September 10, 2017
Today we begin a new sermon series called “His mission, our purpose.” We heard what God’s mission is earlier when we looked at Matthew 28. There Jesus told his disciples to go and make disciples, make followers, of Jesus. And that mission is now our purpose. We want to make disciples. But how do we do that? This series is designed to answer that question for you. We are going to look at the process for which we make disciples here at Peace.
This morning, we are going to look at the first step in the process and that is worship. But before we get into it, I’d like for you to reflect just a minute on why you come to worship. Why do you come? What’s your attitude toward it? Do you come to worship because you think it’s good for your kids? You want them raised in the church. Do you come only when you feel you need it? You’ve got everything under control, but when you start feeling the pressure then you come. Do you come because you think that’s what God wants? Thinking that if you come to worship and just you being here physically, God is happy. Do you have the mindset of punching the clock? You come, sit in the chair, participate some, listen a little, but then you leave and feel good because you did your time at church?
What we are going to see today is that worship is all about God. It’s about how God continues to give and give and give more and more and more. Worship is our response to that truth.
Last week, I was hanging out with a pastor and his family. They were talking about their son, Jack, and his baseball team. After talking about how Jack is doing on the team, they said, “Yeah, Jack has a game this Saturday.” A family friend named Ryan said, “Oh, what time?” They said, “3:00 pm!” Ryan said, “Ohhh, can’t make it. That’s during the LSU game.” Then he went on to talk about LSU, and you could tell just by the way he was talking that he was passionate about the team. You can tell he’s invested and excited about the team. So much so that the games are a non-negotiable for him. But if you think about it, the team has no passion for him. The team doesn’t know him. The passion is one sided.
Is it possible to have that love and passion for worship? Is it possible to be that invested into worship that it becomes a non-negotiable? The answer is of course yes, but the question is how? That’s what we are going to explore today, and by the end I’m hoping you see why worship is our first step in making disciples.
We are in psalm 100. If you’re new to the Bible or don’t know much about the psalms, the psalms are what the Old Testament people used for songs in worship or for prayers. And today we are looking at a psalm all about giving grateful praise. And here’s what we see.
We worship with joy because we get to worship.
1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Look at Verse two. It tells us to worship the Lord with gladness and come before him with a joyful song. We read that and just skim over it and think, “Yeah I should be glad and joyful when I come before the Lord.” But stop and actually reflect on that for a minute. When we stand before God, we should actually be terrified. Picture this with me, the Wizard of Oz crew standing before Oz. If you’ve ever seen the Wizard of Oz, you know that Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin man, and the Lion traveled a long ways to stand before Oz in hopes that he’ll grant them their requests. But then the get there and stand before him and they are terrified. Oz says, “I am Oz. The great and powerful. Who are you?” As he says that fire flies up into the air, and he repeats himself, “Who are you?” The camera cuts to the four of them standing before him and they are shaking with fear.
That’s how we should be as we stand before God. We should be shaking in fear. Why? Because God is the great and powerful God. He is the holy and perfect God, and what are we? We are sinful. Martin Luther, the reformer from the 1500’s, once said, “A sinner can’t stand before a holy and perfect God any more than a piece of straw can stand in the presence of fire.”
The Old Testament people understood this, and that’s because God gave them a visual. Here’s a picture of the temple. The inner court right here is the only place where members were allowed to go. The people would come here to offer their sacrifices as a reminder that God can’t stand sin. So if you want to be in a right relationship with God, you either had to die or a lamb or goat was your substitute. The Holy Place was reserved for only the priest, but not just any priest could go in whenever they wanted. Sacrifices had to be made. The Holy of Holies is where God dwelt. There the high priest entered only once a year to sprinkle blood. First for his own sin, then for the sins of the entire nation of Israel. The Old Testament people understood that they didn’t have a right to come up and worship God. They knew it was a privilege. That’s why the author says come before him in gladness! He’s fired up because God has made it possible for them to come before him.
Part of the reason we aren’t fired up to come to worship, and the reason that we don’t make it a non-negotiable in our schedule, is because we don’t actively think and realize what a privilege it is to be standing before God and not fear. We don’t realize how bad of sinners we actually are. We don’t comprehend that we really should be burned up as we approach the holy God. And maybe now you’re asking yourself, “Well, why would I want to sing for joy and come worship in gladness? It sounds like I should be terrified of God and run away.” Look back at verse 3.
Do you see how the “Lord” is all in capitals? This is the Hebrew word that the Lord uses when he is referring to himself as the covenant Lord. Now covenants, or contracts, are generally between two people. If you hold up your end of the bargain, then I will do this. But when you see the Lord in all caps, that’s referring to the covenant Lord who has made a one-sided covenant with you. And what was that one sided covenant? He promised that we would be able to come into his presence and not be terrified. He promised that he was going to make it so that we wouldn’t burn up like straw when we entered his presence. He was going to make it possible for God and mankind to have a good relationship again where we can walk together.
And he didn’t say, “Go and do this, then you can come.” No. He said, “I will make it possible. I will fix this.” And he sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, to be our substitute. Because of our sins, blood had to be shed. There’s punishment for sin. And like the Old Testament people, it was either our blood or the blood of a substitute. Jesus, the lamb of God, willingly shed his perfect blood for you. He was your substitute. And when he shed his blood, it washed away all your sins. It took them away and dealt with forever. You now have the privilege to stand before God and not be afraid. Instead of being terrified of God, you now view him as your loving Father. You now approach him like a child approaches their dad climbing up onto his lap as he wraps his arms around you with a big smile on his face. All because Jesus lived and died for you. But that’s not all. When Jesus rose from the dead, he made it so that this relationship will last forever. Right now, we can’t see God, but when we die, we will be with him forever. In the presence of God for eternity because of Jesus.
The great, all powerful, all perfect God, now looks at you and says, “You are mine, and I love you more than you could ever know.”
This is what we get to hear every Sunday in worship! This is what we come to celebrate. We celebrate with shouts of joy and with hearts filled with gladness because we can approach God. We celebrate the fact that we get to worship because of Jesus. Do you see what a gift that is? It is pure grace, undeserved love. I hope you’re beginning to see why this is our first step. Every Sunday we get to celebrate this amazing gift.
We worship with thanksgiving because of all he does for us.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
When we come to worship God, we not only come out of joy but we come out of thanksgiving. God gives us everything we have in life. When we come to worship, we give thanks to God for everything that he has given us. Once a week we gather to worship God and give thanks for everything that he has given us and continues to give to us.
Think about this for a second. What if God only provided you with the things you gave thanks for? How many things would God take away from us? Our jobs? Our family? Our house? But maybe the most tragic thing he would take away from us is forgiveness. How many of us give thanks to God daily for forgiveness? How many of us give thanks that he has defeated death for us?
But how does God respond? Even when we fail to give thanks, God continues to remain faithful. He continues to provide us with everything we need. He continues to give us victory over death so that we don’t have to fear. He continues to offer us forgiveness every single day.
See, we not only come to worship him with joy because we get to, but we come to give him thanks for everything that he does for us every single day.
We worship with praise because of God’s faithfulness.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Why is worship so important to us? Why is it the first step? Because it is in worship that we get to come and praise our Savior-God. To praise means to speak well of or to kneel before in honor. That’s what we get to do in worship. We get to come and praise our Savior’s name for his love that endures through all generations. We get to kneel before the Lord filled with joy over his faithfulness to us. What a privilege!
We get to come and praise our God because he is faithful to us and helps us with our burdens despite us. We’ve all been overwhelmed, filled with anxiety, stressed, burdened. We’ve all tried to deal with that by sleeping in our Sunday morning and getting our rest before the week begins. But guess what, your pillow doesn’t take your problems away. Your morning coffee in the peace and quietness of your house doesn’t strengthen you to deal with your anxieties or burdens. Only our God can do that. And while we sinfully look to other things to do what only God can do, he still remains faithful. This is why we come to worship. To praise our faithful God.
Sometimes we look for identity and worth in our work, in our ability to juggle our schedule as we raise kids, have a career, and keep the house work up. We look for worth and identity in our team and how good of a player we are. We look to these things to feel better about ourselves, but all those things will end one day. But God calling you his child, telling you that you are part of his people, will last for eternity. Nothing can take that away. Again as we sinfully look to other things to do what only God can do, he continues to be faithful to us. He continues to reach out. He continues to say, “Come, learn from me. Be built up in my love for you. You will find everything you want in a relationship with me.”
Why is worship our first step in becoming a disciple? Because it’s here every single week where we get to hear how much our God loves us. It’s hear that we hear of his faithful love for us. It’s hear that we get to celebrate the forgiveness that he offers to us. It is here that we get to praise him with shouts of joy.
Football starts today. I went to college in Minnesota, but there were so many Green Bay Packer fans there. One thing that you can always count on with a Packer fan, is that they are going to cheer and cheer loudly. I remember in college, they’d get a first down and you’d hear all kinds of cheering down the hall. It was unbelievable.
That’s the kind of hearts we come to worship with because we get to worship. We have the privilege of doing so. We have that joy and excitement every time there is a baptism and another soul has been stolen away from Satan. We have that kind of joy and excitement every time we receive the Lord’s Supper, every time we confess our sins and hear how he has forgiven us, every time we sing praises to him as we remember again and again how much he loves us and forgives us.
That’s why worship is so important to us and it is the first step. That’s why it is a non-negotiable and we have such a passion for it. Because it is here that we get to celebrate the love God has for us that he has made us his own. There’s no better way to begin the week.