Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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31 Worship seeing the whole picture – Part 2

  1. Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

As we continue to look at the freedom found in worship we see the call to:

  • Offer yourself on God’s altar

The word “offer” was a term that described the bringing and presenting of an animal for sacrifice on an altar. In the Old Testament a live animal was brought to the priest and the owner would lay hands on the beast to symbolically say, “This animal takes my place.” Once given it could not be taken back because the animal was killed and the blood was sprinkled upon the altar. It means “to present once and for all” by placing oneself at the disposal of another, at its core is the idea of relinquishing one’s grip and giving up control. It harkens back to the first mention of the word “worship” in the Bible as Abraham and his son Isaac made their way to the mountain to make the ultimate sacrifice. When Abraham said to his servants in Genesis 22:5: “We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Right from the very beginning, worship is connected with obedience to God through the offering of a life to Him. Being accustomed to offering dead sacrifices this idea of a “living sacrifice” would have been a radical idea to the Jews of that day. Paul is calling us to commitment to be all in for Jesus, today we want to compartmentalize our life with the Lord but once the sacrifice is offered to God, you don’t take it back. This is not doing business with God by bartering with Him, we are called to present our “bodies” to the Lord, we are exhorted to offer our total being to Him, not just bits and pieces. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says: “You were bought at a price, therefore honor God with your body.” Romans 6:13 tells us to offer every part of our bodies to Him as instruments of righteousness. God doesn’t just want to be a “part” of our lives when it’s convenient, He wants complete commitment. God’s not looking for the sacrifice of beasts but the bodies of believers who will be sold out to Him.

  • Purposeful and pleasing praise

Paul continues by saying that our life offering is to be “holy and pleasing to God.” The question of worship is not, “how did I like it and did it please me?” But “Is my worship pleasing to God?” So much of our worship is self-pleasing vs Savior pleasing. Worship must focus on the work and the wonder of God, it’s about the Master not me. We are called to make a decisive dedication of our bodies which is not just a duty but a delight. This is a holy offering and the sacrifices that were presented to God in the Old Testament were to be spotless and pure. Anything less was an insult to God because holy means to be set apart for Him. Worship is a verb and so adoration must lead to action, today who are you living to please?

  • Living worship as a way of life.

This then is our “spiritual act of worship.” This phrase means our “service of worship” and would have been familiar to those who understood the Old Testament sacrificial system. Their “service” was any ministry that the priests and Levites did in the temple unto the Lord. Today as believer-priests, when we offer our bodies we are involved in the sacred service of worship as a way of life. What Scripture teaches us is that our lives are meant to be continually revolving around our relationship with Jesus Christ, it’s about a lifestyle of worship. Everything we do is accompanied with the intent not just to please God but to proclaim Him. No matter where we are or wherever we go, if we are living a life presented to God, then we are always looking to bring Jesus into every situation we encounter. When we wake at the beginning of each day we start by seeking to include God, to bring his presence into that moment. At work we live to intentionally bring God’s presence into the lives of those around us. In our families, relationships, our personal lives, our church, the social settings, in all things at all times, we bring God’s presence and touch. We must be at “work” worshipping while we walk with Christ. We talk about a worship Service but worship is not just what we do once a week. True worship is the presenting of our bodies as living sacrifices to God, rather than a worship service we should have service worship. Since God’s desire is to make us into the image of His Servant Son it only makes sense for us to serve like He served. Pick up the towel, look for needs, serve in secret, give without the goal of getting. This is everywhere worship, worship as a living faith instead of as a formula. Unfortunately for many today instead of seeking to continually and constantly develop spiritual lives that are overflowing with sincere awe and admiration of God, the Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, instead of discovering the depth of a real relationship with the Redeemer and living in light of His love, Instead of hearing the cry of all creation, proclaiming the greatness of our God and joining in as part of that creation to proclaim the majesty and beauty of the One Who is Worthy, we have settled for a formula, putting together a recipe of righteousness. We have devised a way to break down the spiritual, supernatural act of faith that is worship into a schematic. What we need isn’t a formula for faith but a sincere song of worship, a lifestyle of love for our Savior. So today will you submit to the supremacy of Christ and surrender your life which is your spiritual act of worship?

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30 Worship seeing the whole picture – Part 1

Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

As we close out our series on worship we come to probably the most popular and also the most profound statement made about “true and proper worship.” It is sad that worship, what God desires, has become so divisive. We have turned worship into war, leaving the church void of its wonder while the enemy gets the victory. Why because we have put our preferences ahead of praise. In the Book of Exodus we find God’s people, the Israelites, in slavery in Egypt, they had been held in captivity for over 400 years. God sends Moses to go to the Egyptian Pharaoh and say, “Let my people go so that they can worship me.” The purpose of freedom then is to pursue God and He knew that His people could not worship him fully and freely if they were living in captivity, held in bondage as slaves. So God delivered them out of bondage and into freedom so that they could worship, in essence He said, “Now you are free to worship me, to live for me, to be with me.” Jesus, later talking to his disciples, conveys the same message in Matthew 16:24, “If anyone would want to truly be my disciple, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” We view the offering of ourselves as giving away our freedom yet what Paul reveals in the sacrifice of self is that we actually become free to serve. Today we are held captive by our wants and cares, yet Romans 12 offers us worship that is free from the weight and worry of living for self if we only:

  • Let our behavior flow from our belief.

Every time you come across the word “therefore” in the Bible you should always ask what it’s there for. Here in chapter 12 of Romans, Paul is making a shift from doctrine to duty, from creed to conduct, from principles to practice, from the indicative to the imperative and from beliefs to behavior. You can spend time studying, meditating and even memorizing your way through the first eight chapters of Romans but if all you do is learn it but never live it then what good is it! It is not enough to simply embrace truth, at some point the truth we believe must embrace us. Today you hear people saying that it doesn’t really matter what you believe but it does, because what we believe ultimately determines how we behave. It’s as if Paul is saying, “Based on everything that I’ve just preached, this is what you now need to put into practice.” I find it interesting how the first two letters of “doctrine” form the word “do.” Sandwiched between the doctrine and the go do is the deep doxology found at the end of Romans 11:33-36 “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond finding out. ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?’ For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory! Amen.” After spending so much time discussing doctrine Paul is overcome by the depth of God’s glory. I love Paul’s progression from doctrine to doxology to go do, so is your behavior in sync with your beliefs?

  • Answer the appeal.

Based on the reality of everything that God has done, Paul says, “I urge you, brothers and sisters…” This is a call to worship, even though Paul could have used a command here, he instead makes an appeal from love not law. Paul reminds us that worship is built around relationship not rules and he reminds us of this in Ephesians 4:1 also: “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” The term brothers and sisters is a term of warmth that literally means from “one womb” Paul reminds us that we are members of God’s family. He is begging believers to respond to God’s revelation, to answer the appeal. So as a disciple of Christ what will be your decision?

  • Are motivated by mercy.

Paul makes this plea “in view of God’s mercy.” It’s interesting that Paul doesn’t say, “In light of God’s grace” but instead focuses on mercy. Why, because God’s grace is demonstrated when we get what we don’t deserve, whereas His mercy is what keeps us from getting what we do deserve. One of the problems with this passage is the translation, the original word for “mercy” is actually plural, referring to God’s multitude of mercies. Like we see in 2 Corinthians 1:3 in the KJV: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.” God’s mercy is not a onetime event but an ongoing, overflowing reality that marches into eternity. It’s plural like a parade that He puts on for us, which rolls by through the hours and days into the decades, His mercy that He has put on display each day of our lives. Paul is teaching us a very valuable lesson here for he is reminding us that the prerequisite to worship is mercy, and the prerequisite to mercy is doing something wrong. If you have messed up you qualify for mercy and so you also qualify for worship. When it comes to worship few of us feel worthy, the problem is that we let what’s wrong with us keep us from worshipping what’s right with God. Isaac Watt’s who wrote the amazing hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” understood God’s mercy when he penned the words: “Love so amazing, so divine; demands my soul, my life, my all.” Many of us get this wrong, we think we have to sacrifice or perform to get God’s mercy, because we have it backwards. God gives a multitude of mercies separate from anything we do which should cause us to surrender everything we are and sacrifice everything we have. Sometimes the issue is not one of trying to achieve, we know that we’ve been forgiven, but we overestimate our goodness while underestimating the amount of mercy we have received. Jesus reminded us of this in Luke 7:47 when He said: “But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Our worship is always a reflection and response to what we value, and if we value God’s mercy we’ll be motivated to give Him our lives. So what are you worshipping and how do you know? Well just follow the trail of your time and your spiritual temperature, what has your affection, your energy, your money and your loyalty? At the end of the trail you will find a throne and what is on the throne is what you value and worship most. God’s mercies have been multiplied to you, they are plural because He is consistently and constantly full of mercy. So where is your worship?