When you got to visit a new doctor, the first thing he usually asks is, “So…what brings you in today?” I want to ask the same question. What brings you to church today? Why are you here this morning?
The ultimate reason why we come to church is to worship God. If you can’t say that is the main reason you are here, then maybe you need to reassess your motives. I’m reminded of the old Dennis the Menace cartoon where Dennis and his parents are leaving church and the pastor is at the back door shaking hands. Dennis gets up to him and says, “Thanks pastor. Not a bad show for a nickel.”
But there are any number of reasons why we come here to worship. It may be because you just love God and want to please him. Maybe you are broken-hearted today and know that with a close walk with the Lord, joy comes in the morning. Maybe you need wisdom and have come for the prayer and closeness that comes with worship. Maybe you have a lot for which to be thankful and you want to worship while telling the Lord how grateful you are for his protection and provision; his mercy and grace; his power and love, forgiveness, or just His presence!
That’s a great reason to worship. When we see who we really are in the light of Who He really is then you can’t help but be thankful and you can’t help but want to worship Him. You can’t help but be thankful for God’s healing presence in your life and in the life of this church.
Do you feel God’s presence here? I do. I don’t feel Him physically. I have never audibly heard His voice. I have never seen Him here with my eyes or like some people who have seen Him in a painting, an oil spot or a grilled cheese sandwich. But I feel the presence of God here in a real way. Especially when others are here as it says that when 2 or more are gathered in My name, I am there also, but even on a Tuesday morning by myself I feel a holiness about this place; a feeling that this place is special and set apart.
And when you know and feel that God is present, that should make you very thankful and that thankfulness should impact your worship. It did for David in the Old Testament. In I Chronicles chapter 16 David is thankful and rejoicing in the fact that God is with him and the nation of Israel in a real way. And it all revolved around the Ark of the Covenant.
Now, as 21st century believers it is hard for us to appreciate the significance of the Ark. I mean it’s just a box with a few trinkets in it, right? That “box” was significant enough to have wars fought over it. It was significant enough that many lives were lost because of it, some of those lives were lost because the person only touched the Ark. It contained the stone tablets of the 10 Commandments, Aaron’s rod that had budded and a jar of manna; all significant reminders of how God had provided and protected the nation of Israel.
Let’s look at I Chronicles 16:1-6 and see that David was thankful and because he was thankful, it impacted his worship.
16 They brought the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before God. 2 After David had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord. 3 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each Israelite man and woman.
4 He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to extol,[a] thank, and praise the Lord, the God of Israel: 5 Asaph was the chief, and next to him in rank were Zechariah, then Jaaziel,[b] Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-Edom and Jeiel. They were to play the lyres and harps, Asaph was to sound the cymbals, 6 and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow the trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God.
I’m sure some of those guys have their feelings hurt now because of how I pronounced their names but that is not the important part of the passage. The important things to see here are that David’s thankfulness to God for His presence is reflected in David’s worship. That Ark is representative of God’s presence in a somewhat similar way that this building is representative of His presence. We know that God does not restrict Himself to living only in this structure. God is everywhere. He lives in us. His Spirit guides us. We have a relationship with His Son and for that we are thankful.
Similarly, David and the other Israelites knew that God didn’t restrict Himself to living in that Ark but in a very real way, it symbolized God Himself including the character of God to protect and provide, to show mercy and justice and to bring peace. And so David rejoiced to have the Ark back where it is supposed to be. In the previous chapter it says that he danced with all his might in front of the Ark. I doubt it was Saturday Night Fever-style dancing. He was just excited to worship and it manifested itself physically.
I have a question I want you to answer. What is it about worship that excites you? Is it just something you do out of habit or is there some aspect of your worship of God that still excites you? David was so excited that it manifested itself physically in the previous chapter but in our passage today there are 3 ways that David’s thankfulness impacted his worship.
1) It impacted his offerings.
2) It impacted his prayer.
3) It impacted his music.
And it should do the same for us today. It says that David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to God. The burnt offering signified their total devotion to God. With these they were saying that all they have belongs to God and He can do with it as He chooses. They were completely dedicated to God and showed Him through their burnt offerings. Does that sound like you? Is your whole life totally dedicated to God? Have you told Him that? This is the same kind of sacrifice referred to in Romans 12:1 where it says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
Let’s take time to do that right now. Let’s bow our heads and close our eyes and just tell God that we are offering ourselves and everything we have as a burnt offering to Him to use as He sees fit. What part of your life are you not letting God have? He knows. You know it. Stop being stiff-necked and give it to Him in faith and with thankfulness.
Now the fellowship offering was a little bit different. It was a voluntary act of sacrifice that was shared with the others in the temple at the time of worship. They didn’t burn it up. From what I understand they basically cooked it and ate it right there with everybody sharing in the sacrifice. Well, things are different nowadays…but not completely. We’re not going to have a barbeque but I am going to ask you to do something that some might consider to be a sacrifice and that is I want you to get up and share with one person a reason that you have to be thankful for them. Tell just one person but make sure everybody gets told something. Don’t make it up. If nothing else be thankful that they are here. Go for it.
Next we see in verse 4 that David assigns some of the priests to pray for specific things in regard to their thanksgiving. Not only did David’s thankfulness impact his offering but it also impacted his prayer. It says that they made petition, they gave thanks and they praised the Lord in their prayer. So, what’s the difference in all those? To petition is obviously to make a request of God; to ask Him for something. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
It also says that they gave thanks to God. Several times in David’s beautiful prayer in this same chapter he gives thanks to God. In verse 8 he says, “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.” In verse 34 he says, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
And then it also says they praised God the God of Israel. The difference in this and giving thanks to God is that in giving thanks to God they were thanking Him for what He had done. Here they are thanking Him for Who He is and how He works. Let’s do all of that right now. Let’s ask God to meet our needs but also thank Him for what He has done and for Who He is. Jesus said my house will be a house of prayer. How appropriate it is for us in our thanksgiving to praise Him in prayer as a church.
So we have seen that David’s thankfulness impacted his worship through his offerings and his prayer. Lastly we see that his thankfulness impacted his worship through music. In verses 5 and 6 we see guys with impossible to pronounce names playing all kinds of instruments. You might say they had a “blended service”. They had lyres, harps, cymbals and trumpets. I can’t imagine what that sounded like but there is no doubt it was a joyful noise.
There is something about music that brings back memories like nothing else. You can hear a song on the radio and think immediately of somebody you haven’t thought of in years. Music is powerful and it expresses our feelings like plain words just can’t. Do you realize that we only have one more worship service in this building? One more Sunday morning. And the last few weeks have been tough on some of us. Satan has been working overtime to distract us and get us off course and I don’t want our last memories of this place to be anything but happy and thankful.
Since we don’t have any lyres or harps or trumpets let’s do something for just a few minutes that we often do at Lake Bridgeport. Let’s sing a couple of our favorite hymns. Let’s sing some songs of thanks and praise.
Today’s worship service has been a little different. I know I broke all the rules. You are not supposed to get up and have fun during worship. You’re supposed to pray only at certain times and only sing before and after the sermon. But if we are guilty of anything it is of being thankful in our worship in a biblical way. That’s how my friend David did it so I’m pretty sure it will work for us. And I hope you got what you came here for.