LACK OF PRAISE
MAKES THE CHURCH BRICKS
"...the whole multitude of disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord; peace in heaven and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto Him, Master, rebuke Thy disciples. And He answered and said unto them, I tell you that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out."
Jesus accepted the worship of the disciples, and they could barely contain their joy in seeing Jesus fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah. The Pharisees, and some others, criticized the excitement and the joyous worship of the disciples.
Many today criticize the joy of the worshippers in Christianity. They would rather we piously sit in pews, and reverently bow our heads while a minister recites a saintly sounding, monotone prayer. The early church praised in the prison cells, worshipped while tied to poles about to be set afire. They were unrestrained, unhindered by commands of authorities to cease mentioning the name of Jesus.
The early church had more than correct doctrines, it had more than great emphasis on the Word of God and prayer, it had more than spiritual leadership, and it had more than spiritual gifts. The revival church had WORSHIP and PRAISE. The correct doctrines, when written upon the heart, should create a worshipping congregation.
Some congregations pride themselves on correct doctrines, and some feel they are so right, that everyone else is wrong. Proper doctrine is important. Never underestimate correct doctrine, but it should lead to worship. If doctrines and beliefs of a congregation do not lead to, and result in, worship and praise, the doctrines are not proper, not understood correctly, or simply misconceptions.
Sound doctrine does not have to be "sound asleep." There is too much of the "deep frozen" religion. There are many who know the Word, know the doctrines, know the prophecies, but do not worship the Lord. The scribes and Pharisees of the time of the Lord's first coming, knew the Word, but failed to worship the Messiah when He stood in their presence. Today, we find many such people also.
The true vocation of the congregations includes WORSHIP:
I Peter 2:5,9
"...to offer up spiritual sacrifices...
that ye should shew forth the praises of Him."
"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
and into His courts with praise;
be thankful unto Him, and bless His name."
"Let them exalt Him also in the congregation of the people,
and praise Him in the assembly of the elders."
"Praise ye the Lord. I will praise the Lord with my whole heart,
in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation."
The congregation that fails to worship, has failed at its real vocation. God meant for us to learn to worship, then learn to work. Martha was distracted by much serving. Mary chose the "better", and sat at the feet of Jesus. Had Martha also sat at the feet of Jesus, I am sure the meal still would have been prepared, as both could have periodically gone to the kitchen for a time, and then returned and still had time to learn and enjoy the presence of Jesus. The church needs to learn to get its work done, but put worship ahead of the "nitty-gritty" duties of the church.
Samuel was busy in the temple service, and yet in I Samuel 3:7 it says:
"Samuel did not yet know the Lord."
It is possible to be busy in church work, and not truly know, or enjoy the Lord Jesus.
The Greek word commonly used for "worship" is "proskuneo," which means "to kiss the hand toward." This suggests an outward action which shows an inward realization of the greatness of another. The idea of "worth-ship" is recognized in real worship. In true worship is the recognition of Who the Lord truly is.
On the isle of Patmos, John was shown the future rapture day. In his vision, he saw the saints singing:
"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power."
Worship delights in the sheer glory of God. Worship revels in His Person, His Nature, and His being. Worship recognizes what He has done.
Our actions and behavior should make others rejoice and worship in the Lord. When unbelievers see:
our good works,
our attitudes in crisis,
our love in the midst of hatred,
our patience in the midst of trial,
and our honesty in the midst of dishonesty,
they will glorify God Who has given us the grace to so behave.
I Peter 2:12
"Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles; that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation."
In this way, our behavior is an act of worship. We can glorify God, not only with our mouths, but with our lives, our attitudes, and with our actions. We should therefore be glorifying God most every moment.
I Corinthians 10:31
"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
Sometimes our actions profane our worship and praise. If we skip gathering together with the believers regularly, and would rather picnic, shop, or watch television most service times The Lord is not impressed with the one time that month you decided to come to service. Perhaps the television shows were all reruns, so you come to worship and praise God. Do you think He is really fooled when you praise Him?
"What a weariness it is." (Malachi 1:13). Many feel to gather together to worship the Lord is a weariness, hard, bothersome, and too much trouble. To feel that worship is a trial, an ordeal, a burden, and torture, is a terrible insult to the Lord we claim to praise when we do come.
Is it a weariness to attend? to pray? to be on time? to teach? to read your Bible??? Some complain when they must do these things. God hates insincerity. So if it is such a bother, get to the altar, and tell the Lord the truth until you get restored into a relationship with Him wherein it will not be a bother anymore.
Some in Bible times would offer the Lord a blemished, dying, or sick lamb. They were to offer an unblemished lamb that was healthy and strong. Do you offer the Lord your best? Do you say He is your "all in all" and then give your spare time, your left overs, your "what I don't need for McDonald's money"? God hates insincerity, and you had better be wise and tell Him the truth. Tell God that you have valued other things more than He, repent and get your priorities right before you leave.
The parable of the two sons, both told to do a job for the father. One said "yes," and did not do it. The other said "no" and repented and did do it. Who pleased the father?
The Greek word for "your reasonable service" is the Greek word "latreia". This word could also be translated - "your spiritual worship." The original word is capable of both renderings. The RSV translates it this alternate way. The idea is that giving our lives to be a living sacrifice, and living a holy life for the Lord Jesus, is a form of worship.
True worship is spiritual. Though it is expressed in outward expression, or with the actions of our lives, it must come from our inner being. It springs from the depth of our spirit.
"God is a Spirit; and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and truth."
Worship can be expressed in physical ways, words, and actions. It will be centered in the Holy Spirit, and will be from the depth or our being. Any worship that comes simply from the mind, or is hollow, outward show with no inward life... is not true worship. Often in congregations, there are hymns sung, wherein the words are sung - but not felt. These songs are only echoes of a shallow or dead faith. The Lord is not fooled by the harmonious beauty of the song, the heart is seen by God, and He recognizes true worship.
God hates insincere worship. God would rather we shut the doors of the church than to come and worship insincerely. The devil would rather we worship insincerely, than to shut the church congregation out of the building.
"...but ye have profaned it (the name of the Lord), in that ye say, The table of the Lord is polluted, and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible. Ye said, also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts; and ye brought an offering; should I accept this of your hand? saith the Lord. But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing; for I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts, and My name is dreadful among the heathen."
It is a weariness to God, a hurtful and offensive thing to have beings who owe their all to the Lord to insincerely, hesitantly, unwillingly, give praise. Yet, the churches are filled with those who do not really mean their praise, do not want to give any praise, and who say things in their praise that they do not feel.
Do you attend out of habit? or to see friends? or are you made to come? or to please someone? God would rather you would not come, than to come for those reasons. What has happened to the sincere people who come to church expecting a blessing? or to seek God? or to commune with God? God hates insincere worship.
The song service is a time of worship. Some sing things that they do not mean, as "I'll go where you want me to go", or "keep me near the cross." You are not singing to your neighbor, nor to the preacher, but to God. God hates insincere, misdirected, un-meaning worship.
"Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools; for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few. ... a fool's voice is known by multitude of words. When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for He hath no pleasure in fools; pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay."
Two or three times, Jesus came to the temple and cast out the money changers. He was angered at their abuse of the house of God. It was not that they had sold doves and lambs for the sacrifices; it was their cheating, stealing, and deception to the people. Jesus called it a "den of thieves." and told them that His Father's house should be a "house of prayer." It is time we re-teach that lesson. We are the Temple of God, and this temple should be a "house of prayer" and worship, and the sinful and insincere should be expelled from our lives.
It is like the fancy wrapped boxes a lady left in her car. Knowing they would likely be stolen, if she left her car unlocked, she had wrapped her garbage in the fancy wrappings. Many people in congregations have wrapped their shallow faith in beautiful songs, and exuberant praise and worship. The enthusiasm does not fool the Lord. If the inside of a person is the filth of sin, the outward worship, no matter how enthusiastic or harmonious, is rejected by our God.
In the real and true worship, there is no set pattern. Yet, it never becomes disorderly or confused. Since the Spirit is in control, the Spirit directs us to worship in manifold ways. Nothing is more disastrous than to try to create an atmosphere of worship. While we may try to create exuberance and rejoicing, the Spirit may be seeking to get us to weep and cry our love for Jesus. When we seek the weeping worship, the Spirit may want to direct us toward praise and shouting.
What we must do in revival is -- to create an atmosphere that allows the Spirit to create -- a worship. When people try to recreate what they saw God do in another service, it will fall flat. Spiritual worship, since it must be Spirit directed, cannot be produced by even the best of worship leaders. It can only be -- prepared for, -- by the worship leaders and the worshippers. We must prepare our hearts and minds with the knowledge of the "worth-ship" of the Lord, and the thankfulness for His mercy and grace.
The worship and praise in the early church took place in upper rooms of the homes, in fields, in the temple, in the market place, in the prison cells, etc. In other words, they worshipped the Lord wherever they were. Their worship sprung from a relationship with the Lord, and was not directed by a worship leader who told them when to praise, when to clap, and when to raise their hands.
When Charles Wesley was saved, he was flooded with joy... He described his happiness to Peter Bohler, and added: "I suppose I should keep silent about it." Peter Bohler answered: "No, never! If you had a 1000 tongues, go and use them all for Jesus!" Wesley went home and wrote the song - "Oh For a Thousand Tongues to Sing My Great Redeemer's Praise."
A great evangelist, teacher of the more recent past, A.G. Ward said: "Our Lord is desirous that people should be rejoicing Christians, if Christians were more joyful, they would set sinners' mouths a-watering for the dainties of true religion."
Sometimes our hearts are heavy, our troubles are many, and we feel we must wait until things get better, or perfect, and then we will praise our Lord. Habakkuk questioned God of all the troubles that Israel was facing, and God replied to him:
"The just shall live by faith."
We must learn as Habakkuk to live by faith, to rejoice even when our sight tells us there is nothing to rejoice in when troubles abound.
Habakkuk wrote at the end of his book:
"Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall there be fruit in the vines... yet will I rejoice in the Lord."
God created us for fellowship. The stones will cry out with praises if we do not. We must keep the stones silent and praise our Lord and King. Certainly, He is worthy of our praises. God will inhabit our praises, and will come and dwell in the midst of those who are praising Him. Will you praise Him?
Let's sweep aside every hindrance and give God the praise He deserves. Let us keep the stones silent and let us be the ones to praise Him. Some await someone to lead their worship. It is not wrong to have worship leaders, but our praise must now be confined to these times only. True worship in the latter rain revival will be directed by the Spirit.
We will find, in the times of Spirit-directed, Spirit-filled worship, that:
The doctrines of mankind -- that have attempted to direct how the Spirit can work -- will have to be pushed aside. Many doctrines and rituals have been created down through the ages to guide, direct, and suppress our praises into patterns suitable to our form of worship. The Holy Spirit is tired of forms, rituals, and ceremonies. He wants to knock down the bars of those prisons, and lead us into worship that is:
The restrictions to worship -- that dogmas have defined -- will be forgotten.
The locations of worship -- that men have built -- will prove too small and confining. Our praise must continue in many places... and not await a meeting place to be expressed therein.