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Thou Shalt Worship

by Julius Hovan

Hovans(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

We welcome you to this broadcast of Words of Life. Oh, what a difference that word life. There are many words that don’t bring life, words of bitterness, words of hatred. And our goal and our purpose through the many years of this radio broadcast that has gone to continents and places all over the world, our goal is to bring to you words of life about our wonderful Lord Jesus.

Some of you who are listeners to this broadcast would remember that we recently had a message from the fourth chapter of the gospel of John in which Jesus met the woman at the well and introduced himself to her and she brought up the subject of worship.  And Jesus had to deal with that subject with her and we found that the place of worship and some of the rituals of worship were not the most important thing, but what we worship or rather who we worship is the most important.

During this broadcast today I would like to deal with the phrase: Thou shalt worship. And the Word of God says: Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and him only shalt thou worship. As far back as recorded history man has had the need to worship. He is going to worship something. You do and I do.  And it is God’s desire that our worship is directed to him.

We go all the way back to Cain and Abel early in the history of creation. And there they came with a sacrifice to worship.  Or those who tried to build the tower of Babel. What a goal they had to build a tower to heaven as a place of worship. Oh, through the centuries since that time there have been many attempts regarding worship, many shrines and temples and mosques and chapels and churches and wayside altars have been built because people worship. They know they need to worship. They have a desire in their hearts to worship and so there is a multitude of ceremonies and customs and worship experiences that are offered in our world today. Yes, thou shalt worship. You will worship. The deepest instinct of man lies behind all of this. And it matters whether not you worship the true God or idols or the devil or yourself.  There is that urge, that deep need in every one of us.

Now we may not succeed very well at our attempt to worship. In one place Jesus said: In vain do they worship me. Oh, they are going through the motions, the rituals. They have a process. But it is all vanity. It goes no higher than the ceiling.

In Acts 17 the Word says: You worship in ignorance. Oh, how said to be doing something that we call worship, something religious, but it not be the right thing to do. The world is full of that type of ignorant worship today, worshipping the wrong God. There is only one true God and we need to understand that. Paul went so far as to say in Romans one: You worship the creature rather than the creator. You worship yourself. What a sad, sad story that is.
God’s second command in the 10 commandments makes it very clear. Worship God as opposed to anything else. Do worship God. Don’t fail to worship God.  Worship him. When you draw the Word of God to its conclusion you will find there is a great deal of that that takes place. For example, in Revelation 19 verse 10 says: And I fell down before his feet to worship him. Here is one falling down before an angel. But he said unto me: Do not do it. I am a fellow servant with you and with the brethren that hold the testimony of Jesus.

Now here comes the instruction. Worship God.  Worship God. We know there must be a proper one to worship and a proper type of worship.  As the book closes in the 9th verse of chapter 22 of the Revelation letter we read: And he said unto me: See that you do not do it. Another example. John sees this glorified angel and he falls down before his feet to worship. And he says: Do not do it. Those that keep the words of this book worship God.

And so, my friends, we come this morning to talk about the fact: Thou shalt worship.

Certainly for the Bible believer this thou shalt worship gains authority through as far back as Moses in the writing of the holy law.  Surely he says that the gods we cease to worship cease to be gods to us. If we don’t worship it, it is not God anymore. If we do worship it, whatever it is, it becomes our God. And so the authority set forth in the Word of God reinforces the quotes of Jesus when in the wilderness and the hour of temptation he told Satan. Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and him only.  Worship. And so need, the need to worship, the custom to worship, we have that in all lands wherever we go.  The law that tells us we should worship and the gospel that brings us into a faith relationship with Jesus helps us then to worship the right one. These all unite to bring us to the statement: Thou shalt worship.

The problem of really worshiping is {?} increased in our industrial work a day world and the problems that we face in this world today. There are so many offerings of our evil age, so many pleasures that draw us away. Churches battle with attendance deficiency because people are busy on the Lord’s day, not coming to worship God.  Our inner man becomes conformed to the material things around us. And what a sad thing results from that.

A great difficulty for worship we don’t have the knowledge that we need. Our emotional state, we are not excited about worship.  Church worship is a drag. We can easily sleep through the message and we can easily just sit there like a dummy when the hymns are being sung. What a sad state of affairs that is. Yet the life lived in such a modern world increases the need for proper worship. The greater your stress and difficulty and problem the more you need to worship and draw nigh unto God for then he will draw nigh unto you.

Let me point out to you today in this broadcast, six contrasts between the demands of our modern life and the demands of worship.  You think about these. In our modern life we are in a hurry. We are hasty all the time. We have schedules. We have a clock to punch. We have got to be somewhere at a certain time.  We are running here and there, helter skelter.  Worship? Worship takes time. You have to set aside a time. You have to go to a place. You have to attune your spirit. You have to quiet yourself and slow down. What a difference it makes. We have to get our mind in line with the one we worship. Modern life is a life of aggressiveness. If you are going to succeed in this job, in this business, you need to run over some people. You need to step on some folk. You need to climb the ladder. Selfishness begins to rule.  Worship brings humility as John and those revelation passages we read bowed down, so we bow before this holy God. We become receptive and open to what God reveals when we are worshipping. We come with an appreciation for what God has done. Worship does all of that.

What about modern life? Oh, it is deeply controversial, is it not? Are there not many things about which we can argue today? Certainly religious matters, certainly things about the Bible, certainly politics, certainly moral issues. They are prominent in the news today. We need an argumentative mind. We deal with all of those matters that bring division.

Worship, on the other hand, is to come with a listening ear. It is coming to accept what God gives us as he instructs us with truth. The Bible says: Be still and know that I am God.  What a difference.

Modern life is complicated. We are now living in a scientific age.  Things are happening so quickly and the stuff we knew 10 years ago is now completely out of style and something new has come along, computers and telephones and iPads and on and on and on. And life is complicated.  But worship, worship in the New Testament was very simple. It was very direct. They came together to center around the table of the Lord, to lift up Jesus, to sing hymns of praise and to hear the Word of God taught.

New Testament worship is simple, direct and sincere.  Modern life, again, the interest is on the outside world. The interest is on the things we can see. The interest is on appearance, even how we look to each other.  Worship, on the other hand, is honest. It is a disciplined inner look at ourselves.  To understand that we come as those who are sinners. We come as those who without the help of God and his saving power we are condemned to an eternity apart from God. Worship. What a pleasant experience it ought to be.

Modern life, on the other hand, finally, is self promotion. Whereas when I come to the Lord’s table I am told to examine myself and to make sure that I am worthy to partake because I am under the blood of Christ. I am a born again believer. But the modern life is self promotion. Everything centers around me. I is the big word in our life. And what a difference that makes in a society when everybody looks out for themselves and does not care for everybody else. Worship, ah, it requires prostration before God.

We used to bow our knees in the churches where I used to worship as a young man growing up.  We would bow to worship God and to pray. Oh, by I am afraid we have gotten too modern. We have gotten too uppity and we don’t do that.  An honest self assessment will help us to worship. And so we must be aware when we come to worship of our own creaturalness. We are humans.  We are frail. We are mortals. We are not going to live forever. We are sinners as contrasted to the holiness and the greatness of God.  We need to be deeply moved and humble ourselves in worship and coming in repentance and penance for our sins and express that by bowing down our minds, our conscience, our will before our creator.

The psalmist put it this way.  Oh, come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker. That was an Old Testament concept, but how true it is in the new as well. For Paul writes to the church at Ephesus in Ephesians three: I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, the bowed knee, a symbol of our humility, the bowed knee without a bowed heart is nothing more than a bowed knee and it is just hypocritical. We must strive in our worship to have the heart and the mind humbled. This striving is against an evil one who does not want us to worship the true God. His world system is against all of that.  It is totally opposed to the will and way and purpose of God.  And all of this evil that is running rampant simply increases our need for worship of God.

There are so many efforts today by so many different organizations, anti God, anti Christian, anti Bible, anti Christ, Atheists, Agnostics, those that are against what we stand for here at Words of Life.

And so as we bring this lesson to its conclusion, Jesus sets the stage for worship. The commandment of Jesus coming from the Old Testament with which he, of course, was familiar and in which he had been educated, he reiterates in the wilderness when he talks to Satan: You shall worship the Lord your God.  It sets the call to worship even within the deserts of life when we are weary, when we are tempted, when we are defeated, when our soul is hungry, when we cry out for spiritual refreshment and strength and help. What is the solution to that? Thou shalt worship.

Whatever your circumstance, wherever you are, you can come to God if you come with a true heart of repentance and confession and faith. To call to worship is set clearly within the pressures of our temptations.  Whether we are beset and fearful in our souls we seek a vision of something to bring some light. We look around for some measure of hope. We cry out to God. Lord, can you not give me some strength?  Save me from the foe.  Read through the Psalms. Over and over the cry of the psalmist is a cry to God.

This call to worship is of the context of a dedicated life. Here is a person who comes in true worship of God, is one who has made that profession of faith in the person of Jesus, in the work of Jesus at Calvary, in what he did in our behalf when he died in our place, when he shed his blood for forgiveness of sin. For without the shedding of blood, we are told, there is no forgiveness. And so here is our call when we do that and we have followed him when we die to self, are buried in the water of baptism and raised to the newness of life, we are now in a position to worship truly this loving God.  Without worship man’s highest hopes, his holiest ideals, his noblest projects fall flat on their face. But, oh, when we can come to worship we are built up, we are encouraged, we are inspired, we are lifted out of the doldrums into a daily experience with almighty God.

Finally this thou shalt worship command against this shining background of Christ own proved perfection and sinfulness. It is not only when we are wearied from the desert journey, when life has beat us down, not only when we are beset with evil and the evil one and temptation and the weakness of the flesh, not only when we are doing our best to attain and not being very successful, it is not only in those experiences that the human soul bows down before its maker.

Ah, but listen to this.  When the journey is over, when life comes to an end, when the battle is won, when we have attained the ideal, then we the creature will bow to adore our creator. We will join with angels and archangels and the seraphim and the cherubim and all the heavenly host in endless worship to the worthy one, our everlasting God.  The Bible cannot conclude without reference after reference after reference to this matter of worship that goes on in the eternal state.

Listen to the second chapter of the book of the Revelation beginning in verse 10 where we read: And they cry with a great voice saying: Salvation unto our God who sits on the throne and unto the Lamb. And all the angels were standing around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures and they fell before the throne on their faces and worshipped God. And they were saying: Amen.  Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be unto our God forever and ever and amen.

Oh, my friends, one of these days you and I are going to be privileged to join in that great chorus of worship and praise. I hope that you are prepared to do that as a result of having your faith in the Lord Jesus by being an obedient follower of his.

In the 19th chapter of the Revelation we read these words in verses four and following. And the four and 20 elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God that sits on the throne and they say: Amen. Hallelujah.  And a voice came forth from the throne saying:  Give praise to our God all you his servants, you that fear him, the small and the great.  And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the voice of many waters and the voice of mighty thunders. What were they saying? Hallelujah, which means praise the Lord.  For the Lord our God the almighty reigneth. Let us rejoice and be exceeding glad. Let us give the glory to him. The marriage of the Lamb is come and his wife has made herself ready.

Does that sound like something you would be like to be a part of?  Would you like to be a part of that great chorus, singing praise and honor and worshipping this great God? The gods we cease to worship cease to be gods. Would you turn your heart to the true God? Everything around us works to prevent proper worship, to keep us from worship. But our need is to worship. The custom through the ages is worship. The law and the gospel all join to remind us: Thou shalt worship. And let me remind you. You do worship something. What will it be?

Jesus taught us the absolute necessity of worship in all times and in all areas of our life.  The apostle Paul puts the capper on it in the book of Philippians in the second chapter, verses nine, 10 and 11.  Listen to these very serious words. My friends, you are going to be a part of this. See what you think about what Paul writes.
Wherefore God has highly exalted him—that is Jesus—has given to him the name above every name that in his name every knee should bow, things in heaven and earth and under the earth. Every tongue—that is yours and mine—every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Have you confessed him? Oh, you are going to do it one day. You are either going to do it in this life and enjoy the blessing of being born again and forgiven or you are going to do it one day and hear him say to you: I must cast you into everlasting darkness.

May we help you make that decision? Contact us here at Words of Life. We will be glad to send you material to help you make the decision to worship the true God. God bless you today for tuning in.


Julius Hovan is minister of the Bohon Church of Christ, Bohon, KY

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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10