Praise & Worship

Part I: public worship--what is it?

This is how king David looked at God's creation. Psalm 19:1-4. "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun."

Every action that God has done or will do brings glory to him. What does our worship mean to God? Let's look at Romans 3:23 to see something. Romans 3:23. "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…" We've all fallen short of the glory of God, all of us. God is the point of everything. This is an interesting point and a way of looking at sin. No matter what we do or who we are, we've all fallen short of God's glory, and we always will! Worship is not about us, it is about God. God could have raised up stones, rocks, to worship him--but he raised us up instead. Every action that God has taken or will take is to bring glory to him. How do we view worship, public worship? Worship is not about what makes us happy but what makes God happy. When God becomes happy, pleased with us, that happiness is reflected back into us by him. We in the Worldwide Church of God have gone through some changes in our public worship. In our worship team meetings we pray and talk about the subject of worship and the effectiveness of our worship of God. We pray about the subject of worship and ask others to pray about our public worship. We pray for a proper understanding of what worship is. What is worship for anyway? There is a broad spectrum of worship both in what we do or what we may yet do. Some leave one Christian fellowship and go to another simply to find a worship service that suits them. But the question isn't so much "What is the worship service that I like…" but "How does God want to be worshipped? What is acceptable and what isn't acceptable to God?" To learn this we must look into God's Word for God's understanding of what he wants--what is acceptable and what isn't. We find there is a framework that God gives us to work with.

GOD STARTS THE PROCESS FIRST

Worship is our response to God. It is something we are doing to him. He touches us first, to open our minds to him. He gives us his love first, regardless of who or what we've been and what we are. No matter what we've been or are now he says to us, "The very first thing I want you to know is that I love you!" "I love you. And as a result of all I'll show you and do for you, you'll worship me." God created us for his pleasure, not for ours. We were created for his purpose. That's what worship is about. We can't exist without God. Worship is from God, for God, to God. He created us to comfort him. Worship is initiated by God first. And there is a remarkable benefit for us when we worship God, when we enter this world of worship. What happens when we enter into worship with God? We enter into a loving relationship with God. We enter into a relationship that will go beyond measure. Are you in a relationship with God right now? Do you know what that relationship is or should be? Let's look into the subject. A lot of us know God. A lot of us understand that God exists. But all of this is one way. We find that we're loving God on our own terms, not his.

All our idols fall short of God. When we come before God in a complete, open, loving relationship, that is worship. Worship in the Old Testament was a formality, a covenental agreement of obedience. Did Israel believe God? No. Worship in the New Testament is a different relationship. In the Old Testament the primary vehicle to worship was the Temple. The people had to come to the Temple to worship God. And bringing sacrifices for their sins was an essential part of this worship. That's why they needed to go to the Temple to worship God. They had to do all this before God would hear them. In the New Testament the focus has changed. The focus is now on Jesus Christ's death, burial and resurrection, and the atoning power of his blood. It is by the blood of Jesus Christ, shed for our sins instead of all those bulls and goats of the Hebrew sacrificial system of worship, that we are now able to be with God. You don't have to go to the Temple of God to have Jesus' blood cover and atone for your sins. Both forms of worship required us to respond to God's initiative in our lives. Before, you had to do things before God would hear you. As we just saw, you had to enter into the old covenant Temple with your physical sacrifices. Now Jesus is our true Temple and so we come to Him to worship. We get into this Temple by his shed blood. Jesus had done it for us. And so we find that worship of God revolves around having a relationship with God--in both the old and new covenants. The two are common but different in many ways. The common denominator between the two was that worship revolved around having a relationship with God. The relationship with God is the primary motivation for worship. In Old Testament Israel they worshipped God as a result of his great acts for them. The book of Exodus is full of those acts. Read from Exodus chapters 1 through 12, and then chapter 15 verses 1-18. What God had just done caused them to worship him in praise and worship.

YOU CAN WORSHIP GOD IN VAIN

You can worship God in vain. And the result under the old covenant could mean death. Look at Nadab and Abihu's example of vain worship in Leviticus 10:1-5,9-11. "Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, 'This is what the Lord spoke, saying: 'By those who come near to Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.' So Aaron held his peace. And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said to them, 'Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp.' So they went near and carried them by their tunics out of the camp, as Moses had said." Verses 9-11, "Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, or your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses." Judging from this command which comes right on the heals of Nadab and Abihu's untimely death, they were drinking on the job and it affected their proper judgment and responsibilities as priests. They were worshipping God in vain in a very real way. In the New Testament Jesus has this to say. Matthew 7:21-22. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" The penalty under the old covenant was physical death. The penalty under the new covenant is separation from God and his eternal reward, at least for that time of judgment, which may come at the time of his 2nd coming. This may just be a command to 'Get away from me and become real Christians now!' We just don't know yet.

PARALLELS BETWEEN OLD AND NEW

In the Old Testament the children of Israel worshipped God as a result of his great acts. So as a result of God's intervention in their lives, their reaction was, 'I'm going to worship you.' Moses touched the core of ancient Israel's relationship with God. They knew that God loved them and that God would do anything for them. All the plagues (Exodus 6-12), all the miracles (Exodus 13-19 and elsewhere) that occurred--they were always taken care of. God loved them and they knew it. It was because that relationship existed that they thought they could control God. They could control God they thought. The reason Moses gave Pharaoh why they wanted to get out of slavery was so they could worship God. We see a New Testament parallet in the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation parallels the book of Exodus. Most don't realize that. In Revelation 7 we see a New Testament parallel--the symbol for Passover is used. We find the saints have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. In the Old Testament example the Israelites took the blood of lambs, and came under the protection of this blood, which spared them from the death angel and certain death. In Revelation 7 we find the saints washed themselves, their lives in the blood of Jesus Christ--the only thing that can cleanse sin. And the Passover example is there. In Revelation the sentence goes on to say that they've washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb so they can worship the Lord. That's why they do it. And furthermore, it is this blood of the Lamb which saves us from Eternal death and separation from God. We have to accept the fact that in some ways the form of worship carries over from the "old" to the "new," in the form of it, the worship aspect, and even in the symbols used. The similarity involves worship, reverence. The similarity involves attitude.

FORMS OF WORSHIP

There are many forms of worship in the world today, aren't there? Many different types of worship exist when it comes to worshipping God. Sometimes we're uncomfortable with the ways that others worship God. We fear, primarily, that we may be offending God. That's one of the reasons that we may feel uncomfortable. The others maybe are personal. How do you feel about saying "Amen"? It means that we agree with the prayers that have just been said. So if we say, 'Father, help me so that I may love you more,' we might hear an "Amen". But if I say, 'Father, please help the Red Sox beat the Mets tonight,' is that something that you would say an "Amen" to? Maybe not. Maybe you don't feel that would be total worship. If I said, 'Brethren, let's just stand, and for a moment look up into the heavens and raise our hands and just thank God personally for what he has done for us.' Maybe you might feel comfortable with that and maybe you might not. What if I said, 'Brethren, let's just raise our hands, let's just sit here with our hands raised to him. And let's meditate on him.' Maybe that would feel awkward. Maybe that would feel good. I think of Moses when his hands were outstretched, and what happened? When the battle with the Amalekites was going on, as long as his hands were raised he and the Israelites were fine. When he let them down they would start to lose the battle. Sometimes those things might be considered a little bit out of the "norm" for us. Some will say, 'I don't want any part of a Jewish festival! That's all in the old covenant and I don't want any part of that.' Others will say, 'Well, there's a lot of meaning there.' God gave them for a reason. He must have had some intent behind them.' And so we see there's feelings on both sides.

DRAMATIC CHANGE IN THE CONTENT OF WORSHIP BETWEEN OLD AND NEW

The content of worship changed between the old and new covenant. It's changed dramatically and forever. It's important for us to realize that it changed. What's the difference between worship in the Old Testament and New Testament? Two words. Anybody know what they are? Jesus Christ! Big difference between the old and the new. Two words that bring Eternal life and Salvation to you--Jesus Christ. Christians in the New Testament had many Jewish characteristics though. We can read the book of Acts, and we find out the book of Acts was comprised early--the early Church was made up of Jewish converts. What had they established in their lives already?--traditions and customs. These were Jewish traditions and customs. Some of those customs and traditions live on. Many of those traditions became more meaningful to Christians. Because of Jesus Christ, they saw those two words in these customs. For example, Jesus Christ and all he was and did and is today, the Messiah, can be seen throughout the customs and traditions of the Jewish Sedar meal. One Jewish person, while a student at Brandeis University, discovered Jesus Christ, came to recognize him as the Messiah, when he saw his sacrifice portrayed in the customs of the Passover Sedar meal he was observing at home with his parents one year. He became a Christian, and he wrote a book about this experience. So changes in the New Testament Church over worship services began to take shape. In the Old Testament we had Temple worship. You had to bring sacrifices for your sins to this Temple before you could approach God and be heard. Temple worship was glorious to be sure. King David set up whole divisions of singers from the Levites, who rotated on duty, and sang in what must have been huge choirs. King David exuded musical enthusiasm. The whole book of psalms were put to music to be sung in the Temple as Praise and Worship hymns. Now in the new covenant the Temple was and is Jesus Christ. And so the worship service changed, became different. Format changed as well. There was active participation in the service by all people. It wasn't just a certain group of people, as it had been in the Temple at Jerusalem. The congregation was sent forth to preach the gospel, to praise Jesus Christ's name by living what they believed. And by when someone said, "Hey, I notice something different about you. What is that?" "That's the hope of Jesus Christ living in me that you too can have!" How can we preach that gospel [the gospel of Christ]? We can live it. We can then talk about it. And if I was so inclined, and wanted to, I could go and knock on my neighbor's door. And some will say, "There's Mr. Ebeling, he's saying, 'We have to go door to door!'" I'm not saying that, but what would be wrong with that? Would it help or would it hurt? [Let that be your way of determining your actions.] We see that there were Christians that started to worship Jesus Christ on Sunday as their day of worship, totally different from the Sabbatarian Jewish Christians. Yes, there were still Christians who gathered on Saturday, the Sabbath day, as was their custom to worship Jesus Christ. No fault there, nothing wrong with that. [If you think so, read Romans 14, where Paul was correcting the Gentile Christians for their judgmental attitudes toward the Jewish Christians in their congregation.]

What we see is that the New Testament Church focussed on this. They focussed on the birth of Jesus Christ, they focussed on the life of Jesus Christ, they focussed on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They then focussed on the ascension of Jesus Christ. And they focussed on the soon coming return of Jesus Christ. And all was focussed on Jesus Christ. That's what the New Testament Church was founded on--on the Rock, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will never prevail against it!" That was never said of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The structure of worship retained a lot of Jewish elements. They gathered to worship. We gather to worship. The gathering occurs. We have the ministry of the Word, where in the Temple or synagogue the reading of the Law took place. Now we preach the gospel message, both in services and abroad. The structure of the Jewish Church and Temple was and is still in the Christian Church. Instead of the Sedar meal, the Christians partake of the Lord's Supper, until He come again. There was a sending forth of the worshipping community, "Now go out and preach the gospel unto everybody." Jesus said that in Matthew 28 verse 19. In the congregation today we have prayers, singing, preaching, Scripture reading, and congregational participation. And lastly, the use of spiritual gifts in the praise and ministry of Jesus Christ, because we all have gifts. When we come together in our Christian congregations, our worship isn't for us, it's for God. This type of worship in the early Church that began to develop involved the whole person--body, mind and soul. Worship involves every part of our being. (Soul can be translated as "spirit.") Worship in the New Testament was no longer single dimensional, it was multi-dimensional, in the full spectrum. It wasn't just an emotional binge but something that came from deep within. In fact, this worship affects our heart. And this type of relationship that we want to have with God suggests to us that we need to have this type of worship service--a worship service that facilitates this type of realization that we're in a loving relationship with God. That's the substance of worship.

HEBREWS 10:19-25

We find that Hebrews 10 is really a summation of chapters 7, 8 and 9. Let's read Hebrews 10:19-25. "Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." Now verse 25 which is in bold. What that verse means when you look at it under the surface is that those who purposely and willingly continue to abstain from meeting with one another (of like faith) eventually lose their relationship with God! And that relationship comes in the form of worship! That's how powerful worship is. When you worship God collectively as the body, the relationship is there and it spills over into our relationship with others. Next we will go into the theology of worship--how you and I need to approach worship when we come to Church services, and how you and I need to develop our lives before God when it comes to this vital subject of worship. Hymn # 215 of our hymnal says it all.

[At this point I would like to make this statement of intent. This webpage has been created and exists for the express purpose of spiritually nurturing and uplifting Christians in their walk with Jesus and God the Father by stirring up the Holy Spirit in them through the reading of the gospel of Christ. The material in this website is never written or presented with the intention of drawing a Christian out of his or her own particular Christian fellowship into another. It is the intent and desire of all who work on this site that Christians remain in the Christian fellowship they came from, using the resources made available here to strengthen themselves and thus their own fellowships by their gaining a better understanding of God's Word, and particularly the gospel of Christ. The editor.]

PRAISE &WORSHIP

PART II: "WORSHIP THE KING"

When I hear music that touches deep inside, when music touches you in a certain way, it's no wonder God surrounds his throne with music. Music enhances things.

II Chronicles 7:14. "If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." The point is that we have some things to do, and when we do them, God hears, and participates in everything we do. God created worship. Everything he created is for his pleasure. Worship isn't about us at all. Worship is all about God. We have an obligation to each other when it comes to worship. You see, we're encouraged by one another when we worship collectively to our God. In a nutshell, worship comes from the heart. This topic, to many of us, is a new topic, but it is really timeless.

When is comes to worship (personally) I can think about my own education in worship and I remember coming to Church and sitting down and learning a great deal from what was said from this very pulpit--and trying to assimilate those facts into my life. And every week I looked forward to learning more. Maybe you can share in those feelings. And as a result we grew in our knowledge and we grew in certain areas of spiritual knowledge, and the point is we grew, and that was good. But as I also look back, my application of worship has undergone a great deal of scrutiny--because I didn't always worship God. What I did, at times, was I came to hear what was said about God. I came to hear what the Bible said, and that is a good thing, a great thing, but I'm telling you that my understanding of worship wasn't always crystal clear. It just wasn't an area that the Worldwide Church of God focussed on in the past. Maybe your understanding of what worship is went through a similar transition that mine did.

We should ask ourselves these questions when we look at what we're doing in the area of worship: Is our worship service worshipful? Are we worshipping God (as opposed to just hearing about him)? Is our worship pleasing to God? Can we improve our understanding of worship? Are we as a group, when we come together, when we're a congregation that comes before our God, when we're an entity known as this local Church, when we come before God's throne in worship, are we really seeking to worship God? So for us, as you can imagine, this subject needed to be discussed. We found that we had been lacking in our proper understanding of what true worship of God was supposed to be.

So, what can we do to improve our understanding of what worship is? That's where we turn to the Bible and ask God for his direction. Why? So that we can worship our God with a better understanding of just why we're here right now, on this rainy day, where it would have been nice to stay under the covers. Let's read Matthew 6:25-33. "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

What do we see here? When we come to worship God we enter into a relationship of love--a relationship with him. God is love. When we worship him we're entering into that relationship. And here we are in Matthew 6, a chapter filled with a lot of information that Jesus Christ was giving to his disciples. And along about verse 25 the little heading in my Bible says, "Do Not Worry". Don't worry, be happy. The overwhelming thought that Jesus wants us to know is that we shouldn't worry--if we're with him, in him. And then in the middle of all these 'don't worry's he says in verse 33 "But seek first His kingdom", first, above anything else, above any worries, above any blessings, above anything seek his kingdom first and his righteousness. How do we seek his righteousness? Where is his righteousness that we could go there and seek it? How can we do that? How can we launch into seeking that? Because it says, 'If we do these things, lots of other things are going to be given to us.' And so in the context of telling his disciples not to worry he says "Seek me first, above everything else, seek me." Where is the Lord's righteousness so we can go there and seek it (verse 33)? God's throne, isn't it? How do we get there? "Worship" is one of the ways we seek righteousness. We must look past the worship style and look at the foundation of worship--which is the purpose of worship.

Sometimes we're blind to seeking God in a better way than we could. So what Jesus was saying here in this little passage was that we need to seek God first, we need to seek his righteousness. Worship is one of the ways that we seek righteousness. Worship fills that void. Sometimes when we look at worship we tend to look at the particular style. That's the part that we can see. Sometimes we look at the style and forget the foundation. We neglect to remember the foundation. We neglect the fact of what is actually taking place. What is taking place is that worship is going on. Worshipping God is going on, and somehow, we're lost when we should be seeking. And we have to grope around until we find out what we are doing.

So what is the chief end of man? Well, the textbook answer is: "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever." Is that your chief end? Is that what we seek in life is to glorify God? You know glorifying God is an easy thing to say. Glorify God can be transposed to worship--we worship God in everything we do, and in various ways and in various styles. But there are times when we come together, and together we worship God. Everything that has been created has been created to bring praise, glory and honor to God. Take a look at God's creation and the intricacy of its' design, the beauty and intricacy goes both macro and microscopic. Look at the marvel of the DNA code, which man has only just begun to crack. King David marveled, as do all astronomers, at the glorious creation in the heavens. Now with super telescopes and the orbiting Hubble telescope our marveling and awe for the heavens only gets greater. Take the lowly mosquito, which most of us hate. If you could put it under a powerful microscope and see how it was made, you and I would be awestruck. Go to the library and pick up a copy of Astronomy, look through the back issues, watch the Discovery Channel, and remember--God made all of this, God created all of this, the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. The book of Psalms is full of praise for God's heavenly and earthly creation. There is so much musical praise and worship material in the book of Psalms that our church used them almost exclusively in our hymnal for years. Every action that God has ever taken or will take has as its' intent to glorify him. He is the one who created everything, without him nothing would exist. By his will you and I sit here today [in whatever Christian congregation we may find ourselves in]. We read last week in the book of Romans, chapter three and verse twenty three, that we all have something in common. And that common denominator is this, that we all fall short of the glory of God. We see that God is the point of everything. So true worship, the worship of God, begins with the understanding of the God who is to be worshipped. We have to know who God is in order to worship him. And he reveals himself to us through Scripture. He reveals himself to us and tells us everything we need to know about him. And yet, what do we find? We find we fall short when it comes to worshipping him.

Ineffective worship is almost always related to a diminished view of God. If you're not able to fully worship then maybe you don't fully know God. The more we know God, the more we understand how much he is to be worshipped. Remember Enoch in Genesis 5? We see that he walked with God. And then he was not. He was no more. What happened to Enoch? Let's turn to Hebrews 11.

Hebrews 11 is a chapter that is dedicated to faith. It is called the "faith chapter" of the Bible In Hebrews 11:5 we find out what happened to Enoch. And before he was taken away he was commended, applauded as one who pleased God. That's what it says about Enoch. Verse 6 says that "without faith it is impossible to please God." So when someone says 'I feel like I'm just not pleasing God.' Stop, ask yourself, 'Do you have faith in him?' Yes? Well that's good, faith is pleasing to God. Because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who--what?--earnestly seek God. We have to seek God in order to worship him and to glorify him. And that's what Enoch evidently did before he was taken up.

We read about David's passion for God. When you have time, read Psalm 24. In that Psalm, David with passion overflowing, tells how much he loves God, and how much he seeks the Lord. It so impressed the writers of Acts that in Acts chapter 13 they used David as an example. In Acts 13:22 it says "after removing Saul, God made David their king. He testified concerning David, 'I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.' David was willing to put everything aside and he sought God with his whole heart. We're talking today about what's involved in worship. Worshipping God comes from the heart. You have to want to do it. It has to stem from the heart in such a way to where it's overflowing and you just want to show God how much you love him. What outstanding feature was it that allowed God to chose David as the king? He wasn't an Olympic weight lifter. As far as his stature went he was not impressive. Was it because of his intellect? No, it wasn't necessarily because of his intellect. What was it about David? It was about the heart. He feared and loved God. He didn't hesitate. He gave God credit for everything. Whenever there was a problem, he went to God first. He sought God first. How many times when we're in difficulties and trials and troubles, how many times do we seek God first? There's a pattern, an example here that later Jesus would say in Matthew 6:33, that is the formula for seeking him. It has to stem from our heart.

Let's turn to Luke 10. Here's a story that we're all familiar with. Martha knew who Jesus was and was a follower of Jesus. A rare opportunity came up for her. Jesus was travelling through Bethany, her town. He got invited by Martha to her house. Just think if you were in her place. What kind of opportunity would that be for us? So in Luke 10:38 the story starts. Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who it says sat at Jesus' feet listening to what he said. Let's get the picture of what's going on here. Jesus is in the living-room part of the home, with Mary sitting at his feet listening to everything he was saying. His disciples are probably there as well. Mary is just sitting there probably listening to every word spoken. She's intent on staying right where she is. Now in verse 40 we see Martha was distracted by all the preparation that had to be made. She was the one who had invited Jesus to her home. Now she was caught up in all the preparations she was doing and became distracted. What happens when you get distracted? Things are not in order the way you'd like to have them. You get agitated. You look for justification for this agitation. At this point she came to Jesus while he was sitting there talking. She probably interrupted him, or maybe, being a gentleman, he stopped to ask her what she wanted. Martha said, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do all this preparation by myself!' 'Tell her to help me. Listen, I invited you here and you've taken away my help. I'm preparing a big meal over here for you. What are you doing? Wait for me. Don't tell that story yet. Wait for me.' There's a lot going on in that little verse. Jesus knew Martha. He knew she was the type that wanted to have everything perfect--but for who, the guest or herself? For herself because that reflected back on her. If things weren't perfect things were unsettled. She couldn't relax. She couldn't be with Jesus until everything was perfect, the way she wanted them to be. Do you know someone like that? That type of person can drive you nuts, making you want to say, "Will you just sit down!!!" "Forget about all this preparation!" Perfection is a very hard standard to live up to, isn't it? Martha was in the kitchen and she wanted to make this elaborate meal. Jesus would probably have settled for a real plain meal--one that didn't involve much preparation at all. "I'm here, where's you attention?" "Is it somewhere else, or with me?"

Mary, Martha's sister chose to sit there and listen to Jesus, listening to his words which we know are the words of life. She chose to sit, listen and yes, worship him in that moment. How did she worship him? She gave him her heart--her full attention--he was what she was interested in fully. Worship begins with the heart. Jesus was more important to Mary than anything else. Neither one of these people were bad people or slouches--but we see a choice being made here by each sister. Mary's choice was to ignore all the preparation so she could sit at the Lord's feet and hear everything he had to say. Martha's choice was, 'I invited him, but I'm not ready yet because I'm doing all this fancy food preparation.' You can't fault the fact that she wanted to make a good meal, but what was going on here? She was putting something else in front of her Lord. This example doesn't mean we shouldn't do fancy things. But service to Jesus Christ must not fill our lives to such an extent that we have no time to worship him. That's the most important thing. Sometimes we let so many activities get between us and worship that worship can't take place--there's no time left for it. To the perfectionist, if everything isn't just so, he or she can't do what's really important, and in this case, worshipping God. How can we put this? We shouldn't be in the kitchen when Jesus wants us to be in the sanctuary. Just that simple. We honor Jesus much more by sitting and listening to him, than by providing excessively for his needs. It's all about worship. That's the main point to that story--service to our Lord must not take so much time that it interferes with our worship of him. Worship is of the heart. The main point is Jesus and the time we spend with him.

Philippeans 3:1-9. "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so; circumcised on the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith…" Here we learn something about Paul and what he was like. Paul was a man of zeal, was a fireball of energy. He had great compassion for Christ. Earlier in his life he had a lot of anger, at Christians. Uncontrolled anger does something to you, not just on the outside but on your inside. It does something spiritually to you. But after his conversion Paul was filled with compassion. This compassion in Paul came from his heart. In chapter three he says, 'Rejoice in the Lord, worship the Lord, be one with the Lord.' He's saying basically, there's no other place you want to be but in the Lord, in this relationship and the hands of God. He says, 'Watch out for those dogs.' -- People who try to lead you away from this precious relationship with God. In verses 4-6 Paul goes through seven things or reasons why he could as a practicing Jew have confidence if he wanted to. Everything the Jews stand for--the Law--all of it's me. But he then says, 'Guess what? All those things don't mean a thing!' He says that in verse 7. He then says whatever I considered to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What happened here in his life to change Paul's mind so radically? Jesus Christ changed his mind, affected his heart, and now his heart told him through Christ that those things don't enter you into the relationship with Me. What enters you into a relationship with me is that my Father in heaven calls you (John 6:44), and you then believe that I am the Christ. And when you do this, it affects your heart. You become a changed person, not your old self anymore. Was Paul the same before and after his conversion? No he wasn't. Paul discarded all those things that were important to him before, because his identity was not in those things anymore. His identity was in Jesus Christ.

Worship involves all of God, every aspect of God. It involves God the Father. When we worship God it involves God the Father. He is the object of our worship. In I Peter 2:9 it says, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." When we worship we also worship God's Son, Jesus the Christ. He is our Mediator. He is the Mediator of our worship. In I Peter 2:5 it says, "you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." In other words, we can't fully worship God until we go through Jesus Christ. And the third part of worshipping God is God the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the enabler of our worship. "We who worship by the Spirit" it says in Philippeans, and in Romans it says, "and by the Spirit we're able to say Abba, Father." The Spirit enables us to do that. Romans 8:9-16. "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors--not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." But it all comes down to the heart. When we worship, everything we do points to the greatness of God. We come to realize that worship should permeate every part of our lives. Worship should be a lifestyle that you and I are involved with--how we live. This doesn't mean we stop being normal, that we put on robes and sandals and walk around with our hands clasped, muttering and mumbling constantly in worship.

In our modern world today, in the city of Waltham, in the community where you live, WE PRAY REVIVAL TO TAKE PLACE, DON'T WE? If revival took place on this level, on the community level, the state level, the country level --if that type of revival took place on that type of level, would that be a powerful witness to the power of God? What would happen if this happened, if revival took place at that level? Worship would become a community lifestyle, because everyone would be doing it. The community would then be worshipping God by how they live and change would take place. When we worship, we see, hear and understand God, and in doing so we enter into a relationship with him that involves worship. If this happened on a community level, people would be flocking to their churches, and flocking into a relationship with God that they don't have now, and everything would change. Our lives should change when we truly understand worship. Unfortunately that hasn't occurred--but what about me and you? Do we encounter God in a very real and tangible way? Do we encounter him when we come to worship? Is God real to us? Is he living in your life? Are we worshipping him? "The real factor in worship is a heart desire for God. The reason it fails to occur in a pew is because it fails to occur in the daily routine of living." That came from an excellent resource which will help further your understanding of worship. It is a book titled: "Worship: Rediscovering the Missing Jewel."

There are a lot of things we could point to and say "that's the reason worship isn't taking place, that's the reason why we're not in the relationship we want to be with God. This is the "If only everything was perfect, then I could worship" syndrome that Martha had in Luke 10. We all fall short of the glory of God, but what we need to do is have it take place in our hearts, as a part of our daily lives Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Then when we come together our worship takes on more meaning because we have been worshipping by ourselves all week long. But now we have all our brothers and sisters with us and we're all coming to the Throne of Righteousness and Grace to worship the King. That's what it's all about.

What was the point of our redemption? We were far off from God before he entered into our lives. II Corinthians 5:16-21. "Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Our sins take us away from God, but they don't separate us from God (as we used to believe and some still do) because he forgives those sins--all of them--the ones we did in the past, the ones that we do now, and the ones that are down the road--are forgiven!!! What stands between us and God is our lack of giving glory to God--of knowing Who and What He Is. Sin is just a by-product, so to restore our broken relationship with God is it just to stop sinning and then we're O.K.? No! It's not going to make it O.K. To simply stop sinning will not bring you into a relationship with God. To restore the broken relationship with God it takes worship. It's through worship that restoration takes place.

What's the primary purpose of the Church? The responsibility of the Church is to Worship the Living, Breathing God on a weekly basis. Worship is our highest calling. We do so to respond to what God has done for us. So again, what does the Church and worshipping God in the Church do for us? Paul explains in Ephesians 4:1-6, 11-16. "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all…And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ--from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love."

[This two part article was written from the notes taken from two sermons given by Pastor Al Ebeling who pastors the Boston congregation of the Worldwide Church of God meeting in Waltham, Massachusetts. For more information about this local congregation on-line, their address is: http://www.wcg.org/Churches/US/MA/Boston/index.htm ]

"For a good book detailing more about what Praise and Worship are, be sure to order this book title WORSHIP AND MUSIC MINISTRY, by Rick & Dave Newton. It can be ordered online at http://www.thewordfortoday.org/ or write:

The Word For Today
P.O. Box 8000
Costa Mesa, CA 92628
or call: 1 (800) 272-WORD

Letter to radio station WCHP regarding musical parodies of modern tunes:

Hey Teri & Tonya

This morning you featured two songs by a musical group called "Apologetics" who specialize in taking popular music tunes and reworking the lyrics into 'Christian' parodies. You played "Living the Life That Jesus Spoke Of" (Living La Vita Loca) and "La Bible" (La Bamba). You asked for listener comments. I say "Two thumbs up"! You may already know the following story - this is quoted from an 'insight' in the New Student Bible NIV version: page 509 Lyrics for the Living God William Booth, believing the 19th-century English church had become too refined to reach the citie's poor, took the gospel into the streets. He organized his workers into a "salvation army," ... Salvation Army recruits did not stick to traditional hymns but invented their own words for rousing popular tunes. "Here's to Good Old Whiskey" became "Storm the Forts of Darkness." Booth had his doubts about this trend until one night, hearing a beautiful rendition of "Bless His Name, He Sets Me Free," he asked about the tune. "Why, Mr. Booth, that's 'Champagne Charlie Is My Name,'" the embarrassed singer replied. "That settles it," Booth said. "Why should the devil have all the best tunes?" Soon 400 bands were crashing about England, playing hit tunes with Christian words. David and his people would have liked that spirit. Many of the psalms were meant to be sung, and sung joyfully. Modern church formality seems far removed from their frequent command: "Sing for joy! Shout aloud!" Their instruments included cymbals, tanbourines, trumpets, ram's horns, harps and lyres. Sometimes dancing erupted. ... Every generation of Christians renews the discovery of this "new song," sometimes through the music of their forebears, sometimes in a form that shocks their solemn elders. The Salvation Army did, as did the Jesus Movement in the 60s and Christian rock music in the 80s ad 90s. David would not have been surprised. He jolted his own wife with spontaneous dancing (see 1 Chronicles 15:29). When people know God, they come to life with a jubilant song on their lips.