Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sermon--A Vision of and for Worship- 2/10/08

Here is the audio for this message.

A Vision of Worship

The men are going through the book “Wild at Heart” on Tuesday nights, and so far, it’s been a good discussion. One of the points that is made by the author is that because we are made in the image of God, our hearts are a reflection of God’s heart—more particularly—what we see in Jesus, God in human flesh, should be something that we should seek in us. One of those things we men need to get a handle on is that there are things in this world worth fighting for—because Jesus fought for them—even instigating the fight on several occasions by deliberately healing on the Sabbath. Jesus fought on behalf of people, the book argues, people who are trapped in bondage to the kingdom of darkness, bondage to legalism, bondage to hypocrisy—the people need rescuing and Jesus is willing to pick the occasional fight to see that it is done.

As I was chewing on this concept a bit more, I realized that those were not the only moments that Jesus picked a fight. There was something else that so consumed His heart, so aroused His passion, that to see it violated caused Him to react with a show of force. That was the desecration of His Father’s House and the flippancy expressed in coming into the presence of the Holy God.

Read John 2:13-17

Worship for Jesus was more than just a concept, more than just an idea or something He did once a week—it was something that was and is a part of His life.

In Experience God in Worship George Barna observes the contemporary Christian's view of worship: "Most adults will contend that a Christian has a responsibility to worship God. However, when asked to define what worship means, two out of three are unable to offer an appropriate definition or description of worship.

"Even among the people who consistently attend Christian worship services, apparently for the purpose of worshiping God, the majority does not consider worship to be a 'top priority' in their lives."

He goes on to reveal the true motivation behind many American Christian's attendance at worship services. He says it's to "satisfy or please them[selves], not to honor or please God" (p. 15). We must be cautious of turning our worship and religion into a man-centered selfish pursuit. Worship has always been and will always be about God - whether we recognize it or not.

All of our worship needs to be about God—and there are several things that need to be evident in our worship as a congregation. We need a Vision from God for our Worship.

Let’s look again at a vision that can help us with gain a vision of Worship.

A Vision that Our Worship Would Be Empowered
More important than style, sound or selection of music—we need the Holy Spirit to Empower us. My vision for us at UBC is that the Holy Spirit will empower our worship to bring a greater glory to His Name. The Role of the Holy Spirit is to Empower—He is the Spirit of Truth who points all of us to Jesus—He Reminds and Teaches—and testifies about Him.

Acts 1:8—You Will receive Power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”

All through Acts, when worship is Empowered by the Holy Spirit, several things happen—Jesus is exalted, the Word is spoken with boldness, people are convicted of sin, their hearts are softened to the Good News of the Love of God and Salvation that has been purchased in Christ.

When the Holy Spirit Empowers our worship, our spirits will be awakened to an even greater desire to worship our God & Savior in Spirit and in Truth—a greater desire to glorify His name a greater understanding of His Love that is at work among us—it is when we come together to worship that we have the greatest sense of His Love..

Ephesians 3:17-- And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

EPH 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Without our worship empowered by the Holy Spirit—it doesn’t matter how good of musicians we have, it doesn’t matter which songs we sing—lives will not be changed—God will not receive the greatest amount of Glory.

More than the quality of the singers, more than the professionalism of the musicians, more than the songs chosen—the Empowering of the Holy Spirit is critical for our worship to be powerful, to be effective, to be pleasing to God—critical for us to understand His love that is at work

From the moment we wake up on Sunday morning, it is my heart, desire and vision that the Holy Spirit will begin His work in us to empower us to Exalt and Glorify the Name of Jesus—to testify to His Greatness and Wonder in Our lives.

Isaiah in ch. 6 was given a vision of God in all His Glory—and the foundation of the Temple shook. In Acts 4:31—even a prayer meeting, empowered by the Holy Spirit can shake the foundation.

Holy Spirit Empowered Worship is not easy to quantify, it’s not one that can be manufactured. What it does require are men and women called to the role. One of the arrangements King David made in preparing for the temple is finding those who could serve and minister in as singers and musicians

1CH 25:1 David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals.
25:6-- All these men were under the supervision of their fathers for the music of the temple of the LORD, with cymbals, lyres and harps, for the ministry at the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman were under the supervision of the king. 7 Along with their relatives--all of them trained and skilled in music for the LORD--they numbered 288.

EZR 3:10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel. 11 With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: "He is good; his love to Israel endures forever."

Parallel passage--1 Chron 25:13--Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud, 14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God.

In order for our worship to be truly empowered, we need you to examine your calling. Are you called, do you feel the leading of God to take part in leading this congregation in worship, with your voice, with your talents, with even your leadership?.

You need to know that I am not called to lead worship—I’m doing it until someone is raised up to do it. But be warned—over the last year, I’ve learned that the Worship Team can be a dangerous place

A Vision that Our Worship Would Be Passionate
Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength—it is my desire and vision that you and I hold nothing back from our worship of God.

God deserves our best—He deserves it all—and for us to hold anything back of our heart, soul, mind and strength is dishonoring to the Savior who passionately wept over our stubbornness, who sweat great drops as blood when approaching His sacrifice. I’m not saying that if you’re not weeping with hands in the air, you’re not passionate in worship—but your joy can be seen and felt—your enthusiasm about—where you are, who you are with and the Mighty God you Serve and praise should be evident, not only to God but to those whom you are worshipping with.

Even in the midst of turmoil and struggle, even in the midst of learning a new song—your passion for God can come through—it can be as simple as keeping your eyes on Jesus—not turning to the right or the left when it’s so easy to be concerned about what someone else is doing or what someone else is thinking—it’s not about where they are or what they are doing—it’s about where you are and what you are doing—are you allowing your heart to be distracted—to take your eyes off of Jesus—

When Peter was walking on the water—what was it that caused him to start sinking?

When your worship is Passionate—it’s because your heart is open to His leadership.
2 Samuel 6--David Danced before the Lord and it was acceptable—he laid it all out—held nothing back—taking off his royal robes for the basics—practically his pajamas. When David was criticized by his wife, he said, “I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

Sometimes I wonder standing up here if Smiling is considered disrobing. If a light in your eyes for the Savior of the Universe is undignified. If joy in the heart, that can be heard in the voice during song or during prayer is humiliating. May it never be.

God should not be approached as we are Vulcans—all of our heart, soul, mind and strength I pray we will give in passionate worship.

That We Would Be Responsive in Our Worship
The old line of, “when EF Hutton speaks, People listen”—needs to be said of God. When He speaks, we need to listen, when He moves, we need to be obedient. When He lays something on our heart—we must not ignore it.

When something is said or sung or whatever that you are in agreement with—let it out—don’t be afraid or embarrassed to say Amen. It actually helps me preach better to have evidence that someone is listening.

When moments of prayer are called for, when invitations are given—when burdens need to be lifted—when testimony can be shared, when God lays something on your heart—Respond to Him!

One of the worst things we can do in our walk with God is to ignore Him. To act like nothing has happened—to refuse to respond to His Leadership, His Prompting, His Guidance and Direction.

Response in Worship—in singing, in hearing—is not only for salvation—is not only for some grievous sin—responding in worship has dramatic effects. There is healing, there is forgiveness, there is reconciliation, there is repentance, there is boldness.

Isaiah responded to the glory of God in repentance. His response garnered the atonement of God. Later he responded to the Call of God.
But what also reveals the heart of God is the pain with which God discusses the success of Isaiah’s mission

Isaiah 6:9-10
How many of you, when you pray do so with the hope and expectation that God will not only hear but respond to what you are doing and saying? We worship and expect God to respond, expect God to be pleased, expect God to hear and take notice. We expect Him to respond to us, but there is little demand or expectation for response on our part to Him. I trust that when you and I pray, when we sing, when the Word is read and heard—that God responds—He hears—He is moved. He doesn’t ignore our worship.

If you want God to respond to you then you must be willing to respond to Him. If you want God to take notice of you and your prayers, your songs, then when God asks the questions—whom shall I send, whom shall go for us”, then we must be ready to respond, on the spot with “Here am I—send me.”

A Vision That We Would Be Invitational in Our Worship
It is my desire that our worship is something that is so powerful, so meaningful, so moving that it becomes something that we cannot keep to ourselves. It is something that we would want to share with those who do not know Christ—who do not have a church home—who are struggling and hurting and lonely. Our worship needs to be invitational and intentional—we are not here for ourselves, we are here for God—we are hear that others may be brought into His presence.

That is the goal of God’s Empowering work—the work of the Spirit that is the battle we are to fight. To Be His Witnesses—and when we are faithful in our worship—when it is empowered, when we are passionate—when we are responsive—then our worship will be Invitational—God is a sending God—He is a God who came to seek and to save that which was lost—you and I are essential to that mission.

Zechariah 8:23 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, `Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.' "

If God is with us—it will be attractive and invitational

A Vision That We Would Accept the Call to Worship
Remember that God is seeking worshippers who will worship Him in spirit and in truth—He is calling us to worship Him. You can see evidence of it all the way back in Exodus. “Let my people go, so that they may worship Me”—is a command made not just to Pharaoh, but to the Prince of Darkness as well—Our Savior has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and given us the opportunity to worship Him and even provided access.

In the Past most worshippers were kept at a distance--- EX 24:1 Then he said to Moses, "Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship at a distance, 2 but Moses alone is to approach the LORD; the others must not come near. And the people may not come up with him."

But you and I are invited near—approach the throne of grace with confidence—those who were far away have been brought near—let the little children be brought to me. We need to accept His Invitation and Call

We are called together to worship.

But above being called to worship in the congregation, you may be called to participation

Every Sunday We Need Participation & Leadership
How is God Calling You to Worship? Do you have a vision of Worshipping God in Eternity—Do you have a vision of accepting His call to worship Him this morning, in song, in giving, in the Word? Do you have a call to worship and be a participating or leading? Then Accept the Call
Respond to Him today—right now.

1 comment:

Richard said...

Another inspiring sermon.