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PLAYING CHURCH OR WORSHIPING GOD?

Thursday 04-20-17 - Malachi 1-3

 

~In her book “Up With Worship”, Ann Ortlund writes these perceptive words. “When I was little we used to play church. We’d get the chairs into rows, fight over who’d be preacher, vigorously lead the hymn singing, and generally have a great carnal time. The aggressive kids naturally wanted to be up front, directing or preaching. The quieter ones were content to sit and be entertained by the up-fronters. Occasionally we’d be mesmerized by a true sensationalistic crowd-swayer… like the girl who said, “Boo! I’m the Holy Ghost!” But in general, if the up-fronters were pretty good they could hold their audience quite a while. If they weren’t so good, eventually the kids would drift off to play something else… like jump rope or jumping jacks. Now that generation has grown up, but most of them haven’t changed too much. Every Sunday most of them still play church. They line up in rows for the entertainment. If it’s pretty good, their church might grow. If it doesn’t fit their particular taste, they eventually drift off to play some other game like maybe… golf, fishing, hunting, weekend trips, sleeping late… or _____________? You fill in the blank. That’s the problem, isn’t it? Playing church can get boring.” 

 

~Worship means “to give honor to someone or something.”

~Ritual by itself is neutral… Neither good nor bad. ~But ritual is only important when it leads you to focus on God.

~The traditional view of what we think of church… says that the pastor is the leader and the congregation is the audience. ~That view leads us to ask a very “me”-oriented question: “What did I get out of the service?” ~it is all about me. 

~But a deeper concept of worship says that the leader on the platform (pastor, singer, choir, etc.) Is simply a prompter… prompting those worshipers sitting in the seats to become the performers in worship… performing for God, who is the true audience. ~This view leads us to a radically different question: not… “What did I get out of the service?” Rather… “How well did I worship God today?” And “Was God pleased with my worship?”

 

~Malachi - An old testament prophet who wrote at the end of the Old Testament period—about 430 years before the birth of Christ. 

~By this time the jews have been back in the land for over a hundred years. ~The temple has been rebuilt and the worship of God re-established. ~Outwardly the nation flourishes; but inwardly a cancer of complacency eats away at the soul of the Jewish people. ~In Malachi 1:6 God Says, “‘A Son Honors His Father, And A Servant His Master. If I Am A Father, Where Is The Honor Due Me? If I Am A Master, Where Is The Respect Due Me?’ Says The Lord Almighty.” Then He Adds These Sobering Words, “It Is You, O Priests, Who Show Contempt For My Name.” (NIV)

 

~The priests were set aside to honor god. ~They were “professional worshipers.” How could they not honor God? ~So The Lord Gives Two Pointed Examples: 

~1. They Were Offering Defiled Food ~Malachi 1:7, “By Offering Defiled Food On My Altar. “But You Ask, ‘How Have We Defiled You?’ “By Saying That The LORD’s Table Is Contemptible.” (NIV) 

~2. They Were Offering Inferior Sacrifices~Malachi 1:8, When You Offer Blind Animals For Sacrifice, Is That Not Wrong? When You Sacrifice Lame Or Diseased Animals, Is That Not Wrong? Try Offering Them To Your Governor! Would He Be Pleased With You? Would He Accept You?” Says The LORD Almighty. (NIV) ~Leviticus 22;

~These were middle-class people who faced high taxes, they had bills to pay, they didn’t have a lot of money, so they tried to cut corners anywhere they could… ~But behind it all was a flippant attitude toward God. 

~A flippant attitude toward worship comes from a flippant attitude toward God.

~Bringing blemished animals was not an oversight or a slip-up. They did it on purpose! 

~The priests despised their work and the people brought cheap offerings because they wanted a cut-rate religion.

~But God will not accept cut-rate religion!

~1. Such worship is useless.

~Malachi 1:10, “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. (NIV)

~2. Such worship is spiritual profanity.

~Malachi 1:12, “But you profane it by saying, “The Lord’s table is defiled,’ and, ‘Its food is contemptible.” (NIV) ~Malachi 1:14;

~If worship is boring it is because we are bored with God! 

 

~Someone has said that there are two kinds of worshipers: Flatlanders and Highlanders.

~Flatlanders live in only two dimensions. ~They live in the horizontal realm. ~They don’t know there is an “UP” to life.

~Highlanders are simply Flatlanders who have discovered worship! ~They are constantly pushing up, up, up to experience God! 

~God is calling Faith and Wisdom Church to become a church of Highlander Christians. 

~He’s calling us to push up and out of the routine to really know him! ~Study These Scriptures: Malachi 3:6-12; 

 

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