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“Prepare for Worship”

Worship is an intentional
act of the heart, but many people take little time
to prepare for worship. Hello, I’m Phil Sanders,
and this is a Bible study In Search of
the Lord’s Way. God expects us not only
to prepare our hearts but also our lives when we
come into His presence. How do we prepare
for worship? In all the hurry and hustle and confusion of modern living, the Lord
has the way. We believe that the Bible is the revelation of His way. We invite you to
join us In Search of the Lord’s Way
with Phil Sanders. Welcome to In Search
of the Lord’s Way. The Bible teaches us the
truth, because God is the true author of
the Scriptures. That’s why we study
diligently and encourage everyone to read
and study it. There is simply no
replacement for the word of God. Thanks for spending
this time with us. We love to hear that
you’re watching or listening. We want to be a part
of your life each week. The English word “worship’ comes from an old word “worthship”! It’s by our attitude, our
words, and our actions that we tell God that He is worthy of our praise and adoration. He deserves our love
and thanksgiving. “Worship is not an
experience that we have in the presence of God, but
the act of offering God our best when we are in
his presence.” Worship is a spiritual act, that
entails a sense of awe and reverence in the
presence of the DIVINE. Worship comes from the
Greek word proskuneo, which means “throwing
oneself on the ground to show respect
and awe.” When Moses saw the burning
bush, he thought it was a marvelous
sight. He wanted to know why
the bush didn’t burn up. God called him from the
bush and told Moses “Take your shoes off your feet,
for the place where you stand is holy ground”
(Exodus 3 and verse 5). When we come into the
presence of God for worship, we are
entering holy ground. The Bible says in Hebrews
12 verses 28 and 29, “Therefore let us be
grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be
shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable
worship, with reverence and awe, for our God
is a consuming fire.” Worship is, by its very nature, an act of reverence and awe. It focuses on honoring
and pleasing God. Worship that pleases God
requires some preparation. And today we’re going to
explore the Scriptures to see how we can show
God reverence and awe. Now we offer the information on this program free. An if you’d like a printed
copy or a CD of our study, mail your request to In
Search of the Lord’s Way, P.O. Box 371,
Edmond, OK 73083 or by e-mail to [email protected] Or, if you like, call
our toll-free telephone number. We’ll pay for
the call. That number is
1-800-321-8633. We also stream this program on our website at Larry Owsley will lead the
Edmond church in song, and then we’ll read from Revelation chapter 5 verses 11 to 14. Our reading today
comes from the book of Revelation chapter 5
verses 11 to 14. Then I looked, and I heard the
voice of many angels around the throne and the
living creatures and the elders; and the number
of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of
thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is
the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches
and wisdom and might and honor and glory
and blessing.” And every created thing
which is in heaven and on the earth and under the
earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I
heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to
the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and
dominion forever and ever. And the four living
creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell
down and worshiped. What a beautiful
scene. Let’s pray
together. Father help us to worship
from our hearts and to let you know how You too are
worthy of our glory and honor and all things
that are good. And Father may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus
name, Amen. What are we doing when
we gather for worship? Well, what does it mean
to worship and praise God? Now if we’re to prepare
for worship, we must know something about
worship and about God. As we begin this
lesson, let’s explore what worship
is all about. First, worship is internal; it comes from the heart. One can worship internally
without doing anything externally, but one cannot
worship externally without doing something
internally. Zechariah 7 verses 5 and
6 says that the Jews of Zechariah’s
day feasted and fasted for themselves
and not for God. They went through the motions but didn’t involve the heart. William Temple rightly
said, “To worship is to quicken the conscience by
the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the
truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty
of God, to open the heart to the love of God, and to devote the will to the purpose of God.” Our worship must come
genuinely from our hearts. Now in a discussion with
the woman at the well, Jesus said in John 4
verses 23 and 4, “But an hour is coming, and
now is, when the true worshipers will worship
the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those
who worship Him must worship in spirit
and truth.” God isn’t seeking
worshipers who have their minds elsewhere or are
simply going through the motions; He is seeking
worshipers who will worship Him in
spirit and in truth. Second, worship
is intentional. We don’t worship God accidentally; it must be an
intended act. Perhaps you remember
Naaman the leper, whom God healed through
Elisha. Naaman said that he would
only worship the Lord God. And in 2 Kings 5, 17 to
19 Naaman was worried and told Elisha that he had to
bow in the house of Rimmon to another god as a
part of his duties. Well, Naaman makes the
point that he must bow, but that worshiping a
false god is not his intention. Well, Elisha understood
that unless you intend to worship, it’s not
really worship. Unfortunately, some
Christians come to church to socialize or to see a
production; and they never
intend to worship. I hope you’re a
true worshipers. True praise is not merely “going through the motions.” Jesus spoke about
the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, whose worship
was only an outward show and not from
the heart. The Lord said in Matthew
15 and verse 8, that “This people honors me with
their lips, but their heart is far
from me.” This not only revealed
itself in their worship, but also showed
in their lives. They had forgotten
God’s commandments but concentrated on their
human traditions. The Lord said, “in vain do
they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15 verse 9). Genuine praise to God comes from a sincere devotion and
obedience to the Lord. Third, worship
is vertical. Yes, true worship will
edify the church; but the primary purpose of
worship is vertical. Worship takes place when
our hearts and spirits show our thanksgiving and
praise to God our Father. We sing praises
to God. We’re not worshiping to
please ourselves but to adore and
glorify God. While we may sing to
edify or teach others, the primary focus is
to praise God. The Bible says in Hebrews
13 verse 15, “Through Him (that is through Jesus)
then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of
praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that
give thanks to His name.” Fourth, worship
is momentary. Like eating, it has a
beginning and an ending. While worship is something
that we do throughout our lives, it is an
intermittent, heartfelt act, occasional, wherein
we put everything else aside and we focus our minds and our hearts for a time on God. Someone says, “Phil,
the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5 verse 17 that we’re to pray without ceasing.” Well, that’s true, but
nobody can pray 24 hours a day, seven
days a week. What this passage is
saying is that we ought never to quit
praying to God. We should pray every day
throughout our lives. Our lives are spent in momentary acts; and since worship is intentional we must choose to spend our time in worship. We must make the moments
we worship our Father important. Jesus said in John 4:23
and 24, that “the true worshipers will worship
the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those
who worship Him must worship in spirit
and truth.” God wants you to give Him
your heart and glorify His name. Have you considered how
important God regards worship? You know the Lord said to
Israel through the prophet Malachi in Malachi 1:6 to
9, that “‘A son honors his father, and a
servant his master. Then if I am a father,
where is My honor? And if I am a master,
where is My respect?’ says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have
we despised Your name?’ God answers, ‘You are
presenting defiled food upon My altar.’ But you
say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The
table of the LORD is to be despised.’ ‘But when you
present the blind for sacrifice, is it
not evil? And when you present the
lame and sick, is it not evil? Well why not offer
it to your governor? Would he be
pleased with you? Or would he receive
you kindly?’ says the LORD
of hosts. But now will you not
entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious
to us? With such an offering on
your part, will He receive any of you kindly?”
says the LORD of hosts. It’s common these days
for Christians to come to worship habitually late
and sometimes dressed as if they didn’t know they were coming into the presence of God. How does this show
respect and awe for God? Some think, “well God ought to be glad I came. Chill out! God ought to be satisfied
he got anything from me at all.” Is this the attitude
of true worship? Where is
the love? Where is the
humility? Where is the
reverence and awe? How is God honored
in all of this? I fear some have little
sense of holiness about coming into the
presence of God. God deserves our best; we
shouldn’t give God what is common or profane
or leftovers. God deserves respect in our hearts and in our appearance. I’m not here trying to
make laws or tell you what you must wear to worship
but to encourage you to consider whether you have honored God in your worship. In the tabernacle and the
temple, how one appeared before God
mattered. The Bible says in Exodus
28 and verse 2, “And you shall make holy garments
for Aaron your brother, for glory and
for beauty.” How the priest dressed
mattered to God. Psalm 29 verses 1 and
2 says, “Ascribe to the Lord, ascribe to the Lord,
O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory
and strength. Ascribe to the Lord
the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the
splendor of holiness.” The New American Standard
says the angels are to worship “in
holy array.” Well why would angels need
to put on holy garments? Consider Paul’s
instructions to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2 verses 9 to10,
“that women should adorn themselves in respectable
apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with
braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,
but with what is proper for women who profess
godliness-with good works.” When we assemble to
worship, we’re coming into the presence
of God. What we do there, gathered
in His name for worship, is holy and reveals
our respect for Him. When the Israelites
gathered for worship at the temple, they
didn’t simply show up. They lived in a world of
ceremonially clean and unclean. We have little sense
of that concept today. Israelite pilgrims who
traveled to a feast in Jerusalem in ancient times
first went to a ritual bath to become
ceremonially pure before they ever entered the
temple area (John 11 verse 55). In fact archaeologists
count as many as eighteen ritual baths surrounding
the temple mount today. These purification rituals
stressed cleanliness and worthiness to serve
and worship the Lord. In fact, Jehoiada
the priest stationed gatekeepers at the gates
of the house of the Lord so that no one should
enter who was in any way unclean (2 Chronicles
23 and verse 19). Isaiah spoke of his experience in the presence of God in the year that King Uzziah died in Isaiah 6 verses 1 to 8. You remember that Seraphim
proclaimed that the Lord God, is “Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is
full of his glory!” The Lord was sitting on
his throne, lofty and exalted. And the foundations of the
thresholds trembled at his voice, while the temple
was filling with smoke. And Isaiah responded,
“Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a
man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a
people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the
King, the Lord of hosts!” And Isaiah was humbled
by his own sense of uncleanness
before God. He expected to die because
he was unclean, but God forgave him as the
Seraphim touched his lips with the
burning coal. You remember that when the
apostle John came into the presence of the Lord Jesus
on the island of Patmos, that he fell at his
feet as though dead. He understood the awesome and special nature of the occasion. Many worship assemblies
have become so worldly there is little sense of
being in the presence of God or of the reverence
of the occasion. The Hebrew writer urged
his readers, “let us offer to God acceptable worship,
with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12 and verse 29). I fear we have lost a sense of the awesome nature of God. In many worship occasions
I find things that reflect an environment of
little respect for God. Things like putting a
Bible on the floor, people putting their feet up in
the pew or on song racks, people who are repeatedly
and needlessly late, constant going in and out
to get a drink or go to bathroom, constant talking
in the foyer, constant talking in the pews,
texting on the phone, passing notes in worship, or clipping fingernails during the sermon. Yes I care about everyone,
and I want everyone to come for worship, but
I wonder if God feels honored when our hearts
and lives are so far from Him. We also must think of our lives as we approach God in worship. The Bible says in Psalm 66
verses 16 to 20, “Come and hear, all of you who fear
God, and I will tell what he has done
for my soul. I cried to him
with my mouth, and high praise
was on my tongue. If I had cherished
iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not
have listened. But truly God has
listened; he has attended to the voice
of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he
has not rejected my prayer or removed his
steadfast love from me!” When people cherish sin more than they do God, it should not surprise them that God closes His ears to their prayers. The New Testament says in
James 1:26 to 27, that, “If anyone thinks he is
religious and does not bridle his tongue but
deceives his heart, this person’s religion
is worthless. Religion that is pure and
undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit
orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” If we wish to worship God
in private or in public, we need to serve God by living holy lives every single day. Let’s pray
together. O Father help us to love
You with all our heart and soul and mind
and strength. And give You the honor
that is due Your name. May Your will be done on
earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus name
we pray, Amen. The apostle Paul was
concerned about the unruly assemblies at Corinth
that kept the people from worshiping properly and
from taking the Lord’s Supper in a way
that pleased God. He said in 1 Corinthians
11:27 to 30, “Therefore whoever eats the bread or
drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner
shall be guilty of the body and the
blood of the Lord. But a man must examine
himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread
and drink of the cup. For he who eats and
drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he
does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among
you are weak and sick, and a number
sleep.” When we worship we ought
to please God and we need to do this for
two reasons. First, it honors God to
worship the way that He desires. Second, true worship calls us to live a purer and nobler life. Let’s prepare to praise
and glorify God before we come into
His presence. Let’s get our hearts and
minds focused on God. Israel worshiped in vain
by living immoral and ungodly lives according to
Isaiah 1 verses 12 to 20. They needed to repent of
their sins before they came to
worship God. What will please God most is a heart that is right with Him! Is your heart
right with God? To get right with God one
must believe that Jesus as the Christ, the Son
of the living God. He must regard Jesus
as Lord and turn away from sin in repentance. Anyone who loves the Lord
will not remain in willful sin. He wants to change his life and to confess Jesus as the Christ. He’ll also be baptized as
quickly as possible for the forgiveness of his
sins-as the Bible teaches in Acts 2 and
verse 38. If a person loves the
Lord, he won’t want to spend a single moment outside the love and grace of God. We hope this lesson about
worship has blessed you. If you live in the United
States and want a free printed copy or a CD of
this message, mail your request to In Search
of the Lord’s Way, P.O. Box 371,
Edmond, OK 73083 or send an e-mail to [email protected] Or, you call the
Search office toll-free at
1-800-321-8633. Now you can download these
lessons or a newsletter online at our
website: You can watch SEARCH
anytime on YouTube! Just subscribe to our channel, “SearchTVMinistry.” There’s also a schedule
of our programs and a map with the location of
churches in your area. We also offer free Bible
Correspondence courses. Now if you get a hold of
us we’re just trying to help you get
to heaven. Please get involved
with a church of Christ. If you’re looking for a
healthy, Biblical church home, we’ll be happy
to help you find one. We’ll be back next
week, Lord willing. So keep searching God’s
Word with us and tell a friend about
the program. God bless you and we love
you from all of us at In Search of
the Lord’s Way.

Reynold King

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