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Summary: 3 of 3 of the series, "The Heart of Worship". Yes there is a prize in worship. Only it may not be what you think...

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the prize of worship

John 20:10-18; James 4:8

READ AT BEGINNING OF SERVICE:

John 20:10-18 (NIV)

10 Then the disciples went back to their homes, 11 but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?" "They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don’t know where they have put him." 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 "Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him." 16 Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ’I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’" 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.

INTRODUCTION

Today is the last message in the series on "The Heart of Worship". Before we begin this morning I’d just like to take a few moments to summarize what I spoke about in the last two messages in this series so as to provide some background for today’s message.

Remember that the heart of Worship – the essence of worship is found in the midst of people who are hungry/thirsty for more of God. True worship flows out of a deep, wrenching hunger and thirst desire to know God and not only to know Him but to dwell in His presence. It goes beyond the ritual or traditional worship into true God-inspired worship.

The first message of the series was the presence of worship. From the words of Jesus in John 4:23-24 and through the illustration of these words in Luke 7:36-50 we learned that true worship is not determined by place or posture but by the attitude of our hearts and the longing of our spirits after the heart of God.

True worship is birthed from a heart that has reverence for who God is, that is humble and repentant, and that has a penetrating love for God. True worship is not only birthed from these attitudes of our heart but also from the longing of our spirit after God’s heart – when we seek the giver not the gifts and are concerned more with ministry to God rather than ministry FROM God.

In the second message of this series I talked about the price of worship. Through the account of the Israelites at Mount Sinai in Exodus 19:1-20:21 we learned that there is a big difference between worship and WORSHIP! The Israelites didn’t enter into a place of intimate worship with God because they were afraid to pay the price and sent Moses in instead. Paul wrote in Romans 12:1 that our spiritual act of worship is to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.

True worship is birthed by the attitude of our hearts and by the longing of our spirits after the heart of God but as the Israelites understood there is a price to remaining in this intimate place with God. The price of worship is ourselves! God wants us! In the process of bringing ourselves to God as living sacrifices in true worship there are some uncomfortable places that we’ll find ourselves: The place of repentance; the place of sacrifice; and the place of brokenness. As we begin to enter into true worship we’ll be confronted with the price that has to be paid and then we’ll have to ask ourselves – do we want to stay back and watch or do we want to enter into the intimate presence of God – knowing that it will cost us ourselves!

But after all this has been said, after we’ve learned about the presence of worship and the price of worship today it’s time to talk about the wonderful, blessed, glorious prize that is experienced by true worshippers in the midst of true worship.ILLUSTRATION

The Call to Worship had just been pronounced starting Easter Sunday Morning service in an East Texas church. The choir started its processional, singing "Up from the Grave He Arose" as they marched in perfect step down the center aisle to the front of the church. The last lady was wearing shoes with very slender heels. Without a thought for her fancy heels, she marched toward the grating that covered that hot air register in the middle of the aisle. Suddenly the heel of one shoe sank into the hole in the register grate. In a flash she realized her predicament. Not wishing to hold up the whole processional, without missing a step, she slipped her foot out of her shoe and continued marching down the aisle. There wasn’t a hitch. The processional moved with clock-like precision. The first man after her spotted the situation and without losing a step, reached down and pulled up her shoe, but the entire grate came with it! Surprised, but still singing, the man kept on going down the aisle, holding in his hand the grate with the shoe attached. Everything still moved like clockwork. Still in tune and still in step, the next man in line stepped into the open register and disappeared from sight. The service took on a special meaning that Sunday, for just as the choir ended with "Allelujah! Christ arose!" a voice was heard under the church shouting…"I hope all of you are out of the way ‘cause I’m coming out now!" The little girl closest to the aisle shouted, "Come on, Jesus! We’ll stay out of the way." (Autoillustrator.com, "WORSHIP")

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