Summary: Adapted Rick Warren sermon for 40 Days of commmunity on the need to worship together.
It’s hard to believe but here we are in our last week. Next week will be our celebration Sunday and we will share testimonies, stories of what God has been doing during our 40 Days of Community. How has God blessed you or your small group? How has God challenged you? How have you grown? What God experiences have you had being in community, serving others in our church, reaching out to our Springvale township community? Please come next week ready to share, it will be helpful to write down your experience first.
During our 40 Days of Community we have learned that God has placed us on this earth for a very simple purpose, and that purpose is summarized in one word, love. God made you to love you. The most important thing you can do in your life is to love Him back. Jesus said it like this in Matthew 22 (v. 37-38) "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment." There is absolutely nothing more important in your life than learning to love God AND love other people. If you do these two things you will have fulfilled your primary purpose in life, you will succeed in doing what God placed you here on this earth to do. If you miss this part of your life, your life is a failure, because you’ve missed the very reason that God created you and put you on earth -- to love and be loved.
There’s a term the Bible uses for expressing love to God. That term is called "worship". We tend to think of worship as a ritual or routine you do on Sunday morning at church. But worship simply means expressing love, appreciation, thankfulness to God. It includes Sunday morning service, but it goes beyond that. Any time you’re expressing love or devotion to God, you’re worshipping him, whether you’re by yourself, in a small group, in a large crowd, or wherever.
While we can worship God wherever we are, God is very clear in our key verse this morning that one of the ways he desires us to worship him is by coming together one day out of the week. In fact he even commands it. Lev. 23:3 You may work for six days each week, but on the seventh day all work must come to a complete stop. It is the LORD’s Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day to assemble for worship. It must be observed wherever you live (NLT). God expects his people to gather on one day out of every week to worship him. Not once a month, not whenever I can make it, or when it’s convenient for me, but every week. I hear people say to me, "Why do I need to go to church on Sunday?" "I don’t think God really cares how I worship him, as long as I do," or "I don’t really get anything out of worship." Here’s the deal, if we love God, it’s not really about us, what we want, or what we get out of worship. It’s about God, what he wants, and God is saying to us, "This is how I want to be worshipped. This is how I want you to demonstrate your love to me, by gathering together weekly with other believers and offering yourselves to me." Are we worshipping God the way he wants to be worshipped? Or is the focus of worship ourselves? Because God wants us to worship him together.
Why is it so important for God that we gather together to worship him, to demonstrate our love for him? The Bible gives us a few reasons:
1) We Worship Better Together
We can express our love to God anywhere, on our own, but we are better when we worship together. Let me go through a few reasons why we are better together:
a) We Each Have Gifts and Abilities to Share
God has created us uniquely so we each have contributions to give. The Apostle Paul was giving the church instructions on worship, and he said in 1 Cor. 14:26
"When you meet [for worship], one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in an unknown language, while another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must be useful to all and build them up in the Lord."
What Paul is saying here is that God has given us gifts to use so we can worship him together. Worship is not meant to be a one person show, where the pastor gets up to do everything. It is something we do together. Some have the gift of teaching God’s word, some are able to sing and play instruments, some know how to use technology, some have the gift of welcoming and hospitality, others have the gift of counting and keeping track of money. All these gifts are important when we use them to honor God, so that when we come together our worship is enhanced, the experience is better for everyone, and most importantly it brings pleasure to God because he loves it when we use our gifts to serve him.