Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Journey of Faith - Faith and Commitment

I taught this last Sunday at New Life Fellowship where I serve as a pastor, and have the privilege to teach a wonderful group of friends...all of us on a journey of faith through this life.

My desire in this series is to take the pointed "Faith" statements from Hebrews 11 and dive back into the stories - largely from Genesis - so that we might see the stories in their context.  This week we looked at the story of Enoch - a figure not widely known by a lot of people; but one that makes it in Hebrews as an example of Faith, and is made known in Genesis.

In this blog, I'll share the first half of that teaching, and then finish it tomorrow.  I hope you're encouraged and challenged in your faith!

Hebrews 11 is known as the faith chapter…and that’s because it begins with this BIG PICTURE statement about what Faith is…

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
1  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Faith is in a SOMEONE, NOT A SOMETHING.  It is trust in God.
We’re looking at various dimensions of our Faith…because Faith is not singularly focused.

Today, I want us to look at Faith as it relates to Commitment. 

One of the things that Jesus does is repeatedly question his disciples when it comes to two big things:
Faith in Him… and,  Commitment to Him…
Faith is something he spoke of frequently with them: Sometimes it was negative…

 Matthew 8:23-26 (ESV)
23  And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him.
24  And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.
25  And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.”
26  And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

Sometimes it was Positive:  Luke 7:2-3 (ESV)
2  Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him.
3  When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant.
  
Luke 7:9 (ESV)
9  When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

BUT, equally so, Jesus constantly challenged people in the area of their commitment… E.g.  

John 12:24-26 (ESV)
24  Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
25  Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
26  If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

Here’s a statement you may or may not have ever heard…and you may or may not believe in:  “Christianity without Commitment is Not FAITH, it’s merely religious preferences.” 

It was in my first year as a Christian that I read the words from Paul in Galatians 2:20 (ESV)
20  I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I came to Christ in the radical Jesus Movement period. 
Keith Green was traveling and preaching repentance and radical Faith in Jesus Christ for anyone who would say they were Christians.
I read the biography of Jim Eliot.  He was a young man in college in the 1950’s and he gave his life to serve God wherever God wanted him to go.
Eventually he was called by God to go to the Auca Indians in Ecuador.  Along with four others, their wives and children, they moved to the northern Amazon River basin, set up their housing and reached out to make contact.  They thought they would be received, but instead, they were all killed by warriors who all later converted to Christ. 
In a journal he had written the words:  “He is no fool is gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
It became my life’s motto…

Commitment:  It’s an absolute essential for anything that involves a meaningful relationship.
Without Commitment, marriage doesn't work… relationships to Parents, Kids, Friends and Church fellowship doesn't work.
Without Commitment, we end up living a self-centered individualism that I promise you will lead to regrets and unhappiness down the road.

This passage in Hebrews 11 is about the Faith of commitment:

Hebrews 11:5-6 (ESV)
5  By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.
6  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

This is the story of Enoch…not a well known figure, but one whose Faith and Commitment to God serve as a model for how we understand this Journey of Faith. 
Enoch, A Man Who Made a Commitment to Live for God
We don’t know a lot about Enoch, there’s not a lot in scripture about him.  But within that scripture there is an interesting story to uncover - and, it helps us understand why God commended his Faith.  Interestingly enough it starts with the genealogy of...

Genesis 5:1-5 (ESV)
1  This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.
2  Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.
3  When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.

When this genealogical record begins, there is no mention of Cain and Abel.
Abel is dead, and Cain has wandered off and built a city separate from Eden. 
So when the genealogy begins it begins with the next Son, Seth.

Genesis 5:3 (ESV)
3  When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.  
Genesis 5:6 (ESV)
6  When Seth had lived 105 years, he fathered Enosh.  
Genesis 5:9 (ESV)
9  When Enosh had lived 90 years, he fathered Kenan.  
Genesis 5:12 (ESV)
12  When Kenan had lived 70 years, he fathered Mahalalel.
Genesis 5:15 (ESV)
15  When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he fathered Jared. 
Genesis 5:18 (ESV)
18  When Jared had lived 162 years he fathered Enoch.
·       
     Adam had Seth,
·        Seth had Enosh,
·        Enosh had Kenan, then
·        Kenan had a son named Mahalalel,
·        Mahalalel had a son named Jared, and then
·        Jared had a son named Enoch.
All of the Fathers of those seven generations died…yes, they lived long, but they all died.

Now ancestry wise, I can go back four generations.  I have some knowledge of who my Great-Great Granparents were.  But, Seven Generations?  That's what we have here, and it's important for what happens next.
It’s in the seventh generation that something happens.

Genesis 5:21-24 (ESV)
21  When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah.
22  Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters.
23  Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years.
24  Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

This is the Enoch that the writer in Hebrews 11 says was a man of Faith.
Hebrews 11:5 (ESV)
5  By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.

It’s interesting because there is nothing said of what he did that made him this person who is treated so differently from the rest of human kind.
It doesn’t say he did any miracles, or led a revival of worship to God, or overcame some gigantic evil like is going to happen with Noah…Nothing is told of WHAT he did.

What is told is WHO he was.  He was a man whose Faith was seen by God in such a way that God literally took him rather than letting him die.
Since Enoch, only one other person was described – in all of history – as NOT dying, but being taking up to God apart from death.
That was the prophet Elijah…
With Elijah we have more information.  He was an amazing man of God.  A Prophet who won his nation of Israel back over to God, and who challenged evil Kings, and did miracles. 
BUT, that is not what is said of Enoch.

What’s said of Enoch is that he had a son and something happened:
Genesis 5:21-23 (ESV)
21  When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah.
22  Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah ...

WHY?
Methuselah – He’s the answer to the Bible Trivia question:  “Who is the oldest man who ever lived?” 
BUT, there’s something significant in Methuselah’s life…

Genesis 5:25 (ESV)
25  When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he fathered Lamech. 

Lamech is Enoch’s grandson…Methuselah is Enoch’s son, and Lamech is his Grandson.
Then his Great Grandson is born:  

Genesis 5:25-31 (ESV)
25  When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he fathered Lamech.
26  Methuselah lived after he fathered Lamech 782 years and had other sons and daughters.
27  Thus all the days of Methuselah were 969 years, and he died.

28  When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son
29  and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.”
30  Lamech lived after he fathered Noah 595 years and had other sons and daughters.
31  Thus all the days of Lamech were 777 years, and he died.

Now, being the sharp thinkers that you are, you noticed a couple of things:
·        First you noticed that Methuselah lived to be 969 years old before he died.
·        Then you noticed that Lamech lived 777 years and he died.
SO…the difference is quite a bit.
AND Lamech has Noah, who at the time he is 500 begins to have Sons – which is the last verse in chpt 5… 

Genesis 5:32 (ESV)
32  After Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

REMEMBER this is about Enoch, His Faith was forged when he gave birth to a Son, Methuselah…And Methuselah lived 969 years, his Son Lamech lived 777 years, and Noah waited to start having Children until after 500 years???

WHAT HAPPENED?  The Flood.  What precipitated the Flood was God seeing what was becoming of a Fallen world.

Genesis 6:5-7 (ESV)
5  The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6  And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
7  So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

We’ll get to that story next week, but for now, I wanted you to see the connection between the generations.  Enoch has a son and it makes him realize something - Genesis 5:22 (ESV) 
22  Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah…

Then Enoch is taken away by God.  Genesis 5:24 (ESV)
24  Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

His Son, Methuselah has a son, Lamech; and Lamech has a Son, Noah, and Noah builds an ark because the world is going to be destroyed by a Flood that God sends.
Evolution is the theory that mankind has evolved over time from lower creatures into the dominant species.
Genesis tells us that instead - a form of Devolving has been taking place and it became so evil that God determined to destroy it all and start over.
When you take the ages and add them up you discover something.

·        Methuselah is 187 yrs old when he has Lamech and lives to be 969 years
·        Lamech is 182 yrs old when he has Noah and lives to be 777 years.
·        Noah is 500 years old before he starts having his Sons…but he has three.
·        Then the Flood comes, and we read this:

Genesis 7:11 (ESV)
11  In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.

Add it all together and you get what?  187 + 182 + 500 + 100 = 969 years
SO Methuselah lives until the Flood and he dies at the time of the Flood, most likely in the year of the flood, he dies, and then the Flood comes upon the earth.  That is why Enoch’s story and his Committed Faith are so important.

Genesis 5:21-22 (ESV)
21  When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah.
22  Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters.

Enoch got to a point in his life where he saw what was happening, and he saw what was going to happen, and he realized that he needed a deeper COMMITMENT TO GOD.
He saw what was going to happen as the world got worse and worse, and he made a decision that making a commitment to pursue God was going to make a difference in his children’s lives, and his grandchildren’s lives, and we know that it even went one more generation to Enoch’s great-granchild, Noah.
I would say, it was because of Enoch’s commitment, that his Great Grandson was able to hear God and find grace in God’s plan to save the world through him.

HOW do we get a vision of Faith and Commitment to God that goes beyond our own individual lives and sees it to the next Generation?

Genesis 17:7 (ESV)
7  And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.


Here’s the point:  Faith is…  Faith is active, action, now oriented… you don’t turn it on or off, it “is”.

Our lives matter...We matter...Our Faith matters....In our generation, in the generation to follow, and in the generations after that... It matters to have "Faith is".

Peace, I'll finish this tomorrow.


Monday, September 22, 2014

The Journey of Faith: “Faith and Worship”

Yesterday I taught the third teaching of this series I'm calling "The Journey of Faith".  This is a long post because I'll not be able to post the rest of this week, so if you want, break this into a couple of readings.

This series is coming from two sections of scripture: 
Hebrews 11 and the book of Genesis.

Hebrews 11 is known as the faith chapter…and that’s because it begins with this BIG PICTURE statement about what Faith is…

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
1  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Faith is in a SOMEONE, NOT A SOMETHING.  It is trust in a Person, God, and the knowledge that God is Trustworthy.

We’re looking at various dimensions of our Faith…because Faith is not singularly focused.
Let's take a look at Faith as it relates to Worship.

Hebrews 11:4 (ESV)
4  By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.
 
Worship is an act of Faith
Faith is usually associated with things having to do with Salvation.  We talk about Faith in believing…and Faith as trusting in God for our Salvation, and there certainly is justification for that:

Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)
8  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

It is true, but did you know that we don’t just have Faith once, but we exercise our Faith continually.  Look back at Heb. 11:1, “FAITH IS…”,
We realize that Faith is NOT just about Salvation.  Faith has to do with everyday living.
 
Romans 5:1-2 (ESV)
1  Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
2  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Faith is multi-faceted and touches every aspect of life and one of the ways in which we exercise Faith is in our Worship of God.

I think most of us realize that Worship is not Sunday morning in church.  Jesus had a conversation with a woman about Worship. 

John 4:19-24 (ESV)
19  The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.
20  Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”
21  Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father….  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.
24  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The focus of the woman is similar to many today:  Religion is about worshiping IN a PLACE.  Worship has to do with right forms, liturgy…  BUT, JESUS says, Worship is about WHO, not WHERE. 

Worship is about FAITH in WHO we are worshipping.

Faith is always a Someone, not a Something.  So also, Worship is a SOMEONE, not a SOMETHING.  Our Faith, is active…it’s real (substance)…and it is something that leads us back over and over to God.  The Real Person GOD… God receives us as we come to him by Faith:  Hebrews 11:6 (ESV) 
6  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Faith is the absolute essential if we’re going to reach out to God. 
Faith doesn’t mean we have all the answers, it simply means we know WHO has all of the answers.  
Faith means we come to God and get His approval in doing that.

SO…this story sits as a story about Faith and about the Faith of Worship… Hebrews 11:4 (ESV)
4  By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

The background to this story is in Genesis, BUT, notice what he says about Abel’s Faith:  It was “more acceptable”…  “commended”… “accepted”… And “though he died, he still speaks”…
What I can’t overlook in this is something that is outside our experience, but is happening in Christ’s church at times around the world – Abel’s faith in God led to his murder.

Martyrs are people who will give up their lives because they won’t give up their worship of God.  We have brothers and sisters in Christ in various places of the world that are still being killed because of their worship of God.

This Faith of Abel is something God loved, and even though it cost him his life, he continues to bear witness to this Faith of Worship.

Two Brothers, Two Ways

The story of Abel and Cain is found in Genesis 4…let’s look at it.

Genesis 4:1-7 (ESV)
1  Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.”

In a very simple straightforward way, the passage begins with the first children. 
The very first child born into the world after creation is Cain.  The phrase in vs 1, “Adam knew Eve his wife…” seems a bit unusual for talking about conception, but it’s a familiar word in scripture.  In general “KNEW” has a wide range of definitions, but when used in scripture of a man and a woman it always means “intimate relationship”.

The birth of Cain elicits this expression, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.”  The name Cain means "Gotten".
We need to ask the question, what did Eve mean, “I’ve gotten a man from the Lord?”

When the Fall occurred, God had told her:  Genesis 3:15-16 (ESV)
15  I will put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
16  To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children…”

So when chapter 4 begins, Genesis 4:1 (ESV)
1  Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, [TO GET…HE IS HERE] saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.”

I think that Eve thought this is going to be the one who is going to reverse the curse that the Fall caused and return them to God as before the Fall.

After Cain, came Boy #2 – Abel.  Genesis 4:2 (ESV)
2  And again, she bore his brother Abel...

The name “Abel” is interesting.  It’s the Hebrew word, Hebel
Remember Ecclesiastes, “Vanity of Vanity…”  the Hebrew word was “hebel”… it is what is translated Vanity, or Meaningless, a mere Breath…
And that is the word for Abel – now would any parent name their child, Hebel?  Meaningless? A Breath? 
For Eve, Cain was the hope of the one who would reverse things; but when Abel comes, she says, “Life is short, it’s a breath, there is a Vanity to believing things will get solved so shortly”.  I think they lost hope after realizing Cain wasn’t going to reverse the curse.

THEN,  they grow up…years pass…At the end of verse 2…it says
2…Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground.
Both are “Farmers”…
They both worked…one with animals, one with crops…there’s nothing that tells us that this was not right.

The issue isn’t their jobs…it’s what they do as a way of coming to God in Worship – especially as it relates to their Offerings, sacrifices.

3  In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4  and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions…

"in the course of time" they both brought offerings to the Lord.  
In other words, they came to God to Worship…

Two quick observations:
1.   Without doubt, they were doing this because they knew God to be real.
2.   AND, They understood what God wanted in relation to the Worship.

“How were Cain and Abel supposed to know what to sacrifice?”
Adam and Eve had once lived in the Garden in fellowship with God, and even after the FALL, they knew about Worship.  BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, there was a WAY for their worship. 
They learned, from either their Parents that they were to bring something that represented a sacrifice of Worship.

Genesis 4:4-5 (ESV)
4  ... And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering,
5  but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.

Hebrews 11:4, "By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did."
NOW WHY DID GOD SAY ABEL’S OFFERING WAS GREAT, AND CAIN’S WASN’T?

Genesis 4:4 (ESV)
4  and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering,

How did Abel present his sacrifice unto the Lord? What Hebrews 11 tells us is that it was by faith.  

Hebrews 11:4 (ESV)
4  By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

He brought the sacrifice that he knew God wanted.  How did he know that?
His Parents taught both of them what happened to them… What did their Parents tell them?  They told them the story of what happened in the Fall, when they took of the fruit of the tree, disobeying God and allowing Sin to enter into into the world.

Genesis 3:6-7 (ESV)
6  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
7  Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

When they took the Fig leaves, they were doing what people do to try to avoid God…let’s cover over our sin, say it’s not a problem, and that it’s we’ll take care of it ourselves.
Think about this Parents…when we show our kids that our sins are not serious…everyone sins…no big deal…I don’t need to Repent…I don’t need to tell God I sinned against him in this act…we fail to demonstrate the need for confession, forgiveness...I would even go so far to say, Salvation.  
The greatest thing you can teach your kids is that God has a way to deal with our Sin…which means the Faith of Worship starts with the acknowledgement that we come to God to deal with our Sins…  YES, Adam and Eve sinned, but later…

Genesis 3:21 (ESV)
21  And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

WHY did God do this?  He took off their Fig Leaves - because Fig Leaves represented their own efforts to cover over their sin - and instead God makes for them garments of Skin…
WHICH MEANS THEY WERE COVERED BY THE DEATH OF A LIVING SACRIFICE…  The Book of Leviticus talked about all sorts of sacrifices, but the main point it made was that sacrifices involved the shedding of blood.

Leviticus 17:11 (ESV)
11  For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.

Abel learned from His Parents that God was the one who forgives his sin, and he knew that he needed forgiveness.  That’s the key…God is the one who forgives our Sin.
When we ignore the subject of Sin, we miss the point of what God has done for us in Jesus’ death.  His death was the sacrifice for our Sins.

Hebrews 9:12 (ESV)
12  he [Christ] entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

To Worship God, a Person must know God is real; and then they must know that God has a WAY to worship him…

John 14:1,6 (ESV)
1  “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 6  Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

We come to God through Jesus’ life, death on the cross, and resurrection to life FOR OUR SIN…that’s the WAY Jesus speaks of.

Genesis 4:4-5 (ESV)
4  and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering,

Abel came to God according to God’s way…and God had “regard” for Abel and his offerings…Hebrews 11:4 (ESV)
4  By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts

It’s so crucial we understand that God approved of Abel’s worship…because the contrast is clear with what happens to Cain after.

Genesis 4:5-7 (ESV)
5  but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.
6  The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?
7  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

Cain decided to do it on his own way.  He said, “it doesn’t make any difference how you do it, you can come to God anyway you want.  There are lots of ways to God.”  Cain said, “I don’t need God’s sacrifice, I can present my own hard earned sacrifice.”
God speaks to Cain: “you’re not doing things in the right way Cain…”  and how did Cain respond?  In sorrow, repentance??? NO, he was furious…angry at God.
In other words, it wasn’t the offering that was the problem, it was Cain’s heart, attitude, motives… i.e. His Soul.   God did not reject Cain’s offering, he rejected Cain’s heart.  This is the story of TWO BROTHERS…TWO WAYS…
The Worshiper and God

We are all called to be worshipers.  Jesus said that to the woman at the well.  John 4:23-24 (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.
24  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Let me make a couple of statements about the Faith of Worship.
You’ve heard me say before:  FAITH IS A SOMEONE, NOT A SOMETHING.  
1.   It should be clear, WORSHIP IS A SOMEONE, NOT A SOMETHING.
We come to worship God and yet that has to be INTENTIONAL, not just showing up and going through the motions.  
2.   Worship in Faith comes from Within, “worship in Spirit”… The Outward show which is merely religion apart from Faith has never pleased God.  The danger of Religion is that it tries to substitute for Worship with something other than the heart.  Think about that when we read these two passages in which Jesus is speaking about and to the Pharisees.

Matthew 15:1-9 (ESV)
1  Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said,
2  “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? …3  He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition…?
7  You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
8  “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
9  in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

Matthew 23:27-28 (ESV)
27  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.
28  So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

I think the lesson is pretty clear – we cannot think Worship is being religious.  That is not the Faith of Worship, and that is abhorrent to God.

3.   Our Worship is because of what God in Jesus did for us in the sacrifice for our sins.

Genesis 4:6-7 (ESV)
6  The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?
7  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

The issue is Sin…Our Sin.  It doesn’t say God liked Abel and hated Cain…there’s nothing in the text that shows that.  In fact, in these verses it shows God reaching out to Cain to “understand”… to “consider”… to “learn”… AND what is he to learn?  That Sin is always present ready to exert Pride… A sense of I can do it anyway I want, and I can do what I want, and I’m not accountable to anyone. 

That form of religion on our part is an insult to Jesus whose blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins.  To never say “Lord I’m sorry for that action, thought, attitude…I am wrong and sinned against you, please forgive me”… and it is the way of Cain.
Our worship, when done by Faith, does not skip over what God had to do to deal with our Sin. 
Look at this section in 1 John and don't stop at the chapter division:

1 John 1:5-10 (ESV)
5  This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
7  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
8  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

1 John 2:1-2 (ESV)
1  My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
2  He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

We aren’t suppose to tolerate Sin…and YES, we will sin; but we don’t excuse it…but deal with it the way God prescribes – through Jesus’ death for our sin...through confession and repentance.  Faith is the result of hearing God’s word, submitting our minds and our bodies, our motives & attitudes, to his dominion, and acting in accordance to what the Lord has instructed.  Paul defines the source of faith that is well-pleasing to God in Romans 10:17.
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

The principle of faith means we understand that God cares how we come, and he cares what we bring, and he cares about our hearts.

God loved Abel’s heart… Hebrews 11:4 (ESV)
4  By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died...

Genesis 4:8 (ESV)
8  Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.

Why did Cain kill Abel? It was murder, caused by anger, jealousy, and pride…all of which is at God because he wanted to come to God his own way.

John wrote, 1 John 3:12 (ESV)
12  We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.

The evil in his heart is further revealed when the Lord asked Cain,
Genesis 4:9 (ESV)
9  Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”

What happens to Cain? He went out from His presence. 

Genesis 4:10-11 (ESV)
10  And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.
11  And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.

At the end it records that Cain leaves… Genesis 4:16 (ESV)
16  Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Over the 40 years that I’ve been a Pastor, I’ve seen lots of people leave the Church, and leave God.  I remember more than I want to… they are angry with God, they are angry at times when they can’t do what they want to do.

I’ve heard people say that… “it’s the church…people who are not loving, are judgmental, holier-than-thou…”  I’ve heard that, and you know something, that’s not the churches I’ve been in.  I've certainly seen the "messy spirituality" that is of people of faith.  To see people being human, and therefore sinful, is only to acknowledge what Scripture says about all of us - "There is no one righteous, no not one...all have sinned and come short of the glory of the Lord."
I’ve seen those things, but leaving church and ignoring our need for worship, to have a means to deal with our sins in fellowship with others, with Jesus as the center of our Worship…that’s just an excuse.

Jesus is the way, the substitutionary atonement for our sins. He died in our place and arose from the grave that we might have life with Him.
As Abel made his sacrifice by faith, we accept Jesus’ death by faith and are made right before Him.

Romans 3:22-24 (ESV)
22  the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:
23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24  and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Worship is recognizing that God delights in truth, and loves it when we embrace – with humility – our own brokenness and needs in Christ.


Hebrews 11:4 (ESV)
4
 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

PEACE IN CHRIST TO YOU