Worshiping God is a privilege and a responsibility that you and I have been given and we must not take it lightly. Its important for us to understand the purpose of worship and why God commands it.
Good afternoon everyone. Pleasant greetings to you. On God's Sabbath we need to take a look at something that is very important to us as we approach this very sacred season of the year, of the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread, and we certainly are all in the state of mind of evaluating and doing exactly as the scripture says, to examine ourselves and see, are we in the faith. Are we doing exactly what God has commanded us to do?
What I would like to cover today, and I have entitled this sermon, and it is a sermon that I hope you will find helpful and edifying in your own personal life because it touches on the very reason why we are here today. The title of this sermon is: The purpose of worship: Why God commands it.
You and I are here by divine summons whether we realize it or not. That is a part of this calling that you and I have received. Now if you were to get a summons from any local court in man's world you know what that instantly would mean. You would be expected to appear at a certain period of time and then for whatever reasons that were outlined in the summons and if you chose not to appear you know what that would mean. You are in contempt of court when you have a summons that is given and you don't respond to it. So we understand that from man's point of view.
But how do we understand it from God's point of view because it is a very important thing that God has outlined, that He expects those whom He has called to the knowledge of His ways, those who have surrendered themselves and those who desire to walk in the commandments of the Lord God Almighty, that we have a responsibility when it comes to the subject of worship. Now this is very important because God knows that this thing of worship plays a very important part in our everyday life. Notice how even the adversary, Satan the devil, tempted Jesus Christ because he desired and coveted worship for himself and he tempted the Lord Christ by saying, if You would fall down and worship me – give that attention to me, then I will give You all of this that I have available at this time. Meaning that he was the god of this world. But Jesus rebuked him and He said, you know, you worship God and God only. So get thee hence Satan. Get out of here.
God wants us to understand that part of our calling is to keep Satan out of our life and to recognize that we have an obligation, a very serious obligation once we have been called to the knowledge of God's truth, and as the Bible addresses the subject, worship is something very, very special. It is a privilege that you and I have been granted as firstfruits in the great calling and plan of God that He is working out on this earth with all human beings. He addresses this with the Passover, Unleavened Bread and of course then the Fall Holy Days as well. It is a privilege and a responsibility that you and I have been given and we must not take it lightly.
If you'd join me please, Matthew 13:11 Matthew 13:11He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
American King James Version×. Jesus was teaching and many a time He would say to the individuals He was talking to:
Matthew 13:9 Matthew 13:9Who has ears to hear, let him hear.
American King James Version× "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"
In other words, when Jesus speaks not everybody hears what Jesus is actually talking about. Some people hear and other people do not hear and that's something we need to ask ourselves as individuals in the Churches of God: Are we listening to what Jesus has to say or are we just going through the motions because there is a lot of individuals who do not take seriously this thing of worship. We need to understand it in light of what Jesus now says.
V.10 – And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?"
And it wasn't to "making it easier for them to understand". He said certain things, implied certain things and individuals who were listening carefully could grasp but others could not grasp. And He goes on to say:
V.11 – He answered and said to them, (notice) "Because it is has been given to (who?) you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
At that time Jesus did not intend for everybody to understand what He was talking about - only those that He was working with and those that were being called in the early embryonic beginnings of the Church of God. That is found in the book of Acts and the study of the scriptures as the story unfolds before us day in and day out, in scripture.
But what God wants us to understand is that our responsibilities in this thing of worship is, one, that we have to be present in order to worship. And so God expects us to gather on His Sabbath and that's why in His sacred law the fourth commandment says, remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Why? Because in order to understand more about God, as we are going to see, worship means to have to be there on a regular basis in order to have exposure to what you and I need so that we can understand better our calling and our position in the plan and purpose of God. When you understand what the future is all about you can better understand the perspective of your present situation. When you understand what the future is all about, and God unveils the future to us through His great plan as revealed in the sacred holy days or the festivals of God, recorded in Leviticus 23. Please remember the very first one that is addressed in that chapter is the weekly Sabbath day and then it goes on into the other festivals as they are outlined.
So here we have a very important aspect. Presence is very important and then the purpose is to worship God accurately. Not just any old way but to honor Him the way He outlines because you will remember in the Old Testament and even in Romans 15:4 Romans 15:4For whatever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
American King James Version×, everything is recorded for our learning. Every Sabbath we gather, every time we come in these sacred meetings, we are to learn something more that God is trying to teach us and this thing of worship is very important. You can see that even Satan covets it but it doesn't go to him. It is God who deserves worship because He is the author, through Jesus Christ, of everything that exists: that which is invisible, that which is visible; whether it be great, whether it be small, but God who made that beautiful sun that is in the heavens – and we were just told recently that there was a huge fiery tornado on the sun and it was as big as the earth - on the sun! That is a God of great power and majesty and He controls it all by the word of His power.
So the purpose of worship has to be accurate and when you study in the Old Testament, when God gave the Tabernacle in the wilderness, please remember that Moses was told that he was to do exactly as the vision he had seen, as it was outlined in the heavenly vision. In other words, don't just slap this thing together in any old way. God has a specific way in which He wants to be approached and worshipped.
Now we worship Him how? By remembering the seventh day Sabbath day. Why is that important? Because most of the world doesn't recognize the Sabbath. They worship on a different day. What is the problem with that? The problem being that God is not there on those other days. If you want to talk to God or come face to face with Him you won't find Him on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Sunday. But you will find Him on the Sabbath day if you have responded to that divine summons and made the choice to come and learn more from His sacred word about how to worship and the purpose of worship.
If we don't know the purpose of worship, then all we are doing is just making form and ceremony. God wants a lot more from this and so He wants us then to participate and so here we are. We participate by being involved. Not only learning about God, but we learn our relationship to one another, that we are called to be brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus and to be stamped with the very icon or the very character of Jesus Christ.
Now today people are being stamped with every other icon under the sun. You know on your computer, down under your toolbar, you have these little icons and you press on that and something pops up and gives you a picture. Well, today people follow all kinds of different things that represent their icons - what they follow - and they follow certain individuals and they want to be like this individual or that individual but how many people want to be like Jesus Christ? Well, His name gets battered around an awful lot but unless you see it from the standpoint of the scripture and as Jesus reveals, people don't even comprehend that what they are involved in or what they are participating in, like the so-called Easter season that is just right around the corner. What has happened that people can't comprehend bunnies don't lay eggs? But yet, there they are doing this. Oh, but it is for the kids. We can't deny the kids. Yes, we can. We can deny them error and give them the truth and feed them the truths so that they can grow up with the wisdom and knowledge and as the scripture says, bring them up in the fear and nurture and admonition of God. You can't convert them. That is God's job just as it was to convert each and every one of us but we can make them God-conscious and make them realize you didn't come from an orangutan or some ape hanging from the jungle. You are made in the image of God, male and female, for a very important purpose because you are to be stamped with the very character of God Himself, the divine nature. What a wonderful purpose to understand and to focus your mind on. This is what God has purposed to do. So here we go.
Worship is one of the wisest investments you can make in this day and age. You know people are investing in this, that and everything, trying to get ahead but the best way to get ahead is to invest your time and effort with God and Jesus Christ, plain and simple. This is part of what we are doing here today. We are investing our time in remembering God's Sabbath because we know that it is important to Him. We could call it this: What we are doing today is one of the highest and one of the most noble activities you can be involved in. One of the highest and most noble opportunities to be investing in your time because, your are doing what? You are worshipping the God of heaven and earth, the God who is the great Creator of all of us. What an honor and a privilege has been bestowed upon us and God wants us to understand this and this purpose then is found - Let's take a look at a few other scriptures here before we really move into the full impact of the sermon.
John 4:24 John 4:24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
American King James Version× Backing it up where the women at the well was talking with Jesus and then she says:
John 4:20 John 4:20Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and you say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
American King James Version× Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship."
So worship is discussed here very specifically.
V.21 – Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.
So the worship is to be focused on the Father of all spirits, the great God, Majesty in the heavens above, our Heavenly Father. Then He says something that is true about a lot of people today and at one time may have been true of us until God opened our eyes. He says:
V.22 – You worship what you do not know; You can't really define what it is you worship and you ask the average person today and who claims to be "Christian" and they cannot really define what it is they really believe. They do not know how they are to worship God. Now how do we know that? Because all the surveys, the pew-surveys and others, the Barna surveys, go and they evaluate these Christian groups and they find that they are falling way short. They don't know their Bibles, they don't study their Bibles and yet they claim to be Christian. Well, notice how Jesus said:
V.22 – You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, - and see that is important. We have to know what we worship here in terms of our relationship with God and Christ. – (He says:) for salvation is of the Jews.
And isn't this ironic that people today have all this attitude in so many areas of the world of anti-Semitism and yet they claim to be Christian and yet they are worshiping a Jewish Messiah, because if you say you worship Christ - Christ obviously came from the tribe of Judah and somehow that doesn't even connect in the minds of a lot of people. But yet here we go and He goes on to say:
V.23 – But the hour is coming, and now is, when (notice) the true worshipers – so there are true worshipers and false worshipers.
False worshipers don't know why they are there and that is why they are called deceived. The whole world has been deceived when it comes to many different areas, and religion is one of them and Satan is a master at what he has done. He has created a deception (Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×) that deceives the whole world.
V.23 - But it says: The true worshipers will – notice who: what is the focus of our worship? You will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
Worship is the highest form of acknowledgement. When you focus your attention and worship this article that you have your focus on, that becomes in essence your god. People worship their homes; they worship their cars; they worship status; they worship themselves. Jesus said that we have to do what? We have to love everything less by comparison.
Things are not wrong per se. Things were meant to compliment life and give joy and happiness. How many of you would like to surrender, right now, your creature comforts that God has given you? He says, all I want you to do is use them wisely; realize you are merely stewards of that which I have given to you and the blessings of Abraham were poured out upon His people Israel as the Bible said they would be, and that is why America, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, these places where ever Israelites had been placed in the process of God's plan, they were blessed with tremendous blessings because God promised Abraham those blessings. They have come to us and we have inherited that in our lifetime and we have an awful lot to say, thank you God, for.
I don't think any of us would think the good old days were way back in the seventeen or eighteen hundreds. I think we like right here where we are. It is just that there is an awful lot of problems along this time as well. It can be good and it can be bad and we need our God to help us discern the difference. It goes on to say:
V.24 – God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
John 17:17 John 17:17Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
American King James Version× reminds us that God's word is the source of truth because it is backed by spiritual power. The word of God is eternal and it has spiritual power behind it. That is why these words carry such a powerful ringing element in our minds, in our hearts, when we are called to the knowledge of God's ways.
Let's take a look at 2 Peter 3:18 2 Peter 3:18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×. You and I have a responsibility and the purpose of worship is to do this:
2 Peter 3:18 2 Peter 3:18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
American King James Version× but grow – we are to be like everything else that is in life - starts up small, and then there is the process of growing. We grow as small children into young adults and then we move on through life and have families and then to our senior years. The process of life is outlined in scripture for us. Ecclesiastes 3 talks about it - there is a time and a place for all things and we are all going through the time and place for all things. So we grow and what are we to grow in?
V.18 – in grace – and that is provided by God – and in the knowledge – we have to learn more and more about, who? About our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen.
Why is that so important? Because again, as we come to the Passover season on a yearly basis as God has commanded us, the Passover allows us a time to reflect and think about Jesus Christ in a very deep and personal way; to realize what He went through was so horrific for the sins of mankind and to provide a sacrifice and the only sacrifice that God would ordain from heaven above, because only God could die for His creation; only God had the power and the wherewithal to redeem us from the destruction we have brought upon ourselves, as Paul says in Romans 3:23 Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
American King James Version×, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. That is all of us and we would have no hope and no future and so we need to know about this.
Why did Jesus have to come? Why did He have to die? Well, why is this so important? And of course the grace of God can only be administered when a person comes to God and repents and seeks the merciful forgiving hand of God Almighty.
Let's go real quick now into some of these areas I would like to cover as the time remains. The very first thing I would like to bring to our attention: Why are we here? What is the purpose of religion? Why does God command it? To obtain fuller knowledge of God. That is the first reason. To obtain fuller knowledge of God because none of us have all the answers when it comes to the subject of who and what God is. We have to study to show ourselves approved unto Him and that means we don't go chasing off to this direction, that direction – we go to the word of God or as people sometimes like to say, you go to the horses mouth. Well, in this particular case if you want to know the truth you've got to go to God and let God remind you.
In Hebrews 11:6 Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
American King James Version× He tells us very plainly - He says, you've got to know that God exists. You've got to understand that and you've got to know that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Not haphazardly but diligently.
Now that is our struggle, is it not, as men and women, because some days we do better than other days. We have to constantly fight the flesh and our carnality which we all carry with us, baggage from the past, and we have to constantly ask God for help in the battle of overcoming, to obtain a fuller knowledge of God because ignorance and true worship are incompatible. They don't mix and you can't put old wine with new wine and the old bags with the new bags. Jesus made that very clear when He talked to the Samaritan woman, that we have just covered there in John 4:22 John 4:22You worship you know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
American King James Version×.
The apostle Paul also confronted a group of individuals on Mars Hill that you read about in the book of Acts. (Acts 17:22 Acts 17:22Then Paul stood in the middle of Mars' hill, and said, You men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious.
American King James Version×– 23) They were worshiping - they had a particular form of worship by putting out various altars - an altar to the unknown God. They were so superstitious or religious in their devotions, as some translations say; they wanted to be sure they didn't leave any of the gods out because they were polytheists. They had many gods in mind. They were afraid maybe one god would get angry with them so to the unknown God, whoever he is, please, here is our form of worship. Paul comes along, he sees that and he says: I see you are all very religious or superstitious, is what King James says, but he says, I tell you what: that one which you ignorantly worship, Him I am going to declare to you and then Paul begins to expound the truth to those who were there on Mars Hill.
We must know God and we must come to understand and appreciate all He is.
Ezekiel 20:20 Ezekiel 20:20And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.
American King James Version×– and you might just use this as a very good study one time because what it tells you in this chapter, that the twin-killers that brought ancient Israel down and what you and I are told to be extremely careful about in our day and age today, is we've got to watch and guard against idolatry which is everywhere around us today, and we also have to be careful that we don't find ourselves Sabbath-breaking. Because again, we are in contempt of court if we start dealing in ways that are contrary to God's desire for us on the Sabbath.
Ezekiel 20:18 Ezekiel 20:18But I said to their children in the wilderness, Walk you not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols:
American King James Version× "But I said to their children in the wilderness, ‘Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor observe their judgments (now, notice) nor defile yourselves with their idols.
You and I have got to guard against idolatry. That is what affected them; its what can affect us today because people have every kind of idol under the sun. You and I are told to be mindful.
V.19 – I am the Lord your God: Walk in My statutes; keep My judgments, and do them;
That's what the scriptures affirm - not the hearers of the law but the doers of the law, and we want to be doing what God says we should be doing or otherwise we are on the wrong side of the ledger and,
V.20 – hallow My (notice!) Sabbaths. (plural) Each and every Sabbath along the lines of our spiritual responsibility to the annual Sabbaths, and notice, and they will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.'
That is how we know. Otherwise today people say well, you know, how can you prove God exists. Well, you can't prove God exists to a carnal mind. They can be looking straight at the facts but they won't buy it. That is why it says, they are willingly ignorant because if you look around you can see that there was a massive flood at one time and they deny the evidence of that.
At least we know that the atheists, the ones who don't believe in God, claim that God doesn't exist; we know that they finally now have joined ranks with a special day set aside for them: It is tomorrow. It is called April fools day and God says only a fool has said in his heart there is no God. That is their day. We have our day and it is called the Sabbath. Atheists have their day that represents their foolishness and God shows us very plainly here again that He wants to have a relationship with us that we have a fuller understanding of who and what He is.
How do we understand that about God the Father? Jesus had to come to reveal to us the Father because no one knew the Father existed until Jesus came to make it known. So, when we see Jesus and we study Jesus, and the more we understand about Him, the more we see the reflection of how He is the summation of what His Father, His heavenly Father is all about and if you have seen one, you've seen the other. That is what He told one of His disciples. He (the disciple) said: Can you show me the Father? And He said, Philip, have I been with you so long that you are asking that question? If you have seen me you have seen the Father because I and the Father are one (John 14:8-9 John 14:8-9  Philip said to him, Lord, show us the Father, and it suffises us.
 Jesus said to him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how say you then, Show us the Father?
American King James Version×).
So again, the basics that we have to keep in mind on this equation, to obtain a fuller knowledge of God, is a goal that all of us need. And what do we learn about God? He is the only true God. Scriptures affirm that. He is an eternal God; He is a personal God; and He is not some mysterious force in the universe. He is real, more real than any of us and as you go through the scriptures, John 17:20-21 John 17:20-21  Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
 That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me.
American King James Version×, you find that the word Father is used 6 times in that prayer that Jesus referenced to His father. We will be going through that on the Passover I am sure, again, as we go through John 17.
We also find out that God has a wonderful character trait that you and I need and we've got to cultivate: God is love. His very nature, everything about Him, radiates what the Bible calls the agape love, the highest form of love. It says He dwells in unapproachable light in the beauty of holiness and if you were to come into His presence and see, you would just be overwhelmed by this warmth and the loving affection that God generates. That is like He generates the light because He is light. He gives off this beautiful, gorgeous glory that the Bible uses in term. You know glory is an awesome word. It just evokes so much. The love of God - to be able to be like Him; because when you look and see everything that God has created, how He has made all the ramifications, thought it all through and then created us in His image, or this great divine family that He is wanting to create for Himself – you are just awestruck by His love.
The very fact that the God of heaven and earth would be willing to die for us – if that's not love, I mean, none of us can comprehend that. That goes against even the human psyche. How in the world, for God has all that power, why would He die for us? To show us that you and I, that we cannot save ourselves without His divine help. That is why we have to go back each year and be brought to this understanding. He is a great God of love.
The second great point that He emphasizes in this very important study here, "The purpose of worship; why God commands it", is for us to draw nearer to God. It is imperative that you and I draw near to God because we live in a world and society that is drawing away from God and getting further and further away from God. They don't want to hear His commandments; they don't want to hear about the Bible. One minister, well-meaning in his own, out in California somewhere, in front of a DMV out in California - it was closed but he was there some 50 feet away, I think. From what I believe he was just trying to, in his way, witness for Christ and he was standing out there reading from the Bible. They arrested him and took him to jail. So you can't do that because you are preaching to an audience that can't get away from you because you are right there and they are there and you preach to them and so they are in a controlled atmosphere or an audience that can't get away. So that was against the law.
Well, that was terrible because again, James 4:8 James 4:8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.
American King James Version× reminds us what we are all responsible for in our relationship with God. Notice what it says:
James 4:8 James 4:8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.
American King James Version× Draw nigh to God – that is what we are supposed to be doing on a day-to-day basis. Draw nigh to God - and notice the response - and He will draw nigh to you.
Oh, so God will not come forward unless you seek Him out.
Very important that we reach out and draw near to God and he will draw near to us but we have a responsibility in this because God is a holy God and notice what we have to do:
James 4:8 James 4:8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.
American King James Version× …Cleanse your hearts, you sinners; - now to understand what it means to be a sinner means that we have to understand that sin is the violation of God's law (1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
American King James Version×), otherwise how do you know you are a sinner? The Bible - as we read it, it reads us and it reveals these things to us and it says: ….purify your hearts, (why? – because you are) double-minded.
You've got one foot in the world and one foot in your relationship with God and God says, I don't want that other foot in the world. I want you to have a whole relationship with Me. I want you to keep these things in mind. He says:
V.9 –be afflicted and mourn and weep! Why would you do that? Well, look at all the sorrow that people are going through in this world. This is not a fun time. There are little wonderful respites of joy that we experience but look, we are living in a world of a lot of hurt; a lot of people are hurting big time. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy into heaviness.
V.10 – Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
It is His desire to lift us up but first we have to walk humbly with Him and learn some basic things. Now how do you come to God? With a true heart. Let's take a look at:
Psalms 34:18 Psalms 34:18The LORD is near to them that are of a broken heart; and saves such as be of a contrite spirit.
American King James Version× The Lord is near to those who have a (what?) broken heart. - Not a stony hard-hearted heart, but a broken heart – and (He) saves such as have a contrite spirit.
In other words, we walk humbly with God; acknowledging His supremacy in all things.
V.19 – Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but (this great and wonderful) Lord delivers him out of them all.
That is a wonderful promise that we have to keep in mind: That it is God who is working out these things in our lives.
Philippians 2 reminds us again of what we are to daily keep in mind – our mindset:
Philippians 2:12 Philippians 2:12Why, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
American King James Version× Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, - in other words, you don't have to have somebody watching over you because God watches everything we do and God says what we need to be mindful of. We are responsible to – work out your own salvation – meaning, just like you go to the exercise location and you work the various machines to exercise your body and keep it in tone; to keep your spiritual life in tone, you've got to –work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
You have to keep that perspective but with this in mind:
V.13 – for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
And so you and I are told to:
V.14 – Do all things without complaining and disputing,
God didn't intend for us to always live life drawing lines in the sand and having an attitude of confrontation which this world has.
So to draw near to God is very important. How do we do that? Well, we can do that in song, just like we have our song service here on the Sabbath and when we get together and we sing, what are we supposed to do?
V.2 – While I live I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
This is why again, we should never take our song service as a matter of fact where we just kind of open the book and sing a song. We want to understand those words and we want to sing our hearts out to God because we are not here to impress one another. We are here to sing our joy and our happiness to God who gives us life. If God did not grant us the gift of life and watch over us like He does, then where would we be? Life would have no existence without God. So here again, we are told to sing our hearts out.
You already know about daily we should be praying to God because that is so important. In prayers we have the admonition:
Psalms 145:18 Psalms 145:18The LORD is near to all them that call on him, to all that call on him in truth.
American King James Version× The Lord is near to all who (do what?) call upon Him. We have to be calling on God, talking to Him. –To all who call upon Him (notice) in truth.
It is important to call on God and to talk to Him in the context of His holy word - not just to ramble because we are all guilty at times of rambling in our prayers. When we were young we didn't know any better. We had a good case of the give-me prayers. Lord give me this; Lord give me that and finally we had to learn to first praise this great God who made all things, whose name is holy, whose law is precious and is being written in our minds and hearts, and once we understand that, then as we get through that and thank God for Jesus Christ our Passover, then we are to do what? Thank Him for all the things He has given to us and then explain what our problems and difficulties are and let Him know about that as well.
Sometimes it may be an urgent need and we have to go right to the problem. Brethren are hurting everywhere and need prayers so we want to pray and we want to know that God is there with us and then in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 1 Corinthians 11:23-26  For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered to you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
 And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do you, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of me.
 For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord's death till he come.
American King James Version× it talks about this memorial event that we are required to do on a yearly basis, called the Passover.
Now again, how important it is to put the emphasis on the right place. This is why again we have to discern the word of God. If you go through that chapter you will find that how people today read that chapter and they say "for as often as you do this" and they think, oh, then I need to do it every first Sunday, every first and third Sunday or maybe every Sunday, but it says if it is a memorial of the death of Christ, how often did He die? The emphasis should not be do it as often as you want just because you desire to do it, it means honor Him on the time of His death and His death was on the Passover, the 14th, as pictured in the Holy Day Calendar, in Nisan in the spring of the year or Abib as it is sometimes referred to. What that does then is it keeps us mindful again of why He had to die.
He had to be the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world: your sin, my sin, everyone's sin but a sin that can only be forgiven when we repent. When we come to God and we say, I am this way as you have said. I am a sinful creature; I have done sinful things; I ask your forgiveness. When we repent and are being called to conversion then we are baptized, we receive the spirit of God and then our past sins are blotted out. The battle is on a daily basis and then if we stumble and falter, what does God say we do? We run right back to God because the goodness of God leads you to repentance and says you can't stay this way; you're playing with fire again; now you better get that underneath the blood of Christ and once that happens then you can walk again in newness of life. This is important.
So we understand to come on the Sabbath and worship God by His command, is to obtain a fuller knowledge of God; to draw near to God; and then to number three, to reinforce our hope in God. The hope of a Christian is the hope of the resurrection. This is what is outlined in scripture for us. Let's notice 1 Thessalonians 4.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 1 Thessalonians 4:16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
American King James Version× (There is going to come a time when) the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
These will be the ones who will be qualified as firstfruits in the first and glorious resurrection in the plan of God. The ones who are still alive when this happens, which might be our very generation – many of God's people may be alive when this happens and it says:
V.17 – Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
So, first you have those who have died in Christ and what is the hope? That they will live again. Because Jesus was raised from the dead we have the hope that those who have gone before will likewise be raised. This was the example that God gave us from Lazarus in the scripture, to show us that God has the power to raise people from the dead. Even father Abraham realized that when he was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac and could not fully comprehend at that moment why would God want that to be done, but he followed through, trusting God in faith, that is why he is called the father of the faithful, and what transpired? God delivered him. He said, don't hurt the son, your only son. Because you are willing to do this, now I know that you fear God.
Every one of us have to be proof-tested: Do we really fear God? We say we do but we sure want to be walking humbly in the fear of our great God. Why? Because He is a merciful God but He is a God of awesome power. He tore ancient Egypt to pieces and if you want to see, read in the Psalms and read back there what He did to ancient Egypt and the problems they faced because they worshiped many gods and He said, I will show them. I will literally destroy the gods of Egypt because I am God. They are giving worship to all these pagan idols and things: crows and bugs and cows and all kinds. They worshiped anything and every thing but they didn't worship the true God. They had to learn about who the true God was. God said, I did this to show. It is on record and there is coming a time again when a world that has gotten so far away from God is going to realize there is truly a great and awesome God that reigns supreme.
That hope is based on the promises of God and He has given us many wonderful promises. Let's take a look at:
2 Peter 1:3 2 Peter 1:3According as his divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue:
American King James Version× as His divine power – notice, God has divine power. Human beings are fascinated by power of any kind but none have comprehended the fullness of the power of God. It is so awesome and so great that it is able to hold all things together because of the greatness of God's power that He controls. It goes on to say here:
V. 3 – as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life – Yes, everything that we see and experience comes by the grace of God – and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, - To experience the glory of God in His family and also to have what? Be stamped with the virtue or character of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, in our very lives.
V.4 – by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, - we all have human nature but we are destined to have the divine nature of Almighty God – having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (or inordinate desire.)
What God is given us is His word that says that as Jesus Christ was raised from the grave by the power of God the Father, so the hope of every Christian in Christ Jesus is that, if we are to be laid to rest in the process of time, that God will raise us to His glorified purpose in our lives, as spirit sons and daughters and to be changed, if we are so fortunate to be changed, in the twinkling of an eye as we have mentioned many a time. That would be a wonderful thing to be able to see this glorious event and all its ramifications as God has outlined in His scriptures.
So hope based on the promises of God are very important and we are told that we have, in 1 Peter 1:3 1 Peter 1:3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
American King James Version×– 4, these marvelous promises that are given to us and it is a living hope – a living hope that we are given so that we know that God is a reality. He is a reality to be understood; His promises are to be given for our benefit and His power is unlimited. Jesus even said, Matthew 28:18 Matthew 28:18And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.
American King James Version×, all power, authority, has been given unto Me in heaven and in earth. And then we are to do what? Go forward and preach the gospel. Alright, that brings us now to hold fast this wonderful hope.
Revelation 3:11 Revelation 3:11Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown.
American King James Version× We are admonished – He says: Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
The crown that God wants to give us is a crown that is not just the eternal life, it's crowns for what we have done; The benefits and the blessings that God wants to give us to show us the crown of righteousness, the crown of beauty and splendor that represents the worship that we have given to Him, in service and devotion to His calling.
The fourth area of concern – this is one that we certainly all need as the years go by. The purpose of worship is to receive strength from God's Holy Spirit because you can't do it on your own strength. You can't deliver the goods that God asks of us without the help and the worship of God to promote the love of God in our lives and the good works that are required. Only God can do that in and through us because we are a work in progress. We haven't been completed yet. Our completion is yet down the road.
You and I, in Hebrews 10, are commanded to do something here as we see the day approaching:
Hebrews 10:23 Hebrews 10:23Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
American King James Version× Let us hold fast (like we read in the book of Revelation) the confession of our hope without wavering, (we don't want to go back and forth and back and forth) for He who promised is faithful.
V.24 – And let us consider one another in order to stir up (or provoke) love and good works,
It is important that we recognize how important the weekly Sabbath is by divine summons. He goes on to say:
V.25 – not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as in the manner of some, (he says) but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
That day is coming rapidly and we need to understand that it is a day that is going to spell out certain things for individuals and we need to recognize that. In Romans 13 – the book of Romans deals with this very subject as the day is approaching.
Romans 13:11 Romans 13:11And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
American King James Version× And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time – it is very important for us to realize that we don't have a whole lot of time to waste. Life travels by very rapidly and we have to be ready every day. He says: now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now (notice) our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.
You know this is not a time to get out on the limbs of the tree and get all bend out of shape over various issues that people are, apparently, being tempted in in this day and age. Obviously there are things that always need to be looked into and evaluated but the bottom line of our calling is dealing with salvation in Christ Jesus and if we don't follow Him and we get all bent out of shape as many individuals today in the Churches of God seem to be getting caught off base, they argue about this and argue about that – we are told to do all things without murmuring. Our purpose is to do what? To live and practice to the best of our ability the things that God says will bring God's salvation to us. We ‘ve got to see that big picture.
V.12 – The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us (do what?) put on the armor of light.
A reference to Ephesians 6 – the armor of God. Then it goes on, it says: Let us put on the armor, the armor of light, because God is always pictured as light in His revelation in scripture, and,
V.13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness (shacking up like so many people do today) and lust, not in strife and envy.
But our focus should be again,
V.14 – But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, - like you put your clothes on. God wants us to be characterized by putting on the character of Jesus Christ, and it says: and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
Colossians talks about that – that we are supposed to put to death the wrong desires. When your desires in the flesh want to go in a way that the Bible says, don't go that way; you've got to kill it right then and there. You've got to nip it in the bud. You can't cater around and play with it because again it is going to cause you some serious problems if you do. So all the scripture can do, by the Spirit of God, is to warn you and tell you that there are serious consequences in that area.
In order to receive the spirit of God and the strength of God - our salvation is a lot closer and as we get older, what is it that the adversary seeks to do? Wear out the saints, as you read about that in the book of Daniel. Do you get tired at times, folks? I think you do. I think we all do because we are being overwhelmed in our day and age. So much is coming at us so fast and furious that if you don't stop to get a hold of yourself, you find yourself just being tossed to and fro.
Now the Bible gives us an admonition in the Gospels and it tells us that there is coming a time when the winds and the storms are going to be blowing and it says your house is either going to be on a rock, which is referencing to Jesus Christ, or it is going to be on sand. If it is on sand, when those storms start blowing, it says that house is going to collapse and it is going to be a massive devastation to those in that state of affairs. If we are properly locked in on Jesus Christ then we will be able to withstand the upheaval that is coming. Jesus said it is coming.
Every day that God grants to us is a gift from our Creator. How we use that day represents what we give back to Him. May we all bring forth the fruit that God is looking for and that brings us to the fifth and final point: Why the Sabbath is so important in worship and why God commands it – is we have to bear fruit.
John 15:8 John 15:8Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples.
American King James Version× By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
The fruit that God wants us to bear is the fruit that is represented as by Jesus Christ: to set a good example; to grow and develop in spiritual mindedness by studying the word of God; thinking like God thinks; asking God to think more like Him. Like it says in Philippians, let this mind be in you which is in Christ Jesus. In other words, we are talking about mindset. How do we think? But we know how the world thinks and God is telling us, don't embrace the way the world is thinking. Love not the world. Don't fall for the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh or the pride of life because He says, that is not of the Father. If we are going to worship we have to worship properly. We have to hold fast our allegiance, our profession; we have to, Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
American King James Version×, seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness; and then fulfill our duties to others. Be ready, be watching and waiting. Ready, watching and waiting.
We are told then, in essence, and in conclusion, "We invest our time wisely." And what do we invest it in? To obtain a fuller knowledge of God; to obtain a wonderful opportunity to draw near to God; to reinforce our hope – the living hope – that God has given to us; and to receive strength and bear fruit.
That's what God has given us – a wonderful opportunity to worship Him in spirit and truth. This is why it is so important for us to understand the purpose of worship and why God commands it, because there is a lot of people worshiping today things that they think please God and God says, no way. No way is that going to be acceptable. Only when we walk humbly according to God's laws and His commands and embrace our loving Father and Jesus Christ and let them teach us the way of righteousness, then we will be on the right path.
May God help us all and may we all be blessed by this Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread that we may fulfill the will of God more perfectly in our lives to His glory and to His honor. In Christ we pray.