Summary: What is important to a worship service in the house of God?
When we’re talking about worship, what is important to you? What do you want in a worship service? For some people is a comfortable, distraction-free environment. For other people, it’s making sure they’re in a good-sized congregation. Others might list style of music, the design of the building, or a time that elicits a feeling or emotion. All of you have an opinion what is important; that’s great. These things I listed are not wrong; they’re just not the main thing. Is it possible to get stuck on the non-essentials until our worship actually becomes an affront to God?
In his article ’Celebrating God in Authentic Worship’, pastor Glenn Wagner (Calvary Church, Charlotte, NC) points out: "I believe that one of the most evangelistic tools the church possesses, one desperately needed in today’s society, is authentic worship. People want to know, first of all, if God exists; then second, can they relate to Him? If God exists, is it really possible to connect with Him in a vibrant, dynamic way? In genuine, authentic worship, observers see real people connecting powerfully with the real God."
"Unfortunately, the current seeker-sensitive model - at least as many churches have practiced it - has led to a weak and anemic view of worship and prayer. That has led to weak and anemic relationships, both with God and with other believers. But the situation does not have to remain unchanged."
"The outflow of a focus on God, a submission to the real Jesus, and an emphasis on ever-deepening relationships is an energetic, joyful, Spirit-filled, congregational worship of the triune God. Genuine celebration erupts when God’s people discover who they are in Christ. And powerful prayer arises from the hearts of those who have truly entered the presence of God." (PreachingNow Newsletter, June 25, 2002).
I asked you a few minutes ago what is important to you when it comes to worship. How many of you before answering these questions first asked, ‘what is important to Jesus?’ Throughout the Bible, we find numerous instructions and exhortations from God on this topic. There are some essential elements for worship that must be present. I’m speaking in the context of our services on Sunday, but this can be applied in our daily lives as well In Genesis Chapter 4 we see a clear difference between our desires and God’s desires and the results.
I. The Reverence of Worship
In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell
Abel recognized that it was God who blessed his herd. He brought a sacrifice to God and it was the best Able had to give to God. There were no leftovers but before all other things, Able brought the firstborn.
Abel recognized something about God. When he brought an offering, he acknowledged the reality of God: His character, His nature, and His Holiness. In bringing his offering affirmed His total dependence upon God. The more we are aware of God’s presence, His character and nature, the deeper our 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 are no different than Cain bringing the minimum and our lives for ourselves.
II. The Object for Worship
Worship always has an object. There is always someone or something to which worship is directed. It may be God, it may be an idol, or it may be something else, but be assured, if there’s worship, there’s an object of that worship.
When you go back through the OT and look for what it has to say, it’s interesting how much God talks about the object of worship. Usually, God is warning Israel or rebuking Israel about worshiping false gods. The very first of the 10 Commandments was about this:
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth (Exodus 20:2-4)
God knew how wired we are for worship. We must be worshipping. In fact, while God was giving Moses these instructions, Israel was growing impatient at the foot of the mountain and they made a golden calf from their gold for them to worship. (Exodus 32:1-4)