BELIEVE SERIES - Practice #1 - WORSHIP
Today, the first Sunday of December we are talking about Worship – How appropriate as Christmas is right around the corner and we're going to be talking about worship today.
We’re 1/3 the way through BELIEVE.
The 1st 10 chapters dealt with our BELIEFS - How Do We Think.
They 2nd 10 chapters deal with our PRACTICES – How Do We Act?
The 3rd and last section will deal with WHO ARE WE BECOMING.
There is a difference between believing something as the right answer and believing something as a way of life.
The first resides in the head alone; the latter camps out in the head and the heart.
Growth begins by understanding spiritual beliefs in our mind but it cannot stop there.
We must embrace these axioms and truths in our heart. When these beliefs take up residence in our heart, they will help form who we become.
Why? Because we live them from our heart.
So how do we transport biblical beliefs twelve inches from the head to the heart — from thinking to actions?
The primary means is through engaging in Biblical Practices.
Another word for practices is spiritual disciplines.
As a believer engages in them routinely and consistently, transformation occurs day by day.
Spiritual muscles form. Spiritual lungs expand. The spiritual heart pumps stronger.
We cannot bring about inner transformation on our own. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to indwell in us.
- Right beliefs in the mind become outward expressions from the heart.
Jesus used the analogy of a vine in John 15 to explain this inner transformational process.
When we accept and receive Christ into our lives, we are reconciled to God. Jesus said our “branches” (our very lives) are grafted into the vine of Christ.
As we obey the commands of Jesus (practice the Christian life), the rich nutrients from the root of Christ are transferred into our branches.
Eventually, rich, plump, tasty grapes appear on the end of our branches — the fruit of the Spirit.
As we move from our study of KEY Truths to KEY Practices/Disciplines, we will be introduced to the top ten key practices of the Christian life.
It is so important that we build on a solid foundation of KEY Truths and grow healthy from KEY disciplines!
Together they answer the question, “What should I do?” Each chapter will address three areas:
1. KEY QUESTION: What life question does this practice answer?
2. KEY IDEA: What are the essentials of engaging in this spiritual practice?
3. KEY APPLICATION: What difference does this make in the way I live?
4. KEY SCRIPTURE: What scripture helps to understand this principle?
Today - we are going to be talking about the first KEY Practice which is WORSHIP.
KEY IDEA: I worship God for who He is and what He has done for me.
KEY VERSE: Psalm 95:1-2
Psalm 95:1-2 (NIV) 1 Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
Simple definition for the practice of worship is:“attributing worth to someone or something.”
***** Worship is not an earthly event we attend, but rather a heavenly activity in which we take part.****
As Christians, in our personal and corporate worship of the one true God, we are attributing or ascribing worth to Him, and to Him alone.
Regardless of the method of praise, whether singing, speaking, or any physical expression, we are both believing of him and communicating to him, “God, you are worthy.”
Over 40 years ago, pastor and author, A. W. Tozer said, “Worship is the missing jewel of the evangelical Church.”
I’m wondering if there’s been any improvement. Technology is improved, but has WORSHIP; Performance is up, but has WORSHIP; Diverstiy is broader, but is our WORSHIP any better?
Maybe if we can understand what “WORSHIP” is we can more effectively answer the question.
When you hear the word “worship” what pops into your mind?
Singing my kind of music; Wearing my kind of clothes; Bowing my head and closing my eyes; Lifting my hands; standing, kneeling, sitting; laughing or crying; . . . . . . . .
Whatever else the word worship suggest to you in your own experience and expression, this word should speaks powerfully about “our own response to God.”
It’s focused on relationship and not environment!
Worship is an active response to God whereby we declare HIS worth.
- Worship is not passive, but is participative.
- Worship is not just a feeling; it is a decision!
- Worship is not simply a mood; it is a response.
In translating the word from it’s Biblical roots into english, the translators settled on the word “worthship.”
Worship God is to ascribe to Him supreme worth, for He alone is worthy.
What is the essence of worship? It is the celebration of God! When we worship God, we celebrate Him; we boast in Him; we sound His praises.
KEY QUESTION: How do I honor God in the way he deserves?
There is a deep intertwining of the key beliefs with the practice of worship.
Worship is the first spiritual discipline of a Christ follower that helps the key beliefs move from our head to our heart.
When we worship God for who he is, we are simultaneously expressing some convictions:
1. We believe in the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit! (BELIEF: God)
2. We believe God is involved in and cares about our daily lives (BELIEF: Personal God)
3. We believe God has provided a way for us to be made right with him by his grace (BELIEF: Salvation)
4. We agree that God’s Word directs our beliefs and actions (BELIEF: The Bible)
5. We believe we have significance because of the position and worth God has given us (BELIEF: Identity in Christ)
6. We recognize God as the head of the church (BELIEF: Church)
7. We believe our God loves all people (BELIEF: Humanity)
8. We desire to provide compassion to those in need because of who God is (BELIEF: Compassion)
9. We believe God is the owner of all things, including us (BELIEF: Stewardship)
10. We believe God has provided a way for us to live with him forever (BELIEF: Eternity)
STORY OF THE WOMAN AT THE WELL
In Jesus’ encounter with a woman from Samaria as she drew water from a well, the conversation went to the subject of worship:
John 4:1-24 (ESV) 1 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Jesus is stating that true worship is not about being at a precise geographic location, but rather about having an intimate spiritual longing.
God seeks worshipers who, through the power of his Spirit, will attribute worth to him in any location and for the right reasons — because He is TRUTH.
Jesus said about himself, “I am the WAY and TRUTH and LIFE!
This Samaritan lady seemed a little confused. Do you ever feel that way?
You know you want to connect with God in worship. But you have been confused as to how. You’re not alone. Look at the confusion she felt...
- She is a Samaritan. She understands racism.
Her people came from the northern tribes of Israel and had been carted off to Babylonian captivity back in 720 BC. They intermarried while there and came home an impure race.
The Jews of Judea kept their bloodline pure in their captivity. And they wanted nothing to do with the Samaritans.
They wouldn’t even let them help in the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple. So the Samaritans built their own temple on Mt. Gerazim.
- She is also a woman. She lived in the ancient Middle East where men often degraded women. Some men would not speak to women in public, not even their own wives or daughters.
Some Pharisees were even known as the “bruised and bleeding ones” because, when they even saw a woman, they would close their eyes and wind up running into doorways.
- She is also an outcast. She’s been married to five men. That’s right. Five.
Five times she’s walked down the aisle. Five times she’s slept in different beds. Five times a man sent her packing. Five times she’s been rejected. She is no stranger to the sound of a slamming door.
And so she shows up at the well at high noon. The proper people came early in the day when it was still cool. People like her waited for a time no one else would be there so she could avoid their whispers and stares.
- She’s confused too. About life and about worship.
And if you’ve ever felt like her and wanted to cut through all the noise of what everyone else says about worship or writes about worship and just hear what Jesus would have to say then follow her to the well.
That’s where she went. And that’s where she heard what he had to say about worship.
But first he asked her for a drink.
She’s surprised that he would even speak to her. “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?”
She didn’t know who she was talking to. This was no ordinary Jew.
This was someone who understood her well. Jesus was an outcast himself.
Sometimes when you study this passage you will find that a point is made that Jesus broke with tradition to even be at the well.
Some believe that most Jews went around Samaria to avoid the Samaritans. That’s how despised they are.
But Josephus, the first century Roman/Jewish historian, suggested that it was actually the tradition of the Galileans to pass through Samaria because they were despised almost as much as the Samaritans.
Remember Nathanael asking “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” when Philip told him about Jesus? (cf. John 1:46)
Nazareth was in Galilee.
So it may have been that Jesus would normally pass through Samaria anyway.
Jesus was a Jew, yes. But he was a Jew that understood what it was like to be on the bottom rung of society’s ladder.
Jesus was no ordinary Jew. And he was no ordinary Joe.
She must have thought he was interested in her for more than the water. That’s how men had treated her all her life. And she was right.
He was interested in her for more than the water. He was interested in her heart.
And he’s interested in our hearts too. Even when they are confused with things as important as worship.
Maybe that’s why this story is in the Bible. We learn from it that we can bring our confusion and our lives to Jesus. And when we sit down with him for a chat worship might just happen.
It did with this woman. Jesus turns the discussion from the well water to living water. She doesn’t understand him at first.
It may be because the Samaritans only accepted the first five books of the Old Testament and all the references to living water are found in the prophets.
But she’s close. Jesus is right there. And when he offers her living water she wants it and worship starts to happen.
- Worship can happen whenever you are thirsty for God.
And she is. Nothing else has quenched that thirst. Not her people. Not her status. Not men.
Speaking of men, Jesus asks her about her husband. She must have thought, “Things were going great until now! But now—if I’m honest—what is he going to think of me?”
You’ve thought that too, haven’t you? You’ve wondered if you stopped pretending and took off your masks what God would think of you. If so, watch what happens here. If you want to un-confuse worship you don’t want to miss this.
The woman puts on a brave face and says, “I have no husband.” And Jesus yells at her! Jesus gets up and leaves her!
No, you didn’t read that. Jesus simply says “What you have said is true.” Jesus will later say that those who want to worship him must worship him in “spirit and truth.”
The word he uses there and the word he uses here are the same.
Jesus says that...
- Worship can happen to whoever you are if you are truthful with God.
You can be a Jew. A Samaritan. Rich. Poor. Only when we become honest with ourselves before God will we encounter him being faithful to us even though he knows us.
Others will reject us. Some will leave us. Still some will get nervous the more authentic we become.
But Jesus stays with us. Unlike other things we’ve heard that confuse us about worship, Jesus does not seek perfection.
There’s no “putting on your Sunday best” for him. He looks for honesty. He wants truthful worshipers.
And he looks for worshipers that are looking for him wherever they are.
People were saying all sorts of things about worship then too.
The Jews said worship should happened in Jerusalem. Her people said it should happen on Mt. Gerazim which was within sight of the well.
And others in her land said there were other pagan gods that should be worshiped. No wonder she was confused.
But what matters most is what Jesus says.
And Jesus says that...
- Worship can happen wherever you are when you recognize the presence of the Messiah.
The woman discovered she could worship at a well. She discovered she could worship sitting down.
She discovered she could worship in the middle of a routine task. She discovered that worship had to do with seeing Jesus and finding he knows her—sin stained mistakes and all—and still loves her.
That can happen in Jerusalem. It can happen in Samaria. It can happen at a well.
And it can happen for you. You can worship wherever you are: With God’s people. Alone. Singing. Being silent. Praying. Listening. Running errands. Since the Spirit is everywhere you can worship anywhere.
And when you do, you discover one more thing about worship.
- Worship happens when we leave transformed.
The woman put down her jar and picked up joy. She runs back to her town and engages the people she wanted to avoid. She tells them she’s found the Christ they come to him too. And they believe.
Worship can be confusing because of what people say. Next time you’re confused try following this woman to the well.
Listen to what Jesus has to say about worship. You’ll stop concerning yourself with what others are saying.
And you’ll find yourself worshiping instead.
Psalm 42:1-2 (ESV) 1 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that He is the water of life. We worship the Lord because we need Him in our lives.
The Psalms refer often to our worship of God for who he is and what he has done:
Psalm 29:2 (ESV) 2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
Psalm 95:6-7 (ESV) 6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! 7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice,
Psalm 109:30 (ESV) 30 With my mouth I will give great thanks to the LORD; I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
A man told a story about the time his son’s 6th birthday was approaching. He had mentioned he wouldn’t mind a party, and as his son usually was very specific about the kind of presents he liked so the dad asked him what he could get him.
He expected a well planned reply, such as “I’d like a baseball glove; you can find it at Toys-R-Us, aisle 6, below the batting helmets, or a certain; the games are in alphabetical order in aisle 1; its between the Pac Man and Pay Day.”
But his son’s request was a bit different.
He said, “Dad, I’d like a ball to play with for my birthday.” The dad said, “Great, what kind of ball?” “Oh, I don’t know, either a football or a soccer ball.” “Well, which would you want more?”
He said, “Well, and thought about it. Then he said, “If you have some time to play ball with me this year, I’d really like a football so we could throw it back and forth in the back yard. But if you’re gonna be real busy this year, maybe you just better get me a soccer ball, because I can play soccer with the rest of the kids in the neighborhood.”
The dad thought about this and said, “Let me surprise you. How does that sound?” And the little boy smiled and said, “Oh that would be great Dad. I really love you.”
Then the dad went in and shared this little encounter with his wife and together they agreed, their son was not so much interested in the gift. He was interested in the giver.
True worship is not interested in the created but the Creator.
Question’s like -- Did I like the sermon/service/music? -- are the wrong kind of questions. The right question -- Did God like it?
While worship is a deeply personal matter, the practice is an ongoing activity of the church.
If you’ve ever stood among a group of sold-out saints lifting up song together, you know how powerfully individual hearts can unite and work together to create a cathedral anywhere!
KEY APPLICATION: What difference does this make in the way I live?
• We daily acknowledge God for who he is and what he has done for us.
• We worship God, privately and corporately, with the songs we sing, the words we speak, and the way we live our lives.
• When we attribute worth to God as a child of God, unmerited worth is attributed to us.
Since the fall of mankind in the garden of Eden, our greatest struggle is wanting to be our own god.
While most of us would not wish to have the responsibility and burden of calling the shots for the entire world, we do want to be the god of our own lives — to do what we want, when we want, where we want, with whom we want.
Here is why Worship is so important: when we engage in the practice of worship, we crawl off the throne of God, where we do not belong, and crawl onto the altar of God, where we do belong.
The quite amazing exchange when we surrender control and attribute worth to God is that he, in turn, attributes HIS worth back to us as his children.
Worship expresses the relationship we have with God — and the stronger the relationship and the deeper the intimacy, the greater the worship. This then causes a deeper love for God.
I don’t know about you, but I would rather rest in the fact I am a child of God than wear myself out trying to be god. To receive the blessing he does intend for me rather than to bear the burden he never intended for me.
I want to finish the message today by inviting you to join me in giving praise to God using the words of Psalm 150.
Psalm 150:1-6 (ESV) 1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! 2 Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! 3 Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! 4 Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! 5 Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! 6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!