Faithlife Sermons

02.17.08 Worship

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·         Opening: Video (worship pre-game)

 

·         Personal Corporate Worship Journey:

  • Nazarene background
    • Traditional U.S. evangelical services
      • Hymns, piano and organ, choirs, specials, suits, relaxed, not to intense.
  • Charismatic grandmother
    • Full Gospel Business Men's Meeting in Portland (9 years old)
    • Demos Shakarian was keynote speaker
    • We were sitting in the second row from the front in large ball room of the Red Lion Inn
    • I remember Demos and I remember people falling over in front of me at the end of the service.
    • I was petrified that they would come over and touch me
    • I was praying, "Lord, don't let them come over to me!"
  • Met Lynn in another Nazarene church big on musicals, choir, etc.
  • Moved to California to serve in Nazarene church initially fairly traditional with choir, piano, organ, hymns and some Gaither choruses
    • Sat on platform and learned how to yawn with my mouth closed
    • Dueling piano and organ offertories
    • Developed a new contemporary service
    • I'd change uniforms between services
      • California casual for the contemporary service
      • U.S. traditional for the second (Suit, tie)
  • Moved to another church to serve.  A Nazarene church that was charismatic in personality.
    • Average service was 2 to 2 1/2 hours long.
    • Prayer times could last 20 to 30 minutes with continuous music in the middle of the service
    • People danced in the aisles- I remember a conga line once.
    • Lifted their hands
    • Shouted
    • Some spoke in tongues
    • Average worship set was 20 minutes at a time
    • And people fell down there too!
    • Irony is that my personality is not one that leans towards the ultra-charismatic.
      • Not opposed to it – I believe in the functioning of the gifts of the Spirit
      • God just didn't wire me to be as intense as others are.
        • One thing I’ve noticed over the years is how people with different personalities tend to project on others the idea that their personality in worship should suddenly become something other than who God made them.
        • In other words, the more gregarious feel others should be more like them and the more subdued feel the more gregarious should tone down the outward emotions.
      • For almost five years I lead worship services with many people who were wired opposite of me.
  • I've preached in Arabic services as well
    • Songs all sung in minor keys
    • All in Arabic
    • Only thing I could recognize was "Hallelujah" and "Amin"
    • But it was always obvious they were aware of the presence of God in their corporate times together.
  • I could share countless other stories of worship service experiences I've had in my life, but what is most important is what I've learned over the years. 
    • They're all good as long as the motivation of the heart is right. 
    • It never mattered to God whether I liked everything about the services or not!
  • Understanding Worship:
    • Anne Ortlund: "When I was little we used to play church.  We'd get the chairs into rows, fight over who'd be preacher, vigorously lead the hymn singing, and generally have a great carnal time.  The aggressive kids naturally wanted to be up front, directing or preaching.  The quieter ones were content to sit and be entertained by the up-fronters.  Occasionally we'd get mesmerized by a true sensationalistic crowd-swayer - like the girl who said, "Boo!  I'm the Holy Ghost."  But in general, if the up-fronters were pretty good they could hold their audience quite a while.  If they weren't so good, eventually, the kids would drift off to play something else -- like jump rope or jacks.  Now that generation has grown up, but most of them haven't changed too much.  Every Sunday they still play church.  They line up in rows for entertainment.  If it's pretty good, their church may grow.  If it's not too hot, eventually they'll drift off to play something else -- like yachting or wife swapping."
      • Why do church people get to the place of pointless worship?
      • Maybe its because we don't understand or maybe just chose to ignore the truth of what worship is and isn't.
  • What is it?
    • To lift up high our object of worship – Jesus
      • Exodus 20:33“You must not have any other god but me.NLT
      • Luke 4:88Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’ ”NLT
    • To bring self low in submission to our object of worship – Jesus
      • Many references to bowing, physically laying before god,
      • Psalm 51:1717The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.NLT
    • To serve our object of worship – Jesus
      • Our life as followers of Jesus is about serving Jesus
      • Much of what Pastor Doug has been teaching us could be described as a lifestyle of worship
      • There will be a love of worship in the hearts of God’s people
  • Who is it about?
    • God… not us.
    • It involves our relationship with Him through Jesus.
    • But we’re not called to worship ourselves.
    • We’re called to worship God.
    • The challenge:
      • Human nature wants to turn this around.
      • Looking at the context of corporate worship, which can reflect our approach to personal worship we demand certain things to “engage” in worship.
        • Music must be “my” music.
          • Note: There are songs I schedule that are not necessarily my favorite songs… so, if you don’t like a song we do, you’re not alone.  I’m might not like it either!
          • But I don’t schedule songs just because they are my favorites.  Nor, do I schedule them because they’re your favorites.
        • The message must be done “my” preferred way.
          • Some like lots of pictures (a growing need today actually)
          • Some like lots of stories
          • Some like more of a lecture style with lots of information
        • The furniture must be “my” idea of “church” furniture.
          • One lady wrote an unsigned note to me letting me know she could not worship until the chairs were put back into the choir loft.
        • The Bible translation used must fit “my” criteria.
          • Literal vs. dynamic equivalent
          • DaJesus book
        • The congregation must be large… or small… or medium.
          • (Kind of like the chairs, porridge and beds in the Goldilocks story!)

·         What the issue is, is simply personal preferences

o   The temptation is to put them ahead of God

o   We can worship, serve, and reverence our preferences to the point of idolatry.

·         Here’s how to put them back in perspective:

o   Even if every personal preference is unmet in any given service, it’s still all about Jesus and not me.

o   Even if every personal preference is met in any given service, it’s still all about Jesus and not me.

o   That’s freedom!  I don’t have to worry about all of those obstacles in my way that keep me from recognizing the presence of God in our times of corporate worship!

§  It’s hard to see Jesus when I’m focused on myself

·         Not a call to deny our burdens

·         A call to put into perspective our preferences

o   Preferences should never be a burden in worship unless we allow them to be.

  • What does it look like?
    • Remember it’s not about us, it’s about Jesus.
    • Remember it’s not about a time, place or style.
      • Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well

"“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”" (John 4:19-26, NLT) [1]

    • Background:
      • Jesus was traveling the quickest route between Judea in the south and Galilee in the north.
      • This meant He had to travel through Samaria, usually avoided by Jews who would go around by the Jordan River.
      • Jews hated Samaritans and Samaritans hated Jews.
      • What happened was there was a time when the Northern Kingdom was exiled by King Sargon of Assyria.
      • So King Sargon repopulated the area with people from other areas the Assyrians had conquered.
      • Naturally, Jews that had been left in the land and the foreigners began to inter-marry.
      • This led to a complicated ancestry for the Jews left behind, the Samaritans.
      • The Jews considered them no longer “pure” Jews and hated them.
      • Jesus, of course, wasn’t bothered by their mixed ancestry.
      • So what the Samaritan women was referring to was the two different places of worship designated by the Jews (Jerusalem) and the Samaritans (Mt. Gerizim – according to their tradition where Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac)
      • Jesus told her that salvation would come from the Jews, referring to himself, a Jew.
      • But He also was telling her that the physical location of worship would no longer matter
        • God is not limited by time and space
        • When people are born of the Spirit, when Jesus is present in their daily lives, they can worship anywhere and anytime.
        • True worship is when a believer’s spirit is connected with God’s Spirit.
        • Jesus makes worship a matter of the heart.
        • Truth is what is in step with the nature and will of God.
        • Jesus referred to himself as “the truth” – our object of worship
        • In other words, a heart that is willing to be transformed into the image of Jesus is a worshiping heart.
        • We’re worshipping in a corporate service in Salem.
        • Many from our church are worshipping in flood damaged buildings in Vernonia using hammers, nails, sheet rock and sweat as their tools of worship this morning.
          • If we only looked at worship from a ceremonial or physical surrounding perspective, they’d have it all wrong today.
          • Not enough songs, uncomfortable surroundings, dirty, action oriented, not very church like.
          • But it is actually an example of the way worship is supposed to be.
  • Conclusion:
    • Much of our focus in congregational life is around the Sunday morning worship service. * It is good to come together and say, “Look what God is doing!”  “Look who God is!”
    • Much of what we do is an aspect of worship called praise and it is something we should do often.
    • We also submit ourselves to the presence and working of the Holy Spirit of God in our lives.
    • The power of community is evident every Sunday, every time we get together.
    • But when the program of worship services becomes our focus and definition of worship we miss the mark of what worship truly is.
    • Could it be that Jesus would have us not love the event as much as we love Him?
    • Could it be that Jesus would have us not be as concerned about the program on Sunday as we are about the poor, the hurting, and the ones who need a touch from His Body?
    • Could it be that our personal preferences in worship services don’t matter that much to Jesus at all?
    • Could it be that the attitude of our heart does matter to Jesus?
    • What we do on Sunday mornings between 10am and whenever is not wrong, but we’re walking in dangerous territory.
      • Will we acknowledge the presence of God?
      • Or will we instead look to see that our favorite song is being sung and miss Him?
      • Will we be able to embrace corporate worship as an extension of our daily lifestyle of worship or will we be dependent on the program being just right to give us an “experience” that won’t last much longer than our afternoon nap?
      • If the only thing a worship service does is fill a religious quota, I can think of at least three things I’d rather do… one of them begins with Daytona and ends with 500!
      • But when our understanding of worship knows that this time is and extension of our daily walk with Jesus it takes on new meaning and focus.
    • This is what worship is all about… (video)

 


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[1]  Tyndale House Publishers. (2004). Holy Bible : New Living Translation. (2nd ed.). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.

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