Summary: God is worthy of worship because of His nature. This sermon considers how various aspects of God's nature should shape our worship of Him, lest it become meaningless with repetition.
I. In the novel “The American” by Henry James, Count Valentin remarks to Newman about some of the terrible things Newman has endured. “You’ve spent some awful, some deadly days, and you’ve done some extremely disagreeable things: you’ve shoveled sand, as a boy, for supper, and you’ve eaten cat in a gold-digger’s camp… you’ve sat through Methodist sermons….”
A. Much of world would agree that sitting through a worship service is an “extremely disagreeable thing,” right up there with shoveling sand or living on the edge of starvation.
B. Early Christians had a very different attitude than that toward their worship. In Acts 2:42-47, Luke describes the early Christians as continuing “steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” [NKJV]. He describes how “fear came upon every soul,” that is, great reverence and awe of God. And he tells us that they were “continuing daily with one accord in the temple, … praising God and having favor with all the people.”
How do we feel about worship? Is it something we do gladly, even eagerly? Or is it something to be endured?
C. Consistent attendance is important. Heb 10:23-27 reminds us of the importance of assembling for worship and cautions us against “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some.” The writer explains that we need that opportunity to exhort one another lest we fall into willful sin, in which case we are left with only “a certain fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation.” But if we back up to verses 21 and 22, we find that when we come before God it is also necessary that we have the proper attitude (“with a true heart”).
D. We need to not simply “go to worship service,” but to truly “go and worship.” Like anything we do often, there is a danger that it becomes habitual to the point of doing it without thought. Mark Twain recognized this tendency of man in “Tom Sawyer.” As Tom listened to the preacher leading public prayer, “he kept tally of the details of the prayer unconsciously—for he was not listening, but he knew the ground of old, and the clergyman’s regular route over it….” It is so easy to just put our minds into neutral through the entire service, not really listening to the sermon or prayers, and even singing the hymns without thinking about the familiar words.
In contrast, John 4:23 tells us that “the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth….” Worshipping in truth means that our worship must be conducted in the manner in which God has instructed us to worship Him. Worshipping in spirit means that we must not simply go through the motions of the acts of worship, but must put our hearts and minds into our worship.
How important is this? Consider God’s actions when Aaron’s sons became too casual in their worship to God, as recorded in Lev 10:1-3. “10:1 Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. 10:2 So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. 10:3 And Moses said to Aaron, ‘This is what the LORD spoke, saying: “By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.” ’” Imagine the carefulness with which future priests must have served in the temple. It is absolutely essential that when we worship God today we do so with the utmost respect for and awareness of His holiness.
Consider Paul’s chastisement of the church at Corinth in 1 Cor 11:17-22. He begins by telling them that they “come together not for the better but for the worse.” In essence, he is telling us that if we worship without the proper attitude, we are better off not to worship at all.
E. Worship is a focused recognition of God’s nature and of His position relative to ourselves. Thus the nature of our God should largely determine the nature of our worship. Let’s look at the nature of God and consider just how that should affect our worship.
II. First, God is unimaginably powerful.
A. God spoke the earth and everything in it into existence. In contrast, what can we create from nothing? Rev 4:11 states that God, by virtue of His position as creator, is deserving of glory and honor. “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” The verse before that describes the twenty-four elders about God’s throne as worshipping God by casting their crowns before His throne. So our own worship should be in a spirit of complete humility, recognizing God as our creator.