Misguided Worship - Acts 14:8-20

1.      How would you define “worship” as a noun? (Worship: The feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.)

We usually think of “worship” in terms of a verb: Show reverence and adoration for a deity, or honor with religious rites.

2.      What are some examples of ways to facilitate both public and private worship? (Setting; planning; solitude; focus attention on God; praise for who God is; attitude of thankfulness for what He has done; humility; expression of our heartfelt worship through music; etc. The music expression may vary based on culture and background. In Africa their expression of worship with drums may seem foreign and even inappropriate to us.)

Read Psalm 150.

3.      What do we learn from this beautiful psalm? (Worship is about the One being worshiped and the attitude of the heart, not the instrument used in worship!)

4.      What are some examples of how worship may be misguided? (When we are more interested in the form of worship than we are about the One who is the object of our worship.)

Many times we sing songs in our worship that is “about” God but not directed “to” God. Both have their place but, I think sometimes we are singing “about” God when we should be singing “to” God! After all, we come to a worship service to worship God not just to tell others “about” God! For example, the hymn “Worthy of Worship” is addressed “to” God while the beautiful hymn “Amazing Grace” is a testimony about what God “has done”. We need both!

5.      If you seriously evaluated your worship of God would it be about adoration toward Him or more focused on the style?

 

We saw last week that God had done a wonderful work in and around Antioch of Pisidia. But, the Jews incited the people against Paul and Barnabas and they stirred up persecution against them so “they shook the dust off their feet against them and went to Iconium.” Acts 13:51. The Jews followed them and again stirred up the people against them. So they went to the Lycaoinian towns called Lystra and Derbe. We find in our focal passage today what happened in Lystra!

Healing! Read Acts 14:8-10

 

Verse 7 states that Paul and Barnabas “kept evangelizing”!

1.      What would most of us have decided after being run out of several towns where we had been preaching the gospel? (This must be a sign from God that we are not supposed to do this!)

2.      What acts of worship can be seen here? (The proclaiming of the gospel; jumping up and walking around.)

Paul’s sermon took a dramatic turn when a supernatural healing took place.

3.      How did Paul know this man had enough “faith” to be healed? (We must assume the Holy Spirit communicated this to Paul. When people demonstrate attentiveness to God’s Word, they display open minds to God’s work.)

4.      Are we so sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit that we are able to discern His leading?

5.      What purpose did the healing of the crippled man serve? (God uses His power to gain our attention and draw people to Himself.)

6.      Can you think of recent situations where God has used astounding events to draw attention to Himself? (Hurricanes; floods; fires; and even miraculous healings of people.)

Note some of these are “acts of nature” and while God may not have caused them He certainly uses them to get our attention and show His great love and mercy in astounding ways!

7.       What evidence do you look for to discern that God is at work around you? (When we become aware of God speaking to someone, we should encourage them to respond in obedience.)

 

Such a spectacular display of God’s power had an immediate dramatic effect not only on the crippled man but others who witnessed the healing.

Reaction! Read Acts 14:11-13

 

1.      What in these verses might be construed as worship? (People started talking in an excited tone; They started calling Paul and Barnabas by these special names; a sacrifice was being prepared.)

2.      Why didn’t Paul and Barnabas understand immediately that the people’s worship was misdirected? (The people were speaking in a local vernacular unfamiliar to them.)

3.      How can worship be misguided today? (We interpret what we see through the lens of our experience rather than God’s Word or the leadership of the Holy Spirit.)

4.      What are some ways people misunderstand or misinterpret God’s work today? (Medical miracles are attributed to a doctor or the science of medicine in general. Healed relationships are attributed to a counselor/pastor. Etc.)

5.      Why do some people incorrectly attribute God’s work to other people or circumstances? (Unbelief.)

Redirected! Read Acts 14:14-18

 

1.      How would you describe the actions of Barnabas and Paul? (They were horrified and urgently implored them not to do this terrible thing—give worship to them that was God’s.)

2.      What were the potential dangers if Paul and Barnabas had accepted the praise from the people?

3.      Are we ever tempted to take the praise of people which really belongs to God?

4.      What did Paul emphasize about God in his short speech? (God gives general revelation to everyone that He alone rules over creation.)

Understanding that God is our Creator teaches us He is the Author and Giver of life.

5.      Paul and Barnabas just barely managed to prevent the sacrifice. What attitudes did Paul and Barnabas display in pointing the people to Jesus?

6.      How can we present the gospel clearly to someone who has not heard about Him? (Just as Paul has demonstrated in all of his sermons, we start with what the people do know. Paul noted that God provided for their physical needs. And then He preached to them Jesus!)

As Christians, we should be careful to give credit to God for all the good things He brings into our lives and not take credit for them ourselves!

Rejected! Read Acts 14:19-20

 

1.      What were the contributing factors that led to Paul’s stoning? (In essence Paul had told them that the gods they worshiped were worthless. Then when the Jews from the other towns came and got the crowd all worked up the outcome was predictable.)

2.      What happened after Paul was left for dead outside the city?

3.      What do you find remarkable about this outcome?

4.      To what lengths might a person go to discredit or silence the gospel message today? (We see people taken to court and sued over their religious freedom of expression. Sometimes their homes, families, or businesses come under attack.)

5.      What can we learn from Paul’s response that might help us deal with efforts to discredit or quiet the gospel message today? (After the message has been shared and rejected, move on to places where the gospel has not been heard.)

6.      Would I have the courage to share the gospel in the face of persecution? How about without any persecution?

(In Romans chapter one Paul shows how we move to idolatry to depravity!)

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Our focus has been on worship and the Object of our worship.

Our challenge is to do our part to keep worship pure. Worship belongs to God, and we should be pointing people to Him and stay out of the way!

1.      What encourages you to continue sharing the gospel despite misunderstandings or rejection from others? (The difference I see in people who have heard and accepted the gospel.)

2.      Someone took the risk of sharing the gospel with you, are you willing to take the risk of rejection and share the gospel?

Pray: Father search our heart and reveal attitudes that may need to change. Also give each of us the courage to share the gospel!