Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Non-series Sermons . Playing games in God's Kingdom (Part 2)

. Playing games in God's Kingdom (Part 2)


http://omarcarter.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/nowplaying_app_logo.jpgIsaiah 1:10-20 (ESV) 10 Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! 11 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. 12 “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? 13 Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.


Last week we started looking at this critical challenge that came from Isaiah to the people of God in Isaiah 1. We saw that God had no pleasure in them as He calls their leaders the ‘rulers of Sodom’ and their people the ‘people of Gomorrah’.  The challenge to them is to open their ears and to hear the ‘Word of God’ and to give ear to the ‘teaching of God’. They had the law and over the years they had leaders in the form of Judges and Prophets that taught them the commands of God. They knew the heart of God well, the problem was that they served the Lord with half a heart in their daily lives and this had dire consequences for their worship during the Sabbath and the rest of their feasts. Throughout the Old Testament as we saw in Malachi they had double standards. They were slaves to their traditions and they loved the things of God but the God of the things was not their first priority.


We then ended last week with a challenged to those in our midst who are theologically qualified and to the other spiritual leaders in our midst to guard their hearts and to serve God as their number one priority in life. But may we all join our leaders and make sure that we have a 24/7 heart of worship, where it is all about God and not about us.


Our first point last week was: How religious people can go through the motions of worship and still be like Sodom and Gomorrah. (Verse 10).


Today we march on with the second point and I am going to actually end the sermon with that as I believe I would have made my point. So the other four points I gave you last week, I am not going to deal with. So let’s hear God’s heart as we focus on verses 11-15.


Point 2. How biblically ordered worship can become an offense to God.


We normally like to think of worship in terms of “is it contemporary or is it traditional worship?” God doesn’t think that way. God thinks in terms of this: is it acceptable worship or is it unacceptable worship? Is it true or is it bankrupt? Is it worshiping in spirit and in truth or is it just an outward show that’s completely disconnected from Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday? I put a devotion on our website the other day where I made the following comment: “So many times Christians are divided by forms of worship. We are divided by cultural, racial, generational, national, and denominational methods of worship. However, our unity as Christians will never be found in the exterior form of worship, but in the essence of our worship. Worship is rooted in who Jesus is. I am convinced that if we focus on Him, we will better love and appreciate one another ... It is the love that flows from the Lamb of God that brings us together and makes us one.”

Judah and Israel forgot in their context that ‘worship is rooted in who God is.’ There are 11 indications in this text as to how God feels about their worship.


2.1 It is worthless.


11 What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord;”


So, in plain simple words, God is saying that they are wasting their time. Rather go home and enjoy a nice lunch.


2.2 God is fed up with it.


I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts;”


God has had it with them. Their sacrifices did not impress God. It echoes the word of Christ in Matthew 15:9 (ESV) 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ” So, their worship became man made on every level. Even their offerings were rather to impress one another rather than God. How many people gather and even give in our context Sunday after Sunday, simply out of tradition and not out of love? God cannot stand it, He is fed up with it.

2.3 God does not delight in their worship.


I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats.”


Church family, our worship always has to be a delight to God.  When He looks upon His people we need to bring delight to His soul. Somehow the sweet aroma of the sacrifices of His people are a delight to him and he loves it. In this case He’s saying, “I do not delight.” They had to sacrifice just like we do. Tell me, when God looks upon your sacrifice what is His estimation of it?  God has no delight in heartless sacrifice without an obedient heart. 1 Samuel 15:22 (ESV) 22 And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”

2.4 They missed the heart of the question.


12 “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts?”


God is not saying: “I didn’t ask for you to gather”. What He did not ask for was the way in which they were doing it, namely all in the flesh. They were actually trampling the whole purpose of their place of worship under foot. They had all their ducks in a row, but their hearts were not in tune with God’s heart.


2.5 God says cease and desist.


“13 Bring no more vain offerings;”


God is not saying that they should no longer bring offerings, what they must cease doing is to bring vain or useless offerings.

2.6 It was not God’s kind of fragrance.


“incense is an abomination to me.”


Incense was commanded to be brought into the worship of God but in the incense was meant to be a delightful aroma to the Lord but incense offered by people who really don’t care about God, is an abomination to him.


In a New Testament context where the church is a living temple who worships in spirit and truth before the Lord daily, it is the very essence of a real, vibrant, dynamic relationship with Christ that is a fragrance to God. Your worship, your presence in worship, your commitment in worship, your attitude in worship tells others and God just how much Christ means to you. It tells others whether you know God or not. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 (ESV) 14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,”


2.7 God’s tolerance level for their kind of worship has ended.


“New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.”


So even the scheduled events like the Sabbath God could not tolerate anymore. There are many scheduled events, but if our hearts are not right in it, then God cannot tolerate it. How many people today sit in churches Sunday after Sunday, wishing they were out there having fun? I remember an elder in my previous church always jokingly saying to me: “what is worse, sitting in church wishing I was on the fishing waters, or sitting on the fishing waters, wishing I was in church?”  The point I want to make is that God knows your heart while you participate in events, and He is not fooled.


2.8 God hates it.


14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.


Okay, churches are packed for Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Special speaker days. Oh if only as many men will be packing churches Sunday after Sunday as they do on the ‘Angus Buchan in town days’, or this or that ‘professional sportsmen to preach days’ wouldn’t that be marvellous? God looks at the motivation of the heart and if it is all about special days, or special men, and not all about God, God has one word for it; ‘hatred’.


2.9 It was an unwanted burden.


“they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.”


2.10 God turns a blind eye on it.


15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you;”


God’s people are required to lift up holy hands before the Lord. The only problem is that God sees those very hands from Monday to Saturday as well. So, when God looks upon some who claim to be His children, He simply shut His eyes. The raising of holy hands before God must be a daily thing. I remember years ago a lady who would always be so expressive in worship on a Sunday, but equally expressive in her sinful behavior, language and bad manners in the week. God just looks away from it.


2.11 God turns a deaf ear to it.


“even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.”


The hands full of blood fits the last two points.


What a disaster that God will turn a deaf ear to prayers. Let us not be like the Pharisees who though that through their many prayers God was going to be fooled. He calls them hypocrites, actors who change their masks as it suits them. God has something to say to the people about this in Isaiah 59:1-2 (ESV) 1 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; 2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”

We are not sure if the hands full of blood in this context was a figure of speech or referring to the fact that they murdered their prophets. I don’t believe that the hands full of blood means that they were serial killers. I believe this was a figure of speech. It could simply mean that through their conduct they are killing true righteousness. They appear one way in the assembly but they kill godliness outside of the assembly. They want to keep their reputations up; they want to appear godly. This whole thing has to do with what your life is like on the outside. He’s talking about life outside the sanctuary that affects God’s disposition to you inside the sanctuary.


What a situation to be in? God without a shadow of doubt had a problem with His people. Is it different today?


2.12 Where does it leave us?


Now, seriously what was God looking for in His people in those days? Maybe David summarises it best. Psalm 15:1-5 (ESV) 1 A Psalm of David. O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? 2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; 3 who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; 4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5 who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.”

Do you see the direct link between Monday to Saturday worship as a validation of Sunday worship for us as New Testament believers.

What does all of this have to do with us? Well let me get back to what I said last week. We believe that prevention is better than cure. What concerns me in the text is that God’s elect nation, God’s own people have arrived at a point in their worship of God where everything they did from the gathering on the Sabbath and other days, where their ceremonies, their festivities, their offerings, their special days and even their prayers were detestable to God. So, in preaching this, I am not for one moment implying that this is where we are. I am simply crying to us as a congregation this morning, that we will guard our hearts and never get there. May we hear the heart of God in the Words of Christ in John 4:23 (ESV) 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”

One definition of worship reads as follows: “Worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination with the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, and to devote the will to the purpose of God.”

At Logos we believe that worship is something we give to God. In view of God’s mercy bestowed upon us we are to render honour and adoration to God. That passion-filled, selfless, consuming desire to give to God is the essence of worship. It begins with us entrusting ourselves into God’s care as well as our attitudes and our possessions – until worship becomes a way of life. Our desire is to take the emphasis off ceremony and seasons and places and forms and to shift the focus to what is happening in the heart – not just on a Sunday but every day and all the time in all of our lives. Paul reminds us in Romans 12:1 (ESV) 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

John Piper summarises authentic and inner heart worship in such a beautiful way. He says: “The authenticating, inner essence of worship is being satisfied with Christ, prizing Christ, cherishing Christ and treasuring Christ.”

Besides our true worship of God as a way of life in which we daily reflect back to God the radiance of His worth, we also gather for worship and share the following values with the rest of our members in this regard.

  • God-centeredness. Practicing a public worship form that communicates the supremacy of God in all of life. Going hard after God as an all-satisfying end in Himself.
  • Bible based and Bible saturated services. Pursuing fervent, biblical, Spirit-anointed, God-exalting, personally-helpful preaching.
  • Emphasising the importance of both head and heart in our worship experience. We believe that the individual must carry deep, strong, real emotions towards God without being manipulated to emotional stirrings in which there is no clear thinking about spiritual things based on Biblical truth.
  • Communicating in large and small group settings with authenticity and transparency. We are committed to an atmosphere of reverence, passion and wonder, rather than a shallow frivolous flippancy filled with hypocrisy.
  • Being a singing people with growing appreciation for diverse expressions of love for God. We believe in a balance between historic and contemporary music, as long as it is sing-able, Biblical and God glorifying. We desire to see an increase in a humble willingness to embrace others whose tastes are different than ours.
  • Creating a place for spontaneity and lay ministry to the body. Ministry is not just about the pulpit, but also about the pew.
  • Commitment to a multi-cultural, multi-generational ethos at all times. We believe there are only two groups of people in the world, namely the saved and the unsaved. We gather to worship with the saved from all generations and cultures that are comfortable with our ethos, and we leave to evangelise the lost amongst all generations and cultures.

God exalting worship therefore takes place when we……..

  • Focus on God alone
  • Learn from the teaching of God’s Word
  • Respond to God with our whole being
  • Pray with and for the body of believers
  • Sing to each other and the Lord
  • Observe the ordinances of the Church (Communion and Baptism)
  • Give to the Lord and His Church
  • Serve one another with our spiritual gifts and talents

And all of this we must do from the bottom of our hearts, and with all our lives. And such a people God will never call the ‘rulers of Sodom’ and the ‘people of Gomorrah’.

So, let’s take the closing words of Isaiah and apply it to our lives. Pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal to you this morning where you are at in your worship. 16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. 18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 20 but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”


Logos Community Church: - 23 March 2014