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Summary: This sermon is designed to help people consider the true meaning of Worship and to view their own "worship" through the prism of scripture and the example of the widow's gift

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Mark 12:41-44 – Authentic Worship?

or Picking Blackberries?

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

We are here... to WORSHIP the Lord.

Though I am glad I receive encouragement at church from my friends - you truly ARE a blessing to me… and though I am thankful that I am helped when I come here and so many of my needs are met – this isn’t about ME or what I can get out of it – WORSHIP is about the Lord!

I came across a profound poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who said, “Earth is crammed with heaven, and every common bush AFIRE with God – but only he who SEES takes off his shoes – the rest sit around it and pick blackberries.”

How often we come into this place simply to “pick blackberries.” How often we approach church with a “consumer” mindset – only worried about what WE get out of it. WHEN people attend church today, they judge everything that is done by whether or not it was pleasing to THEM. But what about the Lord?

WORSHIP isn’t about us – it’s about the HIM!

J. I. Packer once said, “To worship God is to recognize His worth – 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 Him,” and views it as the ultimate end, and from ONE point of view, the WHOLE duty of man!”

Scripture views the worship of God as a six-fold activity: PRAISING Him for who He IS and what He does; THANKING Him for His gifts and goodness to us; ASKING him to meet our needs and the needs of others; OFFERING him our gifts, our service, OURSELVES; LEARNING of Him from His word; and TELLING others – sharing with others the good news of God.

ALL OF THESE things are vital to worship – and WITHOUT THEM… we are just ‘picking blackberries.’

William Temple made this clear in his masterful definition of worship. He said, “Worship is the submission of our whole nature to God – it is the quickening of our conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of our mind with His truth; the purifying of our imagination by His beauty; the opening of our heart to His love; and the surrender of our will to HIS purposes – 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 … the source of all … sin.”

Jesus cares about our worship. Oftentimes in His ministry, you would find Him in or around the Temple, observing how man approaches God.

Prior to this scene in the Bible, the Lord angrily cleansed the Court of the Gentiles of the money changers and of those who sold animals for sacrifice.

TODAY He is BACK in the temple, but this time He has moved from the Court of the Gentiles to the Court of Women, and once again shows us how man had defiled the act of worship.

In the Court of Women, there were 13 collection boxes, where, people gave their tithes and offerings to the Lord. All of the contributions made would fund the various ministries and expenses of the Temple.

As the Lord observed all that was taking place around these collection boxes, ONE elderly woman, a widow, captured His attention; providing Him with a wonderful opportunity to teach His disciples a lesson about authentic worship.

There are three important truths we must not miss:

1. FIRST, we must understand that Jesus is interested in our “Worship.” Notice v. 41, “And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box.…”

“Watched” literally means “to be a spectator of…” “to gaze upon or analyze.” He was studying all that took place as man approached God in the name of “worship.”

Can you imagine the reaction I would get, IF, I happened to be the usher passing the plate, perhaps giving it a little extra jingle as I stopped in front of you, unfolding the tightly wrapped dollars, scrutinizing every check. Would THAT make you uncomfortable? Maybe not. Maybe you are such an open book that that kind of thing wouldn’t bother you. But what if the Lord was watching?? Would you do it differently if you felt HIS gaze?

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