Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sermon--8/20/06--Why Are We Silent In Worship?

Why are We Silent in Worship?

An expressive woman wandered into a very traditional Baptist church service. As the pastor preached, she became so caught up in his message that she exclaimed, “Praise the Lord!” A fellow worshipper leaned over and whispered, “Excuse me, but we don’t ‘praise the Lord’ in the Baptist church.” A man down the pew corrected him: “Yes we do; it’s on page 19!”

So many times we try to schedule and program our worship. That we are only able or only allowed or only need to worship at certain times during the week.

The Bible says we should magnify the Lord and rejoice in Him forever. What does that mean? A minister once wrote:
“One recent evening when the moon was full, I studied it from my back porch. It seemed as clear and close as the globe on the lamp post. Finding binoculars, I steadied them against the railing and magnified the moon. In other words, I focused on it, made it larger in my eyes, and studied it until I was overwhelmed with its ivory plains and dimly outlined mountains, with its splotched craters and jagged edge.
What happens when we magnify the Lord? Just that. We focus on Him, make Him larger in our eyes and study Him until we’re overwhelmed with His brightness; His love, His grace, His care, His power. And when we do that, the next verb comes into play—we rejoice in God our Savior.

Magnifying Christ brings joy to our hearts, joy that levels every mountain and fills every valley. “O magnify the Lord with me and let us commune with me and let us exalt His name forever.”

John 4:1
The issue of worship is vital to our walk in the faith. Yet too often, we are silent in our worship. We aren’t loud enough in our praises. We don’t praise often enough. It’s as if we think worshipping God only happens in church—and nothing can be farther from the truth. The potential for Worship exists, it happens while we are praising Him in every step of the life we are given. In fact it was Jesus’ real point when He was talking to the Samaritan woman in John 4

Here is Jesus, having walked from Judea all day, sitting to rest. He’s by Himself in a neighborhood most Jews of His day avoided because the disciples have left to find food (vs. 8). And Jesus asks a woman of shady character for a drink of water—He reaches out to her.

Will you give me anything to refresh me?

Here, Jesus is asking if this woman is going to take the opportunity to refresh Him—to give, to serve, to worship. This was an unusual situation because in the first place, a Jew wasn’t supposed to associate with Samaritans—vs. 9. Even taking a drink from something she handled would have made Jesus ceremonially unclean and unable to fully participate in Jewish life. Second, most men, especially rabbi’s didn’t speak to unknown women—it was too much of a potentially compromising position.

She said, “How can you ask me for a drink”—nothing I have is right for you, what I have will compromise you.” In other words, she believed that as a Jew, Jesus wouldn’t want anything from her, that He couldn’t really benefit from anything from her. And that is how so many think of God. I’m no good, I’m not worthy—I’m too much of a sinner—there’s no way God would want to have anything to do with me, nothing that He could be happy or blessed with. But that is a lie. God seeks out broken and hurting people to worship Him.

Jesus said in vs. 10—“If you knew the gift of God and Who it is that asks for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” In other words, you don’t know Me or who I am—if you did, if you really understood the gift that God desires to give and the joy it brings Him to see you receive it—then you would be asking me for that refreshment.

Like this woman, you may not think you have anything in your life to refresh God with—you may not think you are good enough or have anything to bless God with—but you do—it is your devotion and your worship.

More and more I believe we are silent about our everyday worship b/c we don’t know what God expects in our worship or as worshippers.

Whether you sing good or not is not the issue. Do not make the mistake of equating singing ability with worship ability. They are not the same things. A great singer can put on a great performance and please the hearts of men and women, but without their heart truly being in or devoted to what they are doing. They may please the church audience, but they don’t necessarily please the Audience of One—the only One that matters.

Our everyday lives are too silent with our worship b/c we have a misunderstanding of what God expects in our Worship and of us s Worshippers.

What God Doesn’t Expect In Worship

1. Complete Understanding
a. Worship is not about how Smart you are or how much you know. There is no education requirement in order to qualify to worship; no GPA minimum, You don’t have to understand or write a paper on Holiness in order to sing—“Holy, Holy, Holy”. There is no Test to Pass before you are given the right to worship. Some of you are probably very happy about that or will be in a few weeks.
b. Vs. 11 shows us that this woman didn’t know what Jesus was talking about, she’s talking about the well, and how Jesus doesn’t have the right tools—“where can You get this living water?”

c. Later in vs. 22—Jesus told this woman that she and the other Samaritans, tried to live a life of worship even though they worship what they don’t really know, what they are unsure of. They struggled because everyday in the back of their minds, they have to be wondering, “what if the Jews are right?”

d. We are called to worship—and sometimes our greatest moments of worship is when we are confused, when we are heartbroken and yet we still cry out to God, we still praise Him in the Storm as a popular song says. We don’t have to understand it all to Praise God! Praise Him for what you do know. Praise Him if all you know of Him is that He loves you; even if the only thing you’re sure of is that He saved you.

e. Knowing you don’t have to have all the answers, knowing that you can worship even in moments of confusion and times of struggle or trial Frees you to pursue God with all your heart soul mind and strength—you will not be silent.

2. God does not expect Moral Perfection—
a. It is not how Good you are. Worship in it’s most real form is a testimony of just how much you need Him.
b. If you were morally perfect, you would be an object of worship, like Jesus, more than a giver of worship. Even Jesus, in His sinless perfection spent a great amount of time worshipping and seeing opportunities to direct others to worship and praise in daily life. Remember, it is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick—it is those who have been forgiven much that often have the greatest awareness of the Grace of God.

c. Too often, you and I let the reality of the sin in our lives keep us from truly praising God at every opportunity. It is our unholiness that truly keeps us from rejoicing in God’s holiness. And yet it is precisely b/c of our unholiness that we need to be about worshipping and singing about His Holiness, declaring His praises.

d. Jesus knew exactly what this woman’s life was like—vs. 16-18. If this were happening today, the last place this woman would feel comfortable in is in church because the sin in her heart. Sin that she knows is wrong, that she up to now, won’t do anything about, is there screaming in her ear that there’s just no way God would want her to be here. That’s why she went to the well alone when she did.

e. But Jesus knew what her moral life was like and yet He still invited her to Worship God for who He really is.

3. The Right Place—
a. Where you are doesn’t matter all that much. You don’t have to be in church in order to worship. Coming to church helps many of us come together and worship God together. This woman, vs. 19, was confused about the whole debate of worship and it was tied to the belief that Location Drove acceptable worship—if only she were in the right spot, then she knew God would hear her better.

b. We act is if our worship won’t count unless we’re standing in the right place. You’ve got to be in your pew in your church, otherwise you’re not truly worshipping God.

c. But we can worship anytime, and anyplace. Jesus said in vs. 23—“a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem”. The location won’t matter b/c God is Spirit—what will matter is His presence—. God is not limited to a spot, a holy place, a shrine, building or anything. As a believer in Christ—You are the Temple of the Holy Spirit—you take God with you wherever you go.

d. He will never leave you nor forsake you and we don’t have to be silent, we don’t have to be afraid. So you don’t have to be in church in order to worship. Instead, you can take any opportunity to praise and glorify God wherever you are, whenever. You can worship Him in the car, in the store, at work, Mon-Fri, 24/7 you have the opportunity to worship.

e. On a related point, God does not, at this point anyway, demand

4. Compulsory Worship—
a. At this time, God does not force anyone to acknowledge or worship Him. Worship has to be a matter of the heart—it is not something manufactured or mandated, parents can’t make you do any more than go through the motions, but True Worship is a genuine expression of a person’s spirit to the heart of God.

b. The Jews and Samaritans were arguing about the How’s and Where’s. They attempted to force people to do worship according to their rules and expectations. People were looking over their shoulder worrying if they were “doing it right.” Worship must be in “spirit and in truth” and God is actively seeking out those who desire to know Him for who He really is, who Respond to His call to Worship Him, and desire above all else to glorify their Savior with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.

c. Worship will only become compulsory when “every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”—Philippians 2:10-11

What God Does Expect In Worship
1. A Desire—this woman, even in her sinful life still had a desire for something more.
a. She wanted more than she had, she knew there was a great longing in her heart “give me this water”—vs. 15. She believed that a Messiah was coming and she was looking forward to it—vs. 25—when He comes, He will explain everything to us” She wanted to know, she wanted it all to be explained to her. She had a desire to truly worship.

2. A Recognition—“I can see you are a prophet”—vs. 19—God desires us to recognize His Greatness, recognize it when He calls us, when He confronts us. He desires us to respond to who He is—He is our Savior, our Creator. When we truly recognize how Great, Awesome and Holy, Jesus is, then we cannot help but respond in true worship.

3. God Desires The Heart of a True Worshipper

a. Worshipping God in your spirit is more than just vocal it is all that you are focusing on His goodness, on His grace poured out on you—with all the distractions put aside.

b. Worshipping God in Truth—is a recognition of who He really is (how big, awesome, worthy & Holy) and awareness of who we really are (small, but valuable to Him and in need of salvation). Truth is also about having the right understanding of Him—the best doctrine—even doctrine is important in worship otherwise we’re worshipping something other than God for who He really is.

c. God seeks out those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth—He pursues them, He cultivates them, He grows them. He is blessed by our worship—it pleases Him, it is like a pleasant aroma.

d. The often overlooked thing about a True Worshipper is

4. An Eagerness to Include Others—vs. 28-29, vs. 39
a. A genuine heart of worship cannot be silent about what God is doing, about what He is teaching. One of the most underrated forms of Worship is Evangelism—fulfilling the Great Commission. Only when you recognize our Awesome God as Worthy of Worship will you truly have the desire to tell others about Him. A Genuine Heart of Worship cannot keep silent but continually sings the Praises of God.

Where are you today? When you examine your worship—do you think you have to know it all, to be morally perfect, or do it in the right place? That’s not the kind of worship God seeks. He seeks and desires broken, sinful people calling upon Him in faith, in spirit and in truth. Are you one of those people? Are you a true worshipper?

It all starts with a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.


Phil said...

At the outset let me state -- this is nitpicking. With that said, I'm a little bothered with your statement "God doesn't expect moral perfection" for worship. I agree that He doesn't "demand" nor "require" moral perfection and certainly He knows He will not "get" moral perfection. However, because of His very nature, I believe He does expect that His redeemed will not sin. Jesus' atoning work also "freed us from slavory to sin" and God could never settle for anything less than sinless perfection. That is why Jesus made us "positionally sanctified" even as we are being sanctified. Certainly, your point about not withholding worship because we know we are not worthy by behavior is well-taken.

Kelly Reed said...


Agreed. This was directed at those members, visitors and/or students who are struggling with "should I even be here, given the state of my life now." The answer of course is yes, you should. Sin wants to keep you from God, God hopes it will drive us to Him.

The call to holiness is expected for all of us as disciples, but sometimes, when we are wandering in our sin, even as believers, we have to go back to the basics, the very beginning and remember God's call to come and worship Him. This is especially true for those who have no relationship with Christ.

That willingness to come even in the midst of sin is where restoration and holiness starts. It is the life of the Prodigal who could have let the pig sty keep him from returning to his father. Ulitimately, Satan wants to keep unbelievers from ever coming to God and he wants to keep believers deceived and weak in their faith by telling them, "you're too dirty." Or the big one--"You've got to get your life cleaned up before you can get back to God." Implying that you do it rather than God.

That did need a greater clarification and addressing so thank you for the opportunity.