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Worship God



        After attending church with his father one Sunday morning, before getting into bed that evening a little boy kneeled at his bedside and prayed, “Dear God, we had a good time at church today, but I wish you had been there.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



        Many years ago, Thomas K. Beecher once substituted for his famous brother, Henry Ward Beecher, at the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York. Many curiosity seekers had come to hear the renowned Henry Beecher speak. Therefore, when Thomas Beecher appeared in the pulpit instead, some people got up and started for the doors. Sensing that they were disappointed because he was substituting for his brother, Thomas raised his hand for silence and announced, “All those who came here this morning to worship Henry Ward Beecher may withdraw from the church; all who came to worship God may remain.”

        The example of godly leaders is helpful, but only the Savior is worthy of our worship and devotion. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



What is worship? Worship is to feel in your heart and express in some appropriate manner a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder and overpowering love in the presence of that most ancient Mystery, that Majesty which philosophers call the First Cause, but which we call Our Father Which Are in Heaven. 

A.W. Tozer, quoted in D.J. Fant, A.W. Tozer, Christian Publications, 1964, p. 90.

To worship God is to recognize his worth or worthiness; to look God-ward, and to acknowledge in all appropriate ways the value of what we see. The Bible calls this activity "glorifying God" or "giving glory to God," and views it as the ultimate end, and from one point of view, the whole duty of man (Ps. 29:2; 96:6; 1 Cor. 10:31).

Scripture views the glorifying of God as a sixfold activity: praising God for all that he is and all his achievements; thanking him for his gifts and his goodness to us; asking him to meet our own and others' needs; offering him our gifts, our service, and ourselves; learning of him from his word, read and preached, and obeying his voice; telling others of his worth, both by public confession and testimony to what he has done for us. Thus we might say that the basic formulas of worship are these: "Lord, you are wonderful"; "Thank you, Lord"; "Please Lord"; "Take this, Lord"; "Yes, Lord"; "Listen everybody!"

This then is worship in its largest sense: petition as well as praise, preaching as well as prayer, hearing as well as speaking, actions as well as words, obeying as well as offering, loving people as well as loving God. However, the primary acts of worship are those which focus on God directly -- and we must not imagine that work for God in the world is a substitute for direct fellowship with him in praise and prayer and devotion.

James Packer, Your Father Loves You, Harold Shaw Publishers, July 1986,  P. 15.

Neil Marten, a member of the British Parliament, was once giving a group of his constituents a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament. During the course of the visit, the group happened to meet Lord Hailsham, then lord chancellor, wearing all the regalia of his office. Hailsham recognized Marten among the group and cried, "Neil!" Not daring to question or disobey the "command," the entire band of visitors promptly fell to their knees! 

Today in the Word, July 30, 1993.

True biblical worship so satisfies our total personality that we don't have to shop around for man-made substitutes. William Temple made this clear in his masterful definition of worship:

For worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose -- and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.

Warren W. Wiersbe, The Integrity Crisis, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991, p. 119.

Deeply immersed in meditation during a church service, Italian poet Dante Alighieri failed to kneel at the appropriate moment. His enemies hurried to the bishop and demanded that Dante be punished for his sacrilege. Dante defended himself by saying, "If those who accuse me had had their eyes and minds on God, as I had, they too would have failed to notice events around them, and they most certainly would not have noticed what I was doing."

Today in the Word, March 10, 1993.

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was present at the Vienna Music Hall, where his oratorio The Creation was being performed.  Weakened by age, the great composer was confined to a wheelchair.  As the majestic work moved along, the audience was caught up with tremendous emotion. When the passage "And there was light!" was reached, the chorus and orchestra burst forth in such power that the crowd could no longer restrain its enthusiasm.

The vast assembly rose in spontaneous applause.  Haydn struggled to stand and motioned for silence. With his hand pointed toward heaven, he said, "No, no, not from me, but from thence comes all!" Having given the glory and praise to the Creator, he fell back into his chair exhausted.

Daily Bread, September 20, 1992.

Barclay quotes William Temple, the renowned archbishop of Canterbury, as defining worship as quickening the conscience by the holiness of God, feeding the mind with the truth of God, purging the imagination by the beauty of God, opening the heart to the love of God, and devoting the will to the purpose of God 

Matthew R. Mounce.

The citizens of Feldkirch, Austria, didn't know what to do.  Napoleon's massive army was preparing to attack. Soldiers had been spotted on the heights above the little town, which was situated on the Austrian border. A council of citizens was hastily summoned to decide whether they should try to defend themselves or display the white flag of surrender. It happened to be Easter Sunday, and the people had gathered in the local church. The pastor rose and said, "Friends, we have been counting on our own strength, and apparently that has failed. As this is the day of our Lord's resurrection, let us just ring the bells, have our services as usual, and leave the matter in His hands. We know only our weakness, and not the power of God to defend us." The council accepted his plan and the church bells rang. The enemy, hearing the sudden peal, concluded that the Austrian army had arrived during the night to defend the town. Before the service ended, the enemy broke camp and left.

Source Unknown.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. If it were possible for a created soul fully to 'appreciate,' that is, to love and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul would be in supreme blessedness. To praise God fully we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God, drowned in, dissolved by that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression. Our joy is no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds. 

C.S. Lewis.

God seeks and values the gifts we bring Him--gifts of praise, thanksgiving, service, and material offerings. In all such giving at the altar we enter into the highest experiences of fellowship. But the gift is acceptable to God in the measure to which the one who offers it is in fellowship with Him in character and conduct; and the test of this is in our relationships with our fellow men. We are thus charged to postpone giving to God until right relationships are established with others. Could the neglect of this be the explanation of the barrenness of our worship? (Matt 5:24) 

G.C. Morgan.


James Michener, writing in his book, The Source, tells the story of a man named Urbaal, who was a farmer living about 2200 B.C.  He worshiped two gods, one a god of death, the other a goddess of fertility.  One day, the temple priests tell Urbaal to bring his young son to the temple for sacrifice--if he wants good crops.  Urbaal obeys, and on the appointed day drags his wife and boy to  the scene of the boy's "religious execution" by fire to the god of death. After the sacrifice of Urbaal's boy the several others, the priests announce that one of the fathers will spend next week in the temple, with a new temple prostitute. Urbaal's wife is stunned as she notices a desire written more intensely across his face than she had seen before, and she in overwhelmed to see him eagerly lunge forward when his name is called. The ceremony over, she walks out of the temple with her head swimming, concluding that "if he had different gods, he would have been a different man."

Erwin Lutzer, Pastor to Pastor,  p. 89.

During the tenure of the great orator Henry Ward Beecher, a visiting minister (Beecher's brother) once substituted for the popular pastor. A large audience had already assembled to hear Beecher, and when the substitute pastor stepped into the pulpit, several disappointed listeners began to move toward the exits. 

That's when the minister stood and said loudly, "All who have come here today to worship Henry Ward Beecher may now withdraw from the church. All who have come to worship God keep your seats!" 

Today in the Word, April 1989, p. 22.

After attending church one Sunday morning, a little boy knelt at his bedside that night and prayed, "Dear God, we had a good time at church today--but I wish you had been there!"

Source Unknown.

Types Of Worship In The New Testament
1. The example of Nadab and Abihu serves as a very important example
   for us today in regards to rendering worship to God - Lev 10:1-3
   a. When they offered in worship something the Lord had not
      commanded, it was taken by the Lord as a sign of disrespect for
      His Holiness
   b. Such examples were written for our learning - cf. 1 Co 10:11
2. As children of God ...
   a. We are to be holy before the Holy One who called us - cf. 1 Pe 1:
   b. Therefore it is equally important that we treat God as holy!
   c. This we can do in our worship by doing exactly as He instructs in
      His Word!
3. To be sure that we do this in regards to our MUSIC in worship, I
   would like for us to consider what the NT has to say about:
   a. The nature of worship in general
   b. And especially about the music in NT worship
[In this lesson, we will investigate what the NT says about worship in 
general. Beginning with the fact that there are different ...]
      1. Referred to by Jesus in Jn 4:20-24
      2. This is the type of worship expected by God today ("an hour is
         coming, and NOW IS")
      3. Since this concerns us personally, we shall deal with it in
         more detail later
      1. Referred to by Jesus in Mt 15:7-9
      2. This worship is the result of:
         a. Following traditions of men and ignoring the commands of 
            God on a particular subject
         b. Also, when worship is not done "from the heart"
      1. Referred to by Paul in Ac 17:22-23
      2. This is worship offered in the absence of a knowledge of God's
         will concerning who He is and how He is to be worshipped
      1. Referred to by Paul in Co 2:20-23 (KJV)
      2. This worship, closely aligned with VAIN worship:
         a. Is the result of doing what WE like and WE think is good
         b. But not taught by God in His Word (cf. Nadab & Abihu)
[It should be evident, then, that not just ANY worship is acceptable to
God!  There are different kinds that can be offered, but only ONE is 
Since God will only accept "TRUE" WORSHIP, we had better understand
what is involved ...]
      1. "the true worshipers will worship the Father IN SPIRIT AND
         TRUTH;" - Jn 4:23
      2. But what is meant by the phrase "in spirit and truth"?
      3. Notice first the contrast being made by Jesus - cf. Jn 4:19-24
         a. The Jews had been worshiping correctly by going to 
         b. But now the time was coming when place was not important
            (as it was in the OT)
      4. Thus the contrast is between OT and NT worship!
         a. Somehow, OT worship had not been "in spirit and truth"
         b. But NT worship would be!
   [The contrast becomes more evident now as we define what is meant
   to worship "in spirit and in truth"]
      1. Some understand this to mean "to do so with sincerity, from
         the heart"
         a. But this does not fit in with the idea that Jesus is making
            a contrast between OT and NT worship
         b. For sincerity was required just as much under the OT - Deu
            6:4-7; Isa 1:10-18
      2. A better interpretation is that to worship in spirit means to
         offer "spiritual worship"
         a. In contrast to worship that is physical or fleshly
         b. This contrast is in harmony with the context
            1) Jesus began by saying "God is Spirit"
            2) Therefore the worship of Him is to be "spiritual", that
               is, more in keeping with His nature
         c. This interpretation is in harmony with what we learn else-
            where about the contrast between OT and NT worship
            1) From He 9:1-10 we learn that OT worship consisted of
               FLESHLY ordinances; e.g.:
               a) A physical structure (tabernacle)
               b) Special clothing for priests
               c) Lampstands
               d) Burning of incense
               e) Instruments of music
               f) Animal sacrifices
               -- all of which appeal to the PHYSICAL senses
            2) But NT worship is geared more toward the SPIRITUAL side
               of man:
               a) God's temple is spiritual, made up of Christians -
                  1 Co 3:16; Ep 2:19-22
               b) All Christians are priests, offering up spiritual
                  sacrifices - 1 Pe 2:5,9; Ro 12:1; He 13:15
               c) Our prayers are sweet incense - Re 5:8
               d) Our music is making melody with the HEART - Ep 5:19
            3) The physical ordinances of the OT were to last until a
               "time of reformation" - He 9:9-10 (which has occured
               with the coming of the New Covenant)
      3. To "worship in spirit", then, is to offer up SPIRITUAL worship
         as taught in the NT and not the PHYSICAL as found in the OT.
      1. What is meant to worship in "truth"?
         a. To worship according to the commands of God? (as so often
         b. Certainly we should do this
         c. But again, this is no contrast to what God expected in the
            OT - cf. Deu 5:32-33
         d. Jesus admitted that the Jews were right in their worship 
            - Jn 4:22
         e. So the contrast is NOT between "TRUE" and "FALSE" worship
      2. The contrast is between that which is "TRUE" (or real), and 
         that which had been a "SHADOW" pointing toward the true!
         a. Many elements of OT worship were simply a "shadow" or 
            "figure" of what was to come
            1) The Tabernacle was a symbol - He 9:8-9
            2) The Law with its worship was only a "shadow" of that
               which was to come - He 10:1
         b. Christ is now in the the TRUE tabernacle (heaven)- He 9:
            1) Therefore we should expect the worship of the TRUE to be
               different from that of the SHADOW
            2) And we have already seen that to be the case:
               a) The OT worship, which was but a SHADOW, was PHYSICAL
                  in nature
               b) But N. T. worship, which God now expects of "true
                  worshipers", is according to the TRUE realities (God
                  is Spirit, Christ in heaven) and is therefore 
                  SPIRITUAL in nature
1. We see that there are different types of worship, but only one is
   now acceptable to the Father
2. We see that this worship is "in spirit and in truth"...
   a. It is not the physical worship found in the OT which was only a
      "shadow" of what was to come
   b. But a spiritual worship which is the true substance of what God
      wants of us in worship
3. Our next study shall examine the TRUE, SPIRITUAL music God wants in
   the worship of the church, as revealed in the NT


--《Executable Outlines