II: "WORSHIP THE KING"
When I hear music that touches deep inside,
when music touches you in a certain way, it's no wonder
God surrounds his throne with music. Music enhances things.
II Chronicles 7:14. "If my people who are
called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek
my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear
from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
The point is that we have some things to do, and when we do
them, God hears, and participates in everything we do. God
created worship. Everything he created is for his pleasure.
Worship isn't about us at all. Worship is all about God. We
have an obligation to each other when it comes to worship.
You see, we're encouraged by one another when we worship collectively
to our God. In a nutshell, worship comes from the heart. This
topic, to many of us, is a new topic, but it is really timeless.
When is comes to worship (personally) I can think about my
own education in worship and I remember coming to Church and
sitting down and learning a great deal
from what was said from this very pulpit--and trying to assimilate
those facts into my life. And every week I looked forward
to learning more. Maybe you can share in those feelings. And
as a result we grew in our knowledge and we grew in certain
areas of spiritual knowledge, and the point is we grew, and
that was good. But as I also look back, my application of
worship has undergone a great deal of scrutiny--because I
didn't always worship God. What I did, at times, was I came
to hear what was said about God. I came to hear what the Bible
said, and that is a good thing, a great thing, but I'm telling
you that my understanding of worship wasn't always crystal
clear. It just wasn't an area that the Worldwide Church of
God focussed on in the past. Maybe your understanding of what
worship is went through a similar transition that mine did.
We should ask ourselves these questions when we look at what
we're doing in the area of worship: Is our worship service
worshipful? Are we worshipping God (as opposed to just hearing
about him)? Is our worship pleasing to God? Can we improve
our understanding of worship? Are we as a group, when we come
together, when we're a congregation that comes before our
God, when we're an entity known as this local Church, when
we come before God's throne in worship, are we really
seeking to worship God? So for us, as you can
imagine, this subject needed to be discussed. We found that
we had been lacking in our proper understanding of what true
worship of God was supposed to be.
So, what can we do to improve our understanding of what worship
is? That's where we turn to the Bible and ask God for his
direction. Why? So that we can worship our God with a
better understanding of just why we're here right now, on
this rainy day, where it would have been nice to stay under
the covers. Let's read Matthew 6:25-33. "Therefore I say to
you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what
you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap
nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly father feeds them.
Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying
can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about
clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow;
they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even
Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today
is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much
more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry,
saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or
'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles
seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these
things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added to you."
What do we see here? When we come to worship God we enter
into a relationship of love--a relationship with him. God
is love. When we worship him we're entering into that relationship.
And here we are in Matthew 6, a chapter filled with a lot
of information that Jesus Christ was giving to his disciples.
And along about verse 25 the little heading in my Bible says,
"Do Not Worry". Don't worry, be happy. The overwhelming thought
that Jesus wants us to know is that we shouldn't worry--if
we're with him, in him. And then in the middle of all these
'don't worry's he says in verse 33 "But seek first His kingdom",
first, above anything else, above any worries, above any blessings,
above anything seek his kingdom first and his righteousness.
How do we seek his righteousness? Where is his righteousness
that we could go there and seek it? How can we do that? How
can we launch into seeking that? Because it says, 'If we do
these things, lots of other things are going to be given to
us.' And so in the context of telling his disciples not to
worry he says "Seek me first, above everything else, seek
me." Where is the Lord's righteousness so we can go there
and seek it (verse 33)? God's throne, isn't it? How do we
get there? "Worship" is one of the ways we seek righteousness.
We must look past the worship style and look at the foundation
of worship--which is the purpose of worship.
Sometimes we're blind to seeking God in a better way than
we could. So what Jesus was saying here in this little passage
was that we need to seek God first, we need to seek his righteousness.
Worship is one of the ways that we seek righteousness. Worship
fills that void. Sometimes when we look at worship we tend
to look at the particular style. That's the part that we can
see. Sometimes we look at the style and forget the foundation.
We neglect to remember the foundation. We neglect the fact
of what is actually taking place. What is taking place is
that worship is going on. Worshipping God is going on, and
somehow, we're lost when we should be seeking. And we have
to grope around until we find out what we are doing.
So what is the chief end of man? Well, the textbook answer
is: "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever."
Is that your chief end? Is that what we seek in life is to
glorify God? You know glorifying God is an easy thing to say.
Glorify God can be transposed to worship--we
worship God in everything we do, and in various ways and in
various styles. But there are times when we come together,
and together we worship God. Everything that has been created
has been created to bring praise, glory and honor to God.
Take a look at God's creation and the intricacy of its' design,
the beauty and intricacy goes both macro and microscopic.
Look at the marvel of the DNA code, which man has only just
begun to crack. King David marveled, as do all astronomers,
at the glorious creation in the heavens. Now with super telescopes
and the orbiting Hubble telescope our marveling and awe for
the heavens only gets greater. Take the lowly mosquito, which
most of us hate. If you could put it under a powerful microscope
and see how it was made, you and I would be awestruck. Go
to the library and pick up a copy of Astronomy, look through
the back issues, watch the Discovery Channel, and remember--God
made all of this, God created all of this, the heavens and
the earth and all that is in them. The book of Psalms is full
of praise for God's heavenly and earthly creation. There is
so much musical praise and worship material in the book of
Psalms that our church used them almost exclusively in our
hymnal for years. Every action that God has ever taken or
will take has as its' intent to glorify him. He is the one
who created everything, without him nothing would exist. By
his will you and I sit here today [in whatever Christian congregation
we may find ourselves in]. We read last week in the book of
Romans, chapter three and verse twenty three, that we all
have something in common. And that common denominator is this,
that we all fall short of the glory of God. We see that God
is the point of everything. So true worship, the worship of
God, begins with the understanding of the God who is to be
worshipped. We have to know who God is in order to worship
him. And he reveals himself to us through Scripture. He reveals
himself to us and tells us everything we need to know about
him. And yet, what do we find? We find we fall short when
it comes to worshipping him.
Ineffective worship is almost always related to a diminished
view of God. If you're not able to fully worship then maybe
you don't fully know God. The more we know God, the more we
understand how much he is to be worshipped. Remember Enoch
in Genesis 5? We see that he walked with God. And then he
was not. He was no more. What happened to Enoch? Let's turn
to Hebrews 11.
Hebrews 11 is a chapter that is dedicated to faith. It is
called the "faith chapter" of the Bible In Hebrews 11:5 we
find out what happened to Enoch. And before he was taken away
he was commended, applauded as one who pleased God. That's
what it says about Enoch. Verse 6 says that "without faith
it is impossible to please God." So when someone says 'I feel
like I'm just not pleasing God.' Stop, ask yourself, 'Do you
have faith in him?' Yes? Well that's good, faith is pleasing
to God. Because anyone who comes to him must believe that
he exists and that he rewards those who--what?--earnestly
seek God. We have to seek God in order to worship him and
to glorify him. And that's what Enoch evidently did before
he was taken up.
We read about David's passion for God. When you have time,
read Psalm 24. In that Psalm, David with passion overflowing,
tells how much he loves God, and how much he seeks the Lord.
It so impressed the writers of Acts that in Acts chapter 13
they used David as an example. In Acts 13:22 it says "after
removing Saul, God made David their king. He testified concerning
David, 'I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own
heart. He will do everything I want him to do.' David was
willing to put everything aside and he sought God with his
whole heart. We're talking today about what's involved in
worship. Worshipping God comes from the heart. You have to
want to do it. It has to stem from the heart in such a way
to where it's overflowing and you just want to show God how
much you love him. What outstanding feature was it that allowed
God to chose David as the king? He wasn't an Olympic weight
lifter. As far as his stature went he was not impressive.
Was it because of his intellect? No, it wasn't necessarily
because of his intellect. What was it about David? It was
about the heart. He feared and loved God. He didn't hesitate.
He gave God credit for everything. Whenever there was a problem,
he went to God first. He sought God first.
How many times when we're in difficulties and trials and troubles,
how many times do we seek God first? There's a pattern,
an example here that later Jesus would say in Matthew 6:33,
that is the formula for seeking him. It has to stem from our
Let's turn to Luke 10. Here's a story that we're all familiar
with. Martha knew who Jesus was and was a follower of Jesus.
A rare opportunity came up for her. Jesus was travelling through
Bethany, her town. He got invited by Martha to her house.
Just think if you were in her place. What kind of opportunity
would that be for us? So in Luke 10:38 the story starts. Martha
opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who
it says sat at Jesus' feet listening to what he said. Let's
get the picture of what's going on here. Jesus is in the living-room
part of the home, with Mary sitting at his feet listening
to everything he was saying. His disciples are probably there
as well. Mary is just sitting there probably listening to
every word spoken. She's intent on staying right where she
is. Now in verse 40 we see Martha was distracted by all the
preparation that had to be made. She was the one who had invited
Jesus to her home. Now she was caught up in all the preparations
she was doing and became distracted. What happens when you
get distracted? Things are not in order the way you'd like
to have them. You get agitated. You look for justification
for this agitation. At this point she came to Jesus while
he was sitting there talking. She probably interrupted him,
or maybe, being a gentleman, he stopped to ask her what she
wanted. Martha said, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister
has left me to do all this preparation by myself!' 'Tell her
to help me. Listen, I invited you here and you've taken away
my help. I'm preparing a big meal over here for you. What
are you doing? Wait for me. Don't tell that story yet. Wait
for me.' There's a lot going on in that little verse. Jesus
knew Martha. He knew she was the type that wanted to have
everything perfect--but for who, the guest or herself? For
herself because that reflected back on her. If things weren't
perfect things were unsettled. She couldn't relax. She couldn't
be with Jesus until everything was perfect, the way she wanted
them to be. Do you know someone like that? That type of person
can drive you nuts, making you want to say, "Will you just
sit down!!!" "Forget about all this preparation!" Perfection
is a very hard standard to live up to, isn't it? Martha was
in the kitchen and she wanted to make this elaborate meal.
Jesus would probably have settled for a real plain meal--one
that didn't involve much preparation at all. "I'm here, where's
you attention?" "Is it somewhere else, or with me?"
Mary, Martha's sister chose to sit there and listen to Jesus,
listening to his words which we know are the words of life.
She chose to sit, listen and yes, worship him in that moment.
How did she worship him? She gave him her heart--her full
attention--he was what she was interested in fully. Worship
begins with the heart. Jesus was more important to Mary than
anything else. Neither one of these people were bad people
or slouches--but we see a choice being made here by each sister.
Mary's choice was to ignore all the preparation so she could
sit at the Lord's feet and hear everything he had to say.
Martha's choice was, 'I invited him, but I'm not ready yet
because I'm doing all this fancy food preparation.' You can't
fault the fact that she wanted to make a good meal, but what
was going on here? She was putting something else in front
of her Lord. This example doesn't mean we shouldn't do fancy
things. But service to Jesus Christ must not fill our lives
to such an extent that we have no time to worship him. That's
the most important thing. Sometimes we let so many activities
get between us and worship that worship can't take place--there's
no time left for it. To the perfectionist, if everything isn't
just so, he or she can't do what's really important, and in
this case, worshipping God. How can we put this? We shouldn't
be in the kitchen when Jesus wants us to be in the sanctuary.
Just that simple. We honor Jesus much more by sitting and
listening to him, than by providing excessively for his needs.
It's all about worship. That's the main point to that story--service
to our Lord must not take so much time that it interferes
with our worship of him. Worship is of the heart. The main
point is Jesus and the time we spend with him.
Philippeans 3:1-9. "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.
For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but
for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of the mutilation!
For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit,
rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,
though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone
else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so;
circumcised on the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of
the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning
the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church;
concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss
for Christ. But indeed I also count all things loss for the
excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom
I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as
rubbish, that I may gain Christ, the righteousness which is
from God by faith
" Here we learn something about
Paul and what he was like. Paul was a man of zeal, was a fireball
of energy. He had great compassion for Christ. Earlier in
his life he had a lot of anger, at Christians. Uncontrolled
anger does something to you, not just on the outside but on
your inside. It does something spiritually to you. But after
his conversion Paul was filled with compassion. This compassion
in Paul came from his heart. In chapter three he says, 'Rejoice
in the Lord, worship the Lord, be one with the Lord.' He's
saying basically, there's no other place you want to be but
in the Lord, in this relationship and the hands of God. He
says, 'Watch out for those dogs.' -- People who try to lead
you away from this precious relationship with God. In verses
4-6 Paul goes through seven things or reasons why he could
as a practicing Jew have confidence if he wanted to. Everything
the Jews stand for--the Law--all of it's me. But he then says,
'Guess what? All those things don't mean a thing!' He says
that in verse 7. He then says whatever I considered to my
profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What happened
here in his life to change Paul's mind so radically? Jesus
Christ changed his mind, affected his heart, and now his heart
told him through Christ that those things don't enter you
into the relationship with Me. What enters you into a relationship
with me is that my Father in heaven calls you (John 6:44),
and you then believe that I am the Christ. And when you do
this, it affects your heart. You become a changed person,
not your old self anymore. Was Paul the same before and after
his conversion? No he wasn't. Paul discarded all those things
that were important to him before, because his identity was
not in those things anymore. His identity was in Jesus Christ.
Worship involves all of God, every aspect of God. It involves
God the Father. When we worship God it involves God the Father.
He is the object of our worship. In I Peter 2:9 it says, "But
you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises
of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."
When we worship we also worship God's Son, Jesus the Christ.
He is our Mediator. He is the Mediator of our worship. In
I Peter 2:5 it says, "you also, as living stones, are being
built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up
spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."
In other words, we can't fully worship God until we go
through Jesus Christ. And the third part of worshipping
God is God the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the enabler of our
worship. "We who worship by the Spirit" it says in Philippeans,
and in Romans it says, "and by the Spirit we're able to say
Abba, Father." The Spirit enables us to do that. Romans 8:9-16.
"But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed
the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have
the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you,
the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because
of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus
from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the
dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His
Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors--not
to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live
according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit
you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For
as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons
of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again
to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we
cry out, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness
with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children,
then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed
we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together."
But it all comes down to the heart. When we worship, everything
we do points to the greatness of God. We come to realize that
worship should permeate every part of our lives. Worship should
be a lifestyle that you and I are involved with--how we live.
This doesn't mean we stop being normal, that we put on robes
and sandals and walk around with our hands clasped, muttering
and mumbling constantly in worship.
In our modern world today, in the city of Waltham, in the
community where you live, WE PRAY REVIVAL TO TAKE PLACE, DON'T
WE? If revival took place on this level, on the community
level, the state level, the country level --if that type of
revival took place on that type of level, would that be a
powerful witness to the power of God? What would happen if
this happened, if revival took place at that level? Worship
would become a community lifestyle, because everyone would
be doing it. The community would then be worshipping God by
how they live and change would take place. When we worship,
we see, hear and understand God, and in doing so we enter
into a relationship with him that involves worship. If this
happened on a community level, people would be flocking to
their churches, and flocking into a relationship with God
that they don't have now, and everything would change. Our
lives should change when we truly understand worship. Unfortunately
that hasn't occurred--but what about me and you? Do we encounter
God in a very real and tangible way? Do we encounter him when
we come to worship? Is God real to us? Is he living in your
life? Are we worshipping him? "The real factor in worship
is a heart desire for God. The reason it fails to occur in
a pew is because it fails to occur in the daily routine of
living." That came from an excellent resource which will
help further your understanding of worship. It is a book titled:
"Worship: Rediscovering the Missing Jewel."
There are a lot of things we could point to and say "that's
the reason worship isn't taking place, that's the reason why
we're not in the relationship we want to be with God. This
is the "If only everything was perfect, then I could worship"
syndrome that Martha had in Luke 10. We all fall short of
the glory of God, but what we need to do is have it take place
in our hearts, as a part of our daily lives Monday, Tuesday,
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Then when
we come together our worship takes on more meaning because
we have been worshipping by ourselves all week long. But now
we have all our brothers and sisters with us and we're all
coming to the Throne of Righteousness and Grace to worship
the King. That's what it's all about.
What was the point of our redemption? We were far off from
God before he entered into our lives. II Corinthians 5:16-21.
"Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the
flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is
in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away;
behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of
God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ,
and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is,
that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not
imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us
the word of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors
for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore
you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might
become the righteousness of God in Him." Our sins take
us away from God, but they don't separate us from God (as
we used to believe and some still do) because he forgives
those sins--all of them--the ones we did in the past, the
ones that we do now, and the ones that are down the road--are
forgiven!!! What stands between us and God is our lack of
giving glory to God--of knowing Who and What He Is. Sin is
just a by-product, so to restore our broken relationship with
God is it just to stop sinning and then we're O.K.? No! It's
not going to make it O.K. To simply stop sinning will not
bring you into a relationship with God. To restore the broken
relationship with God it takes worship. It's through worship
that restoration takes place.
What's the primary purpose of the Church? The responsibility
of the Church is to Worship the Living, Breathing God on a
weekly basis. Worship is our highest calling. We do so to
respond to what God has done for us. So again, what does the
Church and worshipping God in the Church do for us? Paul explains
in Ephesians 4:1-6, 11-16. "I therefore, the prisoner of the
Lord, beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling with
which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness,
with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring
to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There
is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one
hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one
God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all,
and in you all
And He Himself gave some to be apostles,
some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry,
for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to
the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God,
to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness
of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to
and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by
the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they
lie in wait to deceive, but, speaking the truth in love, may
grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ--from
whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every
joint supplies, according to the effective working by which
every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the
edifying of itself in love."
[This two part article was written from the notes taken from
two sermons given by Pastor Al Ebeling who pastors the Boston
congregation of the Worldwide Church of God meeting in Waltham,
Massachusetts. For more information about this local congregation
on-line, their address is: http://www.wcg.org/Churches/US/MA/Boston/index.htm
"For a good book detailing more about what Praise and Worship
are, be sure to order this book title WORSHIP AND MUSIC MINISTRY,
by Rick & Dave Newton. It can be ordered online at http://www.thewordfortoday.org/
The Word For Today
P.O. Box 8000
Costa Mesa, CA 92628
or call: 1 (800) 272-WORD
Letter to radio station WCHP regarding musical
parodies of modern tunes:
Hey Teri & Tonya
This morning you featured two songs by a musical group called
"Apologetics" who specialize in taking popular music tunes
and reworking the lyrics into 'Christian' parodies. You played
"Living the Life That Jesus Spoke Of" (Living La Vita Loca)
and "La Bible" (La Bamba). You asked for listener comments.
I say "Two thumbs up"! You may already know the following
story - this is quoted from an 'insight' in the New Student
Bible NIV version: page 509 Lyrics for the Living God William
Booth, believing the 19th-century English church had become
too refined to reach the citie's poor, took the gospel into
the streets. He organized his workers into a "salvation army,"
... Salvation Army recruits did not stick to traditional hymns
but invented their own words for rousing popular tunes. "Here's
to Good Old Whiskey" became "Storm the Forts of Darkness."
Booth had his doubts about this trend until one night, hearing
a beautiful rendition of "Bless His Name, He Sets Me Free,"
he asked about the tune. "Why, Mr. Booth, that's 'Champagne
Charlie Is My Name,'" the embarrassed singer replied. "That
settles it," Booth said. "Why should the devil have all the
best tunes?" Soon 400 bands were crashing about England, playing
hit tunes with Christian words. David and his people would
have liked that spirit. Many of the psalms were meant to be
sung, and sung joyfully. Modern church formality seems far
removed from their frequent command: "Sing for joy! Shout
aloud!" Their instruments included cymbals, tanbourines, trumpets,
ram's horns, harps and lyres. Sometimes dancing erupted. ...
Every generation of Christians renews the discovery of this
"new song," sometimes through the music of their forebears,
sometimes in a form that shocks their solemn elders. The Salvation
Army did, as did the Jesus Movement in the 60s and Christian
rock music in the 80s ad 90s. David would not have been surprised.
He jolted his own wife with spontaneous dancing (see 1 Chronicles
15:29). When people know God, they come to life with a jubilant
song on their lips.