Practicing the Principle of Worship
Sermon Summary
This message addresses the concept of worship, both the meaning and the practice of it. People were created to worship and as a result everyone worships someone or something. Dictionaries vary in their definition of worship, but basically mention showing God love and respect or ascribing worth to someone or something. Bro. Larry describes worship like this. “Worship is the spiritual love language that allows a mere human being to come into the presence of an Almighty God and experience unconditional acceptance, complete forgiveness, genuine love, purpose in this life, eternal hope, and the promise that His power and presence are accessible 24/7! Worship is the human responding with awe, praise, gratitude,thanksgiving, and gladness of heart through expressions of worship like bowing down or lifting hands, silence or singing, stillness or dancing, listening or praying!” The message goes on to discuss the importance of making worship real, understanding God is not weird for desiring worship, and the fact we have infinite reasons to worship God!

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Describe one of your most memorable experiences of worship.

2. Worship has many definitions. Read the following definition from Pastor Larry and then discuss your thoughts.
Worship - “Worship is the spiritual love language that allows a mere human being to come into the presence of an Almighty God and experience unconditional acceptance, complete forgiveness, genuine love, purpose in this life, eternal hope, and the promise that His power and presence are accessible 24/7! Worship is the human responding with awe, praise, gratitude,thanksgiving, and gladness of heart through expressions of worship like bowing down or lifting hands, silence or singing, stillness or dancing, listening or praying!”
Psa 116:1  I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
Psa 116:2  Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

3. God desires our worship to be real. First question: Why is this so important to God? Second question: Since we are made in His image, can you think of a human example that might help explain God’s desire for genuine worship?
John 4:23  Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
John 4:24  God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

4. The reasons to worship God are infinite. Share some reasons God deserves our worship.
Psa 62:5  Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
Psa 62:6  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
Psa 62:7  My salvation and my honor depend on God ; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Psa 62:8  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah
Full Sermon Notes

Practicing the Principle of Worship
Psalm 95:1-7a

Today we come to a principle that is often very misunderstood by the world, and yet every human being practices it in one way or another. We are talking about worship. Everyone worships someone or something whether they want to admit it or not. God created us to worship. We need His help understanding the concept of worship. Pray!

Let's look at the definition of worship according to webster's online dictionary...

1 wor·ship
noun \ˈwər-shəp also ˈwȯr-\

: the act of showing respect and love for a god especially by praying with other people who believe in the same god
: the act of worshipping God or a god
: excessive admiration for someone

I also looked it up on Wickipedia...

"Worship is an act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity...
The word is derived from the Old English weorþscipe, meaning worship,
honour shown to an object, which has been etymologised as "worthiness or worth-ship"—to give, at its simplest, worth to something."

I have some questions for each of us here today… What or whom do you deem worthy of your worship? What are the things or the people you ascribe worth to? The question for followers of Christ is this…Do we place enough worth to God for it to qualify as worship? Or do other things trump God in your list of priorities, in your allocation of time and resources? I guess we have to question whether or not our actions back our confession? We come to worship services, but do we really worship?
And if we do worship at church, does that worship continue when we leave the building or the small group gathering? Maybe before we can answer these questions we must determine what our own definition of worship is.

Holman Bible Dictionary defines worship like this...

WORSHIP - "Human response to the perceived presence of the divine, a presence which transcends normal human activity and is holy."

I would like to offer a few words on worship. I'm no scholar, but I think the above definitions are woefully inadequate. So here's my humble attempt to fill in the gaps.

I believe…….

Worship is the spiritual love language that allows a mere human being to come into the presence of an Almighty God and experience unconditional acceptance, complete forgiveness, genuine love, purpose in this life, eternal hope, and the promise that His power and presence are accessible 24/7! Worship is the human responding with awe, praise, gratitude,thanksgiving, and gladness of heart through expressions of worship like bowing down or lifting hands, silence or singing, stillness or dancing, listening or praying!

What do I base this definition on? The Bible, God's Word, Holy Scripture! Jesus had a thing or two to say about worship. Listen to what He told the woman at the well about worship in the Gospel of John 4:23-24.

23Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Worship Principle 1
Make it Real

Jesus was letting us know God wants people to worship in spirit and truth. In other words, He doesn't want fake, phony, hypocritical…He wants the real thing. Hey, God's not weird! We don't like fake and phony, or hypercritical, neither does God!Now let me explain hypocritical. I've had people tell me they didn't want to come to worship because they've made mistakes and sinned and they would feel like a hypocrite if they even tried to worship. Let me tell you something, we are all sinners. All of us. That alone doesn't make us hypocrites.  

What makes a hypocrite? It's when a person pretends to have everything together and acts as if they have no sin. It's when a person is not sorry for their sin, has no desire to do better, and no plan to change their behavior, they fall into the category of hypocrite.

A person who knows they're not perfect and they want God to help them change their life, they're not hypocrites, they're honest people who God can and will help! God wants their worship.
There's a beautiful story that illustrates what I'm talking about…Luke 19:1-10

1Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.
2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.
3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd.
4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’”
8But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and
if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.
10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

Amazing. Jesus ignored the insults of the pious and accepted the friend request of a sinner!  Zacchaeus was sorry for his sin and admitted it to Jesus he had done wrong on wanted to try to do better. His attitude caused Jesus to say, "Salvation has come to this house!" God looks at the heart! You see, worship is a matter of the heart. There were religious leaders in Jesus' day who thought they had it all together. They were worship leaders, and yet their worship was not genuine or from the heart. Their worship was done to be seen by men. Listen to these words of Jesus... Matthew 23:23-28

23“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
25“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.
28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Bottom line! Make your worship real! It's not perfection, but the desire to love God and to be all He created you to be that matters most in worship. Come to Him with a spirit of I'm sorry and I want to do better. Come to Him in truthfulness about your need for Him. You will find Him in worship!

Worship Principle 2
God's not Weird

As I mentioned in the beginning of the message, some people in the world really misunderstand the concept of worship. Some have questioned God's motive for desiring worship. They think God must be on some kind of ego trip that He would need worship. Here's what they're missing...

Worship is a spiritual love language!! It is the way we love God and the way God loves us. Worship is us recognizing God for who He is and what He has done on our behalf.

And these people don't understand that in genuine worship, God loves us back, and when you have been loved by God it transforms your heart, soul, mind and life!
I was thinking of some way to help explain worship when I thought of a little boy and his father. I know there are exceptions, but unless there is something terribly wrong a little boy will worship the ground his father walks on and wants to be like his daddy. On the other hand, the father is delighted in his son's admiration and appreciates it when the little boy says, "Daddy, you're the best!"

Let me ask you a question…Is there anything wrong with a parent, Dad or Mom, enjoying the love and adoration they receive from their children? I think not! Is there anything wrong with a child thanking his or her parents for the sacrifices they've made down through the years for their children? I think not! Is there anything wrong with a parent wanting to spend time with his or her kids? Anything wrong with a parent wanting to hear his kid say, "I Love You"? I think not.

And yet there are people who would fault God for delighting and enjoying the praises of His children in worship. How sad it is when Satan deceives and robs people of the joy of worship because they question the motives of God. Jesus said something once, we should take note of Mark 10:13-16

13People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.
14When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
15I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
16And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

Like little children we should worship our Heavenly Father, We should tell Him we love Him, and thank Him for the way He has sacrificed for us! And we must remember it's not weird at all for God to desire our worship. And what a blessing we receive when we love our God through worship! My dear friend Wayne Fisher and I were talking about today's message. He made a statement (not original he said), that speaks to the principle of worship that God's not weird as some people think. It's a profound thought...

"The higher your view of God the higher your worship! The lower your view of God, the lower your worship!"

Worship Principle 3
Reasons to Worship God are Infinite!  

Jonathan Edwards put it like this back in the 1700's...

"The conceptions which the saints have of the loveliness of God and that kind of delight which they experience in it are quite peculiar and entirely different from anything which a natural man can possess or of which he can form any notion."

People who don't know Christ don't understand why Christians worship. They are confused by the singing, the smiles, the happy faces even in the midst of trials and troubles. Especially when they see hands outstretched heavenward! "What do the worshipers see?"

What do we see? Let me put it this way. The guy on the front of our worship guide is one our friends in Haiti. I took this picture just before I got up to preach in that beautiful church. And when I say beautiful church, I'm certainly not talking about the building. I'm talking about the beautiful people. I've often explained the raising hands like this. People who aren't followers of Jesus do a raise their hands, they just raise their hands to other people or things instead of God. Go to a secular concert and watch the people raise their hands towards the stage. Go to a car show and watch someone see a car or truck they think is really awesome. They will use their arms and hands to help communicate how much they feel. "Wow, would you look at that paint job, or that tricked out engine.

When a person enters the very presence of God and they get a glimpse of His beauty, glory, power and amazing grace, it is a most natural thing to raise your hands in response. Not everyone responds with raising hands, but at least now you should understand a little better those who do. There are so many different ways to worship, but it's the infinite reasons to worship I want us to end with today. The Psalmist, who was leading worship in  Psalm 95, and the worshipers he was leading, get our list of reasons started…

The Psalmist said...

1Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

We sing for joy and worship Him because He is the Rock of our Salvation. We worship Him because He saved us!!

The worshippers responded and listed several reasons for worship...

2Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.

We worship Him because of who He is!!

3For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.

4In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.

5The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

The Psalmist said...

6Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;

The worshipers responded and listed more reasons for worship...

7for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care...

If God is your God, then you are a part of the family of God and you are under His care! Why would you not want to worship, love and be loved by, such a wonderful and trustworthy God? As the praise team gets ready to lead us. Please spend these next moments thinking about why you are here.

Think about the reasons you have to worship God in your personal life.  Examine your heart and ask God to cleanse it so you can worship Him in Spirit and in truth! Be real with Him and understand, it is a very good thing to worship our Savior. Let's pray!