13. Mastering A Plan for Formal Time Together: Worship
IA. A Bible Study on Worship
1B. The Nature of True Worship to God
1C. Deuteronomy 10:20-21
10:20 Revere the Lord your God, serve him, cleave to him and take oaths only in his name. 10:21 He is the object of your praise and your God, the one who has done these great and awesome things for you that you have seen.
2C. Joshua 24:15
24:15 If you have no desire to worship the Lord, choose today whom you will worship, whether it be the gods whom your ancestors worshiped beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But I and my family will worship the Lord!”
3C. Deuteronomy 12:4
12:4 You must not worship the Lord your God the way they worship.
4C. 1 Chronicles 16:29
16:9 Sing to him! Make music to him! Reflect on all his miraculous deeds! 16:10 Boast about his holy name! Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!.
5C. Isaiah 29:13
29:13 The sovereign master says, “These people say they are loyal to me; they say wonderful things about me, but they are not really loyal to me. Their worship consists of nothing but man-made ritual.
6C. John 4:23-24
4:23 But a time is coming—and now is here—when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers. 4:24 God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
7C. Acts 13:2
13:2 While they were serving (i.e., worshipping) the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
8C. Acts 26:7
26:6 And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors, 26:7 a promise that our twelve tribes hope to attain as they earnestly serve God night and day.
9C. Philippians 3:3
3:3 For we are the circumcision, the ones who worship by the Spirit of God, exult in Christ Jesus, and do not rely on human credentials.
10C. Hebrews 12:28
12:28 So since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us give thanks, and through this let us offer worship pleasing to God in devotion and awe. 12:29 For our God is indeed a devouring fire.
11C. Questions for Thought
1. In Deuteronomy 10:20-21, what do you think it means “to revere” the Lord God? What is the relationship between “revering” God and “serving” him? What does it mean to “cleave” to God? How do Paul’s words in Philippians 3:7-11ff. help explain this?
2. According to Joshua 24:15, human beings generally have no problem finding something to worship. But what does Joshua command the Israelites to do? What are some reasons why it is important to “choose” whom you will worship?
3. What does Deuteronomy 12:4 teach us about worshipping God? Answer: There is a right way and there are many wrong ways. Read the context to understand this a bit more.
4. What does 1 Chronicles 16:29 add to our understanding of worshipping God?
5. What does Isaiah 29:13 and John 4:23-24 teach about the worship of God? What do you think Jesus means by “truth” and why is important to God that we be concerned about truth in obedience and worship and not just mindlessly following man-made rules?
6. Notice the relationship between “serving” God and “worshipping” Him in the passages from Acts (i.e., 13:2; 26:7). Why do the two concepts stand so closely related? What else can you learn about worship from these passages?
7. Who is the one who enables us to worship in Phil 3:3? How is the worship of God in Phil 3:3 related to the idea of rejoicing or exulting in Christ Jesus?
2B. True Worship and Serving God
1C. Jeremiah 22:8-9
22:8 “‘People from other nations will pass by this city. They will ask one another, “Why has the Lord done such a thing to this great city?” 22:9 And the answer will come back, “It is because they quit following their agreement with the Lord their God and worshiped and served other gods.”
2C. Jeremiah 25:6
25:6 Do not pay allegiance to other gods and worship and serve them. Do not make me angry by the things that you do. Then I won’t cause you any harm.’
3C. Daniel 3:28
3:28 Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent forth his angel and has delivered his servants who trusted in him, ignoring the edict of the king and giving up their bodies rather than serve or worship any god other than their God!
4C. Jonah 2:8
2:8 Those who worship worthless idols forfeit the mercy that could be theirs.
5C. Matthew 6:24
6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
6C. Romans 12:1
12:1 Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is your reasonable service (i.e., worship).
7C. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10
1:9 For people everywhere report how you welcomed us and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 1:10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath.
8C. Questions for Thought
1. Faithfulness to God’s commands is very important to him; true worship without obedience is an empty notion. What does Jeremiah 22:8-9 teach us about this? You may need to read the context a bit to answer this. Read Jeremiah 25:6 in the same light.
2. To what extent were Daniel and his friends willing to go in order to remain faithful to God? How is this a demonstration of genuine worship?
3. According to Jonah 2:8, what happens to us when we turn from sincere, true, and devout worship to the false worship of idols, i.e., idols of wood or any other idol, including money, position, sex, prestige, etc? Why is this a travesty?
4. Why is Jesus’ statement in Matthew 6:24 so difficult for many of us who live in North America? (NB: Jesus is not saying that some people worship and some do not. No, the truth of the matter is that all people worship; the question, then, is what or whom you worship, not “if.”
5. What is the foundation of our worship of God according to Romans 12:1? What does this text communicate about the cost involved in truly worshipping God? What kind of lives do we seek to live in order to express our single-minded devotion and worship of God? Relate this passage to Daniel 3:28.
6. What is the difference between idols, whether made of wood or not (e.g., power, money, sex) and God in 1 Thessalonians 1:9? How does truly worshipping God relate to “wait[ing] for his Son from heaven…”?
3B. The Conscience of the True Worshipper
1C. 2 Timothy 1:3
1:3 I am thankful to God, whom I have served with a clear conscience as my ancestors did, when I remember you in my prayers as I do constantly night and day.
2C. Hebrews 9:14
9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God.
3C. Hebrews 10:2
10:2 For otherwise would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers would have been purified once for all and so have no further consciousness of sin?
4C. Questions for Thought
1. How important is the conscience in the worship of God? Read 2 Timothy 1:3 and Hebrews 9:14. See also Acts 16:24. What happens to our faith and ability to trust God if we allow our consciences to be stained and defiled by sin?
2. In Hebrews 9:14 and 10:2 how has the cross of Christ made provision for guilty consciences and purification? Is there anything the Lord is speaking to you about through your conscience? Why do you think it is important to have your conscience educated through scripture study, prayer, faithfulness in meaningful relationships, and godly counsel?
4B. Examples of True and False Worship
1C. 1 Samuel 15:22-23
15:22 Then Samuel said, “Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as he does in obedience? Certainly, obedience is better than sacrifice; paying attention is better than the fat of rams.
2C. Matthew 15:9
15:8 ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, 15:9 and they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
3C. Revelation 4:9-11
4:9 And whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the one who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 4:10 the twenty-four elders throw themselves to the ground before the one who sits on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever, and they offer their crowns before his throne, saying: 4:11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, since you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created!”
4C. Revelation 15:4
15:4 Who will not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name, because you alone are holy? All nations will come and worship before you for your righteous acts have been revealed.
5C. Questions for Thought
1. What does God think about those who claim to worship him yet consistently pay no regard to His word? Read 1 Samuel 15:22ff. We learned in Hebrews 9 and 10 that God has made provision for the guilt of sin in the death of his son, but we cannot knowingly persist in disobedience for it gives evidence of an unregenerate heart. We are to cleave to him in trust.
2. We already looked at Matthew 15:9 above. What does the passage mean when it says “they worship me in vain”?
3. Why does John in Rev 4:9-11 repeat the fact that God “lives forever and ever” in a context of worship? Why do you think that’s an important emphasis? What do the twenty-four elders do and what do they proclaim about God?
4. What does Revelation 15:4 say about God? What does the word “holy” mean? How would you relate this to God’s love? (Some Christians never seem to bring those two ideas together very well. Why do you suppose this is so?)
5B. Judgement for False Worship
1C. Acts 7:42
7:42 But God turned away from them and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: ‘It was not to me that you offered slain animals and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, was it, house of Israel?
2C. Acts 17:23
17:22 So Paul stood before the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious in all respects. 17:23 For as I went around and observed closely your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: ‘To an unknown god.’ Therefore what you worship without knowing it, this I proclaim to you.
3C. Romans 1:25-26
1:25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 1:26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions.
4C. 1 Corinthians 10:14, 22
10:14 So then, my dear friends, flee from idolatry…10:22 Or are we trying to provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we really stronger than he is?
5C. Questions for Thought
1. In Acts 7:42 what does Stephen say God did to those who really wanted to worship creation rather than the creator? How does this relate to Paul’s comments in Romans 1:23-25 as well as the gross ignorance and idolatry of the men of the Areopagus in Acts 17:22?
2. What does Paul say about God’s response to his children when they wander into any form of idolatry? In 1 Corinthians 10:14 what are we commanded to do with respect to idolatry? If you are convinced by the Lord that something you’re doing is idolatrous, what would it look like for you to flee? What kind of pressures keep you from fleeing? How does genuine faith in God play a key role in forsaking an idol(s)?
IIA. Synthesis, Practical Applications, and Training
Meditate on the material using the questions that are listed as well as any others you think of. Begin the process of relating passages one to another in order to begin to understand the flow of the Bible’s teaching on this issue.
Restate the main emphasis of the Bible’s teaching on worship in a single sentence.
Relate the Bible’s teaching on worship, then, to other doctrines that you know in the Bible. Try and “see-things-together” in order to form a consistent whole. Be careful not to water down passages in order to make a nice synthetic statement; let each passage speak on its own (i.e., from its own context first). Also relate the passage to your life theoretically. Ask yourself what your life would look like if you began to apply some of these scriptural truths.
1C. Ongoing Applications
1D. Ask God to give you a perfect heart toward him and strength to focus on him.
2D. Worship Him in music and praise.
3D. Memorize two verses on worship. Meditate on them and draw strength for worshipping God in spirit and truth.
4D. Practice the presence of God for five minutes without allowing your mind to get sidetracked. Use a psalm to help.
5D. Offer all your work and service as worship to the Lord.
2C. Special Applications
1D. Attend a weekend praise conference.
2D. Attend a conference or course that deals with the meaning and centrality of worship in the healthy Christian life.
3C. Training Objectives and Activities
Objective: The disciple will understand that all of life is to be viewed as worship to the Lord and they will deal with any “idols” in their life by confessing and renouncing them (i.e., turn away from them to worship God) in their thoughts, attitudes, and habits.