SERMON SERIES | DISCIPLINES FOR SABBATH-REST (1)
02 MAY 2021 | TRADITIONAL SERVICE
Rev Raymond Fong
Scripture Passage: Romans 12: 1-2 (NIV)
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Summary | Many of us, especially in our younger days, may have equated worship with Sunday service or similar activities in church. However, worship is much more than that. It is to give great and extravagant worth to someone or something. Worth-ship, from which the word ‘worship’ originates, is associated with the satisfaction, security and significance we derive from a person or object. We may gain satisfaction from food, security from our finances and significance from our careers. Things which are inherently good may become idols if they become more important than God. As the Lord responded to the devil who had tempted Him with the splendours of the world, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
John Piper aptly describes true worship as that which “flows from the right understanding of God’s nature and works, and then leads to the right valuing of God’s worth.” God must come first and take paramount place in our hearts if we are to experience real worship. Therefore, we must have an intentional posture to place Him above all else in our lives. We have been created by God for worship. Without God, our hearts are restless. How do we get this intentional posture? Romans 12:1-2 teaches us the following:
Posture for worship – “Therefore…in view of God’s mercy” (Rom 12:1) is a phrase that draws us to reflect on the preceding 11 chapters of Romans. In these chapters, our salvation by faith, freedom from sin’s enslavement, adoption as God’s children, eternal hope, security of God’s love and His sovereignty are spelt out. The natural response to God’s grace should be one of thanksgiving and reverence. His mercy leads us to worship, for He is truly worthy to be worshipped.
Priority in worship – “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Rom 12:1). A decisive and complete sacrifice is needed. We offer our bodies, whether at work or at home or in everything we do, to the Lord. The sacrifice is a burnt offering (Lev 6:8-13) of a choice animal, brought with devotion and completely consumed in fire. The words ‘living sacrifice’ appears to be an oxymoron. How can it be living when it is thoroughly dead? Yet, this is what God wants from us. We are to put ourselves on the altar of fire for Him to purify us. It is a costly act, as we sacrifice our will and desires in the process of sanctification and surrender. May our prayer to the Lord be: “take me, use me, I am Yours.” This, then, is the reasonable and logical way to worship. This is the way we ought to worship.
Purpose of worship – Latreia, the Greek word for worship, conveys the meaning of work, labour and service. We are a royal priesthood (1 Pet 2:5,9) and destined to serve in God’s temple (Rev 7:15). Let us serve Him through obedience.
With a correct posture, priority and purpose, we will get our worship right. Then, all the other spiritual disciplines will fall into place. This spiritual discipline of worship is not developed overnight. It requires daily practice. There are five steps we may take:
- Prepare: make time and space to give God the best; go before Him in silence, stillness and solitude.
- Praise: recall the character and works of God; give thanks; through song and His Word (using R.O.A.D in our Bible Reading Drive).
- Repent: this is crucial as we re-align with God though our confession, receive His forgiving love and rest in His restoring grace.
- Obey: discern God’s will through reflection and yield to His purpose; set yourself apart (consecrate) for His assignment.
- Serve: be His hands and feet in bringing the Good News of salvation to others (Rom 10:15); be the salt and light (Matt 5:13, 14); intercede for others.
It is not easy to be a ‘living sacrifice’. However, when we chose to do so and obey, we will experience deep rest in our souls. So, choose to be a ‘living sacrifice’ and find Sabbath-Rest.
(Sermon Notes by Angela Goh)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
1. What is worship to you? If worship is defined as giving great and extravagant worth to something or someone, what might you be worshipping today apart from God? Take some time to reflect. Be honest and as open as you can.
2. Recall God's goodness and faithfulness to you. How will you worship differently when you reflect on God's mercies upon your life?
3. What does offering yourself as a living sacrifice mean for you? What is one area of your life you need to place on the altar for sanctification and surrender?
4. How will you make worship a daily discipline? Share practical handles. Pray for each other and suggest ways to stay committed and accountable.
Note: You do not have to answer all the questions. Take time to go deeper in your sharing.