We are working our way through the Discipleship Path steps, which are the very expectations that Jesus expects His followers or disciples to do.
Worship, Prayer & Devotion, Service, Small Groups, Share Your Story, Tithe
Remember that a disciple is someone who adheres to the teachings of another, making them a follower, a learner. It’s someone who takes up the ways of someone else. A disciple is completely devoted to a teacher. But they don’t simply master a trade or a subject, they literally learn to imitate their teacher’s life.
So applied to Jesus Christ, a disciple is someone who learns from Him to live like Him — to take on Jesus’ words and Jesus’ ways.
The four Gospels, where Jesus’ words are recorded, show Jesus saying “Believe in me” just twice. He said it, and repeated it, so it’s important. But He likely only said it twice between four books because belief is holding to an opinion or conviction, like “Yes, I know there is a God.” But anyone can believe there is a God and yet still not follow Him. To follow God, you have to have faith which is the commitment to respond to that conviction, to that belief. Faith is literally taking action…it’s following what you say you believe.
The four Gospels also show Jesus saying “Follow Me” 87 times which is the very definition of a disciple. (87 times in 4 books out of 27 in the New Testament) The term Christian is used just 3 times in the whole New Testament, whereas the word disciple, one who follows (one who takes action), appears more than 250 times.
There’s something we can learn from the early church. Belief is good, but you’ve got to follow. Being a Christian is good, but if you want to make a difference in this world, if you want to make a difference in your life, if you want to be obedient to God, you have to take action.
What is Worship?
So the next step that we are beginning to talk about today is something else that is recorded a lot in scripture, in fact, in both the Old and New Testaments. It’s something that is a huge part of being a disciple, and really incorporates all the other steps. Worship.
If I were to ask you to define worship, could you? Let’s check out what the old Webster Dictionary says.
Worship is the feeling (noun) or expression (verb) of respect and adoration (love) for God or a god; to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion.
So to worship is to show a lot of love for something. In fact, worship is an extreme form of love. It’s a type of unquestioning devotion. For example, if you worship God, the Father and Creator of the universe, then you love God so much that you don’t question Him, like at all. You trust, admire, look up to, you love Him, you walk with, you live for Him.
Now, there are many forms of worship. Of course, going to church is a form of community worship, singing, praying and devotions are all worship, giving in honor of God knowing that it’s all His anyways is worshiping, being courageous and taking steps to witness and share the Gospel with others is worship – trusting that God will use you and your words, serving in honor of God is worshiping – taking care of His creation and children.
Why is all of that worshiping? Because you’re sacrificing, giving of yourself to show your love to God. If you’re doing it just for people, then you’re not really worshiping.
But in all reality, we can worship almost anything or anyone. We tend to worship our time, our jobs, our money, our stuff, our desires. And when we find ourselves in that kind of worship, putting those things as priorities over God, well then, we need to question our hearts.
Jesus says in Matthew 22…
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.’ That’s every ounce of who you are!
Worship is an act of love. It is a demonstration of love. To give this kind of love, many of us need a good reason to give that kind of time, attention, energy and devotion to someone. I am here to tell you today, that God gives us a real good reason to worship Him. Allow me to explain.
Would you say you are a good person? Okay. Can you list the 10 Commandments? They’re what determines if we are a good person or not, right? Look at the list and be honest if you have broken any of these laws set out for us to obey.
2 “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.
3 “You must not have any other god but me.
4 “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 5 You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. 6 But I lavish (extravagant) unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.
7 “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.
8 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.
12 “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you. (Have you ever disrespected your parents?)
13 “You must not murder. (Jesus said if you hate someone in your heart, it’s as if you murdered them.)
14 “You must not commit adultery. (Jesus said if you look at a woman with lust, it’s as if you commit adultery.)
15 “You must not steal.
16 “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.
17 “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.”
(Don’t want what your neighbor has because you end up going back to #2 and making it an idol and worshiping it.
So according to this list, are you a good person? You just confessed that you are a lying, thieving, blaspheming, adulterous, murder at heart.
When Jesus judges us on Judgement day, are you going to be innocent or guilting? Jesus said there will be judgement. We say it in the Apostle’s Creed – “from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”
He has been given authority to judge all the earth.
In Matthew 16:27 Jesus’ words were…
“For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.”
Now if you are a believer, His judgement is already at work in your lives. And while eternal life is a free gift given on the basis of God’s grace, each of us will still be judged by Christ. There is a future, final judgment when Christ returns and everyone’s life will be reviewed and evaluated. This will not be just for the unbelievers. Christians too will face a judgment. If you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, your eternal destiny is secure, but Jesus will look at how you followed these commandments, how you obeyed specifically after you became a follower of His.
The Ten Commandments are called the moral law. You and I have broken the law, yet someone’s paid the fine. Jesus. That’s why when Jesus was dying on the cross, with His last breath He said, “It is finished.” What was finished? The debt is paid. Sin’s debt is death. The wages of sin is death. And it’s now paid.
Let’s say you’re in court over a bunch of speeding tickets and someone pays your fines. The judge can now legally let you go even though you’re still guilty. He can say you’re guilty, but someone’s paid your fines so your free to go.
God can let you go, let you live forever, take the death sentence off of you all because Jesus paid the fine with His blood and then defeated death by rising from the dead. So not only do we not face death now, we also get eternal life. Are you understanding why we should worship God?
Remember, the Hebrew word for sin means to “miss the mark.” And it doesn’t mean you just missed it by a little. It means like you weren’t even aiming, like you were facing the wrong direction. But the word points to the undoubtable truth, that there is a mark we human beings are meant to hit, a target we are to be aiming for. That target is learning to take on the words and ways of Christ.
This is called sanctifying grace. That once we acknowledge and accept God’s grace, God is continually working on us to help us hit that target. But we have a part in the work. And since we miss the mark on a daily basis – saying, thinking, or doing things we should not do, or failing to say, think or do the things we should do – we find ourselves in need of forgiveness.
Paul says, “We all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.” Romans 3:23
We’re meant to be loving, compassionate, merciful, giving, honest people. As Jesus expressed it, were created with two main goals in life: To love God with all that we are and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. So sin, the opposite of what we are supposed to do, is anything that we do in thought, word, or deed that is inconsistent with loving God or our neighbor or yourself.
Who wouldn’t agree that most of the world’s pain and suffering is because people and societies miss the mark? They stray from the right path because they fail to practice love. The evening news is a testament to the fact that human beings struggle with sin.
But God’s desire is that no one parishes. So out of His great love He made a way to redeem us. He made a way to pay our debt. While we were still sinners Christ died for us. Before we even acknowledged who Christ is, He died for us. That’s why we need to be worshiping Him!!!
We need a savior. And that savior’s name is Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can save us. He can save us, and He can teach us how to live for God. He was the greatest example of how to do so. And worship was at the heart of His entire ministry and life on earth.
He told the woman at the well, the Father is seeking true worshipers — not false worshipers, but true worshipers — those who worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:23–24).
Peter said in 1 Peter 2:9,
“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
What is the darkness? Our sin. We are chosen, saved, and called for the purpose of praising God. It is in our weakness, that God’s glory will be shown!
But God’s not some selfish god that just wants us to bow down before Him like some earthly, arrogant king. It’s once we realize how great He is, how much He loves us, how much He has done for us and how much He continues to do for us, that we do not deserve, that we should declare that God is worthy of our praise; that He is worth more than everything on this earth; He is worth the gift of ourselves.
Jesus said to the woman at the well, “God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” “God is Spirit” means that He is not a physical being limited to one place. He is present everywhere, all the time. So it is not about where we worship that counts, but how we worship. Is our worship genuine and true? Is our worship real or is it just going through the motions?
A Living Sacrifice to God
12 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Here is a man who is begging because he understands the value of worship. He understands who God is. The true way to worship God is being a living and holy sacrifice.
When sacrificing an animal according to God’s law, a priest would kill the animal, do a few grueling details I won’t get into, and place it on the altar. Sacrifice was important, but even in the Old Testament God made it very clear that obedience from the heart was much more important.
1 Samuel 15:22
But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.”
Do you know what submission is? It’s giving all that you have, freely, not expecting anything in return. So no more killing sacrifices. Instead God wants us to offer ourselves – as living sacrifices. Daily laying aside our own desires to follow him. Giving Him all that we have, all that we are.
Remember Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 ESV
Give up your will, and let His be done. The offering God is looking for is YOU! The offering of your living, breathing, beautiful self is what He wants.
To be a disciple, to follow Jesus means to worship Him exclusively. True worship comes from your heart. True worship is your heart. It’s living to honor and obey God. It’s understanding what God has done for us. That He is the Creator, not you.
Remember what Paul said in verse 2. “Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Because He wants only what is best for us, and because He gave his Son to make our new life possible, we should joyfully give ourselves as living sacrifices.
Remember if being a disciple is imitating the life of the teacher, then that means to take on Jesus’ ways. Just think about how He was a living sacrifice and THE ultimate sacrifice. He said to God, “Let your will be done, not mine.” That’s being a living sacrifice.
Being a disciple of Jesus Christ means we learn to live with a different value system than the world. We only worship the One True God.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. May you worship Him in all you do. Amen.