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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
April 3, 2005
Created to Worship
Worship. A few weeks ago I gave an overview of this topic as part of the
series Elias & I did on the purpose of the church. This morning I start an
examination of this subject in more depth and detail. Worship of the Lord God is
an activity that will be central in our lives throughout all eternity. It is the
very purpose for which we were created, yet most people have no true concept, or
only a faint idea of what it means to worship God and how to do it. Apart from a
personal relationship with Jesus Christ no one can truly worship God for He can
only be truly worshiped in Spirit and truth (John 4), and apart from Christ no
human is spiritually alive or seeks the truth (Eph. 2; Rom. 3). Even for the
dedicated believer, the Worship of God falls short because while we remain in
our unglorified state on this earth our struggle with sin hinders us from
worshiping as we should desire.
Worship of the Lord God should be the crowing jewel in the life of all
mankind, yet for most people that jewel is either missing or has been replaced
by a cheap substitute. Even with true Christians, the jewel is often coated with
a layer of dirt, and its brilliance does not shine forth.
My goal in this series of messages is to 1) challenge those who do not
worship God to do so; 2) to challenge those who worship some false God to turn
and worship the Lord God, creator of Heaven and Earth; 3) to challenge true
Christians to understand and practice true worship, so that it can shine as the
bright jewel it should be.
Understand from the outset that the purpose of God creating you was for His
glory, for His purposes, and not your own. You are not the center of the
universe. He is. From Genesis to Revelation, the focus of Scripture is God, not
man. All this is contrary to how man sees himself. All of us struggle with the
ego-centric perspective. We view the world from our own eyes, our own little
point of view, and then respond to everything in terms of how it affects us.
Even when we gather together to worship God we struggle to keep our minds
focused on God rather than ourselves. When I give the pastoral prayer, I know
that most of you have wandering minds. Instead of praying along with what I am
presenting to God, your mind is running off on its own rabbit trails. I know
that when I am preaching your minds are doing the same thing. Your are
constantly analyzing all sorts of things, and a word or phrase I say here or
there causes your minds to run off somewhere else. I know there are also times
when your mind is not engaged at all, for the physical weaknesses we all battle
leaves you drowsy or sleeping. I also know that what ever hymn or chorus we
sing, whatever special music we present, your minds can quickly make evaluations
about how good or bad it was, whether it was music we liked or not, and whether
we felt like we were worshiping because of it. How do I know you all struggle
with those things. First, because I stand up here and I can see your faces.
Second, because I too struggle with all these things. It is one of the reasons I
long for heaven, because there the cares of this world will be over, and my body
and mind will be perfected, and I will no longer be distracted by own weaknesses
and selfishness. I will be able to give myself fully to the worship of God
without hindrance. I hope that is a longing in your heart too.
Let me direct you to a few passages to show you the centrality of worship of
Turn over to Isaiah 6. Here the prophet is given a glimpse of the activity in
heaven. 6:1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord sitting on a
throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2
Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings; with two he covered his face,
and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to
another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is
full of His glory." 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the
voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I
said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I
live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of
What is the activity of heaven? The worship of God, and when Isaiah got a
glimpse of it, he understood his own sinfulness. Turn to Revelation 4 where we
find a similar scene as the apostle John is given a vision of heaven.
4:1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door [standing] open in
heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like [the sound] of a trumpet
speaking with me, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place
after these things." 2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was
standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. 3 And He who was sitting
[was] like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and [there was] a rainbow
around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. 4 And around the throne [were]
twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones [I saw] twenty-four elders sitting,
clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads. 5 And from the
throne proceed flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And [there
were] seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits
of God; 6 and before the throne [there was,] as it were, a sea of glass like
crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of
eyes in front and behind. 7 And the first creature [was] like a lion, and the
second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a
man, and the fourth creature [was] like a flying eagle. 8 And the four living
creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and
within; and day and night they do not cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, [is] the
Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come." 9 And when the
living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne,
to Him who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders will fall down
before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and
ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 "Worthy art Thou,
our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst
create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created."
What is the activity here? Worship of God.
This worship continues in chapter 5:11-13 where the many angels join with the
living creatures and the elders saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb
that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and
glory and blessing." In verse 13 "every created thing which is in heaven
and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea" join in saying, "To
Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, [be] blessing and honor and glory
and dominion forever and ever." All of this is worship.
Revelation 14:6 also stresses the centrality of worship. God sends an angel
flying through the mid-heaven, "having an eternal gospel to preach to those
who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;"
Take note of what this gospel message is: "and he said with a loud voice,
"Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgement has come; and
worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and springs of
waters." The gospel message is given so that those who hear and respond will
worship the Lord God, the Creator of everything.
The next few passages I am not going to have you turn to because there is too
much there to read, but for those of you who have been reading through the
Bible, did you ever ask yourself why God placed so much detail in Exodus 25-31 &
35-40 about the building and construction of the Tabernacle? Or why Leviticus
1-8 has so much repetitious detail about all the offerings and the consecration
of the priests? Then there are all these laws throughout the rest of Leviticus,
Numbers and Deuteronomy, some of which quite detailed, and the penalty of
breaking them is having to cleanse yourself in a certain manner before you can
come before God. Have you considered why all the detail concerning the various
temples? 1 Kings 6-8; 1 Chron. 22-29; 2 Chron. 2-7; Ezra; Ezek. 40-47; Haggai &
Zech. 3 & 4. All of the stress the point that the worship of the Lord is to be
central in our lives. God goes into great detail to describe the way He wants us
to approach Him, and we had better be serious about worshiping Him properly.
From the positive standpoint there is great blessing when we worship God
properly. Just thinking quickly back through the history of the nation of Israel
we find that all its high points economically and politically coincide with
their true worship of God. David’s reign and the first part of Solomon’s rule.
The nation went into decline when Solomon’s wives turned his heart away from
God. The nation rose again in importance under the religious revivals that took
place under Asa & Jehoshaphat, and then later under Hezekiah, and later still
under Josiah. These blessing were in accordance with what God had told them in
Deut. 28 and other places. Obedience will bring blessings.
From the negative standpoint there are dire consequences when God is not
worshiped properly. Again a recounting of Israel’s history proves the point.
Every evil king brought about a greater decline of the nation until finally
Israel was taken into captivity by Assyria and Judah by Babylon. These were the
curses God had warned them about in Deut. 27 if they disobeyed. Disobedience
I want to bring this point out in a way that will be more relevant to us.
Turn to Romans 1. Here Paul marks off the decline that occurs when the human
heart turns away from the worship of God to selfishness. He begins the chapter
with a salutation and greeting marking off that his own calling by God as an
apostle was for Christ’s name sake (vs 5) and that his longing was to come to
them to encourage them in walking with Christ and to preach the gospel which is
the revelation of the righteousness of God (vs. 17). Again, our lives are for
the purpose of bringing glory to God.
Paul now shows that God’s wrath is demonstrated against man because man
suppresses the truth in unrighteousness (18). God has made Himself evident to
man internally and externally. All of creation declares this evidence of God’s
existence, eternal power and divine nature, so that all men are without excuse
(vs. 19,20). Yet, we find that man willing suppresses the truth of God. Paul
marks three levels of this descent from truth into a self imposed lie.
We find the first level in verse 21. They will not honor Him as God or give
thanks, so God gives them over to futile speculations and a darkened heart. An
example of this is the false worship of Israel revealed in 1 & 2 Kings.
Jeroboam, the first king of Israel feared the people would return to the king of
Judah because God required that they go to Jerusalem to present their
sacrifices, so he set up two altars so the people could worship God without
going to Jerusalem. Because they would not follow God’s law of how He wanted to
be worshiped, their worship of the true God was flawed. This flawed worship of
the true God quickly degenerated into false worship of false Gods.
God is serious about being honored and worshiped properly. I have pointed
these examples out before, but remember the case of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus
10. God had given specific instructions on how incense was to be brought before
the Lord in the Tabernacle, but these two sons of Aaron ignored those
instructions and "offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not
commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed
them, and they died before the Lord" (Lev. 10:1,2). There is also the case
of King David recorded in 2 Samuel 6 for trying to bring the Ark of the Covenant
to Jerusalem, but he did not do it according to the Lord’s instructions (Numb.
4:15; 7:9; Deut. 31:9). It was loaded on a cart being pulled by an ox instead of
having the priests carry it. There was quite a celebration going on as the ark
was making its way up to Jerusalem until the cart hit a bump, and Uzzah reached
out his had to steady the ark. At this point God’s anger broke out and Uzzah was
struck dead for his irreverence (vs. 7). At first glance this seems cruel of
God, but in fact God showed great restraint and longsuffering because He could
have justly struck down every single person involved including King David.
Improper worship of God is still false worship because worship involves
obedience to God’s commands, and true worship cannot take place when those
commands are ignored and broken. True worship must be in both Spirit and in
A more contemporary example of this first step down and away from the true
worship of God is a story reported in the Chicago Tribune some years ago about a
New Mexico woman that was frying tortillas. As she cooked she noticed that the
skillet burns on one of tortillas resembled what she thought was the face of
Jesus. She became very excited and showed it to her husband and neighbors who
all agreed that there was a face etched on the tortilla which resembled Jesus.
How they knew what the face of Jesus looks like no one knows, but they all
assumed it must be like the image on the tortilla. The woman then took the
tortilla to her priest to have it blessed. She & her husband both testified to
the priest that she was a more peaceful, happy, and submissive wife since the
arrival of the tortilla. The priest, who had never blessed a tortilla before,
somewhat reluctantly agreed to do so after their testimony.
The woman took the tortilla home and put it in a glass case on piles of
cotton which gave it the appearance of floating on clouds. Then a special altar
for it was built. Now this may sound like a story of just one nutty family that
was eating something much more powerful than tortillas, but when she opened the
"shrine of the Jesus of the tortilla" to visitors, more than 8,000 came within a
few months and they all agreed that the marks on the tortilla resembled the face
of Jesus (except for one reporter who said it looked more like former
heavy-weight boxing champion Leon Spinks).
Such kookiness began with her flawed worship within Roman Catholicism, which
much like the cult of Jeroboam, has distorted the worship of the true God. The
flawed worship allowed her to easily degenerate into the false worship of a
This is the second level of degeneration, and it is found in verse 25. It is
the exchange of the truth of God for a lie so that the creature is worshiped and
served rather than the creator. This is most obvious in pagan idolatry. God
responds by giving them over to their degrading passions. This is why sexual
perversion is so often tied in with idol worship. The mind is no longer
functioning properly and emotion and passion are leading the person rather than
Such pagan idolatry once marked the world except for Israel, and even they
were subject to it whenever they strayed away from the true God. The worship of
idols is not as widespread as it once was, but there is still a large portion of
the world that worship idols made of wood, stone or metal – or in modern times –
plastic, and these practices are again increasing. It no longer takes much
effort to find idol worshipers in the United States. While pagan idolatry is
still not mainstream in the western world, secular forms of idolatry are common.
Materialism and hedonism top the list of such secular idolatry. People bow down
to the idols of material success and pleasure. These are the gods that give them
meaning in life and for which they live. It is sad that they will not head the
warning of Solomon who sought such things for a time and concluded that it was
all vanity, empty chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes).
The Old Testament is a record of God’s judgement against idolatry in all its
forms. Time after time God chastised the Jewish people for slipping into
idolatry. He had already judged the nations that were before Israel because of
their idolatry. Finally it was the reason for Israel and Judah being taken into
captivity. Even though there was a revival under King Josiah, God declared to
him in 2 Kings 22:17, "Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense
to other gods that they might provoke Me to anger with all the work of their
hands, therefore My wrath burns against this place, and it shall not be
The final level of degeneration is found in verse 28 where the suppression of
truth leads to even cessation of the acknowledgment of God. God’s response is to
give them over to a depraved mind. A mind that can no longer discern even basic
King Nebuchadnezzar is a classic example of this. In Daniel 4:30 we find the
king reflecting on Babylon and how great he was for building it for the glory of
his own majesty. While these words were still in the king’s mouth God’s
judgement came against him and Nebuchadnezzar’s lost his senses to the point
that he became deranged and lived out in the fields grazing like a cow. Only
when he again acknowledged that God is the Most High ruler over all the affairs
of mankind did his senses return (vs. 32-34).
God created us to worship and we will worship and serve something. It will
either be the true God, a false god or gods, or ourselves. When we do not
worship the true God then the consequences to ourselves and others are dire, as
this passage in Romans points out.
Let me briefly describe the importance of true worship of the true God as it
has played out in our own nation. I love this nation. I can trace family history
back to 1619 in Jamestown and the early/mid 1620’s in Plymouth. I have the names
of ancestors that fought in the Revolutionary War and the other wars this nation
has fought to bring about the freedoms we enjoy. Several of them died in those
wars. God has blessed this nation in the past in ways that are hard to imagine
when we compare ourselves to other nations throughout history. I believe that
those blessings are a direct result of the prominence of Christianity within the
nation. Certainly there are black marks of evil in our history, but overall the
nation was marked by a people striving to know, please and worship the true God.
But America is no longer the nation it once was. She has radically changed in
the last 40 years and I am not referring to technology. Her basic nature is no
longer based in Christianity and striving to honor the true God. America is now
a nation that hardly wants to even acknowledge His existence. President Bush is
a reprieve from the trend in national politics, but the culture continues its
By the 1960’s there was already a strong shift away from giving honor and
thanksgiving to God, and God gave us over to the sexual revolution. The
consequences of that moral revolution are seen all around us today as clearly as
if we had been bombed and are surrounded by rubble. Consider the still high rate
of teen age pregnancy; the decline in marriage and family stability; the
holocaust of abortion; and the welfare state that enslaves both the taxpayer who
foots the bills and those in it who lose all dignity and purpose in life.
By the 80’s the various court battles had left us as a nation that by law
exchanged the truth of God for a lie. God was no longer creator, but just a
"force." Christianity was no longer upheld as the foundation of our society, but
instead has been attacked as the enemy of society. Secularism reigns supreme in
the public arena. You can bring nearly anything into the public school except
Biblical truth. Every wacky idea of the evolutionists is presented as fact.
Every perverted religion and philosophy can be freely proclaimed. But proclaim
God as creator and Jesus Christ and the only way to heaven and you will be
threatened with lawsuits. The result of our following the path of "diversity"
has resulted in perversion so prevalent that the term "gay 90’s" for the 1990’s
means something totally different than its application in the 1890’s.
We are now beginning to see the effect of this third level of degeneration as
more efforts are made to make God irrelevant to the affairs of our nation and
society. Why is it that even when there are great national disasters of various
kinds, there is no call by our political leaders for the nation to fast, pray
and repent? That had been common practice throughout our history until 30 or 40
years ago. We are seeing people with depraved minds rising to positions of
power. Be careful not to equate just political office as positions of power. Too
many leaders in our society advocate evil and suppress good including such
things as handing out condoms to high schoolers and promoting abortion while
restricting Bible distribution and throwing in jail those who would try to
convince a woman to spare the life of the child growing within her. Isaiah 5:20
pronounces a woe upon those who call good evil and evil good. Such is the case
with Terry Schindler Shiavo. But worse than this is that there is no means by
which to discuss and argue the issues with them. Their minds no longer function
properly for their ability to reason itself is perverted. All you have to do is
listen and analyze some of the television talk shows or liberal political
speeches made now. If the host disagrees, he simply labels his opponent with a
derogatory name without every addressing the question or point brought up. There
is little or no reasoning, just name calling.
I bring this up to state that the problem with America is her worship of God
and our only hope to return to the great nation we once were must be found in
our worship of God. Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to
any people – Prov. 14:34. As Christian citizens of this nation we need to be
involved in the political process, but understand that political power will not
solve our nations problems, for it is one of the heart. We must pray for God’s
grace and mercy to grant revival, for Christians to boldly proclaim the gospel,
and that non-Christians will repent and turn.
How we worship God has consequences that go way beyond ourselves (Gen. 19 –
for the lack of 10 righteous, Sodom was destroyed). True worship of the Lord God
brings blessings. All forms of false worship bring dire consequences. You cannot
ignore God, nor can you worship a false God, nor can you worship the true God
improperly without incurring His wrath. Only because of the Lord’s patience and
longsuffering has the full weight of His judgment has been postponed on us both
personally and nationally.
Next week we will look at the marks of true worship. For this week, just
consider the seriousness of worship.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives.
Here is some help.
Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the
sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children –
Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the
sermon and look them up later. 2) Count how many times the word "worship" is
said. Talk with your parents about the importance of worship in your home.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
What is worship? Why is it important? What does Isaiah 6 reveal about
worship? Revelation 4? Revelation 5? Revelation 14:6? Why does God give so much
detail about the Tabernacle, sacrificial practices, and the Temple? What does
this tell you about your own efforts to approach God to worship Him? What does
history demonstrate about God response to obedience to Him? Disobedience? Romans
1:21f marks the first decline away from true worship. What is it? Give examples
you have seen. Romans1:25f marks the second step of decline in the worship of
God. What is it? Give examples you have seen. Romans1:28f marks the second step
of decline in the worship of God. What is it? Give examples you have seen. What
evidence do you find that America if following those steps downwards? What
evidence is there that true worship is still valued in America. What is your own
worship like? What does God think of it? Why? Give scriptural support.
Sermon Notes – 4/3/05 a.m.
Created to Worship – Selected Scriptures
The Centrality of Worship
Exodus 25-31; 35-40
Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy
Blessings for Obedience – Deut. 28
Dire Consequences for Disobedience – Deut. 27
The Descent into False Worship
Romans 1:21f – Step 1
Jeroboam – 1 Kings
Nadab & Abihu – Leviticus 10
David & Uzzah – 2 Samuel 6
Romans 1:25f – Step 2
Romans 1:28f – Step 3
Nebuchadnezzar – Daniel 4