Spiritual Wellness and Worship
Scripture: Revelation 4:8b, 5
God makes a BIG deal about worship! I mean a REALY, REALY BIG deal. So much of the OT revolves around worship. The temple was the center of worship, detailed instructions on sacrifices, painstaking details covering the many religious feasts and festivals, not to mention the almost countless tiny details of daily life that were about worship God in the midst of the mundane.
Then we turn to the NT and we see Jesus starting his ministry refuting temptation by saying Lk 4:8, Worship the Lord your God and serve him only. Later Jesus denounces the Pharisees with a scathing attack on their attempt at worship. Mt. 15:7-9, You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8 “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain….’
Then in the Book of Revelation (4) one of the glimpses we get of heaven is of worship starting with 4 creatures before the throne singing “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come. Then with the 24 elders before God worshipping him saying, Rev. 4:11, You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things…. And then we see ten thousand times ten thousand saying, Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! And then we see every creature in heaven and earth doing what??? Worshipping God saying, Rev. 5:13b, To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!. God makes a BIG deal of worship.
In this sermon series we’re looking at spiritual wellness. So far, we’ve seen Jesus is essential for spiritual wellness and the Bible, God’s Word, is God’s power that transforms us. Today, we’re looking at the role of worship in our spiritual wellness. The question we’re looking at is, What is worship and why does God make such a BIG deal about it?
The English word “worship” comes from an Old English word that communicates the idea of ascribing worth to something. The Old English word refers to the worthiness or worth-ship of something.
To worship God is to ascribe worth to God. As the perfect and holy God you have worth. As the Creator and Sustainer of the universe you have worth. As source of love and forgiveness…as the one who has all power and authority…as the sovereign judge of all you have worth. Our worship is a reaction to God’s worth-ness.
Has a beautiful sunset or by a mountaintop vista ever taken your breath away? You see it and (Inhale deeply) you can’t help yourself, you spontaneously respond by gasping to the beauty and grandeur.
As you encounter God & His worthiness you cannot help yourselves…your breath is taken away by who he is…you cannot help yourselves…you fall on your knees…you bow before him because he is so…worthy. In this sense worship is the most beautiful thing in the world.
Listen to how this psalm captures this sense of God worth-ness and responds in worship. Psalm 95:3-6, For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. 5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 6 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
When we come to worship God reveals his worth-ness through His Word, the Bible which we hear and speak in song and word, we see and receive the beauty of his grace & forgiveness through the special gifts of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Our response to God’s worth-ness, GASP, worship.
Worship is like a two-way street. God’s worth-ness shines on us and then we reflect back His worth-ness in our worship and praise. It starts & ends with God. It’s all about God.
How God must grieve when my flesh leads me to make worship all about me. How Jesus must sorrow over the debasement of worship, when it’s becomes about me and my final judging question is what do I get out of it. Jesus’ words to the Pharisees rings in my ears, “They worship me in vain.”
Worship in Spirit & Truth - In our 3rd reading today, John 4, we heard some of the most profound words about worship in the Bible, Jesus tells a Samaritan woman, “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth. Jesus tells us we worship God in the Spirit and in truth.
I like to think of inside-out worship. Inside-out worship begins from the inside with the indwelling of the HS and then works its way to the outside. True worship does not depend on a person’s physical location, the building they are, the garments they wear, the language they speak or the culture they embody. True worship is that which is generated by THE HS who leads me to do something that reflects God’s worth-ness.
HS moved worship is not moved by a sense of duty. It’s not moved by a sense of a law-oriented obligation. It’s a HS-generated response to Jesus’ love, grace and forgiveness.
If it was my wedding anniversary and I approached Missy with a beautiful arrangement of a dozen roses. I hand the roses to Missy and she says, “Oh John, they’re beautiful and I’m so thankful.” Then in my genius I respond, “Don’t mention it. It’s my duty.” Right about now, I’m eating dinner with the dog in the dog house.
What happened? The beauty of the gesture of giving flowers was gutted of value by the driving motor of obligation and duty. What was ripped out of the gesture was the beauty of love.
As we see in the person of Jesus God’s mercy…as we see his grace…and as we take hold of His total and absolute forgiveness of our sins through Jesus…as we hear God calling us His children in Christ…we are moved by love to declare with every ounce of life and strength God’s worth-ness.
Do you have to be in a church building to worship? Of course not. We can proclaim God’s worth-ness publically or privately. Publically, we come together and together we reflect back to God His worth-ness. Privately, I reflect back God’s worth-ness at home as I honor God through my relationship with my spouse and children. I can reflect back God’s worth-ness as I’m driving my car, although I understand that can often be a challenge. I can reflect back to God His worth-ness at work as I carry out my work and handle relationships in a way that honors God.
Public and private worship are linked. If during the week the flame of worship barely flickers, is it realistic to expect a bonfire of worship Sunday morning? No, it’s not going to happen and when it doesn’t I incorrectly point the finger of blame at something outside of me.
But the converse is also true, when the flame of my private worship burns bright, my public worship will be a roaring bonfire. When I experience God’s joy and peace and contentment in Sunday worship it’s normally because I experienced the same in my private worship.
Worship is one of the most beautiful gifts God gives us. It fills our soul and it fires our passion. Like nothing else, worship strengthens to weak and weary. It gives hope to the desperate and hopeless. It shines the light of grace and acceptance into the darkness of despair. Worship fills with life where there is only death. Worship of God is spiritual wellness.
Sermon Worthy Question: What is worship and why does God make such a BIG deal about worship?
Call to Greatness: My faith in Jesus leads me into the most holy and privileged act of inside-out worshipping of God.
Ten Second Take Away: Worshipping God is the BIGGEST honor my faith gives me and the greatest act of life because in it I am reflecting the worthiness of God.