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THE SACRIFICE OF
Intro: In our last study on the theme of worship, we considered the first mention of the word worship in Genesis 22. In that passage, we saw biblical worship in action as Abraham willingly offered up the treasure of his heart, his own son Isaac, to Almighty God. We learned that worship is all that we are reacting to all that God is.
Today, I want to continue to talk about the meaning of worship. I want you to see that biblical worship always involves an element of sacrifice. In essence, worship is a gift we give to the God Who saved us from our wretched, lost condition.
Let me remind you that worship is a distinct method of approaching God. Worship is different from prayer and praise. Prayer and praise may contain worship, but by themselves, they are something altogether different.
Prayer is the obsession of the soul with its needs. Prayer says, “Lord save me! Prayer says, Lord give me! Prayer asks for the things the soul desires. There is nothing wrong with that; it is what He commands and invites us to do!
Praise is the obsession of the soul with its blessings. Praise says, “Thank you Lord for all that you have given me and done in me. Praise says, Thank you for your gifts. There is nothing wrong with vocal, visible praise. He commands us to do it and it honors Him. Besides that, He is infinitely worthy of all the praise we can give to Him!
Worship is the obsession of the soul with God Himself. Worship’s focus is not on itself or its blessings. Worship’s focus is on God alone. Worship says, “Lord, thank You for Who You are! Thank you for being holy, loving, merciful, saving, powerful, etc. Our knowledge of Him should cause us to bow before Him in humble worship!
When we first come to Jesus Christ for salvation, we do so through prayer. When He saves our souls, we are thankful and we praise Him for all that He has done for us. As we grow in Jesus, read His Word and commune with Him in prayer, we come to know Him and appreciate Him even more. He becomes more precious to us as the days go by.
In the beginning, we do not know all that much about Him. As the days and years go by, we learn more about Him and He becomes increasingly precious to our hearts. We become like the Shulamite woman in the Song of Solomon when we declare that He is “the chiefest among ten thousand,” and we proclaim that He “is altogether lovely!. (Song of Solomon 5:10, 16)
Our souls echo the words of the songwriter who penned these words:
His name is Wonderful,
His name is Wonderful,
His name is Wonderful,
Jesus my Lord;
He is the mighty King,
master of everything,
His name is Wonderful,
Jesus, my Lord.
He's the great Shepherd,
the Rock of all ages,
Almighty God is He;
Bow down before Him,
love and adore Him,
His name is Wonderful,
Jesus, my Lord.
Once a young woman was saved from an apartment building that was on fire in London. She was on the top floor of the tenement building, leaning out the window, crying for help as the flames grew ever nearer to where she was. Her situation seemed hopeless until a young firefighter climber a ladder, risking his own life, and brought the woman down to safety.
In the excitement that followed her rescue, she failed to thank her savior for his heroic deed. The next day, she learned his name and where he lived and she went to his home to thank him for what he did for her. Over time a friendship developed that grew into love. The two were eventually married.
The young woman never forgot that the name was her savior. She always remembered that had it not been for him, she would have burned to death in the fire. Now, however, he was more to her than just her savior. He was now her husband, her lover, her companion through all the good days and the bad days of life.
That is a picture of biblical worship! The Lord Jesus laid down His life to save our souls, but our relationship involves more than that. He is our Saviour, but He is also our Friend, our Bridegroom, our Companion every day we live; the One Who supplies all our needs; our Counselor, our Guide, our Guardian, and so much more.
God has given us the gift of salvation and eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord, Rom. 6:23. Worship is our gift back to Him for all that He has done for us in Jesus Christ.
With all of that in mind, I want to consider what the passage before us has to say about biblical worship. This text is a call to worship for Israel. In this passage, God is instituting the “Feast of the First-Fruits”. When they were settled in the land and began to reap the harvests, they were to take the first portion and bring it to the Lord as an offering of thanksgiving and worship. In these verses, God tells His people how they should approach Him. One of the lessons that comes out of these verses is that biblical worship always involved sacrifice.
I want to share a few truths that present themselves to us in these verses. I want to preach about The Sacrifice Of Biblical Worship. This passage has something to say about The Worshiper’s Appreciation; The Worshiper’s Approach and The Worshiper’s Adoration. Let’s look at these truths together today.
I. THE WORSHIPER’S
(ILL. As Israel is called to worship, they are reminded of the thoughts that should occupy the heart of any true worshiper. Biblical worship is far more than just gathering together to sing a few song, pray a few prayers, preach a sermon and go home. Biblical worship has its foundation a heart that is filled with love for Almighty God and what He has done for the worshiper. The children of Israel are told to approach Him with appreciation for the wonderful things He has done for them. Consider what the true worshiper is to have in his mind as he approaches God.)
A. v. 5-8 For His Redemption The Israelite is to come before God and offer thanksgiving for how God has worked in the lives of His people. The worshiper is the be thankful for how God brought His people from nothing and has given them everything. The worshiper is to be thankful for how God moved in power to deliver His people from their bondage. The worshiper is to remember that he has been redeemed by the blood of a lamb, Ex. 12 Ill The Passover!)
This same blessing has been given to every redeemed child of God in Christ Jesus. We were born into the slavery of sin, Eph. 2:1-3; John 8:44. Jesus came into this world and shed His Own blood for our redemption, 1 Pet. 1:18-19. He intervened in our lost condition, and called us unto Himself, John 6:44; Eph. 2:4-9. He delivered us from the old life of sin and made is a new creature in Jesus Christ, Eph. 2:10; 2 Cor. 5:17. He brought us out of Adam and placed us in Jesus, Col. 1:13. He did all of this with a mighty display of divine, sovereign power!
When we approach Him in worship, we should always come to Him mindful of all that He did for us when He saved our souls!
B. v. 1 For His Restoration The Israelite worshiper is reminded that God brought him out of Egypt and has settled him in the promised land of blessing. So, the worshiper is to look back to where the Lord brought him from and he is also to look around at what the Lord has given him in grace. The Israelite worshiper would remember how God parted the Red Sea, fed his fathers with manna from heaven, led his people with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, gave them water from a rock and defeated all their enemies. He would remember how God brought them out of a place of desolation and into a place of blessing and he would be appreciative of all the Lord had done for them. In other words, the Lord had given Israel a heritage and they were to be thankful for it!
The same should be true of us. We need to remember that the Lord brought us out of death in life. He delivered us from a place of separation and isolation, and He has brought into a place of spiritual intimacy with Him. He has restored us to a place of perfect fellowship with Himself and that truth should cause us to worship and glorify Him. (Ill. Eph. 2:5-6; 1:11)
C. v. 2, 9 For His Rewards The Israelite worshiper was to remember that God had blessed him beyond belief. He had planted him in a place where all his needs were met. He was to remember that he had been given a land, a place of peace, prosperity and blessings. He as to be grateful for those blessings.
Isn’t the same true of us? Not only did God save our souls, but he has blessed us beyond belief! In fact, Eph. 1:3 tells us that He has “blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. Just consider some of what He has given you in Christ Jesus.
· Everlasting life John 6:47; 10:28 (Ill. Name is the Lamb’s Book of Life – Luke 10:20!)
· Adoption into His family 1 John 3:1-3; Rom. 8:15
· His presence Heb. 13:5
· His provision Phil. 4:19; matt. 6:25-34
· His love Jer. 31:3
· His forgiveness Psa. 103:12; 1 John 1:7
· His advocacy 1 John 2:1
· His indwelling presence John 14:17
· His promise of a home in glory John 14:1-3; Rev. 21:4
Those blessings are just a small portion of all we have in Jesus. Thoughts of all that He has given us In Jesus ought to fill our hearts when we approach Him for worship!
(Note: The more we learn about who we are and what we have been given in Jesus, the more we will desire to worship Him. Therefore, we should ever meditate on His grace, His love, His redemption and all His many blessings. As we do, the heart will be moved to glorify and worship Almighty God.)
II. THE WORSHIPER’S
(ILL. While this passage tells us about the great themes that should trill the soul of the believer, it also has something to say about the attitudes that should grip the worshiper’s heart as he or she approaches God almighty. Notice the attitudes that should fill our souls as we come before Him to worship.)
A. v. 2-4 We Must Come With Gratitude The Israelite was commanded to approach God with the best of the land. Notice that he was to take of the first of all the fruit, put it into a basket, and go unto the place of worship. Each of these acts brings to mind someone who is appreciative of all that the Lord has given him. He takes the blessings the Lord has enriched him with and he gives of them a willing sacrifice to the glory of the Lord. This is a picture of gratitude in action.
When we approach the Lord is worship, we should also be grateful to Him for all that He has done for us. In a spiritual sense, we need to fill our baskets with thanksgiving for His blessings and come to His house ready to offer that thanksgiving up to Him.
Far too many times, we only come to Him when we want something from Him. We should all develop a heart full of gratitude for all that He has done for us. If every individual would come into His house thankful for salvation and all the other spiritual blessings in our lives, it would transform our corporate worship. I fear that we usually come into His presence with empty baskets. We come to worship in a state of spiritual poverty, with nothing to offer Him.
John 4:23 says, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is looking for people who will fill their baskets with gratitude for His blessings and will come into His presence with a heart full of praise and worship.
In Exodus 23:15 God warned Israel that, “...none shall appear before me empty.” When we come into His presence, whether we do so individually or corporately, we should come ready to worship.
May we be like the little girl who came in from playing, took a chair and sat down, watching as her mother ironed.
After a while her mother said, “What do you want dear?
The daughter replied, “I don’t want anything, mother. I just want to sit here and look at you and love you.
That is worship in a spirit of gratitude!
B. v. 2 We Must Come With Obedience The Israelites were told exactly how to come, what to bring and where to go. Only those who followed Gods plan were truly worshiping God.
A man might have said, “I would rather worship closer to home. Or, I would rather bring the things I desire to give God. It would not have been accepted.
Worship always flows out of an obedient heart! If we are going to give Him worship, we must first learn to obey His commands. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments, John 14:15. Since worship is love for God in action; worship can be said to be obedience in action.
If we are going to worship the Lord, our lives must line up with His Word and with His will. Only when we are in a place of obedience, are we truly in a place where we can worship.
C. v. 5-9 We Must Come With Humility The Israelite worshiper was commanded to recall his humble beginnings. He was to remember what he was when the Lord found him. He was nothing but a Syrian ready to perish until God intervened and saved him. He was to put on no airs, but he was to remember that everything he was, everything he had and everything he ever hoped to be was all the pure gift of the grace of God.
The same attitude must fill the heart of the true worshiper. We must remember that God hates pride wherever it is found. Jesus told about the damnation of a lost Pharisee who came to worship with pride in his heart, Luke 18:11-12.
While God hates pride, He respects and responds to humility.
· Isaiah 57:15, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
· James 4:6, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
We, like the ancient Israelite, must remember that we were hell bound sinners when the Lord found us. We were sinful, vile, defiled and dirty, but He loved us and saved us from that wretched condition. Everything we have, everything we are, everything we will ever achieve is the result of His amazing, life-changing grace, 1 Cor. 15:10.
Pride and arrogance will close the door of worship. Humility of heart will allow us to approach God and give Him the worship He desires and so richly deserves.
III. THE WORSHIPER’S
· When the worshiper came before God, he was to “set it before the Lord thy God, and worship before the Lord thy God. He did not come before the Lord with a petition on his lips, but with a present in his hands!
When that worshiper came before the Lord with his gift from his field, he was giving the Lord back what the Lord had already given him. In truth, it was costing him nothing. Everything he gave had its origin with the Lord. The fact that he gave it was a symbol of his love for God and for all that God had done in his life.
David expressed this thought in 1 Chron. 29:14, “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. They were merely giving back to God the things He had already given to them.
· Our worship is the same way! We simply take what He has given us and we offer back the first fruits of those things to Him in the form of love, adoration and worship.
So, while worship involves sacrifice, in the end, it costs us nothing. As we worship Him for Who He is and for all that He has done for us, we need to remember that the things He has given us cost Him everything!
What was the price of His love? What was the cost of His grace? What was the value of your souls and mine? It is summed up for us in the following verses.
· John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
· Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
It cost God the death of His Son Jesus on the cross to give us the things we have in Him. That fact alone should drive us to our knees is thankful, broken worship.
Conc: Do you have anything in your worship basket today? Has the Lord done anything for you at all? If he has, why don’t you select the best of those things and come before Him and give them back to Him right now in the form of your worship. How long has it been since you humbled yourself before Him, with a grateful heart, and thanked Him in pure worship?
If He hasn’t done anything for you, why don’t you come to Him today and Ask Him to save you. Then you will have a reason to worship Him too.