Beautiful day it is today. Hope each of you fellows reads this in good health, and that each of your dear family members also is faring well.
Lord's Day last Pastor John mentioned the recently-deceased basketball star Kobe Bryant. Actually, Pastor John did a lot more than mention him, he illustrated to us how quite a lot of people were so entranced by Mr. Bryant's athletic skills and achievements that in effect they worshipped him.
Worship? Yes. When you give some thing or some body all your adoring attention and when your happiness is pretty well controlled by the ups and downs of that person or thing, then that is worship. I am pretty sure most or all of you fellows can illustrate better than I can how some people lose themselves getting wrapped up in awe of some celebrity such as was Mr. Bryant. Probably you each can list other items of popular rapture and worship these days.
But Pastor John cautioned us strongly by reminding us about what our real attitude should be.
Read from the Gospel of Luke 4:8 (NIV) “Jesus answered, 'It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only. '” That's pretty clear, isn't it? Quite different from what the world all around you tries to get you to do.
Similarly in the Gospel of John 4:23-24 But a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such as these to worship Him. God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”.
In the Old Testament try Psalm 95:1-6 (NIV) Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
Also in the Old Testament we can read from Isaiah 6:5 (NIV) "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." This verse should tell you that you need to be totally REVERENT towards God who is infinitely powerful, knowing, present everywhere. That if you have ever truly encountered Him you have felt the presence of a force infinitely greater than a star of the hoops or silver screen. That almighty Being must be, as Jesus said above, the sole focus of your worship.
At the end of the Bible in the Book of Revelation 1:17 (NIV) “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: 'Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last'”. Why did the Apostle John, about 90 years old when he penned Revelation, fall down like that? Clue...he was overwhelmed in awe of what he saw, right? That should inspire REVERENCE. That is where having the right attitude for true worship comes from. Maybe God won't place His right hand on your head...or...maybe He will! But you fellows all know from the incredible hugeness of outer space and the incredible tiny-ness of the atomic and molecular world that our Maker is utterly apart in power from you and me. And...being perfect, as we are not, He is Holy!
Holy holy holy! As Pastor John explained to us, true worship can be when we encounter God's holiness. Fear and trembling is an elementary act of worship. Pastor John explained further: When the Israelites were traipsing about in the Sinai Desert, Moses went up the mountain itself in response to God's summons. Meanwhile his brother Aaron and the rest of the people went and played video games made a golden calf. When they did that it meant they were saying "we are going to worship God in our own way. In their days making a model calf was a usual response to the need to worship, in your own way. The Israelites were saying “I will worship in my way on my terms when I want.” But if you KNOW God then you will respond to Him in perfect worship.
When you have the right attitude then the shoe is on the other foot: no matter what happens to you, no matter how bad the situation is that you are in, you know that your almighty Father is watching over you and you can confess your troubles all to Him and in His way in His time He will bring you through them. Your prayers then are perfect worship!
Finally, Psalm 94:12 (NIV) Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law. You remember that Pastor John told us the story of his loving father. Pastor John says that he was a pretty wayward little kid. Because Pastor John's father truly loved him, he disciplined Pastor John as was necessary from time to time. We all need God's correction now and then. But especially when Our Father in heaven corrects us, we run into His loving arms, just as when he was a little boy after being spanked as he needed, Pastor John still wanted to be in his father's loving arms.
He who we all must revere above all things or people: do you want to know Him more? The more we see about Him in the Word we read and meditate on in the Bible, the more we know Him. The more we know Him the more we want to spend time with Him, in...worship!