My scripture today is from Romans 12:1-8Let me ask this question, and think about it for a few moments… “Why are you here in this worship service? Why did we get up this early on a Sunday morning, perhaps our only day off from work, and get dressed and come to church?” Maybe we’re here out of habit. Our family has come to this church on Sunday morning ever since we were children and it’s just always been something we’ve done so since it’s Sunday, we’re here. We could be here because we feel pressured to be here. Tony Evans said that growing up he had a drug problem…he was drug to church every Sunday morning, drug to church on Sunday night and maybe that’s us. Maybe it’s our parents, or a spouse that has compelled us to come by either force, threat, or guilt. And instead of fighting it every Sunday we’ve decided to just come to church to avoid problems in our family. Or maybe we’re here for the fellowship. Our friends are here and so this is a chance for us to get to catch up on the week’s events, a chance to greet one another with a hug or a hand shake, a chance to have some company for a change. Maybe we’re here because we’re hurting. It has been a rough week, and things aren’t going as we think they should at work or at home, so we’ve come hoping to hear a solution to our problems and find some sense of hope and healing. Or maybe we’re just here to be entertained and we’re hoping we’ll sing an older song that will take us back to yesteryear, or that we’ll hear the preacher tell a funny story that we can tell over a cup of coffee tomorrow at work. If so, I’m glad you’re all here and I hope we can find what we are looking for. The church should be a part of your regular weekly routine and I do applaud parents who have the courage to make sure their kids are in church on Sunday. And I hope you do find a rich fellowship here because that is one of the things we need as persons, to love and to be loved and I can tell you we have some of the best hugs this side of the Mississippi, and if you are hurting I pray that word is spoken to heal your pain. A word of hope that will inspire you…if that’s you I’m glad you’re here and I hope we can minister to you, but if you are a Christian and that’s your primary reason for being here… then you’re here for the wrong reason.. The primary reason for attending a church service should be to worship God. The psalmist said in Psalms 95:6-7 , “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.” Worship is more than just singing a few songs, performing a few rituals and enduring a sermon. We come to church to experience the presence of God, to acknowledge His authority in our lives and to worship Him as our Creator. Yet many people in church have what we call a worship problem. A research study showed that among regular church going adults, one third have said that they have never experienced God’s presence….Never! ½ of Church members claimed that they had not experienced God in a worship service in the past year. And sadly, the surveys found that the younger the adult, the more likely they are to state that God is a distant, impersonal reality for them. I have to ask….How is it possible that a God who so desperately wants to love and to be loved by His creation seems to be on vacation or in a voluntary seclusion? Is it that God doesn’t want to be noticed? I don’t think so. I think there are a number of reasons why people don’t experience God during a worship service. The first is that we don’t know what worship is. We have no clear understanding of what it means to worship God. So let me ask you all….when you think of worship you may think of a traditional brick church on a Sunday morning, filled with people singing one of the great hymns of the faith? Maybe you’ve been to a charismatic or Pentecostal church, and you envision a scene with hands raised, eyes closed, people singing praise choruses, or even something more active – hands clapping, feet moving, shouts of "Hallelujah!" and "Amen!" These are all ways to worship, but they are not worship itself. So what is exactly is worship? Well, the English word worship means to ascribe the highest worth to. So when we worship we are saying , “God you’re number one in my life. You come before anything and anyone else.” That is what is meant when we say, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart mind soul and strength.” Nothing is more important to you than God. When we worship, we take our focus of everything else and place it solely upon God and I guess the best way to put it is this, Worship is when we celebrate God. We give Him the honor, and the glory, and most importantly we give of ourselves. You see worship is not just a one hour thing, it’s a way of life. Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.” Our worship on Sunday is a reflection of the worship we do the other 167 hours in the week. So understand that worship is a way of life, and the worship service is the reflection of what we’ve done throughout the week. The second reason why many have a hard time worshipping God is because worship is not the top priority in their life. A young man wrote to his girl and said to her in very elaborate language, “I would climb the highest mountain for you, I would swim the widest river for you, I would crawl across the burning sands of the desert for you.” Then he put a P.S. to the letter: “If it doesn’t rain Wednesday night I will be over to see you.” There is a whole lot of worship that is like that today. It will not take very much to keep us away from God, because we don’t consider worship to be an important event in our lives. It’s important but not just at the top of the priority list. There are people who risk everything to worship God….would we?
God commands us to be in His house to worship Him, that should be good enough reason, but in addition doesn’t God deserve your praise? Just being who He is should be sufficient, but consider what God has done for you. The bible says that while we were yet still in our sins, Christ died for us. Can you imagine that? The almighty God did that just for you. One of my favorite authors: Max Lucado, defined worship this way, “Worship is a voluntary act of gratitude offered by the saved to the Savior, by the healed to the Healer, and by the delivered to the Deliverer. And if you and I can go days without feeling an urge to say “thank you” to the One who saved, healed, and delivered us, then we’d do well to remember what He did.” And when we look back at the cross, and see the Son of God dying for our sins we stand in awe of the love he has for each and every one of us. God has done so much for us. So is it to much for God to ask for you to spend one hour on Sunday morning, saying Thank you God. We just sang that song by Fanny Crosby, “To God be the Glory, great things he hath done, so loved He the world that he gave us his Son.” Worship is a privilege we have, the chance to say thank you and to give God glory and praise. It is a privilege to worship the Almighty God. Worship needs to be a priority in our lives, because scripture demands it, God deserves it, but let me give you another reason…because it gives God pleasure. I’ll tell you one of the biggest thrills of my day, was when I was a young mother and would come home in the afternoons, and as soon as the door is opened, my daughter would rush at me screaming, “Mommy you’re home!” and then we would sit down in the rocking chair and snuggle for a little bit….and she would be touching my face and telling me how much she loved me and I’ll tell you no matter how rotten my day had been that makes me smile. Now imagine how God feels when on Sunday morning we gather here to rush at Him and say “We love You God!” Ok preaching….so how can make your worship experience more worshipful. The first is this, Come prepared to worship. You prepare for many other things. Football players go through a long game day routine to get ready for the big game. You prepare yourself to go on a date, you get fixed up, put on make up and shave. You know that something big is going to happen.What effort do you put into getting ready to come and worship the Lord. Do you get up 15 minutes before the start of church, throw on a shirt that looks like you slept in it, and show up still half asleep? Let me ask you, would we be so lackadaisical with, oh, let’s say, the president? Suppose you were granted a Sunday morning breakfast at the White House? How would you spend Saturday night? Would you get ready? Would you collect your thoughts? Would you think about your questions and requests? Of course you would. Well, should we prepare any less for an encounter with the Holy God? Let me urge you to come to worship prepared to worship. Pray before you come so you will be ready to pray when you arrive. Sleep before you come so you’ll stay alert when you arrive. Read the Word before you come so your heart will be soft when you worship. Better yet, if you really want to be prepared to worship on Sunday morning, then you need to be praying, and reading, and listening, and worshiping privately every day, Monday through Saturday. And if everyone did that, it would not only transform our worship, it would absolutely transform this church. Come expecting God to speak and come hungry for God and willing to listen. You see this may come as a shock to you, but the responsibility to worship doesn’t fall on the church or even the pastor, it falls on you. And if you don’t get anything out of a service than it’s not the church’s fault it’s yours. The church provides an atmosphere of worship, but the ultimate responsibility falls on you. Come with a humble teachable heart that is eager to see God and learn from Him. So often we come to church to nit pick! “How did you like that special music, it was to loud for me. Did you like the sermon, the preacher wasn’t at her best this morning. Did you notice the dust on the pews, when’s the last time they were cleaned.” It’s as if the service is a performance and we’re writing a critique for the Monday morning paper. And if that’s your attitude than you won’t get much from it. But if you come with the attitude, “Oh Lord, search my heart. I fall so short. Teach me Lord, let there be something in this service that will cause me to be more deeply committed to you.” Now if that is your spirit, you are going to be ready to be refined and molded into what God intended you to be. John Gough once told of being in a church service and hearing a hoarse discordant voice behind him singing, Just as I am.” He cringed, he said because the man was the worst singer he had ever heard. There was no melody, no tune, nothing. After three stanzas, the organist mercifully played an interlude. As it was being played, Gough said that he felt a hand on his shoulder and the man with the terrible voice asked him, :Could you tell me the first phrase of the next stanza? I think I could get it if I had the first few words.” John Gough said he looked around into the face of the terrible singer, and he saw that the man was blind. He passed onto him the words to the next stanza of Just as I am which went, “Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind; Sight, riches, healing of mind, yea all I need in Thee I find, O lamb of God, I come! I come!”John Gough said when the next stanza began, he didn’t hear the discordant notes anymore, he heard a man speaking to God, and God speaking back. So why did you come here this morning? Was it for the fellowship, was it for a word of hope…those are both good things about our church, but that’s not why we do this. We came to see God and to give Him the glory…and this morning I invite you to come and not only know, but also experience God. What say you?