Lets start out this morning by turning in the Bible to Acts 2:40, for the last couple of weeks we have been looking closer at the beginning of the church and last week we discussed how the day of Pentecost brought forth the birth of the church.
Through that birth a mass amount of new coverts began to do something that they had never done before.
“Giving God all Glory”
North America is the only continent on earth where Christianity is not growing.
Only 17.5% of the population of the US attends church on a regular Sunday.
During the 1990’s there was a 19.4% decline in church attendance.
85% of churches in America are plateaued or declining.
Only 12% of children raised in Bible Believing churches stay in the church after age 18.
With our large population of unchurched individuals, we are the 4th largest mission field.
If this is all true, why is it, and what can we do about it?
I think I know why or at least part of the reason.
Its been tipping in this direction for decades.
The church just doesn't Give God the Glory or Worship He deserves.
God isn't going to bless something that has been taken away from Him or that doesn't represent Him genuinely.
When I read about the early church I see one very important thing that they did that I believe contributed to their success as a church.
Its not the numbers, nor is it what they did for each other, all though all that this good and important stuff but it isn't what made them highly favored of God.
There is one thing they did well that was the contributing factor that stemmed to all the other things they did for each other.
Take a closer look at Acts 2:47.
They praised God, worshipped Him gave Him all the Glory.
Our primary purpose in our Christian walk is to Glorify God.
But what does that look like?
Giving Glory to God is to Worship Him alone.
But again what does that look like?
You and I are Not Supposed to 'Get Anything Out of the Service'
Worship is not about you and me.
Not about "getting our needs met."
Not about a performance from personalities like the pastor or singers or musicians.
To make it about us is to direct all the glory to ourself and we all know that isn’t right.
God alone deserves all the Glory.
So don’t feed into the temptation to make church or any other type of ministry about you.
Make it about God.
Focus on Him and Give Him all the praise.
Worship is About the Lord!
We are in church to give.
Not to get.
Now, if I am going somewhere to "get," but find out on arriving, I am expected to "give," I am one frustrated fellow.
And that is what is happening in the typical church service.
People walk out the door frustrated because they didn't "get."
The reason they didn't is that they were not there to "get," but to "give."
We are giving glory to God.
Not to man.
We know that.
At least we say we do.
How many times have we recited, "...for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory"?
And did we not just sing this morning the song, “To God be the Glory, Great things He has Done.”
We do so because glory is His right.
He is "worthy of worship."
This is the theme of the final book of the Bible.
"Who is worthy?"
"You are worthy...for you were slain, and have redeemed us"
"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain"
If your focus is on yourself when you enter the church--getting your needs met, learning something, hearing a lesson that blesses me, being lifted by the singing--then Christ has no part in it.
Now please understand me here, learning something about God, and growing in Him is important only because through that growth in learning more truths about life in God helps enhance your Worship of God.
The typical congregation in the average church today really does think the service is all about them--getting people saved, learning the Word, receiving inspiration to last another week, having their sins forgiven, taking an offering to provision the Lord's work throughout the world.
Anything wrong with those things?
But if we go to church to do those things, and thats all we are doing and we think God is pleased with us for doing them we are sadly mistaken.
That is not True Worship.
2. We are to Give Him Worship and Glory in the Ways Scripture Commands
Singing, praise, rejoicing.
Praying, offering, humbling, loving.
All these are commanded in worship at various places in Scripture.
The Lord Jesus told the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well, "Those who worship God must worship in spirit and in truth"
That is, with their inner being, the totality of themselves, their spirit, not just their lips or their bodies going through the motions.
And in truth--the revealed truth of how God has prescribed worship to take place.
He is not pleased with "just anything" that we claim as worship.
When Lawrence of Arabia was in Paris with some of his Arab friends after World War I, he took them to see the sights of the city.
His friends showed little interest in the Louvre, the Arch of Triumph, or Napoleon’s tomb.
The thing that really interested them was the faucet in their bathtub.
They spent much time turning it on and off; they thought it was wonderful.
All they had to do was turn the handle and they could get all the water they wanted.
When they were leaving Paris, Lawrence found them in the bathroom with wrenches, trying to get the faucet off so they could take it with them.
You see, they said, it is very dry in Arabia.
What we need are faucets.
If we have them, we will have all the water we want.
Lawrence had to explain to them that the effectiveness of the faucet depended on the water system to which it was attached.
Worshipping God in Spirit and in Truth reminds us that the effectiveness of all that we do in the church is not to be found in outward activity or service, but in the One who stands behind it.
3. Remember: Worship is a Verb
And it's an active verb at that.
Worship is something we do, not something done to us or for us.
In the worst of circumstances, I can still worship my God.
In the Philippians prison, while their backs were still oozing blood from the beating they'd received, Paul and Silas worshiped
We need to let go of our intellectual idea of worship and realize there is more to worship than a sermon; we have to let go of our evangelistic notion of worship and reckon with the fact that worship is not primarily directed toward the sinners who need to be converted; we must let go of our entertainment expectations and remind ourselves that we are not in church to watch a Christian variety show.
We have gathered together in worship to be met by God the Almighty.
God, the Creator of the Universe, the One who sustains our lives, our Redeemer and King, is present through proclamation and remembrance.
He wants to communicate to us, to penetrate our inner self, to take up residence within us.
And, as we go through the experience of meeting with him in this moment of public worship, we are to respond.
But response is not just singing a song, not just saying a creed, not just saying a prayer.
Response, from the very beginning of worship to the end, must be a powerful inner experience of actually being in the presence of God.
When we sing a song of worship or say a confession or prayer, we are not singing or saying words, but expressing a feeling, bringing our souls, truly responding and communicating to the living and active presence of a loving merciful and gracious God.