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The Worship Effect

2 Kings 17:15 (KJV) And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.

2 Kings 17:15 (NIV) They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their fathers and the warnings he had given them. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, “Do not do as they do,” and they did the things the Lord had forbidden them to do.

It is a hallmark of human relationships.  The propensity for an individual to take on the characteristics of those with whom he or she holds close or lives in close proximity is so strong that it is a virtual impossibility to resist.  Whoever a person focuses on, with whomever one enters into a voluntary association, whoever one loves, whoever one worships possesses the keys to one’s very soul.

Patricia Hearst was the granddaughter of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst.  She was a college student in Berkeley, California when she was kidnapped in February of 1974 by a neo-revolutionary group calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). For the next two months, Hearst was kept in a closet and “brainwashed” by the small group of radicals who targeted wealthy capitalists for what they claimed were political reasons.  The SLA publicized a photo of Patty, machine gun in hand, apparently a willing convert to revolution. Under the name “Tania”she participated in the robbery of a San Francisco bank. Instead of a victim, Hearst became a member of the F.B.I.’s Ten Most Wanted List. She was eventually arrested in 1975 and was convicted of bank robbery.  In 1979 her sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter. The underlying psychological reasons for her surrender to the objectives and philosophies of her captors is called the “Stockholm Syndrome.” 

If this can happen to a person who is taken captive against his or her will, what about the person who willingly and freely enters into a relationship?  If you cannot fend off evil influence through your own defensive reflexes, what happens when you make no effort to resist?  What happens when you start out affirming the thinking of the influencer?  Let me go a step further:  what happens when you worship the influencer? 

Importance of Worship

I submit to you that who or what you worship is the most critical choice you can make in terms of your soul’s destiny.  We have limited the definition of worship as something one does in church or in reference to a deity.  Actually, to worship is to idolize: to love unquestioningly and uncritically or to excess.  It is to venerate as an idol.  “Many teenagers idolized the Beatles.”  It is to possess a feeling of profound love and admiration.

Exodus 20:1-5 (KJV) 1 And God spake all these words, saying,
2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.

Look back on these first two commandments.

Some might think they make God seem petulant or small.  After all, if God is God, why would He have to worry about anyone else pretending to be God?

Why should a graven image be a problem to God?  If He created the universe, He should not be intimidated by a statue or a painting, should He? 

This is not about God feeling insecure about who He is.  This is not about God’s self-esteem.  He is not worried about someone else rising up to take His place.

These commandments are given for two primary reasons.  First is the matter of truth; second is the matter of worship.

The truth of the one, true and living God needs to be the clearest, plainest truth in the world!

The Oneness of God

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (KJV) 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Isaiah 45:5-8 (KJV) 5 I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
8 Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.

Isaiah 45:20-22 (KJV) 20 Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.
21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

Let me state this a plainly as possible:

There is only one God. He exists as one, not as three.  There are not three Gods; there are not three separate and distinct persons in the Godhead; the scripture does not contain the word trinity

The scriptures do speak of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  These are not three persons of the Godhead, but three manifestations of the One God! God is Father in Creation; Son in Redemption, and Holy Ghost in Operation.

Jesus declared who He was: 

John 10:30-33 (KJV) 30 I and my Father are one.
31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

Colossians 2:9-10 (KJV) 9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

Revelation 1:7-8 (KJV) 7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

These are only a sampling of Bible verses that prove beyond question that there is only one God! 

The Oneness of God is a marvelous truth, but there is another reason why God gave us these first two commandments:

The matter of worship.

God created each person with the innate desire and ability to worship.  Your worship sets the parameters for the entire quality and being of your life.  If there is anything you ought to take personally and seriously, it is your worship and the object of your worship. 

The first place the word worship is mentioned in the bible is the story of Abraham and Isaac.  God had just told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar.  Obediently and reverently, Abraham took Isaac up the mountain, fully intending to do exactly as God asked him to do.  He did not tell his son what he was about to do.  Picture it:  A father and a son, trudging their way up the mountain, the father knowing that he would return alone, leaving the slain, charred remains of his only son behind on the pile of stones. 

Did he put his hand tenderly on the shoulder of his son as they climbed?  Did he look longingly at the profile of his son, trying to fix his image in his mind on last time?  Did he leave pieces of his heart along the trail with each step?

Maybe.  Why did he do it?  The key is his statement to his servants:  “I and the lad will go yonder to worship.”  What he was about to do was viewed in the context of worship.  It was not a trial, not a hardship, not an unreasonable demand of an overbearing deity.  It was worship.  (I wonder who would like to attend that worship service?  Who would like to be a part of that worship team?!)

This what true worship does.  It makes you absolutely vulnerable.  It opens you up to the most extreme influence, the most dominating control, the most overpowering effect that can possibly be exerted on an individual.

Jesus set forth a very strict definition of worship.

John 4:21-24 (KJV) 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Worship is not just a matter of being theologically correct.  Worship is not just a matter of music genre, following protocol or having a reverential attitude.  If it is only a matter of saying the right words, assuming the correct posture, staying on beat or singing the right tune, then it become a matter of taste or preference.

Jesus said that worship is a matter of Spirit and Truth!  In other words, you are opening yourself up to influence outside yourself when you worship.  Spiritual transactions and transformations happen in worship.  Your mind, your values, your convictions, your understanding—all these come into play in the act of worship.

This is why it was paramount for Jesus to defeat Satan in the third and final temptation.  It was all about worship effect.

Matthew 4:8-11 (KJV) 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

If Jesus would have worshipped Satan, He would have lost his identity.  If Jesus would have worshipped Satan, His mission would have been forfeited.  If Jesus would have worshipped Satan, he would have ceded His authority and power to Satan.   Whoever you worship, you confer authority and power to him.  Whoever you worship gains control over you.  If you worship the devil, you give him control over you.  If you worship the flesh, you open yourself up to every evil influence that exists in the world.

Romans 1:21-25 (KJV) 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Here are twelve (12) heathen practices that have been introduce into America because America has begun to worship false gods:

1. ENCHANTMENTS – practice of magical arts [Ex. 7:11, 22

2. WITCHCRAFT - practice of dealing with evil spirits [Ex. 22:18

3. SORCERY – same as witchcraft [Ex. 7:11

4. SOOTH-SAYING – same as witchcraft [Isa. 2:6
5. DIVINATION – the art of mystic insight or fortune-telling [Num. 22:7

6. WIZARDRY – same as witchcraft. A wizard is a male and a witch is a female who practices witchcraft. Both were to be destroyed in Israel [Ex. 22:18

7. NECROMANCY – divination by means of pretended communication with the dead [Dt. 18:11; Isa. 8:19

8. MAGIC – any pretended supernatural art or practice [Gen. 41:8, 24
9. CHARM – to put a spell upon. Same as enchantment [Dt. 18:11; Isa. 19:3

10. PROGNOSTICATION – to foretell by indications, omens, signs, etc. [Isa. 47:13
11. OBSERVING TIMES – same as prognostication [ Lev. 19:26

12. ASTROLOGY AND STAR GAZING – divination by stars [Isa.47:13; Jer.10:2; Dan. 1:20
; Dan. 2:2, 10

Now we have the Twilight craze where people claim to be vampires, after the girl “Bella Swan” falls in love with a vampire.  There is are Twilight fan clubs, bite parties and a full line of twilight paraphernalia. 

“They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.”

Worship God

We have seen how dangerous it is to the soul to open yourself in worship to idolatry or evil.  But that’s not the main objective of this message.  There is another question that begs to be asked.  What happens when a true worshipper begins to worship God in Spirit and in Truth?  I believe something transformational begins to happen.

Meeting Jesus is one thing.  Touching Jesus is another thing.  Worshipping Jesus, living in Jesus, adopting and embracing the mind of Christ is something else.  There is a noticeable effect upon your heart and mind, body and soul.

Acts 4:13 (KJV) 13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

It is said that if a husband and wife live together long enough, they begin to look like each other.  I have seen people that begin to look like their dogs.  While it seems like a stretch to believe this, why does it often appear that way?  Because you cannot live in close association with someone without taking on their traits.  When you live in the same house, you go through the same things together.  Same environment, same pressures, same dreams, same plans, same philosophy of life.  Sharing all the same things draws you closer together.

Listen to the 23rd Psalm in this regard:

Psalms 23:1-6 (KJV) 1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

If I dwell in the same house as my LORD, I will start to look like him!

The Apostle Paul

Most of us today recognize Paul as an anointed vessel of God, probably the greatest Christian who ever lived, and the author of over half of the New Testament.  But he was not always accepted this way.  The early church had grave doubts about Paul.  He was the persecutor, the arm of the Jewish religion, the killer and captor of Christians.  People couldn’t believe that such a radical change could happen to him.  Paul had to write to the Galatians and defend himself.

Galatians 1:11-24 (KJV)
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.
20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;
22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:
23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.
24 And they glorified God in me.

Paul was changed from a worshipper of tradition to a worshipper of God.  You cannot worship God without something of God rubbing off on you.  This is not mail-order Christianity.  This Christian-in-name-only religion.

If we worship worthless idols and become worthless ourselves, then something else is true.  If we worship the living God, then he commutes to us his value and worth.

Let’s go back to the definition of worship: “Actually, to worship is to idolize: to love unquestioningly and uncritically or to excess.  It is to venerate as an idol.  It is to possess a feeling of profound love and admiration.”

Worship opens the gate into your soul.  When you worship Jesus, you begin to take in more than just a feeling of exhilaration.  You begin to take on the attributes of Jesus.  You begin to take on the attitudes of Jesus.  You begin to take on the preferences of Jesus.  You begin to sound like Jesus.  You begin to look like Jesus.

I have a message for Apostolic believers this morning.  We have strong, unflinching beliefs.  We call them convictions.  It has to do with the dynamic of worship.

We do not water down the doctrinal message of the Apostles.  Why?  Because we want to worship God in Spirit and in Truth!

We do not compromise our message with other belief systems.  Why?  Listen to the three Hebrews in Babylon:

Daniel 3:17-18 (KJV)
17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

We do not change our appearance to conform to the styles and trends of the world.   Why? Psalms 29:1-2 (KJV)
1 Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength.
2 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

Four times the Bible gives us this directive:  Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

Remember Jehoshaphat?  We remember his as the king who appointed singers.  But what were they singing about?  Holiness!

2 Chronicles 20:21-22 (KJV)
21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.
22 And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.

The God effect is not to be taken lightly.  I am profoundly different because of Who I worship!  

1 John 3:1-3 (KJV)
1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

In the presence of Jehovah
God Almighty, Prince of Peace
Troubles vanish, hearts are mended
In the presence of the King

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