¡°A LITTLE TALK ABOUT WORSHIP¡± By Pastor YAU
Text: John 4:19-24 July 6, 2014.
1) O. T. tradition on worship: Almost all Bible scholars agree that worship was originated from the fourth Commandment in Exodus 20:8-11 when God set apart one day a week for spiritual nourishment of his people. Later, God commanded Moses to build a tabernacle during the time of Exodus, and a temple during the reign of King Solomon as a symbol of God's presence in His people. Commands and rules of temple worship were given specifically in details in the book of Leviticus for the people of Israel which were strictly followed throughout thousands of years even in the New Testament time. God desired fellowship with his people on a regular basis and that was listed on the top of the duties of God's people.
2) N. T. tradition on worship: During the time of Jesus and later Paul, worship at the temple in Jerusalem and in synagogues else where in the Roman Empire, was a regular event observed by the Israelis. In fact, Jesus attended his first worship of his life in the temple when he reached legal age to do so. (Luke 2) The most frequent location for Paul to bring the gospel message to people, both the Jews and the Gentiles beyond Jerusalem was worship time in synagogues. The records of worship in Acts 2 shows us the importance and frequency of worship among the early believers. Later in the epistles, Paul wrote to the early churches to encourage them to be faithful in worship with the saints. (Hebrews 10:25) Peter preaching at the worship in the home of a Roman official was a pioneering example. Paul's teaching in his writing to the early churches and to Timothy, a faithful coworker of Paul, gives us many clear records of worship in the house churches.
WORSHIP IS IMPORTANT TO GOD: There are some Christians who do not believe worshiping God on a regular basis is important. They think that this is only a ritual that doesn't mean much to their relationship with God. These are people who either don't know what the Bible says about worship or just using some excuses to justify their disobedience to God's command.
1) God loved to be worshiped: ¡°And God said: I will be with you, and this will be the sign to you that I who have sent you. When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.¡± (Exodus 3:12) Among the over 100 listings in the Bible about worshiping God, this is the first and the most direct command God has issued to his people. Some argue that God is Spirit who lives in our hearts, so, there is not need to go to any place, mountain or temple, to worship him. These people need to read the Bible and know what God had said and done on this issue. God love his people to worship him on the mountain before the Exodus, and he wanted his people to worship him in the tabernacle during the Exodus. Later God wanted his people to build him a gigantic and glorious temple so God's people may come to worship him on a regular schedule.
2) God always loves to be worshiped: ¡°After this, I looked and before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. And they cried out in loud voice. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God.¡± (Rev. 7:9-11) This is a vision of John who wrote the Revelation, the last book of the Bible. One of the things he recorded here is the greatest worship service anyone could ever witness, at the end time, at the throne of the Lamb, worshiping God. We will discuss the meaning of worship later, but here, we see how much God wanted and still wants to be worshiped by his people. If you truly love God, do what God wants to see you do: worship him.
WORSHIP IS IMPORTANT TO GOD'S PEOPLE:
1) It's important in early days: ¡°Everyday they continued to meet together in the temple courts, and they broke bread in the homes.¡± (Acts 2:46) This is the very first record of corporate worship in the temple and small worship in the homes, in the first Christian church. ¡°Continued to meet together¡± is a clear indication of corporate worship instead of individual personal time with God. Personal time with God cannot replace corporate worship in God's house the church. And the Bible said about the result: ¡°Praising God and enjoying the favor of the people. And the Lord added to the number daily to those who were being saved. That is about growth through worshiping God. Few people can reach and win souls by reading the Bible and have personal prayer, or watching preaching on TV or the internet by him or herself.
2) It's important in today's church: ¡°Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together in worship as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another all the more.¡± (Hebrews 10:24-25) Promoting corporate worship can spur (stir up) mutual support to strengthen each other for the building up of God's church: ¡°From Him, the whole body (church), joint and help together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.¡± (Eph 4:16) Corporate worship does more than just enriching the spiritual life of individual Christians, it also increases the strength of the whole church when all Christians contribute their proper functions. Any individual Christian abandoning his duty in worship is deserting the position God has assigned him. This is going to weaken his own spiritual life, and hurting his church because he is not fulfilling his role as a supporting ligament God wants him to be. This is like a soldier abandoning the position he is assigned to keep. That certainly creates a vacuum that may lead to the total defeat in the battle against the enemy.
SOME MISCONCEPTIONS ON WORSHIP: (John 4:20-22)
1) Worship isn't about a person: ¡°The woman said: Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.¡± (4:19) The reason she mistaken Jesus as a prophet is because Jesus exposed the dirty linen of her life. (16-18) No stranger could expose her unseemly life history except a prophet. Her interest in talking to Jesus about worship is her mistaken perception of the identity of Jesus. Today, many are still struggling if they would go or not go to worship affected by people: I will go if I like the preacher or the music, the friendly people or just to meet my friends. Liking a preacher or someone or something in the church isn't a bad thing, but it shouldn't be the reason for our decision if we go to worship or not. On the other hand, disliking someone or something shouldn't stop us from worshiping either. The object of our worship is God, and nothing should be the reason if we go or not go to worship. Allowing personal issues to interfere with worshiping God is a sign of spiritual immaturity, no matter how you may spin it to fool others, and you know you can't fool yourself.
2) Worship isn't about a place: ¡°Our fathers worshiped on this mountain but you Jews claim the place we must worship is in Jerusalem. Jesus replied: Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.¡± (4:20-21) The history of two kingdoms and two places of worship is recorded in 1 Kings 12, when majority of Israel split from Judah to set up the northern king and crowned Jeroboam as king. Jeroboam was afraid if his people continued to worship God in Jerusalem, sooner or later, they might return their loyalty to Rehoboam. So he built another temple on Mount Gerizim in Samaria, to counter the influence of temple worship in Jerusalem. Hundreds of years later, even the Samaritans didn't know why did their fathers worshiped God on Mt. Gerizim. That is why Jesus told the Samaritan woman: ¡°You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.¡± (22) There may be many reasons people chose to worship in different places, in this case it was political. Jesus pointed out that the importance of worship is ¡°believe in him.¡± ¡°A time is coming¡± refers to his pending death on the cross which is the true object of worship. The places of worship isn't important, the object of worship is the most important, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.
PROPER ATTITUDE OF WORSHIP: (4:23-24)
1) Proper attitude toward God: ¡°A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.¡± (4:23) When Jesus used ¡°Father¡± refers to God, he intended to see our attitude to God in a respectful relationship as in a family, like children respect their father. Whenever we come to worship, our attitude should focus on ¡°worship the Father¡± and nothing else. Worship is a serious matter. It isn't a time to social with family or friends, although it is important to renew friendship with people. Every time we come to church to worship, we need to have a pure, undivided attention to meet God, to sing and praise to him, to see his face, to hear his voice. Worship is a solemn time we prepare for God. This is about ¡°in spirit.¡± We need to have a proper spirit to meet God and worship him.
2) Proper attitude on ourselves: ¡°God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship him in spirit and in truth.¡± (4:24) ¡°In spirit¡± is about our inner being that must be well prepared. ¡°In truth¡± is about our purpose for worship. How well do we prepare our spirit to worship is very important to God because God is spirit. When we come to worship God, we are to open up all our inner being, our spirit, toward God, nothing hiding from God or keeping from Him. That is being honest to God with our inner being. We also need to have good purpose in worship, ready to hear his truth expound from His word, the Bible.
If we are well prepared to worship, we can enrich our truth level in listening to sermon, reading of God's word, singing praise song and prayer, all these could build up our level of God's truth in our life. Worship is the best way to elevate our knowledge of God.
FIVE APPLICABLE STEPS ON WORSHIP:
1) Correct your past mistakes: Find out anything that had blocked you from worshiping God in spirit and truth in the past.
2) Examine your faith in God: Worship is the best time to examine your faith in God. It is the best time to get closer to God through worship.
3) Rebuild your attitude of worship: Put worship on top of your priority list. Don't allow anything interfere your worship time and focus. Don't miss any worship schedule at God's house.
4) Well prepared for worship: Go to rest early Saturday night, so, you can get up on time for worship. Dress properly and prepare your heart to meet God.
5) Stay focus without interference: Turn off and store away your cell phone. prepare your heart with prayer. Quiet your spirit by blocking out all worldly burdens. Be focus only on God during the worship hour. You are here to meet God.