Get Real part 5:
Real Worship
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
October 22, 2006

 

Main Passage: Psalm 66:1-9 (NLT)

 

Well, how’s everyone doing so far? We’ve been going for about a half hour, we’ve sung some songs, we’ve greeted each other as the Church, we’ve prayed, we’ve looked into the Word of God… how are you doing?

I do hope you’re enjoying our time here this morning. But let me tell you, I hope you’re here for more than just that. I hope this morning has meant more to you than just some good music. I hope it’s been a time when you’ve been able to enter into worship before God.

Because it’s not about the music, it’s not about attending church, it’s not even about reading the Bible and saying ritual prayers. It’s about worshiping God in His presence. That’s why we’re here. So I hope and pray that you’ve been enabled to worship this morning.

This is our final week in our “Get Real” message series, and I thought we’d finish up with a talk about “Real Worship.” What is Real Worship? What should Real Worship look like? We’ve talked about some of this before, but I thought it’d be good for us to remind ourselves what “Real Worship” is. So…

 

What Is Real Worship?

Well, it can be lots of things. It can be obeying God and trusting the direction He gives to our lives. It can be expressing gratitude to Him for the many ways He has gifted us and blessed us. It can be service that we perform for others in the name of Jesus. It can be singing His praises with all our heart. Worship is so much more than what normally comes to mind when we say the word, “worship.” So let me give you a definition of worship that covers all of these things…

Worship is our response of love to the presence of God.

It’s our response of love to God’s presence in our lives. It can be expressed as the praise that we give Him, it can be our obedience to Him, it can be how we honour Him and put Him first, not last, when it comes to our resources, it can be how we seek His direction for our lives, it can be how we allow His love to flow through us to others… all of that is Worship. It’s much more than 20 minutes of music on Sunday morning. Worship can be expressed through every aspect of our lives every day of our lives. It’s not just the music we sing, it’s not just the words we say, it’s not just the things we do… Worship is a way of life.

“Worship is a lifestyle. It’s not just about leading worship on Sunday morning. It’s getting to know the guy at the Mexican restaurant or the person you see at the grocery store. God has so many facets of worship.”
~ Michael W. Smith, from All Access, “Invitation To Worship,” August 2001

“Understand that worship is more than just the songs we sing or the time in church that those songs are sung. Worship is an attitude and a lifestyle. Don’t limit yourself by believing that it’s just the music. Live it. This is what true worship is all about.”
~ Mike Janke, “Is This Worship?” September 5, 2001

So this morning we’re going to expand on that and talk about what it means to live a life of Real Worship. What is real worship like? And to describe it, let me give you an acronym for “Worship.”

 

Real Worship will be...

Wholehearted

Real Worship should affect every area of your life everyday of your life. It should be an expression of everything you are to the glory and honour of God. And so it’s not just singing a few songs while organizing your shopping list in your mind. True worship requires every part of you to be focused on giving Him the honour He alone deserves.

“Worship must be genuine and heart-felt. It’s not just a matter of saying the right words; you must mean what you say. Heartless praise is not praise at all! It is worthless, and an insult to God.”
~ Rick Warren

Read this verse with me…

Psalm 105:3 (CEV)
Celebrate and worship his holy name with all your heart.

Underline “with all your heart.” And in the book of Deuteronomy, it expands on that just a little…

Deuteronomy 30:10 (CEV)
But you must decide once and for all to worship him with all your heart and soul and to obey everything in The Book of God’s Law.

Underline “with all your heart and soul”. In fact, in another place, it says to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mark 12:30). That’s loving Him and worshiping Him with everything you’ve got. That’s what our worship should be. It should also be…

 

Obvious yet personal

Now, when I say “obvious”, I’m not saying that you should try to show off when you’re worshipping God. But I am saying that you also shouldn’t hide it, either.

Let me ask you this: in the Old Testament, where was worship of God the most obvious? What place? It was the temple, wasn’t it? Why? Because the temple was the visible representation of God among His people. It was the visible dwelling place of God. Now jump forward to the New Testament, and what do we discover? We discover that the temple is no longer just a place… we are now the temple of God.

1 Corinthians 3:16 (NIV)
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?

1 Peter 2:5 (NLT)
And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple.

So now we are the visible presence of God. We are now His visible dwelling place on earth. We… you and me… not a building… We… are the temple of God. We are the visible presence of God in this world, and so just like worship was obvious in the temple of the Old Testament, it needs to be obvious in us… in our lives… today. It shouldn’t be a secret… it should be visible.

But at the same time, our worship should not be dependent on having others around to witness it. Because it’s not a show. And so, while it should be obvious, it should also be personal. Not private, but personal.

Let me give you an example… the Pharisees, the religious leaders in Israel at the time of Jesus. They’d love to put on a show and make their worship obvious, but then neglected the personal part. In fact, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus attacked this hypocrisy that was so evident in their lives. He said…

Matthew 6:2,5,16 (NLT)
“When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity!...
“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them…
“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting.”

The problem here wasn’t so much that people knew they gave to the needy, or that they prayed, or that they fasted. The problem was, that was why they did those things… so people would know. For them, their expressions of worship were not personal, they were promotional. They were promoting themselves, instead of promoting God. And that, my friends, is not Real Worship.

So don’t be like them. Let your worship be obvious, yes. It shouldn’t be a secret that you worship God. But let it also be personal. If worship is a way of life for you, it shouldn’t matter if there are people around who notice or not.

 

Regular but not routine

It should be ongoing in your life, but be careful that you don’t just end up going through the motions.

Let me talk about the times we offer worship to God through music here at Sunrise. One of the things we want to avoid is getting to the point where we get so comfortable with our songs or so bored by them that we stop thinking about them. That’s why we introduce new songs… and why we revamp old ones from time to time. We try to keep our music fresh so that your worship will be fresh… and not the same old, same old. Read this verse with me…

Psalm 33:3 (NIV)
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.

So let me encourage you, when we’re singing here on Sunday mornings don’t just dismiss it as preliminary to what’s really important. Because our music is not just a warm-up for the message. It’s a time to connect with God, it’s a time to worship Him. And because of that it’s as important if not more important than anything else we do. Use that time to think about the words and reflect on who God is to you and focus yourself on Him and offer to God the worship that He deserves.

But that’s just Sunday morning. We’re talking about making worship a way of life. Our worship of God should permeate into every area of our lives, every day… In everything you do, do it with a heart of adoration and gratitude and obedience to God. And don’t let it grow old… never dismiss the importance of that. Read this aloud with me…

1 Chronicles 16:11 (CEV)
Trust the LORD and his mighty power. Worship him always.

 

Sacrificial

In 1 Chronicles 21 there’s an interesting event in the life of David. David wanted to buy some property… a threshing place… from a man named Araunah so that he could build an altar there to worship the Lord with a sacrifice. But when David asked, Araunah answered telling him that he could have the place for free. In fact, he offered to not only give him the place but also the oxen and grain that may be used on the altar. But look at David’s response:

1 Chronicles 21:24 (CEV)
But David replied, “No! I want to pay you what they’re worth. I can’t just take something from you and then offer the LORD a sacrifice that cost me nothing.”

True worship will cost you something, whether it’s time or money or reputation or energy or anything else. God doesn’t want your leftovers, and frankly he doesn’t deserve that. He deserves our very best.

That’s why you make being here a priority. That’s why you schedule to read your Bible and pray each day. If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen. That’s why you tithe and give back to God from what He has given you. And you do it right off the top, instead of waiting to see what’s left at the end of the week. That’s why you get involved in ministry, serving God by serving others, even when sometimes you don’t feel like it. Because Real Worship will cost you something. It will involve sacrifice.

 

Honouring to God

Isaiah 58:6-7 (CEV)
I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the LORD. Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly. Free those who are abused! Share your food with everyone who is hungry; share your home with the poor and homeless. Give clothes to those in need; don’t turn away your relatives.

(Well, with Christmas approaching, maybe you needed to be reminded of that last part.)

What are these verses telling us? They’re telling us that our worship needs to be pure and authentic. It needs to be practical, not just abstract and theoretical. It should lead you to do things that are pleasing to God.

You know what? You can clean toilets and worship God, if you do it in a way that’s honouring to Him. In fact, last weekend, we had planned to go to the businesses downtown and offer to clean their toilets, just to express the love of God to those business owners in a practical way. Rosita and I were the only ones there. Frankly, I was disappointed with that. And so we’re going to do it again in about three weeks. So you’re on notice. See you there.

Actually, did you know that one of the times the apostle Paul was arrest and thrown into prison, he was very likely sitting in a prison that doubled as a sewer? And what did he do there? He worshipped God. I figure, if Paul can worship God while sitting in a toilet, I can worship God while cleaning one.

 

Impacting My Life

“It is only when men begin to worship that they begin to grow.”
~ Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933), U.S. Republican politician, president. Speech, 6 July 1922, Fredericksburg, Va.

Now remember, worship is really for the benefit of the one we worship. So our worship is really for God. But God, being God, is innately selfless. So when you worship Him, He gives back to you. And so when you worship God, you will see an impact on your own life.

How does God do that? Well, He gives you a feeling of satisfaction that you’re doing what you were meant to do… worship Him. You will not be fully satisfied with life until you begin to worship God.

He also reveals Himself to us as we worship. You learn more about who He is and what He’s really like. You come to know Him better and love Him more.

Plus, we experience the peace of God as we worship. Our problems may not disappear, but they certainly fade. We gain a new perspective on life as we worship. There’s an old hymn that expresses this thought… in fact, Alan Jackson has recently redone this song… if you know it, sing it with me…

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
~ Helen Lemme

So when we worship, it changes our outlook on life. And it also impacts us in the way that God transforms us into the people He intends for us to be.

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

It’s our spiritual act of worship to present ourselves to God and allow Him to transform our lives. When we worship, we become more like what we worship. So as we worship God, He makes us more like Him.

 

Prayerful

Prayer and worship are interconnected. In fact, let me show you this. Matthew 21:13 is translated in the Contemporary English Version as…

Matthew 21:13 (CEV)
He told them, “The Scriptures say, ‘My house should be called a place of worship.’”

But the New Living Translation translates the same passage into English with these words;

Matthew 21:13 (NLT)
He said, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a place of prayer’…”

The same word is translated as both “worship” and “prayer”. Obviously, there’s a connection between the two. If “prayer” is the word we use to describe communicating with God, then “worship” is expressing our love for God through prayer. You can’t worship Him without connecting with Him. And so our worship needs to be prayerful.

 

So let’s review… Real Worship will be…

Wholehearted
Obvious yet personal
Regular but not routine
Sacrificial
Honouring to God
Impacting My Life
Prayerful

So how about you? Are you worshipping God? Are you living in harmony with Him? Do you communicate with him regularly, privately and publicly? Do you offer to Him everything you’ve got, because you know that’s what He deserves? Can you express your love to Him freely and fully?

 

Just as we finish up here, we’re going to take the time to sing two or three more songs. And what I want to ask you to do is, make these more than songs. Use these songs as a vehicle for your worship.

 

The Heart of Worship
Here I Am to Worship
I Give You My Heart
May the Words of My Mouth

 

 

 

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