Date: September 16, 2018

Pastor Matthew Burt

Title: Acceptable Worship in reverence, fear and awe

Text: Deuteronomy 8, Romans 12

Wellspring Church Springfield, Ma.  

SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 12: 28-29

28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

BIG IDEA: Acceptable Worship in reverence, fear and awe


Draw our attention to the verses at the end of Hebrews 12: the 28th and 29th verse.  In the weeks to come there are 13 different instructions that come in Hebrews 13.  The author having shown us that Jesus and His work are better than anything else in the world and his work is sufficient and capable of satisfying our longings, ends with these words.  How do we live if we believe our God is a consuming fire?


Point 1: The privilege of kingdom citizenship

Point 2:  What duties are prescribed for us?

Point 3: Warning to all who are in and all who are out of this unshakeable kingdom


Point 1: The privilege of kingdom citizenship

It says we have been given a kingdom that is unshakeable. How do I know it is unmovable?  First by the eternality of God. Secondly we know that His word is immutable. So whatever the kingdom is, we can be quite sure it is unmovable. We need to be grateful for this.

This is a wonderful comfort for those who know the King. Jesus said; Isaiah said – grass withers, heaven and earth shall pass away but my Word will not pass away. The world we live in today will pass away.  One of the great privileges we have is knowing that everything around us will turn to rust and fade away, but we are part of the kingdom that will never fade away.  There are people who are constantly concerned with the condition of the earth and its resources. PB doesn’t have a lot of connection with those people. It’s not that he doesn’t love God’s creation or that we have to steward it well.  The reason is that this earth is not my home.  This world is not my home, I am just passing through. My treasure is layed up somewhere beyond the blue.  Our citizenship is in heaven; it’s not here.  We need to have a deep and painful feeling for those folks: that’s all they know – this world, what they can touch, see, hear, smell – the material. If there’s no material, there’s no hope. But we have Jesus and we have forever. We have an unshakable kingdom – one that will last forever and ever.

This kingdom has a realm and a ruler. There are boundaries to every kingdom. Every kingdom has a sovereign: a king/queen. The same is true for the unshakable kingdom except it has a realm without earthly boundaries. It is in the heart of every believer. The kingdom of God is found wherever there are residents of the kingdom.  When a child of God is out and about, the kingdom of God is there. The realm is where the children of God are.  The ruler of the kingdom of God is God himself in the person of Jesus Christ.  So this is a far different kingdom than one that might change due to war and the ruler is not one who comes and goes and can be ousted.

So,  what are our privileges in this kingdom. The privileges are inestimable. We can only hint at them.  To use as a starting place we can say it this way: to be a member of the kingdom is to enjoy the special favor of God.  The privilege is to know Jesus and be in regular presence of God.  He who sent a deluge to destroy the world except for 8 people- the flood- is also the one who has given us the privilege to wash over us with his love, grace and mercy – giving to us abundant care in all things. He who thundered from Mt. Sinai now speaks to us with comfort and forgiveness. We have free and bold access with the highest and most exalted of all beings. We are to be associated with angels.  All things have been created for our good and our enjoyment. We have the ability to have true and lasting happiness. We are loved and cared for. We are given the right to be called the children of God and to call this God, Abba Father.  It is a privilege to know that this self-sufficient creator paid the highest conceivable price to make you His child.  To have this eternal unshakeable kingdom without self-serving rulers.  We have been invited and given a kingdom without disease, dissatisfaction and death.

Are you a citizen of this kingdom? Do you know this sovereign?  What does it mean to receive this kingdom: John 1:12.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

I have the right to be adopted to His family and call Him father. To have a familiarity with Him that goes beyond all human familiarity.  In the highest place of ALL government, you His child have a right to “crawl on the floor under his desk”.

To receive God is to accept Jesus Christ truly as He is – God in human flesh – perfect without sin who came into this world to offer you himself as a savior and sovereign. To admit my need for a savior. To admit that I by myself have earned and I have deserved none of His benefits; no right to His goodness. I have earned not even His mercy. I have earned a place at His judgement for His condemnation. I need a savior to save me from this God who is a consuming fire.  There is no one good; not one. I need this Jesus to put His good in place of my bad and put my bad on his back as he is crucified on the cross. I need this Jesus to govern my life. I need Jesus to sit on the throne of my heart.  The privileges are just this.  The wonderful reminder is that this is not just a once infusion of grace.  It is a continuous action.  We continually receive all the grace that is Gods and all the benefits of his kingdom.

Point 2:  What duties are prescribed for us

A– Be grateful – thankfulness. A heart of gratitude is a mark of the member of the Kingdom of God. It is required. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – in all things give thanks.

18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

The necessary mark is that we would be grateful. Having listed all these privileges of being a member of the Kingdom of God, how evil it is to be an ungrateful person. How terrible to be called an ingrate. Yet so many of us find us not able to give thanks to people or God. Why?  We think that we deserve something;  that God owes us or another person owes us. Not necessarily because we have earned it but just because of how wonderful we are. We see God as a vending machine!  We put in our request and we pull the level of prayer and a candy bar comes out. Another reason is that there are times when we have been treated in a way that was unkind or painful. There’s an empty place in my life.  We didn’t get what we had been promised.  There is always a hole.  If it is  difficult for you to show appreciation,  go back and see what hole there is in your life. It’s a horrible thing. But we have been given an unshakeable kingdom – there is more than enough to fill every crater in your life. My cup overflows – it is always overflowing with God’s goodness.

B- Offer to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe. We are called to worship.

What would be an unacceptable worship?

  1. Perhaps when we come to public or corporate worship we come only out of a sense of obligation and duty rather than a privilege or delight.
  2. Or we would choose to be with family or friends rather than deepen our relationship with God.
  3. When we come to get without giving.
  4. We come for a feeling rather than for understanding.
  5. We come to be entertained.
  6. We come to demand a setting a style a preacher that meets our own desires.

On the other hand what makes acceptable worship?

  1. We must come as members of the kingdom – someone who has accepted the redeeming power of new life in Christ.
  2. Come with intentionality or purposefulness. We come with a view of engaging all that we have with God. Public worship ought to be the culmination of our week of private worship.  The most important day to be with God in private is Sunday.  We prepare our hearts on Saturday night. Intentionally be ready for Sunday.  Think if you were invited to meet with the queen or king – you wouldn’t get up in the morning and pull something out of the laundry basket. So why would we come with any less concern with how we prepare to approach God?
  3. Come with a heart that is contrite; a heart that trembles at God’s word. We read this twice in Isaiah 66:2

All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,
declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.

 and Isaiah 57:15.

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
    who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.

We come with our whole heart; our heart undivided. Psalm 86:11 – teach me to walk in your ways.

Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.

Our hearts are so easily divided and distracted. Our thoughts are every which way.  We sit in church and we think about our jobs, children, etc. There is something else going on.   Where do these distractions come from? Some come because I am a sinful being; some come from whispering from Satan; some come from regular life.

The way to dismiss distractions is to come into worship with reverence. Reverence is a corrective action to distracted worship. It’s a quiet attitude of appropriate honor. Today, there is a huge influx of profanity in our lives.  When we come to our worship, we must remember we are in the presence of the person most worthy of honor. Let us consider the holiness and majesty of God. Let’s consider His honor. If you are trying to have a conversation with someone and they are watching TV or playing with the phone – you say respect me with your attention.  Look at me when I am talking to you. I think God would say this to us. Give Him the attention.  We demand more attention and respect from our children then we are willing to give to God.

Consider the greatness of the duty of worship. Say to that distraction – I am worshipping the great God – away with you distraction.  I love God and never tire of talking to Him and about Him.

We come with awe – an understanding that I am in a presence of God who is a consuming fire. Don’t misuse the word – God is the only one who is awesome.

Point 3: Warning to all who are in and all who are out of this unshakeable kingdom

We don’t like the idea of a an angry God but our text tells us that He is a fire of consuming dross and worthlessness. It is a fire that purifies. Those things that are impure are burned away.  The consuming God is one that will consumes His enemies. The consuming fire of God is one that purifies. Parts of our lives will be consumed like hay and straw.  I thank God that He will purify and cleanse. He will consume all that is wicked in me and leave a foundation that will last forever and ever.