AGCC Sun. a.m. 2/15/98



TEXT: II Chron. 29:10-36


The final stage of Hezekiah's reforms that resulted in a great revival for Judah was restoring true worship. There are many people today that fail to appreciate the power of true worship. Rather than see a worship service as a real opportunity to enter into God's presence they often feel going to Church is something they have to do...thus no joy! ILLUS: The reasons why I'm giving up sports: football in the fall, baseball in the summer, basketball in the winter. I've had it all. I quit attending sports once and for all, and here are my 11 excuses:
1. Every time I went, they asked for money.
2. The people I sat next to didn't seem friendly.
3. The seats were too hard and not comfortable at all.
4. I went to many games but the coach never came to call on me.
5. The referees made decisions that I couldn't agree with.
6. The game went into overtime and I was late getting home.
7. The band played numbers I'd never heard before and it wasn't my style of music.
8. It seems the games are always scheduled when I want to do other things.
9. I suspect that I was sitting next to some hypocrites. They came to see their friends and they talked during the whole game.
10. I was taken to too many games by my parents when I was growing up.
11. I hate to wait in the traffic jam in the parking lot after the game. True worship is a transforming experience, and is certainly a mark of a revived Church or believer. The real tragedy is that any Church can be in revival all the time, the opportunity for true worship at any service is there, we just need to enter into worship in the right way. PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that there is tremendous joy in worshipping God in the right way, with the right heart. The path to a revived Church or believer can be found in true worship.


A. Covenant 29:10-11 1. Hezekiah understood that Judah had lost its passion for worship, the Temple had been closed by his father Ahaz and the people hadn't worshipped for some time. a. Simply getting people to Church wouldn't work, the leaders needed to prepare adequately and set an example. b. Worship begins with a commitment to God! c. It was important that the leadership demonstrate the passion for worship first. 2. No Church can expect its membership to have a passion for worship if its leadership does not! 3. Worship is not just some routine we go through, it is a covenant with God to make Him important in our lives, to give priority to Him. a. We don't worship to impress other people, we worship to have God impact our lives! b. Too often we judge a worship experience by what others do, we should judge it by what we do! ILLUS: The story goes that one time when Bill Moyers was a special assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson, he was asked to say grace before a meal in the family quarters of the White House. As Moyers began praying softly, the President interrupted him with "Speak up, Bill! Speak up!" The former minister from east Texas stopped in mid-sentence and without looking up replied steadily, "I wasn't addressing you, Mr. President." -- The Anglican Digest, Early Pentecost A.D. 1989 4. True worship begins with a commitment (covenant) to worship God ourselves! B. Clutter! 29:12-19 1. Once the commitment is understood and accepted the first job is to remove all the clutter that would hinder our worship! a. Notice that when Hezekiah has the leadership make a covenant to return Judah to true worship the first job assigned them was to clean out the clutter that would distract from the ability to worship properly! b. Much of the neglect had resulted in clutter and defilement. 2. The neglect of the Temple had left a legacy of debris and the appearance of a glorious past was its only testimony. 3. Where there is a live Church the movement of life keeps the Church in action. A dead temple only has clutter! ILLUS: Live churches are constantly changing. - Dead churches don't have to.
Live churches have lots of noisy kids. - Dead churches are fairly quiet.
Live church's expenses always exceed their income. - Dead churches take in more than they ever dreamed of spending.
Live churches are constantly improving for the future. - Dead churches worship their past.
Live churches move out in faith. - Dead churches operate totally by human sight.
Live churches focus on people. - Dead churches focus on programs.
Live churches are filled with tithers. - Dead churches are filled with tippers.
Live churches dream great dreams of God. - Dead churches relive nightmares.
Live churches don't have "can't" in their dictionary. - Dead churches have nothing but.
Live churches evangelize. - Dead churches fossilize.
4. Notice that the leaders took all this clutter and put it in the Kidron valley, this was the Mideast Junk yard! a. When we come to worship God we need to leave the clutter in a junk yard somewhere! b. These distractions only keep from us the presence of God. c. It was imperative to remove the distractions so that the worship experience was all it could be. 5. These were merely the preparations for worship, but they were important to the experience all would share together later. a. And so it is with us, how do we prepare for a worship service? b. When in a service is our focus full of clutter? c. Have we removed the uncleanness of our own life before entering into God's presence? d. Why are we here? What do we expect? Where is our focus? II. PARTICIPATION IN WORSHIP      29:20-36 A. Cleansing 29:20-24 1. The first act of worship as the Temple opened its doors again was the need for cleansing from sin! a. This is always where worship starts, we must come before a holy God clean! b. Too many people see a worship service as the place where they had better find a good time or they won't return ... the problem today with most people's approach to worship is that they believe even in worship that it is the pursuit of happiness that is the focus, when it should be the pursuit of holiness! 2. Too much focus in worship these days is what WE get out of it, instead of what GOD gets out of it! ILLUS: When men stop worshipping God, they promptly start worshipping man, with disastrous results. -- George Orwell in the Observer (1945), Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 15. 3. Much of the problems we have in appreciating a worship experience would be lifted if our focus was properly placed. 4. One could not even enter the "Holy Place" until you had stopped at the Altar of Sacrifice for your sins! a. Cleansing is the preliminary step to entering into worship. b. There can be no true worship experience without our sins cleansed first! c. Even the second item before the door to the Holy Place indicated the need of cleansing, it was the bronze laver ... a large bowl of water where the priest's feet and hands were washed before entering into God's presence. (1. There was first a blood sacrifice for sins - Justification (2. Then a washing of feet and hands to indicate cleansing our walk - Sanctification d. This outer courtyard had all the metal in bronze...the symbol of judgment, all the items in the Holy Place however were gold, the symbol of God's presence - thus celebration! B. Celebration 29:25-30 1. Once inside the Holy Place the atmosphere dramatically changes, outside was the stench of death from the blood sacrifices, inside is the sweet smell of incense from the altar of incense and the warm glow of light from the golden lampstand...along with the bread on the table of shewbread which was the image of God's provisions for us. a. Here was CELEBRATION! b. The focus was not on the crowds, it was on God! c. It was not meant to be a boring experience, it was an experience of wonderment! 2. Too many people see worship as a boring ritual, but it is not! ILLUS: As the Sunday school class for seven-year-olds was well underway, one little boy suddenly exclaimed to the teacher, "Can we hurry up? This is boring!" Immediately the little girl to his left gave him a sharp elbow to the side and rebuked him. "Shut up. It's supposed to be boring!" --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 93. 3. It is only boring when we don't understand either the purpose or the participation dynamics of worship. If our focus is wrong, the experience won't be what God intended it to be. 4. Coming to worship is not primarily what we get, but what we give. a. Note that Churches pass offering plates for people to give, not take money out of them! b. The whole service should be viewed as an "offering" unto God! 5. The celebration included offering up songs .. expressions of our joy in God's salvation! a. Notice the great joy that all the worshippers experienced in the text; priests, Levites, lay people, aliens, etc. - when all of them experienced true worship the results were the same for all! b. As they sang and offered up sacrifices and put the focus on God instead of each other or the events themselves joy broke out among all the people! c. When God becomes our focus, His presence is not only felt, it impacts our lives! 6. God is the only proper focus of a worship service! ILLUS: One Christmas Eve the telephone rang in the office of the pastor of the church in Washington, DC. that President Franklin Roosevelt attended. "Tell me Reverend," the voice inquired, "are you holding a Christmas Eve service tonight?" When advised that there would certainly be a service that evening, the caller asked, "And do you expect President Roosevelt to attend your church tonight?" "That," explained the Pastor patiently, "I can't promise. I'm not sure about the President's plans for this evening. But I can say that we fully expect God to be in our church tonight, and we feel secure in the knowledge that His attendance will attract a reasonably large congregation." 7. Where is your focus in a worship service? C. Commitment 29:31-36 1. So many of Judah's people came to worship for the right reasons that the priests could not handle the crowds, so many sacrifices were being made both for sins and as thanksgiving offerings that the priests had to enlist more help from the Levites to keep up with the commitment from the people! a. Surely this was a sign of revival in the camp! b. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have too many committed people that the Pastoral staff could in no way keep up with all the people desiring to get involved? 2. For far too many people today there are ready excuses why they must miss Church...but a revived people can't be kept from Church! ILLUS: Dear Pastor: You often stress attendance at worship as being very important for a Christian, but I think a person has a right to miss now and then. I think every person ought to be excused for the following reasons and the number of times indicated:
Christmas (Sunday before or after)
New Year (Party lasted too long)
Easter (Get away for holidays)
July 4 (National holiday)
Labor Day (Need to get away)
Memorial Day (Visit hometown)
School Closing (Kids need break)
School Opens (One last fling)
Family Reunions (Mine & wife's)
Sleep late (Saturday night activities)
Deaths in Family
Anniversary (Second honeymoon)
Sickness (One per family member)
Business Trips (A must)
Vacation (Three weeks)
Bad Weather (Ice, snow, rain, clouds)
Ball games
Unexpected Company (Can't walk out)
Time changes (Spring ahead; fall back)
Special on TV (Super Bowl, etc.)
Pastor, that leaves only two Sundays per year. So, you can count on us to be in church on the fourth Sunday in February and the third Sunday in August unless providentially hindered. Sincerely, A Faithful Member
3. Note that the reaction to all these steps to worship God in the right way resulted in a people that were full of joy! a. The proper focus and the proper way to worship does give us something, it gives us the great sense of joy in God's presence! b. The pursuit of HOLINESS had also given them great HAPPINESS. c. Real worship does this ... it makes both the heart of God rejoice, and the hearts of His people! 4. The final statement in this chapter is interesting too, "Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced at what God had brought about for His people, because it was done so quickly!" 29:36 a. A revived people are some of the hardest workers in the kingdom of God! b. There would be far less need in a Church to beg people to get things done if we were true worshippers, the joy alone would make it exciting to do for God what needs to be done. 5. True worship is a great path to revival, and the keeping power of a revival! 6. These same paths taken by Hezekiah and Judah are available to us today too ... are you willing to travel them? CONCLUSION: True worship is not just something that "happens", it is something we prepare for and then participate in! Even in revival worship was balanced and comprehensive. The end result of worship was a joyous sense of God's presence in the life of both the individual and the community of God's people. Lord send us revival!!