One day an expert in time management spoke to a group of business students. He said, "Okay, time for a quiz." Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide mouth Mason jar and set it on a table. He produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?" Everyone in the class said, "Yes." Then he said, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the space between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?" By this time the class was on to him. "Probably not," one of them answered. "Good!" he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?" "No!" the class shouted. Once again he said, "Good." Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?" One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things in it!" "No," the speaker replied, "that's not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all."
We need to be sure the "big rocks," the most important things are priorities in our lives. According to the Bible, one of the biggest rocks is the worship of God. WORSHIP IS A BIG THING TO GOD! The Psalmist says, "Seven times a day I praise You, because of Your righteous judgments" (Psalm 119:164).
At one time, Daniel Webster was considered the greatest of all living Americans. He was outstanding as a statesman, lawyer, orator, and leader of men. Twenty-five national leaders attended a select banquet in his honor. One man at the banquet asked Mr. Webster, "Sir, what is the greatest thought that ever entered your mind?" Without hesitation, Webster replied, "The greatest thought that ever entered my mind was the thought of my responsibility to God." As he spoke, he wept, excused himself from the banquet, and went outside to get control of his emotions. When he returned, he talked for thirty minutes about man's responsibility to God.
What is our responsibility to God? One of our main responsibilities is to worship God. I would like us to focus this morning on the subject of worship. Worship is a duty of believers. It should be a priority. All through the Bible we are called to worship God.
When God gave the ten commandments to Israel, what was it that was most important to Him? Notice the first commandment that He gave:
Exodus 20:1-6 (NKJV) And God spoke all these words, saying: 2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 "YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME. 4 "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 YOU SHALL NOT BOW DOWN TO THEM NOR SERVE THEM. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
The first commandment, then, is to worship God, and God alone. That is our priority as believers.
2 Kings 17:36 (NKJV) "but the LORD, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, Him you shall worship, and to Him you shall offer sacrifice.
Over and over in the Psalms we are called to worship God.
Psalms 29:2 (NKJV) Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
Psalms 66:4 (NKJV) All the earth shall worship You And sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name." Selah
Psalms 99:5 (NKJV) Exalt the LORD our God, And worship at His footstool; He is holy.
Jesus, in his confrontation with the Devil, said :
Matthew 4:10 (NKJV) Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"
Jesus, quoting Deuteronomy 6:13, emphasized that God alone is worthy of worship.
Paul told the Romans that in view of God's gracious plan of redemption, they ought to worship Him.
Romans 12:1 (NKJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
The word "service" is the Greek word latreia, which means: "worship."
I think we are all aware that we are to worship God, but do we really understand what worship is? How would you define worship? When you hear the word "worship," what picture comes to mind? Do you think of a service with instruments, songs and hymns and of course preaching? That is an aspect of worship. I hope that what we do here on Sunday morning is worship. If we sing praises to God and learn about Him from the Scripture, then I think we are worshiping.
Worship involves music and praise. In 2 Chronicles, we read of how the priests led the people in a great worship celebration through music.
2 Chronicles 5:12-14 (NKJV) 12 and the Levites who were the singers, all those of Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, stood at the east end of the altar, clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets; 13 indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying: "For He is good, For His mercy endures forever," that the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.
Music is an important aspect of worship and so is the teaching of the Word. In Nehemiah 8, when the scribe read the Word before the people, it caused them to worship.
Nehemiah 8:6 (NKJV) And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. Then all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
Singing and teaching are a part of worship, but we must understand that there is much more to worship than what we do at church. In fact, the Scripture makes it plain that worship was never intended to be only for corporate services.
Psalms 119:164 (NKJV) Seven times a day I praise You, Because of Your righteous judgments.
We can worship God any time or any place - driving in your car, sitting at your desk, lying in your bed, relaxed in your recliner. It doesn't matter where!
The truth is, unless we learn to worship God everyday through the week, we are probably not worshiping Him on Sundays. We are just "playing church."
So, what is true worship? The word "worship" means: "Honor paid to a superior being." It means: "To give honor, homage, respect, adoration, praise, and glory to God."
The Hebrew word for worship is a powerful one. It describes the physical act of actually prostrating yourself on the floor before a sovereign, someone who has complete control over you.
The English word "worship" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon "weorthscipe" - "worth" and "ship" meaning: "one worthy of reverence and honor."
If I had to boil worship down to two words, it would be, obedience and submission. True worship is living in obedience to the revealed will of God - the Bible; and living with a submissive attitude toward His providence. Worship is: "Aligning ourselves with God's will, both written and providential."
If some one were to say, "She worships him." What would that mean? They would be saying that she lives to serve him, she obeys his every word, and she thinks that whatever he does is right.
This is what true worship is all about; it is living in obedience to the Lord's revealed will, the Bible, and bowing with a submissive heart to whatever circumstances He brings you.
Worship is a consuming desire to give to God. Worship proceeds from the heart.
Matthew 15:8-9 (NKJV) 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"
They were attempting to worship, but their worship was vain because it was not coming from their hearts. It was all outward ceremony. Worship is a redeemed heart occupied with God, expressing itself in adoration and thanksgiving. That is worship. How does worship express itself? It can be through praise, prayer, singing, Bible study, witnessing, giving, or meeting someone's needs. All these are worship if done from a heart of love. Everything we do is to be worship.
Worship is not a spiritual "warm fuzzy" on Sunday morning. It is God's people actively responding to him. The foundation of all true worship is obedience and submission.
Genesis 22:5 (NKJV) And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you."
Did Abraham worship? Yes, he did! How did he worship? God told him to offer up his only son and he responded with an obedient heart. He bowed to the divine will - this is worship!
We see in the Psalms that worship is tied to obedience and submission.
Psalms 66:1-4 (NKJV) Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! 2 Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious. 3 Say to God, "How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves to You. 4 All the earth shall worship You And sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name." Selah
Submissive service is a prominent aspect of true worship. To worship (Greek - proskuneo) means: "to fall down with faces to the ground in humble adoration." The outward act expresses an inward attitude of reverence and humility. To worship is to serve (Greek - latreuo). True worship involves committed service.
The bottom line of worship is how you live. You can't come here and worship on Sunday if you have been living in sin all week. Public worship is either enhanced or hindered by our private worship. If you come to a corporate worship service and find it impossible to center your thoughts on God, chances are great that you have not spent much time alone with the Lord through the week.
Let me share with you one of the clearest pictures of worship in the Bible. Remember that I said that worship was: "Aligning ourselves with God's will, both written and providential." Turn with me to the book of Job, and I'll show you a true worshiper.
Job was a real man, not a mythological figure. He is mentioned by Ezekiel, and he is classified as one of the three great men of the Old Testament, along with Noah and Daniel. He is mentioned also in the New Testament by James, who refers to Job's patience and steadfast endurance. He was a contemporary of Abraham, most likely, so this book goes back to the very beginnings of biblical history.
Job 1:1 (NKJV) There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.
The most noteworthy thing about Job, evidently, was his godliness. He feared God, and he shunned evil. One day this godly man had a very bad day. Job lost all his oxen and donkeys to the Sabeans who also killed his servants (1:14-15).
Put your self in Job's sandals. This would be like a bunch of robbers stealing all of your farm equipment and killing your employees. Have you ever been robbed? It is a sickening feeling, you feel violated. Not only was Job robbed, but his servants were killed. I'm sure that Job cared about his servants. This would be enough to get any of us upset, but it was just beginning.
Before Job has too much time to think about his loss, he got word that lightening had burned up all his sheep and the servants that were watching them (1:16).
Back to you - not only have you lost all your farm equipment, now you lost your job. So, now you have no farm equipment and you also have no employment. How would you be responding?
Another messenger comes, and Job learns that the Chaldeans have stolen all his camels and killed his servants (1:17).
Back to you - this would be like having all of your cars stolen. Now you have no farm equipment, no employment, and no transportation. I had a car of mine stolen, but I had two others. Imagine being without any transportation. You talk about a bad day! What would your thoughts be toward God about this time?
Job must have been feeling pretty devastated by this time, but the worst was yet to come. Then he learned that all ten of his children were killed when the house they were in collapsed on them (1:18-19).
What if, in the midst of this tragic day, you got word that all of your children were killed in a terrible accident? Have you ever gotten word of a death in your family that was totally unexpected? I have. I remember so clearly the pain and anguish. I really can't imagine it on top of all the other disasters that happened to Job that day. And you think that you have bad days! How do you think you would respond to a day like this?
In the midst of the worse calamity you can imagine, in the midst of a catastrophic disaster, notice Job's reaction:
Job 1:20 (NKJV) Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.
Job did not complain, he did not blame God, he did not get all angry and upset and say, "Why should this happen to me? What have I done that all these things should suddenly come upon me?" Remember what I said worship was? Worship is: "Aligning ourselves with God's will, both written and providential." Notice the expression of Job's worship:
Job 1:21 (NKJV) And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD."
Job responds to this great tragedy with an expressing of adoration and thanksgiving. That is, "Thank God for the times when I did have these things, and the enjoyment they gave me; the times with my children, and the blessings they brought into my life. Rather than complain about the loss, I recognize God's sovereign right to do with me as he will. If he gives me things, he has the right to take them away. All I can do is say 'Thank you' for having had them as long as I did." Here is a man in the midst of the furnace of adversity, and he falls on his face in acceptance of the Divine will and says, "Let it be so, Your will be done, Blessed be the name of the Lord." Worship is aligning ourselves with God's providential will.
"Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job still has the same great and good thoughts of God that ever he had. He is praising God. Praise comes from a Latin word meaning: "value" or "price." Thus, to give praise to God is to proclaim His merit or worth. He can find in his heart to bless God even when he takes away all he has given. He blesses God for what was given, though now it was taken away. When our comforts are removed from us, we must thank God that we ever had them and had them so much longer than we deserved. Job adores God even in taking away, and gives him honor by a willing submission.
Psalms 95: 1-7(NKJV) Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. 3 For the LORD is the great God, And the great King above all gods. 4 In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. 5 The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land. 6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. 7 For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand...
Recognizing God's sovereign rights (The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away), Job praised the Lord. It is truly remarkable that Job followed adversity with adoration, woe with worship. Unlike so many people, he did not give in to bitterness; he refused to blame God for wrongdoing.
Job was a man who aligned himself with God's will, both written and providential. But Job wasn't alone in this look with me at Acts 16, where we see Paul and Silas being tortured for their faith.
Acts 16:22-24 (NKJV) Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. 23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Because of their proclamation of the gospel, Paul and Silas were beaten with a bundle of rods. They would strip them and beat their back, sides, and legs. The Jews would limit such a beating to 39 hits, but the Romans had no limit. They beat them as long as they wanted.
After their beating, they were placed in the inner prison - this would be a cell with no window, no light, no fresh air, and no bathroom. In this inner prison, they placed them in stocks - they would stretch their legs as far apart as they could, and then lock them in the stocks, and then chain their wrist to the wall.
Let's pause here and put ourselves in their sandals. How would you respond in this situation? Have you ever come even close to what these men experienced? They had been beaten, they were bleeding and in great pain, put in stocks in a stinking dark prison. They weren't suffering because they did something wrong. They were doing exactly what God wanted them to do, as verses 6-10 make clear. They were living obedient lives, and they were suffering. This is undeserved suffering. They were suffering for righteousness sake.
How did they respond? No doubts, no questions, no complaints - they worshiped God. They knew that God was sovereign even in their suffering. They trusted that God would work this out for good. Their attitude of worship and adoration is demonstrated in their actions.
Acts 16:25 (NKJV) But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
We can understand them praying. We would be praying, "God why did you let this happen to me, God why don't you do something?" Or, "God, judge these pagans for their sin." They weren't praying imprecatory prayers - "God, wipe them out." They were praying and singing. How could they be singing at a time like this? What could they possibly sing about? This is a demonstration of a true worshiper aligning him self with God's providential will.
It says, "And the prisoners were listening to them" - what a testimony! The word "listening" is the Greek word epakroaomai, it means: "to listen intently." The people who heard them singing knew what had just happened to these men. And here they are singing about God. These folks were listening to every word they were saying.
Some of you are unable to worship God because you're still unable to accept some of the circumstances God has brought into your life. They've made you bitter, and you can't worship. And until you get to the point of acceptance, you're never going to be able to worship God.
The worship of acceptance is to be willing to accept your circumstances - your place in life, your job, your career, your partner, your children - and be willing to say, "God you control all my circumstances, and you are wise and loving, you know what is best for me. In the midst of my pain, I worship You."
God created us to worship him, it is our responsibility.
Revelation 4:11 (NKJV) "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created."
We were designed for worship. It is the most worthwhile endeavor of life. Heb.13:15 says:
"Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name."
Worship is our eternal job description. If you have trouble worshiping Him, you need to get to know Him better. He is worthy of our worship!