Teaching series from Hebrews

Christian Distinctives #5: Worship

Hebrews 13:15-16

Teaching t05011

Your Praise & Thanksgiving (Heb.13:15)

Old Testament worshipers would bring the fruit of their fields to thank God for a good harvest.  We are to bring "the fruit of the lips" - a "sacrifice of praise...which gives thanks to God."

Why is this so important?  Not because God needs it, but because God deserves it & it benefits us (SANITY OF GRATITUDE VS. INSANITY OF INGRATITUDE).

How can you worship God in this way?

Through your own personal words, through scriptural passages, & through song.

Corporately?  Yes! (Col.3; Eph. 5; affirm this personally; recommend; acknowledge our commitment to this).  And this includes observing the Lord's Supper periodically.

But note "continually."  He doesn't want us to think of this as something we do only on special occasions.  He emphasizes the importance of cultivating a habit of ongoing individual praise & thanksgiving (KEY FEATURE OF PRIVATE PRAYER; FAVORITE MUSIC; ETC.).

>> For some reason, most tend to view this as the most important form of worship (especially corporate praise).  So did the author's audience evidently.  That's why he says vs16: "And do not neglect..."  Here are two other "spiritual sacrifices" which are every bit as important as praising God, but which are often neglected by Christians...

Serving Others As Christ's Representative (Heb.13:6)

"Doing good" refers to Christian ministry - a lifestyle of service to other people which is done as a representative of Christ.  This is another key way in which we say "thank you" to God for all we have received through Christ.

Read Eph.5:2.  Because we can trust God to care for us fully, we can relate to the people God brings into our lives with other-centered, sacrificial love ("How can I serve you?" vs. "How can you make me happy?"), God regards this as a high expression of worship to him.

Every day, God gives each of us dozens of opportunities to worship him in this way: SERVING YOUR SPOUSE; CARING FOR YOUR YOUNG CHILDREN; HELPING YOUR SICK OR OVERWHELMED NEIGHBOR; SHARING CHRIST WITH NEIGHBORS, THOSE AT WORK OR SCHOOL; ENCOURAGING A CHRISTIAN FRIEND, etc.  Cultivating this kind of lifestyle is spiritual worship - every bit as important to God as praise and thanksgiving!

Read Rom. 15:15,16.  When we use the spiritual gifts God has given us to serve other people, and then present the results of that service to him, this is worship.

This is how I view teaching the Bible.  It is not primarily a job, nor is it even primarily something I do for other people.  Above all, it is an opportunity to regularly worship God.  This is what motivates me to pursue excellence in my teaching - I don't want to offer God some "crippled goat."  This is why it is so important for me to take the positive results of my teaching and consciously offer them to God ("Thank you for giving me the opportunity to worship you in this way.  May the people who have been changed by this teaching be an expression of this.")

Some of you are gifted in encouragement, mercy, evangelism, administration, helps, shepherding, etc.  Exercise and develop these gifts, and see them as an important and special way you can worship God!!

Sharing Your Financial Resources In Christ's Cause (Heb.13:16)

"Sharing" refers here to participating financially in God's work.  The author wants to make sure that his audience doesn't forget this very practical way of thanking and honoring God.

Read Phil.4:14,18.  Notice the same word "sharing" in vs 14, and the "sacrifice" in vs 18.  God is well-pleased by this form of worship just as he is when we give our whole selves to him, offer praise and thanksgiving to him, and serve others for him.

How?  Regular and generous support of local church's efforts, personal support of other Christian works, personal help of needy in Christ's name, etc.

Many Christians view financial sharing as a burdensome obligation - like paying our taxes to the IRS.  They have to do it, so they give grudgingly and as little as possible.  Paul's view of financial giving is very different.  He regards it as a privilege (2Cor.8:4) and something we should do generously (2Cor.9:6) as we are able.  There is real joy in giving when you view it as part of your worship to God!  And you discover that as you worship God in this way, he cares for all of your material needs (vs 19).

Conclusion

The main point I am trying to make is that worship is not an event - it is a way of life.  To the extent that we see attending a weekly meeting as our main expression of worship, we are operating under a sub-biblical view of understanding of worship and our actual worship of  God may be minimal.  But when we understand what New Testament worship really is, and commit ourselves to worshipping him in this full-orbed way, worship becomes the driving dynamic in our lives.  Meetings like this one then become an important means of equipping and motivating us to worship God throughout the week.