When Worship Is Wrong

Psalm 50

A psalm of Asaph.

The Lord, the Mighty One, is God, and he has spoken; he has summoned all humanity from where the sun rises to where it sets.
From Mount Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines in glorious radiance.

Our God approaches, and He is not silent. Fire devours everything in His way, and a great storm rages around him.
He calls on the heavens above and earth below to witness the judgment of his people.
“Bring my faithful people to me—those who made a covenant with me by giving sacrifices.”
Then let the heavens proclaim His justice, for God Himself will be the judge. 

“O my people, listen as I speak. Here are my charges against you, O Israel: I am God, your God!
I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer.
But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens.
10 For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.
12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it.
13 Do I eat the meat of bulls? Do I drink the blood of goats?
14 Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.
15 Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”

16 But God says to the wicked: “Why bother reciting my decrees and pretending to obey my covenant?
17 For you refuse my discipline and treat my words like trash.
18 When you see thieves, you approve of them, and you spend your time with adulterers.
19 Your mouth is filled with wickedness, and your tongue is full of lies.
20 You sit around and slander your brother—your own mother’s son.
21 While you did all this, I remained silent, and you thought I didn’t care. But now I will rebuke you, listing all my charges against you.
22 Repent, all of you who forget me, or I will tear you apart, and no one will help you.
23 But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.”

Introduction

I mentioned last week that Psalm 50, like 49 was about STEWARDSHIP. Whereas it does contain some great stewardship verses {v.10-12} and verse 12 teaches DIVINE OWNERSHIP..,If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it. The Psalm is more about worship.

Actually, the picture painted by the Asaph [a worship leader] is that of a COURTROOM. God has summons all humanity to stand before Him, the judge. The LORD is bringing charges against the people of the world and He begins with His people, the Israelites.

Pick up with verse 4…

He calls on the heavens above and earth below to witness the judgment of His people.
“Bring My faithful people to me—those who made a covenant with me by giving sacrifices.”
Then let the heavens proclaim His justice, for God Himself will be the judge. 

“O My people, listen as I speak. Here are my charges against you, O Israel: I am God, your God!
I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer.
But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens.
10 For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.
12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it.
13 Do I eat the meat of bulls? Do I drink the blood of goats?

The obvious answer is NO! God takes no delight in the blood of animals. This is not what worship is about. The Israelites have misunderstood the type. They are worshiping worship, the ritual aspect, the ceremony. They have lost their focus on the purpose of the ritual and ceremony.

So the CHARGE, the indictment concerns their half-hearted worship. The problem is not in their sacrifices as such or in their consistency to bring them. They have totally misunderstood the purpose. They are merely going through the motions but their focus is not on God.

Isaiah 29:13…

“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

Have you ever been engaged in a conversation and the person you are speaking with is losing their attention. They are standing or sitting at arms length but their mind is a drifting away. We humans are easily distracted. We have a hard time maintaining focus.

Worship is not what we have made it out to be; it is not three songs, an offering, a prayer, a solo and a sermon. We can do all these things and not worship. Worship is an encounter with the Living God, something similar to what Isaiah experience in the Temple…

Isaiah 6:1-5

 It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending Him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other,

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
    The whole earth is filled with his glory!”

Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke. Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”

Isaiah not only saw the LORD, he saw himself, his sin. The presence of God made him aware of his undoneness. I am not a fancy dresser. I go for comfort mostly and of course I want to be decent but I do not wear expensive clothes. While I was in Seminary, I did a youth revival in Marks, Mississippi. We started on Wednesday night and went through Sunday night. The young man who lead the praise and worship was a local kid and the son of one of those wealthy delta farmers. He looked like he was a fashion model for a men’s store. Silk tie, patent leather shoes, the whole nine yards. I knew I did not look great but this boy made me self-conscience. I tried to improve as the week went on but I could not compete. I had one pair of shoes, he wore a new pair every night. The harder I tried, the greater the disparity seemed to be. He had me feeling tacky.

Have you every wondered what it would be like to be on the stage with Jesus? To be standing along side perfection. It would be humiliating for me. The presence of God became so real to Isaiah that he saw God’s holiness and once he saw God’s holiness, he saw his sin. This lead to repentance and commitment. This is real worship: when we lose ourselves in HIM. How many times do we enter the place of worship without sensing the presence of the LORD, seeing our sinfulness, repenting and making a life changing commitment to God.

The best NT examples are all women; and it is possible that all of them were named Mary.

Luke 10…

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” 41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Mark 14…

Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.

This woman, whoever she was, was criticized severely for what she did. The room was filled with men and they didn’t appreciate what she had done but Jesus did… and He told them to leave her alone. Do you see the difference between these men and this lady. One big difference. She was focused on Jesus. She didn’t even see them. She was not trying to please them. They were focused on her past, and the waste of the perfume. She was focused on Jesus: she worshiped, they didn’t.

Mary Magdalene {John 20} at the cemetery. She came to anoint the lifeless body of Jesus. She was locked in to seeing His body. She had supported His ministry financially but that was not enough. She loved Jesus. She was heart broken over the way He had been treated and she thought that last thing she could do for Him was give him a proper burial. She didn’t trust what the men had done. Her focus was Jesus. Nothing else, just Jesus. She was not looking for angels, for an experience of seeing a bright light, only one thing would satisfy her…Jesus.

Folks, when we get locked in like Mary, we will worship. You will not have to worry about finding Him, He will find you if you have the heart of Mary.

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