Wired for Worship

Read Psalm 19.1-6

It’s great to worship God outdoors today here at Detwiler Field.

"Let everything that lives sing praises to the LORD! Praise the LORD!" (Psalm 150.6)

Wired for Worship
God, who created us, has wired us for worship.

Last week, we talked about the reality that having CWG leads people to do crazy things for God. We talked about several people, and the crazy things they did for God, including Jesus. One of the crazy things Jesus did was have a conversation with a woman at a well in Samaria.

Jesus & the Samaritan Woman
"Please give me a drink."

"You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?"

"If you only knew the gift God has for you and who I am, you would ask me, and I would give you living water."

“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket, and this is a very deep well. Where would you get this living water? And besides, are you greater than our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his cattle enjoyed?"

"People soon become thirsty again after drinking this water. But the water I give them takes away thirst altogether. It becomes a perpetual spring within them, giving them eternal life."

"Please, sir, give me some of that water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to haul water."

"Go and get your husband.”

"I don’t have a husband.”

"You’re right! You don’t have a husband–for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now."

"Sir, you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?"

"Believe me, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father here or in Jerusalem. […] But the time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth."

Questions (for discussion)

  • What are some ways that we worship God?
  • What are some reasons to worship God?

Read Luke 17.11-19 and Luke 7.36-38.

Worship helps keep everything in proper perspective!

“It may help to remember that you are a human being. And as uniquely gifted as you are, there are over six billion other uniquely gifted humans on earth. Add to this the fact that earth is only one of nine planets orbiting the sun, and the sun is only one of several billion stars in the Milky Way, and remember that the Milky Way is only one of thirty galaxies in its local galaxy cluster, and this cluster is only one of the many inconceivably vast vergo super clusters, and that the inconceivably vast vergo super cluster is scarcely anything at all, just an infinitesimal dust mite in an ever expanding universe.” (Steve Rushing, Sports Illustrated)

And yet, God “know(s) everything about me” (Psalm 139.1). David was blown away by the fact that God was so acquainted with him! Read Psalm 8.

You and I are specks on the earth, which is a speck in the midst of all of God’s creation, and yet, God knows us, loves us, and cares for us. He knows what we go through. I love the song by Casting Crowns called, “Praise You in This Storm.” Some of the words include …

I was sure by now, God, You would have reached down and wiped our tears away, stepped in and saved the day. But once again, I say amen, and it’s still raining. As the thunder rolls I barely hear You whisper through the rain, "I’m with you." And as Your mercy falls I raise my hands and praise the God who gives and takes away.

I remember when I stumbled in the wind You heard my cry to You and raised me up again. My strength is almost gone, how can I carry on if I can’t find You. And as the thunder rolls I barely hear You whisper through the rain "I’m with you" and as Your mercy falls I raise my hands and praise the God who gives and takes away.

And I’ll praise you in this storm and I will lift my hands, for You are who You are no matter where I am. And every tear I’ve cried You hold in your hand. You never left my side, and though my heart is torn, I will praise You in this storm.

God’s Promise!
Even when (you) walk through the dark valley of death, don’t be afraid, for God is close beside you! (Psalm 23.4a)

Do not be afraid, for God has ransomed you. God has called you by name; you are God’s. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, God will be with you! (Isaiah 43.1-2a)

Great Adventure 4: Conversations with God

About 13 months ago, I was reading J. Oswald Sanders’ book Spiritual Leadership. And as I read the chapter on prayer, I had this intense, intimate moment with God, and out of that experience, I decided that if there was only one thing I could master I in my life, it would be prayer.

Yes, I’d love to mater leadership and preaching/communicating (those are the spiritual gifts with which I have to work), but I realize that without prayer, it really doesn’t matter how good of a leader or communicator I am!

Now I don’t know that I’ll ever really "master" prayer, but it’s something I want to work on my whole life!

Prayer is simply having a conversation with God. Conversations involve both talking and listening. Communication is two-way, it goes both ways! Today, I’m going to talk about some people in the Scriptures who had conversations with God, and hopefully, draw some lessons for our own lives.

My motivation in this message (in ministry, really) is that there are basically two groups in the world:
One wants to blend in and be normal (most people are in this group). Jesus talked about this group and sai they were headed toward the “wide gate.” The other group is radically different. They talk and listen to God and God leads them to do crazy things!

There seems to be a danger of becoming normal / civilized / conformed! As human beings, we want to blend in, be like everyone else; be normal! But, it seems to me, that it’s impossible to blend-in and be normal AND please God!

"You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can’t be a friend of God." (James 4.4)

This message is a call for us to be on the journey toward the narrow gate, to not try to be normal, not just to blend in and copy the behavior and customs of the world, but to be willing to be a fool for Christ!

"It is impossible to please God without faith." (Hebrews 11.6)

Having conversations with God will lead you to do crazy things for God!

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Follow God instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” (Unknown)

It takes courage, because people who have CWG (conversations with God) will have enemies!

"For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6.12)

“Jesus promised those who would follow him only three things … that they would be absurdly happy, entirely fearless, and always in trouble.” (Greg Levoy)

But (huge disclaimer!) …
Not all craziness done in God’s name is of God! God does not lead people to bomb abortion clinics or fly airplanes into buildings!

Today, I want to ask you several questions …

Do you have ‘selective hearing’?
Conversations involve both speaking and listening! You may be good at speaking to God, but what about listening? Do you listen to God or do you tune him out?

Christ-followers “have to learn to see the invisible and hear the inaudible.” (Erwin McManus)

What do you do with the voices in your head?

There are many voices / influences:

  • God’s
  • Demonic voices
  • Other people
  • Your own voice

How do you determine which ones to listen to?

I’m so glad that there was a guy in the city of Damascus who was having a conversation with God. In his conversation with God, Ananias heard God say: “Go … ask for Saul of Tarsus. He is praying to me right now” (Acts 9). Ananias didn’t like the idea, but finally went … and the rest is history!

“My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” — Jesus (John 10.27)

Got Scripture?
Your ability to live a God-honoring life is directly connected to how much Scripture you have internalized! Read Deuteronomy 6.5-9

Are you willing to be abnormal for God?
Anyone can “copy the behavior and customs of the world,” but it takes a life of “conversations with God” to become a person that honors God! (See Romans 12.1-2)

"Because of Christ we are thought of as fools." (1 Corinthians 4.10)

It’s impossible to be Christ-follower and be "normal." Think about Moses. He had a conversation with a voice coming from a bush that looked like it was on fire (but it wasn’t being consumed). And out of that conversation, Moses agrees to confront the most powerful man in the world, to demand that he let God’s people go!

A while later, with Pharaoh’s army breathing down their backs and the Red Sea in front of them, what does Moses do? He has a conversation with God. Then he holds his staff out over the water! How crazy is that?

We could talk about all kinds of crazy things the prophets did; prophets like Samuel (whose whole journey started with a conversation!), Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Elijah.

Elijah also confronted the most powerful man and woman (Ahab and Jezebel), telling them, "It’s not going to rain, until I tell it to!" (see 1 Kings 17.1).

What about John the Baptist? He lived in the wilderness, wore clothing made out of camel hair (not the fashion of the day!), and he ate locusts and honey.

And, of course, Jesus. He kept ticking off the Pharisees! If only Jesus would have maintained the status quo … he could have had a great career as a rabbi! But no, he had to go and have CWG!

"But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer." (Luke 5.16)

“I say whatever the Father tells me to say!" (John 12.50)

“The Son … does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” (John 5.19)

Do you keep going and going and going?
If God goes wherever you go, why not talk to him throughout the day? Do life with God – keep a running conversation going!

“Never stop praying.” (1 Thessalonians 5.17)

God invite YOU to a conversation!
"Ask me, and I will tell you things that you don’t know and can’t find out." (Jeremiah 33.3)

"Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for the next three and a half years! Then he prayed for rain, and down it poured. The grass turned green, and the crops began to grow again." (James 5.17-18)

O God, thank you for inviting us to a conversation, a conversation with you. Help us to not only share our heart, our words, with you, but also to listen to your words and your heart. And give us courage, too, that when you lead us to do crazy things, we will do them to honor you and build your kingdom! Amen.

God is Good

God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

Since Don Moen and Paul Overstreet wrote and recorded a song by the title, God Is Good All The Time, this has become a popular greeting among church folk. And it speaks a great truth: God alone is good.

Luke 18.18-19 – A certain ruler asked him (Jesus), “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone . When we first read this, we see nothing wrong with the ruler calling Jesus good. But we must realize that the ruler does not know Jesus as the Son of God.

The ruler has sought Jesus out as a teacher. He has a question for Jesus; he want to know how to inherit eternal life. He believes Jesus is the teacher who can answer his question and so he addresses Jesus as “Good teacher.” It is a sign of respect, a sign that he is impressed with Jesus’ teaching. They are even words of flattery – you are a good teacher, you know what you are talking about, and so I am choosing to come to you to have my questions answered. Jesus is not flattered; there is a bit of rebuke in Jesus’ response, “No one is good-except God alone.”

We have the benefit of knowing who Jesus is in reading this passage. He is God and so he is good. But this man, does not know this and so it is not acceptable to call any teacher good, for God alone is good.

Yin Yang is a symbol from Chinese philosophy. Everything has its opposite. And in everything there is a trace of the opposite. There is a little evil in any good; there is a little good in evil. This is not true of God. God is good. He is only good. There is no trace of evil in God. In this respect, as Jesus says in the passage, God alone is good.

Good: pleasant, agreeable, excellent, rich, appropriate, glad, happy, prosperous, good understanding, kind, right, a good thing, benefit, welfare.

The Scripures
1 Timothy 4.4 everything God created is good. (See Gen 1) Deuteronomy God is bringing Israel to a good land.

Joshua 23.14 not one of all the good promises God gave has failed

Hebrews 6.5 goodness of the Word of GodGospel is the Good News

Romans 8.28 God works for the good of those who love him

Romans 12.2 God’s will is good, pleasing and perfect

Philippians 2.13 God works in you for his good purpose

Ps 13.6 I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.

Ps 25.7 Remember not the sins of my youth… according to your love remember me, for you are good, O Lord.

Psalm 31.19 how great is your goodness …

Psalm 116.12 Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.

Ps 118.1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Ps 119.68 You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.

Many of these psalms are psalms of thanksgiving, which come after the psalmist has gone through a difficult time and God has heard the psalmist cry and delivered him. The psalmist is not free of hardship, but sees God’s goodness in the midst of the ups and downs of life.

We benefit from God’s discipline
Psalm 119.71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.

Hebrews 12.7-11 An earthly father disciplines. Discipline is expected and if done appropriately they are respected for it. They do their best; their discipline falls short; it is not perfect. But God’s discipline is perfect through his perfect wisdom and knowledge. He knows what is best and what he does is motivated by his concern for our well being. “God disciplines us for our good.” Not because he is good and we are not. Not because we deserve his wrath. This has nothing to do with wrath or punishment. It has nothing to do with him being all-powerful and having to prove his power over us. It is discipline done in love. It all has to do with our well being. It’s about us and what is best for us.

And in this process, we actually become more like God, his character is being nurtured and birthed in us, shared with us. Hebrews 7 continues in verse 13b so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. God is not a God who kicks us when we are down. He is a God who lifts us up; he brings healing and wholeness; He is a God who wants us to grow strong in Him, strong in our reliance upon his strength and trust in his goodness.

Those who have suffered failure in life, actually fair better in life. They do not fear failure. They are willing to take risks, rather than play it safe. John Maxwell says when you fail, stay down there long enough to learn something from your failure. Too many times we get up, we shake ourselves off, hope no one saw us, and go on like nothing happened.

The account of Joseph
Genesis 37-50. Joseph and the many-colored coat. Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob, which caused his other brothers to hate him. To make matters worse, Joseph had dreams about his brothers bowing down to him, as if he would reign over them. This caused them to hate him all the more. They were going to kill him, but instead sold him into slavery (but told his father that he was killed by a wild animal.)

Joseph ended up in Egypt. The Lord allowed him to enjoy success. He first served one of Pharaoh’s officials, until his wife made the moves on him and he got the blame and was sent to prison. He could tell the meaning of dreams and his hopes went up and down with promises to be released. Finally one day, the Pharaoh had a dream and no one could tell the meaning of it. It was remembered that Joseph could tell the meaning of dreams and he was called on. The dreams revealed that there was to be a great famine in the land. This was revealed so that the people could prepare in advance for the time of famine. Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of his household and he was second only to Pharaoh in power.

And so through a series of what looked like bad events in Joseph’s life, he was able to save many people, including his own family who traveled to Egypt to purchase food during the famine. Because of the famine Joseph was reconciled with his family. Joseph says to his brothers: You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Genesis 50.20 (see also Genesis 45.5-7) So we see that God works his good, saving plan through the evil, sinful plan of Joseph’s brothers. The guidance of God is stressed in this account, but nothing more explicit is said. It remains a mystery. “Even when no man could imagine it, God had all the strings in his hand.” (Von Rad)

This requires trust in God; a trust in God’s goodness is required, even when we cannot see the goodness from the trial or the hard time we are going through. We must trust that God is at work for good, even when we cannot see that good.

The invitation to taste the goodness of the Lord
Taste and see that the LORD is good. Psalm 34.8a. Action on the part of the believer required. Suggests that we must act in order to perceive the greater delivering action which is Gods. Requires movement; we must taste, to release the goodness that is stored up for us. Taste a new food, see if it is good. Someone may tell you it is good, but you don’t know unless you taste it yourself.

Joseph was obedient in action. As the official’s servant, even though he was a servant, he was faithful. In prison, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners. He basically did the wardens job. Things didn’t look good for Joseph when he was a prisoner, but that did not influence his actions, his character or his trust in God. He was put in prison because his character was questioned, but he maintained high character. Joseph didn’t know it, but while he ran the prison, he was in training to run the whole country.

God’s goodness pursues us always
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. Psalm 23.6a. There is action on God’s part. God pursues us, he chases us down with his goodness. Again, this psalm is used to bring comfort in some of the lowest times of our lives, as the psalmist talks about the God who leads us safely through the valley of the shadow of death.

This is the same God who has filled the psalmist’s cup to overflowing, overflowing with blessing, overflowing with goodness. The psalmist speaks out of experience of God’s goodness in the past, his goodness in the present and a confidence of God’s goodness in the future. This psalm ends with words of God pursuing us – not just following, not just offering, not being passive, but actively pursuing us – with his goodness and with his loving kindness.

God is active in our lives. He doesn’t just leave us out there on our own. He is active for our good. Even if we are not convinced of his goodness, his goodness is following after us. He wants to overtake us with his goodness. He wants us to be convinced of his goodness in our lives.

God wants us live declaring, God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

Great Adventure 3: Out of the Saltshaker

Have you ever wondered …

  • Why are we here?
  • Why do we exist?
  • What’s our role in what God is doing in the world?
  • What is God’s plan for us (as a congregation and as individual Christ-followers)?

"You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it useful again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless." (Matthew 5.13)

Salt is useful!

  • Salt is used more than any other mineral.
  • Salt has more than 14,000 known uses.

God is a “Missionary God”
God is a God on the move. God has a purpose. God sends us, as his body, to be his hands and feet in the world!

From The Barbarian Way (Erwin McManus) …

  • "Jesus did not suffer and die so that we could build for ourselves havens, but so that we might expand the kingdom of his love."
  • "God’s will for us is less about our comfort than it is about our contribution. God would never choose for us safety at the cost of significance. God created you so that your life would count …"
  • "A world without God cannot wait for us to choose the safe path."
  • "We look to Jesus not to fulfill our shallow longings or to provide for us creature comforts. We look to him to lead us where he needs us most and where we can accomplish the most good."

"For God so loved the world that he gave …" (John 3.16)

"As the Father has sent me, so I send you." (John 20.21)

"I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28.18-20)

It’s God’s ministry, not mine/ours!
"I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it." (Jesus, Matthew 16.18)

God equips/empowers …
"Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you what he promised. Remember, I have told you about this before. 5John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. … 8"But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere–in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1.4-5, 8)

Fruit – God’s responsibility!
Real fruit is a result of God’s work not human ability.

1 – Make yourself available to God!

2 – Get salty!
Let God rub off on you. When God dwells in you, transformation will happen!

3 – Rub off on others!
Flavor your world. Create thirst in others!

"90% of ministry is just showing up!" (one of seminary professor)

Keep making yourself available to God, and keep showing up. Let God take care of the fruit.

“Be sure of this: I am with you always!” (Jesus)

O God, thank you for your presence in our lives. As we spend time with you, please rub off on us and make us salty so that as we interact and rub shoulders with other people, you will rub off on them as well! Amen.

Christian Hospitality: Strangers at Table

On the Road to Emmaus:
Today, another story of biblical hospitality. Another story of a stranger welcomed for a meal.

The story – And so it is with these two disciples as a stranger approaches them and joins them as they travel. The setting is after the crucifixion and resurrection. The crucifixion they saw and believed. They knew Jesus had died. The resurrection they did not know. They tell of the women at the tomb and the vision they see: a vision of angels proclaiming that Jesus is alive. They tell of their friends visiting the tomb and they too find it empty, but they do not see Jesus. This stranger comes alongside their conversation. The two are amazed as the stranger asks about what they are discussing. The two respond, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” When in fact it is this stranger who can and will reveal more fully the things that have happened, as he explains from the Old Testament scriptures.

As the two reach their destination, the stranger acts as if he will continue on. But as an act of hospitality, the two welcome him to stay the night with them. It is near evening. The day is almost over. As the stranger accepts, we next find them sitting at table, sharing a meal together. Food is a requirement for good, biblical hospitality. And it as the stranger takes the bread, gives thanks for the bread and breaks the bread that he is revealed to the two as the risen Lord. And Jesus then disappears from their sight.

Matthew 25.35-36 – Jesus is many times the stranger that we welcome in our midst. He says, 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, 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.

Jesus as host and meal
In Jesus appearance and presence, and in the revealing of himself in the Emmaus account, Jesus promises to be present and recognized at shared meals. At Emmaus, Jesus comes as a stranger, the two welcome the stranger Jesus as guest, and in the breaking of bread Jesus becomes host.

Jesus is the gracious host when he feeds the more than 5,000 on the hillside from five loaves and two fishes. Jesus becomes both host and meal as he declares, I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6)

And he sends out the invitation, If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink as he offers himself as living water. (John 7) At the Last Supper, Jesus takes two basic elements of the full meal, bread and wine, and fills them with rich symbolic meaning. The bread is his body, broken. The wine is his blood, shed. These, the cost to welcome strangers to his table. He is once again host and meal.

Jesus says, “Come, come and be filled.” “Come and be made whole.” He offers forgiveness of sins, reconciliation, and he offers a relationship, a relationship with himself and with others who gather at this table. He promises that he will reveal himself, and so that he will no longer be stranger to us. He promises that we will no longer be stranger to him or to one another but as we gather at table together he will make us the “household of God”.

It is also at this table that he offers nourishment for the journey toward God’s heavenly banquet table. As we participate and commune at this table, we anticipate that final Kingdom banquet, that time when we will see him face to face, that time when we will no longer look through a glass darkly, we will know Christ fully, and we shall be fully known. (1 Cor 13.12)

Great Adventure 2: Love God / Love People

Read Luke 10.25-27

"God loves you!"

Wow. Those are only three words, but they are very powerful words. In fact, until you fully grasp those three words in your heart, you won’t be able to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength!

"But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." (Romans 5.8)

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." (John 3.16)

I love what Max Lucado wrote: "If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, He’ll listen. He can live anywhere in the universe, and He chose your heart. What about the Christmas gift He sent you in Bethlehem; not to mention that Friday at Calvary. Face it, friend. He’s crazy about you." (Max Lucado)

Our Response: Passion!

"We love because God loved us first." (1 John 4.19)

I believe we must be passionate people, passionate about God and passionate about the people God created/Jesus died for, especially “the lost, the least, and the lonely”!

"The life of following Jesus "is a life fueled by passion—a passion for God and a passion for people." (Erwin McManus)

"God is seeking worshippers who will be ready to follow the adventurous whispers of His Holy Spirit." (Matt Redman)

Love God
We love God by trying to honor God in everything we do — attitudes, words, and actions. We love God by how we treat others. And we honor God by spending time with God and nurturing a devotional life (beyond "Our Daily Bread" and "Upper Room").

Love People
We love people through our actions, not just our words. Words/attitudes (saying, “I love you!") are important, but actions are even more important!

"We know what love is because Jesus gave his life for us. That’s why we must give our lives for each other. […] Children, you show love for others by truly helping them, and not merely by talking about it. When we love others, we know that we belong to the truth, and we feel at ease in the presence of God." (1 John 3.16, 18-19)

"And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart."
(Ezekiel 36.26)

O God, help us to know and experience your love, deeper and deeper every day! And may our response to you be hearts full of love and passion! Amen.