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John 4:21-24 Princeton Christian Church 14 November 2021

Today I want to ask two questions that I would like to you ponder in the next few minutes.

Here is the first question: What is the purpose of worship?

The second question is this: How are we to worship?

The short answer to the first question concerning the purpose of worship is: worship’s purpose is to give honor to God. The short answer to the second question is: We are to worship God in spirit and in truth.

Another word we can use in place of worship is praise. Praise is worship

Consider how little of our public prayer is purely praise of God?

Our songs should be addressed toward Christ, giving Him honor, because singing is praise to God.

Sermons should make God and His Son real and relevant. They should reflect His sovereignty, His goodness, His knowledge, His holiness, His love, and His compassion.

Christians will grow spiritually with worship in which God is first given the glory. Worship without prayer and praise is like a body without blood --- lifeless

Active participants grow more than passive spectators. Religious acts alone do not result in worship if they are not entered into from a heartfelt desire to draw nearer to God’s holiness.

There are some very vital elements of worship that are necessary. We’ll call them the four P’s of Worship.

1. We must PREPARE to worship

Worshippers, as we gather together to worship must come prepared to experience an encounter with God. Sincere worship comes from a sense of need for God and a desire to glorify Him with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Regular private devotions help prepare the Christian’s spirit for worship with the Body of Christ.

How do we get ready for Sunday worship? We clean our bodies, put on clean clothes. We do these things because they are socially expected and appreciated. That takes care of the outer us.

But what about getting ready on the inside? Preparation for worship might include scheduling time for private communion with the Lord before coming to worship. That puts us in a frame of mind that we are not just “coming to church”, and helps us to realize that we are going to worship the Lord.

Worship is an act of celebration. So if we are in a state of depression or hostility or in any other adverse state of mind, how can worship become to us a celebration? If you are in any negative state of mind the thing you don’t want to do is to stay home. Come to celebrate the One who can only overcome that state of mind.

Repentance, reconciliation, and prayer are required before genuine worship. And we are told to do all that in spirit and in truth so that repentance and reconciliation can take place.

2. Secondly, we are to PARTICIPATE.

Worshippers are participants rather than spectators.

In an article titled, “How To Go To Church” Ruth Matthews tells of a person who was considering dropping out of worship at the church she attended because she was getting so little out of it. A friend told her, “I don’t think you know how to go to church. You are getting so little out of it because you are giving very little into it. This shocked the lady because she gave financially to the church and served on committees. Her friend told her: “The giving I am talking about has nothing to do with money or the time you spend on church work. I am talking about how much you give of yourself in the actual worship of God. Worship is not merely being there. It is active participation.”

Often our bodies are physically in the pew, while our thoughts are elsewhere. Stop and think: “Where are my thoughts right now as I sit here?”

Someone may be thinking about your business and the deal you are about to make. A mother may be cooking dinner in her mind as she sits in the pew. A young man may be thinking about that great car he is wanting. Perhaps our minds and eyes are on others in the pews. And on occasion, we might find someone who is sleeping and missing everything that is happening.

These, and other issues, happen. When it does, the folks may seem to be worshipping, but they are missing the mark of what worship is because of the distraction with the concerns of the world.

Our worship of God requires wholehearted attention to God.

Anything less causes worship to become mechanical and automatic – going through the motions without experiencing the spirit of worship.

Jesus says in Matthew 14:8-9: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain, their teachings are but rules taught by men.”

Thirdly, worship involves a PROMISE.

Worshippers promise themselves to God

Some think about god in small ways, but will not promise Him anything.

Those are not likely to experience any spiritual growth.

Relationships without commitment or promise soon die. The same reality is seen in marriage. Where there is no commitment or promise between the husband and the wife, the relationship begins to weaken and eventually dies if it is not corrected.

Worshippers who make sincere promises to God set goals for growth. There is the realization that the commitment I made to God must be carried out in my everyday activity and especially in my worship of Him.

God’s plea to His followers is found in Romans 12;1, where Paul teaches: ”Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Did you catch that? “Your spiritual worship! Offering yourself as a living sacrifice – giving of yourself.

And, finally, worship requires PRACTICE.

We hear the saying, “Practice Makes Perfect.” Maybe that is true in some areas of life and achievement. But, we don’t necessarily practice worship to make it perfect. But in a sense maybe we do.

Worshippers practice what they profess in worship. Worship is not something to forget about immediately after the service.

It should stimulate us to new growth throughout the new week.

Worship should deepen our convictions about who God and His Son Jesus Christ are.

Worship should sharpen our spirit and provide us with a new desire for real living.

Worship should renew our spirit and provide us with a new desire for real living.

Worship should give us a new spiritual energy – empowering us to overcome the obstacles of the world.

Worship should assure us of the presence of God’s Spirit within our lives.

We cannot say, as we leave the building after the worship service, “Good-by God. I will see you here again next Sunday.” After all, God does not live in any building.

Our worship is an offering to God and He deserves our very best worship daily. I will close with this teaching from the writer of the letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 13, verse 15: “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name.”

As we depart today to do the physical work which takes up many of our days, may we take our attitude of worship with us offering to God that sacrifice of praise which He craves and loves to hear from us while we are here in worship or in worship where He has placed us to work in the field.

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