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True Worth-Ship

About three years ago, I taught you all a new word. I’m not sure how many of you remember it – but it was an old english word that isn’t really in use anymore. Most people have never seen it written anywhere or heard it used in any conversation – in fact, I still don’t know how to pronounce it properly, but here’s the word: “Weorthscipe”

My best guess for it’s pronunciation is “We-earth-skype”or “Way-orth-skippy”.

But this word basically means to declare the worth of something. If you break it into two parts, you can start to see our modern english words hidden within the old….

The first part “Weorth” – means value or simply worth. You can see that pretty easily – just drop the ‘e’ and there is the modern word “worth”. So that’s pretty straight forward….

The second part is “scipe” which means “the condition of” or “the quality of”. We see the modern version of this quite often today, although now we spell it now SHIP.  You see it on the end of many words like “friendship” – the condition of being friends – or “leadership” – the condition of being a leader.

So with these two parts – ‘weorth’ meaning value or worth and with ‘scipe’ meaning “the condition of” –  together, we get the idea that “Weorthscipe” is the condition of having worth. Does that make sense to everybody? Are you tracking with me?

This word is important to us today because even though we don’t use the word “woerthscipe” anymore, we certainly use its modern equivalent very often especially in the church – and that modern word of course is  “worship” or “worth-ship”. 

Worship is when we declare or affirm the worth or the worthy-ness of something or Someone.

And I’m guessing that by now you know where I’m going with this, but if not, let me back up just a bit and explain why we’re talking about worship this morning.

As most of you know, for the past few weeks we have been talking about God’s Ekkelsia – the church – the assembly of God’s family.

And I don’t want to take too long to do a recap, but basically we’ve been going over the purpose of the church. We started by looking at what the church actually is and we discovered that the Bible describes the church as the family of God, as the body of Christ, and as an assemble of God’s chosen people.

From there we considered the purpose of the church – why has God adopted us into his family? Why is He putting together this body? Why has He brought us together in this assembly?

And we found that there are many things that God wants to accomplish through His church, but there is one main over-arching purpose in all of it. And that purpose is to glorify God.

In everything we do, our ultimate purpose is to proclaim and display the goodness of God. We read in 1 Peter 2:9…

…for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

God has chosen us so that we can show others the goodness of God. We are to display His glory and His goodness.

And of course, this applies to our individual lives as much as it does to the church as a whole. We are to glorify God in everything we do – both in our personal lives and together as a church.

That being said, there are some specific tasks that God has given to the church – specific ways that we glorify Him – that cannot be fully carried out as individuals – these can only happen within the context of the church body.

There is a reason why God has established local congregations. There is a reason why Christians need to commit themselves to being part of a specific group of fellow believers.

And that’s what we want to look at next. Now that we know that the over-arching purpose of God’s ekklesia is to bring glory and honour to Him – what are some of the specific tasks that God has given to each local church? And how do we bring glory to God through those tasks?

Now for the purpose of this series, I’ve lumped these tasks into three main categories. You probably won’t find a Bible verse that divides it up this way, but this is just a way to help us talk through these things in an organized manner.

So here are the three categories – or the three main tasks – or the three main purposes of the local church:

We are to bring glory to God through worshipping Him together.

We are to bring glory to God by edifying His people.

We are to bring glory to God by evangelizing the world.

And we’ll look more in-depth at all of those in the future, but for today, I want to focus on our task of worshipping God together.

And I wanted to start with this old word – weorthscipe – because it really helps us understand exactly what we’re talking about when we’re talking about worship.

You see, I think for a lot of us, when we hear the word worship, we often get incorrect or at least incomplete ideas of what worship is.

For a lot of us, perhaps based on what Hollywood has shown us, worship is bowing down before some person or idol. We envision these tribal or ancient people gathering around this big stone statue – all bowing low before it with their faces to the ground. Maybe we envision them chanting something or performing some strange ritual. Perhaps we even see them offering some kind of sacrifice to this god made of stone – in hopes that their god will accept their worship and bless their crops and their families.

And that’s not entirely foreign to what we see in the Bible – particularly in the Old Testament. In the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – we see the King commanding them to bow down before his giant golden statue of himself. In the story of Elisha, we see the prophets of Baal dancing around their sacrifice on the altar to their god – shouting and cutting themselves with knives and swords in hopes that their god would notice them. Even the Israelites, when they first came out of Egypt, molded a golden calf and made sacrifices and offerings to it.

But that image of worship is very foreign to us today – especially in our western culture. Of course, in some other cultures, they may still have stone or wooden idols that they pray to or make offerings to – but for most of us here today – that kind of worship is pretty foreign. 

In fact, for us today, our image of worship – in Christian circles anyway – typically involves a certain type of music.

In our churches we might have a worship leader that leads us in singing. Sometimes we have a worship team that might get together for a worship practice as they go through their songs. If you listen to Christian music, you might listen to the genre of music classified as ‘worship music’. So it’s pretty easy to see why Christians today might equate worship with singing a certain type of songs.

But is that really what worship is all about? What does it really mean to worship God?

And this is an important question to wrestle with because for the Christian, worshiping God is not an optional activity. It is commanded throughout the Bible. Let me give you a quick example. This is from when Jesus was being tempted in the wilderness. Matthew 4:8….

8 Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”

10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

Matthew 4:8-10

It seems like a pretty clear command. “You must worship the Lord your God.” It’s not optional. It’s a command.

So what does that look like for us? Is it dancing and shouting? Is it singing certain songs? Is it bringing offerings and sacrifices? What does it look like for us to worship God today?

Well, in John 4:23 Jesus says…

23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24

So how does that fit into our understand of what worship is? God is looking for true worshippers – those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. What does that mean? That’s doesn’t really sound like singing songs or bowing down before some statue. If we are true worshippers of God – and I think we want to be – what does that look like for us?

Well, defining worship is a pretty challenging task and I don’t know we can fully answer it in a 20 minute sermon, but I think a good starting point is with that old English word for worship – weorthscipe – or literally worth-ship… which means to declare the worth of something or Someone.

And we do that all the time in life. We declare the worth of the things in our lives by arranging our priorities and making decisions based on how much we value different things.

For example, everyday you go to work, you are declaring the value of your wages. By your actions, you show that you value your wages over your time. Now if you had a billion dollars, you probably wouldn’t go to work because suddenly those wages wouldn’t seem very valuable to you. Or If you believed that this was last day on earth for whatever reason, you would wouldn’t spend that day at work because you would value your time over those wages.

But for most of us, most of the time, we value our wages over our time. Or more to the point, we value the food our wages can buy and the house it pays for and all those other things that come with it… So because we value those things over the 8 or 10 hours a day we give up to go to work, we weorthscipe our wages – we declare their value by choosing to go to work rather than spending our time doing other things.

We do this sort of thing every moment of every day. We are constantly evaluating the worth and value of things and then acting accordingly.

We choose to eat that chocolate bar because we value the pleasure of that chocolatey goodness over having a healthy body… Or visa-versa… We choose not to eat that chocolate bar because we value having a healthy body over enjoying the pleasure of chocolatey goodness. We are constantly evaluating the worth and value of things. And by our choices and actions, we make a declaration of those evaluations. That’s weorthscipe.

Every decision we make is a reflection of what we value, what we think is important, what we think has the greatest worth.

And ultimately, whatever it is that we believe is of the highest value, is the most important, and has the highest worth – that is what we worship. It not that we necessarily make a conscious decision to worship it – just by default, by definition, as that thing that we value the most, that is what we worship.

It’s like what Jesus said in Matthew 6:21… 

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 NIV

Whatever it is that we hold most dearly, whatever it is that we choose above all else – that’s what we treasure – that’s what we worship.

So what do you worship? As you make choices every day based on how you value different things – which sort of things typically win out at the end? What holds the greatest sway as you make your decisions?

Here’s some questions that you can ask yourself to help answer that question: First of all, to what do you give your time? Time is one of your most precious commodities – who or what gets it? That question alone gives you a big clue to who or what you love – who or what you worship. Where do you invest your time?

Or how about your thoughts? If you could divide your thoughts into categories in a pie chart – what category would be the biggest? Who or what gets the majority of your thoughts? Who or what captures your attention more than anything else? That’s what you worship.

Who or what do you talk about most? Who or what do you spend your money on? Who or what do you read about, write about, watch youtube videos about? These are all clues as to who or what you worship.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart, and your eyes, and your ears, and your mind, and your thoughts, and your money, and your time… all of those things…. there they will be also.”

So what do you love? What do you worship?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37 that the greatest commandment in all the Scriptures is to….

“…Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 

Matthew 22:37-38

This is our single most important thing we can do in life. To love God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind. And that’s another way of saying that the most important thing we can do is to worship God. 

He is the one that gets priority in every decision. 

He is the one who gets the greatest portion of our time. 

He is the one who gets the greatest portion of our thoughts. 

He is the one who captures our attention more than anything else. 

He is the one we talk most about. 

He is the one we read most about. 

He is the one we watch the most youtube videos about….

To worship God means, that when we arrange the important things in our life – God is always at the top of the list. It means in every decision we make, knowing and pleasing and bringing glory to God is always our greatest consideration. It carries the most weight because God is the most important thing to you.

    • When you decide how to spend your money – knowing and pleasing God is your greatest consideration.
    • When you decide what to watch on tv – knowing and pleasing God is your greatest consideration.
    • When you’re thinking about dating or marriage – knowing and pleasing God is your greatest consideration.
    • When you decide what to do in the next big chapter of your life – knowing and pleasing God is your greatest consideration.

That’s what it means to worship God.

We don’t have to sing any particular songs. We don’t have to physically bow down. We don’t have to bring any offerings or sacrifices. We can do those things, but they only have meaning if they are outward reflections of what’s already going on inside.

Singing those songs that declare God’s worth on Sunday…. that’s only valuable if we actually believe it and live like it during the rest of the week. God is looking for worshippers who worship God in spirit and in truth.

So the question I want to leave you with today is: Who or what do you worship? Not just on Sundays…. Who or what do you worship throughout the week…

…when you’re at work…

…when you’re at school…

…when you’re at home alone….

Look at the decisions you’re making and see who or what it is that you truly worship. What’s most important to you? What do you love? Your actions will reveal the truth.

But I’ll warn you… As you examine your actions, you may not like what you find. I know I didn’t… You may find that you’ve been worshiping idols. Probably not statues of stone or wood… But anything that you hold as more valuable than knowing and pleasing God is an idol.

Probably the biggest idols today are pleasure and comfort. For a lot of people – that’s the bottom line. Their greatest consideration is their comfort. If it adds to my comfort, I’ll do it. If it takes away my comfort, I won’t. Comfort is their greatest consideration. Maybe that’s you.

Or maybe you’ve got other idols. The opposite sex? Money? Status? Your job? The fact that people know and are impressed by you? Your family? Yourself? There are so many things that can become idols to us. So many things that we can love or worship more than God.

But the fact is that only God is worthy of our worship. He is the Creator of all things. He is the all-powerful, all-knowing God, and He loves each one of us more than we can even imagine. I mean, the most well-known verse in all the Bible says…

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV

That’s how much God loves us. And a God who is willing to die for me – that kind of God is worthy of my worship.

And I realize, that today, we’ve talked mostly about worshipping God in our own personal lives and we haven’t really gotten to how that applies to the purpose of the local church. But that’s ok – I think before we can really understand the significance of worshipping God together, we need to make sure that we’re worshipping God individually and personally. Only once we’ve made God the highest priority in our own hearts, can we truly worship God together when we assemble as God’s family.

But we’ll get more into that in the next message. I want to close today simply by reading a few passage of Scripture that remind us that God alone is worth of our worship. I realize that most of what I’ve said today is nothing new for many of us, but I think it’s important to be reminded of it. We’re so quick allow other things to steal our attention and steal our affection and steal our worship. Sometime we just need a reminder that God, and God alone, is worthy of our worship. So here are a few reminders – Let me read for you starting in 1 Chronicles chapter 16, verse 23:

23 Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!

    Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.

24 Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.

    Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.

25 Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!

    He is to be feared above all gods.

26 The gods of other nations are mere idols,

    but the Lord made the heavens!

27 Honor and majesty surround him;

    strength and joy fill his dwelling.

28 O nations of the world, recognize the Lord,

    recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong.

29 Give to the Lord the glory he deserves!

    Bring your offering and come into his presence.

1 Chronicles 16:23-29

1 Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!

2     Worship the Lord with gladness.

    Come before him, singing with joy.

3 Acknowledge that the Lord is God!

    He made us, and we are his.

    We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;

    go into his courts with praise.

    Give thanks to him and praise his name.

5 For the Lord is good.

    His unfailing love continues forever,

    and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Psalm 100:1-5

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—

    the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”

Revelation 4:9

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,

to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might

and honor and glory and blessing!”

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb

be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

Revelation 5:12, 13b

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