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Summary: People have different ideas of God and they have different ideas of their relationship with God. Do you really know the God you think you know?

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The up close God we claim to know

Acts 17:22-17:32

Introduction

This morning I want to talk to you about worship.

I know that worship means different things to different people, and we will address that in a few minutes.

I think it is sad that churches have worship wars.

Churches have been split because of music selection all in the name of worship.

Can God be pleased or get glory if churches are split? No.

Can God get glory when people worship different in the same service? Yes, I think so, and believe Scripture backs it up.

Songs of worship, prayers of worship, praising God with hands raised, saying amen, standing or sitting down are all parts of worship. Why? Because all these things are outward signs of worship and true worship of God happens on the inside.

Now, if on the inside amen comes out, hands are lifted, we praise God, it is not wrong.

If the hands are moving but nothing is happening on the inside from God, it is man’s attempt at worship and will usually leave us empty inside.

Apostle Paul in Acts 17 gives us a glimpse of worship and a glimpse of created idols for their own benefit.

Paul visited different temples in Thessalonica, Athens, Berea, Corinth, and Ephesus.

He got a different response as he visited each of them.

Some embraced him, some ran him off, some believed what he taught, and some stuck their feet in the sand and wanted no changes.

The text this morning is Paul at the temple in Athens.

Acts 17:22-17:32

Have we been worshipping this morning? And if we are, are we doing it for our benefit or God?

How many are worshipping a God that they do not know?

Apostle Paul found out as he went to different temples that they worshipped a God they did not know.

They were so afraid of those gods they attempted to worship them all.

They were so afraid of offending one that they build an altar to an unknown god so generically they would not miss any.

(22) “Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said, men of Athens! I can see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: To an unknown god.”

I. observation #1- Worship of God requires more than religion

Illustration-

Two preachers were on the roadside with a sign that read, “The end is near- Turn back now.” A passing driver yelled “leave us alone you religious nuts” Then the preachers heard squealing breaks followed by a loud splash. One preacher said to the other, “I told you we should have just said “bridge out.”

Why build an altar to an unknown god?

It was safe.

It was generic.

It did not cost them anything.

Churches can be full of people that are religious, but only a few that worship.

Religious people think it is all about them. The Pharisee’s, Sadducees, Stoics, Epicureans, all the philosophers of the world that think they know more than God.

They get religious and think that God is pleased.

James 1:26

“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

God’s definition of religion is not about self- it is about others, it is about staying pure in a world that wants to pollute you.

Worship cannot be about you. It is all about God.

The reason most cannot worship is because they think worship is about them. Coming into God’s presence and God making them feel good.

Worship is about pleasing God, and finding joy in Him.

It is about relationship; the relationship between the God of the universe and you.

Religion won’t draw you close to God.

Religion will not allow you to worship. Relationship with God will allow you to draw close and will allow you to be able to worship.

Religion won’t save you.

Religion won’t allow you a relationship with God.

All man-made religion will have you fall short of fulfillment.

In the name of religion is why we have many wars.

Apostle Paul dealt with people that wanted to be religious but missed the relationship with the one true God.

If God remains unknown to you- seek relationship with Him rather than trying to please Him by religion.

True worship will never happen while trying to be religious. It does happen when we worship God in Spirit and truth and seek Him wholeheartedly rather than fitting Him into our schedules.

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