Meaningful Worship

You are a representative of God to others. Don't let customs that you think are important run your life. If you do, then your worship might be in vain. Your worship isn't worth anything unless you have sincerity of heart and obedience to God.

Scripture: Mark 7:1-10, Isaiah 1


Alright thank you very much, and hello again radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, this is your friend Dr. Cook and I am delighted for the privilege of sharing with you from the Word of God just for a few moments. Bless your heart. Thank you for being there, thank you for your prayers and your love.

Look now at Mark chapter 7, “There came together on to Him the Pharisees and certain of the scribes which came from Jerusalem and when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled”, that is to say with unwashed, “hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and tables. Then ask the Pharisees and scribes, Why walk not Thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, “Well, hath Isaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things, ye do. Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition”.

Then He gives them an illustration, “Moses said, ‘Honor thy father and mother and whoso curses father or mother let him die the death: But ye say if a man shall say to his father or mother,It is Corban’, that is say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightiest be profited by Me; he shall be free”.

In other words, if you don’t want to support your father and you say, well the money that I would give you, I’ve promised to God. Oh, you “suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother”. He’s getting around it by a religion, a religious loophole. Said, “You make the word of God of none effect, through your tradition which you delivered: many such like things do ye”.

Well, that’s a long Scripture reading, but I had to put it all together so we can think about it as a unit. Oh, yes, they watched them. They saw some of His disciples eat bread with unwashed hands. Now, I think there is one thing we need say to each other and that is, expect people to watch you. Don’t get upset when you find that people are watching you and making comments about you, because they do that. They do that. They found fault with our Lord because He healed on the Sabbath, and they found fault with the disciples because they were eating here without going through the ceremonial washings. They found fault on another occasion because the disciples on the Sabbath day, as they walked along, they were picking handfuls of grain and rubbing it in their hands to remove the chaff and then eating the grain, they were hungry enough to do that. You have to be pretty hungry to do that.

As a boy I used to walk along a wheat field and when the wheat was ripe, grab a few heads of wheat and rub the kernels in my hand and blow away the chaff and then chew on that wheat. It was, it was the nearest thing to chewing gum we had in those days. We were too poor to afford chewing gum, but it wasn’t particularly a stimulating to my appetite. Anyhow they did it and got criticized for it. So, fault-finding. Always expect people to watch you and another thing that will help you is expect the negative comments to outweigh the positive ones. If you are doing everything right, people generally keep quiet. It’s when they differ with you on something that you will hear from them. That’s all right, you know I’ve learned that long since in being on the radio for many, many years. If things are going well and you’re doing the right thing, you don’t hear too much. Now and then some thoughtful person will encourage your heart by telling you, but just let you split an infinity or make the wrong statement about some ethnic group or whatever it may be and boy you’ll hear about it. Well, it’s all right, expect it.Number one, be glad people think you’re important enough to watch. Had you ever thought of it that way? Be glad that people think you’re important enough to pay any attention to you. If you’re just a blob on the landscape they wouldn’t pay any attention to you, so you must be worth something.

You pastors who are listening to me, and I know many of you do listen to these broadcasts, bless your heart, and I love the pastor because I was in the pastorate full-time for 18 years, I know what you’re up against, I know some of the thrills and blessings and enjoys as well as the heartaches of being in the pastorate, but don’t get your back up, as we say, because people will watch you and talk about you or talk to you about things with which they differ with you. Expect that because you’re somebody, you’re important, my brother, my sister. You’re important. You are God’s representative to these people, and so expect people to pay attention to you, expect them to watch what you do and how you do it.

I remember, I was brought up short one day, this would be I suppose, 20 years ago now, I, whenever I’m in chapel or was in chapel in the college, I would sit on the platform along with whoever was leading the meeting, and you know that’s the place with the president ought to be I suppose. Well, there I was one day and it suddenly dawned on me that made my glasses were so terribly dirty, I could hardly see and the folk fidgeting on the back row, you know, and so absentmindedly, I took my glasses and then got my handkerchief then and just cleaned my glasses. Well, I met some students in the hall immediately after the chapel service and they said, “You know Doc, that must’ve been pretty boring chapel, we thought it was too”, I said, “I thought the man did well. He had a good message”. Oh they said, “We know you were bored”. I said, “How did you know”? They said, “You sat there cleaning your glasses”. Well, taught me something, don’t do that again. I can’t, I can’t truly recall ever cleaning my glasses on the platform since. Well you learn as you go along. People watch what you do. Sure, why? Because you are somebody, you’re important to them, because you represent God to them, that’s why. So expect people to watch you, expect them to comment about you, and learn from their comments. Don’t fight your critics, you never learned anything while you’re yelling at anybody else. Don’t fight your critics, learn from them. They might just be correct about something and so you can learn. Okay?

So, “They saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled”, that is to say with unwashed, “hands”. They didn’t go through the ceremonial washing when they came in the house or whatever it was. Well there’s a tradition, see. They say, “Except they wash their hands often they don’t eat holding the traditional of the elders”. Well, that’s a very good sanitary provision isn’t it? Of course, so there’s nothing wrong with that custom. It says, “When they come from the market except they wash they eat that many of the things there be they washing of cups and pots, brazen vessels and tables”, got to wash them all up and wash them often. That’s fine, but when you let that sort of a custom run your life, then you’re in trouble. It’s one thing to be clean, it’s another thing to have a fetish of cleanliness. I think just now of a person who whose name you would know, his name is a household word in show business. He washes umpteen times a day, changes his clothes many times a day. Well why? Well, that’s just a thing with him, that’s part of what drives him, and he doesn’t have to surely, but that’s how it is. So, when you let you tradition, when you let your custom, you let your head habitual patterns, when you let that drive your life, then you’re in trouble. Learn the difference between having a good habit or letting the habit have you. See the difference? Learn the difference between having a good habit or letting the habit have you. What drives your life? Certainly you don’t need to be a captive to the habit patterns and the traditions that people have set up. Now, what’s the problem here? He said, “This people honors Me with their lips but their heart is far from Me, and that makes you worship vain”. This is a frightening verse. I often look at it and it shakes me up. “They honor me with their lips”, but He says, “in vain do they worship Me because they teach for doctrines”, a doctrine is something you got from God, “they teach like truth from God the commandments of men”. You lay aside the commandment of God and you hold the tradition. See? This is frightening. He said, “In vain do they worship”. Your worship isn’t worth anything unless it’s backed up by sincerity of heart and obedience in your performance. You want to think about that? Your worship isn’t worth anything unless it is backed up by sincerity in your heart and obedience in your performance. He said, “In vain do they worship”. Now, where does it start? You take God’s doctrine, truth that He gave you and you set aside in favor of something that you have thought up as your own habit pattern. He says in Isaiah 1, “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me”? He said, I’m full of the burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts, I delight not in the blood of bullocks or lambs or eagles. Who required you to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations”, He said, “Your new moons and your appointed feasts, my soul hater they are trouble to me, I am weary to bear them” God gets tired of empty worship. Isn’t that something and then He doesn’t hear the prayers that are offered in that connection, “When you spread forth your hands I’ll hide my eyes from you”. “Ye when ye make many prayers, I will not hear, your hands are full of blood wash and make you clean. Put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes cease to do evil and learn to do well. Seek judgment and relieve the oppressed and judge the fatherless and plead for the widow”. He says, you’ve got a straighten out your life before your worship is going to mean anything. Now perhaps this very day, I’m talking to someone who’s been very dutifully religious, and you’ve allowed that schedule that you are maintaining, that busy religious schedule, you allowed that to take priority over the most important part of it, which is your heart relationship with God, and the matter of obeying Him step-by-step as He leads you by spirit and through His inerrant word, the Bible. Would you give thought to that? He says, “Is in vain do they worship Me”. Your worship isn’t worth anything unless it is backed up by sincerity of heart and obedience to God. How about that? That’s a solemn concept, but it’s something that you and I need to be aware of, because it’s so very easy, if you’re anything like me and I think you are, it’s so very easy to be caught up in doing good things and in thinking that that then is the essence of serving God. He doesn’t need anybody to do anything for Him. What He wants is people who are committed to Him and to do what they do then as a result. “We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works”, says Paul, so that you do the good things because you’re in touch with the good God. Well we get at this again the next time we get together.

Dear father today, we ask that we may be the kind of people whose sincerity and whose obedience make our worship worthwhile, in Jesus’ name I pray this, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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