Summary: Most of us think we have worshiped when we have felt the music has been uplifting and the sermon challenging... but Scripture seems to say something else. What do you think God believes is the mark of true worship?
OPEN: I love to collect stories, jokes and all kinds of odd information. As I was going through my files, I happened on the following oddities about how did we ended up with the measurements we now use as a society.
• Inch – was based upon a King by the name of Edgar… and an inch was the distance on his thumb from knuckle to tip. Of course, once he died, they had to come up with another way to make that measurement and so they began using barleycorns instead.
• Our present day Foot – was based upon the length of King Charlemagne’s foot.
• King Henry gave us the Yard – measured from his nose to the tip of his fingers
• Our mile is presently 5280 feet. But originally it was a Roman measurement which was based upon the distance a Roman soldier could cover in 1000 paces - about 5000 feet.
But British farmers measured their fields in "furlongs", which were 660 feet long and they didn’t want to change. So when the mile was introduced to England, it was changed to 5280 feet - or exactly 8 furlongs.
• Does anybody know the distance from a baseball pitcher’s mound to home plate? 60 feet, 6 inches. The pitching distance was 50 feet until 1893 - when some baseball executives changed it to 60 feet. But the surveyor they hired to remap their infield misread their instruction - he saw 60 feet 0 inches and tho’t it was 60 feet 6 inches. The extra 6 inches have been there ever since.
• And lastly, the length of a marathon is how far? 26 miles 385 yards. The distance of a marathon was first standardized at 25 miles in 1896. During the 1908 London Olympics, however, Queen Alexandra wanted her grandchildren to see the start of the race. So, the starting line was moved back 1 mile and 385 yards - onto the front lawn of Windsor Castle. Marathons are still that length today.
APPLY: And that is how we got many of the measurements that we now have.
As I reflected on this information, a question occurred to me: How do we measure worship?
How do we know “when” we have worshipped?
(I allowed audience to respond. They most often spoke of what THEY got out of the worship service).
You know, until I began to prepare this sermon… that’s how I thought about worship as well. If the music was uplifting and the sermon was inspiring and there was a spirit of awe and reverence… then I regarded the church service as worshipful.
I. But then, I began to realize that the Bible looked at worship differently.
The Greek word for “Worship” literally means to “kiss” or “embrace.” In other words, when we worship, we are kissing God… or showing how much we love and adore Him.
Psalms 95:6 “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker”
Heb. 12:24 - “…let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe”
Revelation 4:10 “…the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne”
These were actions of worshippers who wanted to show God how much they loved Him.
And so worship exists, not so much so that we feel “worshipful” but so that we can properly show God how much WE love Him.
There are many tools that God has given His people to use in worship. For example, in the Old Testament, worshippers would show their love to God by their sacrifices and offerings. When Abraham took his son up on the mountain TO SACRIFICE, he told his servants: “We will WORSHIP and then we will come back to you.” Genesis 22:5
Throughout the Law, God detailed what kinds of sheep and goats and bulls He desire in worship. And if you wanted to show adoration for God those types of sacrifices you would expect to use.
However, in the Church we don’t offer up those kinds of sacrifices anymore. Instead, when we think of worship we think of some very basic activities: Singing, praying, taking communion, listening to a sermon and having fellowship.
And at our best - when we’re REALLY worshipping the way that we should - all of those activities should be our attempt to focus our minds on God. We should strive to make all of that to be an expression of our love FOR God.
ILLUS: In the first church I served in, someone had put a sign on the pulpit: “Sir, we would see Jesus!” And since that day, every Sunday I get into this pulpit, that image has been in my mind/ goal - I want to help you see Jesus. I want to help you to love Jesus more and more and more because of what you hear. I see that as my part in worship.