Essentials: Worship

Good morning and welcome to Journey Church – my name s Phil Human and I’m one of the pastors here at Journey.  And we are in our third week of a series we are calling the Essentials.  We’re looking at five important building blocks that are essential to a healthy and robust spiritual life with Christ.

We spoke about the importance of prayer two weeks ago.  Kyle did a fantastic job encouraging us to read the bible last week.  And today we are talking about the importance of worship.

Today we’re going to answer three questions.  First – what is worship?  Then – what (or who) are we worshipping?  And lastly What does biblical worship look like?  What are the two components of biblical worship?

First – what is worship?  Worship is a response of the heart to being in the presence of that which it is most desires.   Worship is a response.  Have you ever found yourself around someone famous?  Someone you respect?  What is your response?

I still remember when I was working at Cinema East in 1986 and I was doing the popcorn and I looked up and there standing in front of me was Bill Murray.  Know what I did?  Huuu!  I had that quick deep breath that comes from being in the presence of someone my heart adored.

It was a response of my heart – worship is kind of like that.  It’s response to being near or in the presence or that which your heart finds of supreme value.

Now – You and I are built to worship.  It is part of the invisible fundamentals of being a human being.  People are created to pursue, to chase, to worship.  We are. Our heart demands an object upon which to fix its gaze.

Even if it’s not God, rest assured that your heart is enamored with something.

For example – the Bible says some people worship food.  Their god is their stomach.  And so – we have exhibit A – Cupcake heaven magazine. If you take something and add heaven to the end of it, then that might be a clue that it’s your object of worship.

Some people may give themselves completely to food.  Now – truth be told – that reindeer is cute.  I’m not sure why he has that astonished look on his face – oh wait – maybe he noticed the price of this magazine!  $12.99!!!  You can buy a dozen cupcakes for that!  Well – your money usually follows your heart and your heart is built to pursue something.

Maybe food’s not your thing.  Your heart can fix itself on this – it’s Garden Heaven magazine! And this comes to us from Ireland – I couldn’t help but notice however that there is an article dedicated to the Humble tomato.  Yeah right.  Tomatoes are the most braggadocious vegetable there is.  We’re a fruit and a vegetable.  Shut up tomato!  It’s tomato too!

Lastly – and I don’t profess to understand this but some people worship their pets.  Here’s a cat magazine!  Modern Cat.  The cat is like texting his friends –  I’m totally bored with this…  Notice that they don’t call it Cat Heaven magazine – and there’s an obvious reason for that – let’s just say – if it happens that when you open you eyes for the first time on the other side of those pearly gates and there’s a cat on your chest – you are not in heaven.

We humans, we are going to worship – something or someone. It doesn’t matter how religious you are or not.  This might be the first time you ever walked into a church in your life, but I’m telling you: you are a worshipper.  You were built to pursue, to chase, to worship.

The Bible purports that our hearts were created to worship God and God alone.  And this is the problem – sin has so corrupted us that we now have hearts that are easily duped into worshipping lesser things, things that are simply unworthy of our hearts attention.

Colossians 1:18 He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. NASB

So the question is simply – Is God occupying first place in your life?  If not – do you know what is?  Are you worshipping God or worshipping lesser things?

21 Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.  1 John 5:21

By the way – John is writing to a church – he is writing to people who have already placed their faith in Jesus.  Why does he write this?

It’s because John knows that – even after we make the decision to give God first place in our heart – it is a lifelong struggle to keep him there.

This world offers many competitors all seeking the same prize – which is – the affection of your heart.

There is a theological term for this struggle for the affection of our heart.  The theological term is called idolatry.  Idolatry happens when we give a competitor the affection of our heart.  Anything that ranks above God in importance to you – is an idol.  That is idolatry.

And all of us have things in our life that rival God.  It might be different for me than for you.  But all of us have a fight on our hands – and the bible calls this the good fight.  Fight the good fight of faith – against anything that wants to deceive your heart into thinking it’s more valuable to you than God.

Now – the second question- How can we identify the true object of our hearts desire?  Now – It is important that we are able to identify idols – so let me ask you a few diagnostic questions meant to help us first identify our rival gods.  And I’m thankful for Timothy Keller’s book Counterfeit God’s – in providing a few of these penetrating questions.

  1. What do you feel you must have to be happy?
  2. What do you habitually daydream about?

Where do your thoughts effortlessly go when nothing else is demanding your attention?

Winning the lottery?  Do you daydream about a relationship with someone, whether legitimate or illegitimate?  Do you daydream about what an awesome boss you’d be if you ran this stinking company?    Where do your thoughts turn to find joy?  This could be God’s competitor for your heart.

  1. Where does your money go?

Ever see people walk around with a chain connecting their wallet to their belt?  Jesus teaches that chain actually connects our wallet to our heart.

Our money flows like a stream toward the object of our greatest devotion.  Do you give any of your money away?  Or do you spend it all on yourself?

  1. What parts of the Bible do you not believe?

Do you come across parts in the Bible that you say to yourself, well, that doesn’t really apply to me.  This section might have applied to people living a long time ago, but it doesn’t apply to me in my situation.

Sure the Bible calls what I’m doing a sin, but if it’s a sin then why don’t I feel any conviction for my sin?  I’m sleeping like a baby at night!

And that is because your god indeed has no issue with what you’re doing – but know that your god is not the One True God.

  1. Lastly, who is the most important person in your life?

If you say, she is – then you are pointing at the object of your worship. If you say HE is.  Then you are pointing at your god.

I learned this line years ago in youth ministry and I’ve used this line hundreds of times while speaking to female students….  Here’s the line – Guys are great, but they make lousy gods.  And Guys – girls are great but they make lousy gods.

Who is the most important person in your life?  If your finger is pointing anywhere but up, then you might have identified a possible rival for the affection that God’s deserves.

Let’s assume that all of us have identified our rival gods.  What do we do now?

It makes sense to admit it to God – (He already knows).  Name that thing that rivals God for our heart.  Without shame or embarrassment we say Lord – I’ve come to see that there is danger lurking in my heart – forgive me for chasing and pursuing false gods and help me redirect the affections of my heart back to you.

I’ve been duped by my deceitful heart – and I want to set things right again – help me – teach me and give me the courage to address what needs addressing.

Sometimes we have to talk to our heart.  We have to say – Heart, you’re being foolish.  We’ve settled on a lesser thing.   Let’s redirect our worship to the one who truly deserves it.

So let’s turn our attention now to learning how to worship.  How do we cultivate a heart that worships God instead of all these lesser things?

And we will say that there’s really two essential aspects of learning how to worship –  there is an internal aspect of worship and then there follows the external essence of worship.

Worship begins internally – it starts in our inner most being.  It then flows to the external through our mouth and hands and feet.

In Matthew 15 – we see Jesus speaking about a serious problem he sees in the manner in which the religious leaders were worshipping – and he says,

These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce…

It’s a serious charge that Jesus levels here.  Please notice that Jesus is speaking to a group of people who have never missed a worship service.  They are committed to the external worship of God.  And Jesus says – it’s a farce.  It’s nothing to God.  Because internally – their hearts are pre-occupied with idols – God is far from occupying first place in their lives, their hearts are far from me…

And so we begin internally – by asking how can I reset my heart to seeing the supreme value of God?  And it begins by studying, by noting, by responding to the claims of scripture.

We must begin by seeing the supreme beauty and goodness of God.  By seeing him for who he is.  This is why we often say at Journey that once you discover the real Jesus you will find him irresistible.

He isn’t irresistible until we discover what he is like.  If your view of God is that God is angry, easily irritated, unreliable, uncaring or absent – that God will never garner your hearts attention.  You will never worship that God.  Not internally at least.

Your heart will never be able to bring itself to worship a stuffy, mean-spirited, angry or absent God.  And this is why we preach each week – we are trying to do our best to proclaim to you the God that Jesus knew.

We are letting Jesus describe him to us – and He describes a God who will not snuff out a smoldering wick or break off a bruised reed.  He is the father of compassion – and he tells us to call him Dad when we pray.  He calls us his cherished people – his prized possession – through faith we are forgiven and brought into a partnership with him to care for this hurting world.

Once we see God for who he is – when we realize what we’ve been given – it changes everything.

I want to show you a short video clip.  It comes from the television show Antiques Roadshow – where people bring items from their home to have them appraised by experts.  And in this clip there is a young college woman who has been given a picture that belonged to her grandmother.  And she brought the picture with her to college and one day she noticed a mosquito that had been caught in the frame and when she took the glass off she realized the picture looked like an original.  And so she brought it in to see if it’s worth anything.

She told the appraiser that it had been appraised by an insurance adjuster at $200.  And well – let’s watch – it’s very interesting how she responds.  We are going to skip the appraiser’s description of the art- and how precious and rare it happened to be – and let’s just jump in and see the woman’s response.

Here was a woman who didn’t know what she had been given.  But once she learned- once her heart realized what it had been given – she immediately began to deal with the implications of it.  She asks – so I can’t hang it up anymore?  I can’t just throw it in the back of the car and drive it to college?

Everything changed for her internally – when she saw the value of what had been given to her.

The inner essence of Worship is responding to the WORTH-SHIP of God.  That’s where the word worship came from.  WORTH-SHIP is the response of a heart that treasures a God who treasured us first.

When we take communion – as we did today – we are carving out time to remember what has been given to us.  What while we were yet sinners, Jesus died for us.  Communion is an act of worship.

That response from that young woman – was the response of a heart that was overwhelmed with gratitude and it also was a woman dealing with the reality that her life is going to somehow change.

Her very life is different walking out of that room – than it was walking into it.

And this brings us to the external aspect of worship.  Once our heart sees the supreme value of God’s great love and affection for us – well, we too must deal with the implications of it.  And our life too will be different.

And externally – our worship will manifest itself mainly in two ways.  We see both of them in this passage from Hebrews

Hebrews 13:15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

Do you see the two ways we respond externally in worship?  First – we will  not be able to help praising him with our lips.  That’s first.

Every Sunday we sing praises to God here at Journey.  Why?  We are offering a sacrifice of praise to God.  Like the psalmist – we sing!  Now worship is more than singing of course, but it is at least singing.  Or praising.

It is out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks – and sings – and praises – and repents and gives thanks.  And encourages – and challenges and prays.  We worship God by the words that come out of our mouth.

Secondly – this verse shows us the second way that a heart given to God will respond.   Don’t forget to do good.  To share with people in need.

Now I have to confess that this time of year I can feel a little overwhelmed with requests to help people and chaitable organizations.  My mail box is stuffed with requests.

But I’m just going to say – let’s try to direct our attention toward doing good along the way.  Let’s end this miserable year on a high note of worshipping God by helping someone – by doing good.

So- as we conclude – we are built to worship.  Let’s make sure we are worshipping the one – the only one who deserves the affection of our hearts.

Let’s worship the King of the universe, who knelt to serve us.

Cherish him, and praise him, and do good in his name.

Come now, let us worship the King.

As the team come up to lead us in our two closing songs – I’d like to share some news regarding the building project.  As we’ve mentioned we’ve been working to secure a lending partner for our project, and on Friday we learned that we’ve been preapproved to borrow the amount we requested in order to finish the entire project for our building – so we are thrilled and happy to be partnering with Centris Credit Union.  It’s full steam ahead with our efforts and we hope to begin building by the end of April.  Thanks to all who responded to our request for information – we would still love to hear from those of you who were planning to respond but haven’t yet.  It’s tremendously helpful.