Hi good morning its Sunday 17th of January and like myself am sure that you have many questions about this time and where we are today.
Some relating to life and some relating to lockdown and covid 19, the unrest that we find in the world.
and sometimes I suppose the big, big question is, what does this all mean is it all meant to be? is it prophecy? is it the fend times?
Well I hope I can resolve some of these questions for you, however, what I want to do this morning is Welcome you to my video link Where for, the next few weeks. we are going to be looking at the questions surrounding worship. for even before lockdown worship was something that was being questioned.
so what I am going to be talking about this morning is worship. Can we worship on line? and can we worship in our homes?
so what I simply propose to do is ask a few questions concerning these things, such as where does worship come from and where do we get the idea, is it natural thing for us to do? or is it something that we have to be taught or is it cultural?
for in order to get the right answer we have to ask the right questions. So then what about our Christian worship?
In first place, The first place in the Bible where we actually find the use of the word “worship” is in Genesis 22:5 which we find in the story of Abraham where he is about to sacrifice his son Isaac.
However, when it comes to worship what we can do is that we can also see something earlier of worship in the story of Cain and Abel where they squabble over the substance of their offering.
But its not until we come to the book of exodus that we really begin to see the idea of worship taking shape as if Moses is trying to restore something that had already been established. emerging. and not at least until the pages of Deuteronomy do we find any mention of worship. where in Deuteronomy 5 where we are told specific one thing that worship in particular was part of, one of God’s ten commandments.
"Observe the Sabbath day, keep it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you to do. Six days you shall labour but on the seventh you shall have rest. for the seventh day is the day of the LORD your God.
The emphasis here is on the word obedience.
and in v 15 it basically says that we are to "Remember [on this day] that once upon a time we were slaves." and did not have the opportunity in which the text is referring to the years of captivity the children of Israel had to endure. so The implication is obvious. That there was a time when the Israelites were slaves and were denied the freedom to worship God.
So properly understood, the Sabbath compels us to remember the past as well as the future, and always to remember that the Sabbath was a gift from God. that is he freedom the children of Israel from slavery and in doing so his main motive was to give them the allowance to worship him which was the primary objective.
For lest face it when the children of Israel were in Egypt they were slaves. They prayed, they studied, and they held themselves together by their prayers and traditions but I a sense they were set free so they could worship God in their own way and that’s what was behind their freedom.
Where its only afterwards after the Exodus we begin to see how Moses begins to lead his people back to any semblance of the nation they once were. and so begins to write the Torah the five books of the law. In which we discover the beginnings of our worship.
Firstly its given as one of the ten commandments. in which we are meant to come together and devote not only our lives to God but also the day. where in a sense and in that sense only that is how we are supposed to worship God.
Where God gives us clarity of that in Exodus 16. when manna rained down from heaven. when the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven. And the people shall go out and gather a certain amount every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in the ways of the lord or not."
"Six days you shall gather, but on the seventh, the Sabbath, there will be none." However, as the story goes, some of the people did go out on the Sabbath only to find there was no food. so the LORD said to Moses, "How long will they refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? "
At times like these and other times in our lives its often hard to grasp or even understand the concepts of worship. where we often to busy to understand or are willing to give up the time. So in a sense its difficult for us to see that what we do through the week our daily devotions our daily prayers, the things we do in life, our weekly bible study. these are our devotions and this is how we feed ourselves, manna from heaven, but worship is meant to be different.
That is, look, at it this way. You can pray, and study, and read about God all you want, it may encourage you in your faith, your faith to grow, you can even meet God in visions and dreams, in a burning bush, but worship accordingly scripture is a cooperative thing that we do together. where Lock down at the moment has become a very interesting thing.
That is will do us any harm, or even destroy our faith?
The problem we have and this is the thing we cannot see it is one of the ten commandments. where it compels us to come together and not be separate.
Lock down may not harm us, nor affect our faith the children of Israel had to endure lockdown for over 400 years. but some how managed to hold onto their faith.
So contrary to those who assert that the Sabbath has been done away with or can be replaced by the internet, or you do not need to come to church in order to be a Christian is wrong. for it’s a commandment.
and carries the same weight as any of the other commandments, that is would you steel as a Christians. Would you commit murder as a Christian or break any of the other commandments as a Christian?
So in a sense I hope that you can see where I am going with this, in all the questions that I am asking, for we need to know the truth.
When Jesus was questioned about the Sabbath, not observing it in the way the Jews were he once said to them, “man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man.” that is the Sabbath was given to us so that we could bring expression to our faith, so when it come to it that’s what our worship is, it’s the expression of our faith.
Let us pray
Lord you have been kind to me and I acknowledge all your gracious gifts.
Now that I am on my own, I pour out my life to you, forgive my selfish ways.
Help me so to love you, that I may give my life to you, and not to spare a drop of blood,
Be kinder in all my ways. Lord, help me to live my daily life as I should.
To keep safe, my life fit in body and soul, six days to gather all that I need,
On the seventh all my strength that I might not fail you.
The faith that I might not question your commands; in Jesus name I pray.
Good morning it’s Sunday the 21st
Every body worships something whether its money, or whether its other people everybody worships something, a dream, a vision everyone has something they put their heart into, whether its their own life or themselves. Exodus 16.
When the children of Israel fled Egypt they all had their own designs on life. They had been captive for over 400 years, 500 years since Abraham had fled the land of Ur. There was over 2 million of them who not only came from Goshin, but also from cities like Pithom, there was the upper and lower Nile.
where in chapter 16 we have a deep, deep sense of controversy, and division because most of the tribes descendants of Israel had gone their own way. That is they had digressed from the original of Abraham.
where a rebellion takes place between the elders of the Israelites led by Korah, Dathan and Abiram The three who led the rebellion were three brothers who had been brought up in Goshin. appointed as elders, by the council of Israel along with 250 others.
but they rebelled because they didn’t share in the same gospel. Yes they had the same oral traditions, and shared in the same biblical stories, but each family had digressed.
so when it came to worship they had their own ideas, some tainted by the outside world, where some had taken on board certain characteristics of the Egyptians, and other beliefs. woven them into their own ways. So up until then each tribe did was doing their own thing, in many ways a bit like our own culture where many of them had fallen in adaptation to popular belief rather than holding onto what true faith is. where many like Koran, Dathan and Abrim turned to a popular version of their beliefs. The name of God for instance became BAAL rather than YHWH. And a golden calf a substitute for a God they could not see.
So as time progressed each tribe little, by little, even if slight had digression from the truth. And so what we are faced with in Exodus 16 is the nitty gritty of worship, the politics of worship.
where the interesting thing about worship is how do we know that we are worshipping God properly, because up until this point, there is no bible, no worship in the bible, no script, no chancel, and no altar.
each bring with them centuries of habit and tradition. Their interpretation and understanding how we worship God. There is a commonality, and a common sense of belief in God. the ancient stories of Genesis handed down from generation to generation. But there is a split, there is this digressive popular belief, and then there is this far reaching belief in Moses and what he brings to the fore.
and the thing that comes to the fore here is service, in the likes of Koran, Dahan and Abiram, we are meant to see how easy the gospel can be turned into a prosperity gospel. In Egypt they said, let us go back to Egypt because it was a land flowing with milk and honey. we prospered there, god was good to us then .but mosses had led them into the wilderness to die.
the camp was divided, some saw the sense in their logic just as some of us, we were wealthy, healthy and rich.
But Moses took them to task, where God judged them. for the one thing that they were certainly not doing was pleasing God by worshipping a false idol.
so all I am wanting you to do this morning is to consider the word digression here.
each of the tribes were descendants of the sons of Abraham. but by the time they had arrived. they had digressed so much they had nothing that even remotely what Abraham had handed down.
Digression is really simple to understand its simply a move away from the subject or the origins of a subject like truth. where the main purpose in worship is not to please ourselves but God.
There’s a famous song about worship, it got to number one a few years ago. its called alleluia, they say that David had a secret cord, and when he played it pleased the lord but you don’t believe in music do yah! digression is simply to move away from the subject or the truth where we find an example this in exodus 16. a trait that we all suffer from perhaps one of the reason why the Church of Scotland’s moto is always in need of reform.
Did you know and this comes from a Jewish scholar, that Calvinism, Presbyterianism, is the closest thing you will ever get to proper biblical practices.
Think about what I have just said. worship is not a service to our selves but a service to God. a service in which we are meant to be pleasing God, and not necessarily ourselves.
let us pray
Lord, God, God who is creator, of all things, be gracious onto us. Let me remember the poor, and all who are seeking to be helped, all those who seek to help, let me remember all those who are trying to please you, to bring justice, to banish all poverty from this world. let me remember the men and women whose daily toil is a costly service. trying to fulfil the words of your son, trying to love others as he loved. lord let me remember that in all my toil and all labour I can do not good without your help or that assistance which comes from above. let me remember all those social reformers, peacemakers, who seek to deliver and do your will by delivering your people from the captive of evil and sin. lord us that we may bless you through Jesus Christ or lord. amen.
Philippians 4. 8 31st January 2021
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Have you ever wondered why you read? For enjoyment? for the love and beauty of it? for knowledge? to understand life more and to manage it well? What would Christ think of your reading today? Is most of your reading light and common-place? is it childish? is there a lot of beauty and truth and joy in it for you? what are you trying to achieve or are you trying to achieve anything? is it feeding your soul? or is it poising your mind? are you really making use of the wonderful privilege of being able to read - having the wealth of good reading in order to understand life?
Its easy to ask questions but sometimes asking the right questions gives the right answers.
I remember years ago as a young boy. In the sixties, those were the days of gangs, that is, as a young boy you had to be in a gang. there must have been about 30 in our gang. it was Sunday, some of our gang had been to church others the salvation army, we had pinched a rope, and so decided to make a trapeze. The green carpets was a big forest next to the village, there was this natural incredible place for trapeze. Alex and Bobby Walker two of the best climbers tied the rope onto the swinging branch.
IT LOOKED GREAT! SO WE DECIDED TO TEST IT TO SEE HOW STRONG IT WAS. SO WE DECIDED TO PILE ON. THE TALLEST AND STRONGEST AT THE BOTTOM. WE COULD ONLY EVER MANAGE 17.
DAVEY MORRIS WAS THE LEADER, THE ONE WITH THE BRAINS. HE SHOUTED HOLD ON A MINUTE IVE JUST THOGHT OF SOMETHING.
WE ARE DOING THIS ALL WRONG.
WAIT, WHOSE THE SMALLEST, JIMMY MECIL, PUT HIM ON FIRST, YOU BIG GUYS ON LAST. JIMMY WAS TINY. SO WE ALL STARTED TO PILE ON ONE BY ONE. FROM THE SMALLEST TO THE LARGEST.
WE GOT 27 ON WHICH WAS A RECORD.
JESUS SAID THE FIRST SHALL BE LAST AND THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST.
IT WASN’T ABOUT PRIVILEGE OT THOSE WHO THOUGHT THEMSELEVS FIRST BEING LAST BUT EVERYONE JOINING IN. AND HOW WE HELP EACH OTHER.
THERE WAS APPRIOAXIMATELY 14,950 OTHER ISREALITES WHO PERISHED ALONG SIDE KORAH, DATHAN AND ABIRAM WHEN THEY REBELLED AGAINST GOD.
IT WAS QUITE A SACRIFICE.
WORSHIP WHY DO WE WORSHIP? DO WE WORSHIP TO GET SOMETHING OUT OR DO WE WORSHIP TO PUT SOMETHING IN? DO WE COME TO WORSHIP GOD? OR DO WE COME ON A SUNDAY TO BE SOCIALBLE? OR DO WE COME TOGETHER IN ORDER TO PILE ON?
ALLOW GOT TO TAKE THE STRAIN AND THE PRESSSURE, TO SHOW OUR FAITH IN EACH OTHER AND IN HIM?
WITH SO MANY ON THE ROPE THE ROPE COULD SO EASILY HAVE BROKEN AND WE WOULD HAVE ALL FELL TWENTY FEET. BUT WE DIDN’T BECAUSE WE HAD FAITH IN EACH OTHER AND WE HAD FAITH IN THE ROPE.
The walkers had proven their strength and their fortitude, we all trusted them for they were the ones who had tied the life line. the not at the top.
so we all piled on 27 of us that day swung on the rope, in order to do so we had to trust Davey our leader. for a moment he had stood back a little and realised why we couldn’t all pile on. the smallest couldn’t reach the rope to jump on. so we started from the smallest where the tallest and the strongest they could jump on.
when we read this is the funny thing about reading. it could be so easy for us all to say that we can worship God from our homes or watching tv, but that is not what God calls us to do he calls us all to pile on, to see how many of us can get onto the rope so he can pull us up, take the load, and bare the strain.
and that’s what he began to do in the wilderness with the children of Israel who were all wanting to do their own thing.
That’s when he told Moses to build the tabernacle, to place the two tablets of stone with the word of God on them into an arch. for the twelve tribes of ISRAEL come together and assemble as one.
Moses had three tasks; the recovery of the word; to lead the children of Israel out of bondage and reconstruct them as a people.
LET US PRAY
Lord for give my trespasses. forgive my neglect of your word. for indifference thinking that I can do it on my own. to neglect the story of Jesus Christ for my own self pity. for my heedlessness of your voice calling us to be at one. forgive us O God, for all our foolishness in reading, without observing, without our praising, without giving thanks fulfilling our mission and our goal, being one together in you. amen.
GOOD MORNING IT Sunday 7th January A FINE WINTERY MORNING.
THE LORD BE WITH YOU!
exodus 7. AND God said to Moses…
…15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning as you see him walking out to the water. Wait on the bank of the Nile to meet him, and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake. 16Then say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to tell you: Let My people go, so that they may worship Me in the wilderness. But you have not listened until now. 17This is what the LORD says: By this you will know that I am the LORD. Behold, with the staff in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will turn to blood.…
LOCHDOWN is beginning to become a serious ISSUE, a time for reflection and a time for thinking and A TIME FOR ASKING SERIOUS QUESTIONS.
BEFORE LOCKDOWN WORSHIP WAS ALREADY BEING CONTESTED. ESPECIALLY BY THOSE WHO SAW NO PURPOASE IN IT.
BUT IN EXODUS 7 WHAT WE ARE GIVEN IS THE REASON FOR WORSHIP. BECAUSE GOD COMMANDS IT. AND ITS FOR THIS REASON GOD DEMANDS LET MY PEOPLE GO.
and instils the idea of purpose in our lives.
where Worship refers to A reverence paid to God/ A respect given to HIM in recognition of WHO HE IS the creator and THE controller of LIFE.
AND AS FAR AS WE CAN TELL. The Israelites must have known THEIR God exceptionallywell e.g. they knew him as provider, protector, God of justice, and a mighty and powerful God.
but above all they respect him and loved him and so he heard their cries, and heard their prayers.
and so when they escaped it was only During the period in the wilderness, that the Israelites actually began to worship God not just as individuals but as a community. for in order to worship God you have to live God. as Jesus said, who ever loves me keeps my fathers commandments.
so according to the bible it happened in specific places. the tabernacle. where only the elders worshipped and approached God and even in that only Moses.
worship then was new involved:
A. Sacrifice and offerings
1. blood offerings and burnt offerings/holocaust
sacrificial animals completely removed from human possession and given to God.
given individual or by the community.
2. Atonement/ sin offerings wee made
Offered when one had sinned either against God or against his neighbour, someone wanting their sins to be forgiven.
The one who had sinned brought an animal before God and offered it as a sacrifice.
The animal died on behalf of the person who sinned.
3. there were Peace offerings/ communion yes they already had bread and wine/called a fellowship offering
Part of the meat of the sacrificial animal was eaten by the people.
4. then there was the Gift offerings and tithing
The best of animals the best of grain offered to God as a thanksgiving.
5. Meal offering/ drink offering
6. Incense offering
and where there was no formal worship before God through Moses introduced worship and introduced a worship that he wanted and was pleasing to him
1. and it begins with The Passover
so All worship involved:
A. Sacrifices and offerings making Atonement for ones sins
sharing a meal with someone the entire flock even if you didn’t like some one.
at first there was no Altars, no tabernacle, no church,
Altars marked an earthly meeting place between God and the people. up until then the Israelites only ever built altars in places where they received a Theophany a revelation.
e.g. Abraham built two altars, one at Shechem and the other one at Bethel
but The practice of building altars had ceased during the years of captivity. .
Prayer and Songs were mostly used by People to communicated with God, called the healing frequencies of yahveh. mostly used by priests and their leaders such as Moses and Joshua.
Every week they worked for six days and on the seventh day they rested
They erected two tents the tabernacle and Tent of Meeting they separated their politics from their worship.
It was a portable structure in which the Israelites worshipped God.
The outer court contained the altar for incense, several menorah, a particular one thirteen branches, a golden stick and the bread of the presence table.
The inner court was known as the holy of Holys because it contained the Ark of the Covenant.
- The Ark of the Covenant was covered with pure gold and the inside contained the two stone tablets in which the Ten Commandments were written.
It was taken care of by the Levites and the priest from the time of Moses.
The Tabernacle a tent, symbolized the presence of God among his people.
Priests would go inside the Tabernacle to offer prayers and sacrifices to God on behalf of the people.
its hard to imagine that by the time of the lord worship had become corrupt. the reason why he upset the money changers tables and why he got angry, and upset. for he knew that
the worship of God and the service of God were practically synonymous terms. here people were serving themselves and not God and it can happen. where in biblical terms
true worship was only ever regarded as dutiful.
and throughout the bible from the very beginnings of its development there was always the growing realization that service not rendered whole heartedly was not true worship. as the lord said, was merely lip service.
and so its back to the question of worship.
where I don’t think for one moment God has decided not to allow us to worship him.
where I see lockdown as a testing point. do we really want to worship God?
Matthew 24 Jesus says many will fall away from their faith. and I see that today even before the pandemic. people coming to church simply offering lip service.
in speaking Jesus was talking about the end times.
its so easy to come to church for all the wrong reasons.
God doesn’t command us one moment to worship him and then the next prevent us so.
the whole idea of Jesus sacrificing himself was to do with liberating us from our sins so we could worship God, that is, sin prevents us from truly worshipping God. the parallels with the wilderness are there. ceremony, liturgy habitual practices are all the same, they are only a development of one thing worship, Jesus worshipped God by giving his life that’s how he worshipped God giving his life to him whole heartedly.
And that is the truth.