Fervent in Worship

This lessons examines the who, what, where, when, and why of worship according to the New Testament.
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The focus of this lesson is worship. So fervent in spirit, fervent in biblical worship. Well, you know, this is a pretty big subject, one, 30 minutes, where do you start? Well, the approach I'm going to take are the five Ws.

Who, what, where, when, why. I figured, you know, if newspaper people can, you know, take on a story and try to give information about something, usually the basic thing is, you answer the five Ws, who what where when why, and if you manage to answer those questions, you know, you probably have done justice to the topic.

So since I only have one lesson to cover a very broad topic, we're going to take that five W approach. There we go, okay. Now all systems are go. So who, what, where, when, why. We're going to start with who, when and why and I'll ask you to look at Exodus chapter 20, open to Exodus chapter 20, and we're going to read a passage there to take a look at the who in biblical worship.

And so in Exodus 20 it says, Then God spoke all these words, saying I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them, for I the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me but showing loving kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. And so worship, first and foremost, according to this passage, we recognize this as the commandments, the Ten Commandments given to Moses, Exodus 20, the first and foremost idea has to do with God.

The true God, who, you know when you ask about worship, who? Who are you worshiping? Well, you're worshiping the true God, as a matter of fact the first commandment, the very first, stipulates not only that there is a God, because at the very beginning the commandment says, I am the Lord your God, I am God, the one who's giving you this command, these commandments, I am God.

And in this very first commandment, He establishes this as a priority. He establishes this as a history and as a demand. And so what's He saying here, if we're looking at biblical worship? The who? Well, He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, 'cause you're asking, well, there are lots of gods, which god? And so historically, if we want to get a historical context, the God we worship, if I had to explain it to someone else, I'd say, I worship the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses, not to be confused with any other god, worshiped by others that have another history.

That is not attached to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses. He is not the god of Ishmael. Ishmael's people were not in captivity and freed from Egyptian bondage by miracles. The first commandment doesn't mention Ishmael, makes no reference to whatever gods that those people in history worshiped.

The god of, you know, I hear people say, you know, Mohammed's god and the Buddha god and your God, it's all the same god. No it's not. God said I am the God, and then He puts into historical context who He means when He tells them, I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and by extension forward.

And so, worship is only to be made to Him. When we worship, He is the God that we must worship. He permits no other god to be worshiped. So the answer to the question who do we worship is, we worship the God whose history of interaction with humanity is connected to the Jewish race and then through Jesus Christ and His apostles to those who believe in Him today and forward in that line.

And in doing so, we reject the deity of any other god connected to any other human history as false. And any human depiction of these gods as idolatry. Statues and images used to represent the various deities and various religions, I mean an idol is an idol.

It doesn't matter if there are a billion people that worship that idol, an idol is an idol. Makes no difference. And so the God of the Bible is the only God we worship and the only God that we acknowledge as God, the only God that we respect as God.

I can respect that someone has different beliefs and worships something else than I do, I can respect the reality of that, but I don't respect that god as God. There is a big difference. And so we go to the next question, the when and the why? You know, we answered the who, who is it that we worship? Well, the when and the why.

Exodus again, chapter 20, beginning in verse eight, says, Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy, six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God, in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or female servants or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.

For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day, therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. We worship this God of the Bible because He commands it.

Now, in the short time that we have, I can't get into the debate over the sabbath, that's a whole lesson unto itself, you know, whether we should keep the sabbath on Saturday as some groups do, I mean I believe that we accurately worship on Sunday, the Lord's Day, given that we have many New Testament examples and teachings that support this practice, for example, the Lord was resurrected on a Sunday, let me get to that slide, there we go.

The Lord was resurrected on a Sunday, not on the sabbath. The apostles and early church met for worship on Sunday, not on Saturday. Paul the apostle speaks of Sunday worship as the regular practice of the church and so the New Testament changes the focus and the practice of worship, but not the idea that it's commanded.

See the difference? We don't do it on the same day that the Jews did, we don't do exactly the same things, but the idea that it's a command, that hasn't changed. In Hebrews, let's go to Hebrews, chapter 10, a familiar passage.

The writer says, and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins. I want you to notice something about this passage. Note here that the writer is talking about the practice of worship and that we should not neglect doing it.

But I want you, and we usually stop at verse 25, because that makes our point for us, you know. Don't forsake the assembly as is the habit of some, we make that point, but we don't often read verse 26.

Note that in the very next verse, he talks about sinning willfully. And this of course refers to all sin in general, but it also includes forsaking the worship specifically. I mean, choosing not to worship is a wilful sin.

That's the point here. So my point is that there are many spinoff benefits that come from worshiping God in the public assembly. I mean, it's a great witness for our faith. It builds our faith, you know, faith comes by hearing and hearing the words of Christ at the assembly, we hear the word of God, three times, if we wish.

In class and during the sermon, and during worship and then in the evening worship so we're built up in our faith. It stimulates fellowship, because, you know, we probably don't see most of the people, most of our brothers and sisters during the week, we get to see them here.

So it builds a sense of fellowship. And, I mean, this isn't, you know, it feels good. I feel good when I come here. I feel good when I leave, I've heard God's word and I've taken the communion and I've, you know, hugged my brother and sister, so it feels good, but listen.

These are the blessings. This is not the reason why we come. So to answer the question when and why do we worship, we worship on the Lord's day because God commands it. That's the when and the why. The other things are blessings that come with it.

When we do, we obey. When we don't, we disobey. That's the nature of a command, it's given for us to obey, and when we don't, we're against God's will. Okay, so we've looked at the who, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.

We've looked at the when, the Lord's day, we've looked at the why; it's a command. Let's look at the where and the what, shall we? Where? Well, where is the shortest and easiest question to answer. And the answer is, it doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter. In First Corinthians chapter 11, verse 18, Paul says; For in the first place, when you come together as a church. Stop there. When you come together as a church. Now listen. Paul doesn't say, when you come together at the church.

He says when you come together as the church, which would indicate that a certain type of place or structure was required, if it was at the church. But he said when you come together as a church, demonstrating that the actual assembling together of Christians for the purpose of worship, this is the church.

As we often say, the church is not the building, the church is the people inside the building. We know that, that's pretty basic stuff. And yet sometimes, we spend way more time and money and energy ministering to the building rather than ministering to the actual church.

Because we're human. So we, so in the New Testament anyways, we see churches, they're meeting in, well at first they met in the temple, the temple area, is where they first started. And we see them meeting in private homes, Romans 16:5, schools, Acts 19:9, then in the second century or so they begin building, buildings specifically designed as Christian meeting places, and this picture here, interesting, the oldest dig of a Christian church building, from the second century, it's in Syria, and some say well how do you know, was there a sign on the door? Well, no, but there were frescoes, there were paintings that they, once they dug up and they, actually one of the paintings on the wall, on one of these walls here, was Jesus walking on the water.

And there was a baptistry, design of where the water was, and a place where they met and so on and so forth, and so they began building buildings. We can go into the theological aspect of this, certainly in the first century, many Christians thought, many early Christians thought, well Jesus would return in their own lifetime, so why build a building, you know, it's temporary, we're just, a few years, he'll be back.

And eventually a lot of the Christians began to pass away, the apostles began to die and so on, and they realized, well he's not coming back right away, and they began to look again at what he said, and he didn't say he was coming back right away he just said, you don't know when I'm coming back.

And so, a more permanent structure began to develop, with buildings, and of course that's when we began collecting the books of the New Testament to have a canon. So the answer to the question, where do we worship is, we worship where the saints decide to meet in order to worship God.

Whether it be a home or a public building or other building that enables them to do this, in a decent and an orderly fashion. You know, if we didn't have to, we certainly wouldn't meet in somebody's garage, unheated garage, with grease on the floor, you know, we wouldn't meet over at Harrington's, Sunday morning, inside one of the bays, that, I don't think we could do what we need to do in a decent and orderly fashion, but other than that, it can be any building.

I mentioned this before, there was a church in Ontario, Canada, and they purchased the synagogue. Synagogue was for sale, many of the members of that particular synagogue were older and they just, they sold their building, and the church, the members of the church bought that building, and aside from a few changes, they didn't change a whole lot.

The seating and everything, the way it was designed, was pretty much the way that our church buildings are designed. Well then we get to the what. You know, what. What are we do do? And how do we worship God? And we know that there's been, you know, no end of debate and writing of books trying to answer this question.

But it is safe to say that worshiping God is not about what we want to do, but rather about what God wants to do. It's not about what I want, it's about what does God want of me, because I'm worshiping Him, He's not worshiping me.

After all, He commands it, and He provides the guidelines of what He requires in both the Old and New Testament. I'm always amazed when I see groups, you know, saying that we're a Christian group, we're a Christian church, that have no rhyme or reason for their worship practice, they do what they feel like doing.

And I don't see how they can justify that. Well, you know, we're in the New Testament, we're under the period, we're under grace, not law. And somehow assume that that means they can just do any old thing.

And since God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, the same God that the Jews worshiped, where their practice of worship was carefully articulated by God, in some areas under the pain of death, this is the same God we worship, why would He not provide instructions for how to worship Him in the New Testament? It's the same God.

So, I've divided this up, the what, again we could go long on this, but I've divided it up into what does He want on the inside of us, and what does He want on the outside. So what does God want on the inside of those who worship Him? Well certainly He wants faith.

The writer of Hebrews says: And without faith it's impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him or of those who seek Him.

Our worship is motivated by faith. To me, the gold standard of faith is what we do in obedience to God. That's the gold standard, what I'm doing, I'm doing not to try and save myself or to make myself, you know, look better, I'm doing it because I believe this is what God wants me to do, and I'm putting my whole energy into that.

So faith is the motivating factor, that's one thing that God wants on the inside. Another thing He wants is devotion, Acts 2:42, listen, they were continually devoting, not just devoting, continually devoting, that work in the Greek actually means to cling.

Imagine if you're on a sailboat and you're in the middle of the Atlantic and there's a hurricane that comes, you know, I don't know about you but I know where I'd be, I'd have both hands and both legs around the mainmast and I would be continually, sorry, continually devoted to that main pole there.

You know? That's the essence of this word here. Not just I go to worship, I am devoted to it. Another thing that I believe God wants, the Scriptures tell us is, sincerity. Again, Hebrews 10:22. Let us draw near with a sincere heart and full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil presence and our bodies washed with pure water.

Our worship reflects our lives. And our lives reflect our worship. No matter the way of worship, you know in the sense that it's different from the Old to the New Testament, the things we do are different, these basic things God requires of all of, all people who have always worshiped Him.

You know, beginning with Abel through Moses, through David, through Solomon, through Jesus, through the apostles, through to this very day. Can anyone say that God did not desire these things from inside His worshipers? Faith, devotion, sincerity.

Alright, what does God want from the outside, this is where the arguments usually come. What does God want from the outside? Well first of all, He wants praise and thanksgiving. Ephesians chapter five, verse 18 to 20 says, and do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but how? Be filled with the Spirit, okay, how are you filled with the Spirit? Jumping up and down, getting all hot and sweaty, speaking in tongues, is that how you're filled with the Spirit? Listen to what he says; Be filled with the Spirit and then he explains, speaking, not yelling, shrieking, rolling around on the floor.

Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns. Oh, wait a minute, yelling and screaming are sounds that no-one can understand? No no no no no. Speaking to one another how? In psalms, oh, psalms, we have psalms.

We have words. And hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father. I don't think that's too complicated.

I don't see how this can be misinterpreted, he says, you know, don't get drunk. Be filled with the Spirit and here's how you can be filled with the Spirit. You know, now, here's where our approach to the Bible differs from most other groups claiming to be, you know, Christians.

We believe that the praise part here is in song that should be done without the use of mechanical instruments and again, that's a whole group of lessons, but we know that the words that are used to describe this kind of praise, the context in which it's used, the history of the church in the early times for the first several centuries, used vocal praise, so singing and making melody in your heart, what was understood by the apostles and the early church was singing, singing without the use of instruments, so if you're wondering where does that doctrine of ours, and it's not our doctrine, it's a biblical doctrine, but the one that we've kind of put some emphasis on, where does it come in? Well it comes in right here.

What does God want from the outside? Well he wants, among other things, He wants praise and how does He want us to praise Him? When we're together as an assembly while singing and making melody in our hearts to Him.

What else does God want on the outside? Well, He wants remembrance and witness. First Corinthians, chapter 11, 23 to 26, For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks He broke it and said This is My body, which is for you, do this in remembrance of Me.

Continues, in the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood, do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim, and how does it put it here, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.

So what else does He want? He wants praise and thanksgiving, He wants remembrance and witness. Now the major difference between worship in the Old and New Testament is that their worship pointed to something yet to come.

And our worship is a witness of what has come and will come again. That's the main difference. This is why Old Testament worship was a ritualistic reminder of sin and death and the hope of salvation to come.

Their whole system was built around those ideas. And New Testament worship is a witness that sin has been atoned for and those saved are waiting for heaven. Our New Testament worship is designed, has been given to us to reinforce these ideas, day after day and week after week.

And so what else does God want in our worship, on the exterior, remembrance and witness, and then a third thing He wants, edification and sharing, Acts Two, 41 to 47. Ah, let's read just a little, it says; So then those who had received His word were baptized and that day there were added about 3,000 souls.

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe, and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles, and all those who had believed were together and had all things in common.

And they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity praising God, having favor with all the people, and the Lord was adding to their number day by day, those who were being saved.

See the edification part, the building up part, see the sharing part? New Testament worship includes the building up of the church through the teaching of God's word and the sharing of lives, and the sharing of resources in the name of Christ for the service of the saints as well as the service to the lost.

Again, remember, this is a snapshot, this is compressed here. So in answer to the question what, or what do we do in order to worship the true God? Worship involves the whole being, if I were to answer that question.

New Testament worship involves the whole being. The inward man and woman comes to God in faith and sincerity and devotion, this is how he is or she is as a person. And this worshiper brings to God not just any old thing, not actions or rituals of their own design or their own choosing, this worshiper brings acceptable worship required and described by God in His word.

And all of it designed to honor and explain and remember and share the cross, the teachings and the life of Jesus Christ. The Lord is always at the center of every part of New Testament worship. Alright, so that's the five Ws of worship.

Now, maybe it would be a good idea if we talked about what the theme was of this particular lesson, 'cause all of this was just introductory material and we have eight minutes left for the actual lesson.

How does what we've just talked about, how does this factor into the idea of fervency in worship? In other words, what defines fervency in worship? How do we cultivate? Because we've talked about the five W, who what where when why of worship, but how does fervency, this feeling, this emotion, this attitude, how do we cultivate that? Well, in a couple of ways.

First of all, make it a priority. We're answering the question, how is our worship fervent? How are we fervent in worship? Make it a priority. Let me give you an example. If you had tickets to a Thunder Heat championship game, here in Oklahoma City, would that be a priority for you? You basketball fans? You got two courtside seats to the Thunder Heat championship game.

And it's on a Friday night, and your wife says to you, hey listen up, do you mind, you know, taking the kids to the birthday party over at Jolene's at seven o'clock? Uh uh, uh uh, got the tickets, sorry.

You're going to have to get your brother to do that, or you have to go, I got the tickets. And your boss says, you know Friday, I'd really like you to stay late, you know, kind of work on those reports.

Uh, well maybe Thursday night I'll come in, I'll come in on Saturday but Friday, I got those [clicks tongue] got those stubs, big game. And your mother calls you up and says why don't you guys come on over for supper Friday night, I'm making your favorite meal? Oh Mom, sorry, got two tickets, doesn't happen very often.

And surely, you wouldn't bring your Toyota in to have it, have the spark plugs changed and do a little work, even if the service manager says, Oh, we'll have it ready for you five o'clock, guaranteed, uh uh uh [laughs], I see the mechanics out there smiling.

Sorry, I got a priority. I think you're seeing where I'm going this, right? Worshiping God on the Lord's day is a command of God. It is the first command that He gave when His commandments were actually written down.

I cannot imagine not making it and treating it as a priority because God has made it a priority. And so my fervency is measured by my priorities. If the worship of God is not a priority, then there is not much fervency.

'Cause those two things snap together. Secondly, make it reverent. Sometimes I wonder if we realize that the God we worship actually sees us. You know, we're in the place where the worship takes place, but some are not in the spirit of worship which is reverence.

We're checking our cellphones. Never mind does God see you, I see you. [laughs] You're all looking at me but I'm looking at you. Or when Marty's up here, he, and if you're up here, you get a better view, right Marty? I can almost read what you're playing, Donkey Kong or whatever.

[congregation laughs] Throw crazy chickens, whatever you do. [congregation laughs] I see you talking to each other in the middle of the sermon. I see you playing with your children instead of training them about the difference between regular time and worship time.

I see you enjoying the rest of your breakfast in the middle of worship and I have proof because I'm here after worship and I see the coffee cups and the wrappers. You know, George W. Bush, a former President, had a rule that his staff and visitors could not come into the Oval Office without a tie and jacket for men, and proper business attire for women.

And he said, he made this rule because he wanted to nurture respect, not for himself, but for the office of the President. You did not walk into the Oval Office in your shorts. You didn't come into the Oval Office with a Hawaiian shirt.

You understand what I'm saying, you didn't go in there with flip-flops because you, well you couldn't get in. His secretary would just turn you away. You know, not shirt, no top, no President. And the reason he did that is the President before him had allowed the dress code to become rather lax, and we saw what happened with that.

So, my fervency for worship is demonstrated by the degree of respect that I demonstrate during worship. I mean, the high priest would be on his face, face to the ground, when he came in the presence of Almighty God.

Should it be inwardly, should we have a different attitude? It's the same Almighty God. Thirdly, how can we cultivate fervency in worship? Make it worthy of sharing. My zeal for worship should move me to want to share its blessings with others.

I love this passage of scripture. I was glad when they said to me, let us go to the house of the Lord. I am always happy to come to the house of the Lord. To be with God's people. And then another passage we've read already, but it fits this context.

And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day come near.

Fervency is contagious. You don't teach it, you don't learn it, you catch it. You catch it. You're influenced by it. The person who sits next to you in worship is focused on the worship. During the communion they're reading their Bible, they're focused on what's being said, they're amen-ing when there's an amen to be given, they're singing, that's another pet peeve of mine.

We don't sing. Now I understand someone who's new, you know, has not had experience in church, never seen these songs before, I get that part, you know, you have to learn, I was there one time myself, I didn't know what these songs were.

When I became a Christian at the age of 30. Well we don't have that many people who are that un-churched in this congregation and yet, the song leaders, Bob Aldridge and Bob Chilton, Harold Weaver, all the song leaders out there, you, you know it, you're looking out and there are people standing and their lips aren't even moving.

I would encourage you, move your lips, okay? [congregation laughs] Encourage me. No sound needs to come forth, but pretend at least, you know, move your lips. Because if you move your lips, maybe somebody else, who just was moving their lips, may decide, well maybe some sound could come out.

My fervency in and for worship is pleasing to God and it draws others to worship Him as well, in spirit and in truth. Alright, well, I hope this lesson on fervency and worship has given you, hopefully some insight into the nature and purpose and practice of worship.

And I also hope that it will stir you to greater zeal in worshiping the only true God, the only true God, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses, and Jesus, the God of the Bible. Alright, well that's our lesson for this morning, Thank you, we'll see you again next time.

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