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, etc.   
Everything that we have noted about the word of God applies here – Heb. 4:12, Romans 1:16-17, Psalm 19:7 (perfect), etc.  It can build us up, keep us from falling (through apostasy and neglect), make us more fruitful, etc. 

c.        Preach the word
What is preaching?  It is proclaiming the word of God to others so as to move them toward God.  One preacher described it as, “to storm the will.”    We need more preaching!

                                                   i.      Romans 10:14-17 – speaks of calling on the name of the Lord (vs. 13) and that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (vs. 17).   How is this accomplished?  Through preaching the word, “the gospel of peace.”

                                                  ii.      2 Timothy 4:2 is a command of Timothy.  While his work involved teaching the lost, it also involved teaching brethren in Ephesus where he was at.  Much of that letter, and the New Testament for that matter, is directed toward instructing Christians, including within the assembly.

1.       Preach the word – the word of God only!  Preaching is not a time to tell stories and throw in an occasional scripture or moral lesson.  It is a time to ground brethren in the word of God.  Ephesians 4:11-16 -includes preachers (evangelists) in grounding the people so that they are not tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine

2.       Preach it “in seasons and out of season” – this calls for preaching what is needed, whether it is pleasant or not.

3.       Convince (reprove) – to identify and prove error;

Rebuke (reprove) – to warn.  Making application of the exposed error

Exhort – to encourage to right action.

4.       These three describe the process of dealing with a subject – identify a problem, make the application and encourage needed change. 

                                                iii.      Preach, “the whole counsel of God”  (Acts 20:27)  
2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to study so that we can handle the word accurately – “rightly dividing the word of truth.”    There is a great problem today with some who won’t preach everything that needs to be said.

d.       Bible reading – reading scripture is an important part of our worship.

                                                   i.      It was a fundamental part of Israel’s worship.  Jesus, when He entered the synagogue read from scripture (Luke 4:16-18).

                                                  ii.      Again be reminded that in some letters the brethren were TOLD to read the scripture – 1 Thess. 5:27, Colossians 4:16, etc.

                                                iii.      Bible reading needs to be done with the realization it is GOD speaking to us.  1 Peter 4:11, reminds us, “IF anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.”

                                                iv.      Timothy was told (as a preacher), “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” (1 Timothy 4:13)  That this includes public reading is implied by the other things he is told to do in that verse

                                                  v.      In reading the Bible, sometimes it is good to give a brief background of what is being read – not a lengthy commentary or a sermon, but just setting up the context.  For example: In Nehemiah 8:8 tells us that as Ezra read, “So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.” 

                                                vi.      Bible reading as a part of our worship reminds us that we are here to listen to what God has to say.  It’s not about our think so or commentary, but simply presenting a portion of God’s word for consideration. 

e.       Bible classes – certainly a form of teaching God’s word.  I will address Bible classes next week.

f.         Listening to the word. 

                                                   i.      Where the Bible is read and sermons are preached in public worship there is an audience to hear the word of God.  Those listening have as vital of a role as those leading in presenting the word.  As listeners it is our goal to get as much as we can out of the word.

                                                  ii.      Romans 10:17 tells us faith coming by hearing and hearing by the word of God.  For the word to be received it has to be heard. 

                                                iii.      How often did Jesus say, “He who has an ear, let him hear.”  Matthew 11:15, 13:9, etc.  That is another of saying, “Listen up!”

                                                iv.      There are so many things accomplished by a study of God’s word, it behooves us to listen well.

 II.                  God’s Word in Spirit

a.        It should be presented in love – Whenever God’s word is spoken, there needs to be genuine love present.   Ephesians 4:15, speaking the truth in love causes us to grow.

b.       It is not about how talented you are in presenting His word – It is ALWAYS about the message!
1 Corinthians 2:1-5, It is not about excellence of speech , but proclaiming the simple message of Christ and Him crucified for us.  1 Cor. 15:1-4 – the gospel Paul preached.

c.        It should be preached and received with faith – we must believe it is the word of God and welcome it as such!  1 Thessalonians 2:13.  Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith we cannot please God.   Does this not include accepting His word?

d.       Receive the word with meekness and humility – James 1:21 tells us that we are to receive the word with these qualities.  We don’t approach the word of God with arrogance – whether it be the “know it all” attitude or “intending to prove what you already believe” or other such faulty attitudes. 
Acts 17:11 gives us a great example: “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

e.       IN all that we do, intend to apply the word of God.  James 1:22 tells us to be doers of the word and not hearers only.   In concluding the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave the parable of 2 builders.  The premise in Matthew 7:24 was, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:…”

 III.                Handling God’s Word Well

a.        Following are some practical thoughts to consider as we handle God’s word.

b.       Preachers and teachers – this applies not only to sermons, but our Wednesday evening talks as well.  Following are some suggestions to consider as you present that which you have prepared.

                                                   i.      Make the message about His word and not about you (1 Peter 4:11). 

                                                  ii.      Know what you are talking about.  You have to study before you speak on a particular subject (2 Timothy 2:15). 

                                                iii.      Document what you are saying with scripture – if one says, “The Bible says” let him back it up.  NOTE: I know there are times when a passage comes to mind that you don’t remember (the more experienced you become, the more this can happen), but when possible as you prepare your message – make sure the audience knows where it comes from. 
DON’T assume everyone knows what you know!  This even applies to well-known Bible characters and accounts.

                                                iv.      Make sure that any scripture you use is “in context”.  The Bible is clear that we should not twist the scriptures to our own destruction – 2 Peter 3:16, 2 Timothy 2:15 (handling accurately), etc. 

                                                  v.      Practice your message – read over it so that you are very familiar with it.  It is recommended that one go over the message audibly while alone to catch any problems.  

                                                vi.      When you speak – speak loudly, clearly and with confidence.  Again, use the microphone to help you if needed.

                                               vii.      Practice your message in your life.  Live what you speak.  Romans 2:21-24.  1 Timothy 4:16 says, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”

c.        Reading the word – the points just mentioned apply to the reading of the word as well.  But here are some suggestions along with these things.

                                                   i.      Practice the reading ahead of time.  We post the text that is going to be read well in advance.  Read over it several times.  In private, read it aloud a few times.
IF it helps, print out the text to be read in large enough print that you can see it easily and not be struggling over the print size, etc.

                                                  ii.      If needed, give a brief introduction to the context (Note: This means you need to read the text before and after to get the sense of the text). IMPORTANT: Just one or two sentences!

                                                iii.      Read loudly and confidently.  Practice helps with this. 
Some suggest reading with appropriate inflection – but do NOT over-dramatize the reading.  For example: IF the text has a question – read it as a question.  Is the text a joyful or sorrowful occasion? Slight changes in voice when someone is speaking.
BUT, don’t make it a stage play reading!

d.       Listeners –

                                                   i.      Show respect.  As in all worship, have proper demeanor in worshipping God.   In this case, realize that God is speaking to us.  Take that seriously.
Example: Nehemiah 8:1-8, when the word was read, the people stood showing respect.  We don’t need to necessarily stand physically, but in our minds there needs to be that respect.

                                                  ii.      Be ready to listen.  In Acts 10:33, Cornelius and his family we present and ready to listen.   They WANTED to hear God’s word.
Ezra 7:10 speaks of how Ezra had prepared his mind to seek the Law of the LORD.
Acts 17:11 speaking of the Bereans (again), they were “fair minded” and “received the word with all readiness.”

                                                iii.      Pay attention!  Listen well.  Focus on the message. This requires MENTAL effort.  It is NOT easy to listen to a 45 minute lesson and maintain attention.  But it can be done if we work at it!  Remove distractions.  Not a time to be passing notes, checking email, texting, etc. 

                                                iv.      OPEN your Bibles.  Read the passages cited for yourself.  Don’t assume the preacher is properly quoting it!  Again, be like the Bereans – Acts 17:11.

                                                  v.      Take notes – or follow along with the outline of the message. 

                                                vi.      One other observation – be careful with distracting others as the lesson is being concluded.  Sometimes the sounds of getting ready for the invitation song (zipping up Bibles, pulling out song books, etc.) might distract one who has been moved by the lesson and is considering responding.

 

The word of God is indeed powerful.  Hearing His word is one of the reasons we assemble.  These are some suggestions to help us handle God’s word both accurately and with due excellence.  Let us resolve that even in this we are going to do our very best, whether we are delivering the word or receiving it with meekness.  God certainly deserves that.