Part 3: How iWorship
Icebreaker: Quick. What comes to mind when you hear the word, “Worship?” Probably “music,” right? But you know, music is just one method we’re supposed to use to worship God. But since last week we focused so extensively on music, I want to share some pretty eye-opening perspectives on it.
-During an interview with George Beverly Shea while the singer was 98-years-old, Ernie Couch learned about one of Shea’s earliest musical memories. When Billy Graham’s esteemed vocalist was about four-years-old, two visiting evangelists stayed in their home. The two musicians were very excited about a new song they wanted to teach the Sheas. That "new" song was "The Old Rugged Cross," which was published in 1913. Sometimes it’s helpful to remember that our old hymns were once contemporary songs.
Mature Living, March 2009, p.14
-(Read introduction from “His Praise Anew.”)
Intro: Music is just one method we use to worship God. We worship God through praying. We worship God through sharing our testimonies. We worship God through serving others. We even worship God through tithing. But you know, other than tithing, the number one method of worship that people get all huffed up about and the method that the enemy uses to cause the most division among friends is music. Different types of people have different types of ways they think music ought to be done. But again, the problem is deeper than just the music. The problem, as always, is with us, the people. Did you know there are 3 types of people in the average church service?
The 3 Types of People in the Average Church Service
1. Chilled – The service is a cold a sterile ritual. Goes through the motions.
-There are people in every service who are “chilled.” That is, they come to church, but nothing every really happens for them. The church service is just a cold, sterile ritual and they only went through the motions while they were there. There are many of you here this morning who, at some point in your life, where in this category. You went into a church service and it was just ritual. You just went in and you did things. You weren’t even sure why you were doing all of those things, but you did them because you were supposed to do them. And you walked out and you wondered why you were still empty. Chilled…that’s the response of some people who come to a worship service.
2. Thrilled – The service is a great show. Leaves thinking, “That was great.”
-Then you’ve got your people who are “thrilled.” They come to see a great show. If the leaders are funny and pastor is likeable and the music fits their taste, they walk out of the building and says, “Wow, that was just an incredible experience.” (Most American Christians fit into this category.)
3. Filled –Life changed through the service, worship God throughout the week, Sunday is the celebration of what God has been doing.
-And finally, there are people who are truly “filled.” This is what we’re going for here at Millville. Filled with power and experiencing the presence of God that can really make a difference in our lives. And this is really what I strive for every week. Not just to preach well or to be funny or to be well-spoken, because that can all change week-to-week. So I really try hard to just help you come into the presence of God, wherever you are in your life. I want you to encounter the Gospel. I want you to run smack dab into Jesus Christ when you come into this place. And some weeks that experience, when you really encounter Jesus, will give peace that you never thought possible. And some weeks that experience will bother you. And some weeks that experience will challenge you. And some weeks that experience will break your heart. But whatever happens week in and week out, I want you to see Jesus. Because if you’ll see Him, you’ll walk out of this place and you will be so beautifully changed.
-So when we all came into this service today, all 3 types of people are here. Now, I don’t know who is which type and you don’t either, so don’t bother trying to figure it out. But God does know. And chances are, you know which category you fall into. So we’re all in different places. And because of that, we all have slightly different notions about what worship looks like.
-Now, wherever you are in your life today, whatever category you fall into, I want to move you closer to truly worshipping God, this morning. The title of today’s message is “How iWorship.” And that’s the question I want to help you answer today, in your own life. How do you worship?
-How do you worship? It’s such a broad question, but would you believe that there is a right answer? Even more than that, would you believe that it’s a very specific answer? I know we live in a time where everything is subjective. And we love to use the phrase, “Well, what’s right for you isn’t right for everyone.” And that’s true with a lot of things in life, but not here. Not with worship. Here’s why: While there may be many different methods of worshipping God, there are 4 ways that we worship Him best.
Scripture: 1 Kings 18:16-39
16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel? 18 “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the LORD’s commands and have followed the Baals. 19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” 20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing. 22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the LORD’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”
Then all the people said, “What you say is good.” 25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “O Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. 27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. 30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which was in ruins. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs [a] of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.” 34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. 36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” 38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. 39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD –he is God! The LORD –he is God!"
-So, how do you worship God best? Here’s the key point to remember: worship is less about us and more about God. You see, we tend to put ourselves at the center of our worship experience. We ask, “Does this church meet my needs in worship?” People hop from church to church to church all the time because, “Well, the music didn’t suit me here, and the sermon didn’t suit me there, and the way people dress didn’t suit me over there…and so on and so forth.” But you know what? Worship that places what we want at the center of the experience is not worship at all. Because worship is about your heart. God doesn’t care about the external things. He cares about the internal things. He cares about what worship looks like in your heart and mind. So let’s talk about the 4 ways your worship God best. The example of Elijah will be our guide this morning.
The 4 Ways You Worship God Best
1. You worship God best when you engage in a real, living relationship with Him. (Verse 22)
Scripture: 1 Kings 18:22
“Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the LORD’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets.
-For worship to be what it needs to be, the relationship must be right. Do you think Elijah came to Mount Carmel spiritually cold? Do you think he came to this mountain unprepared in his walk with God? Of course not. He had spent years walking closely with God, day in and day out. His experience on Mount Carmel wasn’t the beginning of His worship, it was the culmination. The culmination of the life of a person who daily learned how to be close and intimate with God. It’s not the story of a man who came to Mount Carmel and all of the sudden called out to God and God just happened to answer.
-You know, there’s this tendency to make Elijah this “bigger than life” kind of character. Here was this prophet, this “great man of God,” this “powerhouse of faith.” But what you need to realize is that for him to come and make the bold statements of faith that he did, and to come and ask for fire to fall like he asked of God to do, it was not something that “just happened.” He didn’t just come to the mountain top and begin to worship at this high level. He didn’t push some spiritual button inside of himself and start to worship all of the sudden this way. He got there because of his relationship with God. He got there because of this process he had been going through of having a daily walk with His creator. Elijah had spent time with God, before he ever approached the place of worship. He had a wonderful, personal, intimate, daily relationship with Him.
-You see, you thing about intimacy in our relationship with God, I mean, let’s be honest, we’re not all where we need be. Remember the 3 groups we talked about a few minutes ago? There are some us here this morning and we know about God and that’s about it. You come once in a while to church, and you’re here today and you’re listening and you about Him.
-And then some who not only know about Him, but know Him. It’s personal knowledge. It’s a personal experience, but it’s pretty much limited to Sunday morning. You know, you come and you’re depending on Sunday morning to give you the “spiritual boost” you need to make it through the rest of the week. You know, you come and you get “spiritually high” and hope that the buzz will last until the next Sunday, when you can “get your fix” again. Christians can linger at this level for years and never move on to anything more substantial.
-But then there are some who not only know Him and meet him here on Sunday morning, but there are some of you that walk with Him and it’s a living, daily walk. Sunday is just sort like the cherry on top of the dessert. You’ve been with Him, you’ve been worshipping Him all week. It’s not like you’re walking in this morning and you haven’t opened your Bible since last Sunday. You’ve been worshipping all week and Sunday service is the party to celebrate what God’s been doing and what He’s going to do.
-You know, that’s where I wanna be, don’t you? The best part about a relationship with Jesus is that we don’t have to wait to come to a church service to get intimate with God. We can walk with God every moment of every day and we can be as close to Him as we desire to be. That’s how we really worship. And when Elijah came to Mount Carmel, the thing that’s significant for us to understand is that the relationship was already where it needed to be.
2. You worship God best when you approach Him with genuine repentance. – (Verse 37)
Scripture: 1 Kings 18:37
37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again
-When worship really happens, people begin to turn their hearts back to the Lord. Mount Carmel is a story of people who were undecided. It’s a story of people who were confused. It’s a story of people that were backslidden. It’s a story of people who had their priorities in the wrong order. It’s a story of people that had become focused on other things besides God. And Elijah knew it.
-He brought all these people to Mount Carmel to get their hearts right, again. He brought them up there to get their hearts back to God. In fact, if you noticed that prayer that we read earlier, his whole prayer was, “God, Help them to see your glory and help them to see you so that their hearts may turn back to you.” You see, the word “repent,” scares us. But if repentance is anything, it’s the renewal of worship. When you and I begin to repent, our hearts heart begins to warm towards God, again. And until we repent, our hearts just stay cold.
-Now, let’s be honest. Who do we tend to think needs to repent? Everyone but us, right? But what do you need to repent of? What’s keeping your heart cold? What do you need to change? What do you need to let God have control of? Remember when we talked about Isaiah a couple of weeks ago? What was his response when He saw the Lord in worship? “Woe is me!” That’s how we truly worship. We repent.
3. You worship God best when you submit to His rulership in your life.
Scripture: 1 Kings 18:39
“When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD –he is God! The LORD –he is God!"”
-I want you to notice something else about Elijah’s worship. He didn’t make it about Him. He didn’t make it about what He wanted or what the people wanted. He just prayed, “let it be known that you are God…and I am your servant. I have done this according…to your word. Answer me so that these people may know that…you are God.” And when the fire fell, what did the people do? They fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God.”
-Are you acknowledging that in your own life? When was the last time you just fell on your knees, so to speak, and acknowledged that you were not in control? And that what you wanted was not important? You see, for us to truly worship God, we’ve got to put Him first, ourselves last. Not second. I don’t know what second is, but it’s not me. It’s not what I want. It can’t ever be about us. Worship can’t ever be about us and what we get out of it. It must be what God wants and what He deserves out of it. That’s how we worship. We submit to His rulership.
4. You worship God best when you allow Him to renew your life.
-So the fire came down and then what? Well, there was a renewal that took place. It wasn’t always pretty, it wasn’t always comfortable. In fact, if you read the last verse of the passage, there was a lot of pain that came as a result of this renewal…but it was necessary for God to take His people where He wanted them to be in worship.
-So the question you need to ask yourself this morning is this: where does God want me to be in worship? Maybe you need to ask Him, “God, where do you want me in worship? How can I worship you more fully? What’s holding me back from really worshipping you the best that I can?” For some of you the thing that’s holding you back is your death-grip on a particular music style. You’ve never allowed God to renew your worship experience, so you hold on to what you’ve got for dear life. For some of you, you’ve never fully submitted to His rulership in your life. There’s an area in your life that you know is not pleasing to God but you just don’t want to turn it over to Him. You’ve never repented. And maybe you’re here this morning and you’ve never begun that daily, living relationship with the living God. Listen, He can’t renew your life until you’ve turned your life over to Him. You need to come to an altar in just a moment and accept God’s gift of this relationship.
-Now, here’s the funniest thing: when we give God the best we have to offer in worship, God gives us the best that He has to offer through worship:
What Worship Does:
1. Worship brings a new perspective. When we worship God, we see things differently.
2. Worship brings a desire to obey God. Worship gives us a tremendous desire to obey Him. When we’re not truly worshipping, we become weary of well-doing.
3. Worship helps us see that God is in control. When we really worship Him, it helps us to see that God is still on the throne, no matter what happens in our lives.
4. Worship gives us physical, emotional, and spiritual rest. True worship brings real peace into our spirit and our heart.
5. Worship brings us power. Worship empowers God’s people. When we worship Him and lift Him up, there’s an empowering that comes into our lives. And that empowering is what makes all the difference in the life of the true worshipper.
-Today, will you allow God to change how you worship? Will you commit to giving Him your best in worship? Will you offer it to Him today?