Monday, June 10, 2013

"Meaningless Worship" International Sunday School Lesson from Isaiah 29 for Sunday June 16, 2013

                              "Meaningless Worship"

International Sunday School Lesson for Sunday June 16, 2013

Scripture Text: Isaiah 29:9-16a

Purpose: To offer worship that seeks to know God's expectations, without expecting God to buy into our agenda

Isaiah 29:9-16a (CEB)

9Be shocked and stunned;
blind yourselves; be blind!
Be drunk, but not on wine;
stagger, but not on account of beer!
10The Lord has poured on you a spirit of deep sleep,
and has shut your eyes, you prophets,
and covered your heads, you seers.
11This entire vision has become for you like the words of a sealed scroll. When they give it to one who can read, saying, "Read this," that one will say, "I can’t, because it’s sealed."12And when the scroll is given to one who can’t read, saying, "Read this," that one will say, "I can’t read."
13The Lord says:
Since these people turn toward me with their mouths,
and honor me with lip service
while their heart is distant from me,
and their fear of me is just a human command that has been memorized,
14I will go on doing amazing things to these people,
shocking and startling things. The wisdom of their wise will perish,
and the discernment of their discerning will be hidden.
15Doom to those who hide their plan deep, away from the Lord,
whose deeds are in the dark,
who say, "Who sees us? Who knows us?"
16You have everything backward!
Should the potter be thought of as clay?
Should what is made say of its maker,
"He didn’t make me"?
Should what is shaped say of the one who shaped it, "He doesn’t understand"?

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

So how does your time of worship stack up with Isaiah's writings? I am ashamed to say most worship services probably fall far short of true worship of a creator God. We do everything we can to make our worship time acceptable to all types of individuals, when worship is really about God and not us.

Some of us attend worship service so we can somehow influence God to listen to our request and try our best to turn God's head, to notice us, and how pious we are. What God does not want to hear is our reciting from memory our liturgy and our prayers. Verse 13 of our lesson makes it very clear God is not interested in lip service, and our fear of God is a learned behavior, like a dog learns a behavior by receiving treats.

Meaningful worship should be about glorifying God, doing His will. So much of today's worship services are geared toward entertaining us, and making us feel better about our selves. A meaningful worship service might be more like the old Quaker meetings, meeting in silence and listening to God. I know that probably would not build very many ego sanctuaries, where we could display our finest decorating skills, and architecture.

We need to be reminded that the “Tabernacle” was God's idea, the temple was David's idea. God was happy with a folding tent, but David wanted something more. You will find this discourse in 2nd Samuel 7:6 In fact, I haven’t lived in a temple from the day I brought Israel out of Egypt until now. Instead, I have been traveling around in a tent and in a dwelling. 7 Throughout my traveling around with the Israelites, did I ever ask any of Israel’s tribal leaders I appointed to shepherd my people: Why haven’t you built me a cedar temple?

I will go out on a limb here and say that most of our houses of worship have been built to glorify man, not God. I have searched the New Testament and can not find anywhere where a house of worship was built specifically for that purpose. Most New Testament churches met in believers homes, or in existing Jewish Synagogues. It was sometime after that when the great cathedrals were built.

The founder of the Methodist movement almost always used a home where believers could meet, study and pray together. John Wesley called them “class meetings.” Class meetings were a time of confession, and sharing God's blessings. It was never about the structure, it was about seeking God's mind for their lives. The best way to worship and glorify God is to imitate Him. There is an old saying that says “the sincerest form of flattery is imitation.” Never more true than in our worship.
Unfortunately we have become more like what is referenced in verse 16 of our lesson. 16You have everything backward!
Should the potter be thought of as clay?
Should what is made say of its maker,
"He didn’t make me"?
Should what is shaped say of the one who shaped it, "He doesn’t understand"?

This week check your time in worship and see if is glorifying the Creator God, or the creature man.


Anonymous said...

Looking a many of the different churches we are left to wonder if all the $ spent to build them would not have been better utilized helping people rather than embellishing a building.

Burgess Walter said...

I find most all of Jesus teachings were spoken to the Church and not to Governments. Certainly your thoughts would make for an interesting debate.

Anonymous said...

It's a reminder about the true condition of our heart. This message shows how our God wanted us to be connected to Him personally.