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Willing to Worship…A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word darkness on the walls of his cell

28 Feb

Erwin Lutzer said, “If we haven’t learned to be worshipers, it doesn’t really matter how well we do anything else. “

Realizing the awesome presence of God is quite a discovery. It changes our life. Our worship. Our Eternity.

The plea is a simple one:

   Bring yourself and your spirit of worship. Bring reverence for God and His house. Bring your offering (the tithe plus).

   Bring a spirit of love and fellowship. Bring a hearty handshake and a smile. Bring a kind word and helpful thoughts.

   Bring your willingness to help sing, and sing out of your heart. Bring a friend or relative. Be sure to bring your visiting friend.

   Bring your best each Sunday to worship. Get the church-going habit.

In their book Lessons from History, Will and Ariel Durant observed, “There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.”

I hope Charles Spurgeon was incorrect, when he observed that “ I believe a very large majority of churchgoers are merely unthinking, slumbering worshipers of an unknown God.”

We have crowded God out of the center by replacing Him with ourselves.  And it is much worse to have a false idea of God than no idea at all.

A wife remarked to her husband after the church service: “Did you see the hat Mrs. Jones was wearing?” “No,” said her husband, “I didn’t.” “Did you see the new dress Mrs. Smith had on?” she asked. “I’m afraid I didn’t,” said her husband. To this his wife replied: “Well a lot of good it does YOU to go to church!”

God used to rage at the Israelites for frequenting holy groves. I only wish I could find one. Somehow, in the secularizing sweep in our world, we have lost the light out of the treetops. We’ve lost the sense of holiness that somehow permeates the sacred groves, and there isn’t anything sacred to most of us anymore.

We have gone all the way from pantheism to pan-atheism–from a view of life that found God in everything to a view of life that finds God in nothing. [We have gone] from a view of life where everything was holy to a view where we hardly ever see anything holy anymore. [1]

The majority of us do not enthrone God, we enthrone common sense. We make our decisions and then ask the real God to bless our god’s decision. [2]

The one essential condition of human existence is that man should always be able to bow down before something infinitely great. If men are deprived of the infinitely great, they will not go on living and will die of despair. The Infinite and the Eternal are as essential for man as the little planet on which he dwells.[3]

Men must worship something, if they do not worship an unseen Being who loves and cares for them, they will worship the works of their own hands; they will secretly bow down to the things that they see, and hear, and taste, and smell; these will be their lords and master.[4]

A silent love is acceptable only from the lower animals. God has given us speech that we should call upon his name. Worship is to religion what fragrance is to the flower.[5]

G. Campbell Morgan told a story about a father and his young daughter who were especially close.  They enjoyed spending time together.  If he went for a walk or made a social call, she wanted to go along.  But then he began to notice a change. When he asked her to accompany him on errands, she made excuses.  As the weeks passed, he became concerned about it.

When his birthday came, she presented him with a pair of slippers she had made.  Then he realized that she had been working on them while he was out of the house.  “Darling, I like these slippers very much,” he said gently, “but next time buy the slippers and let me have you all the days.  I would rather have you than anything you can make for me.”

Beyond any work we may do for God, time spent in His presence must take priority.  He desires our fellowship first of all.  If our worship is neglected, our work will be deficient.

It’s a necessary lesson to discover that worship does not satisfy our hunger for God; it only whets our appetite.

If we yearned after God even as much as a cow yearns for her calf, we would be the worshiping and effective believers God wants us to be.  If we longed for God as a bride looks forward to the return of her husband, we would be a far greater force for God than we are now. [6]

God wants us to worship Him. He doesn’t need us, for He couldn’t be a self-sufficient God and need anything or anybody, but He wants us. When Adam sinned it was not he who cried, “God, where art Thou?” It was God who cried, “Adam, where art thou?”[7]

 It is a terrible thing to be grateful and have no one to thank, to be awed and have no one to worship. [8]

 

Ten Values of Church Attendance:

1. It keeps your heart in constant tune with God.

2. It keeps your mind on the great necessity for having God’s word spread throughout all nations.

3. It improves your character by learning the great examples that Christ gave to us.

4. It improves your disposition by learning to be meek and humble like Christ.

5. It helps in your everyday life by learning to love one another, even as Christ loved you.

6. It teaches you to give and know the wonderful joy you receive by giving.

7. It teaches you to pray, for prayer is the answer to many of your problems.

8. It gives your soul great joy and comfort to worship and know that God is near.

9. It shows the world that you are working for Christ and His Kingdom.

10. It is what Christ intended for you to do. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”[9]

 

The church is not:

* An ark for the saving of a select few.

* A ferryboat to take effortless passengers to the shores of heaven.

* A life insurance company, with no obligation on policy holders except the payment of a small annual premium.

* A social set, welcoming certain people and excluding others from its fellowship.

* A Sunday pleasure club for the providing of pleasant occupation on the day of rest.

 

The church is:

* A lifeboat for the rescue of sin-wrecked and perishing souls.

* A family, in which love and service are expected from each member to each member.

* An organized community, with constant activities and continual growth and development.

* A company of believers who have found the one way of life and obey the one Lord of life.

* A union of those who love for the benefit of those who suffer.

* A center of social worship, in which the spiritual life of each is helped by the spiritual life of his fellow.

* The representative — the “body” — of Jesus Christ on the earth, reflecting his spirit and controlled by his will.

 

 

I like the following list, which speaks not only to sporting events but also worship: The reasons why I’m giving up sports (football in the fall, baseball in the summer, basketball in the winter). I’ve had it all. I quit attending sports once and for all, and here are my excuses:

   1. Every time I went, they asked for money.

   2. The people I sat next to didn’t seem friendly.

   3. The seats were too hard and not comfortable at all.

   4. I went to many games but the coach never came to call on me.

   5. The referees made decisions that I couldn’t agree with.

   6. The game went into overtime and I was late getting home.

   7. The band played numbers I’d never heard before and it wasn’t my style of music.

   8. It seems the games are always scheduled when I want to do other things.

   9. I suspect that I was sitting next to some hypocrites. They came to see their friends and they talked during the whole game.

   10. I was taken to too many games by my parents when I was growing up.

   11. I hate to wait in the traffic jam in the parking lot after the game.

 

Adrian Rogers maintains that Americans attend church at least three times in their life. When they are hatched, matched, and dispatched. The first time they throw water. The second time they throw rice. The third time they throw dirt.

Reasons for attending church fall into two categories — good and bad. In the bad column are these: Attending is socially acceptable. God is angry if I don’t. Going merits His favor. I feel better. Such  motivations dishonor God, and some are the devil’s lies.

In the good column are these reasons: God’s Word commands it. I need Christian fellowship. Others need my encouragement. I can hear the Word. I can meet God.

A story might help to explain. One day the telephone rang in the minister’s office of the Washington church attended by the President. An eager voice said, “Tell me, do you expect the President to be there Sunday?” “That I cannot promise,” the minister said patiently. “But we do expect God, and we fancy it will be incentive enough for a reasonably large attendance.

Ted Malone, whose radio show came on early in the morning, told of the Idaho shepherd who wrote: “Will you, on your broadcast, strike the note ‘A’? I’m a sheepherder way out here on a ranch, far away from a piano. The only comfort I have is my old violin. It’s all out of tune. Would you strike ‘A’ so that I might get in tune?”

Malone honored the request. Later he received a “thank you” note from the distant shepherd saying, “Now I’m in tune.”

One of the purposes and responsibilities of personal and public worship is to enable the aspirant to keep tuned to the Great Shepherd.

One of the joys of the Christian life is to help others recapture the missing note!

Have you known of someone who could have written this following letter:  “Dear Minister:  You often stress attendance at worship as being very important for a Christian, but I think a person has a right to miss now and then. I think every person ought to be excused for the following reasons and the number of times indicated:

      Christmas (Sunday before or after)

      New Year (Party lasted too long)

      Easter (Get away for holidays)

      July 4 (National holiday)

      Labor Day (Need to get away)

      Memorial Day (Visit hometown)

      School Closing (Kids need break)

      School Opens (One last fling)

      Family Reunions (Mine & wife’s)

      Sleep late (Saturday night activities)

      Deaths in Family

      Anniversary (Second honeymoon)

      Sickness (One per family member)

      Business Trips (A must)

      Vacation (Three weeks)

      Bad Weather (Ice, snow, rain, clouds)

      Ball games

      Unexpected Company (Can’t walk out)

      Time changes (Spring ahead; fall back)

      Special on TV (Super Bowl, etc.)

“That leaves only two Sundays per year. So, you can count on us to be in church on the fourth Sunday in February and the third Sunday in August unless providentially hindered. Sincerely, A Faithful Member.”

No Excuse Sunday

To make it possible for everyone to attend church next Sunday, we are going to have a special “No Excuse Sunday.” Cots will be placed in the foyer for those who say, “Sunday is my only day to sleep in.” Murine will be available for those with tired eyes… from watching television too late on Saturday night. We will have steel helmets for those who say, “The roof would cave in if I ever came to church.” Blankets will be provided for those who think the church is too cold, and fans for those who think the church is too hot. We will have hearing aids for those who say, “The Minister speaks too softly,” and cotton for those who say he preaches too loudly.

Score cards will be available for those who wish to list the hypocrites present. Some relatives will be in attendance for those who like to go visiting on Sunday. There will be 100 T.V. dinners for those who cannot go to church and cook dinner also. One section will be devoted to trees and grass for those who like to seek God in nature. Finally, the sanctuary will be decorated with both Christmas poinsettias and Easter lilies for those who have never seen the church without them.

Just suppose the Lord would begin tomorrow to make people as sick as they claim to be on Sunday. Just suppose the Lord would take away the child whom the parents use as an excuse for staying away from church. Some things sound humorous, but they are serious! What is your excuse? See you next Sunday!?

One hour with God infinitely exceeds all the pleasures and delights of this lower world.   A. W. Tozer said, “We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God.”

Orthodox Jews avoided Samaria because there was a long-standing, deep-seated hatred between them and the Samaritans.

The Samaritans were a mixed race, part Jew and part Gentile, that grew out of the Assyrian captivity of the ten northern tribes in 727 b.c. Rejected by the Jews because they could not prove their genealogy, the Samaritans established their own temple and religious services on Mt. Gerizim.

This only fanned the fires of prejudice. So intense was their dislike of the Samaritans that some of the Pharisees prayed that no Samaritan would be raised in the resurrection! When His enemies wanted to call Jesus an insulting name, they called Him a Samaritan (John 8:48).

He made it clear that all religions are not equally acceptable before God, that some worshipers act in ignorance and unbelief.

It was a devastating statement to say that worship would no longer be limited to the Jewish temple. This ties in with John 2:19-21 and also Stephen’s statement in Acts 7:48-50. John’s Gospel clearly reveals that there is a new sacrifice (John 1:29), a new temple (John 2:19-21; 4:20-24), a new birth (John 3:1-7), and a new water (John 4:11). Jews reading this Gospel should realize that God has established in Jesus Christ a whole new economy. The Old Covenant Law has been fulfilled and set aside.

Arthur Pink had a specific perspective of those who offer false worship: ‘They bring their bodies to the house of prayer but not their souls. They worship with their mouths but not in spirit and in truth.

“They are sticklers for early morning communion with God but they take no thought about keeping their hearts with all diligence.

“They boast of their orthodoxy but disregard the precepts of Christ.

“Multitudes of professing Christians abstain from external acts of violence, yet hesitate not to rob their neighbors of a good name by spreading evil reports against them.

“They contribute regularly to the church but shrink not from misrepresenting their goods and cheating their customers persuading themselves that business is business.

“They have more regard for the laws of man than those of God for his fear is not before their eyes.”

In a false worship we may detect three faults. First, a false worship is a selective worship.  It chooses what it wishes to know about God and omits the rest. 

One of the most dangerous things in the world is a one-sided religion.  It is very easy for a man to accept and hold such parts of God’s truth as suit him and to disregard the remainder. 

We would do well to remember that, although no man will ever grasp the whole orb of truth, it is total truth that we should aim at, not the snatching at fragments which happen to suit ourselves and our own position.

Second a false worship is an ignorant worship.  Worship ought to be the approach to God of the whole man.  A man has a mind and he has a duty to exercise it. 

Religion may begin with an emotional response; but the time comes when that emotional response has to be thought out.  E. F. Scott said that religion is far more than merely the strenuous exercise of the intellect, but that nonetheless a very great part of religious failure is due to nothing other than intellectual sloth. 

To fail to think things out is in itself a sin.  In the last analysis, religion is never safe until a man can tell, not only what he believes, but why he believes it.  Religion is hope, but it is hope with reason behind it (1 Peter 3:15).

Finally, a false worship is a superstitious worship.  It is a worship given, not out of a sense of need nor out of any real desire, but basically because a man feels that it might be dangerous not to give it. 

Many a person will refuse to walk beneath a ladder; many a person will have a pleased feeling when a black cat crosses his path; many a person will pick up a pin with the idea that good luck will follow; many a person will have an uncomfortable feeling when he is one of thirteen sitting at a table. 

He does not believe in these superstitions, but he has the feeling that there might be something in them and he had better play safe. 

There are many people whose religion is founded on a kind of vague fear of what might happen if they leave God out of the reckoning.  But real religion is founded not on fear but on the love of God and gratitude for what God has done.  Too much religion is a kind of superstitious ritual to avert the possible wrath of the unpredictable gods. [10]

A man’s spirit is the highest part of him.  That is the part which lasts when the physical part has vanished.  That is the part which dreams the dreams and sees the visions which, because of the weakness and faultiness of the body, may never be carried out.  It is the spirit of a man which is the source of his highest dreams and thoughts and ideals and desires. 

The true worship is when man, through his spirit, attains to friendship and intimacy with God.  Genuine worship does not consist in coming to a certain place nor in going through a certain ritual or liturgy nor even in bringing certain gifts.  True worship is when the spirit, the immortal and invisible part of man, speaks to and meets with God, himself immortal and invisible.[11]

I believe that if we are to be and to do for others what God means us to be and to do, we must not let adoration and worship slip into second place, “For it is the central service asked by God of human souls; and its neglect is responsible for much lack of spiritual depth and power.”

Perhaps we may find here the reason why we so often run dry. We do not give time enough to what makes for depth, and so we are shallow; a wind, quite a little wind, can ruffle our surface; a little hot sun, and all the moisture in us evaporates. It should not be so. [12]

Let me recite some lines from some ancient prayers from the black church. We have some people in every tradition who pray pretty much the same prayer every Sunday if they’re asked to pray. Many of these lines are well known all over the black church.

One of the lines is, “Lord, I thank you that the blood is running warm in my veins this morning and that my bed was not my cooling board.” Cooling board is a reference to the slab of concrete or marble on which a dead body lies in the mortuary. They just let your body cool down.

You get these old saints who say, “Lord, I thank you that this morning when I rose, my bed was not my cooling board. One more day to praise you and thank you. You’ve been good.”

Or another line is, “Lord, I want to thank you that you’ve allowed my golden moments to roll on.” I love that line: “You could have stopped my life at any point, but you allowed my golden moments to roll on.” God says, “I’ve been good to you. You ought to worship and praise me.” [13]  

We’ll close with these words:

If my lips could sing as many songs as there are waves in the sea:

if my tongue could sing as many hymns as there are ocean billows:

if my mouth filled the whole firmament with praise:

if my face shone like the sun and moon together:

if my hands were to hover in the sky like powerful eagles

and my feet ran across mountains as swiftly as the deer;

all that would not be enough to pay you fitting tribute,

O Lord my God. [14]

 

[1] Annie Dillard, Preaching Today.

[2] Oswald Chambers in The Oswald Chambers Devotional Reader.  Christianity Today, Vol. 36, no. 9.

[3] Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Leadership, Vol. 19, no. 1.

[4] Frederick Denison Maurice, Virtue, Vol. 21, no. 1.

[5] Henry Van Dyke in The Upward Path. Christianity Today, Vol. 42, no. 7.

[6] A. W. Tozer in Men Who Met God.  Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 15

[7] Ibid, Tozer.

[8] Phillip Yancey, Open Windows, Marriage Partnership, Vol. 5, no. 4.

[9] Manhattan Messenger, Pulpit Helps, May 1996, p. 25.

 [10] The Gospel of John Vol. 1 and 2, The Daily Study Bible Series Revised Edition by William Barclay

[11] Ibid

[12] Amy Carmichael in Edges of His Ways.  Christianity Today, Vol. 39, no. 13.

[13] Richard Allen Farmer, “The ‘What’s’ and the ‘Why’ of Worship,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 150.

[14] Hymn probably composed in the Talmudic period, 3rd-5th century A.D., in Praying with the Jewish Tradition (comp. Elias Kopciowski). Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 9.

 

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2015 in Church

 

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