The Results of Worship
Based on a message by Lester Huston
All of God's children know that they should worship Him. The scriptures declare, "For He is thy Lord; and worship thou Him, "Psa. 45:11. Psa. 95:6 says, "0 Come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker."
We who have been saved know as Hebrews 10:25 tells us that we ought not to forsake "the assembling of ourselves together."
I fear that though all of us know we ought to worship, some of us know what the result of that worship should be. It is also vividly clear that worship of God has been perverted by many.
1. They make it into an experience where the music and preaching whip people up into a emotional frenzy.
2. Some have changed the worship service into one of entertainment. The pulpit has become a stage to entertain people. People do not come to worship God but to be entertained with modern "so called" Christian music and a generic message that makes people feel good about themselves.
3. Even for some the name has been changed from a worship to a "celebration." You need to look up the two words in a dictionary to learn they are different words with different meanings.
4. Church signs proudly advertise "non-traditional services." Many do not even call themselves churches naming themselves "family life centers," "chapels," and a host of other unbiblical names.
If the proper results do not occur in worship, then the worshiper has not offered acceptable worship unto God. This means that the
If a person thinks they can go to the House of God, go through a few rituals, sing some songs, hear a speech, have a good time, get emotionally whipped up, and then leave and forget it all, you have not worshiped God.
This message is going to look at worship from a practical and biblical perspective. It is particularly going to stress the results that worship should have in you, results that will both bless your heart and honor God. This is am important truth that true worship honors the Lord and has a profound affect on the one who worships.
The main focus will be upon the results worship should have in us, for worship without results is mockery before God.
We must first go to the Old Testament to understand what worship is. One principle of hermeneutics is the rule of "first mention." In other words when God first mentions a doctrinal truth He established certain principles concerning that truth. In the Old Testament God teaches us the principles of worship.
To properly understand worship...you must first go to the Old Testament and see how it was established.
Referring to the Old Testament, 1 Corinthians 10:11 says this truth, "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."
Our text, Isaiah 1:11-20 is a classic passage setting forth this truth in the Old Testament.
Read Isaiah 1:11-20.
Several truths are found here:
1. God was not pleased and thus was not accepting their "vain" (worthless) oblations. (O-bla-tion means that which is offered to God in worship)
I think it worth noting that we learn about worship from the failure of Israel, God's chosen people.
This is interesting in that God Himself has set forth the practices of offering sacrifices to the Lord. Thus is HOW the sacrifices were being offered that offended God. The seriousness of this matter is seen in that God uses words and phrases such as "abomination," "iniquity," "my soul hateth," "I am weary to bear them," to describe His view of their worship.
2. Further, God says...I will not hear you. Folks we are in serious trouble if God refuses to hear us.
a. Question is this: How much of our worship does God accept? This is a personal question. In the service if God is worshiped personal worship must have occurred.
b. How many times when we come to church was our worship in vain because we did not really understand worship and offer unto the Lord worship as if has instructed.
3. God never condemns without offering redemption from the offense. His desire is that men live righteous lives which is the best life a man can live. God tells Israel to:
a. Wash themselves and make themselves clean. 1 John 1:9 states the same truth to the Christian in the New Testament. When we sin we must confess it and let God cleanse us from our sin.
b. To put away their evil doings. Note what the New Testament tells believers:
c. To cease to do evil. Romans 6:2 says, "God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?"
d. To sum it up...God told Israel to get the sin our of their lives and today He is telling us the same truth. All sin is destructive. It will destroy us, our lives, our marriages, families, friends, and most importantly our relationship with God. God loves us as a loving parent and wants the best for us. It hurts Him to see us allowing sin to destroy us.
4. V18, Note....God offers forgiveness and complete victory over sins. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow." Or red like crimson...they shall be as wool. That is surely a complete victory over sin.
Question? Before the service this morning was there any preparation of your heart and soul to worship Go?
a. Was there a time of self examination to see if there would be any unconfessed sin in our lives.
b. Was there a preparation of our appearance. In Old Testament times the worshiper presented only his very best to the Lord.
ILLUS: When I was in the Army and I stood many "courtesy" inspections when a visiting General or dignitary would inspect the troops. It was a way to honor the visiting official. Folks we worn our best and it was spit and polish all the way. Everything was made special to honor the visiting officer and we put on the very best.M
any churches proudly advertise that they encourage casual wear and a come as you are approach in their services. We would never belittle or make anyone who came to our services uncomfortable by pointing out their improper attire. But we do not promote casualness either. Our people should set the example for others to follow. We should dress appropriately to honor our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
5. With the offer of forgiveness and reconciliation. . . there is always a warning..." If you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured..."
6. We learn that the result of worship should produce godly living. Let me say it this way...the act or ritual of worship is vain (worthless) if it does not come from a heart yielded to God.
Thus the act of worship is to show the condition of the heart. Ritual, ceremony, and acts of worship...are an abomination to God if the person is not living for the Lord.
Think about it this way...suppose your son or daughter came and offered praise to you....when all the while they were disobeying, rebelling against and despising you. And you knew that their praise was simply offered in an effort to con you into giving them something. Folks God knows our hearts!
I. WE EACH NEED FIRST TO UNDERSTAND WHAT WORSHIP IS:
A. There are five formal acts which constitute worship of God:
1. These acts are: singing, praying, preaching, giving, and the Lords Supper:
a. Ephesians 5:19 and Col. 3:16 exhort us to sing praises unto the Lord. Singing vents the soul, and good scriptural songs do much in communicating the truths of Gods word to the participants. Our music we offer in our worship services should be special music used only to worship the Lord.
How sad and sinful it is that this morning all over the world and especially here in America churches are putting on "musical shows" taking the music of the world and offering it as worship unto the Lord! Folks, God tells us that we should be separated from the world and that includes our music also.
b. Our Lord has taught us to pray in Matt. 6:7-15. and I Thess 5:17 to, "Pray without ceasing." Prayer humbles us, and helps us to discern the will of the Lord for our lives. It also exhorts, edifies, strengthens, and instructs fellow members who hear the prayers.
c. The Lord taught generous giving in Luke 6:38 and it is re-emphasized in such passages as II Cor 9:6, 7 and I Cor. 16:2. Giving conquers covetousness and greed. It gives victory over greed and selfishness. It makes us masters over our money, instead of our money being master over us. It sets the proper relationship to God one of thanksgiving and dependency on Him.
Many fail here and come to worship God empty handed or with a disobedient offering. Folks bringing our tithes and offering and presented them to the Lord is not optional in worship. The Old Testament example is that the worshiper brought his sacrifice...the first fruits of his flocks and all he had. Heb. 11:6 says we cannot please God apart from faith. Tithing is a test of faith and it teaches dependency on God. You cannot be robbing God and worship Him.
Folks God wants us dependent on Him, yet so many refuse to believe God and foolishly think that they are benefiting by keeping God's tithes and offerings for themselves.
d. Jesus's ministry was one of preaching to Israel. About preaching God said in I Cor. 1:21 says, "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."
II Tim. 3:15-4:5 gives several of the values of preaching. Preaching is a time for communicating the truths of Gods word in a powerfully persuasive way. It is a time of instruction, correction, rebuking, and exhorting. Preaching gives the child of God the spiritual food he needs to grow.
Poor preaching, doctrinally unsound preaching or not hearing preaching will cause a believer to be anemic.
What a responsibility your pastor has to know the Word of God...so he can fed the flock. It is a church that ordains or appoints a pastor. An important part of the ordination is examining him doctrinally. A church has that responsibility to KNOW that the man they give their approval to knows the word of God and has the call of God to preach.
e. In Matt. 26:26-2 9 Jesus instituted the Lords Supper, and told us to keep it as a memorial unto His return. I Cor. 11:23-26 tells how the Lords Supper is designed to call our attention to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, how that He shed His blood, and His body was broken for us, and how that He is coming again. It is most especially a time of self examination...that we properly understand and discern what a great price Christ had to pay for our sins.
2. Can you see that all of these acts of worship are designed to help the worshiper.
a. They will help him to see his faults, and tell him how to correct those faults.
b. They will teach him how to treat his fellow man, how to walk uprightly before his God, and how to take care of his own body.
c. They will inspire him and help him conquer his most lethal enemies.
d. Folks God is in the life changing business and if honors Him when we obey Him and grow spiritually. We worship Him when we come in a spirit of seeking God's truth that He might change us and make us what He wants us to be.
e. Folks God is not impressed with our ceremony, yet it should be done properly that it honors the Lord. But folks we do not understand God if we think all He wants is for us to adore Him and offer vain lip service of praise.
NO, He wants worship to change us. That is why God condemned the vain and empty worship of disobedient Israel.
For a long time I could not understand why God was so strict in how people worshiped Him. It appeared that God was vain. . . wanting men to bow and adore Him and that pleased Him. How totally wrong was that thinking. God is not impressed by our "worship" nor does He need it. He is Almighty God and He does not need sinful men to honor Him. However, sinful men need to worship the Lord because of what worship does for us!
3. In order for worship to accomplish its designed purpose, it must be rendered by the worshiper in spirit and truth, John 4:23-24.
a. If a worshiper does not offer his worship with a spirit of love, thanksgiving and according to the instructions that are set forth in the Word of God, then his worship becomes totally vain. In that case, it does not accomplish the good which true worship is designed to accomplish.
b. Equally, worship must be in truth. That means being doctrinally correct as God instructed. Folks God will not bless error. The Old Testament high priest had to carry out the sacrifices to the letter of God's instructions. Two of Eli's sons who were priests were struck dead because they failed to follow God's instructions concerning the source of the fire that kindled the altar.
Uzzah was smitten dead for putting "forth his hand to the ark of God." The ark was being carried on a cart when God said it was to be carried by the long staves that went through the rings in each side. David and his people though it faster and better to put in on a cart. The cart hit a bump and Uzzah reached up to keep it from falling...God struck him dead. Folks, isn't that what a lot of churches are doing today? They mean well, but human wisdom is faulty. They think they know what's best and ignore God's clear instructions. God knows what is best for us and therefore He demands of us obedience.
Much of today's modem so called Contemporary Christian music which takes the worldly and sensual music of the world and gives it Christian lyrics is certainly not honoring to the Lord. So called praise services which are mass emotional experiences are not worship and they dishonor God.
Further, a person or church that is doctrinally unsound is in rebellion against God, because they are not following His instructions. They cannot accomplish His will or carry on His work because they are operating in the flesh and not the Spirit.
B. Our worship of God today, by singing, praying, giving, preaching, and the Lords Supper, parallels the worship of God in Old Testament times by burnt offerings and sacrifices:
1. The first three chapters of Leviticus particularly outline several elaborate sacrifices that were to be offered in worship before the Lord.
2. Moses told the people of Israel concerning the priests in Deut. 33:10, "They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law; they shall put incense before thee, and hold burnt sacrifices upon thine altar."
3. David said in Psalm 66:15, "I will offer unto thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings, with the incense of rams; I will offer bullocks with goats."
4. You could hardly read the Old Testament without seeing the elaborate system of sacrifices and offerings that were employed in the worship of God.
II. JUST AS THE METHODS AND ACTS OF WORSHIP IN THE OLD TESTAMENT WERE DESIGNED TO CAUSE THE WORSHIPERS TO SEE SOME BEAUTIFUL TRUTHS WHICH WOULD AFFECT THEIR LIVES: LIKEWISE, OUR WORSHIP OF GOD TODAY IS DESIGNED TO CAUSE US TO SEE TRUTHS THAT WILL PRODUCE AN EFFECT FOR THE BETTER IN OUR LIVES:
A. Folks, worship never has been, nor is it now an end within itself. Worship is only a means to an end.
1. Its purpose is not just to give you a good feeling and some emotional stimulus, or inspiration. It may, and should, do that, but it must do much more if it is to accomplish its purpose. If worship does not cause you to see beyond it s mechanics to the truths involved, then you missed the point of worship.
2. If all one can see from giving is the fact that they have put ten percent plus an offering into the church treasury, you've missed the point of giving.
a. If you cannot see beyond the mechanics of the money to the truths of generosity, missions, selflessness, and the prosperity of the Lord's work, then you are blind to the lessons of giving. This is one reason why so many people have trouble with tithing and giving their offering to the Lord. They do not see how it honors the Lord, nor do they understand how giving with a joyous heart grows us spiritually closer and more dependent on the Lord.
b. It is the same with preaching. If it doesn't cause you to see yourself before God, and dozens of other truths that you need to know and practice, then you are missing the point of preaching.
c. I am grieved to know today that all worship means to many is going to a church building two or three times a week for a couple of hours of emotional stimulation.
Many are careful to regularly go through the motions of worship. They are certain that they cross every "t, and dot every "i" just right. That is why formality in the service is so important to some.
But, they going through the motions had no affect on their lives. They continue right on with the very same attitudes, with the very same conduct, and the very same approach to life as if they had never worshiped God for one minute.
Have you ever wondered why so many are unfaithful in attending church? They come get nothing out of it so they think it not important and a waste of time. This reveals that they came for the wrong reasons and do not have a biblical understanding of worship.
All worship is to them is an emotional stimulus, or a fulfilling of religious duty; it never has the least bit of practical effect within their lives. They have the completely blinded concept that worship is an end within itself. It is totally foreign to their thinking that worship is really just a means to an end.
3. There are four distinct things that should always result from your worship of God.
These are all well stated in Isaiah 6:1-9:
a. Worship ought to first result in your seeing the Lord:
(1) In a scene that typifies a man s time in the Lord's church, Isaiah the prophet said, "I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple," Verse 1. The first four verses of this chapter describe Isaiah s view of the Lord.
(2) Folks, every act of worship is designed to point your attention to the Lord. It is designed to show you His body and blood, which were broken and shed for you. It is-- designed to show you His majesty and glory.
b. Also in worship, you ought to see yourself:
(1) Isaiah 6:5 will show you that once Isaiah saw the Lord, he then saw himself. He realized just how weak and unworthy, and dependent upon the Lord he really was.
(2) Fellow laborer, every act of worship is designed to show you how much you need the Lord, and how insignificant you are within your own strength. It is designed to show-you how much you need the Lord, and how you need to take His word into your system and abide by His counsel.
c. Worship should also make you see others:
(1) Isaiah also said in Chapter 6, Verse 5, "1 dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. When He saw the Lord, and saw himself, he also began to realize there were others around him who also needed the Lord.
(2) The acts of worship are designed to cause you to see others and their needs. Right praying, right singing, giving, the Lords Supper, and honest preaching will all point our attention to the lost world, and Christians who need to be restored into fellowship with the Lord. Worship is designed to cause you to see others.
d. The fourth thing that should result from your worship of God is the fact that your life should be changed:
(1) Isaiah 6:6-8 will show you how that Isaiah's life was touched, and changed for the better in view of his encounter with the Lord.
(2) Dear child of God, worship is designed to change your life for the better. It is a means to that end. It ought to change your attitudes, correct and adjust the course of your life, cause you to walk in honesty and integrity before God, and cause you to grow daily in the Lord. The point of worship is not to emotionally stimulate you for three or four hours a week within the walls of some church building. Its design is to effect full-time change in your life every day. It is designed to cause you to talk better, to control your temper, be more generous, treat your family better, be a better employee or employer, to be a better citizen, to be a better servant in the church, to make you more humble, to make you more zealous and bold, and to do a thousand other good things for you. In simple terms, it all amounts to the fact that you should put into practice those things that you see and learn in worship of God.
B. If these results occur, you will be blessed, people will be helped, and God will be glorified:
1. Jesus said of your personal blessings, "If you know these things, happy are ye if ye do them, "John 13:17.
2. As to people around you being helped, David indicated that when his heart got right with God, "Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee," Psalm 51:13.
3. And, whenever we see the truth and begin to practice it with the right spirit in our daily lives, ! Peter 2:5 says, "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." That is simply saying that God is glorified by that right conduct in His children, out of a heart of love.
III.. IF THESE GOOD RESPONSES DO NOT RESULT FROM YOUR WORSHIP, THEN YOU HAVE FAILED IN YOUR WORSHIP OF GOD:
A. Just because you sit in church regularly doesn't mean you are worshiping God:
B. And I can assure you upon the authority of God's word that when no results are produced in your life from worship, God is not the least honored by it. God is far more interested in the response worship produces in your life, than He is in the mechanics of worship themselves. Listen to Amos 5:21 -27.
God says, "I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings, and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, 0 house of Israel? But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves. Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the Lord, whose name is The God of hosts."
It is not difficult to see that singing, praying, and worship of all sorts was not pleasant and honorable unto God, where the people missed the points of worship, such as judgment, righteousness, and integrity in their lives.
C. Fellow Christian, don't let your head swell up with pride because you are faithful to every service of the church, because you give your money, and because you go through the motions of all the worship of God. God is far more interested in grace and truth in your life than He is in the mechanics of your worship of Him. You can be as regular as clock work in your worship, and have a head full of knowledge; but if you have missed the point of worship, and fail to let it produce practical, daily results for the better in your life, then your going through the mechanics of worship is nothing but fraud and abomination to God.
Samuel the prophet once said, "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." (1 Sam. 15:11).
Fellow Christian, God is far more interested in generosity and victory over greed and covetousness in you, than He is in your money.
He is not nearly as interested in your singing, as He is the responses of humility, love, encouragement, and other such values that singing should promote in you.
He is not nearly as concerned about the mechanics of preaching, as He is the truth that preaching ought to produce in your life.
You can hear a sermon on soul winning, but that sermon has not done you one bit of good unless it makes a soul winner out of you.
You can hear a song or a sermon, or a prayer, on meekness, but that sermon, song, or prayer hasn't helped you at all unless it gives you a measure of victory over your temper.
What I am saying is that you have not worshiped unless a proper response is produced in your life.
Listen to Jeremiah the prophet in Jeremiah 7:21-24,
Brother, something is wrong with our understanding if we cannot see from that passage that God is far more interested in obedience than He is in the mechanics of burnt offerings or other worship.
C. If worship stops short of resulting in change for the better in you, then you become a hypocrite, and God is dishonored by it:
1. Jesus said of God, "And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices, " Mark 12:33. In two places, Matt. 9:13 and Matt. 12:7, Jesus said, "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice."
2. The Psalmist David wrote, "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened; burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said, I, Lo, I come; in the volume of this book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, 0 my God: yea, thy law is within my heart, " Psa. 40:6-8.
That same truth is restated in Heb. 10:6-8. Again, it is obvious that it is the result of worship, not the mechanics of worship, in which God is most interested.
Micah the prophet said in Micah 6:6-8, "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, 0 man, what is good; And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"
Fellow Christian, it does not matter how beautiful your song is, how fluent your prayer is, how much money you put in the plate, how meticulously you observe the Lord's Supper, or how great a sermon is, if you missed the point of it all, and there is no result produced in your life. The finest calf, and the largest number of rams never did please God when rendered by folks who failed to see the point of their worship of God.
Fellow Christian, I tell you again, that God is far more interested in justice, love, forgiveness, meekness, temperance, and other such qualities in your life, than He is in all the songs, prayers, money, and other such things you could ever offer unto Him. All in the world that these mechanics-of worship are designed to do is to point you to godliness in your daily life.
Listen to how God speaks to the people of Israel through Hosea the prophet in Hos. 6:4-6,
"0 Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? 0 Judah, what shall I do unto thee? For your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away. Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth. For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings."
3. Of all of your worship, apart from a result, God said through Jeremiah the prophet, in Jeremiah 6:20, "To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me."
David said of God in Psa. 51 :16-17, "For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, 0 God, thou wilt not despise."
4. I hope you are beginning to understand now, why our text, of Isa. 1:11-20, is so pointed. God is talking there, and asking why bring sacrifices and burnt offerings, if you fail to practice justice and judgment in your life. He is making the point amply clear that if you do not get the point of worship, then your worship is vain. If that worship produces no right results in your life, then that worship has failed. I hope every Christian listening to these words will take a personal inventory. Is Christianity to you, just a two or three hour a week proposition? Do you simply come to church and get a few minutes of emotional message, and then leave the church building and forget it all? God forbid! May what you hear have a practical effect in your daily life. As James exhorted in James 1:22, "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."
5. In view of the results that worship should produce in your practical life, it is no wonder that wise Solomon wrote in Eccl. 5:1, "Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools; for they consider not that they do evil."