Oct 7, 2012     Genesis 22   Worship

      It seems that very few Christians know much about true worship.   Some feel that most Christians in most churches have never worshiped God.    We can go to church, but and not worship.    We can sing songs, and not worship.    We can listen to sermons, and not worship.     All of these things are elements of worship but they are not worship in and of themselves which means that you can do all of them and yet have failed to truly worship God. We Christians often mistake the means of worship for worship itself.   

       A man told a story about the time his son’s sixth birthday was approaching.    He had mentioned he wouldn’t mind a party, and as his son usually was very specific about the kind of presents he liked so the dad asked him what he could get him.     Bill expected a well planned reply, such as “I’d like a baseball glove; you can find it at Toys-R-Us, aisle 6, below the batting helmets, or a Parcheesi board; the games are in alphabetical order in aisle 1; its between the Pac Man and Pay Day.”    But his son’s request was a bit different.     He said, “Dad, I’d like a ball to play with for my birthday.”     Bill said, “Great, what kind of ball?”   “Oh, I don’t know either a football or a soccer ball.”    “Well, which would you want more?”     He thought about it and then he said, “If you have some time to play ball with me this year, I’d really like a football so we could throw it back and forth in the back yard.    But if you’re gonna be real busy this year, maybe you just better get me a soccer ball, because I can play soccer with the rest of the kids in the neighborhood.”   The dad thought about this and said, “Let me surprise you   . How does that sound?”    And the little boy smiled and said, “Oh that would be great Dad.    I really love you.”   Then Bill went in and shared this little encounter with his wife and together they agreed that their son was not so much interested in the gift.    He was interested in the giver. (Autoillustrator.com)  For many Christians often our communion with God and our prayers are laced with prayer requests and not so much seeking God and worshipping God.   

      Well we looked at this passage in light of faith last week and it certainly points us to Abraham’s faith.   We could look at the passage from the point of obedience and sacrifice and the passage points to that also.   I find it interesting how worship is inner woven into this passage which could be easily over looked.   Verse 2 talks about sacrifice.  In verse 3 it is wood and burnt offering.   In verse 5 Abraham says we will worship and come back to you.   In verse 6 Abraham takes wood for a burnt offering, fire and a knife.   And in verse 9 when they reach the spot where they are supposed to be Abraham builds an altar which speaks of worship.   Normally we would not think about worship in a passage like this.   We think of sacrifice, Abraham’s faith, and so on.   Abraham said we are going to worship and yet in his mind he is thinking of sacrifice the sacrifice of his son.   But Abraham calls it worship.   Interesting isn’t it? 

    How do you and I look at worship today?   For many Christians it is just going to church on Sunday.   Abraham sees it far differently than that.     I believe that God sees it far differently than that.   What does the NT have to say about worship?   Well in Romans 12: 1 & 2 the NIV says 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.    Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.   Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  The Christian must walk closely with God to determine God’s will.   We can get out of touch with God and that can hinder worship. 

     Many Christians have a stumbling block of iniquity in their heart.    There can be an area of temptation or perhaps a stronghold of the enemy.    It may be a weakness such as over eating.   It can be as simple as a coveted TV show or an addiction such as drinking.  They may or may know that they are in bondage to it.     Jesus said if you sin you are a slave to sin.   Those kinds of addictions or slavery’s certainly hinder our worship.   Many of them are idols.     Christians can be deceived by a bondage that could destroy you.   It is God’s mercy that He convicts us.   We normally see idols as a manmade object that people bow down to.  But we have many idols today in our society such as money, power, covetousness, sexual sin, pornography, alcohol, drugs, bitterness or unforgiveness.    Ask God to open your eyes to your sin.   We can ask him for a revelation about it.   We can ask the spirit of God to bring Holy Spirit conviction upon us.    We can ask God to speak gently to us about it and set us free.   God can give you and me a hatred for sin.  Self centeredness and sin does hinder worship.  Abraham I think struggled with worship or his sacrifice just as we struggle in our walk with God.   There are things in our lives that hinder our worship.  As I mentioned last week there is a tension in the scripture and in our walk with God.   There is a tension with giving and tithing.   The NT indicates that we are either a slave to sin or a slave to God. 

     Another interesting verse in the NT is Hebrews 12:15 through Jesus therefore let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name.   Why is praise considered a sacrifice?   Well as I praise God I am focusing on God and not on myself.  I am giving up myself to Him.   In doing so of course I am blessed.   I am fulfilled and rewarded wonderfully.   We are such a blessed people to get out of our salves and into God and into others.   Many of the mentally ill people are self centered and if they could break out of that they would esdpe3rience some freedom and life. 

  Worship begins with revelation.   God revealed himself to Abraham.   That was the beginning of Abraham’s walk with God.   People need a revelation of God.        What you believe about God has a huge impact on how you live your life.    What you believe about God should impact your life.  We have heard some stories that there is little to no difference between Christians and non Christians in certain behavior such as divorce.   I just read where a person said that Christians who read their bible and attend church are much more likely to remain married then those that do not.   It does make a big difference.    We have a culture that about 70 to 80 % claim to be Christian and in NH there is about a 5 % of the people go to church.   Jesus said in Matthew that some will say on the judgment day Lord, Lord we cast out demons and did many wonderful things in your name and Jesus will say depart from me I never knew you.     Focusing on God makes a huge difference in how we live.   Reading the bible, praying, worship, tithing, bible study and going to church makes a big difference in our lives.  

      James Michener, writing in his book, The Source, tells the story of a man named Urbaal, who was a farmer living about 2200 B.C. He worshiped two gods, one a god of death, the other a goddess of fertility. One day, the temple priests tell Urbaal to bring his young son to the temple for sacrifice -- if he wants good crops. Urbaal obeys, and on the appointed day drags his wife and boy to the scene of the boy’s “religious execution” by fire to the god of death. After the sacrifice of Urbaal’s boy and several others, the priests announce that one of the fathers will spend next week in the temple, with a new temple prostitute.   Urbaal’s wife is stunned as she notices a desire written more intensely across his face than she had seen before, and she is overwhelmed to see him eagerly lunge forward when his name is called. The ceremony is over; she walks out of the temple with her head swimming, concluding that “if he had different gods, he would have been a different man.” (Erwin Lutzer, Pastor to Pastor, p. 89)

    People are prone to worship.   We tend idolize something.   It can be entertainment, possessions such as a house or a boat or a vehicle.   It can be money or power.   What captivates your heart?   What do you like to do when you have free time?   What a person makes time for in their life is what they focus on.   Many times it is ugly.   Most likely that is what you worship.   Where a person’s mind goes is where the heart is and that is in a sense what you worship.   Worship in a sense is what you focus on.  Christians need to be careful that we do not spend too much time on Satan or spiritual warfare.   We can be too focused on that and not on God.   Many years ago as a new Christian I would find myself fighting sin.   I would fight this sin and overcome it and then another sin would pop up.    We can focus on sin too much.   Yes James tells us to weep and wail for our sin.   The bible also says rejoice every more and in everything give thanks.   God tells us in Corinthians that as we focus on God we are changed into the same image.   We then can reflect Jesus.  We can worship God because as Christens sin does not control us anymore.  

     Abraham had his eyes on God in this passage.   He builds an altar and puts his son on it.  In doing so Abraham lays his whole life before God.  Abraham does not withhold his highest treasure which is his son.  As we get older our life has less and less meaning in many ways.   As most of you know I just witnessed the last days of my father and did his funeral service in Missouri.   He wanted to die.   He was at the end.   Isaac was the most important thing in Abraham’s life at this point.  And God wanted to see if Abraham would be willing to offer up his son.   God tested Abraham’s devotion.   God tested his heart.   Of course God did not want Abraham to sacrifice his son.   God gave up his highest treasure for us and tells us not to sacrifice our children.  God abhorred human sacrifices in the OT. 

     Abraham also prepared to worship.   He got wood and brought a knife and fire with him.  Abraham builds an altar.  I am sure Abraham spent a great deal of time in heart preparation.   He thought about his worship time.   It takes time to connect with God.   Psalm says enter into his courts with praise and thanksgiving.   Real worship is hen we connect with God.  The worship team is important and the service including the sharing of God’s word but it is also the person.   God is the spectator in the church.   He is the one looking at our heart.  An unprepared person can go a great service and not be touched.  The Pharisees were in the presence of Jesus but thought he was the devil.  They were not touched by him.  They were in the presence of the living God and missed it.  How tragic. 

    Abraham did not withhold his highest treasure from God.   When he brought Isaac up that mountain he totally laid everything out to God.   And God did not withhold his highest treasure.  God gave you and I his greatest treasure and Romans tells us that God will not withhold anything else from us.  God gave his best and closest and most important gift all the rest is easy.