Worship, Worshiping

* Behind the scenes tasks important to worship

The physical care of the Tabernacle required a long list of tasks, and each was important to the work of God’s house.  This principle is important to remember today when God’s house is the church.  There are many seemingly unimportant tasks that must be done to keep your church building maintained.  Washing dishes, painting walls, or shoveling snow may not seem very spiritual.  But they are vital to the ministry of the church and are an important part of our worship of God. (NLT)

Exodus 40:17-33 – So the Tabernacle was set up on the first day of the new year.   Moses put it together by setting its frames into their bases and attaching the crossbars and raising the posts.  Then he spread the coverings over the Tabernacle framework and put on the roof layers, just as the Lord had commanded him.

He placed inside the Ark the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, and then he attached the Ark’s carrying poles.  He also set the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—on top of it.  Then he brought the Ark of the Covenant into the Tabernacle and set up the inner curtain to shield it from view, just as the Lord had commanded.

Next he placed the table in the Tabernacle, along the north side of the Holy Place, just outside the inner curtain.  And he arranged the Bread of the Presence on the table that stands before the Lord, just as the Lord had commanded.

He set the lampstand in the Tabernacle across from the table on the south side of the Holy Place.  Then he set up the lamps in the Lord’s presence, just as the Lord had commanded.  He also placed the incense altar in the Tabernacle, in the Holy Place in front of the inner curtain.  On it he burned the fragrant incense made from sweet spices, just as the Lord had commanded.

He attached the curtain at the entrance of the Tabernacle, and he placed the altar of burnt offering near the Tabernacle entrance.  On it he offered a burnt offering and a grain offering, just as the Lord had commanded.

Next he placed the large washbasin between the Tabernacle and the altar.  He filled it with water so the priests could use it to wash themselves.  Moses and Aaron and Aaron’s sons Washed their hands and feet in the basin.  Whenever they walked past the altar to enter the Tabernacle, they were to stop and wash, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Then he hung the curtains forming the courtyard around the Tabernacle and the altar.  And he set up the curtain at the entrance of the courtyard.  So at last Moses finished the work.

* Rediscover why you worship as you do

God gave his people many rituals and instructions to follows.  All the rituals in Leviticus were meant to teach the people valuable lessons.  But over time, the people became indifferent to the meanings of these rituals, and they began to lose touch with God.  When your church appears to be conducting dry, meaningless rituals, try rediscovering the original meaning and purpose behind each.  Your worship will be revitalized. (NLT)

Leviticus 7:38  – The Lord gave these instructions to Moses on Mount Sinai when he commanded the Israelites to bring their offerings to the Lord in the wilderness of Sinai.

* Celebration an important part of worship

Worship involves both celebration and confession.  But in Israel’s national holidays, the balance seems heavily tipped in favor of celebration—five joyous occasions to two solemn ones.  The God of the Bible encourages joy!  God does not intend for religion to be only meditation and introspection.  He also wants us to celebrate.  Serious reflection and immediate confession of sin is essential, of course.  But this should be balanced by celebrating who God is and what he has done for his people. (NLT)

Leviticus 23:44 – So Moses gave these instructions regarding the annual festivals of the Lord to the Israelites.

* Important principles of worship

The Festival of Trumpets demonstrated three important principles that we should follow in our worship today: (1) The people gathered together to celebrate and worship.  There is an extra benefit to be gained from worshiping with other believers.  (2) The normal daily routine was suspended, and no hard work was done.  It takes time to worship, and setting aside the time allows us to adjust our attitudes before and reflect afterward.  (3) The people gave God something of value by sacrificing animals as burnt offerings to him.  We show our commitment to God when we give something of value to him.  The best gift, of course, is ourselves. (NLT)

Numbers 29:1-2 – “The Festival to Trumpets will be celebrated on the appointed day in early autumn each year.  You must call a solemn assembly of all the people on that day, and no regular work may be done.  On that day you must present a burnt offering, very pleasing to the Lord.  It will consist of one young bull, one ram, and seven one-year-old male lambs, all with no physical defects.  These must be accompanied by grain offerings of choice flour mixed with olive oil—five quarts with the bull, three quarts with the ram,

* – The book of Ezekiel begins by describing the holiness of God that Israel had despised and ignored.  As a result, God’s presence departed from the Temple, the city, and the people.  The book ends with a detailed vision of the new Temple, the new city, and the new people—all demonstrating God’s holiness.  The pressures of everyday life may cause us to focus on the here and now and thus forget God.  That is why worship is so important; it takes our eyes off our current worries, gives us a glimpse of God’s holiness, and allows us to look toward his future Kingdom.  God’s presence makes everything glorious, and worship brings us into his presence. (NLT)

Ezekiel 48:35 – “The distance around the entire city will be six miles.  And from that day the name of the city will be ‘The Lord is There.’”

* Replacing true worship with a homemade version

Today, as in Micah’s day, everyone seems to put his or her own interests first.  Time has not changed human nature.  Most people still reject God’s right way of living.  The people in Micah’s time replaced the true worship of God with a homemade version of worship.  As a result, justice was soon replaced by revenge and chaos.  Ignoring God’s direction led to confusion and destruction.  Anyone who has not submitted to God will end up doing whatever seems right at the time.  This tendency is present in all of us.  To know what is really right and to have the strength to do it, we need to draw closer to God and his Word. (NLT)

Judges 17:6 – In those days Israel had no king, so the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.

* Developing proper attitudes toward worship

This section focuses primarily on proper attitudes and conduct in worship, not on the marriage relationship or on the role of women in the church.  While Paul’s specific instructions may be cultural (women covering their heads in worship), the principles behind them are timeless: respect for spouse, reverence and appropriateness in worship, and focus of all of life on God.  If you are doing something that might easily offend members and divide the church, then change your ways to promote church unity.  Paul told the women who were not wearing head coverings to wear them, not because it was a scriptural command, but because it kept the congregation from dividing over a petty issue that served only to take people’s minds off Christ. (NLT)

1 Corinthians 11:2-16 – I am so glad, dear friends, that you always keep me in your thoughts and you are following the Christian teaching I passed on to you.  But there is one thing I want you to know: A man is responsible to Christ, a woman is responsible to her husband, and Christ is responsible to God.  A man dishonors Christ if he covers his head while praying or prophesying.  But a woman dishonors her husband if she prays or prophesies without a covering on her head, for this is the same as shaving her head.  Yes, if she refuses to wear a head covering, she should c ut off all her hair.  And since it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut or her head shaved, then she should wear a covering.  A man should not wear anything on his head when worshiping, for man is God’s glory, man in God’s own image, but woman is the glory of man.  For the first man didn’t come from woman, but the first woman came from man.  And man was not made for woman’s benefit, but woman was made for man.  So a woman should wear a covering on her head as a sign of authority because the angels are watching.

But in relationships among the Lord’s people, women are not independent of men, and men are not independent of women.  For although the first woman came from man, all men have been born from women ever since, and everything comes from God.

What do you think about this?  Is it right for a woman to pray to God in public without covering her head?  Isn’t it obvious that it’s disgraceful for a man to have long hair?  And isn’t it obvious that long hair is a woman’s pride and joy?  For it has been given to her as a covering.  But if anyone wants to argue about this, all I can say is that we have no other custom than this, and all the churches of God feel the same way about it.

* Many ways people contribute to worship

There were many ways to contribute to the worship in the Tabernacle.  Some proclaimed God’s messages, some offered thanks and praise, and others played instruments.  God wants all his people to participate in worship.  You may not be a master musician, a prophet, or a teacher, but God appreciates whatever you have to offer.  Develop your special gifts to offer in service to God. (NLT)

1 Chronicles 25:1-7 – David and the army commanders then appointed men from the families of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun to proclaim God’s messages to the accompaniment of harps, lyres, and cymbals.  Here is a list of their names and their work:

From the sons of Asapgh, there were Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah, and Asarelah.  They worked under the direction of their father, Asaph, who proclaimed God’s messages by the king’s orders.  Jeduthun had six sons: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah.  They worked under the direction of their father, Jeduthun, who proclaimed God’s messages to the accompaniment of the harp, offering thanks and praise ot the Lord.  Heman’s sons were Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shubael, Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Geddalti, Romamti-ezer, Joshbekashah, Malothi, Hothir, and Mahazioth.  All these were the sons of Heman, the king’s seer, for God had honored him with fourteen sons and three daughters.

All these men were under the direction of their fathers as they made music at the house of the Lord.  Their responsibilities included the playing of cymbals, lyres, and harps at the house of God.  Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman reported directly to the king.  They and their families were all trained in making music before the Lord, and each of them –288 in all—was an accomplished musician.

* Preparing for worship

The priests put a great deal of time and care into worship.  Not only did they perform rather complicated tasks; they also took care of many pieces of equipment.  Everything relating to worship was carefully prepared and maintained so they and all the people could enter worship with their minds and hearts focused on God.

In our busy world, it is easy to rush into our one-hour-a-week worship services without preparing ourselves for worship beforehand.  We reflect and worry about the week’s problems; we pray about whatever comes into our minds; and we do not meditate on the words we are singing.  But God wants our worship to be conducted “properly and in order.”  Just as we prepare to meet a business associate our invited guests, we should carefully prepare to meet our King in worship. (NLT)

1 Chronicles 9:22-32 – In all, there were 212 gatekeepers in those days, and they were listed by genealogies in their villages.  David and Samuel the seer had appointed their ancestors because they were reliable men.  These gatekeepers and their descendants, by their divisions, were responsible for guarding the entrance to the house of the Lord, the house that was formerly a tent.  The gatekeepers were stationed on all four sides—east, west, north, and south.  From time to time, their relatives in the villages came to share their duties for seven-day periods.

The four chief gatekeepers, all Levites, were in an office of great trust, for they were responsible for the rooms and treasuries at the house of God.  They would spend the night around the house of God, since it was their duty to guard it.  It was also their job to open the gates every morning.

Some of the gatekeepers were assigned to care for the various utensils used in worship.  They checked them in and out to avoid any loss.  Others were responsible for the furnishings, the items in the sanctuary, and the supplies such as choice flour, wine, olive oil, incense, and spices.  But it was the priests who prepared the spices and incense.  Mattithiah, a Levite and the oldest son of Shallum the Korahite, was entrusted with baking the bread used in the offerings.  And some members of the clan of Kohath were in charge of preparing the bread to be set on the table each Sabbath day.

* How to worship all the time

Worship was the primary focus of many Israelites, whose vocation centered on the house of the Lord.  Worship (appreciating God for his nature and worth) should occupy the core of our lives and not just a few minutes once a week.  We, too, can worship at any time if we stay aware of God’s presence and guidance in all situations and if we maintain an attitude of serving him.  Build your life around the worship of God rather than making worship just another activity in a busy schedule. (NLT)

1 Chronicles 9:33-34 – The musicians, all prominent Levites, lived at the Temple.  They were exempt from other responsibilities there since they were on duty at all hours.  All these men lived in Jerusalem.  They were the heads of Levite families and were listed as prominent leaders in their tribal genealogy.

* Balancing seriousness with enthusiasm

Worship in the Old Testament was more than a sober religious exercise.  David’s exuberance as he worshiped God with dancing and music is approved in Scripture.  Our worship should reflect a healthy balance: Sometimes we should be reflective and serious, and sometimes we should show enthusiasm and jubilation.  What do you need—more serious reflection or more joyous celebration? (NLT)

1 Chronicles 13:8 – David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, singing and playing all kinds of musical instruments—lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets.

* Evaluate your attitude toward worship

God alone is worthy of being worshiped.  What is your attitude toward worship?  Do you willingly and joyfully come into God’s presence, or are you just going through the motions, reluctantly going to church?  This psalm tells us to remember God’s goodness and dependability, and then to worship with thanksgiving and praise! (NLT)

Psalm 100:4 – Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise.  Give thanks to him and bless his name.

* When worship is a chore

Going to God’s house can be a chore or a delight.  For the psalmist, it was a delight.  As a pilgrim attending one of the three great religious festivals, he rejoiced to worship with God’s people in God’s house.  We may find worship a chore if we have un-confessed sin or if our love for God has cooled.  But if we are close to God and enjoy his presence, we will be eager to worship and praise him.  Our attitude toward God will determine our view of worship. (NLT)

Psalm 122:1 – I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

* Is your worship routine or real?

The people claimed to be close to God, but they were disobedient and merely went through the motions; therefore, God would bring judgment upon them.  Religion had become routine instead of real.  Jesus quoted Isaiah’s condemnation of Israel’s hypocrisy when he spoke to the Pharisees, the religious leaders of his day.  We are all capable of hypocrisy.  Often we slip into routine patterns when we worship, and we neglect to give God our live and devotion.  If we want to be called God’s people, we must be obedient and worship him honestly and sincerely. (NLT)

Isaiah 29:13-14 – And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine.  They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away.  And their worship of me amounts to nothing more than human laws learned by rote.  Because of this, I will do wonders among these hypocrites.  I will show that human wisdom is foolish and even the most brilliant people lack understanding.”

* Can’t worship while maintaining a sinful lifestyle

The people followed a worship ritual but maintained a sinful life-style.  It was religion without personal commitment to God.  Attending church, taking communion, teaching church school, singing in the choir—all are empty exercises unless we are truly doing them for God.  It is good to do these activities, not because we ought to do them for the church, but because we want to do them for God. (NLT)

Jeremiah 7:2-3 – “Go to the entrance of the Lord’s Temple, and give this message to the people: ‘O Judah, listen to this message from the Lord!  Listen to it, all of you who worship here!  The Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Even now, if you quit your evil ways, I will let you stay in your own land.

* Place of worship not as important as the pattern of worship

Our place of worship is not as important to God as our pattern of worship.  A church building may be beautiful, but if its people don’t sincerely follow God, the church will decay from within.  The people of Judah, despite their beautiful Temple, had rejected in their daily lives what they proclaimed in their worship rituals.  Thus, their worship had turned into a mocking lie.  When you worship, are you saying words you don’t really mean?  Do you pray for help you don’t really believe will come?  Do you express love for God you don’t really have?  Earnestly seek God and catch a fresh vision of his love and care.  Then worship him wholeheartedly. (NLT)

Lamentations 2:7 – The Lord has rejected his own altar; he despises his own sanctuary.  He has given Jerusalem’s palaces to her enemies.  They shout in the Lord’s Temple as though it were a day of celebration.

* Wise men demonstrate essence of worship

The astrologers brought gifts and worshiped Jesus for who he was.  This is the essence of true worship—honoring Christ for who he is and being willing to give him what is valuable to you.  Worship God because he is the perfect, just, and almighty Creator of the universe, worthy of the best you have to give. (NLT)

Matthew 2:11 – They entered the house where the child and his mother, Mary, were, and they fell down before him and worshiped him.  Then they opened their treasure chests and gave hi gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

* Importance of regular church worship

Jesus went to the synagogue “as usual.”  Even though he was the perfect Son of God and his local synagogue undoubtedly left much to be desired, Jesus attended services every week.  His example makes our excuses for not attending church sound weak and self-serving.  Make regular worship a part of your life. (NLT)

Luke 4:16 – When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures.

* How Holy Spirit helps us worship

“God is Spirit” means he is not a physical being limited to one place.  He is present everywhere, and he can be worshiped anywhere, at any time.  It is not where we worship that counts, but how we worship.  Is your worship genuine and true?  Do you have the Holy Spirit’s help?  How does the Holy Spirit help us worship?  The Holy Spirit prays for us, teaches us the words of Christ, and tells us we are loved. (NLT)

John 4:21-24 – Jesus replied, “Believe me, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father here or in Jerusalem.  You Samaritans know so little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews.  But the time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.  The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way.  For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

* Society worships the wrong things

Many Jews considered the Good News of Jesus Christ to be foolish, because they thought the Messiah would be a conquering king accompanied by sings and miracles.  Jesus had not restored David’s throne as they expected.  Besides, he was executed as a criminal, and how could a criminal be a savior?  Greeks, too, considered the Good News foolish: They did not believe in a bodily resurrection, they did not see in Jesus the powerful characteristics of their mythological gods, and they thought no reputable person would be crucified.  To them, death was defeat, not victory.

The Good News of Jesus Christ still sounds foolish to many.  Our society worship[ps power, influence, and wealth.  Jesus came as a humble, poor servant, and he offers the Kingdom to those who have faith, not to those who do all kinds of good deeds to try to earn salvation.  This looks foolish to the world, but Christ is the mighty power of God, the only way we can be saved.  Knowing Christ personally is the greatest wisdom anyone can have. (NLT)

1 Corinthians 1:22-24 – God’s way seems foolish to the Jews because they want a sign from heaven to prove it is true.  And it is foolish to the Greeks because they believe only what agrees with their own wisdom.  So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended, and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.  But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the mighty power of God and th wonderful wisdom of God.

* Church services must be beneficial to worshipers

Everything done in worship services must be beneficial to the worshipers.  This principle touches every aspect—singing, preaching, and the exercise of spiritual gifts.  Those contributing to the service (singers, speakers, readers) must have love as their chief motivation, speaking useful words or participating in a way that will strengthen the faith of other believers. (NLT)

1 Corinthians 14:26 – Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize what I am saying.  When you meet, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in an unknown language, while another will interpret what is said.  But everything that is done must be useful to all and build them up in the Lord.

* Worship must be done with harmony & order

In worship, everything must be done with propriety and in an orderly fashion, especially when the gifts of the Holy Spirit are being exercised.  When there is chaos and disorder in the church, God cannot work, for he is not a God of confusion but of peace. (NLT)

1 Corinthians 14:33 – For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the other churches.

* God alone is worthy of worship

The first of the Ten Commandments is “Do not worship any other gods besides me.”  Jesus said that the greatest command of Moses’ laws was “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.”  Here, at the end of the Bible, this truth is reiterated.  The angel instructs John to “worship God!”  God alone is worthy of our worship and adoration.  He is above all creation, even the angels.  Are there people, ideas, goals, or possessions that occupy the central place in your life, crowding God out?  Worship only God by allowing nothing to distract you from your devotion to him. (NLT)

Revelations 22:8-9 – I, John, am the one who saw and heard all these things  And when I saw and heard these things, I fell down to worship the angel who showed them to me.  But again he said, “No, don’t worship me.  I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this scroll.  Worship God!”

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