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Summary: A lesson in worship exhibited in the first century.

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SERIES: “LESSONS FROM THE EARLY CHURCH”

TEXT: ACTS 20:7-12

TITLE: “UNDERSTANDING CORPORATE WORSHIP”

INTRODUCTION: A. Worship is important

1. Back during the days when people would travel by sailing ship, a young boy

was traveling with his father. The boy was amazed at all of the activity and work it

took to sail one of those ships.

He watched everything the sailors did and he noticed every night that the

captain of the ship would stand on the deck and point a funny-looking instrument

at the sky. He asked his father what the captain was doing. His father said, “That

funny-looking instrument is called a sextant. With it, the captain can ‘shoot the

stars’ and then he will be able to take our bearings. The captain can then see

where we are and find out if we are going in the right direction.”

2. Sometimes in life we become confused and we lose our way

--We need the checkpoint of worship to touch base with the Lord to see where we

are and find out if we’re going in the right direction.

3. This concept is vividly illustrated in Isaiah Chapt. 6

a. We see a description of a vision in which Isaiah is carried into the presence of

God on His throne

b. Isaiah is overwhelmed at the sound of the heavenly worship of the angels and

he’s profoundly confronted with his own unworthiness

c. He also dramatically comes into contact with God’s mercy and grace as Isaiah

sees his sinfulness made clean

d. During this scene of worship, God issues a call for those who would serve Him

--Isaiah gratefully responds to God’s call because of his encounter with God in

worship

4. J.J. Von Allmen, Worship: It’s Theology and Practice, “Christian worship is the

most momentous, the most urgent, the most glorious action that can take place in

the human life.”

B. Last Sunday evening, we looked at idolatry, which is improper worship

--Idolatry is when the emphasis in our life and our faith is on the wrong thing

1. We learned our emphasis should be on Jesus Christ – with our eyes, mind, and

heart centered on Him.

2. When our emphasis is on anything else, our worship becomes idolatrous

3. Scripture teaches us that worship has two categories: personal worship and

corporate worship

a. Personal worship is when we worship God individually and privately.

--Include times of prayer, Scripture study, reflection, and singing

b. Although personal worship is extremely important in our spiritual growth, I want

to focus tonight on corporate worship – when the individual members of the

Body of Christ come together publicly to join together in worship

C. Acts 20:7-12 – On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul

spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking

until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting.

Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep

sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from

the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young

man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive! Then he

went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left.

The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.

I. THE FORM OF CORPORATE WORSHIP

A. What is worship

1. The Hebrew of the Old Testament literally means “to bow down; to prostrate oneself”

2. The principal New Testament Greek word means “to kiss toward”

--referring to the hands or the feet; concept of subservience

3. Our word “worship” comes from the Old English “worthship”

--“to show worthiness, respect, and awe”

4. Ralph Martin, The Worship of God, sums up all these concepts with this definition: [Worship is] the

dramatic celebration of God in His supreme worth in such a manner that God’s worthiness becomes the

norm and the inspiration of human living.”

--Or as the sign in many church buildings says: “Enter to worship. Depart to serve.”

B. Many different styles of worship in churches across the world

--At its most extreme ends, these styles of worship range from

1. A very quiet and reverent liturgical style marked by

a. Strict adherence to a scripted order

b. Features responsive readings, printed unison prayers, and classical music

c. The preacher speaks in quiet, resonant, and reverent tones

2. The other end of the spectrum is a very jubilant and expressive congregational renewal style

a. Where the music is both heart-pumping and heart touching

b. Where the service flows with the expressions of those gathered

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