Worthy Worship

Bible Book: Malachi  1 : 6-14
Subject: Worship; Disappointing God; Church

Worship That Is Worthy

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com
Introduction

Turn with me to Malachi, chapter 1 and verses 6 through 14. I am reading from the New King James Version:

Malachi 1:6-14

“A son honors his father,
And a servant his master.
If then I am the Father,
Where is My honor?
And if I am a Master,
Where is My reverence?
Says the Lord of hosts
To you priests who despise My name.
Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’

7 “You offer defiled food on My altar,
But say,
‘In what way have we defiled You?’
By saying,
‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’
8 And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice,
Is it not evil?
And when you offer the lame and sick,
Is it not evil?
Offer it then to your governor!
Would he be pleased with you?
Would he accept you favorably?”
Says the Lord of hosts.

9 “But now entreat God’s favor,
That He may be gracious to us.
While this is being done by your hands,
Will He accept you favorably?”
Says the Lord of hosts.
10 “Who is there even among you who would shut the doors,
So that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain?
I have no pleasure in you,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“Nor will I accept an offering from your hands.
11 For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down,
My name shall be great among the Gentiles;
In every place incense shall be offered to My name,
And a pure offering;
For My name shall be great among the nations,”
Says the Lord of hosts.

12 “But you profane it,
In that you say,
‘The table of the Lord is defiled;
And its fruit, its food, is contemptible.’
13 You also say,
‘Oh, what a weariness!’
And you sneer at it,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick;
Thus you bring an offering!
Should I accept this from your hand?”
Says the Lord.
14 “But cursed be the deceiver
Who has in his flock a male,
And takes a vow,
But sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished —
For I am a great King,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“And My name is to be feared among the nations."

Now, today, we turn to Malachi 1 and our subject is a worship that is worthy of the God to whom we give it. Our worship ought to fit the way we view, appreciate and honor our God - our Savior - our Lord. Now we learn from the Bible that it is true that people often worshipped God in an unworthy manner and we see what a shameful thing that is.

In Leviticus 10:1-2 we note that Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire on the altar of the Lord. The fire was something not ordered by the Lord but was man's own invention and involved only how he wanted to worship God. The fire offered on the altar blew up in the face of those men and consumed them. It is not wise to worship God in a manner than is unholy, irreverent and humanly designed.

We find an example in the New Testament of unacceptable worship to God. In Colossians 2:23 we read, "These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence." In other words, the worship Paul wrote about looked good to the people but it was of no value in the lives of the people and was totally disappointing to God. Worship that is only offered because it pleases us is a worship that leaves us open to all manner of sin and sorrow. Perhaps that is why Christians in our day are having such a difficult time living holy lives before God.

Yes, it is possible to worship but to fail in our worship as God has designed and requires. Surely as God's people we desire to worship the Lord in a manner that honors Him, reaches the lost and strengthens us in our Christian walk. That is what I'm addressing today in this message.

Our scripture comes from a time late in the history of the Old Testament, in fact no other Old Testament book would be added to the Bible after the Book of Malachi. That means that the worship of the people in Malachi's day had gotten so bad that for the next four-hundred years God gave them no prophet and no biblical word. When we worship our way and not God's way, it is possible for us to cut off the voice of God in our lives. A silence from heaven is a serious problem and that leads to severe circumstances.

I'm sure that everyone here, or at least the great majority of those in this worship service today, really love God and you desire to honor Him properly. You are saved and you desire to live for and worship rightly the One who gave His life for your sins. So, let's take a moment today and look at the subject or Worthy Worship. Now, to be sure we will not be able to cover the expansive subject of worship fully in this message, but I do want us to get to the core of the problem of unacceptable worship.

Before I share some points from the text, let me talk for a moment about worship. God was terribly disappointed in the worship of the people to whom Malachi was writing. And the question we have to ask today revolves around our worship. Is God satisfied with my worship and your worship? There is a movement today called the “Seeker Friendly Church Movement.” That means that churches try to adapt themselves to make their churches open and friendly to those who are seeking a place to attend Bible study and worship. At its core there is nothing wrong with this idea. Certainly we ought to consider things that make our churches more convenient, more comfortable and more current with the times in which we live. We use amplified sound, digital screens, digital music, newer songs and other things to fit our age and generation. That is not evil or wrong, however we must ask one major question first – what is God seeking in worship? Isn’t that important? What does God want from our worship service?

It is more important to have a worship people like or a worship that God accepts? You know the answer to that question. In Matthew 15 Jesus says of one group, “…in vain they worship.” Wow! You can actually worship totally in vain – a total waste? Yes, Jesus said that some did so. In John 4:23 we read Jesus saying these words: “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” Ah! God is the real seeker in our worship. Our worship is to be done in a manner than God is seeking and not in the way that man is seeking. God is seeking people who worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. Well, there are people who don’t do that and the people in Malachi’s day were among those who failed in this area. There are people today who are looking for a church that will say what they want said, do what they want the church to do and be what they want the church to be. First and foremost, we must say what God tells us to say, do what God tells us to do and be what God says we are to be. If we can do these and be more open to our modern age, then that is fine. If we have to deny God's Word and subject God's Son to the world's ideas in order to do that, then we are in trouble.

We need to realize that true worship is what we are made to do. We see it everywhere. We see people screaming for musicians in concerts and appearances. We note that some people practically worshipping political personalities of every stripe. Some people bow down to money and gold, as if they were gods. We see people worshipping movie personalities. We note that many people practically worship athletes in their favorite sport. Why do we do that in every age? Humans have something in them that makes them desires to look up to greatness. I submit that it is part of what God placed in Adam when he was created. We are made to worship our Creator, but that true worship becomes skewed and confused. Now, don't get me wrong, for there is nothing wrong with applauding greatness in different human exploits - nothing at all wrong with that. But one must come to the conclusion that we were really created to worship God, and that is where a person finds peace and joy. A fish was made for water, a bird was made for the sky, and you and I were made for God. Your true self is never known till it is found in Him and Him alone!

So, here is our question for today: What constitutes true worship? What kind of worship honors God? What prompts Worthy Worship? Look with me at three things discovered in Malachi that give us the answer to these questions.

I. Worthy Worship Involves WHAT GOD HAS DONE

The people being addressed by Malachi are a unique group of people. At one time they had been in bondage in Babylon. They arrived in that terrible place as slaves because they had been taken as captives. At that time, Jerusalem was destroyed and the people and their descendants remained as exiles for seventy years. Through a series of miracles God delivered the people so that they could come back to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls and the Temple. I am sure that you recall the story of Nehemiah who led the people back to Jerusalem and completed the rebuilding of the walls of the city. It is truly one of the great miracles of Bible history that the people escaped the terrible bondage they were in and made it back to Jerusalem - the holy city. But, when we find them in Jerusalem in the Book of Malachi they are not thankful at all. There is no joy in their worship or their lives before God. They cannot appreciate the "salvation" God has wrought for them, for all they can see are the problems they are experiencing. Is there anyone like that in this service today? Does the redemption God has given you seem unimportant because you are dealing with so many personal issues? Are you whining instead of worshipping? I'm afraid we all do that at times and that is shameful.

We read in Malachi that God says to the people, “I have loved you.” They respond, “How have you loved us?” In other words, they are so depressed, so unhappy and so filled with a lack respect for God that they cannot even see what God has done in their lives. Why? Why do they feel this way? I believe it is because they are looking at their current circumstances instead of looking at what God has done. Surely the God who could take them out of the hand of the mightiest empire of that day could bless them in the future, but for the present time these people still see themselves as vassals to the Persian Empire. They are not truly independent as a government and nation. They can worship as they please, and they have certain powers over their own lives, but they are controlled and pay taxes to an evil Persian leader.

Now, listen closely to what I want to tell you today. If you look to your circumstances to determine your worship you will never worship God in a pleasing manner. I don’t know what you are going through right now, but I suspect that a number of us are dealing with unhappy issues of one kind or another. You have a natural, physical, financial, or social reason to be a bit depressed today – that is most likely true. But, we don’t worship God because of our circumstances. We worship Him because of who He is and what He has done for us. If we only worship because everything is going our way, we are not really worshipping God - in that case, we are worshipping our circumstances. We might as well worship a four-leaf clover, a rabbit's foot and a constellation in the sky. No, our worship is far too important to be regulated to our circumstances and personal experiences.

Now think about this for a moment. Jesus said that God is seeking people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. Take those two things and ask if you can worship God today as you ought to worship Him. To worship Him in Spirit, is to recognize that the Spirit of God lives in you. That means that you accepted Jesus as your Savior and you know that He lives in you. You have a spiritual nature, and nothing can destroy that. No amount of hardship, trials or troubles can take that from you or kill that in you. God put His Spirit in you. Even death cannot separate you from God. Now, surely you know that you can worship God in Spirit. But, that is not all. You can worship Him in truth. You say, “Well, the truth is preacher I’m having a tough time.” Let me tell you what Jesus is talking about when He speaks of truth – He is speaking of His Word.

The late Adrian Rogers once said, “If you worship God with Spirit and not truth, you are a fanatic. If you worship God with truth and not the Spirit, you are a Pharisee.” Some people major on the Spirit and become emotionally fanatical. Some people are so truth oriented that they have no joy in the Spirit. We are to have both. The truth of God’s Word, linked with the Spirit of God’s love and power, leads to true worship.

So stop right now, forget about yourself and ask what God has done for you. Look at what He has saved you from! Look at where He has brought you. Look at His Spirit placed in you. Look at His promise never to leave you. Look at His promise to provide a home for you in eternity. Just look at what He has done, and no matter what is going on you can worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

Now, think about another thing regarding worship ...

II. Worthy Worship Involves WHAT GOD DESERVES

Our worship reveals the worth of Jesus to us. One problem we can have in worship is to have a feeling that we are not getting what someone else is getting in life. In other words, we compare ourselves to experiences of others and feel that we are not being treated fairly. First, I want you to know as a pastor that things are not as rosy as they look the lives of most people. You may see what they have or how happy they look but you have no idea what is going on in their lives. As a pastor I've dealt with many people and families behind the scenes. When I first entered the ministry and was called by a family to assist them, I was shocked at what they were facing. They looked like they had everything, but problems were lurking in the corners of their family, business and personal experiences. I learned not to judge the book by its cover! Never compare your situation to someone else. God loves you and has plans for you, plans to bless you and not to curse you. Every experience you have can be used of God to make you better and to cause you to have a greater purpose in life.

You see, we don’t worship the…

  • The Place where we worship ...
  • The People where we worship ...
  • The Performance where we worship ...
  •    But rather we worship the…
  • PERSON OF CHRIST – THE PRESENCE OF GOD where we worship!

Where two or more are gathered in His name, for His purpose, and for His glory, you can be sure God will show up with blessings, leadership, power and salvation.

The people in Malachi’s day were Enduring Religion instead of Enjoying God, and that is something we must never do. In Matthew 15:8 Jesus tells about those who draw near to Him with their mouths, but their hearts are far from Him. That was exactly what was happening in Malachi’s day.

So the question to day is not how I feel but what does God deserve. Let me tell you something that every Christian has experienced at one time or another. You get out of bed on Sunday and wish you could go back to sleep. It has been a hard week and you feel that you need the rest. Surely God will understand, for He knows you are just beaten down by life. But, you press on and ready yourself to worship. You come to church out of a devotion though you don't really feel like it. Then, something happens. The worship service is just what you needed. Suddenly the Spirit of God falls on you and tears roll from your eyes. Your heart fills with praise for God. Your weariness is gone and you feel like you can run a marathon! How many of you have experienced that? See, look around you. Almost every true Christian has had that experience. What does that teach us? Give God the glory He deserves and He will give you the blessings you need!

Now, let me share one more point with you about worship ...

III. Worthy Worship Involves WHAT GOD WILL DO

The people in Malachi’s day had no idea the plans God had for those who follow them. They did not know the important place they had in history. They were so close to the generation through which the Messiah, Jesus, would come to the earth. They were in a great line leading to the Redeemer’s coming and the establishing of the Church. They were too wrapped up in themselves to leave the situation to God. Listen to me, dear people, you never know where you are in divine history, but in God's history every person and every local church is important. Never feel that you are a byline in God's history. You matter to God, for He has loved you and loves you now. You matter to God, for He saved you (or He will save you today if you have trusted Him). You matter to God, for He has you in His future. You matter to God, for He has a home for all the redeemed in heaven. Sometimes I get excited just thinking about what God has done. Sometimes I get excited about what God is doing right now. And, then there are times I can hardly wait to see what God is going to do! Trust me, He has plans and we are in them. No matter what you are going through right now, remember who you are in Christ, believe that you matter in God's plans and that God has a future for you beyond your wildest dreams.

Conclusion

Some people leave church asking, “What did I get out of church today?” The real question is the one God is asking. You see, He looks at you and asks, “What did I (God) get out of the worship of that sinner that I saved and have kept in my grace all these years?" Now, which question do you think is really important? What God thinks of my worship is far more important than what I think of the worship I've been a part of.

Now is the time to rededicate ourselves to true worship of our true and faithful God.