“It’s a Privilege to Be Here”                                                                October 7, 2012

Luke 19:45-48                                                                                       Stephens City UMC

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

I.                   When we began the “Committed to Christ” Campaign we took a general survey.

A.    113 persons completed that survey and in the category of worship over 90% of the returns were returned by people who indicated they were attending worship 3 to 4 times every month.

1.     That tells me several things this morning.

2.     The first is that you are those people because you are here almost every Sunday – I recognize you because you are here with such frequency.

3.     The second is that with regards to worship attendance I am “preaching to the choir” this morning.

4.     So you can breathe easy as I’m not going to beat you over the head to come more often or fuss with you about low attendance.

5.     You are the group I can count on although it would be more accurate to say that you are the group God can count on.

6.     After all, you come to this place to worship God and not me.

7.     And if you are coming on Sunday mornings to worship me then let me be clear, “You are royally messed up. You need to stop it.”

8.     Jesus was definitive when he said that only God is worthy of worship.

II.                 Rather than focusing on the negative I want to focus on the positive this morning so let me begin by talking about the passion for worship.

A.    Such passion was on display in our scripture lesson for today.

1.     Jesus goes ballistic over the money changers in the Temple.

2.     He reminds everyone that his Father’s house is to be a house of prayer for all nations.

3.     You don’t come to God’s house for the primary or secondary or whatever number you want to put on it purpose for making a business deal.

4.     You come to worship God and you should be passionate about it.

5.     Obviously, Jesus was.

B.     Worship isn’t just about going through the motions.

1.     Worship isn’t about being entertained.

2.     Worship isn’t about you.

3.     Worship is about God for when you worship you are getting things in right order as you are acknowledging that God is the Creator and you are the creature.

4.     God doesn’t worship you, you are to worship God the God who gave you life, redeemed you from sin in Jesus Christ, raised you to new life in Jesus Christ, sustains you by the Holy Spirit and has prepared a place for you in eternal glory.

III.              And God has done this not just for you, although if you were the only human being God would still have done all that, but God has done that for all humanity for it is God’s plan to save humanity and the entire world.

A.    God doesn’t have low level goals and He does not lower His expectations just to accommodate difficult human beings.

1.     One way you acknowledge God’s goals is by worshipping Him.

2.     In my opinion that is not only good but it is also the proper decision.

B.     Yet note that since God’s plan involves all of humanity that means that God did not create us to be autonomous individuals.

1.     God created us not only to be in relation with Him, but to be in relation with one another.

2.     In God’s plan there is a blessing and a benefit to us gathering together every Sunday to jointly focus our hearts and minds on God.

3.     Throughout our “Committed to Christ” Campaign we have been challenging one another to grow in our devotional practices but the truth is that those practices are enhanced by corporate worship.

4.     An example is prayer.

5.     There’s an old Latin proverb that says “Prayers travel faster when said in unison.”

6.     There is a power that comes when people unite their voices, their hearts and their spirits in prayer.

7.     When you are here our prayers are strengthened and when you miss our prayers are diminished in strength.

8.     You may not realize the significance of your participation in worship but let me assure you that you are vital.

9.     It is during worship that scripture is read.

10.             On Sunday mornings you do not come to hear me read from the newspaper.

11.             Instead you come to hear the public reading and proclamation of God’s Word.

12.             We know that many Christians are not reading their Bible with any regularity so if scripture was not read during worship think of how few people would ever hear from God’s Holy Word.

13.             And your presence on Sunday morning is a witness to God and to others that as a Christian you understand that the most important one can do as a Christian is to worship God and that everything else flows from worship.

IV.              Another point I wish to make this morning is that corporate worship helps you to grow in your faith.

A.    Here’s a great quote I came across and see if you can name the person who said it.

1.     “It is only when men begin to worship that they begin to grow.”

2.     I have to agree and the observation that “It is only when men begin to worship that they begin to grow” was said by … Calvin Coolidge.

3.     Even Silent Cal who wasn’t the most outgoing of human beings recognized the blessing that can only come through worship.

B.     Unfortunately there are so many people missing out on that blessing and their loss and our loss is great.

1.     An oft told story (and this one is in the “Committed to Christ” study book I am teaching from on Mondays) is about a man who came to recognize that he needed to be part of corporate worship.

2.     This man was one of those who would loudly proclaim that he could worship God anywhere (which is true) so there was no need for him to attend on Sunday mornings.

3.     The man’s wife was in worship every Sunday while he would stay at home and she shared with the pastor that her husband was becoming cranky, irritable and seeming to become detached from his previously strong faith.

4.     The pastor arranged to come by for a visit.

5.     This pastor was greeted at the door, led by the wife into the living room where her husband was sitting in a rocking chair next to the fireplace where a blazing fire was burning.

6.     The two men nodded at one another and the pastor sat down in the opposite rocking chair.

7.     The two men did not engage in conversation but simply rocked back and forth.

8.     After a few minutes the pastor got up, walked over to the fireplace and with some tongs moved a red hot ember from the middle of the fire and put it to the side by itself.

9.     The pastor returned to his rocking chair and the two men watched the solitary red hot ember begin to cool and to turn dark as it lost its heat and neared the end of its existence.

10.             Just before whatever was left in the ember was to cease the pastor jumped up, returned the ember to the center of the fire and the ember once more began to glow, give off heat and even to flame.

11.             Without saying a word the pastor left.

12.             The next Sunday the man was back in worship.

V.                My friends, I can’t tell you how much you warm my soul by your presence on Sunday mornings because I need you and others need you.

A.    Corporate worship causes a spiritual fire and the world needs such a fire.

1.     Such a fire burns in heaven for there the saints worship Christ the Lord and are fed at his table.

2.     Today, we join with Christians from all over the world to corporately gather at the Lord’s Table to be fed and nourished for the work of worshipping and praying and daily reading scripture and witnessing to the world as Christ’s on fire disciples.

3.     To gather together like this for public worship is what it means to be the body of Christ and Christ’s body is not cold and dead but is very much alive and aflame.

4.     So commit yourself to worship – for your sake, for the sake of this church, for Christ’s sake and the world he came to save.