March 14, 2011

5 Marks of a Revived Church: Worship

Last week we talked about Truth and being committed to seeking Jesus, Following God’s Word, and being Doctrinally Sound. Today we are looking at the second mark...worship. And over the next couple of weeks we will look at Community, Growth, and Mission.

Since we are talking about worship, I thought I would show this video that Billy sent me...what would it look like if worship

A revived church is committed to being a place where God is worshiped.

As humans we are hardwired to worship. Even if we are not worshiping God; we will worship something.

In a lecture at Oregon State University, Rabbi Ariel Stone said, “For all that it has been sullied and mishandled, there is apparently a need we have for [worship], something that we cannot as human beings do without.”

There is something to which everyone of us will give our time, energy, money, attention, and homage. In my own life, I have found that whatever I spend the majority of my time, energy, and money on...that is what I’m really worshiping, and it isn’t always God. But if we are going to be the church God is calling us to be...we must learn to worship.

The passage we have been reflecting on for this series reminds us of how the early church committed themselves to worship:

Acts 2:42-47 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

The early church wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but they devoted themselves to worshipping God. They saw the necessity of honoring God, of meeting together, and of spending time in prayer.

As we move forward we have to seek to be a worshipping church. True worship must be a mark of our lives too. So we must learn what worship is, and do it.

Throughout the Bible there are several different words we translate as worship, and they can be grouped into two primary categories: words that focus on the one being worshiped and words that focus on the one doing the worshipping.

shachah: "bowing down before an object of honor"
egid: "showing respect" or "doing homage"
gonu and gonupeteo: "bending the knee"
proskuneo: to kiss toward...it was falling flat out in front of...used of the Magi in Matthew.

The primary focus is on the fact that the one being honored and bowed down to is truly worthy of the homage they are being paid. And, while it does describe the action of the worshipper, the worshipper doesn’t bow down to someone who is unworthy.

The second set of words:
abad: "service or work for God"
latreuo: derived from latris - "servant"
leitourgeo: means a work of the people. From which we get the word liturgy...meaning how the service is put together.

The focus here is on the person’s response...because worship is not just a thought in our head, it is expressed through our actions. We gather together, we sing, we learn God’s Word, we live in community, we do acts of service...all of these things are actions which can be done as acts of worship.

Two different aspects of worship are expressed here: first, there is a God who is worthy to be worshipped and second, there is the question of how we express that worship.

So let’s take a moment and give ourselves a working definition of worship.

This is how I define worship...Worship is responding to God’s grace by humbly bowing ourselves to Christ and sacrificially serving God with our lives.

Worship isn’t about style...it isn’t about the music...it isn’t about how I feel or will feel because of it. It is our giving God the honor he deserves and living a life that continually gives honor to Him.

Let’s break this apart.

We are responding to God’s grace...
Worship is first a response. From the beginning, God has been revealing Himself to human beings and calling them to follow Him. Ultimately, Jesus Christ has provided forgiveness for our sins and made a way for us to have a relationship with Him. We can’t save ourselves. We can’t clean up our lives on our own. We need Jesus.

I like the way Tim Keller puts it, “I am far worse than I imagine and simultaneously more loved and accepted by God than I ever dared to hope.”

God acted first...He reveals himself to us and makes relationship available.

It is because of this love and acceptance that we can respond in worship...we don’t need to be reminded of how bad we are or how much we fail...most of us are painfully aware that we are sinful and need God’s forgiveness and love. What we need to realize is that God loves us and accepts us more than we could ever imagine or dare to hope. And when we realize, when the Holy Spirit reveals the power of this love to us...we can’t help but worship.

He was willing to do whatever it took to restore that broken relationship between us and Him, and that makes Him absolutely worthy of our worship.

...humbly bowing ourselves to Christ...
In Middle Eastern cultures as in Asian cultures, bowing is a show of respect and trust. The worshipper bears the back of their neck, the most vulnerable part of their body, to the person...who could strike at any time and take their head.

For us, bowing is a sign of surrender. It is recognizing that God’s way is the best way, and we are submitting ourselves to His leadership.

Part of what kept me from accepting Christ as a teenager was my refusal to surrender to God. I knew He wanted my career, and I didn’t want to be a pastor. He wanted to be in charge, and I wanted to be in charge.

And before I was ever able to worship, I had to relinquish control to Him.

...and sacrificially serving God with our lives.
Worship costs us. It is an act of sacrifice. When the Bible uses words that describe worship as a “service” or “work” it reminds us that worship requires an action and a cost on our part.

One of my favorite stories from King David’s life is the story from 1 Chronicles 21. David, doubting God’s ability to protect him, conducts a census to find out how many fighting men are in Israel. God judges David’s sinful behavior and punishes him. David rushes out ahead of the angel that is bringing judgment to make a sacrifice. He comes upon the a threshing floor owned by a man named Araunah. As King David approaches Araunah bows before him. When David asks for the threshing floor, Araunah wants to give it to him. But David says something that reminds us of an important principle in worship. 1 Chronicles 21:24 says, “But King David replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.’”

So worship is sacrificial, but it also involves our whole life.

I think there is something quite amazing about the Monastic life. I remember reading the spiritual autobiography of the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, and the significant impact it had on my spiritual life. I was overcome with the sense of how much time they spend in prayer and God’s word, and convict by my lack.

One of the unique things about monks is they see all of life as sacred. Even in their work they consider themselves worshipping. “The way monks approach their prayer life and their other forms of labor are all in the same stream..they see work as an offering to God, an act of worship, a way of adoring their Creator. This is called the sacramental life. Seeing all of life as sacred, as worship.”

All of our life...our work...our family time...our play time...all of it can be an act of worship.

Conclusion
So we come back to our definition: Worship is responding to God’s grace by humbly bowing ourselves to Christ and sacrificially serving God with our lives.

Worship is not about

  • the music
  • the style of the service
  • an emotional response
  • or having good feelings

Worship is about God’s action and our response. If we are seeking to honor Him...then we are worshipping.

John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard, says “Too many Christians today focus on a cosmetic view of Christianity in which they see themselves in self-improvement programs. Come to Jesus and get your marriage fixed. Come to Jesus and become prosperous. Come to Jesus and get this or that blessing or whatever thing they are looking for. We emphasize strongly to come to Jesus because He is worthy to be worshipped, whether or not He fixes our marriages or heals our bodies or gives us new cars.”

Jesus is worthy of our worship.

For us as a church, worship shows up in two key areas. Corporate worship and Personal worship. We must be committed to worshiping God as a gathered people on Sundays and in small groups...this is called corporate worship. We must also be committed to worshiping God each day in the privacy our own rooms...that is personal worship.

Huber Heights needs a church that exhibits revived worship...not just in its service on Sunday, but in the daily lives of its members.

So we will equip you to worship God both as a large gathered community of believers on weekends, during our small groups, and during the week in the privacy of homes.

We will form full worship teams that lead us in dynamic, relevant worship that draw our attention to God. We will also develop and train worship leaders to send out into churches we plant and into our world to help others worship God.

We will also draw from almost 2,000 years of Christian history in our worship...finding ways to incorporate the Christian calendar and ancient practices of the Christian faith that will deepen our time with God.

We will be relevant. Which believe simply means we will be ourselves. Music sounds like the music we normally listen to. We will us words and language we would normally use. We will dress like we would normally dress.

We will seek quality and creativity in our worship services using media, music, movies, whatever helps us connect the message of the Bible to our lives so we can draw closer to God and be obedient to Him.

I want to invite you again on this journey we are taking to start a new church, Crossroads Vineyard Church, here in Huber Heights.

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