Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sermon-- Vision for Ministry-- 2/24/08

Here is the audio of this message:

In looking at a Vision for Univeristy Baptist Church, we’ve looked at several things--
• Empowered Worship
o Passionate Worship
o Responsive Worship
o Invitational Worship
o Accept the call
• Emboldened Witness
o Awakened heart
o Emboldened heart
o Opportunistic heart
o Expanded idea
• Expressive Ministry

To be a church that ministers unselfishly to persons in the community and world in Jesus’ name.--Ministry

Community & World
In Jesus’ Name

Exercising spiritual muscles –

a man entered into a body building contest—an expert in the field of weightlifting—a genius. He had studied every technique, read every book and bio of the greatest, knew the strengths & weaknesses of free weights, each type of machine, had studied the best nutritional supplements. He entered the contest going up against muscles like this, all the while, he looked like this.

It is possible to know all there is to know about lifting the weights and building bigger muscles, and never build a single muscle to strength.

Does this happen often? NO—someone in this situation will in most cases, either start lifting weights or will stop learning about them--

In the same way, there are many Christians, many believers who think they will want to know all there is to know, grow all they can grow, who think they can build a strong spiritual muscle without the element of Ministry—which is our equivalent of lifting weights. But you won’t—as you grow as a disciple, you will either start doing ministry, or you will stop growing in your faith.

According to James, We Must Not be hearers of the word only—but we must be doers of it.

I am convinced that one of the main reason and causes of apathy, declining participation, decreased attendance, and lowered desire to commit in membership among believers in our churches, and in our church is because we are not getting our hands dirty Ministering in the Name of Jesus.

Ministry is focused more on people than it is on tasks—tasks often are necessary work in order to reach people—but the goal still must be—how does this help us reach people with the Good News of Jesus. Ministry is about people and once you lose that element—the task becomes tedious.

It’s like the difficulty of maintaining the military or troop morale when there is no battle to fight. The troops begin to question the necessity of training, they begin to question the need for all of their armor and fighting equipment. “What do I need this stuff for? It’s not like I’m every going to use it!!!???” So as a result, the difficulty becomes a maintaining of focus—attention to detail—the necessity of drilling and preparing. If given the opportunity—they would lessen the frequency and the intensity of the training. Mandatory meetings

People, that is the Church—we come and receive our training, we prepare ourselves to use the sword of the Spirit, but without Service, Ministry & Evangelism—all the best discipleship, the best Bible study, the best worship in the world will grow cold. “What do I need this Bible Study for—it’s not like I’m ever going to use it!” What do I need to be at church every week for—it’s not like I’m missing something important!”

We like to do a lot of things, we like to be busy—we like to go to Bible study—but where we are weak is actually applying what we know and what we claim to believe in ministering to and serving People—not ideas, not good intentions, but People—which includes our fellow believers in the church, believers who should be in the church but are not—and the lost who think they like Jesus but aren’t too sure of the church people b/c if they’re anything like the ones they see on late night TV—

The reason why the world thinks it likes Jesus and doesn’t like the Church is b/c they hear and read and see more about those moments when Christians do the wrong thing than personally experience the Church doing the right things.

Most of you have jobs that require you to deal with people. Could you do your job and avoid people? If you only served existing contracts, existing patients, students or customers but blew off anyone new?

We cannot just serve the church believers, but must also serve the Lost—actually talking to people in the moment of their need—much of which will be underappreciated, much of which we will never see a direct return for--

When we distance our ministry, our efforts, our gifts and calling from people—our hearts will grow cold.

Definition of Minister—someone that serves as an agency, instrument, or means to the praise and glory of God

Shorter than that—someone that serves
1CO 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Colossians 3:17--17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:23--Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Ministry and Service go hand in hand—you were created for them.

Ephesians 2:10-- For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Every single one of us are created to be a Minister—to Minister and Serve. Thankfully none of us are created for exactly the same ministry or service.

1CO 12:4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

A Vision for Ministry that Engages People because that is Serving God

Serving others is serving God—whatever you do for the least of these, you do unto me

Colossians 3:23-24--Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Matthew 25:34-35--"Then the King will say to those on his right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

MT 25:37 "Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

MT 25:40 "The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

A Vision for Ministry that is Intentional—
Not just for the sake of doing it, but with Intent and Purpose
Why are you doing it—for the attention, because you

Ministry must be Expressive—why are you doing this—what is your motivation? In who’s name? —In the Name of Jesus Christ—

AC 3:6 Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Ministry will be Binding—blest be the tie that binds--And Evangelistic—It must be Both

For too long we have looked at ministry as if it is something that stands alone—we do ministry and then over here, we do evangelism. Ministry must never be separated from the People you are ministering to.

Sometimes we think of ministry and evangelism like this:

Well the truth is that much of evangelism takes the form of ministry—like servant evangelism much of evangelism is really a matter of ministry.

That’s why your Sunday School needs a Teaching Minister and a Connecting Minister—to connect to those who are on your roles who are not there and let them know they were missed, make sure they’re OK, if they have any prayer needs, what they missed— to connect with those who aren’t on anyone’s roles but should be

A grown up disciple that is not serving is not mature after all—maturity is for ministry—act on what we know

Study without service leads to spiritual stagnation

When you have a Vision for Ministry that is people focused rather than task focused—the result is an Energized People of God

When you have a Vision for Ministry that Pursues Opportunities to serve and meet needs—the result is an Evangelistic People of God

Vision for Ministry that is Internal—It Reaches In—and does the things necessary to meet the needs of the church and the church family—that ministers to each other’s needs—pray, call, visit, invite each other into our lives—many of us have hurts and pains and struggles that we are afraid to share, afraid for one of you to know about----they need you.

Vision for Ministry that is External--Reaching Out—to those who are not a part of our fellowship—maybe not any church. They are hurting as well—they have struggles and pain, but with much less hope of an answer—if I just do better, if I just work harder, then maybe these bad things won’t happen, maybe God will love me.—let’s you and I find a way to minister to their hurts and pains—pray for them, show them you care, make them a meal, send them a note everyday.

It’s not the fact that people aren’t in need of ministry
It’s not the fact that we are greatly lacking in resources for ministry

The primary cause is a lack of Willingness to actually do ministry on a personal, life impacting level that causes us to get our hands dirty, that causes us to be vulnerable to reach out to those who are not like us, who are dirty and struggling, who are the sick.

It is as if…
We are doctors who only want to treat healthy patients. We are lifeguards who only want to watch Olympic swimmers. We are police officers who only want to patrol the crime free neighborhoods. We are the Church who only wants the righteous and not the sinners. We are like shepherds that want to stay with the 99 rather than go out for the one who is lost—but the heart of Jesus goes

We want ministry on our terms—when it is convenient—with people we already know or without people at all. And so our service in the church and in ministry becomes optional, if we feel like it—it moves from often, to occasionally, to from time to time, to rarely, to not at all.. Church attendance follows this same thing.

We do not want ministry that involves sacrifice, inconvenience, or people that haven’t already got their life together.

But Jesus said it is the sick that need a doctor. In the same way, it’s those who are drowning that need the lifeguard—it’s the crime ridden neighborhoods that need the police.

If you reflect on your Christian life and it feels stagnant, or uninspiring, or indifferent, or unnecessary. If coming to Church, to fellowship with other believers has become “no big deal” or “I know I won’t miss anything so there’s no real reason to be there.” If you think that, then a lost person will certainly think that—and if you think that then get involved in ministry—not doing stuff, but ministering to people--nothing will wake you up faster, nothing will inspire you to more than ministering to people in need—I’m not saying more tasks—that keep you busy but still cut off…, I’m saying people—find a way—if someone is on your heart right now, talk to me and Patrick, and together, we’ll think of a way to impact their life.

Let me ask you—think about what you are currently doing at UBC, how you minister and how you hope to minister.

With eyes closed, let me see a show of hands for those who are mostly Internal in the way you minister and your hearts desire.

Let me see those who are External—toward those not in the church
No insignificant ministries—some visible, some behind the scenes, all vital

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sermon-- Vision for Evangelism-- 2-17-08

Here is the audio for this message.

Vision for Evangelism

In our discussion about Vision—we’ve looked at the negatives of not having vision, but also the blessing of having vision. Having vision helps you see clearly what is needed; vision blesses you by helping you rally around a great cause and future, and when there are obstacles and difficulty—Vision helps you overcome them. to achieve great things you only could be dreamed.
In that closer look at vision—we now need to add another one a vision that once again ties into one of the main reasons every church exists. A Vision for Sharing the Love of God with a Lost and Dying World.

The late Sam Shoemaker, an Episcopalian bishop, summed up the situation this way: "In the Great Commission the Lord has called us to be--like Peter--fishers of men. We've turned the commission around so that we have become merely keepers of the aquarium. Occasionally I take some fish out of your fishbowl and put them into mine, and you do the same with my bowl. But we're all tending the same fish."
Em Griffin, The Mindchangers, Tyndale House, 1976, p. 151.

To be a dynamic spiritual church empowered by the Holy Spirit to share Christ with as many people as possible in our church, community, and throughout the world.
Acts 1:8—“ you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The Acts 1:8 Challenge

1. A Vision for an Awakened Heart for Evangelism
o When you have been in church for so long, maybe growing up in church—it’s easy to forget what it was like to be lost—to forget, the “heights from which we have fallen”—forget what it’s like to be apart from God—and the lostness, the darkness. Even if you were always a good person, even if you came to believe as a child—you may not remember, the tension eased, the frustrations and darkness diminished. It’s hard to hold to the clarity of memory for that long.

o And so the heart of some can grow cold. Cold to the dying around them.
o Too Often the Heart of God is Forgotten & Neglected—we seem to downplay the significance that God orchestrated time and space in order to breach the chasm that separated deity and humanity in order to mount the greatest rescue mission the universe has ever seen.

o LK 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."

o Luke 15:7-10-- 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

LK 15:8 "Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Who is the one who is rejoicing in the presence of the angels? Who would they be paying enraptured attention to?
Who is in the presence of the Angels? Usually we think of them being in God’s presence, but aren’t they in His presence—God is rejoicing before them! he lets that joy and celebration show before them.

o This is the Heart of God—if even just one sinner repents—there is joy in heaven. When we lose our desire for evangelism and replace it with fear or hesitancy, we are distancing ourselves from the heart of God.

o Our hearts need to be awakened—to the fact that somewhere we have forgotten how terrible it is to be lost—lost and not even knowing it--to be trapped in the kingdom of darkness—

o Our hearts must be awakened to the fact that there are those trapped in darkness all around us—prisoners of war—our fellow soldiers who are hurting, who are confused—so confused, they don’t even know their condition.

o Our hearts need to be awakened—to the Heart of God—

o Our hearts need to be awakened to The Mission—to Evangelism—to the Great Rescue Mission that God initiated and asked us to be a part of.
o Imagine someone hanging on cliff desperate for a rescue—you’re holding the only rope—will you send it to him? Or imagine your driving a boat and you come across someone treading water—barely staying afloat—desperate for a life jacket and a ride to shore—you’ve got both—do you stop and help them? Will you only throw the life-jacket but not give him a ride?

o Did you know that a doctor at the scene of an accident is not under any legal obligation to render aid? That in fact, by helping a doctor is opening themselves up to a greater liability? A doctor who is at the scene of an accident, who sees that someone is dying and in need of a simple treatment may not be legally bound to render aid in that moment, but if they prove to be unwilling to save someone’s life when they can may very well never practice medicine again once all their patients found out.

o And a church without a heart for introducing people to Jesus is a church that may never practice their medicine again—a church that is dying.

2. A Vision for an Emboldened Heart for Evangelism
o Too Often Afraid or Hesitant to share the Good News—that God loves you—so much that He died in order to set you free from sin, suffering & death—and proved He could do it by coming back to life.

o What is stopping you? Are you afraid? Are you afraid of what they may think of you? Are you afraid that you don’t know what to say?

o Matthew 10:19-- 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

o Mark 13:11-- do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit

o In many cases it’s as simple as Open Your Mouth—Say Anything—as long as your mouth is closed then there is no opportunity for the Holy Spirit to speak through you—

o if you believe that the Holy Spirit can intercede and pray for you before the Father when you don’t know how or what to say with words you cannot express—then you’d better believe that the same Holy Spirit can speak through you to other people

o The world is telling the church—“Just keep your mouth shut.”

o While God is desperately saying—“Just keep you mouth open and I will give you what you need.”

o When Moses was before the burning bush—even after he had seen the miracles of the staff and the snake, his own hand turning leprous and healing—he said this to the call of God—“ "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."

EX 4:11 The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

o In the midst of a generation screaming for answers, Christians are stuttering. Howard Hendricks

o Why do you have the Holy Spirit in your life? 2 Reasons—

o First—personal confirmation and sealing—assurance of salvation, conviction of sin—the Holy Spirit is there for your personal faith and growth.

o Second—so you may be an empowered and emboldened witness for Jesus Christ

o Acts 1:8—“ you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

o If God did not intend for you to be His witness, He would not send the Holy Spirit—which also means—if you have the Holy Spirit then you have all the power you need to be His witness. If you don’t want to be a witness—then you’re effectively saying you don’t want the Holy Spirit or His work in your life.

o The Holy Spirit is present in this world and in our hearts to Empower and Embolden us to be His witnesses—the Holy Spirit is not meant for the few elite—He is meant for all—but He will work through you—and witness through you in a way that is different from me.

o That boldness did not come naturally—the early church, the apostles—they prayed for it.

o Acts 4:29-- enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.

o Ephesians 6:19-- Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

o Are you actively praying for Boldness from God that you might be given the opportunity to witness for Him?

3. A Vision for an Opportunistic Heart for Evangelism
o Too Often Unaware & Unwilling
o Along with praying for boldness—are you praying for the opportunity.

o I’ve been the kid playing baseball in the outfield praying—“please don’t hit the ball this way, please don’t hit the ball this way.” Is that how you feel about sharing your faith?

o Colossians 4:2-6—“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

o Evangelism happens wherever you are—you must be opportunistic and deliberate—you must look for those doors of opportunity that God opens for you and have the courage of faith to step through them.

o “Make the most of every opportunity”… every conversation, every question needs some grace and some salt.

4. A Vision for an Expanded Idea of Evangelism
o Part of our problem is that we don’t really know what evangelism is any more. Too many of us think that if we’re not presenting the 4 Spiritual Laws or some kind of outline, then we’re not witnessing.

o Getting to know someone is a form of evangelism—being kind, being generous is a form of evangelism—so long as you are aware that at any moment a door of opportunity might open for you to ask, to share, to testify.

o Praying is a form of evangelism. So many people believe in it—so many need it—ask them if you can pray for them.

o Will your house be a house of prayer? If you are willing, commit to 5 or more of your neighbors—that you will visit or speak with them at least twice a month for nothing more than asking if there’s anything they would like you to pray for. If another opportunity opens, then fine—follow the Holy Spirit’s leading—but get out of your house go to a neighbor, go to a friend and ask to pray for them.

o You can do the same thing at work—you can do the same thing at school—you can do the same thing wherever we go.

o Christ met unbelievers where they were. He realized what many Christians today still don't seem to understand. Cultivators have to get out in the field. According to one count, the gospels record 132 contacts that Jesus had with people. Six were in the Temple, four in the synagogues and 122 were out with the people in the mainstream of life. J.K. Johnston, Why Christians Sin, Discovery House, 1992, p. 142.

o Be deliberate, be bold, be creative in how you evangelize and share the Good News

5. A Vision to Go On Mission
o College going to Beach Reach
o South Korea—August 4-18 – churches to Wisconsin, another Des Moines
o The Times-Reporter of New Philadelphia, Ohio, reported in September, 1985 a celebration of a New Orleans municipal pool. The party around the pool was held to celebrate the first summer in memory without a drowning at the New Orleans city pool. In honor of the occasion, 200 people gathered, including 100 certified lifeguards. As the party was breaking up and the four lifeguards on duty began to clear the pool, they found a fully dressed body in the deep end. They tried to revive Jerome Moody, 31, but it was too late. He had drowned surrounded by lifeguards celebrating their successful season. Times-Reporter, September 1985.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sermon--A Vision of and for Worship- 2/10/08

Here is the audio for this message.

A Vision of Worship

The men are going through the book “Wild at Heart” on Tuesday nights, and so far, it’s been a good discussion. One of the points that is made by the author is that because we are made in the image of God, our hearts are a reflection of God’s heart—more particularly—what we see in Jesus, God in human flesh, should be something that we should seek in us. One of those things we men need to get a handle on is that there are things in this world worth fighting for—because Jesus fought for them—even instigating the fight on several occasions by deliberately healing on the Sabbath. Jesus fought on behalf of people, the book argues, people who are trapped in bondage to the kingdom of darkness, bondage to legalism, bondage to hypocrisy—the people need rescuing and Jesus is willing to pick the occasional fight to see that it is done.

As I was chewing on this concept a bit more, I realized that those were not the only moments that Jesus picked a fight. There was something else that so consumed His heart, so aroused His passion, that to see it violated caused Him to react with a show of force. That was the desecration of His Father’s House and the flippancy expressed in coming into the presence of the Holy God.

Read John 2:13-17

Worship for Jesus was more than just a concept, more than just an idea or something He did once a week—it was something that was and is a part of His life.

In Experience God in Worship George Barna observes the contemporary Christian's view of worship: "Most adults will contend that a Christian has a responsibility to worship God. However, when asked to define what worship means, two out of three are unable to offer an appropriate definition or description of worship.

"Even among the people who consistently attend Christian worship services, apparently for the purpose of worshiping God, the majority does not consider worship to be a 'top priority' in their lives."

He goes on to reveal the true motivation behind many American Christian's attendance at worship services. He says it's to "satisfy or please them[selves], not to honor or please God" (p. 15). We must be cautious of turning our worship and religion into a man-centered selfish pursuit. Worship has always been and will always be about God - whether we recognize it or not.

All of our worship needs to be about God—and there are several things that need to be evident in our worship as a congregation. We need a Vision from God for our Worship.

Let’s look again at a vision that can help us with gain a vision of Worship.

A Vision that Our Worship Would Be Empowered
More important than style, sound or selection of music—we need the Holy Spirit to Empower us. My vision for us at UBC is that the Holy Spirit will empower our worship to bring a greater glory to His Name. The Role of the Holy Spirit is to Empower—He is the Spirit of Truth who points all of us to Jesus—He Reminds and Teaches—and testifies about Him.

Acts 1:8—You Will receive Power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”

All through Acts, when worship is Empowered by the Holy Spirit, several things happen—Jesus is exalted, the Word is spoken with boldness, people are convicted of sin, their hearts are softened to the Good News of the Love of God and Salvation that has been purchased in Christ.

When the Holy Spirit Empowers our worship, our spirits will be awakened to an even greater desire to worship our God & Savior in Spirit and in Truth—a greater desire to glorify His name a greater understanding of His Love that is at work among us—it is when we come together to worship that we have the greatest sense of His Love..

Ephesians 3:17-- And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

EPH 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Without our worship empowered by the Holy Spirit—it doesn’t matter how good of musicians we have, it doesn’t matter which songs we sing—lives will not be changed—God will not receive the greatest amount of Glory.

More than the quality of the singers, more than the professionalism of the musicians, more than the songs chosen—the Empowering of the Holy Spirit is critical for our worship to be powerful, to be effective, to be pleasing to God—critical for us to understand His love that is at work

From the moment we wake up on Sunday morning, it is my heart, desire and vision that the Holy Spirit will begin His work in us to empower us to Exalt and Glorify the Name of Jesus—to testify to His Greatness and Wonder in Our lives.

Isaiah in ch. 6 was given a vision of God in all His Glory—and the foundation of the Temple shook. In Acts 4:31—even a prayer meeting, empowered by the Holy Spirit can shake the foundation.

Holy Spirit Empowered Worship is not easy to quantify, it’s not one that can be manufactured. What it does require are men and women called to the role. One of the arrangements King David made in preparing for the temple is finding those who could serve and minister in as singers and musicians

1CH 25:1 David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals.
25:6-- All these men were under the supervision of their fathers for the music of the temple of the LORD, with cymbals, lyres and harps, for the ministry at the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman were under the supervision of the king. 7 Along with their relatives--all of them trained and skilled in music for the LORD--they numbered 288.

EZR 3:10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel. 11 With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: "He is good; his love to Israel endures forever."

Parallel passage--1 Chron 25:13--Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud, 14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God.

In order for our worship to be truly empowered, we need you to examine your calling. Are you called, do you feel the leading of God to take part in leading this congregation in worship, with your voice, with your talents, with even your leadership?.

You need to know that I am not called to lead worship—I’m doing it until someone is raised up to do it. But be warned—over the last year, I’ve learned that the Worship Team can be a dangerous place

A Vision that Our Worship Would Be Passionate
Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength—it is my desire and vision that you and I hold nothing back from our worship of God.

God deserves our best—He deserves it all—and for us to hold anything back of our heart, soul, mind and strength is dishonoring to the Savior who passionately wept over our stubbornness, who sweat great drops as blood when approaching His sacrifice. I’m not saying that if you’re not weeping with hands in the air, you’re not passionate in worship—but your joy can be seen and felt—your enthusiasm about—where you are, who you are with and the Mighty God you Serve and praise should be evident, not only to God but to those whom you are worshipping with.

Even in the midst of turmoil and struggle, even in the midst of learning a new song—your passion for God can come through—it can be as simple as keeping your eyes on Jesus—not turning to the right or the left when it’s so easy to be concerned about what someone else is doing or what someone else is thinking—it’s not about where they are or what they are doing—it’s about where you are and what you are doing—are you allowing your heart to be distracted—to take your eyes off of Jesus—

When Peter was walking on the water—what was it that caused him to start sinking?

When your worship is Passionate—it’s because your heart is open to His leadership.
2 Samuel 6--David Danced before the Lord and it was acceptable—he laid it all out—held nothing back—taking off his royal robes for the basics—practically his pajamas. When David was criticized by his wife, he said, “I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

Sometimes I wonder standing up here if Smiling is considered disrobing. If a light in your eyes for the Savior of the Universe is undignified. If joy in the heart, that can be heard in the voice during song or during prayer is humiliating. May it never be.

God should not be approached as we are Vulcans—all of our heart, soul, mind and strength I pray we will give in passionate worship.

That We Would Be Responsive in Our Worship
The old line of, “when EF Hutton speaks, People listen”—needs to be said of God. When He speaks, we need to listen, when He moves, we need to be obedient. When He lays something on our heart—we must not ignore it.

When something is said or sung or whatever that you are in agreement with—let it out—don’t be afraid or embarrassed to say Amen. It actually helps me preach better to have evidence that someone is listening.

When moments of prayer are called for, when invitations are given—when burdens need to be lifted—when testimony can be shared, when God lays something on your heart—Respond to Him!

One of the worst things we can do in our walk with God is to ignore Him. To act like nothing has happened—to refuse to respond to His Leadership, His Prompting, His Guidance and Direction.

Response in Worship—in singing, in hearing—is not only for salvation—is not only for some grievous sin—responding in worship has dramatic effects. There is healing, there is forgiveness, there is reconciliation, there is repentance, there is boldness.

Isaiah responded to the glory of God in repentance. His response garnered the atonement of God. Later he responded to the Call of God.
But what also reveals the heart of God is the pain with which God discusses the success of Isaiah’s mission

Isaiah 6:9-10
How many of you, when you pray do so with the hope and expectation that God will not only hear but respond to what you are doing and saying? We worship and expect God to respond, expect God to be pleased, expect God to hear and take notice. We expect Him to respond to us, but there is little demand or expectation for response on our part to Him. I trust that when you and I pray, when we sing, when the Word is read and heard—that God responds—He hears—He is moved. He doesn’t ignore our worship.

If you want God to respond to you then you must be willing to respond to Him. If you want God to take notice of you and your prayers, your songs, then when God asks the questions—whom shall I send, whom shall go for us”, then we must be ready to respond, on the spot with “Here am I—send me.”

A Vision That We Would Be Invitational in Our Worship
It is my desire that our worship is something that is so powerful, so meaningful, so moving that it becomes something that we cannot keep to ourselves. It is something that we would want to share with those who do not know Christ—who do not have a church home—who are struggling and hurting and lonely. Our worship needs to be invitational and intentional—we are not here for ourselves, we are here for God—we are hear that others may be brought into His presence.

That is the goal of God’s Empowering work—the work of the Spirit that is the battle we are to fight. To Be His Witnesses—and when we are faithful in our worship—when it is empowered, when we are passionate—when we are responsive—then our worship will be Invitational—God is a sending God—He is a God who came to seek and to save that which was lost—you and I are essential to that mission.

Zechariah 8:23 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, `Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.' "

If God is with us—it will be attractive and invitational

A Vision That We Would Accept the Call to Worship
Remember that God is seeking worshippers who will worship Him in spirit and in truth—He is calling us to worship Him. You can see evidence of it all the way back in Exodus. “Let my people go, so that they may worship Me”—is a command made not just to Pharaoh, but to the Prince of Darkness as well—Our Savior has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and given us the opportunity to worship Him and even provided access.

In the Past most worshippers were kept at a distance--- EX 24:1 Then he said to Moses, "Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship at a distance, 2 but Moses alone is to approach the LORD; the others must not come near. And the people may not come up with him."

But you and I are invited near—approach the throne of grace with confidence—those who were far away have been brought near—let the little children be brought to me. We need to accept His Invitation and Call

We are called together to worship.

But above being called to worship in the congregation, you may be called to participation

Every Sunday We Need Participation & Leadership
How is God Calling You to Worship? Do you have a vision of Worshipping God in Eternity—Do you have a vision of accepting His call to worship Him this morning, in song, in giving, in the Word? Do you have a call to worship and be a participating or leading? Then Accept the Call
Respond to Him today—right now.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Sermon--Made to Worship w/ Baptism

I'm afraid the follow up to the Antogonizing post is going to have to wait a little longer. Here is the message from this past week.

Also, the picture is a man named Mark who was baptized as an infant but felt God's leadership to follow in believer's Baptism--this followed the message.

Here is the audio of this message:

Made to Worship

A few years ago the Chicago Tribune reported the story of a New Mexico woman who was frying tortillas when she noticed that the skillet burns on one of her tortillas resembled the face of Jesus. Excited, she showed it to her husband and neighbors, and they all agreed that there was a face etched on the tortilla and that it truly bore a resemblance to Jesus.

So the woman went to her priest to have the tortilla blessed. She testified that the tortilla had changed her life, and her husband agreed that she had been a more peaceful, happy, submissive wife since the tortilla had arrived. The priest, not accustomed to blessing tortillas, was somewhat reluctant but agreed to do it.

The woman took the tortilla home, put it in a glass case with piles of cotton to make it look like it was floating on clouds, built a special altar for it, and opened the little shrine to visitors. Within a few months, more than eight thousand people came to the shrine of the Jesus of The Tortilla, and all of them agreed that the face in the burn marks on the tortilla was the face of Jesus

Did the experience and actions of the woman in New Mexico and her tortilla qualify as worship? What makes for real worship? How do you know when it’s happened? How do you know when it hasn’t? How do you know when God is pleased with our worship? When can we say that God is not pleased with the way someone is worshiping? These are good questions.

Worship is something you and I are made for.

UBC’s Vision Statement-- To be a worshiping fellowship, experiencing an awareness of God, recognizing His person, and responding in obedience to His leadership

True Worship is Vital
• Cain’s Worship was Rejected because his heart was false before God
• Thousands died as the result of false worship of the Golden Calf
• The city of Jerusalem was defeated as a direct result of idolatry according to Jeremiah 1:16
• Paul says that the “wrath of God” is revealed and justified because of humanity’s tendency to neither “glorify him as God nor give thanks to Him [and because they] exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.”
• Worship is something given to us—something that must be freely given for it to be meaningful and accepted. God will receive the glory no matter what—for not only the angels proclaim God’s greatness, but if we do not, the very stones will cry out.

You and I were made to worship—to freely recognize and proclaim the glory of God—to be so aware of Him, to recognize His person and presence in our lives, and Responding to Him.

Something about us should create a yearning to come to the house of the Lord. Our worship should be meaningful, empowered, passionate

a recent song captures the heart of our situation.

Song--You and I were Made to Worship—You and I

Verse 1
Before the day before the light
Before the world revolved around the sun
God on high stepped down into time
And wrote the story
Of His love for everyone

You and I are made to worship
You and I are called to love
You and I are forgiven and free
When you and I embrace surrender
When you and I choose to believe
Then you and I will see
(You and I will see)
Who we were meant to be

An older song does pretty well too.

The Reason I Live
Verse 1
When I look into Your holiness
When I gaze into Your loveliness
When all things that surround
Become shadows in the light of You

I worship You I worship You
The reason I live is to worship You
I worship You I worship You
The reason I live is to worship You

According to John 4:23—God is searching, He desires and wants above all else those people who will worship Him—who will worship Him in Spirit—with their whole being—and in Truth—in a way that recognizes who He really is, and who we really are in light of Him.
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

God seeking worshippers is a powerful concept. His Favorite Song of All—

He loves to hear the angels as they sing
"Holy, holy is the Lamb"
(Holy, holy, holy is the Lamb)
Heaven's choirs sing in harmony
Lift up praises to the great "I Am"
(Hallelujah, Hallelujah)
But He lifts His hands for silence
When the wicked, saved by grace, begins to sing
And a million angels listen as a newborn soul sings
"I have been redeemed"

But His favorite song of all
Is the song of the redeemed
When lost sinners now made clean
Lift their voices loud and strong
When those purchased by His blood
Lift to Him a song of love
Nothing more He'd rather hear
Nor so pleasing to His ear
As His favorite song of all

The Bible uses several different words and concepts that are appropriate in terms of Worship.

Humility. The most frequent word in both the Old and New Testaments is one which means to bow down, to prostrate. As the word relates to worship, it denotes a high view of God and a condescending opinion of self. Thus, true worship views God in His perfection and man in his imperfection.

Isaiah 6 is such a picture—Isaiah sees the LORD High and exalted, the train of His robe filling the Temple—and Isaiah is immediately reminded of his sinfulness—he is, I believe, knocked to the ground—

Reverence. Another pair of terms underscores the attitude of reverence. The idea is that of fearing God--the fear of wonder and awe at the majesty and greatness of the infinite, holy God—but don’t sugar coat it and remove all the implications of that word “fear”—I have a healthy fear—awe and respect for a lion from the safe confines of a viewing area at the zoo—but I have a totally different fear—which still includes awe and respect—when I am placed inside the cage with the lion.

Think about it like this--A true story - a woman entered a Haagen-Dazs store on the Kansas City Plaza for an ice-cream cone. After making her selection, she turned and found herself face to face with Paul Newman. He was in town filming a movie. Newman’s blue eyes caused her knees to buckle. She managed to pay for her cone, then left the shop, heart pounding. When she gained her composure, she realized she didn’t have her cone. She started back to the store to get it and met Newman at the door. "Are you looking for your ice-cream cone?" he asked. She nodded, unable to speak. "You put it in your purse with your change."

That would qualify as Misplaced Reverence. When was the last time the presence of God made you weak in the knees? So overwhelmed you that you were unable to speak? Made your heart miss a beat? Made tears stream down your face?

Service. the idea of ‘working, laboring, or serving as worship. In the Old Testament this service was most often priestly service. In the New Testament we are told that we are all priests of God (1 Peter 2:5,9), so that this term does not apply only to the service of the few, but of the entire congregation of believers in Christ.
Matt. 4:10—“Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only”-- Satan was not asking Jesus simply to fall to the ground before him. He was asking the Lord to acknowledge him as sovereign and to surrender to him in service so that everything Jesus would do in life would bring glory and honor to Satan, not the Creator of the Universe.

But don’t make the mistake that is so easily made that anything you do at or for the church qualifies as worship. There are a great many of us that work hard for the Lord, but do not worship Him in their service. It is possible to get so wrapped up in doing that you lose sight of Who you’re doing it for.—Colossians 3:17—“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

In a time when we are encouraged to work for God, let us be reminded that our highest calling is to be worshipers of God and then to be workers. Never let your work for Him come before your worship of Him.
Response. Worship is also a Response . God created us and revealed Himself to us desires us to worship Him. And it is only meaningful when we respond in praise and adoration—when we respond to Who He Is and What He Has Revealed to Us.
If we are not moved by God, if we are unwilling to respond to Him, then we have to question whether we really are worshipping Him, whether we even have a heart of worship.
“We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Our love is only a response, only a reflection of God’s love toward us. And so it is with worship. We worship God because He has made Himself known to us and has instructed us to worship Him.
Sacrifice. Giving of yourself—giving of your first and best fruit. In the Old Testament, if you did not bring a sacrifice, an offering—you could not participate in true worship.
But that idea is not lost in the New Testament.
In the New Testament the idea of sacrifice is still prominent in worship, but rather than the sacrifice of offerings it is the sacrifice of self which is essential.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1).

HEB 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Doing good, sharing with others minus the sacrifice of praise is not truly good worship that is in spirit and in truth.

Proclamation. Who needs to hear the praises of God? God wants to hear us acknowledge Him, desires to hear us worship—but He doesn’t need it—he is no less Holy, no less glorious if we do not worship.
It’s not as if the angels are confused—they know the glory of God—they know He is Worthy

You and I worship—not just to state the obvious but to proclaim it to the uncertain. We come together with a Testimony--Worship is not something that is meant to keep to yourself or even for your benefit—worship is enabled and empowered by God and it is supposed to Attract.

Whenever the people of God celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we do what until He comes? ‘proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes’ (1 Corinthians 11:26).

Our Worship is supposed to Proclaim to those who do not yet know. Our Worship is to be Compelling and Passionate and Invitational--

Psalm 34:3—O Magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together

ZEC 8:20 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, 21 and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, `Let us go at once to entreat the LORD and seek the LORD Almighty. I myself am going.' 22 And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the LORD Almighty and to entreat him."

ZEC 8:23 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, `Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.' "
Worship is the humble response of regenerate men to the self-disclosure of the Most High God. It is based upon the work of God. It is achieved through the activity of God. It is directed to God. It is expressed by the lips in praise and by the life in service.
That’s why Baptism is also an Act of Worship—your baptism is a Proclamation and a Pledge—by being baptized you have Recognized God revealing Himself and your sin, by being baptized you have Responded to Him and Accepted His Gift of Forgiveness and Eternal Life—by being baptized you have Pledged your life to be a disciple and devote yourself to pleasing Him in all you say and do. Baptism is a proclamation and pledge—first to God, to the body of Christ, and even to those who have never received Christ—that you have been bought with a price, that you have turned away from your old life and are living as a new creation—

That’s why being baptized as a believer is so important—baptized with full knowledge and consent—someone else cannot speak for you—someone else cannot worship in your place—someone else cannot make the decision for you—
Baptism is a symbol of a decision—a decision to follow Christ and to trust in His salvation.
Worship is our highest calling. “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully enjoy Him forever.” Worship is the occupation of eternity.

1. Exalting - God is glorified, adored.
2. Exemplifying - we as believers, are purified (Ps. 24:4,5)
3. Edifying - The church body is built up- only makes sense, that as individuals are drawing near to God, we are drawing near to each other and becoming a stronger church.
4. Evangelizing - When people see our genuine worship of God, in our daily lives as well as corporately, they will want to know the God and the Savior we so affectionately and carefully follow and has changed our lives.

Do you believe that Jesus died on the Cross to purchase your freedom, that He was buried and yet risen from the dead in Victory and Glory?

Have you received the gift of forgiveness through the blood of Jesus which covers over your sin?

Do you pledge to live the remainder of your life as a growing disciple of Jesus Christ who seeks to please, honor and glorify Him all you say and do?