Worship is a Verb
February 12, 2017
When I was in school, my favorite class was math. I loved math and wanted to major in math when I went to college. My most dreaded class was English. I couldn’t write well and I didn’t understand grammar. When Joshua and Zachary needed help in math, I was the chosen one to help them. Give me science, history, Spanish or math . . . but don’t give me English. That was totally turned over to Debbie who can recite every preposition there is. While she would explain grammar to the boys, I would look at her and shake my head. She would try to explain it to me, and I would just tell her to stop. I didn’t understand grammar 40 years ago, and I’m not going to start today!
Well, we have a grammar problem in the church. It’s true for so many of us. We get really confused on this one.
Here’s a quick grammar lesson ~
Nouns are a part of speech that denotes a person, animal, place, thing, or idea.
Verbs are words that show an action, occurrence, or state of being.
So, what does this all have to do with us? Great question!! I believe when it comes to worship, most of us look at worship as a noun. It’s a thing, it’s a place, or maybe it’s an idea.
And for many of us, it’s definitely not a verb. It’s not an action oriented event. That may sound harsh, but I believe that’s pretty true for the universal church. Starting last week, we moved from talking about community and into talks about worship.
One of my seminary professors, Bob Webber, wrote a book called Worship is a Verb. And my friends, that’s what I would say as well. Worship is action! Action on our parts in response to God’s actions in our lives.
Worship has been a hot topic in the church for the past 20-30 years. It used to be every church sang out of a hymnal. My first church was really progressive, we had an overhead projector and a screen on the stage. Those were fun logistics to deal with, especially when in the middle of a song – the transperancy slid off the screen and then you couldn’t get the screen down and off the stage.
Now, most churches have multi-media, we have screens and no hymnals and EVERYONE has their thoughts about worship . . . what it is and what it’s not. This series is not about starting a worship war, it’s actually to get us more on the same page, because worshiping God is the greatest thing we do.
God’s call to us is to worship Him in spirit and in truth. That’s what Jesus said in John 4:23.
My hope as we move through this series is that we will be able to come to a better agreement about what worship is and is not; different styles and ways to worship, and possibly to stretch each one of us a bit so we can expand the way we worship.
I’m not advocating for us to become wild and crazy in our worship or do cartwheels and flips down the aisle. Worship should never be divisive. If it is, then satan is winning the war. Worship should always be unifying, because the focus is not you and me, it’s the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Worship has to fit who you uniquely are according to God’s creation. We all have some pretty strong feelings about what the right and proper way is to worship, and most likely, none of them are wrong, which makes this even more difficult. Yet, we’re going to look at different aspects of worship during this series. Even dissecting our worship and ways we can be more effective and worshipful.
Ultimately the question is this – – – Am I worshiping God with all that I have in response to all that He is? Hold onto this question.
Last week we were looking at Romans 12:1-8, today, we’re only going to look at Romans 12:1, because I believe there is a great deal of richness in what Paul is asking us to do. He wrote ~
1 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. – Romans 12:1
I’m going to break down this passage. It starts out with one of my favorite words . . . therefore. Whenever you see that word, you need to ask – “what’s it there for?”
Romans is the most theological book of the New Testament and for the last 5 chapters of this book, Paul goes from theological to practical. Paul is now wanting the people to put into practice the theological tenets he’s been talking about. Believe it or not, theology can be fun, but theology alone only gets you so far, it’s not meant to be cold and lifeless, it’s meant to be dynamic and applicable.
So, whenever you see “therefore” the writer is coming to a conclusion based on what they’ve previously said. With that in mind, listen to the end of Romans 11 ~
33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!
34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to Him that He might be repaid?”
36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.
Isn’t that great! So, with that in mind, and with everything Paul’s already said, he says therefore this is what I want you to do. This is supposed to be an attention getter. This is like putting up a STOP sign and saying hold on people. Understand what I just said. Ever feel that way in a conversation? Sometimes you want to tell someone “HOLD ON! Did you hear what I really said?” That’s what the therefore is all about in this passage!
Paul wants us to stop and take in all that he’s said, and only after we get it, can we move on. Now remember, the Super Bowl was last week, so we’ve got all day. At least until 5:30 for the Valentine’s Dinner, so you’ll be here and be hungry! Now Paul moves on from therefore.
Paul now says I URGE YOU, BROTHERS! In other words, Paul is doing more than urging. Literally, he’s personally coming alongside them and appealing, begging, exhorting them to do something. He refers to them as brothers, because they are all members of the same family. Interestingly, the word brother, is from the Greek word “Adelphos” which means brother, but the root meaning is literally “from the same womb.” Isn’t that cool! So, when Paul says brothers, he’s really showing they’re from the same family. They have the same parent, God.
This is a conversation to the believers in Rome, because they will understand what Paul is getting at. Paul’s asking the brothers and sisters in Rome to make a decision with their lives that will radically change the world.
Now Paul says in view of God’s mercy. What Paul wants the Romans to consider in their hearts, not in their minds, in their hearts. Because the word for mercy, literally comes from the word for bowels! Yikes! Yet, for the people of the OT and NT eras, your feelings and compassion came from the deepest part of your being, which was considered your kidneys or bowels.
So, go into the deepest part of your being, and STOP and feel and consider the depth, the power, the strength of God’s mercies in your life!! God’s mercies don’t just last for a few minutes, but they go on for hours upon hours and days upon days, and years upon years! In other words, they are endless.
Remember the difference between grace and mercy?
Grace is we receive what we don’t deserve . . . and
Mercy is we don’t receive what we do deserve.
God is not merciful just once but again and again. He is consistently and constantly full of mercy. Theologian John Calvin wrote, “we will never worship with a sincere heart or serve God with unbridled zeal until we properly understand how much we are indebted to God’s mercy. God has demonstrated so much mercy to us that we can’t help but respond by fully surrendering our lives to Him.”
Think about how you worship God! Do you grasp God’s mercy? I also read this and I’m not sure who said this, but I liked it – – – “The extent to which we do not offer ourselves to God reflects the extent to which we do not understand the depth and significance of God’s mercy.” Most of us know we’ve been forgiven, but many of us overestimate our goodness while underestimating the amount of mercy we’ve received.
Consider what Jeremiah wrote in Lamentations 3:22-23 ~
22 The steadfast love of the Lord NEVER CEASES; HIS MERCIES NEVER COME TO AN END;
23 they are NEW EVERY MORNING; great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:22-23
How much do we ever stop and consider this in our hearts?!?! God’s steadfast, constant love NEVER ENDS, NEVER STOPS! HIS MERCIES NEVER END! We get to start over every day, day after day after day! Year after year after year! His faithfulness and love should blow us away. That should lead us to have the most powerful, most amazing worship, every day, every week. It should cause to want to get here and worship the LORD!
That’s what Paul wants us to realize. And when we realize the magnitude of God’s mercy, we will give Him the worship and adoration He should deserves ~
So, in light of all of this . . . Paul now tells us what we need to do. We need ~
to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, – Romans 12:1
The call from Paul is for you and I to offer ourselves to God. Now, this was different for the Jews who were used to bringing an animal to the altar to be sacrificed for them. This would restore their relationship with God. Remember, the animal had to be perfect, without blemish or defects. You could only sacrifice the best to God.
Now, Paul is telling us, we need to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. Once a sacrifice was offered to God, you could not take it back. When you offered an animal, it was the entire animal offered to God. Not a leg, or the chest or the head. It was the whole animal. In the same way, we are to offer our entire being to the Lord.
You’ve maybe heard the story about the pig and the chicken. They were walking down the road, when they came upon a sign advertising a breakfast to benefit the poor. The chicken said to the pig: “That’s a worthy cause, we should donate to that. How about if I give some eggs and you provide the ham?” The pig replied, “Not so fast. For you that would be a contribution, but for me it would be a total commitment.” Too many of us have made some contributions but we resist total commitment.
So, God is calling us to offer our entire being — that means our heart, soul, mind and body to the Lord. It means offering God everything we have. Not just a part here and there, but give God everything we have. Because everything we do is worship. And when we give ourselves to God, it’s not a token gesture, or our leftovers, it’s everything, because Paul qualifies what the offering should be . . . .
It should be holy and pleasing to God.
Remember, sacrifices were to be without blemish or defect. In the same way, what we offer the Lord is to be the same. We may not like that. We may not want to give God our best, or everything we have. We may not be very happy with God at the moment, but have we stopped to really take inventory about the many blessings God has given us, in spite of our hardships, trials and struggles?
God wants us to give Him the best, and I know this is cliche-ish, but God gave us the best, when He gave us His only Son, so that He would not condemn us, but salvation was available to you and I through Christ.
Understand, in Christ, we’ve been declared righteous and holy, not because of anything we’ve done, but because of what Jesus did for us. Jesus is the One who as Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21, 21 For our sake God made Jesus to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21
So, God now views us as righteous only because of what Jesus did for us. This entire thought is behind the Protestant Reformation. It’s called “IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS and FORENSIC JUSTIFICATION.”
Folks, that has to be the basis for our worship. It’s God’s mercy, it’s God’s righteousness showered upon us. It’s God now viewing you as righteous, only because of what Jesus did for you. It’s not about you and never will be about you! Yet, it’s totally about you!! Ultimately, it’s not about the sermon, it’s not about the music, it’s not about the temperature in here. In the end, it’s not about what the worship did for you . . . . . .
It may sound contradictory to everything you think about worship . . . . but the point of worship is about what you bring into this building! If you bring nothing, don’t expect anything out of worship. If you bring your entire being, heart, spirit, mind and body . . . and have a desire to worship and a passion to experience the living and risen Christ, my friends . . . . you will!!
Ultimately, the question is – – – Am I pleasing God with my worship? This is the ultimate question we have to ask ourselves on a daily basis! . . . When you leave here, how would God answer that question about you?
Finally . . . . Paul says, this is your spiritual act of worship.
Very simply, it’s a reminder that this is about the spirit, the heart, the mind, the body. When we worship, we give God everything. Yet, the act of worship is a spiritual act, which consists of our entire being. When you think about it, worship is more than just what happens here. Although, that’s been my focus this morning and for most of the series. But everything we do contains an element of worship. Your schooling, your work, your hobbies, your relaxing time, your shopping, your eating. Everything you do contains worship. It’s more than what goes on in this room.
Think about it, there are 168 hours in a week. If we worship for 1 hour on Sunday morning, we have then worshiped God for less than 1% of the week. It’s .6%! That’s it! In light of all that God has done for us, how can we say that’s all God deserves?
Our lives are to be about worship. So, as we come to an end this morning, I want you to rethink what it means to worship in light of God’s mercies in your life. I want you to think about what it means to worship. Generally, we think about coming to church to worship . . . but what if we change that . . .
What if we come to church . . . worshiping.
So, instead of coming to church to worship, we come worshiping to church. I believe God is less concerned with how this worship goes, than He is with the hearts, spirits, minds and bodies which come here.
I started the message off, by talking about the fact that worship is a verb. I still believe that! Worship is action! It’s everywhere all at the same time. It’s a matter of our heart, our spirit, our mind and our body!
This week, hold onto God’s mercies, give thanks, give praise . . . and wherever you go, whatever you do, be ready to worship . . . . then come back next week with a renewed heart, spirit, mind and body, and COME WORSHIPING TO CHURCH – – – – and let’s do it again!