Pleasing Worship… Pleasing to Whom?

Lord willing, next year, we will be reading through the Bible again using the One Year Bible format.

In this format, there is an Old Testament passage, a New Testament passage, a Psalm passage and a passage from Proverbs every day.  This gives us a chance to stay in the Old and New Testaments all year long, instead of reading through the Old Testament for nine months and the New Testament the last three months.  If you have You Version on your phone you can look for Taylor University One Year Bible plan.  If you have a computer, you can go to Bible.com and search for Taylor University One Year Bible plan. You can read or listen to it on your phone or computer.  Or, you can purchase a copy from Amazon for about $16 plus shipping.  It comes in NIV, NKJV, NLT.

Next year, Lord willing, we will focus on our Mission theme of Serving Like Him with His love as His hands and feet.

Ok… now for today’s lesson: We are God’s people, saved by God’s amazing grace, living under God’s awesome care and living by God’s Holy Word.  Our Sunday morning assemblies are fashioned by the shape of scripture’s instructions.  We must take seriously how we carry out our worship services, Amen? Who are we trying to honor and please here?  Ourselves or our Lord? It’s true that God instructs us to care for one another and do what we do to edify and build up each other’s faith. We don’t come together to ignore each other, but to join together in worship of our God, and in service to each other as His people.  But God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord are the objects of our worship here. We didn’t come here to please you, or worship you, but we are here to serve you and share God’s love with you. We do what we do because of Him first and foremost. It’s love God first and our neighbor second that we want to practice in our assemblies, and do it according to what God says, not what we decide we want.  It just so happens that our God wants us to care for one another as an expression of our love toward Him, and our service of worship in Jesus name includes caring about you.  If we are not loving one another here, ironically, we are failing at the very core of what God demands in our worship to Him. As Jesus said, “In as much as you did it to the very least of these, you did it unto me!”  But we are not here to do anything that would diminish our focus on God or distract us from Him as the object of our love and praise. Our simple acapella singing is an example of that very focus.  We simply sing and make music in our hearts to God as an expression of praise and thanksgiving, and also as a teaching tool to instruct and encourage one another. God’s word tells us to be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making music in our hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:19-21. Do you hear in these words how we focus on God and care for one another in this simple act of worship in song?  (Sing the mission song).

The Lord’s Supper: Our simple unleavened bread and cup of the blood of grapes that we take together. Jesus gave us these and told us take them to remember Jesus’ body in the bread and His blood shed for us on the cross as we drink the cup. This is another example of our focus on God and not ourselves.  Jesus joins us as we partake.  We do this in memory of His saving sacrifice for us.  (Read 1 Cor. 11:23-32).  These things are simple, spiritual, and deeply profound.  Perhaps these are foolish in the eyes of the world. But we don’t come together to focus on the world.  We come here to focus on God and one another in Christ.

Maybe these are just not cool enough. To get the world’s attention and impress us and our visitors, maybe we should make these more… what?  More like the ways of who?  More pleasing to whom?

Can you see what might happen if we move our focus from God and His words to the world and its ways? It’s called being progressive and open minded and “on the right side of history” to do so, but if we leave our focus on God and His word for what pleases or fits into the world around us, what happens?  We must ask ourselves if this is moving closer to God and more in tune with His will, or away from Him.  Israel asked for a king, like the nations around them, not because they wanted to be closer to God.  If you don’t think so, just ask God.  He said that they were rejecting Him as their King.  So.  Worshiping together in assembly is important and how we do what we do must be centered on God’s word and will first, and the good of one another in that process.

Also, there’s another larger part of our lives outside of assembly.  Here we must take seriously how we carry out our daily lives and live them by God’s holy standards as His chosen people, His royal priesthood, His holy nation, the people belonging to God, Amen?  Worshipers of God, followers of Jesus Christ, are called to a high and holy standard of living in this unholy world.  And it is challenging.  We are saved people who can still lose our salvation, Amen? Even  as Christians God does not strip us of our ability to choose, our free will to follow Him or not.  In fact, our faith is proved true and refined by the challenges and trials we face and endure for God’s glory.  Jesus final words in Revelation remind us over and over, “To him that overcomes, I will give the right to eat of the tree of life.” And, “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.” Jesus did not say, “Since I have given you eternal life, you will be faithful unto death.”  God gives us power to choose, and imparts power to live for Him through the Holy Spirit He has given us.

God wants His saved people, that He paid for with the cost of Calvary, to live like people saved from sin and darkness.  God has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light, that we may declare His praises and live for His purposes.  We know this!  Do you not know this?  The question is not one of knowing, but of doing what we know.  Psalm 1 says it so clearly, Blessed is the man that does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of mockers.  But His delight is in the Law of the Lord, and on that Law he meditates day and night.  This man is blessed by God because, as the last verse says: The Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

This week we read through 1 Corinthians.  Here we see that the saving work of God does not leave us free to practice unsaved sinful ways.  God’s word doesn’t make excuses for us to live like unbelievers, yet we know that Christians, while saved, can slip back into sinful lives.  Saved people can act like unsaved sinners, and when we do, God has given us instruction as to how to handle things.  It is interesting that the layout of 1 Corinthians covers Christian living outside of assembly for the first 10 chapters, and Christian practice inside assembly for the last six chapters.  Paul spends more of his letter focusing on Christian living issues from day to day than on Christian meetings.

 

Pleasing Worship… Pleasing to Whom?