Wednesday, June 16, 2021
In our culture, oftentimes worship is expressed in the form of music, visual arts, dance, or literature. But today, what if I was to tell you that the foundation of worship has nothing to do with any of these?
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
I want to ask you a question. When I say the word worship, what comes to mind for you? Maybe for you, it's music. Maybe it's a modern chorus that we sing here in church on Sunday, or maybe it's an older hymn. Maybe when you think of worship, you think of an experience that you've had with God, a closeness that you've had with God, where you've experienced his goodness, faithfulness, grace, or mercy. In our culture, oftentimes worship is expressed in the form of music, visual arts, dance, or literature. But today, what if I was to tell you that the foundation of worship has nothing to do with any of these?
I want to take a look at the passage where the word worship is used for the very first time in the Bible. We have to go back to the Old Testament, back to the book of Genesis chapter 22. For a little background, we're going to be taking a look at Abraham. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. Here we find Abraham and his wife, Sarah, and they're getting on in years in life, and they still have no children together. So, Abraham held on to that promise, even though he was getting up in age. It wasn't until Abraham was 100 years old, and his wife Sarah was 90 years old (their bodies were as good as dead, the apostle Paul tells us) when Sarah conceived and gave birth to their son, Isaac.
Fast forward into Isaac's life. Now Isaac is a young boy, we're not exactly sure how old he is in Genesis 22, but I'm guessing he's probably somewhere between seven and 10 years old. So, Abraham is around 110 years old and God tests Abraham in this chapter. We pick up in verse two, 'Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, whom you love - Isaac - and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you." Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I in the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you."'
When I look at this passage, I see the foundation of worship as two things: first, obedience; second, sacrifice. When you look at the way Abraham was obedient. When God told him, "I want you to sacrifice your son, Isaac," he got up early the next day. He didn't put it off or procrastinate. He got up and he prepared. He prepared the wood, he prepared the donkey, he prepared his servants. He was obedient to what God had called him to do, even though God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, and God is asking him to sacrifice his one and only son. It didn't make sense, but Abraham was obedient. The second foundation of worship is sacrifice. Abraham made huge sacrifices. If you think about it, he's 110 years old at this time. He had to go on a three day journey on a donkey through the mountains. He sacrificed comfort, and he sacrificed an easy life just to follow God.
'"Yes, my son?" Abraham replied.
'"The fire and the wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"'
'Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the land for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together. When they had reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.' - There's that obedience piece again, following through on what God called him to do. - 'But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"
'"Here I am," he replied.
'"Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said, "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." Abraham looked up and they're in the thicket, he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.'
Abraham remained obedient, and he was committed to making the sacrifices that God called him to do. Worship without obedience and sacrifice is not sincere. However, worship that results from obedience and sacrifice is life changing. It was life changing for Abraham, and I know it will be life changing for you. I want to encourage you today to pursue obedience to God, and willingness to make sacrifices for him that he calls you to do. Not sacrifices that he doesn't call you to make, but sacrifices that he calls you to make. I want you to make that obedience and that sacrifice the foundation for your worship. When you do, there will be a closeness to God, and the worship that you give him will never be the same. I hope you find this encouraging. Don't just go and have a great day, go and make a great day.
Friday, May 28, 2021
The Psalms are so clear in how we are to approach God in worship. And it's always interesting because it's never about us, it's always about him.
Friday, May 28, 2021
Today I want to talk to you about this idea of exalting God. That sounds lofty, that sounds huge, and it is. But the Psalms are so clear in how we are to approach God in worship. And it's always interesting because it's never about us, it's always about him. I want to read Psalm 100 and draw seven principles from it. Psalm 100 says this, "Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord himself is God; it is he who made us, and not we ourselves. We are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name. For the Lord is good; His loving kindness is everlasting, and his faithfulness to all generations."
How do we exalt God? Well, let me tell you, there are seven things that just jump out of this psalm. The first thing is this that you shout for joy. It says, "Shout joyfully to the Lord." What's interesting about the word 'shout' here is it's actually the word that is used for a battle cry. Now, when we talk about a battle cry, think of that movie, Braveheart, that came out in the 90s. In it you have these massive armies on the field, right? And they're shouting as they're going toward one another. That was a battle cry. It was a cry of triumph. It was a cry that would deafen the ears of anyone listening. He says, "Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth." That's the first thing in exalting God. It's okay to shout and to give him the praise, and do it as a battle cry.
The second thing is "Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful singing." So, if the first is shout with a battle cry of joy, the second is serve him. Serve God, serve the Lord with gladness. Come before him and serve him with gladness. The third is this, "come before him with joyful singing." So, we shout triumphantly, we serve Him, and we sing joyfully, or lift our voices joyfully to him. The fourth is, "Know that the Lord himself is God." Know that he is God, and we are not. Know that he is the one who is in control, and he is the one orchestrating all things. It has nothing to do with us. The fifth, "It is he who made us and not we, ourselves." See what God has done, see what he is doing and see what he has done. The sixth is this from verse four, "Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise." Enter His gates with thanksgiving. This psalm is a song of thanksgiving. When we say thanksgiving, that means "God we are giving you thanks." We are saying thank you for who you are, for what you've done for us, and how you're working in our lives. And then it says, "Give him thanks, bless his name." What does that mean? Praise him. Give him all the glory, give him all of it, everything because he deserves it. Why? Look at verse five, "For the Lord is good; his loving kindness is everlasting, and his faithfulness to all generations." He alone is worthy, it has nothing to do with what we can do on our own strength, and our own being.
So, let me just recap that. To exalt the Lord, you shout for joy with a battle cry, it's a triumphant shout. You serve Him, you sing joyfully, you know that he is God, know that he is the one who has created everything. You see what he has done, he made us, we didn't make him. You enter His gates with thanksgiving, shouting that thanks to him. And then lastly, you praise his name. That is how we exalt God. That is how we worship Him. And I want to challenge you today. If you're going into church this coming Sunday, or during the week, or whatever that looks like for you, I want to challenge you to worship God with abandon. Worship God and exalt Him as psalm 100 goes through. You shout joyfully, you proclaim it. You serve Him, you sing joyfully, you know that he is God. You see what he has done, you enter those gates with thanksgiving, and you praise his name.
Father, thank you so much for how we can come before you in worship. Thank you that we can praise you. I pray, Lord, that we would just stay laser-focused on who you are, what you've done, your strength, and how you are mindful of us individually. Let us remember how you love us unconditionally. In church this week and even throughout our day, throughout our week, even if we're just driving in our car, let us shout triumphantly for you because of what you've done and who you are. We thank you, in Jesus' name. Amen.
Monday, May 24, 2021
Worshiping God is a lifestyle. Worshiping God is is how we conduct ourselves and what we're allowing God to do in our own lives.
Monday, May 24, 2021
Psalm 51:10, 12, 15-17
Today, I want to look at a psalm that I think really is a great starting point for how we are to worship God. It's written by David, it's Psalm 51. And I'm going to read some select verses from Psalm 51. Starting in verse 10, he says, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." And then verse 12, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit." And then jumping ahead to verses 15-17, "Oh, Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare your praise. For you do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise, I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, Oh God, you will not despise."
David wrote this at a very difficult time in his life, when he was filled with grief. He was completely humbled and ashamed because he had just committed adultery, and he comes back to God, and he's begging through this prayer for forgiveness. He's doing a couple different things here. First, he says, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, renew a steadfast spirit within me." He's like, God, I know, I screwed up. I know, I screwed up, God cleanse my heart, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Then, he says, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation, sustain me with a willing spirit." He is longing for what God's going to do in his life, how God is going to continue to pull him through. Then, he says, "Lord opened my lips, that my mouth may declare your praise. For you do not delight and sacrifice, otherwise, I would give it. You're not pleased in a burnt offering."
Let me pray for you. Father, thank you so much for the gift of your word, and just how clear it is that we don't need to be perfect. Lord, we just ask that you give us that clean spirit, the willing spirit, that we would recognize we are broken. We surrender to you, and pray that we would be obedient. Whoever's reading right now, whatever they're struggling with right now Lord, I pray that they would just have the courage to say, "God we know that we are broken and we give it to you." In Jesus' name, amen.