Program Air Date - 4-22-01



It is great to have you with us this morning for the Living Word Program. We are excited to have you with us for this time of offering and praise to our God. We are glad you have chosen to be with us today, as we together study from God's Word and sing songs of praise to His name. Let me encourage each of us this morning to do our part to make this time together acceptable in His sight. Now let's begin by approaching His throne in prayer.

What a wonderful blessing it is for us to be able to sing songs of praise together on this program. If you are like me, I really enjoying worshiping God through the avenue of song.

Our first song this morning reminds us that there are greater things coming after this life. The reward will truly be a glory to each of us, if we do our part and follow God's Will. So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing the hymn, "When All Labors And Trial Are Or!"
(SONG # 1)


What a great many privileges we have to honor and praise our God. As we mentioned earlier, singing is a wonderful way to show our love for the creator. However, we also have the blessed opportunity to approach our Fathers throne in prayer, to gather around the Lord's Table, to give of our means, and to hear His precious Word proclaimed. Better yet, we have this divine opportunity on a regular basis and really as often as we choose as those who follow the King.

I am excited today to introduce a new series of study which we will consider over the next several months. This study affects each and every one of us not matter who we are, where we live or what we do. Our topic deals with something that has been required of God from the very beginning - that is, from Adam and Eve in the Garden all the way up to each of us today.

Our discussion will talk about something that we must do if we are to be pleasing to God and acceptable in His sight. In fact, we find that God has always instructed His people to participate in this service to Him, so that we might give Him the proper honor, respect, and praise.

So what are we talking about? Worship! Probably one of the biggest parts of all of our Christian lives is in the function of worshipping God. It has always been a part of His plan, it has always been a requirement of the faithful.

In our series we want to look carefully at every aspect of Worship and what it means to us. From the very beginning of trying to understand what worship means and what it was in the Bible to the One We Worship, How we worship and who must worship. We will also spend time considering each avenue of worship which we are commanded to participate in, as we are laborers in His Vineyard. So, I hope you will plan to be with us every week as we consider these soul saving messages about the need we have to worship God and ultimately to do it in His Way.

This morning we want to begin with our first lesson in our series on Worship. The title of this lesson is, "What is Worship!" So, please stay with us and in a few minutes I will return with this study from God's Word. Now it's time to join in our second song of the day, it's name, "Softly and Tenderly."
(SONG # 2)

Speaker: Ray Sullins

Again, let me say thanks for continuing. I do want to mention that today is the day that we will be having our taping of the singing at the Kansas Expressway church of Christ on North Kansas Expressway and I hope everyone can be involved in that and participate. It will be at 2:00 and will end at 4:00. We will have a short service just after that for those who might drive a distance and are unable to return or get home in time for their evening services where they might worship and just want to invite everyone again to be there. We look forward to all being able to have a part in supporting the program, of being on television, and of being able to sing praises to God and being able to be a part of this good work that continues to strive to spread the gospel of Christ and to get the church out in front of the world who needs to know more about Him, that is Jesus Christ. So let me remind you again, the Living Word program, that will be the TV taping for the singing just as we've just seen, just before I came on, and hope you'll participate and be a part of that today at 2:00.

Our topic then, our new topic is worship, and what is worship specifically today? It's going to be an exciting talk. In fact, I've been rather excited about preparing the lessons and thinking about what we need to consider on these and I'm looking forward to inviting some speakers so that we might have a lot of good input on the discussion of worship because worship is as we've already stated, such a big part of the Christian's life. In fact, if you go back into the Bible and we find even as early as just after the creation that there was worship that was taking place according to the patriarchal law which we actually know very, very little about.

But we do see there in chapter 4 in Genesis that Cain and Abel came before God and worshipped and they did that by building an altar just as they did under the time of Moses, and they built these altars and one offered a meat sacrifice and the other offered a grain sacrifice. Again, one being a shepherd, one being a farmer.

Later on, we find just a few chapters over that Noah, again a man of God, built an altar after he got out of the ark and was worshipping God by building an altar and again the emphasis here being the need for worship. It's been something in the design of God in every age since the very beginning.

Again, the patriarchal age, which was before the law of Moses. It seems there that they worshipped in a specific way and had a specific design. Again, during the law of Moses, we have very lengthy records given to us throughout the Pentateuch of those things that were required in worship especially after the Mount Sinai where we find the tabernacle being built and the priestly tribe being appointed and the worship that was to take place. Again very, very specific in these things that we are talking about.

Even today, we find that worship is an important part of Christianity. Why? Because in the New Testament, we find again the great example of the churches there that again show us that worship was a big aspect, a very, very big part of what they had to offer to God.

So what I will encourage all of us to do is to look at ourselves, to consider today whether we be Christians or not, to consider whether we worship God as we should or as we must, as we consider what is worship? Because really an examination of self is what God has always required . In fact, back in the book of Galatians chapter 6, we find there that Paul tells the brethren beginning in verse 3, "For if anyone thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let everyone examine his own work and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone and not in another." Here we see the idea that if we worship properly, if we do what God says through our own studies, then we glory in ourselves, not in someone else, but in ourselves because we're doing what is right. So I hope we'll be able to examine ourselves today because as it says on in verse 5, "We bear our own load." We bear our own burden before God. Therefore we must make sure that everything we do is according to His will. That's why Paul told the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians chapter 13 and verse 5, that "they should examine themselves or test themselves to see whether they are really in the faith." So let's see today and throughout the next several weeks exactly whether you are in the faith, whether I am in the faith when it comes to this discussion on worship.

So let's begin at the very start. Where else to begin, but "What is worship?" The word in the Bible is used just as we made reference already in so many ways as far as explicitly helping us to understand that there were acts being done to do something toward God. In the Old and New Testaments, we find words in the Hebrew and the Greek which again show us that worship was a very principle part, a primary part even of what was to be done by those who claim to be followers of God. In fact, the words really there especially under the Old law in the Hebrew really have the idea as well as in the New Testament of prostrating oneself. In other words, really coming before the throne in a very respectful way. Why? Because we know that we're serving a God, a God that has the power to not only create the earth and the worlds and the universe, but to breathe breath into our bodies and to make what we have here and what we live in the temple that God has given us, the human body. So again, to prostrate ourselves, to realize who we are before, to really again reverence ourselves before the most almighty God, the creator of all things. So when we put it in that respect and we think about it, then again worship is very, very important. It's something that we need to give the utmost respect to and as we consider these things this morning, we want to understand again what this worship is all about.

What is this prostrating of oneself? Well, if we were to look in the English dictionary again to find some more ideas that will help us to understand what this word "worship" is all about, we're going to find concepts such as this. It is an act. Again, something that is specific. An act. Also, the action towards something which might show reverence, which might show the ability to honor or respect. In fact, one definition that we might find even says it is the thought toward something, the worship of something. In other words, I might worship money. I might be thinking and so obsessed in my mind with money that in a sense I'm giving it its' due, its' worship, its' honor. But here again, in our discussion of course, we're talking about religious things. So what we're saying is that as Christians when we really put our thought process on God, when we think about Him, when we show honor to Him, when we respect Him, when we speak about Him, again, we are entering into worship. But as we consider worship again, maybe it's just not that simple. Maybe it's just not that simple because we find different examples of how worship was carried out in the Old and the New Testaments. We find at times when there were again maybe groups that were worshipping, maybe individuals that were worshipping, sometimes in a very formal way, sometimes in an informal way.

So I want to draw a few examples to help us again to understand this concept of thinking, honoring, respecting, doing something towards God in order that we might again show Him this praise, this worship. In fact, I might even just use the example to help us know for instance like singing. We just sang together a very beautiful song and as we sang that song, were we thinking about God? Yes. Were we honoring Him? Well certainly. I should hope so. Were we giving Him the respect and the homage, the reverence that He desires from us? We should be. Again, then that would constitute worship. Maybe it's not a formal type worship where we have assembled together, but again the simple general meaning of worship is that we prostrate, we put ourselves before God in some way in order that we might show Him a certain amount of glory and honor.

Let me again expound on these things which I mentioned just a moment ago. For instance, we see that in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament that there was a collective group worship that was very formal. We see there that even in Acts chapter 20 and verse 7 that on the first day of the week, the Christians assembled and came together as the church to break bread. But also in the Old Testament in Exodus 12 and verse 6, "The whole assembly (as it says there) should do this, should assemble and do what they were told to do according to making this offering to God." In Exodus 19 and verse 10, another formal assembly was called. In fact, this assembly there mentioned in Exodus chapter 19 was an assembly that they had to prepare for several days. They had to really wash themselves, wash their clothing and prepare so that when they came, they would be in their best form to worship and to honor God who had done so much for them. Again, here speaking of the Israelites. So yes, we see that there were formal type worships when they were called by God or Moses or by others, even the church, in order that they might really respect and reverence and honor their God. But then again, we see that there were groups at times that would offer a worship or a praise, an honor or reverence to God which again would still fall into the same type of category, and they would do it in a more informal way. Maybe it was a spur of the moment. It wasn't something that they called together and said, "Let's worship at this time and this way." But maybe something great happened, maybe they had a new baby or a child and they began praying to God and praising Him and singing and really happy about it. I remember one example found in Exodus chapter 15 where the Israelites were saved at the Red Sea and they began to rejoice and praise God. It wasn't a formal thing but an informal way. They began to praise their God for what He had done for them. Again, in Exodus 4 and 31, "the people there bowed their heads and worshipped." Why? Because something wondrous had just happened. They hadn't been called together to worship, but something good happened, they bowed their heads and they worshipped God. So yes, collectively groups did worship in a very formal way, sometimes in an informal way, but always in a way that was proper before God.

What about individuals? We find that individuals also worshipped God. Wasn't it Abraham that in a formal way went to worship God? In fact, in the book of Genesis 22 and verse 5, it says that he went there over yonder with his son Isaac to worship. Now we've already mentioned a few other examples. One was Cain and Abel. Individually, they were offering then worship to God. Not only that but Noah, Noah himself specifically gave up worship on his own behalf to God. So yes, individual formalized type worships, that were at times ordered by God, because that's what they were doing, but yet again we might again turn the coin and say there were times when there were informal worships like David. What better example do we have than the Psalmist, a man who continually in a sense wrote poems, sang songs and did everything he could to glorify and praise his father in heaven? What better way to worship? In fact, it seems like he spent a great deal of his time throughout the psalms worshipping God. Were they formal assemblies? Certainly not. Were there groups involved? Most of the times, there were not. Were they spur of the moment things? Sometimes I'm sure they were because he just loved God and when he would think of these things in his heart, he would glorify and praise his God on behalf of these.

Don't we see clearly then that in these examples whatever the worship was in the Bible, in the groups or individuals, the formal or the informal, it always had an intent. There always was a specific purpose and reason. There was a specific design and way that it was done. It wasn't just as if anything was worship. It was as if again there had to be a purpose or a design. There had to be a thought process specifically on God. There had to be an action specifically toward God. Those are the examples we find. And in fact, we do not find any other types of examples which was referred to as really worship before God. These people knew what they were doing. They knew how they were doing it and they were doing it again to the glory of their creator.

Now on the other hand, what if the intent doesn't play a part? What if I can just turn worship on and off just like a light switch? Because some of my brethren tell me that. Some in the religious world tell me that. Some say what if I could just say, "I'm not worshipping" and continue to praise God maybe through song, but I've stopped worshipping now. Am I able to do that? Am I able to just turn worship on and off? Well, even though many claim this, could this be right? Let me mention one more point. Some say, "Ray, I really do not intend to worship so therefore I am not worshipping." Is that the truth? Well, again I think we've seen that when we think, we respect, we focus on God, is that a form of worship? Certainly it is. Should it be according to the guidelines? Yes, it should, and we're going to find that more as we go along.

Then, the bigger question I might ask to you is: Does one have the right to talk about God in a flippant way, to speak about God in a way that he doesn't really mean it, or to sing about God in a way that doesn't matter? Well I don't about you but when I was growing up, my parents always told me not to say God or Jesus or Jesus Christ without knowing what I was talking about. Not to talk about heaven or hell, not to deal with religious things unless it was coming from the heart and in the right way. And that's exactly what the Bible tells us. When I worship God, when I sing a song that talks about God, when I think about Him, when I respect Him, when I honor Him, do I have the right to say, "Well, I really don't mean it"? Well, I don't have that right and the Bible tells me so just as we find there in the Ten Commandments. We find in Exodus chapter 20 and verse 7, "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain." Not using it in a flippant or useless way. Make sure that when you use it, it is properly with reverence and you're worshipping Him as you should worship Him. In Hebrews 12 and 28 as we end, "Therefore since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and fear." Here again, the very same idea given of reverence and of fear. When you and I enter into our minds and our hearts, into our actions and the things that respect and reverence and honor God, then we are worshipping God. Yes, it may not be a formal worship that has been called by God, but it is a worship nonetheless, and therefore we must do it according to His will as He has asked us to if we are to be pleasing before His throne.

(SONG # 3 - "O Listen To The Wondrous Story!")


Thanks for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.

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What a wonderful avenue of communication our worship is to God. So, may we each strive to understand what worship is and its importance in our lives.
(Program closing)