Thursday, 29 November 2012

Victory In Worship (II)

Hope you have read Victory In Worship (I)? You need the background to put this in the right perspective.

What is the symbol of man's disobedience? What is the symbol of man's rejection? What is the symbol of man's rebellion? Where did God keep these articles? What did God cover them with?

But, the same God that saved all these articles signifying that humans did not fulfill their part of the covenant (agreement) in a sealed box with a cover on which sat two cherubim, signifying the angels that stood guard at the Garden of Eden after humans were driven out; a place where a consecrated and cleansed priest can only enter once a year, tore the veil and made the place open. But, the condition remains; we can only approach His throne of grace boldly as required in Hebrews 4:16 if we come with a pure heart devoid of unforgiveness.

Why are our prayers not so effective? Why are we still waiting for that miracle instead of being a miracle worker?  Are we disobeying God’s law? Are we rejecting God’s provision? Are we rebelling against His authority or choice of a leader? The Bible says obedience is better than sacrifice and rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (1st Samuel 15:22-23). So do you think God will listen to those who reject Him, bring Him offerings in place of obeying Him and compound the issue by practicing witchcraft? The authority God intended was God's authority and direct care so He gave His law, just 10 and later reduced it to 2, He provided sustenance through daily manna and when man decided they wanted a physical leader, He chose a leader but man wanted to DIY (Do It Yourself).

No, I am not rejecting your provision but God I want a BMW not the Honda you have blessed me with. I need my own car, not my fiancee chauffeuring me to work. Are we rebelling against his leadership? God why this man, why not the other one that is so intelligent and handsome? God, why this ugly woman, why not that one that is so pretty? But God, that guy's mother is so unlovable, I bet you understand why I can’t obey that law about love your neighbor as yourself. God if only you give me a wife/husband, I would love! But Gd, how long do I after wait for a child! 

Have you worshipped Him for keeping you alive? Have you worshipped Him for seeing you through education, service year, travel abroad...? Have you worshipped Him for protecting you from natural and man-made disasters? You asked for a car but he decided to bless you with a friend who can drive you to work, yet instead of worship you murmur like the Israelites forgetting that he never promised to dance to your whims and caprices only to make daily provision; which is what he taught us in the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6). Your friends are still praying the prayer of divine marital connection yet instead of worshipping God for yours you bother Him daily about why this must have been a wrong choice. If you made the choice, shouldn't you worship Him reverently and ask for mercy? If He made the choice, don't you believe He will work His purpose out? (Romans 8:24)

Are we disobeying, rejecting and rebelling and yet want Him to help us? We can only enter into His fellowship and key into His divine purpose, if we worship Him in spirit and in truth. And the only way to truly worship is by obeying His law, accepting His provision and complying with His authority.

In Exodus 3:21-22 God blessed the Israelites; as He continues to bless us today. And in Exodus 25:1-2 God gave a specific command to Moses. God clearly indicated that offerings for the Tabernacle should only be brought willingly. It is still the same today. Are you giving your worship willingly or grudgingly? If it is not willingly, God does not recognise it. We murmur about how His blessing is inadequate and take a pitiable size to him irreverently. If you gave someone blood to save his/her life and to say thank you the person sends you a useless gift through his/her house help, how will you feel? 

He is not a helpless God; he can help himself! That is why Uzzah died; he was an uncleansed, unconsecrated vessel that was not authorised to touch the ark. The Levites were not given an inheritance because God wanted them to focus on worship (Joshua 13:14); only the Levites were consecrated and authorised to bring worship into the Holy of Holies where the Ark of Covenant resided.

Who knew Obed’Edom. He was not a man of means but he was a Levite of the family of the Korhites. He was consecrated for worship. When David, a king became afraid after Uzzah was struck dead, he decided to put the Ark in Obed’Edom’s house. He must have thought, since this man is unknown, no one will miss him if God decide to strike him dead too. But guess what, because Obed’Edom was consecrated and humbly worshipped God, he reaped the manifold blessings of God dwelling in his house. Remember that the Ark signified God’s presence. God dwelt with Him, He gave God due worship and he was greatly blessed (2 Samuel 6:11).

Worshipping God is serious business, which we cannot afford to treat with levity. Seeing what the Israelites had to do, can we say that we are worshipping God the way we should? Do we prefer the previous mode of worship? Would we like to be the priest who has to go in annual bearign the sins of everyone, yet not knowing whether his worship will be accepted or not; if not accepted, he dies, if accepted, he returns.

It is not only sin that can separate us from God; levity in the way we worship Him can also separate us and ruin our relationship with God. Jesus preached about unforgiveness and referred to it as a bondage, which separates us from God. It affects our prayers. It is self-inflicted suffering. It breaks our fellowship with God and hinders our worship. Knowing this, God instructed us to forgive, Matthew 6:15. We must continue to ask God to help us forgive and even pray for those who hurt us like Jesus did on the cross. When we forgive, we are displaying the fruits of the spirit spelled out in Galatians 5:22-23.

How can we be victorious in worship?
By presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice in honor of the price Jesus paid (Ephesians 5:2, Romans 12:1-2). Only someone who truly loves God and His creation can worship sincerely. Worship must be devoid of rejection, disobedience and rebellion. Worship cannot include anything that leads to unforgiveness.

Benefits of worship or obedience are laid down in Deuteronomy 28 and so are curses. Your prayer for a spouse must be preceded by worship; make worship your lifestyle and trust that God is able to do more that you can imagine (Ephesians 3:20). But if you are saying, I do not even know this God and will like to be saved or I will like to rededicate my life to the true worship of God, then take a step of faith and say this prayer:

 Dear God, I come to you in the name of Jesus Christ. I acknowledge that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sins and the life that I have lived; I need your forgiveness. I believe that your only begotten Son Jesus Christ shed His precious blood on the cross at Calvary and died for my sins, and I am now willing to repent from my sin. You said in Romans 10:9 that if we confess the Lord our God and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, we shall be saved. Right now I confess Jesus Christ as the Lord of my soul. With my heart, I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead.  I accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Saviour. Thank you Jesus for your unlimited grace which has saved me from my sins. I thank you Jesus that your grace has led me to repentance. Lord Jesus transform my life so that I may bring glory and honour to you. Thank you Jesus for dying for me and giving me eternal life.

Please spend a moment in worship of the I AM; The Ancient of Days, The One who is, who was and who will forever be. I particularly love the song, "I bow my knee before your throne..".

If you have been saying I have truly worshipped God in the past and served in any Bible believing church or ministry but I haven’t reaped the benefits or others (or you) are asking, “Where is your (my) God”, please fall on your knees reverently and begin to worship God. Pray against every act of unforgiveness (directly or indirectly) that may have impeded your worship. Remember, because God did not forgive, worship was not direct, God related with man ruthlessly (Uzzah died) and blessing was impeded until God forgave and accepted worship through Jesus Christ who gave an acceptable sacrifice. Please pray.

You may pray or consider asking your pastor to pray with you; let him/her know that you have laboured and desire to continue to worship and serve but the veil blocking your worship and blessings must be thorn for you to directly access God’s mercies. If you decide to pray on your own, the prayer of consecration below can guide you:

Lord even as I have in obedience responded to Your Word, consecrate me Lord for your worship, help me to truly forgive so I can worship you in spirit and in truth. Lord, let your tenderness melt my bitterness and your lovingness uproot my unworthiness. As I worship in your presence, let there be healing, let there be deliverance, let the Holy Spirit’s gentle touch flow through me, inhabit my praises and bless my worship as individuals and as a member of your church. Help me to obey your commandments, accept your provision and comply with your authority. In Jesus Christ name I pray.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Victory In Worship (I)

My husband and I developed this sermon for his ministration at the RCCG The King's Court Parish on 18.11.12. I have edited it to speak to the needs of mature singles. I have no doubt that God will minister to you through this revealing study.

God made humans to fellowship with Him. It was because of this that God made us in His own image. Man’s existence is solely to worship God. In the Israelite’s camp The Tabernacle was in the center of the camp, which means, worship of God was central to every day life.

Is it the solemn songs we sing in a service or the process of being closer to God? There is none that does not make adequate preparation for an outing they deem very important; how would you prepare if the outing is with President Obama or if Queen Elizabeth is coming to your home for dinner? 

The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery says, “Worship is first and foremost a verb, an action” (p.970). This is revealing because so many equate worship with either a place (usually a building) or a feeling. The underlying concept of worship in Scripture is that of service and homage consisting of both an attitude of deep respect and adoration to the one revered. Worship includes and involves highly regarding and then serving the one revered.
God commanded us to worship Him as a way to give Him reverence for creating us in His image and saving us from the enemies. Before going into the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20, God said something a lot of us may have forgotten, “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage”. Then God went on to say, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”. Luke 4:8 say, “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Exodus 34:14 say, “For you shall worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. Isaiah 42:8 say, I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. When God created humans, He put in our hearts a desire for worship, which explains why humans are always seeking God through religion. Religion is man, seeking God but Christianity is God seeking man; searching us out so we can worship Him.

Now how do we worship God and what should worship entail?
People worship God in different ways; while soem do so publicly, others do so privately. Since worship includes the activity and feeling of profound love, devotion and admiration, many things can be included as part of worship (kneel, bow, postrate, gift, music, repentance, keeping the holy days) the underlying factor must be love and reverence. John 15:1-7 talks about the true vine. We can only worship God through Jesus Christ because God (the Father, Son and Holy Ghost) is a Spirit and they that must worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

Before Moses, worship had very little structure but in the days of Moses, worship became very specific and detailed in structure as God specified when worship (or sacrifices) were to be made, what, how, where and by who. Let's look at the historical perspective from when the first place of worship was built. The Tabernacle was 150 ft. by 75 ft. There was the outer court and the inner court. The inner court consists of the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, which was separated by a thick veil. The priest could only enter the Holy of Holies once a year and that was on the Day of Atonement, which the Jews celebrate as Yom Kippur. The Holy of Holies contained the Ark of the Covenant with a cover on which sat the cherubim, which is referred to as the Mercy Seat. But inside the Ark of Covenant, there were three articles namely Manna, Aaron’s Rod that budded and Tablets of the Law.

The specific details of how The Tabernacle (Exodus 25) was to be built was given by God and followed to the letter, this shows how serious the act of worship was taken by the Israelites. The Ark of the Covenant was made of acacia wood overlaid within and without with pure gold. The Tablets of the Law were commandments handed down by Moses (Exodus 20), the pot of manna was God’s provision to the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 16) and the staff or rod of Aaron that budded was a symbol of God’s selection of a leader (Numbers 17).  These three articles were preserved in the ark throughout Israel’s history as an unpleasant symbol of man’s sins and shortcomings, a reminder of how they disobeyed God’s law, rejected God’s provision and rebelled against God’s authority. It pointed to man as a helpless sinner. But the Mercy Seat, which covered these things in the Ark, was a pointer to the fact that God will have mercy when we approach him rightly and reverently.

God saw that man was hopelessly needy and decided to offer himself through the blood of Jesus Christ. God graciously extended mercy to man and changed the mode of worship from indirect through a priest to directly. These three items that served as a sore reminder of man’s shortcomings took on a different meaning since God as man sacrificed himself to redeem us from our sins (Leviticus 17:11). When Jesus said it is finished on the cross, the veil separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of The Tabernacle split into two symbolizing the fact that we could now approach God directly since he paid the price with his own life Matthew 27:51. His blood replaced the sacrificial offering of lambs in The Tabernacle and the priest did not need to approach the Holy of Holies once in a year to atone for everyone’s sin, Jesus did that.

What are the impediments to worshipping God? The impediments to worship are the things that negatively impact the answering of our prayers. And we can look back at the content of the Ark of Covenant for answers:

Disobedience against God’s law which the 10 Commandment signifies
Rejection of God’s provision which Manna signifies and
Rebellion against God’s leadership which Aaron’s budded staff signifies

Now let’s look at it this way; if your child disobey you or your partner reject what you have provided or your subordinate rebel against your authority what will you make an inner vow to do? You will resolve not to forgive! God did not forgive or forget man’s sin of disobedience, rejection and rebellion hence keeping the symbols of disobedience, rejection and rebellion in the Ark of Covenant. What is the symbol of disobedience (10 Commandments)? What is the symbol of rejection (Manna)? What is the symbol of rebellion (Aaron’s rod that budded)?

Please continue to the second part of this in-depth sermon.