October 4, 2009
1 Corinthians 11:23—34
God Honors Those Who Honor Him – this is the theme of today’s message from Experiencing God Day-by-Day. 1 Samuel 2:30 affirms this when it says, I will honor those who honor Me,but those who despise Me will be disgraced.
One of the many truths of the kingdom of God is that if we will honor God, He will honor us. If, however, we dare to treat Him disrespectfully, we will also be treated as least in His kingdom. The initiative rests with us. Our response to God determines His response to us.
Eli had been the priest of Israel for many years, and he knew the standards for righteous living that God required. Yet Eli faced a dilemma, for his sons were living in direct opposition to God. As their father, Eli had to decide whom he would honor. He could not defer to his immoral and ungodly sons and also exalt the God he served. By default, Eli chose to honor his sons, for he did not insist that their behavior conform to God's standards. Eli would have pleaded that he still loved God but that he simply could not bring honor to God with his family. Yet God viewed Eli's behavior differently (1 Sam. 3:13–14). Eli revealed his own heart when he failed to honor God before the people of Israel by the way he dealt with his sons. This is why God punished Eli and his sons severely (1 Sam. 4:17–18).
God is not pleased if you praise Him at church but not at your workplace. It is not acceptable for you to revere God when you are with other Christians but not in your school or neighborhood. He expects you to honor Him completely, with your words, with your actions, with your life. If you honor Him, He will honor you.
Public worship reaches its climax at the Lord's Table, as we partake of the emblems on the table. We do so in remembrance of the Lord Jesus and because He requests it – we honor Him; as we do so, He will honor us.
Exhorting one another in the things of God is not worship. Singing and special music do not in themselves constitute worship. Reciting specially chosen Scripture passages is not in itself worship. Following a carefully planned order of service does not guarantee worship. Listening to pulpit oratory is not worship. Praying for one another does not constitute worship. Being occupied with evangelism, soul-winning, missionary activity, and the like does not constitute worship. Of course, all these things may at times be elements of worship.
True worship is brought into true focus at the Lord's Table. There we are occupied with Jesus only. That is worship.
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 11:23-24, For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
At the Lord's Table, we remember the Lord, in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24). That, of course, excludes all those who do not know Him. You cannot remember someone you do not know and have never met. Occupation with the Lord Jesus reaches its climax in partaking of the bread and of the wine. This is pure worship. It should be spontaneous, not arranged. It should be guided in all its parts (a carefully chosen and appropriate hymn here; a relevant Scripture reading there, with or with-out comment; now a prayer of praise and adoration, in keeping with the occasion) by the Holy Spirit.
Three elements are prominent in such worship. Paul reminds us that we are to be taken up with the Lord's person. Jesus, in instituting this feast of remembrance, said, "This do in remembrance of me." That opens up a vast field of worship. We can be taken up with the Lord's deity, with His humanity, His attributes, and His wisdom, with His love and power. We can be occupied with His eternal God the Son, second person of the Godhead. We can worship Him as Creator of the universe, the One who is adored and served by all the angel throng.
We can remember He is truly man. We can meditate on His incarnation; His life; His words and works; His death, burial, and resurrection; His oneness with the Father, with the Spirit, and with His bride. All these and many other things may be involved in remembering His person.
Moreover, we are to be taken up with the Lord's passion: "As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death." This, too, opens up a vast field of worship. Many Old Testament types remind us of His death. The various offerings, for instance, the feasts, and truths connected with the tabernacle and its furniture. Such monumental passages as Psalm 22 (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
"He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!" Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother's breasts. ) and Isaiah 53 (Who has believed what they heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
all come to mind. So do the frequent references to the Lord's death in the Gospels and Epistles. We focus in worship on the events that surrounded the Lord's death, burial, and resurrection. We think of His sufferings, the events of His last crowded week on earth. We stand with Moses and Elijah on the holy mount as they talk with Him about His departure. We stand in Pilate's judgment hall. We journey from Gethsemane to Gabbatha to Golgotha and the grave. We remember His passion. Besides our open Bibles, a hundred hymns help us to remember.
But there is one thing more. We are to be taken up with the Lord's position. We remember Him thus "till He come." The Lord is no longer on the cross or in the tomb. He is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high. He is our Advocate with the Father. He is our Great High Priest. He is coining again. All these things provide us with themes for worship.
Worship, after all, is the ascription of "worthship" to Him.
Do you see why we celebrate the Lord's Supper? Do you see why it indeed is a celebration? Where else can we find such a picture of love and grace, of unmerited favor? In preparing to celebrate the Lord's Supper, it is not only a time to look back and be grateful for Christ's sacrifice, but it is also a time to look within, confess sin, and recommit to follow Him. As we prepare to receive the Lord's Supper, let's enter into a time of quiet meditation and reflection upon the truths of God's Word. Examine your heart – are there differences between you and a brother or sister that need to be resolved? Are you not living in obedience? Is there unconfessed sin in your life? Are you stealing from God by withholding your tithes and offerings? Is there anything else that keeps you from being in right relationship with God? We know that God wants us to have a passion for His Son, a hunger for His Word, and a burden for the lost. His Word makes it clear that we are to be studying His Word, applying it to our lives, and be faithful in prayer. If we don’t, what are we doing? We’re disobedient! And what does God call that? Sin! Until these issues are made right, do not participate in communion today. Wait until your heart is right! Far better to abstain from communion than to partake of it unworthily!
AS we prepared to be served, let’s pray for the consecration of these elements: Father, we are thankful for the bread and cup. We pray that these elements will provide more than physical nourishment. Grant us the peace, unity, and spiritual nourishment this bread symbolizes. May this cup speak again of the blood Christ shed for the forgiveness of sin. Cleanse us and consecrate us again as we partake of this token meal together. We eagerly await the day we shall eat it with you in the Kingdom of Heaven. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Starting on my left, please come forward to be served the elements, please hold on to your serving until all have been served so we may partake together.
(When all are ready to partake) “The Lord Jesus on the night He was betrayed, took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is my body which is for you; do this in remembrance of me” Let’s partake.
(When all are ready to partake of the cup) “In the same way, after supper He took the cup saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”
Let’s close in prayer.