Summary: A message on the elements of worship.
HOW TO WORSHIP
INTRO: What is worship to you? Is it attending church on Sunday? Is it praying and Bible reading? It is teaching a Sunday School class? Genesis four reports man’s first experience in worship. The acceptability of Abel’s worship revolved around his attitude. The expression "firstlings" means: the best. Abel chose the best for God.
Modern attenders of worship need to learn how to worship. Primary consideration should be given to attitude. Let’s notice the attitudes that make worship acceptable.
I. REVERENCE FOR GOD.
Abel was thankful to God for blessing him with his herd. He brought a sacrifice to God. It was a voluntary sacrifice. God did not command him to bring one.
Abel recognized something about God. When he brought an offering, he acknowledged the reality of God. In bringing his offering he testified to his total dependence upon God, his indebtedness to him.
Being aware of God’s presence makes a person have deep reverence for him.
The distinctive feature of worship is awe in his presence. If we do not possess this reverence, we are not worshipping God. We have not learned to worship.
ILLUS: THE LIVING WORD In the early days of modern missionary outreach, a servant of the Lord was forced to flee Western China. An infuriated mob pursued him, determined to take his life. When he jumped on a riverboat in an attempt to escape, his assailants also climbed aboard. To get away from them again, he plunged into the swiftly flowing river, only to be the target of spears thrown by the mob.
Miraculously, he escaped death. Some years later, when the missionary related this story of God’s deliverance, a friend asked, "What verse came to you as you were darting beneath the boat to escape those spears?" "Verse?" he asked. "Why, the Lord Himself was with me!"
II. CONFESSION OF SIN.
Abel evidently recognized his sinfulness that caused him to worship. His offering was a confession to God. He acknowledged that he belonged to a fallen race.
Abel had a closeup on sin because of his parent’s experience. Sin was not just "God talk" but a real experience with him.
Since sin is involved in the experience of people, proper worship should include confession of sin.
ILLUS: REGULAR WASHING PAYS OFF The sign at a drive-in carwash said: REGULAR WASHING PAYS OFF. It’s not only a message to auto owners, it’s also a reminder of an important spiritual lesson. Just as cars require periodic washings to remove harmful dirt and grime, so Christians need continual cleansing to keep their lives bright and useful.
III. COMMITMENT TO GOD.
Abel’s worship was not just words. It involved action. He brought a choice animal from his flock. He was not satisfied merely to think about how great God is and how bad sin is. He did something.
Abel committed his best to the Lord. Proper worship involves giving of the best of life to God.
Public commitment is necessary to proper worship. We have not worshipped if our worship only contains weeping over sin. Genuine worship drives us from the church to our places of everyday life to apply what we have experienced.
ILLUS: WHEN THE NEWNESS WEARS OFF J. Vander Lugt says: When I was a young boy, my family moved to a dairy farm. Immediately my 8-year-old brother and I discovered that we were able to milk a few of the most gentle cows. This made us feel about 10 feet tall. So we got Dad’s permission to help in the morning, and we went to bed anticipating a 5 a.m. call.
When we heard Mother’s voice the next morning, the sky was still dark and our bedroom was ice cold, but we eagerly got dressed and headed for the barn. Enthusiastically, we milked eight cows that morning. It wasn’t too many days, however, until the newness wore off and the task became a drag. But alas! we couldn’t quit - we were stuck with the job.