Appreciating Worship

Bible Book: Hebrews  10 : 27
Subject: Worship; Sunday; Sabbath

(Hebrews 10:27 and Mark 2:23-27)

A little girl was asked how she liked church. "Well" she said, "The music was nice; but the commercial was awfully long."

One Sunday morning, a little boy suddenly announced to his mother that he wanted to be a minister when he grew up. "What made you decide that?" she asked. "Well, I have to go to church anyway, and I figure it would be more fun to stand up and holler, then to sit down and listen."

Another little boy wrote his pastor a letter. He said, "I liked your sermon on Sunday-especially when it was finished. Love Ralph."

Yes, there are a lot of jokes about Church attendance. A poem entitled, Why People Go To Church, says:

Some go to church to take a walk;
And some go there to laugh and talk;
Some go to church to meet a friend;
And some go there, their time to spend;
Some go to church to meet a lover;
And some go there a fault to cover;
Some go to church for speculation;
And some go there for observation;
Some go to church to doze and nod.
The wise go there to worship God.-Adapted by Maralene Wesner

Some people seem to think they are doing God a favor by attending church. That's ridiculous. God needs nothing. Worship is for us, not for God. Jesus made this clear when he said, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27).

Jesus felt at home in the temple, even at 12 years of age. He said, "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49).

In fact, regular worship was his life-long habit. The Scriptures say, "On the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom . . ." (Luke 4:16).

Paul, was also a regular worshiper. Luke said, "As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue" (Acts 17:2).

The writer of Hebrews warns us about neglecting this important activity. "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing . . ." (Heb. 10:25).

The early church included several activities in their worship services. The Scripture says, "They steadfastly persevered, devoting themselves constantly to the instruction and fellowship of the apostles, to the breaking of bread [including the Lord's Supper] and prayers" (Acts 2:42, amp).

There was teaching and learning. There was fellowship. There were prayers. There was the Lord's Supper, but there was also the sharing of meals. The Scriptures say, "Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts" (Acts 2:46a).

The united purpose of those Christians 2000 years ago led to joy and generosity. Today, things are different. Statistics show that organized religion is losing its credibility. Both attendance and influence are declining. Too many churches are dealing with "dead issues." They are answering questions that no one is asking. They are punishing sinners instead of encouraging saints. They are emphasizing how much they have; instead of how much they care.

In order to flourish, churches must meet the needs of ordinary people. That's what Jesus meant when he said, "On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" (Matt. 16:18).

There are so many problems in our world, and the Christian church can be an important part of the solutions. I want to mention 10 important purposes of the church:

(1) It can provide moral guidelines.

People need self-discipline and ethical standards. These guidelines should concern universal principles not narrow legalistic regulations. The Bible says, "Add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, /perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love" (2 Peter 1:5-7).

(2) The church can provide educational programs.

People need to continue learning throughout their lives. These programs should include Bible study classes and seminars on personal growth, social relationships and cultural issues. The Bible says, "Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning" (Prov. 9:9).

(3) The church can provide counseling services.

People often need therapy for themselves and their families. These services can include workshops as well as group and individual sessions.  The Bible says, "Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance" (Prov. 1:5).

(4) The church can provide leadership training.

People need to fill responsible roles in society. This training can be obtained as men and women hold administrative and outreach

offices in the congregation. The Bible says, "Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity" (I Tim. 4:12).

(5) The church can provide support groups.

People need caring friends to help them through grief and crises. Members of these groups can visit, listen and offer comfort. The Bible says, "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn" (Rom. 12:15).

(6) The church can provide ministry opportunities.

People need to use their abilities in worthwhile causes. These opportunities give men and women a chance to help individuals and promote justice. The Bible says, "As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people . . ." (Gal. 6:10).

(7) The church can provide benevolent projects.

People need ways to share their resources with others. These projects channel donations of money, food and clothing to those in need. The Bible says, "We must help the weak . . . the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive' " (Acts 20:35).

(8) The church can provide social activities.

People need fellowship, relaxation and recreation. These activities may include celebrations and informal get-togethers. The Bible

says, "We have fellowship with one another . . ." (I John 1:7).

(9) The church can provide ceremonial observances.

People need rituals to mark the milestones of birth, marriage and death. These observances may include special occasions such as Dedications, Weddings, Anniversaries and Funerals. The Bible says, "Marriage should be honored by all . . ." (Heb. 13:4a); "Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him"

(Psa. 127:3); "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints" (Psa. 116:15).

(10) The church can provide worship experiences.

People need peak moments that transcend everyday routines. These experiences may include music, prayer and inspirational messages. The Bible says, "Let us go to the house of the Lord" (Psa. 122:1).

These are the general purposes of the church, but what are the personal benefits of worship?

I. Worship Renews Our Spirit

The Psalmist looked forward to the experience of worship. "I rejoiced with those who said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord' " (Psa. 122:1).

To him it wasn't a boring duty. It was a joyful event. It's important that our worship should have the right motive.

An old poem said,

“Those folks that worship just from dread and fear
Would worship Satan, if he should appear.”

An Old Testament writer associated worship with beauty. "Bring an offering, and come before Him; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness . . ." (I Chron 16:29, amp).

We need this time of renewal. Once an old gold prospector was explaining why he only worked 6 days in the mines. He said, "Why, man, if I didn't bring my mules out of that dark drudgery at least one day a week, they'd go blind. Their eyes must have regular exposure to light."

It's the same with us. Without a regular exposure to divine light, we will go spiritually blind.

II. Worship Lifts Our Sights

Sometimes, we get so bogged down in the daily tasks of earning a living and paying bills that we fail to make a life. The poet, Wordsworth said,

“The world is too much with us, late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.”

Paul put it this way: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind . . ." (Rom. 12:2).

Worship gives us purpose. One lady called her pastor and said, "I thought you would like to know that a man in my Bible Study group recently lost his job. I arranged for my class to take meals to their home. And I talked with my husband about asking the human resources department at work if they have any openings. You know, pastor, the church ought to do something for this family." The pastor smiled and remarked, "I think the church just did."

You see, this lady saw a need and met that need. That's the church in action. To paraphrase J. F. Kennedy's famous statement in his inaugural address: "Ask not what your church can do for you, ask what you can do for your church."

Worship gives us a new perspective. It shows us the bigger picture. It emphasizes eternal values. Paul said, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things" (Col. 3:2).

In Scotland, there's a beautiful area with sea and sky and hills; but on most days a mist covers the scene. When visitors complain that they can't see anything, natives always reply, "Wait until the fog clears and you'll see the Mountains." Worship is like that. It lifts our sight above the fog of materialism.

III. Worship Unites Us With God

Jesus said, "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).

It also unites us with fellow Christians. A pastor in New York said. "One Sunday about 20 years ago, I said something that has stuck with us ever since. As I welcomed new members who had responded, the Holy Spirit prompted me to add: 'And now, I charge you, as pastor of this church, that if you ever hear another member speak an unkind word of criticism or slander against anyone in our congregation, you have the authority to stop that person in mid-sentence and say, 'Excuse me. If someone hurt you, let's go and talk to them, so God can restore peace to this body. But we will not let you criticize people who are not present to defend themselves!' Now, every time we receive new members, I repeat this admonition. It's always a solemn moment. I do it because I know what destroys churches. It's not crack cocaine. It's not government oppression. It's not communism, secularism or humanism. It's not even lack of funds. Rather, it's the gossip and slander and conflict.

I don't know if we tear one another down in order to make ourselves feel better about our own shortcomings or to get a sense of power. But I do know that nothing damages the church more than 'loose talk' and a lack of love."

Jesus said, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20, KJV).

Someone said, "Unfortunately, in too many cases, the reality of that verse is: 'For where two or three are gathered together, there is conflict and division in the midst of them' " This must not be!"


A preacher in a rural community heard about a man who had announced that he would no longer attend church services because he could commune with God just as well on the river bank. One winter evening the preacher visited his reluctant parishioner. For a while the two men sat before the blazing fireplace, saying little. Neither mentioned a word about church attendance. The man waited uneasily for his pastor to broach the subject.

Finally, the preacher picked up the tongs, lifted a single glowing ember from the fire and set it down on the hearth. He silently watched until the coal ceased burning and grew cold, while the fire continued to burn brightly. "You see what happens," said the preacher.

"You need say no more," replied the repentant member. "I realize that man cannot live alone. I'll be in church next Sunday."

Yes, worship is important; but some people don't appreciate worship. Over 90 percent of the population says they wouldn't want to live in a community without a church. Yet, only about 30 percent of that population actually attends a church.  Someday we'll lose our spiritual blessings if we aren't faithful. We must appreciate worship because we are the ones who benefit, not God.

Remember, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27).