THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 12-5-04
LESSON TITLE: "FROM HEAVEN OR MEN: MAN'S NEED FOR CHANGE IN WORSHIP"
What a wonderful Lord's Day it is, as we again gather together before the throne of God to Worship our Maker! We are so happy that you have chosen to be with us today and to give this time to the Lord. In fact, it is our privilege to be with you every Sunday morning, as we consider together, God's Living Word.
It is my hope and prayer today that we are all uplifted in our fellowship together. Furthermore, I pray that we will glorify and praise our Creator in these acts of Worship which we participate in collectively as those who love God.
As we begin our homage to God on this day, will you bow with me in prayer!
I hope everyone is ready to worship God in song at this time! This morning we will begin by singing a beautiful hymn that reminds us of the most wonderful story ever told. So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "I Will Sing The Wondrous Story."
(SONG # 1)
I can not believe that we are already at the beginning of December, and at the same time already near the end of another year, 2004. Doesn't time fly and seem to pass so quickly? This fact is even more evident as we watch our kids grow up, get bigger and move toward maturity. How joyful it is to see our children becoming their own persons, and maturing into beautiful adults. However, at the same time how sad, as we loose our little boys and girls. Oh, how we often take life for granted and the precious little time we have to enjoy many of these blessing of God.
All of these idea make me think of what James said in chapter 4:14 or his book. There we read the familiar verse, "whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away." No truer words have ever been spoken, life is short like a vapor. So what lesson can we learn from all of this.
I think the greatest thing we can learn from all this is how we all need to take a deep breathe, slow down a little and focus on those things which are really important. Most of us don't even take time to look at the roses any more, let alone actually stopping and smelling them.
I am afraid that most of us are going to wake us one day and realize that all the work, overtime, money, and things really were not worth it. Why? Because we missed out on the most important and precious parts of life. Like simply enjoying what God has given us and blessed us with. How about just loving God, putting Him first and accomplishing His Will. We also have husbands, wives, children, and family. All these things are wondrous blessing and privileges from God. Gifts that we often squander and take for granted at the time. But some day, oh the regrets that may come to our mind.
I know we all live in the fast lane, and the crazy pace of life will put most of us in our graves before our time. However, let me just encourage us all again this day, to reevaluate what life is all about. Take a second look at who God is and what He has blessed us with. And finally, get our priorities straight, in order that we might accomplish the good will of God. How about it, are you willing to reconsider your choices in this life, are you ready to reorganize and enjoy all that God has blessed you with?
I hope you will continue with us this day as we again consider a lesson from our study which is entitled, "From Heaven Or Men. As far as our specific message of the day, we will deal with, "Man's Need For Change In Worship!" So please stay with us this morning and after our next song together, I will be leading us in the main thoughts of the day.
But before our lesson, let's join together in our second song of the morning. The name of this hymn, "Almost Persuaded."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
It's amazing today the different types and forms of worship that we might find with different religious groups. In fact, what might be more interesting is how the reality of how many people refer to their worship as at times "tired" or "boring" or something that is uninspiring, something that just didn't make them feel good or didn't encourage them or really didn't accomplish something for their sake or unto their good. Certainly as we look at the concept of worship, we might want to consider the reality that at times we don't ourselves put enough into it. There are certainly times when we have all been guilty of not having a good day and maybe not really putting our whole heart, mind and soul, our strength into worship as we should. But at the same time, we must as well clarify that when we are talking about problems in worship, certainly the problems are not Gods'. God is perfect. God has given us His Word and He has revealed to us His perfect plan as far as how He would like us to worship Him. And so when God says to sing, when God says to pray, when He says to proclaim the Word, when He says to partake of the Lord's Supper or to give, when He says all of these things, what He has asked though simple, they are perfect, and they are things which are easy to follow and especially in light of the fact that worship is not about us, but about God. It is about doing these things unto His praise and unto His glory.
So where might the problem be? Well brethren, if we're honest, the problem is with you and I. When we feel like that we have to get something out of it, or when we come to the point that as many in our day have in the religious world that worship is about making me feel better or what I can get or really what can be accomplished for my sake or really how I can be... Whenever the "I" gets into it, we begin to miss the point. We begin to miss the mark, because God is the Creator. He is the giver of all, and He has given us worship certainly that through it we should be encouraged, but not as the primary purpose. The primary purpose of worship is to respond to God's great love by praising, adorning and prostrating ourselves as the Word means before Him and letting Him know that we are not worthy, but yet we are doing what we are doing to give glory and honor to our God.
I want you to think about some further ideas this morning that people complain about worship, that it's status quo. We always go and we do the same things. I've heard people say that before. "We sing the same songs or we have the same amount of songs and then we have the prayers in the same way." It just seems like it's something that is maybe more automatic and going through the motions rather than just the feeling that we need to have for God. Others might say, "Well, it lacks the feelings and really the good and touchy thoughts that maybe might come when we see something that is inspiring or exciting. At the same time, there are others that at the same time might believe that it's stuck in traditionalism. If we look at the ideas that are found even in the book of 2 Thessalonians, chapter 2:15, as well as even chapter 3:16. We find there in both accounts that Paul mentions traditions. First of all, he says that "the traditions are things that we must hold fast to and follow." What traditions would those be? The things that God had commanded. The Bible also talks about traditions, those things that really were done by the Jews that were not commands of God. So really again, we have to get into the context to understand whether the tradition is something that I just like or I want or whether a tradition was something that actually was commanded of God. And if it be commanded of God, in worship, in our dedication, in our obedience, our service to God, then it is something that we do not have an option in, but rather that we must really be involved in and focus on if we are to be considered as pleasing before our God.
I'd like to consider then some ideas, maybe some really attacks that we have heard or considered before on the worship as we look at it, as we again think about our respective places of worship and we consider the things that go on.
I often find it interesting that whenever we start trying something new, no matter where it might be, wherever we might attend, that after the new wears off, guess what happens. We want to look for something else. We're always looking for something else that will make us enjoy it more or us to get more out of it. You see, we're missing the point. What is worship for? Certainly the Bible is clear that worship is about God. Worship is not about you and I, although we certainly should get something out of it. We certainly should benefit and be encouraged but we don't go for what we can get. We go because we love God and we've been commanded to assemble as the saints to praise Him, not ourselves, to glorify Him, not ourselves, to be encouraging Him and thanking Him for what He has done, not ourselves.
Brethren, certainly we need to understand that the glory is God's. The glory is all about our God, our Father, our Creator. And who is more deserving than God Himself? Again, think about the innovations of man. Think about the things that are done today to attract, the dramas and the theatrical performances and how they get grander and grander and mightier and mightier to such a point that eventually where does it end? In other words, to please man. And hasn't it really for the most part, if we are honest, become more something that we go to be entertained at times rather than to participate in? Where in the Bible do we find worship being used as entertainment for the sake of man? There's only one audience in worship and that is God. There is only one who should be entertained and that is God. The participants are all of those who find themselves or consider themselves to be among the faithful. We're all equally required to offer our own gift before God individually and even as we collectively come together. You can't worship for me and I can't worship for you. You must worship God. I must worship God. Then as we blend our voices and our souls and our hearts and our minds, we praise God. That's why we come together. That's why we have assembled. That's why we are there. It will not be something passive or casual or something that is unfeeling. But if our attitudes are right, if our hearts are right, if we really know who we are and what God is all about and that He is the center and all that we do and are and have and everything that is about is Him. Whenever we come to that understanding, then when we go to worship, we go for different reasons. When we go through the doors, it's not about us. It's not about our neighbors. It's not about our friends. It's not about.. It's about God. It's about what can you and I do together, not for our own sakes, but to glorify God, to thank Him, to praise Him and to uplift Him.
Think about the worship of old. Think about the many examples that we have even throughout the Old and New Testaments of those who worshipped for self.
I recall a time mentioned there in Deuteronomy chapter 12 and verse 8 where it mentions that they did what was right in their own eyes. You might recognize that idea because as well in Judges, in the book of Judges there at the end in chapter 17 and verse 6, it says again, "Man in that day all did what was right in their own eyes." And guess what. God didn't like it. God didn't accept it. God did not like it because they were not doing His Will, but their own will.
I want you to notice in the period of the Kings in 2 Kings chapter 17, verses 14-16. Again we find a very similar idea where it says that God had rejected their ways. Why? Because again what they were doing was all about them. Several examples are given there that show us that these individuals were caught up in self from the point of saying, "We want a king like the other nations," to the point of saying, "and here's how we want our cake. We want to eat it and we want all of it." You see again about self, about selfishness, about what they want.
What about individuals even that we might have considered and talked about before? Individuals like Nadab and Abihu who selfishly offered a strange fire and then some way transgressed the law of God knowing that they were breaking His commands and they were struck dead.
What about Uzzah and the oxcart mentioned there in 2 Samuel chapter 6 and verse 1? As the ark of the covenant came off, he broke a command of God and although to us it seems like it would make sense what he did, he lost his life.
You see, when we come before God, when we come before His presence, whether it be to obey His Will, whether it be to follow His commands, whether it be to worship Him, we always find in scripture that what He wants is our obedience according to what He has said, not according to what we feel. When He asked Noah to build an ark and to make it of gopher-wood, He didn't say to forget the pine, forget the oak. He said to "make it of gopher-wood because that's what I want." Noah didn't say, "But God can I use this? Can I make it a little bigger? Can I make it smaller? You know it would be easier if I did..." "He did it exactly all that the Lord commanded," chapter 6 tells us as well as chapter 7. Noah was obedient. And when we continue to look at those who faithfully worship and those who faithfully obey, we find again those who do what God wants, those who have worship that is meaningful and worship that is beneficial not only for God, but self because the frame of mind when they enter the door of the assembly is God, not self. It's what can I do for God? What can I do for others? Not myself. Isn't that what the golden rule teaches us? To do unto others as we would want them to do unto us. Isn't that what the concept and the process of seeking the kingdom of God first? Of looking to our neighbors and helping our neighbors first and in really focusing first and foremost on those things that are righteous and holy. Certainly that's what God has taught us in His Word.
I want to finally look at a verse found in the book of Galatians. In Galatians chapter 1, we read here about really a gospel, a doctrine that is talked about in verses 6-9 that was being proclaimed, that was contrary to the one that God had given. There were things being believed and done that were not God's message. They were false and contrary to His Will. But if you'll look with me there beginning in verse 9, I want you to notice what Paul then says after the fact as he continues. He says, "As we have said before, so say I now again. If anyone preaches another gospel to you than that which you have received, let him be accursed." But notice in verse 10, "For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I please men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." Therefore, he goes on to say, "I know brethren then that I must preach the gospel, that I must obey God." You see, what was Paul saying here? He was saying our Christian lives, our daily words, our daily actions, our individual worship, our worship assemblies, that they are all about God and we're not going to please self, to entertain and for self. We're not going to please others and to please and to cause joy and happiness. Although these can be outcomes of proper worship, that is not the purpose. Why are we going? Paul says, "to please God." He says, "You can't have it both ways. You can't please men and self and please God at the same time." Why? Because once we go down the path of pleasing our selves and man, we begin to find that our worship is something that generally takes on that which is contrary to the Will of God. Why again? Because we have to get greater and greater, bigger and bigger. We have to change more and more. Why? Not to appease God, but to satisfy us.
So I might ask you, why does your worship seem as if it's not exciting, vibrant, as if it's not as fruitful as it should be? Might I suggest that maybe we're not doing and making the preparations that we should, that we're not studying, that we're not growing, that we're not knowing our God and really lauding and magnifying Him as we should rather than going to worship for another reason, possibly self or possibly what we can get out of it.
Choose today that you will not change God's method because God's ways are perfect. Be satisfied with what God has blessed us with through His Word as we worship Him.
(SONG # 3 - "Each Step I Take!")
Thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in giving this time to God. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Lord's Day morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this offering for God!
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May we all learn to be satisfied with God's Will and stop looking to the trends of this day to find excitement and satisfaction in Worship. For no idea or method of man could be better or ever replace the simple and clarified requirements which God has given us all through His Perfect Word!