Worship - Sermon Series

By EXW Staff
October 25, 2023

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by Craig Simonian

This sermon comes to us from Craig Simonian of Vineyard Christian Fellowhsip of Morris County, NJ.

When I visited Central Asia in 1992, I visited a country where there was only 1 known believer. I met her during that trip… she had a real heart for the Lord though she was going thru a lot of persecution for her faith in Jesus.
- By the time I visited again in 94 there were about eight or so. Two of these became good friends.
- Muallim: a successful businessman during the soviet days… lost his wife and then lost everything in the war… He’s a special friend… but a little unusual in that he hated to dance. During worship, he stood up and danced his heart out!
- Bacha was a little younger than me… he loved music… and began writing worship songs from the moment he accepted Jesus.
- From the very beginning of the church in that small, Muslim country, worship became central to all we were.
- Keep in mind that worship would attract a lot of attention… people would complain to the KGB and local religious leaders…
o At one of the meetings, rather than close the shades and window, the believers opted to open them… inviting their community to hear praises to Jesus… and inviting persecution by the government and local religious leaders (which did happen).
o They were hooked… they had b/c worshippers!

In Psalm 95, David invites all of us to respond to God’s invitation to worship.

READ PSALM 95:1-7b

From the earliest period of church history, Ps 95 has been used as a call and guide to worship.
- Centuries before that, the Jews would recite this chapter, typically on the Feast of the Tabernacles, when they would symbolically re-lived their time of encampment in the wilderness.

But before we look more closely at this psalm, we should define what worship really is.
- In Hebrew, the word “worship” (Shakah) means to fall down or bow down.
- In saying, “O come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our God our maker”, the Psalm is calling us to surrender, to give up.
- Worship begins at this point of surrender… a holistic, intentional surrendering where we lay ourselves down before God.
- Paul says in Rm 12:1, “I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Our English word, worship, literally means “worth-ship”.
- Whether it’s an object, or a person, or even an idea, worshiping is attributing ultimate worth to something. Valuing one thing above all else.
- To worship God is to recognize his worth or worthiness; to look God-ward, and to acknowledge in all ways the value of what we see.
o The Bible calls this activity "glorifying God"
- It really isn’t a matter of whether we will worship, therefore, but what we will worship.
o What will we value, esteem, above all other things?
o We were all created for worship… it was hard-wired into us… if we don’t worship God, we will no doubt find something else to worship.

As Americans, we live in a predominantly secular society, so we don’t see people literally bowing down before idols.
- Most of our neighbors don’t have little statues of Buddha or Shiva or Zeus on the mantelpiece.
- You know as well as I do, that as a culture, we have b/c a people preoccupied with ourselves… be it our relational/financial security, physical beauty, sex, food, even health/fitness.
o There is so much I can say about this, but I think you know just what I’m talking about.
o The point is, then, that I don’t need to stimulate any of us to worship… but to help lead us to the place where we are worshipping the One who is truly worthy of being worshipped, Jesus Christ.

I think this is what David is doing in Psalm 95… he is inviting to us to make God the object of our worship. I want to break the passage down into three sections: An Invitation to Celebration, Adoration, and Dedication.

I. Invitation to Celebration, v. 1-5

“Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving, and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.”

David starts by encouraging God’s people to sing, to shout, to extol the Lord with music.
- Though there are so many ways we can express our worship to the Lord, it’s interesting that music is still the primary means thru which we can express our praise to God.
o We “extol him with music” for 35-40 minutes b/c it seems to be the most profound way for us to tell God how we feel.
o Carol Wimber once said, “Worship is not a vehicle to warm up the congregation for the preacher, or to soften the people up for the offering. Worship comes from Jesus and goes back to Jesus from us. Everything He gives to us… but worship belongs to Him.”

But the singing isn’t the only expression the service gives us to worship… from the praise, to the Word; coming up during ministry time to our tithes… it’s all worship.
o From the act of kindness on the streets, to our forgiving our friend for hurting us;
o from opening up God’s Word in the middle of the week when you’d rather veg in front of the TV to when you choose to put your wife’s needs above your own… it’s all worship!
o Because anything that comes from a surrendered heart to our loving King is true, authentic worship.

You don’t have to read this passage too carefully to see that it is loaded with verbs…
- come, sing, shout, extol, worship, bow down, kneel.
- while worship begins in our hearts, there will often by a physical response where who we are on the outside reflects what we feel on the inside.
o That is why, if your new, you’ll see hand up in the air… expressing both the adoration of a child to her father… and our surrendering to God.
o While at a Russian Baptist church in the former Soviet Union, an older man walked up to me after worship and gave me a big smooch on the lips.
§ Thinking that I would probably leave a bad impression if I decked this guy in public, I thought I’d just ask if this sort of thing was done… all the time!
o Any outward expression that authentically expresses what is genuinely going on in the inside… is ok… as long as you don’t injure the person sitting next to you!
o What is bad is when there is something going on on the outside without anything going on in the inside. WORSHIP starts with the heart.

In John 4:19-24, when Jesus met a woman at the well in Samaria, she looked at Him and said, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
- Jesus declared, “Believe me… a time is coming and has now come, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”
- What does this mean? It doesn’t matter where we worship (this mountain or Jerusalem), what kind of building you worship in, or whether we wear a tie or shorts. GOD IS NOT FOOLED by outward appearances.
o We can sing songs, stand up with our hands outstretched, teach Sunday School, or whatever… BUT, if our worship is external without emanating from your heart, then we’re just going thru the motions.
o Singing songs with indifference in your heart is what I call spiritual lip-synching. It looks real, it sounds real… but its not real!
o “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Is. 29:13.
o If God doesn’t have your heart, then nothing else you do in our out of church matters.

Now let me tell you that there are many times during worship when I’ve felt distracted or disconnected from Him. When the words are coming from your lungs to your throat through your mouth… but not from your heart?
- We have all experienced that… but the issue is, how will we respond.
- a few weeks ago, for ex., we were into the second song before I realized that I could hardly remember singing the first song… like driving down the highway in that auto-pilot mode!
- What God asks of us is that we choose never to be passive… that is, if your heart seems distant, ask the Lord what’s wrong
o Always ask Him for help
o Ask him if there is any unforgiveness or bitterness
o Or here’s a hard one… make sure you are interacting with the Lord and His Word during the week.

But WHY? Why should we worship God? Why should we “come”, “sing”, “shout”?
- David answers this in verse 3: Because the Lord is a great God and a great King above all gods. (“for” typically means “because”)
- We worship God simply b/c He is God… b/c He is who He is… the great God, the One who made us, who knit you together in your mother’s womb… because He is our King.
- Vs 4 says that He has created the seas and formed the dry land… that God is the Creator and Sustainer
o If Jesus took His hand off the universe, it would all fall apart.

Whereas verses 1-5 are an Invitation to Celebration, verses 6-7 are an Invitation to Adoration.
- while thanksgiving is worshipping God for what He has done, adoration is worshipping Him for who He is.
- “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.”
- At the heart of what David is saying here expresses what we said last week… that we come to that place of worship when we see who we are against the backdrop of God’s unending goodness, love, and grace.
- He is our God… we are under His care… we aren’t an end unto ourselves… He created us… and He cares for us.

In Luke 7:36 we read of a woman, perhaps Mary Magdalene, entered the house of a Pharisee who had invited Jesus over for a meal.
- known as a prostitute, this woman came right up to Jesus and began weeping, wiping His feet dry with her hair while covering his feet with expensive perfume.
- The Pharisee said to Jesus, “What are you doing? How could you let this trash touch you?” “Do you know where she got the money to buy that perfume?”

Already, I am struck by several things.
- First… The Pharisees, as well as the disciples, didn’t want her in Jesus’ presence… Because of her sin, her reputation, what she looked like, the Pharisees didn’t want her to get near Jesus.
- Second… though the world saw her as trash, Jesus still loved her and was moved by her heart… and knowing her sincerity and her brokenness, He allowed her to continue.
- I share this point b/c like Jesus, we need to be the kind of church that welcomes people like that prostitute… the people who live and who look different from us.
o What would you do if two men walked into this church holding hands… yet; you could see that they were sincerely seeking the Lord?

o Would Jesus welcome them?
o What if a kid with purple hair walked in with body piercing all over his body? Would we welcome him?
- Vineyard in England… Met in bar… homeless woman in subway playing guitar for coins… his worship leader?
- My point is that as God is an inviting God… calling us into His presence… so we need to be a welcoming/inviting church… not accepting the lifestyles of some that may come… but loving them nonetheless… allowing God to use us to lead them into relationship and intimacy with Him.

Back to my main point… that this woman expressed more worship and adoration for Jesus than all the Pharisees and disciples in that room put together.

- WHY? Because she understood exactly what and who she was… and she understood who Jesus was. And the net result was that she fell to her feet, began to weep, and covered Jesus feet with perfume that cost her about everything she earned that year.
- “Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture…”
- Her need for Jesus and her understanding of whom Jesus was caused her to throw herself into worship.
When Isaiah saw a vision of the Lord on His throne. In Isaiah 6:5, his only response was to cry out “I am a sinful man.”

When Peter saw that it was Jesus who caused them to catch the multitude of fish in Luke 5:8, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"

When John receives his vision of the angelic hosts worshipping Jesus, he falls to the floor in worship.

DAVID UNDERSTOOD that our knowing who God is, in relation to who we are, will cause us to worship and adore Him.

The last segment of Psalm 95 is an Invitation to Dedication, v 7c-11.
- Whereas the first two sections read like a beautiful song, this last section, reads like a solemn warning…
- But actually its message fits in so well…
o whereas true worship comes from the heart, the opposite would then be a hardening of the heart.
o This last section warns us against a hardened heart and invites us to rededicate ourselves to authentic worship.

READ verses 7c-11. David is referring to a specific event in Exodus 17:1
- The whole Israelite community set out… but there was no water for people to drink… so they quarreled with Moses… give us water.
- Why did you bring us out of Egypt so that we could die of thirst.
o God tells Moses to go and take some elders to the rock of horeb…
strike the rock and water will come out for people to drink.
o That place was called Masa and Meraba (testing/quaralling)… b/c they tested the Lord and questioned whether He had abandoned them or not. (we ask the same thing)

- Then, in v 8, the Lord says to us, “Do not harden your hearts like at Meribah.”
o “They were a people whose hearts always went astray.” Vs 10.
o When we allow our hearts to grow hard… worship will end and we will have cut off the intimacy the God so passionately desires to lavish on us.

Rom 12:1-2 Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, surrendered to God… this is your spiritual act of worship. We surrender day after day to be worshippers.
- God is calling us to worship Him…
o In Celebration for all He has done
o In Adoration, for all He is
o In Dedication, so we can walk together with Him in intimacy

Some of you are facing difficult times right now… with your job, finances, relationships, health, plain old tiredness…
- giving God your worship, your heart, may seem so difficult.
- I remember reading an article about 15 years ago written by a Russian pastor who was half way thru a very long and difficult prison term for teaching his children about Jesus in the Soviet Union (pastor jobs).
o He said that he was praying for God’s children in American… for you and me. He said that America must be the hardest place in the world to worship Jesus… b/c of all the distractions.
o In a way, He is right… there is so much in our lives, which compete for that place of being most values, most esteemed and worthy.
- Let’s choose together, as a spiritual family, to make our Jesus, the object of our worship.
- It starts in surrender with those simple words, “I’m yours”.

In the very next Psalm, Psalm 96, David writes, “Sing to the Lord a new song…”
- God doesn’t want our worship to become stale… but new every morning.

If something else or someone else has taken first place in your heart… then bring that to the Lord.

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