Yesterday’s sermon reminded me on what it means to truly worship God. This is not a full sermon from Reverend Tang. It is only an excerpt of the sermon based on my own sharing after my own English translation cum interpretation. (the sermon is in Mandarin)
Zephaniah had started with the wrath of God lamenting over the lack of inward repentance of the Israelites in those times despite the physical destruction of the idols in the land after a change of ruler. Nontheless, he ends with hope in the future that God has prepared for the true believers.
The Resurrection of Christ lies in the Empty Tomb.
The resurrected body is of flesh and blood where Jesus had partaken food with his people.
Romans 12: 1-2
A Living Sacrifice
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Often, we separate worship from works (or acts) of service. In truth, worship is an act of spiritual submission unto God which will consequently result in obedient acts of service. In other words, when we worship God, we will no longer follow the patterns of this world. Our life will be transformed and renewed.
24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
How to worship in Spirit and in Truth
Reverend explains how worshipping in spirit and in truth consist of the inner life attitude which surrenders and submits to the Word of God. It is also objective, not subjected to mere feelings of the man but directing one’s will to obey the word of God. It is an attitude of reverence, praise, honour and that of gratitude.
Then he further maintains that such an inner attitude must be matched with the outward actions to fully manifest the act of worship. It is serving out of submission, praise, dedicating one’s life, and abiding in God’s truth.
He gives examples of how often during church service, people may be present but would be busy texting, playing games on the phone, or simply nursing a grudge against perhaps the wife who angered him earlier on and being perpetually late. This isn’t worshipping God in our outward actions. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that those who come faithfully to church on time and serve in church are worshipping God wholeheartedly either. It depends on the person’s attitude in service, whether one serves with a heart of worship or divorced from worshipping God, doing good works for its own sake or self glory.
He exhorts us to check the conditions of our hearts.
One can easily just do good in charities and to men without the gospel truth at heart thus being no different from any other good man. True worship will result in spreading the good news of Christ, being sent forth (commissioned) to share Christ’s love and truth.
Isaiah 6: 1-13
6 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
9 He said, “Go and tell this people:
“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.[a]
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
11 Then I said, “For how long, Lord?”
And he answered:
“Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged,
12 until the Lord has sent everyone far away
and the land is utterly forsaken.
13 And though a tenth remains in the land,
it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”
The history of what worship service in churches essentially include.
1) Praise and worship
To Know God’s Greatness and Grace
2) Confession of Sins
To acknowledge and know our human nature
3) Forgiveness of Sins
To be assured of God’s mercy and grace
4) Gift Offering
To demonstrate our gratitude and thanksgiving unto God
5) Prayer and Petition
To beseech God to help us live for Him
To learn how to live a life pleasing to God
7) Holy Communion
To celebrate Christ and the body of Christ being One in His grace
8) Commission (Send Forth) and Blessings
To depend on God’s blessing and empowerment to abide and live by His will.
Isaiah’s passage focuses on the glory of God and the communion with God. Starting from Praise then confessions of sins and experiencing God’s assurance of forgiveness, and ultimately, being SENT FORTH to spread the message of God to people.
In conclusion, as Christians we practise the act of worship in our daily lives by guarding our relationship with Christ and exercising the spiritual disciplines as mentioned above. When we do so, we will be slowly transformed by His holy Spirit and grow in spirit and in truth. When we are weak, we return to the heart of worshipping God as a church (community of believers) and then live out the life we’re called to which is pleasing unto God.
How do I apply this?
No matter who the speakers or worship leaders are on Sunday services, I will receive it with an open heart and mind as hearing from messengers of God. Not idolising my pastors or leaders, but treating them with godly regard. To worship God in my church not because of the pastors or what the church can benefit me but out of obedience to Christ. To worship together as members of His body because this is pleasing to Him. Upon hearing of the word, to study for my own so as to test and approve of God’s will.
I am reminded of how I need to keep a reverential attitude throughout the service. Worship doesn’t end with the sermon or the holy communion. Many a times, after receiving holy communion, I would let my mind wander off instead of setting it apart that sacred moment to commemorate the death and resurrection of Christ. Indeed, sometimes it can become a form of routine in church traditions, nonetheless, if I learn how to grow in this area of focus during the service, it will also translate to my other areas of daily living. Being able to redirect my heart and mind in Christ Jesus amidst daily mundane routines.
Lastly, to share the love of Christ to people in and out of season.
It is a lot of heart and hard work to bring ourselves under the Lordship of Christ. However, experiencing His holy Spirit’s grace and power when we abide, we will never be the same as before.
O come taste and see that the Lord is Good! For He tastes like honey in the rock! : )
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