“God, we begin by acknowledging that there is one God and that you are the only God and that by grace you have made yourself our God. As we study today God it is my hope that you would see ourselves as each as worshiper and that we would ask ourselves who or what it is that we are worshipping. And God it is my prayer that when all is said and done we would all have a resolve in our hearts and minds to be worshippers of Jesus Christ alone and above all else. For that to happen we are going to open the Scriptures and we ask you Holy Spirit to meet us and teach us, and lead us, and guide us, instruct us, convict us enable us to be like Jesus is whose name we pray. Amen.”
Well as we get into this into this issue of worship we’ll start with a weird story that I hope to tie together. I’m kind of a sports freak. I like baseball a lot. I like basketball, quite a bit and I also like football. And I also like ultimate fighting and I was pretty bummed that Matt Hughes last night lost his belt to a Canadian. So, (Laughter) be in prayer for that. But, I – a – but one of the things that bums me out, being a pastor. I love being a pastor. But Sundays are when all the good games are and I praise God for TIVO but you also never get to go to a game and so, as a pastor I never get to go to a football game expect for Monday night football. So recently the Hawks played the Raiders, Monday Night Football game. Very very happy cause a guy in the church called up, “Hey, I got an extra ticket do you want to go to a Hawks game, Monday night game.” “Yeah, that’s my only shot to ever go to a game, a Monday Night game, unless I call in sick. But that’s not very good because I’m the pastor and then I would have to discipline myself.
Yeah, I’ll go to the Monday night game alone. So, we went to the Monday night game, and it, and it was amazing because it was, it was during the most torrential down pour that Seattle has ever seen. We had mudslides and floods and people are quoting the Old Testament. I mean it’s just crazy time. (Laughter) And you have to park miles away from the stadium and still pay for parking, a whole other zip code. And then you have to walk in the rain, driving wind.
You finally get to the parking lot where all the important people learned the secret on how to park at the stadium park and there’s life guards on duty in the parking lot. And you’re sort of sloshing through to get there. You get to the stadium. And the stadium is huge. $450,000,000, 00, $300,000,000.00 of which was given by tax dollars and public dollars. I’m not sure why they couldn’t afford a roof. (Laughter) Anyways – $450,000,000.00 bucks seems like you should get a roof with that deal.
Then you go in and you look at your ticket and you try to figure out where you sit. And it says just keep going until you see Jesus. So you just keep going up, and up, and up and up and up until what Paul calls the third heaven to the Corinthians. (Laughter) You’re like, “Hey, there’s Jesus.” I must be right around here because he’s the only guy sitting higher than you. You go all the way up. And most football fans are not athletes, right. (Laughter) I mean, these people are not built for stairs. You know it’s not good. (Laughter)
So, you finally get to the top level and you go in and you show the usher your little ticket and they give you oxygen. And put the defibulator on your chest and they point you a little further north and you have to go up some more stairs. And you finally get to your seat driving wind rain, huge plasma screen TV’s, loud, 70,000 people there. It’s televised. You finally get to your seat and you think gosh this is so great I get a seat.
But then you sit down and Pete and Repeat in front of you. They’re super fans. They’re wearing jerseys. They’re dressed up like birds that don’t exist. (Laughter) and they’re going to stand up the whole game because they are super fans. And it’s like, oh, boy. So then I’m thinking why did we pay for the seat. We’re never going to sit in the seat because I can’t see the game over Pete and Repeat.
And, a, I was glad to have a bad seat because it was actually covered and we stayed dry. About mid way through the first quarter, you’ve got 70,000 people, young women, half naked dancing in the rain, men colliding into one another, television cameras, loud music, video screen, everyone dressed up, and drunken frenzy. People have spent thousands of dollars for one beer and one hot dog. (Laughter) Now their kids can’t even go to college, you know.
And it occurred to me. I joined a cult. That’s where it dawned on me. (Laughter) I had joined a cult. This is a cult with bad colors, you know. And, I was thinking what if you took somebody from another culture, or maybe a Hebrew from the Old Testament. And you plopped them in at this game they would think this is the biggest religion in the country. And we were at the biggest church in America, 70,000 people, $450,000,000.00 dollar building.
People walking miles to get there, and I thought this is a worship event that’s what this is that’s why everyone is screaming and yelling and wearing the colors and dressed up again like a bird that does not exist, and, a, because there is no such thing as a Seahawk. I don’t know if you knew that.
So, a, in the middle of about the first quarter it dawned on me, “Oh, no, I joined a cult.” And I started thinking about this conversation I had in East India, a few years ago. And, a, there I went to teach some Pastors out in the rural areas that were all Hindu converts living in these little villages. And I remember seeing the craziest worship. I mean people all dressed up. Their faces painted, devoted to their Gods. Whole days of festivals, feast and people down at the water washing themselves to have their sins forgiven. And as you walk from village to village there are these little sort of huts on the roadside. And if you go in them there’s a little God in there or Goddess for the area, or for your vocation, or your family and they’re everywhere. Lots of Gods and there’s food and there’s gifts to the God. And there’s all these little presents for the Gods. And there’s chicken blood and feathers everywhere. Apparently the Gods like to whack chickens or something. And so there is just chicken whacking going on in all of these little huts.
These little shrines and I went to teach the Hindu convert pastors under this little thatched roof and it was, it was super hot. And, a bunch of them came up and we were visiting and one of the pastors, wives came up, and we were visiting, very nice, cool bright gal. And she said, “Oh, is this your first time to India?” I said, ‘Yeah, have you ever been to America?” She says, “Well, I went once.” I said, “Do you ever think you’ll go again?” She said, “I don’t think I’ll go again.” I said, “Why?” She just said, “I just can’t handle the idolatry.” I thought, “The idolatry, you’re the chicken whackers.” (Laughter)
What, you know, but then I thought you know they have a little thing and we have a $450,000,000,00 thing. They whack a few chickens. We dress up like chickens. It’s probably not that different, right? (Laughter) And it’s amazing sometimes what we consider hobby or sport or recreation or just personal, you know, individual life activity that we find enjoyable. Somebody from another culture or another period of time, their angle it is, that’s religious. You’re being spiritual that’s a worship event that’s ongoing in that place that the band is playing there or the sports event is happening there those kinds of things.
So, I want you as we get into it, the worship of Jesus, I want you to have a big broad picture of worship, that sometimes is, is much bigger than what we would consider just worship. And by worship I don’t mean something that is just for religious or spiritual people, right. Right, I mean people who stay up all night and play World of War Craft, that’s kind of a little religion. You know, people who sleep outside all night for Play Station III, this week. That’s kind of a religious thing. It’s a devotion issue. It’s giving of oneself and ones money and ones time, the people who stay outside, months in advance to watch the latest Star Wars Movie that is kind of religious devotion, same with a band. If you’re going to buy all the shirts and go to all the shows and sing all the songs and dress like the lead singer, that’s kind of a worship experience. That is something that is not just Christian or religious or spiritual but it is worshipful in nature.
Secondly, worship is not just a music style. Sadly in Christianity there is something known as the Worship Wars. I don’t really think it is really a war.
I’m not sure anyone has died over hymns over acoustic praise. I don’t know how many casualties we have. You know, I’m not sure what the body count is, in the Worship War. But they call it the Worship War, and sometimes it’s the older people who like to organ and hymns and the younger people like the, you know, the proms songs to Jesus and the acoustic guitar. And what happens is there’s sort of a conflict over which style or genera of music is most worshipful. And what we’re talking about worship it includes music, but it’s a much broader bigger issue, then just a style or genera of music.
Thirdly, worship is not something that starts and stops. It’s not like when we get done here you don’t have to worship again until next week, right. It’s something that is ongoing and ceaseless and continuous and a life style. And lastly worship is not tied to a time and or a place. Jesus had this conversation in John Chapter 4, with a woman from an area called, Samaria, and she said, “Well, where should we worship? There’s a temple here. There is temple here.” Jesus, said, “It’s not where. It’s who.” That’s really the issue. Worshippers worship in Spirit, by the Holy Spirit and in truth according to Scripture. And he says, “It’s not where you worship. It’s who you worship and how you worship, that’s what counts.”
And so we don’t believe that this building is holier than some other building. We don’t believe that when we come together here that this is the scared place anymore than your house is a scared place. We don’t believe that the Holy Lands are necessarily more holy. We believe that everywhere belongs to God and everywhere can be a scared place in which God is worshiped and honored and glorified, by the people who are there.
And so we don’t believe that it is tied to a time. We don’t believe that it’s just tied to a place. We don’t believe that it’s just tied to a genre of music or it is just tied to a religious or spiritual people.
That being said, we’ll start with a definition of worship and then will proceed into the worship of Jesus and I’ll start in Romans 11:36, and move to Romans 12:1. And I want to tie a few concepts, for you, together there.
Paul says this, Romans 11:36, “To Him – that’s to God – be the glory forever. God has no beginning or end and the glory is to be God’s forever.” So, want you to keep that word glory in mind. We’re going to examine that in great detail. That will be one of the mega themes, of Scripture that we study together this evening. Amen.
He says, “Therefore I urge you brothers in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices.” We’ll revisit that issue of sacrifice. “Holy and pleasing to God this is your spiritual act of worship.” Okay. So here’s what he is saying, “We hold something in a position of glory. And whatever we hold in a position of glory a person or a thing. We then worship that thing or person that we hold in the position of glory and we do so by making sacrifices. Okay.
So let me start by first explaining what we mean by glory. It means; weightiness, the most important, significant, preeminent, prominent, priority in your life, the greatest treasure, your deepest longing. The source of your hope and joy that is what you hold in the position of glory.
And I’m saying that we all are worshipers. Because we all hold something, be that ourselves, our relationship, a pet, a spouse, a car, a hobby an experience an income an education, a house , whatever it is. There is something that gets us out of bed in the morning. There is something that our hearts and minds long for. There is someone or something that is the most important someone, or something in the world to us. Functionally whoever or whatever that is, that is our God.
Secondly, we then worship that person or thing. And we do that by making sacrifices. And you can tell what your functional real God is by looking at what you make sacrifices for. You only have so many hours in a day and you’ll sacrifice certain activities to put your time towards this person or thing. We only have so many dollars to spend. And my be examining how we spend our money that helps to indicate what is in the position of preeminence or glory in our life. Because we are sacrificing money, we’re not spending it on certain people or things because we want to allocate those resources toward that person or thing that we hold in a position of glory.
Now practically, let me give you some examples of what this looks like. We can worship people. We can worship things. We can hold for example, let’s say, “You’re, you’re glorious position is occupied by your stomach.” Paul, says, “For some people their God is their stomach.” What do you end up doing, eating a lot, worshipping, taking your money and spending it on food, taking your time devoting it to food and eating for beyond what you should and becoming a glutton and thereby making your stomach your God, and making sacrifices of your health. Making sacrifices of your well
being, so that you can worship your stomach.
If you are someone who holds in a position of glory, for example sex, then what you do you make sacrifices about holiness, chastity, fidelity, marriage. You make all kinds of sacrifices for holiness. And sacrifices with your intimacy with God so that you can then worship sex, and that’s what you do. You live your life making sacrifices to worship that which you hold in a position of glory.
I’ve seen guys worship cars. I’ll give you an example. Old guys, sometimes guys like to work on old cars. I’ve seen some guys get old cars and want to renovate them. And what they end up doing is holding that car in a position of glory. Next thing you know, it’s like. “How come you don’t go to church?” I don’t have time. Sundays, my day off, I’m working on my car.” “Why don’t you go to Bible study/” “Well, that’s an evening that I’ve devoted to my car. I can’t go to Bible study anymore” Right, wife kids come out, “Hey, can you come in for dinner, we’re a family?” “Sorry, I don’t have time; I’m working on my car.” I’m making sacrifices. I don’t connect with God, or wife or children, why, because the car is in the position of glory and I’ll sacrifice everyone and everything else, my time, my sleep, my friends, my family, my God to what, to glorify the car.
It’s amazing. We do this with sports. We do this with food. We do this with alcohol. We do this with sex. We do this with relationships. We do this with bands. We do this with hobbies. I’m saying we’re all incredibly spiritual people and we’re all worshiping.
I’ll give you another example. Say there’s a gal who knows Jesus and knows Jesus doesn’t want her to see anybody who’s not someone who also loves Jesus. She meets a guy and she puts that guy in a position of glory. He’s the most important thing in the world, next thing you know she’s not going to Bible study. She’s not going to church. She’s not walking with Jesus. She’s not keeping her clothes on like she’s supposed too. She’s doing all kinds of things she shouldn’t. Why, because she has made sacrifices to worship that guy. And he now is the one who holds glory in her life. And this is how it works. This is how it happens.
My simple point in all of this is not that some of you are not worshippers and some of you are. The only difference is the object of our worship. Romans 1:25, says, “We either worship the Creator, who made us and everything else. Or we worship created things.” Created things can be things that God made. We can worship the environment and be radical environmentalist. We can be sexual addicts who worship the human body. We can be gluttons who worship food that God made good. We can be alcoholics and drunkards who worship alcohol that God made for us to consume.
Yet we can do so in such a way that even the good things that God made become bad things because they become Gods to us. And he says, “If we don’t worship the things that God made we’ll also just worship things that we’ve made, right.” I mean ever been into a house and walk in and all the chairs face what- the enormous television. Human beings do not speak to one another. They gather around the box. I mean it’s interesting.
I’ve had Christian friends say, “I went into my Hindu friend’s house, or my Buddha friend’s house and they have a little shrine right in the middle of the living room. And everyone looks at it. It’s really weird. I’m like, “Does it have a remote?” I mean. You know. Sometimes we only see the idolatry in the culture of another person. Don’t see that we sometimes that we repeat the same errors that others do. Because we just think that’s entertainment. That’s our culture, that’s the way that we do things. It’s normative for us.
We worship created things. This is as well as simple as a pet. Okay, I love Muffy and Fluffy and Buffy, I love all animals. I’m pro animals, alright. But you can get to the point where you say, “Well, I don’t go to church on Sunday because I’ve got to go to the dog show.” And I can’t go to Bible study because we’ve got obedience classes. And the next thing you know you’ve sacrificed relationship with Christians and growing in your faith, for what, for Muffy, Fluffy and Buffy.
I’ve seen whole marriage fall apart because the animal became more important than the marriage and in the end it was a bitter custody dispute over the dog. What? We’re fighting over who’s going to carry the bag and follow it around. (Laughter) Like, like somebody’s got to think this through. You know, we made a wrong turn somewhere, when we’re going to slaughter the marriage for the show dog. But I’ve seen it happen.
And what I’m saying is that the human heart just craves, desires, yearns, longs for worship and we either worship the creator, the Lord Jesus Christ or we worship created things, like pets, and nature and the human body or food or drink or things that we’ve made like a nice TV or a raise at work or a sports team or a hobby or a favorite band or an activity and such.
Let me, let me come at if from another angle. Martin Luther, the great reformer says, “If you study the Ten Commandments, you will realize that the first two commandments are the most important. And if you obey the first two commandments you’ll never break the other eight. Okay. Let me explain this to you.
First commandment is what? There’s one God. Second commandment, we’re only supposed to worship that God. What he says is, “If we only have one God, Jesus. And if we only worship that God, Jesus, then we wouldn’t have to worry about the other sins.’, because those are the result of breaking the first two commandments.
Let me explain this to you. Bible says, “Don’t lie.” Why do we lie? Because I want everyone to think that I am a good person, I want to give a good impression. I want my glory to shine forth. I don’t want anyone to think bad about me. Okay, so now I am my own God. And my glory is the most important thing. And I will worship my glory by telling lies so that even if I’d done something wrong I try and cover it up and hide it. And even if I haven’t done something right, I’ll lie about it and say that I did, because my, my God is me and my reputation.
How about this one, the Bible says, “Don’t commit adultery.” That’s one of the commandments, the other eight. You say, “Well how do you not commit adultery?” Well, if Jesus is my God and I worship him alone, I’m not gonna sleep with somebody I’m not married too. But if sex is my God or nudity is my God, then I will worship that God and so, the problem is never that I just lack holiness or self control or self discipline. The issue is always I picked the wrong God and I’m worshipping it and that’s why I keep doing the wrong things.
Give you another example. Don’t steal. Why do we steal, because if you love something you will worship it by stealing it, taking it because you have to have it? You’ve now made that thing more important than God. You’re will to sacrifice relationship with God to commit a sin to have the thing you can’t live without. In so doing you’re saying, “I will reject, God and steal the thing because the thing is more important to me then God,” And so now I’m a thief.
I think Luther’s got a tremendous insight, that the opposite of worship is not atheism, but its idolatry, that we all worship. The only issue is do we have one God and worship him alone or did we pick someone or something else’s God and then we worship it which leads to all the problems , like sex that is sinful, coveting, stealing, lying, murder, whatever it might be. All the other sins are the result of confusing the first two commandments to have one God alone and to worship that God, alone.
Question is how do we get out of this loop where we are all worshippers. And I want you to see where we’re all passionate worshippers, our money, our time, our energy. We make sacrifices for people. We make sacrifices for things, for causes, for improvements in our health. For improvements in our appearance, for a raise at work, for the approval of our boss, for a bigger house, a nicer car, for a better income, for our favorite band, for our
favorite sporting event, for our cause, for our pet, for our spouse, for our kids, we just give ourselves to something. We just can’t help ourselves.
Say how we get out of this loop, where we’re worshippers and we just always worship something or someone other than God. The key to begin with is to; find a worshipper who doesn’t do that. And to examine the life of that worshipper and ask, “Okay what does correct worship look like?” Where there is one God and you worship him alone. And that keeps you out of all the other trouble that you can fall into. That leads us to Jesus.
And then we learn to worship like Jesus. Jesus is the perfect worshipper, the best worshipper, who has ever lived. And so we must look at Jesus and ask, “Jesus how did you worship?” And from that we can learn what it is to be a good worshipper.
Theologically let me set this up. As Christians we believe there is one God and three persons, Father and Son and Holy Spirit. We call it the Trinity. And we believe that this one God, in three persons is eternal without beginning or end and that there is mutual love, submission, glory, honoring, communication, affection, adoration, between the Father, Son and Spirit.
So Jesus, the second member of the Trinity, he glorifies God the Father and God the Father glorifies Jesus and the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus and the Father and there’s this mutual glorying, adoration, praise, love, respect, intimacy, oneness, within the Trinitarian character of God.
As such Jesus as eternal God is the perfect worshipper who from eternity past has been glorified by the Father and the Spirit and has been glorifying the Father and the Spirit, Jesus says this, regarding the glorification, the worship, the glorying that occurs between him and the Father, twice in John 17. One is in verse 5, where he says, “And now, Father glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” Jesus said, “In eternity past I was the second member of the Trinity and the Father glorified me and he gave glory to me. We worshipped one another in this perfect unbroken ceaseless, worshiping community.
He says the same thing in John 17:24, “Father, I want those that you have given me to be with me where I am and to see my glory. The glory you have given me because you love me before the creation of the world, same thing that glory and worship again go together.
The word worship is sometimes translated sacrifice. Because worship is simply what you make sacrifices for. So again, whatever is in the position of glory is your functional God. And then we worship that thing of glory or that person of glory by making sacrifices, of our time, our money, and our energy, and our focus and our ability. We give to it.
And Jesus said, “The Father glorified me in eternity past.” There is this glorying relationship between the Father and the Son that is unbroken, that is unchanging, and that is unending. And so Jesus is the perfect worshipper. And what we see is that Jesus worshipped God the Father in all of his life, every day, every place, every situation, every opportunity. That’s why he never sinned. Sin, one way to define sin, is, is living in such a way, or acting or thinking in such a way that doesn’t glorify God, that breaks that ceaseless, intention of worship so that we are no longer glorifying God. We are glorifying someone or something else, maybe just ourselves.
But if we worship without ceasing then, we won’t be sinning. And the opposite of worship is sin, worshipping someone or something else. And so as Jesus worships for all of his life and he doesn’t sin and he continues this unbroken, unceasing life of connection and worship with the Father. We then are to follow Jesus. We’re to worship like Jesus. We’re, we’re to follow the pattern and example of Jesus the worshipper.
Paul says it this way in First Corinthians 6:10, and 20:31, He says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Right, so when you’re eating, say, ‘How can I eat in such a way that glorifies God? How can I drink in such a way that glorifies God?” Jesus ate and Jesus drank in a way that glorified God, not sinful. Alright, when you’re working your job and you’re going to your cubical, when you’re studying for an exam, when you’re cutting your grass, when you’re cleaning your dishes after dinner all of those are opportunities to glorify God, when you’re driving in traffic, right.
See this is where it gets real intense for me. This is where it – little side note. I personally think that everyone’s cell phone number should also be their license plate number. That’s just my thought, so that I could call them, and sort of tell them what I think they should do and where they should go. (Laughter)
Because everywhere we are and everything we’re doing is an opportunity to glorify or not glorify God to worship God or commit idolatry by no honoring and glorifying God. And what he says, “Whatever you’re doing.” Okay, this literally does mean, when you’re cutting you grass, when you’re walking your pet, when you’re cleaning your dishes. When you’re working your job there is always an opportunity there to glorify God, to worship God in whatever it is we’re doing.
And Jesus worshipped he glorified the Father in all aspects of his life. He was a ceaseless worshipper and that is the pattern that we are to follow, glorifying God in everything.
So the first thing that I want to say, is that we are all worshippers, the only question is, what or who is the object of our worship? Secondly, we should worship like Jesus. Otherwise we will find ourselves committing idolatry, worshipping someone other than God, someone in addition to God or God in the way that God did not approve of. But as we go to worship like Jesus, what we find is that we can’t. We have this problem of sin which prohibits us from being the kind of worshippers that Jesus was and is.
And so not only must we worship like Jesus. We can only worship through Jesus. And here’s why we find ourselves in this difficult predicament. Genesis 3:5, “Our enemy comes to our first parents, Adam and Eve and says, you don’t need God be your own God. You don’t need to honor God. Honor yourself. You don’t need to glorify God. Glorify yourself. You don’t need to worship God. Worship yourself. Be your own God. Glorify
yourself. Worship yourself. Make your own truth. Live your own life. Be an independent self wheeled, you know, freewheeling person that has autonomy to do whatever you please. It’s not about God. It’s about you.” And our first parents bought that lie and very person since has bought that lie.
The result is, that we’re all still worshippers because we we’re all made to worship. Yet rather than going out to worship God we tend to, as Luther says, elsewhere, “Bend in and just worship myself.” So what I want is my happiness, my glory, my joy, my fame, my way, my approval, my friends, I want the world to meet my needs, I want, you know, I want an affirmation that builds my esteem and we bend in on ourselves and we just worship ourselves and we glory ourselves and we serve ourselves and result is that we absolutely all together lose sight of God.
And here’s why we do it. We think it will make us happy. That’s, it’s just that simple. We live in a country that was founded for life, liberty, and pursuit of what? Happiness, I mean it’s in the job description for the average American. Why do we do this? Why do we worship people, things, such as ourselves, other than God? Well, we think it will make us happy and you know what, it doesn’t.
Some of you are probably thinking, “Okay you’re telling me to not have sex with my girlfriend, not get drunk, not get high, and stop playing War of World Craft all the time. What will I do for fun? Let me ask you, “Is it fun?’ Truly if you’re a Christian, is it fun? Do you have joy? How many of you thought my God is my stomach. I will worship it now. I will eat, and eat and eat. I will go to the buffet and I will find out how much shrimp I can eat. I will know, alright. (Laughter)
And how many of you and the end of a gluttonous run did not have joy. You’re like, “Oh, you feel like that scene from The Exorcist, right? You feel like. You feel gross. It just doesn’t work. Gluttony, does gluttony lead to joy? It doesn’t.
How about drunkenness? You say, “I’m going to go out. I’m going to get drunk. I’m gonna have a great time.” Is drunkenness fun? How many of you were hugging the toilet bowl, we’re like, happy, happy, happy am I. I am so happy. (Laughing) That’s not a happy place. Nothing ever happy happens there. Nothing happens there that is every happy. That’s not a happy place. We you end up there, that’s God’s way of saying this is not the happy place you we’re hoping for at the beginning of the night.” You started with a rum and coke and you end up here, sort of purgatory. It stinks and it’s bad and you don’t want to be there, right.
How many of you started dating someone and you knew you weren’t suppose to date, but you chose to glorify them instead of God, thinking this will make me happy, and then it all goes sideways. You’re sleeping together and you don’t know how to get out of it. It’s an emotional wreck and it’s a train wreck and it’s a nightmare and you’re like, “This just is not working. I’m not happy. “And this is what happens.
We go into something thinking that this will glorify me and make me happy and then it doesn’t work. Because sin leads to what, death, it never leads to joy. The great lie is that sin, worship of someone or something other than God, will lead to joy. So what happens is we tend to try one thing other than God. We’re not happy so we exchange it for something else that doesn’t work. We try something else.
Some of you change your appearance, change your identity, you change your friends, you change your job, you change your house, change your car, change everything, it’s just this moving from one false God to another false God to the wrong worship, to another form of wrong worship all the while giving it a run, at that end it’s just a fairytale that there is joy at the end of the pursuit. That’s why people tend to be unhappy.
Now let me say this, “only through the worship of the creator God, Lord Jesus is there joy.” And I am not saying if you love Jesus don’t eat, don’t drink, don’t make love, don’t drive, don’t have a hobby, right. Just wear a burlap sack, sleep on the ground in a cave somewhere, you know, and beat yourself every Tuesday, you know, to make sure that you live a life of misery. I’m not saying that.
What I’m saying is this. When I worship Creator, I then get to rightly enjoy created things. That means I can eat but I don’t need to be a glutton, because my God is not my stomach, my God is Jesus, right. That means I can drink, but I don’t need to be drunkard, because alcohol, is not my God that rules and Lords over me. I can have one drink or no drinks, depending upon your conscious and say no. And have freedom.
That means you can get married and enjoy your spouse without being disappointed because they were your God and you were going to make you happy and they were going to make you fulfilled and satisfied, and glorified, person and then they sinned against you and left the lid up and ruined everything. (Laughter) Which is what we do ladies.
And, you’re going to marry a sinner. And if you’re hope is that they will give me joy. They will fall short and you will be disappointed. And if you think that you’re going to have a kid and your kid is going to make you happy. Well, their sinners and their going to disappoint and what a terrible weight it is to put on a kid. Kid comes up, “All you have to do is glorify me and make me happy.” That’s a lot of pressure, for a sinner, who weighs eight pounds. (Laughter)You’re asking too much.
Joy comes from God. Pleasure the Psalmist said, “Is in the right hand of God.” Joy and pleasure and satisfaction and identity and contentedness comes by worshipping Creator and that rightly allows us to enjoy creation. You can love your kids without worshiping them as little Gods. You can like your pet without worshipping it as a God. You can work your job, you can go to school, you can enjoy your favorite band, you can go to a Monday Night football game you can enjoy your life on the earth, eating and drinking and laughing and loving without committing idolatry. Without putting someone or something in the position of God to the degree that they are bound to fail you and you’re just sent into this cycle of despair and sadness and grief.
I’ll tell you why I’m a Christian because I just want to be happy. I’ll just let you in on a little secret. The happiness for me is when I’m worshipping Jesus. It means I can eat without being a glutton. I can drink without being a drunkard. I can enjoy intimacy with my wife without expecting her to be my God and to meet all of my needs and make sure all of my glory shinning forth, because it’s not all about that. It’s an opportunity to glorify God by loving her. It’s an opportunity to glorify God by raising my kids. It’s an opportunity to glorify by eating my sandwich, cutting my grass, and doing my
And the key is some of us still believe that lie that somehow there is joy apart from Creator God. And real joy is to be found in created things. I’m not saying abstain from the things of this earth. But I am saying that if there not in the right position, you will just be miserable. That’s just the way that it works. That’s just the way that it works.
So as we worship Jesus, the Creator, we’re able to feely enjoy creation. Now we worship like Jesus. We worship through Jesus and ultimately we worship Jesus. Okay. Now we’re Christians we worship Jesus. I don’t say, “God, or Lord, or you know the big guy in the sky.” I don’t say that kind of stuff because in our city there’s a lot of people who believe in God and they don’t mind if you say God, but we worship Jesus. We want to be really clear about that. We’re about Jesus, right.
I had a blogger, recently how many times I say Jesus is a sermon and they made fun of me. So, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there’s some more. [Applause] And it was just nice to find a blogger who could count, anyway. (Laughter)
When we’re talking about Jesus we’re naming our God. We want it to be clear. We don’t just want it to be some God out there or there’s a lot of Gods and you just get to pick one that works for you, or there’s a lot of different paths or options. The Buddha says there’s 84,000 paths to enlightenment. There’s Jesus, that’s what we believe. That we worship like Jesus. We worship through Jesus. And we worship Jesus. See the problem is because of idolatry we’re bent in ourselves. We worship ourselves. We‘re not connected to God. Worship created things rather than created God. Jesus comes in human history lives a life without sin, a perfect unbroken ceaseless unending worship. He goes to the cross. He dies for my sins, paying my penalty. He rises to conquer my enemies of sin and death and then he sends the Holy Spirit in me to reconnect me to the Living God and now I can be a worshipper because I’m connected back to God through Jesus. And the sin problem has been overcome.
Not only am I connected to worshipping through Jesus. We’re connected to worshipping Jesus, okay. Part of the reason for this is he’s the glory of God. He is the God of glory. That Jesus is to be for us alone in that position of glory.
It says this in John, 1:14, “the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, we have seen his glory the glory of the one and only.” Jesus is the only one is worthy of the position of glory. No one goes into the position of glory. Not a parent not a spouse. Not child, not a pet, not a hobby, not a rock star, not an event, not a education, not an experience, not a food, not a drink, the position of glory is reserved for Jesus Christ the one and only.
And we are to worship Jesus in that position of glory by making sacrifices of our time and talent and our treasure for the cause of Jesus. Jesus was worshipped in the Old Testament before he was ever entered into human history as a man. Okay.
Some of you remember the story Isaiah, 6. Isaiah is the guy, teens twenty’s, young guy whatever it is. He has this amazing day where heaven opens up sort of the curtains peal back. We’d all love to see that, right. So heaven opens up and what does he say, “I saw the Lord, – it’s going to be the Lord Jesus” – “seated on the throne ruling and reigning as King of Kings, Lord of Lords, like Revelation, “I saw the Lord high exalted seated on a throne and what was around this great God that he saw on the throne, the angels.” And what we’re they doing? “Crying out, singing out, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, heaven and earth are filled with his glory.” There’s our word.
You go to John Chapter 12:41, He says, “Isaiah, he says “That Isaiah, saw Jesus, and wrote these things, right he says it fact this way, I want to get the quote right, John 12:41, “Isaiah, said this, “Because he saw Jesus, glory, and spoke about him.” Who does Isaiah; see 600 – 700 years before Jesus entered human history, seated on the throne worshipped by the angels as the Lord. He saw Jesus in glory. The position of preeminence, prominence, superiority, priority, weightiness, gladness, the source of joy the fountain of hope the true eternal Living God that alone does not disappoint the Creator.
Jesus was worshipped in eternity past. He was also worshipped during his time on the earth as a man. I’ve got this in your notes. A blind man worshiped him. A demonized man worshipped him. Thomas the Doubter worshipped him. His buddy John, all the disciples worshiped him. Groups of women worshipped him. James and John’s mother worshipped him. Angels worshipped him at his birth. Churches worship him, throughout the New Testament, including those at the beginning of Revelation. Mary his own mother worshipped him. James and Jude his own brother worshipped him. Little kids got around and sang to him and worshipped and Paul his own enemy ultimately worshipped him as well, as God.
Here’s where I want to take you. Jesus was worshipped, prior to his birth. Jesus was worshipped during his life on the earth. The question is what is happening today around the living exalted Jesus? What’s happening right now? If we had the experience of Isaiah and heaven opened up and the curtains were pulled back and we saw Jesus what would we see?
I’ll take you to Revelation. We’ll do the whole book in a couple minutes. Are you ready? Got a Bible go there. If not I’ll just read and you can follow along. Start Revelation Chapter 4, John has an experience, like Isaiah where heaven opens up and he gets to see what’s going on in heaven. And he gets to see Jesus seated on his throne like Isaiah, did. Being worshipped as Isaiah saw. Say, why does this matter? Well, it matters because we are here to worship Jesus. We see how Jesus is being worshipped by angels and people and creatures, it shows us how worthy Jesus is to be the object of glory, and the object of our worship and praise above all else.
And Revelation breaks down into two scenes, with Jesus being worshiped and there’s earthly scenes of sin and chaos and we’ll look at a few of the heavenly scenes. Revelations, Chapter 4 verse 9, “When every the living creatures give glory honor and thanks to him who sits on” – what – “on the throne.” You get this picture of a King, of Jesus ruling and reigning in authority “And who lives forever and ever not beginning and no end.” And who lives forever and ever, no beginning and no end Jesus is eternal God. The 24 elders, the Spiritual leaders, fall down before him who sits on the throne Jesus and worship him who lives forever and ever and they lay their crowns at the throne.”
And Elizabeth, the longest reigning British Monarch, she said, “I wish Jesus would return in my lifetime so that I could fall at his feet and I could lay my crown at his feet.”
That’s exactly what happens here. These important men with crowns on their head get down on their faces and take their crown off their head and lay them at the feet of Jesus. “And then they sang,” worshipped includes, though it is not solely reserved for that. “You are worthy, our Lord and God to receive” – what – “glory” “Jesus you alone are worthy of being in that position of glory, and honor and power, for you created all things by your will, they were created and have their being.” That’s the scene in heaven, leaders worshipping Jesus, giving him glory as he sits on the throne in the position of glory.
Chapter 5 verses 11, another glimpse, “then I looked and heard the voice of many angels,” so here are the angels worshipping Jesus, it’s amazing how people worship angels and the angels worship Jesus. People are just supposed to worship Jesus like the angels. “Number thousands upon thousands, and 10, 000 times 10,000 they encircled the throne” – Jesus is seated on the throne – “and the living creatures and elders in al loud voice the sang, worthy is the lamb”, – who’s that, Jesus , who died to take way our sins, to reconnect us to God, so that we could go from being idolaters to worshippers. So we wouldn’t need to break the first two commandments. That we could have one God and worship him at all times, ways and places, living to his glory alone which in and of itself is the only path to our joy.
“Worthy is the lamb who is slain. Jesus died for my sins, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and” – what –“glory.” There’s our word again – “and praise.” “Then I heard every creature.” This is the coolest musical and I don’t even like musicals, but this one has a shot at being very cool. You’ve seen the, Lion King, where all the animals sing. You’ve seen, Finding Nemo, I don’t know if they sing in that thing. Here’s it’s all the animals and fishes are singing. Disney ripped off Revelation. That’s what I’m saying.
“Then I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, spring forth in great triumphant singing,” what a cool day that is, singing fish, you can’t beat that. “To him that sits on the throne and into the lamb” – that’s God, the Father, God the Son – “be praised honored and” – what – “glory,” and power forever and ever and then the four living creatures said Amen, and all the elders, the spiritual leaders, fell down and worshipped Jesus.”
Chapter 7 verse 9, Glimpses into heaven, Chapter 7 verse 9, “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude, that no one could count.” This is an amazing number of people, “from every nation, tribe, and language.” Here’s the great truth about Jesus. He’s not just for one country, or one race, or one native tongue or one ethnicity, or one skin color, one gender, one socioeconomic background, one class, Jesus loves all people from all tribes, and tongues and languages. It’s amazing to me that the environmentalist yearning for a new earth, is only fulfilled in Jesus and that the multicultural diversity yearning that so many people have is only satisfied when we all agree that Jesus is the one who get’s glory. We lay down all of our secondary issues for his praise.
And what we see here is the nations of the earth and people from all the nations of the earth coming together for one great global choir for the praise and the honor and the worship of Jesus who they all agree is the only one worthy of holding the position of glory.
It says it this way, “No one could count them from every nation, tribe, people, language, standing before the throne and if front of the lamb Jesus. They’re wearing white robes, sin forgiven. They were holding palm branches symbolizing peace. They cried out in a loud voice, salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, that’s God the father and to the lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
All the angels show up for this. “All the angels were standing around the throne, and the elders and the four living creatures, they fell down on their faces, before the throne and – why – worshipped God saying Amen, praise and – what – glory.” There it is again. Jesus is in a position of glory. Worship is going to him alone. “And wisdom and thanks and honor, and power and strength, be to our God forever and ever never ending the party without a conclusion. Amen.”
Chapter 15 and I got two more. Chapter 15 verse 2, there are many more in this book, but because you don’t want to have breakfast together, I’ll just hit the highlights. Chapter 15 verse 2. “I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and standing before, beside the sea rather, those who had been victorious over the beast the image, over the number of his name; they held harps given to them by God and sang.”
This is great. When we get to heaven, God’s going to hand us all instruments. Haven’t you always wanted to be in the band, seriously? Deep down, playing air guitar, singing in your car, haven’t you though, “I wish I was in a band?” Right, I can’t play an instrument. I sound like I got captured by al Qaeda when I sing. (Laughter) It’s not good, right? That’s how people have said, “How come you never sing Pastor Mark, because I love you, that’s why I don’t sing.” I would be a great reject on American Idol, one of those guys. I , I , you know but in heaven we get glorified, resurrected, perfected bodies, with perfect pitch and tone and we all get to be in the band, it’s awesome. We all get to play. We get to sing. It’s great.
In heaven you’ll be glorified and then we all get to be in the band. You get to play an instrument, no more rockin out air guitar, fakin it. Real guitar or harp, it’s great for electric guitar. (Laughter) And I just made that up. And we get to sing. Some of you don’t sing, because you’re like, “People will hear me.” That’s why it’s so loud. We’re trying to drown you out, that’s why we give you permission to sing, (Laughter) anyways.
How come it’s so loud? You’d rather hear the band loud than that guy, I assure you of that. He loves Jesus but he can’t sing. But when he gets to heaven he will be in the band and, ‘They will sing a song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb. Great and marvelous in your deeds Lord God Almighty, just and true are your ways, King of the Ages, who will not hear you oh, Lord, and bring glory to your name, for you alone are holy, all nations will come and worship you for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
Jesus lived, Jesus died, Jesus rose, Jesus ascended into heaven, Jesus is on his throne. Jesus is the Lord of Glory. Jesus is the object of our worship. Jesus is the subject of our hope. Jesus is the fountain of our joy. He is the source of our satisfaction. He is our Creator, God and we see the creatures. We see the angels. We see the dead who love Jesus and have gone before us. All gathered around him, worshipping him with unending ceaseless joy.
And then in Chapter 21, verse 22, I’ll close with this verse, he said, “I did not see a temple in the city.” There was not church, there was no mosque, there was synagogue, there was no temple. “Where do we go to worship God? The issue is in heaven we don’t go to a place. We go to a person his name is Jesus.
In heaven there won’t be a church. There won’t be a temple. There won’t be a special building. We don’t believe in such things. We believe that anywhere and everywhere is holy ground that belongs to Jesus and in that time and place you can connect with him and be a worshipper.
It says, that, “In the city, it does not need a temple in the city because the Lord God Almighty, and the lamb or its temple, the city does not need the sun, or the moon, or the starts to shine on it for the glory of God gives its light and lamb as its lamp.” No darkness in heaven, no just the glory of God breaking forth, shinning forth. Jesus unveiled in all of his glory, illuminating all of the new creation.
The nations will walk by its light and the Kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will it’s gates every be shut, no danger for there will be no night there, the glory and the honor of the nations will be brought into, nothing impure will ever enter it.” Don’t you love that? No sin, no impurity. “Nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful rather only those Christians whose names are written in the Lambs Book of Life.”
Here’s what will be in heaven. Our friends will be there and will enjoy them. But we won’t worship them. By God’s grace our spouses will be there. Our children will be there. And we’ll enjoy them but we won’t worship them. And there will be food there but we won’t be gluttons that worship food. And there will be drink there but we won’t be drunkards that worship drink.
There will be music there but we won’t worship music. We will enjoy music. There will be great musicians and we will have much time to enjoy them. There will be parties. There will be work. There will be recreation. There will be sports. There will be all the things that are created by God, good to be enjoyed and we’ll enjoy all of those things and we will remain satisfied with them. Because though we will enjoy those created things we will just keep worshipping the creator God, the Lord Jesus.
And so the way we get our hearts and minds in preparation for that eternal state is today we enjoy our friends and our family and our job and we seek to find joy even in hardship and trial and difficulty. And we don’t allow the things of this world to so capture our affections that they become for us our glorious position of God. Jesus maintains the position of God, Creator. Everything else becomes opportunities in which we can glorify him being a worshipper, making sacrifices to his honor and praise and glory.
And if we do if keeps us from all the other sins, if I’m living for Jesus glory I won’t need to get drunk. I won’t need to steal. I won’t need to lie. I won’t need to commit sexual sin. I won’t need to gossip about other people. I won’t’ need to tell lies to make myself look better, because it won’t be about me and my glory. It will be about Jesus and his glory. And what’s wonderful about Jesus is I glorify him and that becomes for me the source for my deepest, greatest joy.
I promise you this; those of you are here today and worship Jesus. They will tell you that they are the happiest people they know. Because only in the worship of Jesus is there to be found true, unending lasting joy, the ability to enjoy all peoples, circumstances and things because they are in there appropriate place. And many of those things will go us into the kingdom but they will not be worshiped there only Jesus will.
Now is your chance to respond. We are going to worship. We worship corporately today. In a few different ways. You listen. You now will respond. Those of you who are not Christians we want you to tell Jesus you’re a sinner. Ask him to forgive you. He’s alive and well and he will.
If you’re here and you’re a Christian and you’re convicted by the Holy Spirit and there are parts of your life you have elevated even a good thing into a position of a God thing. And there are things or people in your life who have assumed a position of glory that is inappropriate that you’ve been sacrifices to worship them, which is lead to sin then you need to repent. And come back to that place where Jesus alone occupies that seat of authority and glory.
For those of you who are here as well, and Christians we welcome you to partake of communion remembering Jesus body and blood. “Worthy is the lamb that is slain,” just like they kept singing.
And we will then give of our tithes and offerings. That is part of our sacrifice. Taking money from other things and giving it to the cause and the purpose and the mission of Jesus. And then what will we do? We will sing. ‘Cause singing is not the exclusive realm of worship but it part of worship. But worship is bigger than just singing. We’ll sing. I want you to sing. Raise your hands. I mean, be glad.
Think of Jesus, right now alive in heaven. Surrounded by Christians who have gone before us and angels all singing his praises, worshiping him, the concert that never ends, and the party that never ceases. And we are in a very real way part of the great chorus of worshippers. And even here in Seattle on a rainy night, we’re worshipping Jesus who’s alive. And I believe that our worship is participating with their worship in to glorifying of Jesus above all else. And you get to sing to Jesus. So, you get to sing to Jesus. So, sing loud.
Sing like you mean it. If you want to raise your hands, raise your hands and say, “I’m not charismatic.” You’re a Christian, raise y our hands. I mean, you know, we cannot allow ourselves, to be reduced by what will people think of me. So, many of us when we come to worship it’s still about my glory. “I would raise my hands but I don’t want people to think weird of me.”
Well the Bible says to raise our hands. The Bible says, “To sing loudly” The Bible says, “To sing new songs.” The Bible, says, “That we are to be filled with joy and that we are not to be restrained on how we are perceived by others.”If you’re not a Pentecostal, repent, become one that’s what I’m saying. (Laughter)
Lastly, sing, and lastly as we leave we will still worship. We’ll scatter for worship. You’ll go to your jobs and your cubical and your house and your job and you’ll cook your dinner, breakfast and you walk your dog and you’ll clean your dishes, answering you re email and you’ll use your turn signal to the glory of God as a worshiper. Amen.
I’ll pray. Good to have you, hope you enjoy. We will not transition where we worship corporately and then when we are all done the we will dismiss you to go worship individually as we scatter.
“Lord Jesus, we come to worship you. Lord Jesus we acknowledge that we all have disobeyed the first two commandments. We have had God’s in your place. We have God’s along side of you, and we worship them, at your expense. And Jesus we confess that they do not bring joy. They do not bring sustainable ongoing life and gladness that you alone could provide. So, Jesus we repent of any people any things, any ideas, any causes, any hobbies, any denotations, any aspirations that are in competition with your glory. And Lord Jesus we seek joy tonight in you. And we seek to be reoriented so that we would worship Creator and we would simply enjoy creation. Lord Jesus, may we want, may we drink, may we, work, my we love, may we play, to your glory and our joy as ceaseless, unbroken ongoing worshippers, male and female, made in your image and likeness, for the express purpose of worshiping you. So that we could be happy and that you could be glorified. We ask that you would send the Spirit to make that possible, Amen.
Pastor Mark defines what worship is, what worship isn’t, and points out some of the false gods our culture encourages us to worship. He then goes on to explain what it means to worship through Jesus, worship like Jesus, and to just plain worship Jesus as our most worthy Savior.