Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Grace Driven Church Part 5 - Exalting in the Glory of Christ - Psalm 95:1-7

I began a series of posts several weeks ago entitled A Grace Driven Church. In these 5 posts, I’m sharing with you messages around an acronym of the word Grace. In the first post, we began with the letter G and talked about Growing in the Love of Christ. How that true disciples will have a deepening relationship with Christ that leads to a definite reformation of conduct… We then took the letter R and looked at Reaching in the Name of Christ. How we as Christians need to take a serious view of evangelism and get busy trying to win people to Christ. Next, was the letter A where I talked about Affirming in the Body of Christ and discussed the importance of having proper fellowship with other Christians. Last week, we took the letter C and looked at Caring in the Nature of Christ. How that we as Christians need to be ministry focused…doing everything we can to help those around us who are in need.

Today, I’m going to take the letter E and finish this Grace Driven Church series with a message entitled, Exalting in the Glory of Christ. We are going to focus on the area of worship. So read the first 7 verses of Psalm 95.

I read a parable that told of a community of ducks waddling off to duck church one Sunday to hear their duck preacher. After they waddled into the duck sanctuary, the service began and the duck preacher spoke eloquently of how God had given the ducks wings with which to fly. He pounded the pulpit with his beak and said, With these wings, there is nowhere we ducks cannot go! There is no God-given task we ducks cannot accomplish!

With these wings we no longer need walk through life. We can soar high in the sky! Shouts of amen were quacked throughout the duck congregation. The duck preacher concluded his message by exclaiming, With our wings we can fly through life! WE……CAN…..FLY!!!! More ducks quacked out loud AMENS! in response. Every duck loved the service. In fact all the ducks that were present commented on what a wonderfully convicting message they had heard from their duck preacher….and then they left the church and waddled all the way home.

You know, we hear a story like that and our tendency is to be critical of ducks. But folks, if we’re honest with ourselves, when it comes to worship, we’re just like those ducks. We leave our worship time the same way we came into it…unchallenged and unchanged. And listen…that’s sad because genuine worship involves our responding to God’s grace by giving Him our lives so He can change us and make us better. Paul described worship in this way in Romans 12 when he told us to present ourselves as living sacrifices to God and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. True worship should be a time when we allow God to challenge and change us.

I don’t think I can overstate the importance of genuine worship. Listen folks…genuine worship is not coming in singing a few songs, putting a few dollars in the offering, listening to the preacher ramble and then going back to our normal lives. Worship is the Christian’s filling station. We meet in this place every week to be equipped and energized to do God’s work in this world. We come together to encourage each other…to cheer each other on. But worship is also much more than that. We come here to worship the One Who is worthy of our worship and praise. When we worship God, we are declaring His worth to us.

Worship happens when our inadequacy is met by and embraced by the grace of God. Genuine worship is the intersection of our lives with God’s presence and power. In worship, we experience the truth of James 4:8, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” Worship is the best in us trying to be better…it is us and God communing together.

So, how can we be sure that true, genuine worship happens? Well, I’m glad you asked. If we are ever going to experience genuine worship, a proper attitude is required in several areas. Notice first…

A PROPER ATTITUDE ABOUT GOD

Folks, we have to remember that God is not one of us and He is not like us. He is greater than we can imagine and more magnificent than we could ever describe. He is good, powerful and holy beyond explanation. He is completely independent of this world and His involvement with humanity is purely by His choice.

So, we need to make sure that we enter times of worship with an attitude of reverence and respect for God. Psalm 25:14 says, “Friendship with God is reserved for those who REVERENCE Him. With them alone He shares the secrets of His promises.” Isaiah 6 records a vision in which he went to heaven and saw God high and lifted up on His throne. When this happened, Isaiah was overcome with an awareness of God’s majesty and holiness. He heard the angels saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.” Our verses from Psalm 95 tell us that God is worthy of our worship because He is the great God…the great King about all gods. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.

As we go through life, we need to stop from time to time, get down on our knees at the foot of God’s throne and simply worship Him for Who He is. We need to do this to remind and reassure ourselves of His power and His love. Then with this reassurance, we can go on through life with confidence and peace. True worship begins with a proper attitude of reverence and respect for Who God is. But it doesn’t stop there because a proper attitude about GOD leads to…

A PROPER ATTITUDE ABOUT OURSELVES

When we are confronted with the holy perfection of our God, our own imperfection stands out like a sore thumb. We become painfully aware of our own sin and shortcomings. Peter experienced this. Listen to what Luke 5 tells us…

“He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch. Simon answered, Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets. When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”

Listen folks…there’s something about being in the presence of God that makes us aware of our own faults and failures. Somehow, time spent in the presence of God opens our eyes to the ugliness of our thoughts and actions and gives us a proper perspective on our lives. Standing in the light of God’s loving perfection enables us to see our lives clearly again.

Sometimes we get so focused on just going through the motions of our everyday lives, we sometimes let sin come in and rationalize it away. Because of this, we need to take time to step back and let the light of our holy God shine on us so we can see ourselves clearly. Did you know God designed worship for this purpose? Through worship, we will begin to see things the way God sees them. Worship allows us to stop our hectic lives long enough to re-evaluate them.

We have to learn to stop rushing through life and stop regularly to worship our Heavenly Father. We need time with God…time to rest in His presence…time to get His perspective on our lives…time to ask for and receive His forgiveness.

Genuine worship requires a proper attitude about God which leads to a proper attitude about ourselves. That, in turn, will lead us to…

A PROPER ATTITUDE ABOUT OUR DAILY LIVES

Worship must not stop with a personal experience. It must lead to practical ministry. Genuine worshipers will see every task of every day an opportunity to worship God. They follow Paul’s guidance from Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…”

Bishop J.C. Ryle said, “The best public worship is that which produces the best private Christianity.”

Listen folks…God is not as interested in the activities of our worship as He is in the actions of our lives. In Isaiah 1:12-17 He expresses this when He says…

“When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

Folks…we have to understand that in God’s eyes, worship is much more than what happens here on Sunday mornings. It is what happens the rest of the week after we leave this place. Christians who want to experience genuine worship will respond on Sundays like Isaiah. “God, Here am I send me. Take my life and accept it as an offering to You. Use it as You see fit.”

So let me ask you this today… How is your attitude toward worship? Are you just going through the motions or do you approach worship with the attitude of God challenging and changing you? That choice is yours.

Maybe today you don’t know Him. You can’t worship God if you don’t know Him. So, I beg you...get in touch with me and let me introduce you to Him today.

Christian friend, do you have genuine worship in your life? Do you have the proper attitude about God that leads to a proper attitude about yourself which…in turn…leads to a proper attitude about your daily life? To be a grace driven church, we need to have true, genuine worship.