Monday, October 24, 2011

Worship....If You Dare

“Come, let us worship Him and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord who made us, because He is our God and we are the people He takes care of and the sheep that He tends”. Psalm 95:6-7

In North America we have many churches that are filled with people who are going through the motions, of playing church, and for those that do, that’s a pretty safe thing, after all its predicable. They are never challenged, never have to change a thing about their lifestyle and, as a bonus, they can leave church in the same condition as they came in. Every Sunday they get up, get dressed and head off to church for an hour or so. They can predict what will happen: a song service, a sermon with three points and a poem, shake the pastor’s hand on the way out and leave the church to take up their regular life once more.

They don’t really enter in during the worship time because they don’t want the lyrics of the songs to move them emotionally. Just sing the words and don’t think about what they are saying. They just put in their time because they know that going to church is a good thing and, well, it will be over soon. When the pastor comes to deliver his sermon they listen for a while, just in case someone might ask them, later, what the pastor preached about, but by the second point their mind is wandering and in the background the pastor suddenly sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher: wah, wah, wah, wah.

Why are some people content to just go through the motions?....... Because, it’s safe and entering in and worshiping God is not. When we truly begin to worship, surrender our will to His will, we will find that everything we have been use to doing will suddenly need to be redefined. We’ll be changed.

 Meeting God, truly meeting Him, will compel us to seek first his kingdom (Matthew 6:33). Everything else in our life will pale in comparison to what He has to offer. When we line up our way of thinking with God’s way of thinking we will change the way we look at things. We’ll realize that His way is much better than ours.  Isaiah 55:8 “for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”

When we truly meet God and allow Him to come into our life we realize that there is no god beside Him. He is the righteous, holy, all-powerful God, Maker of heaven and earth, there is no equal. “Is there any god besides me? There is no other rock; I know not one.” (Isaiah 44:8)

God cannot be controlled. We can’t just keep Him in a box and take Him out on Sundays, dust Him off and play church with Him. That’s insulting.  God is and will always be God; He changes not. There is no other. (Isaiah 45:5)

Everyone who has ever had a close, personal encounter with God— from Adam on down through the ages, agree; encountering God means you will never be the same. This is the greatest danger of worship. If you do not want to change, do not worship, do not enter in, do not stop doing things your own way, don’t change your thinking. Meeting Jesus changes things.

Many Christians say that they want an encounter with God. But sadly many just want the warm fuzzies they can feel from a good song service or they want all the emotion that can come with a stirring message. But how many truly want a real encounter with the God of all creation?  We say we offer God our whole lives, but our actions show that we don’t really want God to do what we ask—to take us, mold us, fill us, use us. We would rather be in control of our lives than to give that control over to God.

Are we willing to sing the song ‘Make Me More Like Thee’? In order to be made more like Him, we have to be willing to have our will broken. We have to surrender. We have to be willing to let the Sculptor carve away the parts in us that are not pleasing to Him; the parts that are not like Him. Cutting away at those parts will hurt. It won’t be pleasant.

 He may ask you to change the way you look at things. He may ask you to stop going the places that you do. He may ask you to do radical things like love your enemies and do good to those who despitefully use you. (Matthew 5:44) He may ask you, as He did the rich, young ruler, to sell everything you have and give it away. (Luke 18:18-23)

Do you still want to be more like Him? The young ruler found the cost was too great. He wasn`t willing, to lay everything down, to follow Christ. Are we? He may never ask you to sell your worldly possessions but He does ask all of us to do things His way instead of our own way. Are we willing to do that?

So many people think they know how God feels on a subject and many of them would tell you, if they were willing to admit it, that they want God to approve of everything they do, because after all ‘the God I serve is a God of love’. Has anyone ever heard of that? I have. They have God placed in a box of their making and they expect God to line His thinking up with theirs. That’s backwards, folks. When we have a real encounter with God, we want to line our thinking up with His and when we start to do that we’ll realize how wrong our way of thinking actually was.

Without a close walk with the Lord we cannot hear His voice. Without reading His Word, we are left to be influenced by the world’s choices and values of right and wrong. Isaiah 5:20 warns us ‘woe to those who call evil good and good evil.’ Isn’t that the world that we live in today? As a society we want to do what pleases us instead of what pleases God. And as Christians we don’t like it when God doesn’t do things our way.

 For some Christian parents, sending their child off to Bible college is a blessing. It’s a point of pride that they are taking this step. Many have prayed for years that their children would grow up to do God’s will. Their children leave home and head off to college. They study hard, do well academically, and grow in their Christian walk. That all sounds good doesn’t it? Everything is going according to plan, their plan.

But what happens when these sons or daughters decide to take their degrees and move to the inner cities to work with street people? What if instead of pursuing a nice, safe, ministry position, they instead,  pursue long-term international missions work and are far from home for years? Some parents react with everything from anger to depression. They prayed for their children to follow Jesus Christ, but they really wanted that to happen close to home where they’ll be safe. They want it both ways. They say they want God to be Lord in their children’s lives, but only as long as God leads in the ways they, as parents, want.

The same problem exists in many churches today. We want to do things our own way, the way we’ve always done them. We want to worship God as we have for years but we want to attract an un-churched crowd so we bring in newer songs and, in many churches, entertainment. Yes, we need the new songs that are inspired and anointed, but we also need to remember the hymns of the church that have brought comfort and joy to us over the centuries. Many churches have had all out wars over the selection of songs the congregation will sing. Many people will choose a church based solely on the style of worship songs which are sung. Fighting over song choices is an attempt of the enemy to get us to lose our focus on Jesus and we can’t allow anything to distract us from worshiping God. We are to be singing songs of praise which edify Him, which show worship to Him, not just our favourites that make us feel good. It doesn’t matter what century the song was written in as long as it glorifies the Saviour.

We have been made for relationship with God. Therefore, it is not surprising that we long to meet and know God. But the God we seek is the god we want, not the God who is. We want a god who blesses without obligation or commitment, who lets us feel his presence without living His life, a holy life, a god who stands with us and never against us and a god who gives us what we want, when we want it. We worship a god of our own making. We leave the uncomfortable parts out of the Bible or we twist the Scripture around to suit our needs or simply just ignore those verses which don’t line up with our way of thinking. We change God and His Word because we are unwilling to change ourselves.

The title of this message is Worship... If You Dare and I say that because true worship requires commitment. It requires change. It requires you to take a stand to live for Christ and not for yourself.  Worship is more than singing songs. Worship is how we live, how we represent Christ to the world. Worship is giving my all to Him.
1 Chronicles 28:9 tells us “if you seek Him, He will be found by you.”

An ancient tale from India describes a young man who was seeking God. He went to a wise old sage for help. “How can I find God?” he asked the old man. The old man took him to a nearby river where they waded into the deep water. Soon the water was up just under their chins. Suddenly the old man grabbed the young man by the neck and pushed him under the water, holding him down until he was flailing the water in desperation. Finally, the old man released him. The young seeker was coughing and gasping for air. Reaching the bank, he was furious! “What did that have to do with my finding God?”The old man asked him quietly, “while you were under the water what did you want more than anything else?” The young man thought for a moment and then answered, “I wanted air. I wanted air more than anything else!” The old man replied, “when you want God as much as you wanted air, you will find him.”

To pursue God means to long for Him with every fiber of our being. God promises to meet us in worship when we come seeking Him.

Do you dare to really encounter God? Do you know who He is? He is the God that Moses couldn’t look at, He is the God who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin and Who still hates sin. He is the God who made the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the dead to live again! He’s THAT God!
He is the One who spoke everything into being and Who holds your next breath in His hand. He is all powerful. He is mighty. He is everywhere, at all times. He sees you and knows your every thought. He even knows the intent of your heart. He knows everything, sees everything and cannot be fooled.

He is not a marshmallow, feel good, pat -you -on –the- head God. He is not a God who changes His mind about sin even though society does. He is not to be mocked, yet He is, every time we call ourselves Christians and live like the world. The Bible says not to be friends with the world because if we are we are enemies with God (James 4:4). 2 Corinthians 6:17 also says to “come out from among them and be ye separate and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you”. We are to be different and we will be if we dare to have a real encounter with God: if we are willing to meet Him on His terms instead of ours.

Elijah had a real encounter with God in 1 Kings 19:11-12. Let me give you some background before I read these verses: Elijah was hiding out in a cave because he was discouraged and afraid and felt he was all alone. Jezebel had declared that she would kill him as she had all the other prophets and Elijah was at a point in his life where he needed to know God was still with him.

Whenever we seek God, He will show Himself to us. Let’s read how God revealed Himself to Elijah. “and He said, go forth and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”

The real danger of encountering the living God is like the difference between a summer breeze and a whirlwind. Both involve air in motion, but the two experiences are in no way the same. Of course, God can meet us either way, or in some other way entirely, but what we need is to meet the God of the Bible, not the God we’ve made up in our minds. How do we know who He is? By reading His Word and by following what it says. Do we dare to find out what God says about the issues we are facing in our world today? Or are we content to pretend that God will pat us all on our heads and tell us ‘that’s alright that you didn’t live the way I wanted you to live. No problem. Don’t worry about it.’ No, of course not!

We are called to live with awe and reverence, “to walk humbly with [our] God.” (Micah 6:8)
We live in a church age where the reverence for God and His ways is, for the most part, gone. Instead of being in awe of Him we treat Him casually, like a buddy. When we treat God like a buddy we become slack in upholding His standards. We ‘go along to get along’ and ‘live and let live’ just like the world because we no longer fear Him. We are afraid to call sin what it is so we remain quiet so we won’t seem intolerant to the world. But Jesus called sin out. He named sin, He didn’t try to hide it or excuse it.

When we have a true encounter with God sin becomes repulsive to us. We can’t stand to be around it. We want to be as far from it as possible. Please understand that we are told to love the lost and to win them for the Lord, but I am afraid that many in the church world have fallen into Satan’s trap of acceptance. Satan has convinced many Christians that if they show acceptance and tolerance of the sin then the sinner will be won for the Lord. Nowhere in the Bible does the Lord tell us to win the lost in this way.

I read a quote the other day that just floored me and I want to share it with you today. Annie Dillard said:
“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, making up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ hats and straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.”

If all we want out of life is to be who we want to be and do what we want to do and not have to follow any rules or make any changes or commitments, then our greatest need and greatest danger will be in truly meeting God. Because when we meet God things change. Some of those changes we willingly make but some are harder to do. Are we willing to lay everything down for a closer walk with the Lord? Are we willing to say ‘not my will but Yours be done’?

  This is the wake-up call we may not want, but it alone leads us to new life. Becoming new will complicate our lives. We will never be the same again. Old things have passed away behold all things become new. Are you ready for a close encounter of a God kind? Do you want to know Him so well that you hear His voice, whether in the power of the whirlwind or in the still small voice of the Spirit, meeting God is no small thing, you will never be the same again. Your life will be changed forever.

Are you ready to take a walk on the God side? I pray that you are. My prayer for all of us today is that we would never play church; that each Sunday we would come to the house of the Lord expecting to meet Him here, to worship Him and to walk closer with Him. May Sunday services never become dry ritual, with us just going through the motions, but may Sundays be our refuelling time: the time to get stuffed with the food of the Word so that we can go out into the world and make a difference.

Do you worship God with your life? Do you honour Him with the choices you make? Or have you allowed the world to sway your beliefs? Are you serving the God of the Bible or the god you’re more comfortable with who always blesses, never says no, never judges, never calls out sin, never requires commitment or service? Which God are you serving?

Let me encourage you to worship. Worship if you dare. There will be a cost. Lukewarm Christians will not understand the change in you. The world will see that there is something different in you too. It will cost you commitment. It will cost you your old ways of thinking as you learn what God thinks about things. But it will be so worth it all when you have a personal encounter with God. When He speaks your name and calls you His own, you will hear Him. You will enjoy a close relationship with the God of all creation that you never thought would be possible, but it is.

Read the Word and learn who God is. Learn what pleases Him and what displeases Him. Learn what He thinks about. Learn what He has to say. If you are willing to truly worship Him, He will reveal Himself to you and give you a discernment and understanding to know His will and to follow it and your life will never be the same.


  1. Awesome word! Very much needs to be heard at such a time as this! Cathy from TN