A Heart-Felt Religion?
I. It seems many people today are struggling with the concept of worship.
A. Suppose a visitor comes to worship with us. We sing a song of praise to God. The lights are on, eyes are open, no one is swaying with hands in the air.
1. This same person visits another group that evening and they happen to sing the same song. But here the lights are dimmed, candles are lit, eyes are closed and bodies sway to the music.
2. This person declares “I felt so much closer to God this evening than I did this morning.”
B. Please notice a few things
1. This person based “closeness” to God on his feelings at the moment.
a. Have you considered where the Bible teaches that we are to have a relationship with God based on our emotions?
b. Don’t get me wrong, our relationship with God does produce an emotional response within us, but the emotions are not the source of that relationship.
2. This person is unable to get close to God without external stimulation.
a. You can watch a good movie and be brought to tears or laugh yourself silly, but it doesn’t really come from within you. It is a response to the stimulation.
(1) I may not have felt like crying before watching, but for a moment there are tears in my eyes.
(2) The problem is that our emotions can be manipulated - Proverbs 28:26
b. Many worship ceremonies for idols, both past and present, invoke strong emotional responses, but it does make the people truly close to these false deities.
II. How do we get close to God?
A. We cannot come to Christ unless God draws us - John 6:44
1. Many use this verse to say that God tugs directly on their heart-strings to cause them to seek him. It is something, they say, that they feel within themselves.
2. But notice the next verse. Coming to God is accomplished through the learning of the teachings of God.
B. Faith (trust in God) comes from listening to God’s words - Romans 10:17
1. Proverbs 3:5-6 - We trust in God by leaning on God’s wisdom. God directs our path by teaching us where to walk.
2. Notice the context: Proverbs 3:1-4
a. Recalling the teaching
b. Keeping commandments in our heart
c. Not letting kindness or TRUTH leave, writing them on our hearts
d. Finding favor and a good reputation in the sight of God
C. When we are close to someone, we really get to know him. We have some measure of understanding of him.
1. We know God by keeping His commandments - I John 2:3-6
2. Such love for God, is demonstrated in our earnest desire to please God - I John 5:1-3
III. It seems people have come to view worship as a vague emotional response. Jesus defines worship in John 4:21-24
A. It requires a worshiper
1. Worship is an action taken by people
2. The existence of a rock is not worship, despite the insistence of New-Age existentialism
3. Animals do not worship
4. People worship because we made in the image of God. Our spirits long to commune with the Spirit of God.
B. It requires an object of worship
1. Mankind has often misdirected its worship - Isaiah 2:8
2. Man’s worship of things is useless because man cannot make God - Romans 1:21-23
3. As Jesus told Satan, only God is to be worshiped - Luke 4:8
4. In this line, a frequent misconception is the idea that it really doesn’t matter whom you worship.
a. For example, some claim Allah and God are the same being, just called by different names.
b. The god of the Muslims is not the God of the Christians.
c. The god of the Muslims is the figment of Mohammed’s imagination.
d. The God of the Bible is the only true God.
e. The god of the New Age Movement, Gaia, is a falsehood and cannot be equated with the reality of our God, the Father.
f. The god of the Mormons is a product of men and does not exist.
C. It must be done in spirit
1. Our worship must be sincere, coming from our whole being - Matthew 22:37-38
2. The worship of our God is not a frivolous thing to be taken lightly. This is why Paul warned the Corinthians to be sure their partaking of the Lord’s was done in the proper frame of mind - I Corinthians 11:27-30
3. Even when a person does the actions prescribed by God, his worship is useless if his heart is not in it - Matthew 15:8
D. It must be done in truth
1. God’s word, his teachings and commandments, are truth - John 17:17
2. The Jews offered worship to God, but they used their own rules for serving God - Matthew 15:8
3. God is the object of our worship and He tells us how He wishes to be served.
a. The whole duty of man is to serve God and keep his commandments - Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
b. God doesn’t have to accept anything man may happen to send His way – God doesn’t need man’s worship.
c. Worship is for the benefit of man, but that doesn’t mean man can tell God how He will be worshiped - Isaiah 29:16
IV. Worship is something distinctly done.
A. Worship cannot be accidently given
1. The wise men came and worshiped Jesus - Matthew 2:11
2. Satan wanted Jesus to worship him - Matthew 4:8-9
3. A Jewish official offered worship to Jesus - Matthew 9:18
4. John wrongly offered worship to an angel - Revelation 19:10
5. Each of these show that worship was a distinct action
B. Some believe that everything we do is worship to God.
1. They will quote Romans 12:1-2 as proof.
a. The word at the end of verse 1 means “religious service”
b. Some translations add the word “worship” to this phrase, but other verses using the same word is simply translated as “service” - John 16:1-2
2. Everything we do ought to serve God and His purpose - Colossians 3:17
a. Including the worship we give to God.
3. Yet, everything thing we do is not worship of God
C. Example: Genesis 22:3-8
1. Abraham obeyed God by taking a three-day journey, but that journey was not worship.
2. At the end of his journey, Abraham told his servants to remain while he and Isaac went into the mountain to worship.
3. Everything Abraham did served God, but Abraham did not consider everything he did worship of God.
V. Worship is something special
A. If everything is worship, then worship is ordinary and common place.
B. Worship is a distinctive action reserved for God alone.
C. The things we do here today is to give God glory and honor by serving Him as he has instructed us.
1. It is not a time for us to seek something for ourselves, though we do benefit from worshiping God.
2. To say we went to worship and got nothing out of it is to say you went to worship for yourself. You were seeking to gratify yourself. Is it not self-worship?
3. This is a time to worship our Lord God Almighty, to show Him our gratitude and to give Him honor.