Summary: We come to church and participate in all the schedule, but are we worshipping? What do we need to do to really worship?
What has happened to our worship?
Text: John 4:21-24
John 4:21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Worship isn’t listening to a sermon, appreciating the harmony of the choir, and joining in singing hymns! It isn’t even prayer, for prayer can be the selfish expression of an unbroken spirit. Worship goes deeper. Since God is spirit, we fellowship with him with our spirit; that is, the immortal and invisible part of us meets with God, who is immortal and invisible.
Erwin W. Lutzer (1941- )
What is worship?
1. Homage rendered to God which it is sinful (idolatry) to render to any created being.
2. Show devotion to (a deity)
3. Love unquestioningly and uncritically or to excess; venerate as an idol
4. Attend religious services
5. A feeling of profound love and admiration
Or is it more . . .
I. We can’t worship God until we realize who we are.
We cannot worship God and live after our own nature. It is when God’s nature and our nature begin to harmonize that the power of the name of God begins to operate within us.
Let us suppose we are back in the old days of the high priest, who took incense into the sanctum and went behind the veil and offered it there. And let us suppose that rubber—the worst-smelling thing I can think of when it burns—had been available in those days. Let us suppose that chips of rubber had been mixed with the incense, so that instead of the pure smoke of the spices filling the temple with sweet perfume, there had been the black, angry, rancid smell of rubber mixed with it. How could a priest worship God by mixing with the sweet-smelling ingredients some foul ingredient that would be a stench in the nostrils of priest and people?
So how can we worship God acceptably when there is within our nature something that, when it catches on fire, gives off not a fragrance but a smell? How can we hope to worship God acceptably when there is something in our nature which is undisciplined, uncorrected, unpurged, unpurified?
- A. W. Tozer on Worship and Entertainment
Before we are able to enter into worship we need to be prepared for worship.
There were a number of elements required for the priest to worship.
1. Sacrifice at the brazen altar – The priest atoned for their sins
Hebrews 9:13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
2. Wash at the Laver – The priest cleansed themselves so they would be pure and not die before a Holy God
Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
3. Keep the Lampstand burning – The light shown upon the table of showbread and the altar of incense which allowed the priest to see.
Just as the lampstand gave light to the priests, Jesus (the true light) enables us to see God.
John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
4. Eat from the Table of Shewbread – The table and the bread were a picture of God’s willingness to share fellowship and communion with man
God so desires our fellowship that Jesus came to earth as the “Bread of Life” to give eternal life to all who would partake.
Matthew 26:26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
5. Burn incense at the golden altar – The incense was a symbol of prayer and intercession going up to God as a sweet fragrance.
This picture is captured in David’s psalm 141:2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.