MANUSCRIPTS

Sermon

December 28, 2014

Hebrews 13:15-16

UNBROKEN WORSHIP

  1. Connection with God
  2. Honoring him in everything we do
  3. Realizing that all of life is worship

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9hRH5MA8eQ

GOOD MORNING AND WELCOME. It is a good day to be together – To learn more about God and to worship him together. I believe that there is something special that happens when the people of God come together to worship and learn more about him. This morning we are going to talk about living in connection with God, honoring him in everything that we do, and realizing that all of life is worship. A. W. Tozer, suggested that “Our Goal as Christians is to live in a state of “UNBROKEN WORSHIP”  – the idea that worship never ceases and that it should encompass everything we do.

  • In the video that we watched a moment ago it said “Jesus died to give us life. So that, we could live the life that each and everyone of us was created to live. And that is a life in connection with God. We were made to live in connection with God, but our sin severed that connection. So, God stepped in. He drew near to us and He did what only he could do. He sent his Son to die on a cross for our sins. So that through the death of Jesus we would be reconciled to God and we would once again be able to have a relationship with God and be able to experience the abundance of his love and his grace only through Christ’s sacrifice. We are a made to be in relationship with God and through Jesus that has been made possible. That is where our text begins. Hebrews chapter 13:15-16 says

15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Now what I want to do is unpack what these verses mean but before we do that, let us PRAY.

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for this place where we can come and be united together under your truth, where we can lift our voices in songs of praise to you, and where we can freely learn about what your Holy Word says to us. So, I pray that you would use me in this time to faithfully teach your Word and that you would open the eyes and hearts of everyone here to receive a message from you. God, let your Spirit fall on each person in this room and let them hear a message from you this morning. Amen.

Our text this morning begins with the phrase “through Jesus.” So, first let’s look at that. Now, the book of Hebrews proves the supremacy and superiority of Christ himself and his sacrifice on the cross for our sins. The reason that this concept of Christ being a superior sacrifice for our sins is such a big deal is because that before Jesus died on the cross, the high priests of the day would sacrifice animals on behalf of the people as a sin offering. But because of Christ’s death on the cross we no longer have to sacrifice animals, for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is far superior and better.

Hebrews 9:12-14 explains this further, it says,

12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining[a] eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,[b] so that we may serve the living God!

So, if the blood of animals could cleanse the people, then how much more will the blood of Christ cleanse. Through Jesus our relationship with the Father has been restored. And it is through Jesus that we are to continually offer to God a sacrifice of Praise.

15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise.

If You are like me you might be asking yourself “What exactly is a sacrifice of praise?” Well, the writer of Hebrews goes on to explain that a sacrifice of praise includes the fruit of lips that openly profess his name – the name of Jesus Christ – and doing good and sharing with others.

Often times, biblical writers would use metaphors that have the purpose of helping us to understand a deeper meaning. Because the verse could have just said something like “the words we speak and openly professing his name.” However, the writer chose to say it this way “the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Obviously, the phrase, “fruit of lips,” is not meant to be taken literally but it is a metaphor that is meant to help us understand a deeper meaning. Fruit doesn’t just happen. It doesn’t just pop up. First, there must be seeds. Second, those seeds have to be planted. Third, the planted seeds must be nurtured, cared for, and looked after. Then, over time, those seeds will produce fruit. Consider, for a moment, grapes. In order to grow grapes you need to know a few things about them. Before you even plant them you would need to prepare the soil making sure that it is slightly rocky or sandy and if necessary, amending the soil so as to promote good drainage for water. You would need to know that they grow upwards on a vine, and, therefore, need some kind of structure that would be able to support the grapevine as it grows. You would need to know that they are considered long term plants with a life span of 50-100 years, and so it is important to plant them in an area that would be able to facilitate a lot of growth. Once you have planted it is important that they get water on a regular basis. During the early stages of a grapevine it is important to prune often because lots of fully matured grapes can just weigh the grapevine down and damage it. And lastly, you would to know when and what kind of pest control to apply. At this point, I’m sure there are some of you that may or may not be on the verge of falling asleep because botany just isn’t your passion, but that’s okay. The point I am trying to make is that fruit takes work. We can’t just say I want an apple and “BAM” there’s an apple; however, Luckily enough for us there are people that do all that work for us and all we have to do is go to the store and buy a bag of grapes, or apples, or whatever fruit we want.

I would suggest that the “fruit of our lips” is much the same way – it takes work. The only difference is that there is no one who can or will do the work for us. We have to do the work ourselves. In Matthew 15:18 Jesus says 18But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart.” The things that fill our hearts affect our thoughts and the subjects that fill our thoughts will eventually find their way out in our conversations with others. This is a rhetorical question, but I would challenge each of us to ask ourselves “What fills my heart?” I’m sure most of us would answer that question by saying something along the lines of “well, Jesus fills my heart.” But does he really? Do the words that you and I speak reflect Jesus in our hearts, or something, or someone else. The book of Luke tells us that God knows our hearts and multiple times throughout scripture it is made clear that God cares more about why we do what we do. We don’t have to know the most information or be the best, but God shows favor to the humble and the pure of heart. So, one way we can offer God a continual sacrifice of praise is by the fruit of our lips – the words that we speak on a daily basis should be honoring to God. Another way for us to offer to God a sacrifice of praise is by doing good and sharing with others. Starting in verse 16, in our main text for today it says,

16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

The phrase “share with others” comes from the Greek word koinonia. In other parts of the bible, this same word is translated as “Fellowship.” One commentator said that this word “emphasizes a life in the covenant community, in which members meet the practical needs of one another.” Thus, the meaning of this word goes much deeper than shallow words of greeting to a stranger. When true “fellowship” – true “koinonia” – is at work the people of God are working together to do good in the community for others and for God’s glory and with such sacrifices God is pleased. One of the ways that we, The Bridge, have been demonstrating this idea of true fellowship – doing good in the community – is by doing things like Food2Kids where we help meet the need of hunger by packing up food to be sent out to kids in need.  Another basic need that we all have is to be in relationship and friendships with others. So, doing things like volleyball, caroling and hayrides, tables of 8, and the senior prom are ways that we, The Bridge, continue to make an effort to meet the need we all have to be in connection with others. In all of these examples, God is worshiped.

I think something that we have all experienced is the tension between connecting our church life with everyday life. Often times, for many, we create a dichotomy, labeling the two as entirely different; however, church life and everyday life are uniquely inseparable. Jesus demonstrates this for us in that he didn’t just preach the gospel in the temples, but he went out to the people. The activities that I mentioned before are ways that we try to help us bridge the gap between our church life and our everyday life.

When we make efforts to honor God with our language and by doing good and sharing with others, it is important to remember that the motivations out of which we speak and act are paramount – more important than anything else. In Jeremiah 17 it says “I the Lord, search the heart and examine the mind.” God knows if we acting out of a pure heart or not.

ENDING 

A.W. Tozer said this, “If God knows that your intention is to worship him with every part of your being, he has promised to cooperate with you. On his side is the love and grace, the promises and the atonement, the constant help, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. On your side there is determination, seeking, yielding, and believing. Your heart becomes a sanctuary, a chamber, a shrine in which there may be continuous unbroken fellowship and communion with God. Your worship rises to God moment by moment.” Every moment of everyday is another opportunity for us to worship God. But it is so easy to let things get in the way. Here is a short video about some frustrating situations that I think most of us can relate to….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-u2ybemYN4

So often we let things distract us from reflecting who God is to those around us – an argument with our spouse, unfortunate circumstances, a rude driver, or an unexpected sickness. But we mustn’t let our anger and our frustrations dampen the light of Christ in us. Thus, breaking our state of worship. It is in those moments of experiencing hardship, anger, and frustrations that we have an even greater opportunity to let the light of Christ shine through us. 2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us that we are Ambassadors for Christ here on this earth. Matthew 5 tells us that we are the light of the world purposed with shining that light before all people so that people would see Christ shining through us and glorify God in heaven. The only way that we can shine the light of Christ is by walking closely with God. I would like to end with an analogy that involves the sun, the moon, and the earth. The gravitational pull of the sun and the moon pulls at the oceans and the seas and causes them to rise and fall. When the sun and the moon are closer together the moon is full and reflects the most light that it can. Not only that but their gravitational pulls work in unison causing the ocean tides to be more extreme. In the same way, when we walk closely with God, we reflect his light more vibrantly and more fully. Not only that but the difference and impact that we can make in this world is more extreme because we are working in harmony with God’s plan and purpose. My challenge for all of us, as we enter this new year, is to walk closely with God and to live in a state of Unbroken Worship in word and deed. 

LET’S PRAY. Gracious God, We are so thankful that you are a God of love and grace and that with each rising sun your mercies for us are new. You have called us to honor you not only with our words but with our actions. So, in our efforts to do so, our prayer is that you would help us to remain humble and pure in heart. Not seeking self-glorification but desiring that you would be glorified. And God we pray that in your glory we would find abundant joy. It is through the powerful name of Jesus that we pray, Amen.

At this time I would like to invite the ushers to come forward to receive our offering this morning. If you are a guest with us, this is not a time for you, but if you consider The Bridge to be your church home then I would encourage you in this time to give with a cheerful heart remembering how much has been given to us in Christ Jesus.

LET US PRAY. Dear Heavenly Father, as we receive these offerings we pray that you would bless everything that is given and that it would be used for the glory of your name, and that as a church we would continue to be good stewards of the gifts that you bless us with. Help us to remember that it is not about how much we give but more about the heart from which we give. Amen.

BENEDICTION. Gracious God, as we go from this place help us each day to walk closely with you remembering that each moment is another opportunity to honor you. Amen. I hope each one of you have a blessed new year!


The Bridge

Matthew Willis

Sermon

July 5th, 2015

SPIRITUAL HABITS

WORSHIP

There is not really a whole lot of tie in with the video and the sermon. I just thought it was funny. So, anyways, moving on. If you have your bibles go ahead and grab them. We will be in Romans 12 this morning. We are in a series that we are calling spiritual habits. Today we will be talking about the spiritual habit: Worship. Before we dive into Romans 12:1 I would like to set the goal for today. I’m sure most of you watch the news, or read the newspaper, or have some sort of way of keeping up with what is going on in the world. As I am sure most you know. There has been a lot of controversy going on in the United States lately. My hope for us today is that we would be able to recenter our lives on Jesus and remind ourselves of God’s unchanging truth – that he loves us, he is for us, he pursues us, and that he is sovereign even in the midst of our greatest fears and in our deepest doubts. And God calls us all to do the same thing – no matter who we are, where we’re from, or what we have done. And that is to believe in the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus and to prove it by living out a faith that is characterized by doing good for the glory of God.

Again, our topic for today is the spiritual habit of Worship. Have any of you ever been confused about what worship is exactly? What it means? How we worship? Why we worship? This past week I was thinking about worship and what it means. And I asked myself “If I had to describe or explain what worship is in one sentence what would I say?” Before I tell you what I wrote I want to challenge you all with the same thing. Grab a bulletin and a pen nearby and in one sentence describe to the best of your ability what worship is…PAUSE.

Here is what I wrote…Worship is our natural response to something that we love. We love to praise what we love. Picture this. You go to Baskin Robbins. And lets be real here. Who doesn’t love Baskin Robbins? So, you walk in. You browse the menu and you find your absolute most favorite flavor Ice cream that has your favorite ingredients and you order it. Then you get it and you dig in. And it tastes even better than you knew would. And you say to yourself “Oh. my. goodness. This. Is. Amazing! It is soooo good. I love it. But saying it to yourself isn’t enough. You want to tell someone else about it. You turn to your friend and say, bro, this is bomb. you gotta try this. It will change your life.

God’s desire for you and for me is that we would treat him like the ice cream was treated in the illustration. That his goodness would be overwhelming and overflow in our lives. We all worship something. We are all captivated by something. It is just a matter of what captivates us. Bob Kauflin says this, “We worship whatever rules our time, energy, thoughts, longings, and choices.”

The main goal of everything that I say today is that Jesus would once again be the reigning center over every area of your life.

Let’s get into our verse for today. Romans 12:1 says this…

12 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.

There are a multitude of things that could be said about this verse and many different points that could be made, but today we will just focus on 2 main points. So, as we are going along don’t let yourself get caught up when you notice that I left something out. Today we are going to focus on 2 main points. The first point is…

1.) God’s mercy – Mercy is when someone decides to extend forgiveness, even though they have the power and the right to extend well-deserved punishment.

In order for us to understand God’s mercy

  • we need to understand our SIN

Sin is anything that directly or indirectly contradicts the character of God or a command from God. One characteristic of God is love.

1.) God is love. 1 John 4:8 says “whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.

So, anybody ever failed at loving someone? 

One of the commands that God gives us is

2.) You shall not covet.

Anybody every wanted something that did not belong to them?

So, we have all failed at loving people like we are supposed to and we have all wanted something that wasn’t ours.

Here are some verses that teach us about sin.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Isaiah 59:1-2 Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death”

So, there is your encouragement for the day. You’re a sinner. I’m a sinner. We’re all sinners. And because we are sinners we deserve death. Amen. See you next week. Ha. Jk. But seriously we have all fallen short of God’s glory, our sin has separated us from him, and our sin leads to death. There is good news, I promise, but we will get to the good news later.

we need to understand GOD’S JUSTNESS (not sure if that is a word, but I would like for it to be.) 

Here are some verses that teach us that God is a Just God. These are not all of the verses in the bible that talking about God being pro Justice they are just a few of the verses that I found.

Isaiah 30:18

Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.

Deuteronomy 32:4

“The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.

Isaiah 61:8

For I, the LORD, love justice, I hate robbery in the burnt offering; And I will faithfully give them their recompense And make an everlasting covenant with them.

God is a Just God. So, sin cannot go unpunished and the proper punishment for sin is death. Something has to die. We are sinners who have sinned against a just and holy God and the punishment for our sin is death. Look at what it says in Ephesians chapter 2

Ephesians 2

By Grace Through Faith

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b] But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

Mercy is when someone decides to extend forgiveness, even though they have the power and the right to extend well-deserved punishment.

And our God has been and continues to be rich in mercy towards us.

12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,

2.) What does it mean to be a living sacrifice?

First of all, part of the Old Testament covenant that God had with his people stated that there must be a goat, a bull, or a lamb offered up as a sin offering as a way of temporary atonement for the sins of the people. So, the people of God were all too familiar of what kinds of sacrifices were required of them. But this was a different kind of sacrifice — a living sacrifice. And it isn’t talking about sacrificing some animal, but it’s talking about sacrificing ourselves. But If Jesus truly was the final and perfect sacrifice like Hebrews 10:14 says, then “living sacrifice” can’t be referring to some type of sin offering because Jesus already took care of our sin problem on the cross.

So, what does it mean to be a living sacrifice? It means that we continually wholly offer ourselves to God. It means that each and every day we live our lives in a way that is holy, righteous, and pleasing to God for His glory.

If you only remember one thing that I say today then remember this. Please, DO NOT MISS THIS.

The pursuit of righteousness through good works will always leave us empty handed. Our focus should rather be on pursuing Christ — Believing and trusting in Him more fully and having a deeper faith in him. 

Romans 9:30-32 says this

Israel’s Unbelief

30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.

These verses are saying that when we try to achieve righteousness through our own good works that we will fail every time. We achieve righteousness not through our own works but through faith in the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, true righteousness can only be born out of a flourishing and developing faith in Christ. The foundation of a life lived for God’s glory is a flourishing and developing faith in Christ.

This is beautiful because it takes all of the pressure off of us and allows us to rest in the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Christ. We don’t have to meet a certain level of performance. We do not have to maintain a list of “Do’s and Don’ts.” And if you are in a season of life where you feel like you have nothing to give, you feel depleted, and empty. You can find assurance in knowing that it doesn’t matter what your background is, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done. God desires a relationship with each and everyone of us. As we seek to know him more, trust him more, grow in our faith, and worship him with our lives then it is from that posture that a holy and righteous life will flow.

I am a firm believer that true Christianity is so much more than a list of what to do and what not do; however, there are some patterns of behavior that should be found in the life of every Christian as a result of a worship-filled life. There is a book called “Worship Matters” by Bob Kauflin and in one of the chapters of that book he lists out some things that are present when we live our lives for God’s glory through faith based righteousness. So, this next section is labeled…

Evidences of a Worship-Filled Life. 

1.) Genuine Worship should produce humility

When we catch a glimpse of God’s holiness, it will produce genuine humility in our hearts. Picture this. When you go to the Grand Canyon, see the ocean, or even look up at the massive universe above do you feel greater than or less than? How much more humbling would it be if we even caught a glimpse of the creator of not just the Grand Canyon, not just the ocean, and not just the stars, but what if we caught a glimpse of the creator of everything that exists. That would surely produce genuine humility in us.

2.) Genuine Worship produces security

Bob Kauflin says this… “The foundation of our security in God is not our preparation and plans, nor what others can provide for our protection. Our security doesn’t ultimately rest in our alarm system, our military might, the police, or the stock market. Our security ultimately rests in the unchanging love of God, most gloriously displayed at Calvary.”

3.) Worshiping God should make us more holy

I believe that in genuine worship of God that God transforms our hearts and our minds in deep and unexplainable ways. It is in those moments of Genuine worship that our passions and affections for God burn brighter and we begin to love what he loves and hate what he hates. Worshiping God will make us more holy.

4.) Genuine worship produces gratitude.

We are all sinners, we have all fallen short of God’s glory, and we were by nature children who were deserving of God’s wrath. But God was merciful to us and while we were still sinners Christ died for us. What other response can we have but gratitude.

5.) Worshiping God should make us loving

1 John 4:20 says… 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen.

John 15:12

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

In true and genuine worship of God our hearts and minds our transformed by God to love what he loves and hate what he hates. The more we love to worship God the more we will love the people that he created.

Bob Kauflin says it this way…“But as we gaze upon his glory, our affection for those he created will deepen as well.

6.) Worshiping should make us mission minded

1 Timothy 2:4 says that God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

2 Peter 3:9 says… The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

In true and genuine worship of God our hearts and minds our transformed by God to love what he loves and hate what he hates. The more we love to worship God the more we too will want to see all people be saved. The more we love to worship God the more we will be willing to have those hard conversations with our friends or our co-workers and different people that we encounter each day because we too will want to see all people be saved. Genuine worship will make us mission minded because God is mission-minded.

I don’t know where you are this morning, but if you find yourself in a place struggling to genuinely worship God with your life, for whatever reason, then please be encouraged by this — God loves you, he is for you, he pursues you, and he is sovereign even in the midst of your greatest fears and in your deepest doubts. He does not desire for you to keep a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” in order to be a faithful Christian. He desires for you to passionately pursue Christ. If you find yourself struggling to genuinely worship God with your life then let the abundance of God’s mercy move you to worship.

12 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.

Let’s pray.

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