Christ Covenant Church
Text – Deuteronomy 10:12-13
Go with the FLOW: Worship God
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May the grace and peace of the Lord our God be with you all.
As you know we are doing a mini-series from the Book of Deuteronomy in the OT. We are calling this series Go with the FLOW because throughout Deuteronomy God commands his people to fear God, love God, obey God, and worship God.
What the Lord required of them he also requires of us. That is why we are learning how to go with the FLOW.
So far we have learned to fear God, love God and obey God. Today we will focus on the requirement to worship and serve God.
Most of us think of worship as something we do on the Lord’s day. Period. But the scriptures teach us that worship is a way of life, an attitude of the mind, a posture of the heart.
As John Frame says, “worship is the whole point of everything. It is the purpose of history, the goal of the whole Christian story. Worship is not one segment of the Christian life among others. Worship is the entire Christian life, seen as a priestly offering to God. And when we meet together as a church, our time of worship is not merely a preliminary to something else; rather, it is the whole point of our existence as the body of Christ.”
I would add that worship is life — everything else is just details.
Our sermon text for today is Deuteronomy 10:12-13. If you are able, please stand for the reading of God’s Holy Word. The word of God reads:
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you besides this: to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?”
The word of the Lord. May God add his blessing to the reading, preaching, and hearing of his living and active word. And all the church says: Amen!
We have already learned that the word for “require” is simply “ask.” When coupled with the phrase “of you” — ask becomes a nice way of saying requires or demands. The reason this is so important is because it shows that God is speaking to us the way a father speaks to his children.
What does Father God ask of you? He asks you to worship him and serve him. Not as a fan worships a band, nor as an idolater bows down to idols, nor as a maid cleans the house, but as a child honors and adores his parents — in love.
The word worship does not appear in this text, but it appears in several other texts along with the word serve. Worship is about the posture of your heart, service is about the practice of your life. Worship is about bowing down and putting your forehead on the ground, service is about putting your hands and feet to work.
Notice: The text tells us who we are to worship, why we are to worship, and how we are to worship.
Who do we worship?
We are to worship the Lord our God who brought us out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery (5:6). He is our Lord, we are his servants. He is our Redeemer, we are his inheritance. He is our Father, we are his children.
Why worship God?
The text says we are to obey the Lord our God for two reasons: first, because God requires us to worship him; second, because worshiping and serving God is good for us.
How do we worship God?
We must worship and serve God with all our heart and soul. A legalistic person tries to do this from the skin out. He goes through the motions, but his heart is not engaged. A true believer worships God in spirit and in truth from the heart.
While prepping for ordination exams this week, I came across two questions in the shorter catechism that summarize this nicely.
Q1: What is the chief end of man?
A1: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.
We are accustomed to hear about the need to glorify God, but we are not accustomed to hear about the need to enjoy him forever. But the main reason God commands us to go with the FLOW is for his glory and our good.
Q2: What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him?
A2: The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him.
We don’t need to guess or make it up as we go along. We need only trust and obey his word from the heart.
With that in mind, let’s consider some practical applications from the Book of Deuteronomy.
Worshiping the Lord your God looks like this:
Not having any no other gods before the Lord our God. (5:7)
Not making for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (5:8-10)
Worshiping the Lord your God looks like:
Not forgetting the LORD your God, [or his powerful and glorious works] who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. (8:14-16)
Remembering that if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, you shall surely perish. (8:19)
Worshiping the Lord your God looks like:
Guarding your heart with the truth, and not turning aside to serve other gods and worship them; lest the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and he curse the land, and you perish. (11:16-17)
Giving the first-fruits of your income to the Lord and rejoicing in all the good that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you. (26:10-11)
Worshiping the Lord your God looks like:
Understanding the severe consequences of breaking covenant and worshiping many false gods or worship no gods at all; and the tender implications of keeping covenant and worshiping the Lord your God and serving him only. (29:24-26; 30:17)
Worshiping the Lord your God looks like living, moving, and existing in a God-centered way of life.
Now, do you any of you have a hard time doing any of these things? If so, it is likely because you have other gods and idols vying for space in your heart.
The point is that worshiping and serving the Lord our God involves far more than going to church, singing some praise songs, and taking communion once a week (which things are not even mentioned in context of Deuteronomy).
It involves a lifestyle of trusting and obeying God’s word from the heart. That starts with setting apart the triune God as the one you love in your heart.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut 6:4-9)
Worshiping and serving the Lord your God is the way you love him from sunrise to sunset, from cradle to grave — and beyond. That goes for all of you including you kids as well. It requires you to center your life on God and build in on his word.
According to Deuteronomy, worshiping God is both practical and personal. We are commanded to worship and serve God from the heart with our hands — yet we know by experience just how hard that is to do.
It’s not hard to worship; everyone worships someone or something. Some people worship many gods; some people worship one god; some people worship no gods at all, except themselves as god. But all people worship and serve something or someone.
No one is not a worshipper.
One Christian author puts it like this:
“Worship is at once about who we are, about who or what our god is, and about how we choose to live […] At this moment, and for as long as the world endures, everybody inhabiting it is bowing down and serving something or someone—an artifact, a person, an institution, an idea, a spirit — or God through Jesus Christ.”
Unfortunately, even among us, we find people whose hearts and minds are (still) crowded with lesser gods and false deities. Idols creep into our hearts and we have a hard time knocking them down, smashing them up, and breaking them into pieces.
In fact, we all struggle with idolatry so much it seems impossible for us to worship the Lord our God and serve him only.
One reason we struggle with idolatry is because “our hearts are idol-making factories” (Calvin). They are always trying to crank out little gods made in our own image and likeness. Instead of shutting down the factory, we keep it running. Instead of getting rid of the idols, we store them in the closets and corners of our hearts.
I can still remember when I first started thinking deeply about idols and idolatry. I was on a mission trip in Mexico City. As our group toured the city, we saw ancient ruins and heard stories about the way Aztecs offered blood sacrifice to their gods. We entered the national cathedral and saw all kinds of icons and images of saints, virgins, and Jesus. At first, I felt angry, then I felt sad. “How dare they worship all these dead idols?!” Later on, someone challenged me to look for idols in my church and in my lives. It didn’t take long to find some.
Idols are not just concrete, objective, visible icons out there somewhere. Idols are abstract, subjective, invisible ideas and images in here, in our hearts and minds. They are the things that we trust in to give us what only God can give us.
The idols in our hearts can take shape in our life, but even if they don’t take any form or shape outside us, they do take shape and form inside us.
For some people money is an idol. Why? Because deep down they desire power and glory. They want certain advantages and privileges that comes with having more money. For some people sex is an idol. Why? Because deep down they desire pleasure and comfort. For some people food is an idol. Why? Because deep down the desire comfort and satisfaction. There nothing wrong with these things per se. They are good gifts from the Lord, but they are means to an end, not an end in themselves. When we treat them as ultimate things, they become idols that rival the Lord our God.
If we are going to go with the FLOW, and worship God alone and serve him only, we must turn away from all our idols and gods.
So, what shall we do with all the idols in our hearts after we find them?
We must take them to the cross and turn them over to Jesus.
Because Jesus Christ makes all the difference.
Unlike us, Jesus worshiped God and served him only, just as the Father required of him in the Law.
Consider all that he has done for you.
When Jesus was tempted to worship the devil instead of God, he resisted the devil and confessed: It is written, worship the Lord your God and serve him only. Jesus was unwilling to exchange the power and glory of the kingdom of heaven for all the kingdoms of the world. He refused to let anything come between him and the Lord his God. He did not compromise the allegiances of his heart, mind, or body, or offer them to anyone or anything other than the Lord his God.
Jesus worshiped the Lord his God and served him only in all things with style and substance.
What did worshiping God look like in his life?
In Hebrews 2, Jesus was crowned with glory and honor, yet he shared in our flesh and blood, and suffered and died in our place at the cross. Why? So that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
Jesus was not ashamed to become our brother and share in our experience; and he was not ashamed to proclaim God’s name among his brothers and sing God’s praises in the midst of the congregation. In fact, he destroyed the serpent who had the power of death for us, and he delivered all those who were subject to lifelong slavery because of the fear of death.
Jesus was made like us in every respect, yet without sin, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God. (Heb 2:7-18)
Jesus worshiped the Lord his God and served him only, in flesh and blood.
In Hebrews 5, Jesus was chosen from among men and appointed to act as a priest on behalf of men in relation to God — to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He did not take this honor upon himself, rather he was appointed by God who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; and, “You are a priest forever.” (Heb 5:1-10)
Jesus worshiped the Lord his God and served him only, in life and death.
In Hebrews 10, Jesus served God as the high priest who represented the people to God, and represented God to the people.
Jesus was the sin offering that was offered up cover over the sins of the people. But when he had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, for by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being made holy by him. (Heb 10:12-14)
Jesus worshiped the Lord his God and served him only, in your place and on your behalf — not so that you don’t have to worship, but so that you get to worship.
I suspect that people who despise worship, or find it dull, unnecessary, childish, whatever, are people who do not know and believe what Jesus Christ has done for them. If they knew and believed what Jesus had done for them, nothing would come between them and the Lord his God. Nothing would keep them from worshiping and serving God through Jesus Christ.
Until you come to grips with who Jesus is and what he has done for you, you might praise him with your lips, but your heart will be far from him. You will worship him in vain, going through the motions, doing empty deeds.
But when you come to grips with who Jesus is and what he has done for you, then you will praise him from your heart and confess that because of what Jesus did for you, you may now worship God in spirit and truth — you may ascend the mount of the Lord, and draw near to the throne of grace, and receive mercy and find help in your moment of need.
Jesus did for you what you could not do for yourself.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
let us draw near to God with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
let us draw near with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water;
let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works; let’s keep meeting together and encouraging one another. (Heb 10:19-25)
let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Heb 12:28-29)
let us go to Jesus outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured, for here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God through Jesus, the fruit of lips that confess his name.
let us do good and share what we have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Heb 13:13-16)
Now, this looks and feels like worship and service according to the Book of Deuteronomy. The difference is that we do all this in the grace and mercy of God, under blood of Jesus, according to the promises of the New Covenant.
In order to go with the FLOW and worship the Lord your God and serve him only day after day, you will need to cultivate some disciplines and habits of the heart. Here are three things you can do every day to keep you centered on God in worship and service: Meditation, Ministry, Mission, and Miscellany.
Meditation — make every effort to take time to read God’s word and pray every day, by yourself and with other people. Especially your kids. On the Lord’s Day, make every effort to gather with the church and meet together with God’s people.
Ministry — make every effort to put into practice what you learn from God’s word; serve your family and your church with your life.
Mission — make every effort to share your life and words with people who don’t know Jesus.
Miscellany — make every effort to listen to sermon podcasts, read sound books, confessions, or catechisms, and take in some good music.
And don’t say you don’t have time to worship and serve God in this way. Rather, say you don’t have time for pinterest, Facebook, instagram, football, Netflix, hulu, or youtube. If you don’t have time to go with the FLOW, something in your life has got to go.
Worship is a privilege and an advantage, but not everyone sees it that way. Many people see worship as a boring chore, tedious duty, or optional hobby. But it is so much more than that.
As Marva dawn says in her book A Royal Waste of Time:
“To worship the Lord is – in the world’s eyes – a waste of time. It is, indeed, a royal waste of time, but a waste nonetheless. By engaging in it, we don’t accomplish anything useful in our society’s terms.
Worship ought not to be construed in a utilitarian [practical, functional] way. Its purpose is not to gain numbers nor for our churches to be seen as successful. Rather, the entire reason for our worship is that God deserves it.
Worship is a royal waste of time, but indeed it is royal, for it immerses us in the regal splendor of the King of the cosmos. The churches’ worship provides opportunities for us to enjoy God’s presence in corporate ways that take us out of time and into the eternal purposes of God’s kingdom. As a result, we shall be changed – but not because of anything we do. God, on whom we are centered and to whom we submit, will transform us by his Revelation of himself.”
No matter what the world says, worship is a privilege and an advantage for God’s people.
I hope that by now you see that there is a method to the madness of our approach to worship. Our worship order tells the story that shapes our life.
God our Savior calls us to draw near to his throne of grace; and we draw near and confess our sins to him and he forgives us. He consecrates us by the washing of water with his word, and we confess our faith in him. He spreads a table for us, and we commune together with him. He commissions us to go out as salt and light to the world, and we shine light stars in the universe.
In this mini-series God has asked us to go with the FLOW. My hope and prayer is that you will do that: fear God, love God, obey God, and worship God for his glory and your good.
Pastoral Prayer –
Blessed are you, O LORD,
the God of Israel our father, forever and ever.
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory
and the victory and the majesty,
for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours.
Yours is the kingdom, O LORD,
and you are exalted as head above all.
Both riches and honor come from you,
and you rule over all.
In your hand are power and might,
and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.
And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.
But who am I, and what is my people,
that we should be able thus to offer willingly?
For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.
For we are strangers before you and sojourners,
as all our fathers were.
Our days on the earth are like a shadow,
and there is no abiding.
O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have
comes from your hand and is all your own.
Amen 1 Chronicles 29:10-13