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O LORD! HOW MAY I WORSHIP YOU?
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
18 SEPTEMBER 1988
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 John 1:5-10
Preparation: (Psalm 100:1-2)
1. Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
2. Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
The title of today’s sermon "O Lord! How May I Worship You?" should bring to our attention at least two questions.
The first of these is the plural of the first question: How should we worship God?
The second question is: Why do we come together to worship God?
Throughout this morning's service we are going to attempt to answer these questions and at the same time experience some different forms of worship.
Let's begin our excursion by looking at what we did so far this morning.
We came together and greeted each other with a somewhat formal "good morning" and then proceeded to discuss what this body of Christ is doing as a whole.
We then entered into a formal opening of the service with an invocation, a hymn, and a collect recited in unison. We did this to help get us into the proper attitude for worship.
Now I would like each of you to get up out of your seat and greet others in a very personal way that expresses your love and Christ's love for them, and even offer a word of blessing upon them.
Now let's take a look at what King David wrote in Psalm 29:2.
2. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name;
Worship the Lord in holy array.
This passage is key to our understanding of worshiping God.
God is holy and righteous, and we are to respect Him for who He is and present our offering of praise and thanksgiving, our worship, in a manner that reflects the respect due to Him.
We are to worship the Lord because of the splendor of His holiness, and not ours.
We are the ones doing homage to Him. We are not to be asking Him to take notice of us in what we assume to be our holiness.
Love is giving of one’s self for the benefit of another.
We may give our love and self to another human being or a companion animal in this manner, but what about all the other human beings and animals in the world?
Doesn't holding back some of the giving of our love and ourselves to the whole of creation also limit our worship of God?
Therefore, if we truly love the Lord, we will present ourselves as holy and living sacrifices to Him without expecting anything in return, and without limitation.
This also should be convicting, in that it says that we, as hypocrites, can not truly worship God. We can not act one way during the week, and then present ourselves before Him differently on Sunday and expect Him to accept our worship.
Note what we are told in John 4:23-24.
23. "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
24. "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
Since now is the hour of worship, as should be every hour of the day, every day, we must first present ourselves in proper form before the Lord.
How do we do this?
We do this by confessing our sins to God and by asking for forgiveness. But this only means something when we are truly sorry for what we have done and desire not to do it again.
Thus, in every service we enter into a time of confession and assurance.
Let's do that now. Take a few moments and silently meditate upon your own life and attitudes, and then confess those things that are not right to the Lord and ask Him for forgiveness, if you truly wish to change and get rid of that condition.
Father, there isn't one of us here today that hasn't sinned in one way or another. Please forgive all of us who have truly repented, and continue to convict us of the things that are not right in Your sight, so that we may be transformed into the people You desire us to be.
But how do we know when we pray in spirit and truth that we will be forgiven?
We know because God's Word tells us so.
Let's look at a few of these passages. Note what we are told in Psalm 103:11-13.
11. For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
12. As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13. Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
Note also the assurance we are given in 1 John 1:5-10; but at the same time we are reminded of the truth about sin.
John presents this in a very interesting way: verses 5, 7, and 9 are our assurance, and verses 6, 8, and 10 are to convict.
5. And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
6. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;
7. but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
8. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Did you hear those words of assurance?
God is the One who is faithful and righteous to forgive us when we repent. We don't have to do any work or special act to be forgiven. All we have to do is confess our sins with an honest heart, and we receive our forgiveness as a free gift.
10. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
Then in 2:12 John tells us why he is writing this epistle:
12. I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake.
God forgives us because we believe on the name of Jesus and trust in Him. It is really just that simple!
And following the time of confession and assurance, we usually recite The
Lord’s Prayer which, when taken in the context presented by Jesus, has the same
kind of self-convicting message that we saw in our passage from 1 John.
In order to better understand this, let's now recite The Lord's Prayer together, and then take a closer look at it.
In Matthew 6:7-15 we find this prayer and Jesus' convicting message.
7. "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.
This is even convicting us for repetitiously repeating The Lord's Prayer itself.
This prayer is an example of how we are to pray. It is not to be our only prayer. And each time we pray, we don't have to pray the full series of items presented in this prayer.
8. "Therefore do not be like them [the Gentiles]; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him.
If He knows what we need before we ask Him, then why do we have to pray?
We have to pray for several reasons:
Without meaningful prayer, we may begin to consider some good things we get as just being a coincidence.
Without meaningful prayer, we may begin to blame God for the bad things that occur.
Without meaningful prayer, our faith will become weaker and weaker.
And without meaningful prayer, we may begin to turn away from God.
So the Lord gives us an example of how we are to pray:
9. "Pray, then, in this way:
'Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name.
We are to begin by addressing our prayer to God, lest it be thought we are praying to someone or something else.
We should include some adoration in our prayer. We are to lift up the name of the Lord by acknowledging something about God.
10. 'Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
At times in our prayers, we may wish to ask that His second coming would come soon.
Or, we may just wish to express our feelings that His kingdom would be as alive in us, as it is in heaven.
We may also wish to express our desire that we would do all things according to God's perfect will, just as He would have them done in heaven.
We may also express our wish that the warring madness in the world would end that cause millions of humans and billions of animals to suffer and die every year, and that we all may have His heavenly peace.
11. 'Give us this day our daily bread.
At times, we may need food and have to pray for it.
But if we have enough food, then we should always acknowledge that it ultimately came from Him, and thank Him for it.
12. 'And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13. 'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.]'
Then the Lord explains what we are to pray and live in this manner.
14. "For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15. "But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."
As to what our attitude is to be like, when we pray for forgiveness, Jesus tells us that very plainly; if we are not willing to forgive others for what they have done, we can not expect to be forgiven ourselves.
And if we know we are being drawn into a sin, or just acknowledge that we have a weakness in a specific area, then we should pray that we are protected and strengthened in that area.
Always end or include in a prayer a thank you or an exclamation of praise to the Lord for being who He is.
Another aspect of our worship is our music.
We include within our service anthems, hymns, and other forms of music and song; all of which is intended to uplift the soul and to bring us closer to the Lord.
Let's begin this look at our church music by listening to the words of Psalm 150, our Old Testament lesson for today:
1. Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
2. Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
3. Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
4. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
5. Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
6. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!
This Psalm is very interesting. It confirms what we were saying earlier about praising and worshiping God.
It also doesn't limit who is to praise the Lord, for all who have breath are to praise Him, which would include the animals, wouldn't it?
Haven't we heard the birds sing, and even some frogs and insects, and what about the sound of all the other animals...couldn't some of that also be praising God?
I believe it is.
We have also heard the sounds of trumpets playing in the church with such hymns as "God of Our Fathers."
We have also heard the sounds of other instruments playing in the church,
But here we also see that there is a form of dancing that can also praise the Lord, and that we can also have loud sounds.
The key to this is where the heart is, and that the entire service is directed to praise the Lord and is done in holiness.
Let's listen now to our anthem for this morning.
And now let's sing along with a high church chant and praise of the Lord, which is printed in our bulletin.
We can also sing and praise the Lord with much lighter and lively songs.
Let’s sing together the songs that are inserted in our bulletin.
There can be a joy in many forms of worship, and God has given us the free choice to pray in our various churches as we desire, providing that all we do will glorify the Lord.
But our praise and worship is not limited to our churches.
We can worship and pray anywhere and anytime, and we should; for it even continues on in heaven, as we will see in our New Testament lesson, Revelation 5:8-14.
8. And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures [animals] and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
Yes, the Greek tells us that there are animals in heaven.
9. And they sang a new song, saying,
"Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
10. "And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth."
11. And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures [animals] and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands,
12. 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."
13. And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying,
"To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever."
14. And the four living creatures [animals] kept saying, "Amen." And the elders fell down and worshiped.
What a church service that must be!
And the Pastor says "Amen and Amen!"
And the congregation says....