Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Personal Worship Strong in the Old Testament

Worship for the Believer
Personal Worship is very strong in the Old Testament

Exodus 12:21–28
21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. 22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. 24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. 25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. 26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? 27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. 28 And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.

There was a previous mention of worship by Abraham by offering Isaac. It is a direct statement that worship was directly related to the offering of the sacrifice. This was a private moment of worship in which Abraham was willing to sacrifice any possession, emotion, and act of obedience.

Private worship as depicted in Abraham’s offering of Isaac defined and shaped the future understanding of worship for corporate Israel. In the future, instead of private, secluded places, God would establish a tabernacle and a temple where sacrificial worship could occur, but it was still an individual act. The individual Israelite male and female were responsible for obedience to a code of sacrifice, were responsible for the appropriateness of the offering, and were responsible for their correctness in relation to the sacrifice.

Therefore, it would be a wrong assumption that corporate worship is the replacement for personal worship, or that corporate worship does not include personal worship. In fact, worship can only occur individually regardless of the event the believer may be attending. Worship is and always will be a private matter of the heart sometimes set in the venue of an assemblage. There are many Biblical instances in which corporate worship is mentioned, yet, for the most part, the corporate is actually an assemblage of individual acts of obedient worship.

The believer can worship privately through prayer in the modern church service. The prayer of cleansing prior to the observance of the Lord’s Supper would be one such time. In order not to partake unworthily of this prescribed church event the believer is warned to be certain of his worthiness.

The believer can make the offering time an act of worship. The believer can renew his understanding and commitment that all he has is from the Lord’s, and he physically makes this an offering of his wealth. It is a sacrifice to God on the altar of his heart.

The believer can worship while listening to the preaching of God’s Word. Listening and then sacrificing his understanding and thinking for the understanding and thinking developed in God’s Word.

The believer can worship at the invitation by responding to the Word of God physically. The invitation time is the altar experience which is the sacrifice of the believer’s will to God’s will.

Worship in the New Testament church

Worship and the Believer
Is the New Testament church supposed to engage in liturgical worship like the Old Testament worship system?
Should the New Testament church conduct liturgical services?
Should the New Testament church limit worship to specific buildings or times or authorities?
Should the New Testament church worship be conducted or spontaneous?
Should there be efforts during corporate worship times to inspire or generate worship expression in the worshipper?

These are questions that are asked and pondered by theologians and church leaders conducting worship services for the believer(s) who attend centers for corporate worship.

John 4:19–24 (KJV 1900)

19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

The woman engaged by Jesus in the passage obviously recognizes his authoritative position concerning spiritual matters and calls Him a Prophet. Obviously, she was so impressed with His wisdom; she listened to his message. It would be wise for all who are seeking answers to questions about worship to study the passage for answers concerning proper worship.

Liturgical Worship is based in a location

The first question raised by this poor woman was the accurate place of worship. This was more important to her than the actual content or method of her worship. She was the product of a society which defined worship based upon ancestry or national origin. For her, worship of God could not be separated from loyalty to her heritage or ethnicity.

Although the modern definition of “separation of church and state” in our country is incorrect, it is certain that the state not encroach on the worship expression of any individual seeking to be responsible and sincere. The infringement in even the location of worship is too much encroachment. She was obviously so shallow a worshipper that her nationalism was an acceptable limitation of her belief and worship.

Although we are admonished to live in accord with human government, we must never be so deceived as to believe that the combination of politics and worship are acceptable. The fear is that “a Pharaoh my rise up that knows not Joseph.” Worship must never be supported financially by government funds. Worship must never be held hostage to political concerns or agendas. True worship of God should always be according to the Word of God.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Deliverance by God Generates Worship

Deliverance by God generates worship

Exodus 4:30–31 (KJV 1900)
30 And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. 31 And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.

The Children of Israel are in bondage to Egypt, and God chooses Moses in a burning bush experience that makes him God’s representative for the deliverance of His people.  Moses at first is very disbelieving and objects strenuously to this proposed role in the deliverance of God’s people.  However, after much demonstration and answer to Moses objections by God, Moses assumes the role.

As Moses and Aaron relate their mission and their overwhelming signs, the leadership of Israel is crushed under the weight of such evidence that God is working to deliver his people.  Under this overwhelming revelation, they bow in humble adoration of their God.  The scriptures say they bowed and worshipped because God was looking on their affliction to deliver them.  This overpowering revelation left them with intense desire to fall back before their God.

The church can be overwhelmed regularly as people are delivered from sin through the salvation of Christ.  The stronger the church becomes in reaching the lost, the more deliverance experiences will be demonstrated to empower worship.

The church can be overwhelmed by God’s deliverance by experiencing reclaimed lives spared from the destruction of the consequences of wrong or improper conduct.  The more effective ministry for and interaction with those who are overwhelmed by sinfulness provides opportunity for the church to experience changed and reclaimed lives leading to worshipful experiences..

The church can be overwhelmed by God’s deliverance by providing comfort, encouragement, and physical relief to all those who are in trials and tribulations of life.  The church should have counseling and resources to relieve the tested and tried souls of men so the affect of the ministry of deliverance can be experienced.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Service, Obedience, Precusor to Worship

Worship for the Believer
Service, Obedience, Precursor to Worship

Genesis 24:12–14
12 And he said, O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: 14 And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.
Genesis 24:17–21
17 And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher. 18 And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. 19 And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. 20 And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels. 21 And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.
Genesis 24:24–27
24 And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor. 25 She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in. 26 And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the Lord. 27 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.
In this passage, the mission-driven servant prays for the success of his mission with specific requests that only God can provide.  For his mission to be successful, he must find the wife for his master’s son and must have a woman of his master’s family.  When the prayer is answered, so he is certain he has found the God chosen woman, he bows his head and worships God for the success of his mission.
Often, a precursor to sincere worship is the experience of God’s direct intervention giving success to a crucial mission engaged for God.  The believer who is constantly and consistently allowing God to use his willing obedience will find these opportunities to see God work in the success of his work.  These God-intervention experiences lead to worship from a grateful, eager heart without the pseudo-experiences of worship.
The best individual or corporate worship in a church’s worship experience is worship from hearts grateful and eager to praise God for his intervention in the success of their obedience.  The church willing to be obedient and extend their risk of failure for such obedience to God is often able to experience such divine intervention.  The worship will naturally happen increasing the desire for more obedience, divine intervention, and worship.   All adherences to the trappings of worship can never replace this divinely inspired worship.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Worship: Pathos and Obedience

Worship for the Believer
Pathos and Obedience
Genesis 22:4–8

4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
In no other passage, do we see the depth of human pathos mixed with faith so greatly demonstrated. Abraham said such actions were worship. Abraham worshipped God by exercising blind faith that God would provide a sacrifice. With no reservation, but probably the sorrow of a grieving father, Abraham obediently followed through to the point of putting his son to death. Only the voice of God stopped him from taking the knife and plunging it into the body of his sacrifice of worship to God, Isaac.
Worship to this degree is unparalleled in modern Christianity. In fact, such blind devotion would be punished as reckless endangerment. It is definitely not a part of our current understanding of worship of God in this modern culture. Unbridled obedience is substituted with music, expressions of unbridled obedience, and solemnity. Our church worship falls far short of such worship; because we worship corporately, thus minimizing the personal pathos and obedience. Jesus was emphatic about this type of worship being vanity.

Matthew 15:3–9

3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. 5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. 7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

The context of this passage is a rebuke to the Pharisees, because they misused the scriptures disallowing personal pathos and obedience. Instead, they chose convenience concerning their obligation to their parents. By wrongly subjugating God’s Word to their traditions, they added to their own personal wealth and convenience; but declared they worshipped God. The church must flee form, and engage pathos and obedience, spirit and truth, so worship has substance over form.

The true worship of God must include pathos of truth, obedience, and unrestricted faith demonstrated by actions, or it is in vain. We can employ in church services all the trappings of worship, solemnity, grandeur, and earnestness, but apart from obedience to personal cost, it is in vain. We are experiencing a nice spiritual experience which placates the need to worship and satisfying our feelings, but it leaves God unmoved or even displeased.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Biblical Worship Gen 18:1-5

Worship for the Believer

Genesis 18:1–5 (KJV 1900)

And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.

This passage of Scripture recounts Abrahams meeting with the promise of Isaac. The three men were obviously heavenly messengers carrying an urgent greeting directly from God to Abraham and Sarah. In fact, it was Sarah for whom they asked.

The word translated bow is actually a word translated worship throughout the Hebrew Old Testament. When Abraham met the three strangers he conducted the physical action of the core meaning of the Hebrew worship. The basic core meaning of worship is to bow of the heart and being to God. 
Abraham treated the strangers with honor, respect, and hospitality which was an expected behavior that all Hebrew people were to do for the stranger or sojourner. The act of preparing food and providing roadside comfort was a natural part of that society’s civil culture.

Remember, the opposite was demonstrated in the Good Samaritan passage. Thieves and evil men accosted the traveler and did him bodily harm. This was the action of an uncivil society in the days of Christ. This was also the act of aggression when David’s men came in peace and were treated rudely by Hanun. There was no roadside or sojourner civility.

2 Samuel 10:4–5 (KJV 1900)

4 Wherefore Hanun took David’s servants, and shaved off the one half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks, and sent them away. 5 When they told it unto David, he sent to meet them, because the men were greatly ashamed: and the king said, Tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown, and then return.

What does this tell us about worship? Worship is the willful act of bowing in honor, respect, and hospitality. When the believer worships he willfully welcomes God’s will into his life as Abraham made the will of those whom he met as his personal concern. We embrace it not because of fear of retribution, but because our willful honor and respect for God.