The Presence of Worship

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INTRODUCTION

Last week Pastor Marshall began a series on worship, entitled “Worship is Essential”. He began with the first message in the series dealing with the Priority of Worship if you didn’t get a chance to hear the first message in this series then I encourage you to get a copy of this message either online via our website or you can request a CD a the welcome desk on your way out.

Today I’m going to be sharing the second message in this series.

Looking in Webster’s dictionary you’ll find this first definition for worship, “reverence, homage or honor paid to God” Then it goes on to say that the word is also used to refer to a place where this reverence, homage, etc. paid to God is given.

If you were to ask people what the word worship meant you would get a large variety of responses. Some might agree with Webster, some might say it is when you sing songs to God, some might say it is going to church, some might say it is when you place money in the offering plate. The reason why you would get such a large number of different answers is because the word “worship” is used in so many different contexts. While preparing this message I tried to think of all the ways in which I’ve used worship. I’ve said, “Let’s worship God together now” (in reference to singing praises); “Let’s worship God with our tithes and offerings”; “I worship you Lord”; “Why don’t you come and worship God with us” (while inviting someone to our church).

While looking closely at the contexts in which the word worship is often used I found that we often use this word to refer to an action we do – whether it is singing a chorus, going to church, placing money in an offering plate, raising our hands – etc. However I believe that scripture teaches us that worship is so much more than these things. In fact, you can be doing all these things and still not be entering into the place of true worship

I like what Robert Webber wrote about worship,

ILLUSTRATION:
We need to let go of our intellectual idea of worship and realize there is more to worship than a sermon; we have to let go of our evangelistic notion of worship and reckon with the fact that worship is not primarily directed toward the sinners who need to be converted; we must let go of our entertainment expectations and remind ourselves that we are not in church to watch a Christian variety show. We have gathered together in worship to be met by God the Almighty. God, the Creator of the universe, the One who sustains our lives, our Redeemer and King, is present through proclamation and remembrance. He wants to communicate to us, to penetrate our inner self, to take up residence within us. And, as we go through the experience of meeting with him in this mystical moment of public worship, we are to respond. But response is not just singing a hymn, not just saying a creed, not just saying a prayer. Response, from the very beginning of worship to the end, must be a powerful inner experience of actually being in the presence of God. When we sing a hymn or say a confession or prayer, we are not singing or saying words, but expressing a feeling, bringing our souls, truly responding and communicating to the living and active presence of a loving and merciful God. (Worship is a Verb, by Robert Webber, pg.114)

Today I want to talk about the presence of Worship. Worship really is about presence.

WORSHIP IS ABOUT PRESENCE

 acknowledging and reverent of the presence of God (Worship recognizes God’s presence)
 your presence before Him…. (Worship itself is a presence…)

For our text today I want to take another close look at a scripture that Pastor Marshall referenced last week. I believe we have here a story that has much to teach us about the presence of worship.

36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is–that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. 41 “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Luke 7:36-50 (NIV)

PRAY

The presence of worship is BIRTHED from the RECOGNITION OF who JESUS is (who the Father is, who the Holy Spirit is).

There is an incredible contrast in this Luke’s account of this event in Jesus’ life. A contrast between a guy named Simon (who happened to be a religious leader) and this unnamed woman (who is described as “immoral” a “sinner”).

• Something interesting: The Pharisee is said to have invited Jesus to his house for dinner…
 He didn’t wash Jesus feet (a basic form of hospitality)
 He didn’t anoint Jesus’ head with oil (a basic form of hospitality)
 He considered that Jesus’ may be a prophet or at most a teacher…but certainly not who Jesus claimed to be. Evidence is in how the Pharisee received Jesus.
• The woman was uninvited yet…
 She washed Jesus feet with her own hair
 She anointed his feet with not any oil but a COSTLY oil.
 She considered Jesus her Saviour. Evidence is in how Jesus received her.

When first looking at this scene, it’s easy to ask, why did the woman come to Jesus? Sure, she heard about him being at the Pharisee’s house and so she made the effort to go there and do her act of worship….but what really prompted her decision to make that effort? A clue is the story of two debtors that Jesus shared with Simon. Something had happened in this woman’s life, or she had witnessed something that opened her eyes to who Jesus is and she believed it. This faith, this understanding birthed the presence of Worship in her heart which resulted in this extravagant expression of her worship.

Listen to me, the presence of true worship is birthed in the recognition of who Jesus is – everything else is idolatry or pseudo-worship. True worship is all about Him. Idolatry or pseudo worship is all about what we can get out of it. True worship is all about God, all about recognizing who Christ is, the God of love, the God of mercy, the majestic God, God of grace, God of justice.

This presence of worship can be expressed in many different ways because it’s based in the heart of recognizing who God is. But remember, that whatever the expression of worship is it always, always, always points to Him!

Here in this story we have Simon inviting Jesus’ with the goal of discovering what this Jesus might be able to do for him, or perhaps what kind of danger this Jesus’ might pose to his position. The Pharisee was more concerned about what Jesus might do then who He is. Contrast the response of Jesus to this uninvited woman who is extravagant in washing Jesus with her hair her tears and anointing Him with the expensive perfume. An expression of what was birthed in her heart, true worship – because she saw who Jesus is! Friends, when you understand, recognize who Jesus is – you can’t help but worship Him!

{show “That’s My King” video)

Listen to me, sometimes, most times, worship isn’t really about ushering the presence of God into the sanctuary or the place where we are but more about ushering us into the presence of God…the woman, she didn’t usher Jesus’ into her presence via the expression of her worship…in honoring Him she was ushered into His presence.

The presence of worship COMPELS us to GIVE SOMETHING of OURSELVES

Worship always involves to some degree the giving of something as an expression of worship – a contribution of who you are, your life for the one you worship. What is significant in reading this story is that when this woman came to express her love for Christ, she not only poured out this expensive perfume but she had also come into this hostile territory, the home of a religious leader who knew her background, who knew her immorality and no doubt had reminded her of her failings many times. This woman faced the risk of being shut out, the risk of being rejected to humble herself and not only wash the feet of Jesus (and bring honor to Him who had been dishonored), but she humbled herself in washing His feet with her own hair, with her own tears. What an INCREDIBLE picture of the sacrifice made in Worship.

The thing about this giving in worship is that is not something giving unwillingly, or begrudgingly, or in agony. It is a willing gift because of the recognition of WHO you are giving to and what He has already given.

This means then, that the expression of our Worship isn’t confined to place or position. We may express this worship when we give…

• in singing praise to Him on Sunday’s
• in praying for someone in need
• in doing our job through the week to the best of our ability as if we were working for the King
• in the giving of our time to serve where He gives us passion to serve.
• In loving our spouse, our kids, our family as He loves us.
• In directing our resources where we see the need (because He has shown us that need)
• In being a friend to someone who doesn’t have a friend.

Really, every day presents us with opportunities to worship our king. It is entirely possible for our lives to be an expression of worship to Him. And it is when we truly recognize who God is. In fact, this is exactly what Paul (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) wrote to the church in Rome in Romans 12:1,

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice-the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
Romans 12:1 (NLT)

You know what’s interesting? Paul chose to introduce himself to the Roman church at the beginning of this letter as “a slave of Christ”. This follower of Jesus wasn’t just preaching to the church He was living what He taught.

The other thing we learn about the presence of worship from this woman at the feet of Jesus is…

The Presence of true worship brings a TRANSFORMATION

Among the transformation that happens in one worshipping is ….

…a transformation of perspective
True worship transforms your perspective on who Jesus is. It transforms your perspective on who you are (this woman knew she was a sinner, she realized what wasn’t right in her life but she also knew the only one who could do something about that was Christ)
• transforms your perspective on the future
• transforms your perspective of your problems.
• transforms your perspective of your pleasures.

...a transformation of position.
• the presence of worship changes your position from being someone far from God to being someone close to God.
• Interesting that Jesus said, “Your faith has saved you, go in peace”. Her position was changed from being someone outside the kingdom, to being a citizen of the Kingdom of God – from being ungodly, to a daughter of the King.
• What I said earlier about worship doesn’t usher the presence of God into the sanctuary or where we are but rather we are ushered into His presence!

…a transformation of purpose (from death to life).
• not concerned about what you get out it, but the Glory He gets.
• Your very life becomes an instrument of worship. There is purpose to everything you do.
• Invest in His kingdom rather than Your kingdom.

Sometimes this transformation in the life of a worshipper of Jesus occurs over a period of time, sometimes it is instantaneous – complete in that moment. But here’s the cool thing, sometimes the transformation brought about by the presence of worship happens even to those not worshipping! This is one of the reasons why I believe corporate worship is so incredible…when the presence of worship is birthed in our hearts and it is expressed in the gathering of God’s people – those who are present, who don’t know who God His, who are not yet Christ-followers, may be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the midst of worshippers! That is so AWESOME!!

Why does this transformation take place? Because true worshippers are ushered into the presence of God and sometimes a few people will get brought along with them…

(If time reference the story of Paul and Silas in Jail – Acts 16)

CONCLUSION

So why are we teaching on worship? Why this focus on worship? Because I think sometimes we get trapped in this wrong idea of what worship is all about and stuck in the routine and familiarity of tradition and behavior where we’ve allowed our “worship’ to become nothing but a cheerleading club. The only way we break free from that mentality and that behavior is to be reminded, to open our eyes, to unlock our hearts and RECOGNIZE who Jesus is, to ACKNOWLEDGE who He is! To respond with the gift of ourselves and allow His life and His presence to transform us!

I think it’s awesome how things have worked out so that we are having communion this morning. Communion serves as a great reminder of who CHRIST IS! Those distributing the emblems of communion can make they’re way up to the front now to do so. As the emblems of communion are being passed out I want us to watch this video clip called, “the gift of Worship”

PRAY

BLESSING (from Hebrews 13:20-21)
20 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21 (NIV)

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One Response to The Presence of Worship

  1. Shally Sinkala Simwanza says:

    My God these teachings are really saturating my soul. I have now known worship in a deeper way. stay blessed as you continue to receive more revelation from God

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